After months of lock down and more pandemic days looming, Hub and I longed for somewhere to escape. But the destination had to be affordable, Covid-safe and within a 3-hour drive from our North Carolina home.
Could such a place exist? YES!
Join me on a photo walk of my safe-distancing expedition to an old-timey fishing cabin near the small coastal town of Shallotte, NC.
1. The Hunt
I search online for places outside populated areas
but close enough to fun spots to explore.
(tbh...browsing vacation rentals
has been one of my greatest, safest Covid escapes.)
I book only with super hosts,
who receive stellar reviews for their communication and housekeeping.
Oh yeah, and provide strong wifi, too,
so I can continue writing my stories.
We visit around holidays and other off-peak times to keep costs down. Many hosts offer discounts for weekly rentals, so we discover lovely homes we couldn’t afford otherwise.
Traveling with travel kids?
Many homes have kid-friendly amenities,
like bikes, board games and corn holes. A few even allow pets for a small fee.
2. Bring EVERYTHING
Thanks to Covid, our trip requires a trunkload of supplies.
Our gracious host assures us of a stringent cleaning regimen, but Hub and I carry our own wipes, linen, towels and pillows.
The cabin is sparkling clean when we arrive, but we open windows, make the bed with our linen and wipe down surfaces just the same.
3. Room with a View
We're desperate for a change from looking at the same four walls
during months of lock-down.
We seek places off the beaten path
with amazing views.
Our cozy Shallotte cabin along Sauce Pan Creek
belonged to the owner’s great-grandfather.
It was his fishing cabin back in the day
before Brunswick County was “discovered”
and developed as a coastal paradise.
Located off a dead-end country lane and down a dirt road,
we’re surrounded by trees and the salt water creek.
We don't see a soul during our stay.
4. Have Food, Will Travel!
A fully-stocked kitchen is another must for our Covid escape.
Our cabin is fab for cooking meals and dining in.
Only a few miles from groceries and restaurants,
we still pack the cooler from home with breakfast, lunch, and dinner staples.
But we can't pass up a few take-home meals from amazing local seafood places.
We feast in picnic splendor on the deck.
Plus, we want to support small businesses and restaurant workers.
6. Keepin’ it Safe
We stay out of the action during Covid, though not too far.
A pleasant 10-minute drive down country roads deposits us by the nearest beach,
Ocean Isle Beach (or OBI, as locals call it).
The it's just a breath-taking jaunt over the bridge
and across the Intercoastal Waterway to this barrier island,
Signs posted all around before we hit the sand
remind us to be cautious.
We visit during off-peak times.
Arrive by 10 am or early evening
to avoid crowds and blazing heat.
We have the place to ourselves.
Sea breezes cooling
Shore birds scampering
Shrimp boats catching
Hub and I splash in warm waves
and walk for miles on sugary, hard-packed sand.
Growing up along the Connecticut coast,
I have salt water in my blood.
The ocean is my happy place.
7. Delight in the Unexpected
The best part of a Covid escape is wandering into
that come from being in the moment
and discovering the wonder of every day things.
I collect shells for my fairy garden.
Hub shows me a starfish before waves claim it.
sea turtle nests!!!!!
One of these days,
I'll get lucky
and time my beach excursion with seeing a sea turtle's nest boil.
I long to watch the babies flipper over the sand
along a sea turtle highway to the ocean.
We miss this hatch by just one night.
Maybe next time.
I don’t realize how stressed I am
until this ocean escape
brings me back to
I finally relax.
for our world.
With so many people
out of work
or battling Covid and its fall out,
for this getaway.
this photo walk
a slice of calm
in this turbulent world.
Photos: Cat Michaels
Illustration: Irene A. Jahns from "Sweet T and the Turtle Team"
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time when adults and children from across the nation—and around the world—come together with the powerful message that bullying should never be a part of childhood.
Today's post highlights five ways you can stop bullying and includes...
My Family's Experience with Bullying
I was in the pit of despair.
My sweet 8-year-old niecelette, B, had been bullied at school by two girls in her third-grade class. She cried continually and was anxious just thinking about school. My heart sank. I wanted to support her, but I didn't know what to do, feeling powerless living 500 miles away.
Fortunately, her teacher and parents stepped in immediately to stop the bullying. I still wanted to learn more about how I might help as a writer. I turned to research and asked friends to share their experiences and wisdom. And soon a book idea was born.
I share my five biggest take-aways from that research.
five ways you can stop bullying now
1. Be Persistent
High school teacher T advises being relentless:
Keep asking questions to the school, to the parents. Don’t let this slip through the cracks.
2. Intervene Immediately
R observes from her years as a substitute teacher in elementary school:
It takes the students, school, counselors, teachers, and parents to nip it in the bud as fast as they can. The longer it goes on, the worse it will be for all of them. I'm sure you are reassuring B. That's what she needs the most right now.
3. Show Zero Tolerance
As an auntie, I didn't want my niecelette or any child to be the target of bullying.
As an author, I dreamed of writing a story for tweens that a delivered strong message – bullying in any form is never ok.
Just Between Sam and Me centers on shy 11-year-old Olivia, who only wants to read her books and tend to her farm animals. But Olivia feels like a social outcast when mean girl Candace turns on her.
Olivia starts believing the cruel taunts about her are true, so she is ashamed to tell anyone about the harassment. Small, constant jabs, like those in the excerpt below, erode Olivia's confidence and self-esteem.
4. Look for the Upstanders
Rosie and I sprinkle elements of mischief to lighten our content for kids and bring hope. Olivia’s bestie, Isabella, often takes on this role as she demonstrates how to be an upstander and stop bullying in its tracks, as in the following excerpt:
5. Talk with Your Child
Pacer.org – founder of the National Bullying Prevention Month movement – offers guidance for parents in opening a conversation if they suspect their child is being bullied.
Acknowledge your own feelings first:
Parents may feel a range of emotions, from anger to fear and sadness. These reactions are natural for parents who want their child to feel valued, protected, and loved. To be an effective advocate for your child, it's important to work through your emotions before developing an intervention plan.
When you’re ready and have your emotions in check:
Listen without judgment and remember that children may not be ready to open up right away. They, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying and may feel insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad.
When children begin to tell their story:
Listen and avoid judgmental comments. Learn as much as possible about the situation, such as how long the behavior has been happening, who has been involved, and what steps have been taken.
Encourage your child to talk:
Let them know they are not alone and emphasize....
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