Almost Heaven | My Family Travels
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Our family lives a fairly ordinary life.  We have a nice house in the suburbs.  My parents work hard, and my brother and I go to school.  Every summer in August, though, we depart for a week from our ordinary lives and escape to the extraordinary.  We make a nine-hour drive south to that skinny little stretch of land along the east coast of North Carolina called the Outer Banks.  At the southern tip of the Outer Banks is the little town of Hatteras Village and the most fabulous beach house you’ve ever seen.  It’s the perfect summer getaway. When I close my eyes, I can remember the sights, sounds and feelings I have when I’m there.  I know that whoever named this special house knew exactly what they were talking about when they named it “Almost Heaven.”

â–º   Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

The excitement builds as we turn onto Lighthouse Road, and the house appears.  It seems like the salty air and crisp blue sky have been waiting for us since last summer.  “Almost Heaven” is beautiful.  It has brown cedar shingles and a grayish brown roof with Victorian gingerbread trim.  Its three stories are surrounded by a porch that overlooks the ocean.  Inside, there is room for everyone, all fourteen of us.  Each room has its own unique and interesting personality. The walls are painted in colors of ocean blue, sunshine yellow and pale green that matches the sea grasses that cover the dunes.  When we’re not at the beach or on the water, we spend our time in the great room where we eat, play games and relax together as a family.  Then, we can sit on the porch and watch as the sun sets over Pamlico Sound and fills the sky with radiant colors of orange, red and yellow.

When I close my eyes, I don’t have to see “Almost Heaven.”  I can hear it in my head.  I hear the sound of the waves crashing into the shoreline.  They crash over and over again, but their gentle sound in the distance lulls me to sleep.  I can hear the pesky seagulls hovering over the beach looking for food.  Their squawking sounds like children fighting over their favorite toy.  At night, the sky is illuminated by two kinds of light as the sound of fireworks crackle and pop and occasional lightning from a summer storm booms thunder through the quiet night.  But, the sound I love most is the sound of laughter as my family enjoys our time together.

Just being at “Almost Heaven” gives you the feeling of knowing you are at a place where you belong and fit in like a lost puzzle piece found again.  It’s a place where my family feels free from everyday stress and busyness and spends time together.  I can spend a day swimming in the ocean with Dad, a day on a boat deep sea fishing with Mom or challenge my uncles to a ping pong game.  It feels like home.

Sometimes, I stand on the deck overlooking the ocean and think of the verse I learned in kindergarten.  “Ah, Lord God, behold!  For thou hast made the heavens and the earth with thy great power and outstretched arm, and nothing is impossible for Thee.”    At the end of the week when we have to leave the extraordinary and return to our ordinary life, I get a feeling of sadness and completion, but I thank God for creating such a beautiful place for us to enjoy and anticipate next summer when we can come back again and enjoy the wonders of “Almost Heaven.” 

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