Sheila Campbell is the owner of Wild Blue Yonder where she teaches leadership and creative thinking skills and designs and leads corporate retreats. Sheila also has a blog called True Compass where she writes about travel, hiking, writing and life as an independent woman.
Outer Banks Revealed: When did you first visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina and what makes you keep coming back?
Sheila: My first trip was summer of 2008. A group of friends rented a big house in Avon NC. We only went for a week (they’d been going for years). But when we had to pack up and go home, we realized it was way too short....so this year we went for two weeks, and that will be what we book for 2010 as well. We love the beach, of course, but also the pool at our Outer Banks rental property, and the gym, and the restaurants, and just hanging out. I like to sit at the dining room table in our house with the view of the ocean behind me and write. Oh, just realized...my VERY first trip was short – just down to Kitty Hawk to take hang-gliding lessons. What fun, even though I belly-flopped in the sand on every try. Next year I plan to take a tandem hang-gliding ride.
Outer Banks Revealed: What make the Outer Banks different from other beach vacation spots you’ve visited?
Sheila: Uncrowded beaches! Up here in Maryland the beaches are wall-to-wall people. Also, the water's warm enough to get into – too cold up here. We drag our beach chairs down to the edge of the surf and let the waves wash over us (we call it "chair-rafting", and we do it every day). Of course, you do end up with a bathing suit full of sand. I walk the beach every morning. It's quiet and peaceful, just the sound of the ocean, occasional people nodding as we pass. Oh, and no tall condo buildings to block the sunlight. Everything is low and natural-looking.
Outer Banks Revealed: What is your favorite Outer Banks town? Why?
Sheila: We go to Avon NC, which has some very good restaurants and a great gym/spa: Koru. I don’t even go to the gym at home, but I go there. The yoga classes are phenomenal, ending with a delicious head massage. They do them on the beach as well, although I haven’t caught one of those. We love Mack Daddy’s Restaurant: sophisticated treatment of local food. Shrimp and grits as good as any I ever ate in Charleston. We go there about every third day. Avon also has an excellent Food Lion; we like to cook. Also glad there’s a movie theatre. And it’s not too far from the Tanger Outlets. We make a pilgrimage to the outlets every year, and I treat myself to something from the Coach store. We all loaded up on very inexpensive tee-shirts at Ralph Lauren this year. Then we go over to Manteo to eat lunch and shop in the small stores there. Very charming bookstore. Further down Hatteras is a great sno-cone stand, Hatteras Snoballs. It must be summer if you’re eating one of those. There are golden retrievers in our house, and we love to take them to the shallow sound, where they can romp way out into the water and thoroughly enjoy themselves. Also down past Avon is a house beside the road which has hundreds of stained glass pieces for sale. I can’t remember the name, but we spent a long time just looking at the beautiful glass. The owner invited us into her home to see the many ways you can display it.
Outer Banks Revealed: What is your favorite thing to do on the Outer Banks? Why?
Sheila: Hang out with friends. We stay up late playing games every night. Would never do that at home. We sleep late, hit the beach, nap, go to the gym, sit on the deck and talk into the night.
Outer Banks Revealed: If you met someone who never visited the Outer Banks, what are the top five things you would tell them they had to do? Why?
Outer Banks Revealed: What is the one thing that is at the top of your list of things you still want to do?
Sheila: We keep saying we’ll take the ferry over to Ocracoke NC, but never make the time. Staying two weeks should help. It’s so relaxing that we don’t feel the need to be entertained. We did visit the lighthouse at Buxton this year.