Wow, what a week, as I've returned home to Punxsy from the sun, surf and sand in Kitty Hawk, N.C., better known as The Outer Banks.
The whole family went â€” me, Linda, Mike, Joe and his girlfriend, Jennifer â€” along with our two dogs, Bailey, our Scotsin, and Chloe, our miniature poodle that we rescued from the Gateway Humane Shelter.
It turned out the trip down went very well, and the weather was really great while we were there, just what you want â€” hot and sticky, perfect for the beach.
We stayed in a beach house (that was located across the street from the beach), the Gray Ghost, which was named after John Singleton Mosby, who was nicknamed the "Gray Ghost" and was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander during the American Civil War.
His rangers were known for their lightening-quick raids and their ability to elude the Union Army.
I was worried that the "Gray Ghost" might not treat us Yankees very kindly.
It has been a number of years since we had vacationed at the Outer Banks, and we saw it had been built up more than we had expected.
The first thing you have to deal with is drawing straws as to who was going to have which bedroom.
We made the wrong choice, as we chose the bedroom in the lower apartment.
The dogs enjoyed going to the beach, although Chloe would only go to the water's edge, while Bailey dove right in, especially while we were surf fishing.
He thinks that he can grab a fish when it's being reeled in mid-air.
The beach is really great until it's time to head back to the vacation cottage.
They say it's nice to bring a little bit of your vacation back with you, which pertains to sand.
The one thing I learned is that despite your best efforts, sand is everywhere.
By the way, I've made some real progress in regard to wearing flip-flops. I hate that thing that goes between your toes.
I found I could endure the foot apparel of choice at the beach â€” so long as they don't have that middle piece.
Oh well, back to the sand.
It's on the floor of the house, it is on the furniture, and it ends up in your bed.
There's so much sand, you'd think "The Sandman" lived there, sheesh!!
All you can do is continue to sweep non-stop and learn to ignore about 70 percent of it.
Travel agents always say that you should go during the off season, which for us came just a few days before we left, when Labor Day came and went, as did the summer rates and crowds at the beach.
We did some grilling, and I'm so used to cooking with propane, using charcoal seemed almost foreign to me.
Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed lighting it and the smell of charcoal, but I didn't enjoy waiting an hour-and-a-half for dinner to get done.
It's called Match Lite because it takes half a box of matches to light the thing.
Oh well, that is all part of "roughin' it" on vacation.
Me and the boys did some surf fishing, for which I personally reeled in a blue fish and several mullets.
No, the mullets aren't fish that have long hair on the back only; LOL, as they say on Facebook and Twitter.
One of the sites that a lot of people stop in to visit on Roanoke Island is the Christmas Shop and Island Art Gallery in Manteo, North Carolina.
You open the door and go from 90 degrees and extreme heat to a winter wonderland.
You will find Christmas trees and rooms decorated in just about any kind of style you'd like.
I looked for a Punxsy Phil tree, but they didn't have one.
When we concluded our visit with Christmas and walked back outside, we were quickly reminded that summer was still in effect, with temperatures in the 90s.
But, one of the highlights for me was that they had a KFC/Taco Bell.
I didn't realize how much I missed the Colonel's cooking, since all of our Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants closed up in our area.
I took the No. 2 meal deal with dark meat, original recipe. I thought I was in heaven.
We made the trip back home without a hitch, including driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
When we returned home, we were left with one memory of this year's vacation, which was that I found sand in our bed when we got back!!!
â€” Larry McGuire is a reporter for The Punxsutawney Spirit. He prefers his KFC without a side of sand.