Locals Struck by Wanderlust
While there’s always an exciting experience to be had on the Outer Banks, what makes this place so colorful is that many of our locals exhibit bold, adventurous spirits, and along with that usually comes the desire to travel and to experience the world beyond these beautiful barrier islands of ours.
A few of our year-round residents have chimed in on where they would love to travel this winter, should they be able to go anywhere in the world. From charming courtyards in tucked-away Brazilian towns, to the breathtaking Inca city of Machu Picchu, the places on these locals’ winter travel bucket lists may even spark that wanderlust inside of you.
Jannie Kenyon, an Outer Banks native, grew up in Manteo and loved her home so much she didn’t want to leave. Kenyon is one half of the dynamic duo that makes up Kenyon Productions, a Manteo-based company she runs with her husband, Doug, that specializes in videography and photography.
Photography began as a hobby for Kenyon and has become a passion that continues to grow. In her spare time, Kenyon, who loves to sing, is currently a member of a band, which is “part of what keeps me zen,” she says.
Kenyon appreciates the quiet, slower pace of winters here on the Outer Banks and enjoys the freedom that comes along with that. “It is so much easier to see and spend time with friends and family,” Kenyon says. But if she could travel anywhere in the world this winter, she said it would be a toss up between Jamaica and Japan. “I have always been intrigued by these places,” Kenyon says. “I want to experience the food, music, and the culture as a whole in each place.”
Born in California, local photographer Roy Edlund grew up in Long Island, NY and moved to the Outer Banks six years ago. Edlund, along with his wife, Sandie, recently started a new business called Mostly Good Media. Fun, for Edlund, is pretty much all-encompassing. “I’m at the age now that if I’m not having fun, I don’t do it. I love being with my family and friends,” Edlund says.
If he could travel anywhere in the world this winter, Edlund says Belize is definitely on his list, but honestly he prefers to stay home on the Outer Banks and travel in the summertime to get away from the “hub-bub.” “Winter on the Outer Banks is my favorite time to be out shooting,” Edlund says. “I love the desolate places here on the OBX. I love walking with my cameras for miles and never seeing another person.”
Originally from Shawnee, OK, Chuck Larson made his way to the Outer Banks in 1991 via Tidewater, VA, where he served our country as a Merchant Mariner and was also a member of the well-known band, Snuff, which toured from New York City to Florida on Warner Brothers’ Elektra Records label. After retiring from the Merchant Marines as Bosun in 2013, Larson got back into music again, and in his Kitty Hawk home created a recording studio called Swampworks.
He says he loves the quietness that winter offers, but if he were to leave behind his Outer Banks haven it would be to head to Sao Francisco de Sul in Brazil, a town in which his ship was a regular visitor in his Merchant Marine days. “Steering a huge container ship through the gently curving channel and reef past rocky tree clad islands into a bay surrounded by rolling hills was always a scenic delight,” Larson says. With an ideal climate, a delightful small-town ambiance, undulating stone-paved streets, courtyards, gardens, and decorative mosaic sidewalks, the town of Sao Francisco de Sul is an “overall enchanting place,” Larson says.
Scott Smith moved to the Outer Banks in 2004 and for almost 10 years he worked at the Outer Banks Brewing Station before joining his current business partners in starting Outer Banks Distilling. Smith’s love of the outdoors and adventure has made him a seasoned traveler.
“I’ve been lucky enough to surf the California coast and party at bars in Hollywood while drinking expensive cocktails that I couldn’t afford. Fished in the Florida Keys. Surfed in Bali, Panama, and Costa Rica. I’ve seen the sunrise at Machu Picchu in Peru. Backpacked through Thailand and Myanmar. Spent a solid month in Ireland following my love of Guinness. I’ve pretended to understand art in Spain. I’ve even spent many happy winter months in Tortola surfing, fishing, and relaxing with rum,” Smith recalls. Now, as a business owner, Smith has put his traveling on hold to make and share Kill Devil Rum with the world.
“When it comes to travel this winter, I don’t really care where or if I go anywhere. I daydream about sailing around the Caribbean or catching a bonefish in the Keys, but it is no longer a high priority. The winter on the Outer Banks makes me realize why I love it here so much.”
“I moved to the Outer Banks in 1975, on the night I graduated from high school, in Daytona Beach where I grew up,” says Captain Marty Brill. “I kissed mom and dad goodbye and drove straight to Hatteras,” Brill recalls. After growing up with the fleet of Ponce Inlet, moving to Hatteras, and then going away to college, Brill finally realized that he wanted to be a charter boat fisherman. Working eight years as a mate and then almost twenty as a captain out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, Brill is now heard more than seen, as he is in his 19th year hosting the popular radio show “The Other Side of Fishing,” in addition to other segments broadcasting from Williamsburg to Morehead City.
When it comes to hobbies and free time, Brill has a passion for family and the great outdoors. “OK, here’s my order,” says Brill. “My granddaughter, Jayda. Gardening. The outdoors, then camping,” he says. His passions, combined with his Floridian roots, make it an easy decision for where in the world he would choose to travel this winter. “Something that I dearly love to do and haven’t done in several years is I love to go tent camping in central Florida in the Ocala National Forest, and go swimming and diving in the natural springs there,” Brill says. He looks forward to heading south during the off season very soon to finally introduce his granddaughter to this place he holds dear.
Meghan Agresto, site manager for the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, was born in Ohio into an academic family that was always on the move. Because of that, in conjunction with a serious case of wanderlust in her late teens and early twenties, she has lived in and traveled to many places around the world before settling on the Outer Banks 13 years ago. “After a 6-month trip around the world in my 20s, I was done living out of a backpack and since then, I’ve been so happy with 3-day-weekend trips or just staying at home,” Agresto says. As someone who loves the Outer Banks in all seasons, Agresto enjoys having time during the winter to make dinners, run, knit, read, and visit her parents and sister, who still live in New Mexico. But she says if she could travel anywhere in the world this winter, it would be to a couple of places she’s not yet visited in the states. “I have never been to Buffalo, NY and am thinking about going to see a frozen Niagara Falls this winter,” Agresto says. “ And I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, so I may have to head out there with my kids one of these days!”
Most of her free time is spent with her two boys, who are both students at the Water’s Edge Village School in Corolla, the small public charter school which Agresto actually helped start and for which she serves as president of the board.
Kill Devil Hills resident Lynda Wood was a teacher in Dare County Schools for 12 years and the excutive director of Outer Banks Sporting Events for six. Now that she has recently retired once and for all, Wood is enjoying a new found love for watercolor painting, and continues her passion for gardening, sailing, and traveling with her husband, George.
Wood, who doesn’t mind winters on the Outer Banks, says she enjoys their mild nature, the excitement of the occasional snowfall, and long walks on the beach or hikes through Nags Head Woods. But if she could go anywhere else in the world this winter, it would be to Peru, she says, specifically to Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco. “I’m particularly interested in highly-developed ancient civilizations, especially in areas of spirituality, technology, architecture, art, and farming,” Wood says. “Cultures that are completely different from some of our European cultures…I feel maybe there’s a lot for us to learn there,” Wood says.
Manteo resident Matt Seidel grew up in Camden but a year ago moved to the Outer Banks, where he works with the youth soccer kids. “I’m passionate about using the game of soccer as a vehicle to higher education and a better life for the kids in this community,” Seidel says.
Seidel said he doesn’t mind the winters on the Outer Banks. “I spend a lot of my time bundling up in jackets like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story and running soccer trainings which provides me with a lot of joy,” Seidel says. “Christmastime around Manteo is awesome, too. Very festive atmosphere.” If he could travel anywhere this winter, however, he says it would be to Wilmington, NC to visit and spend time with family, and then to Chapel Hill to spend time with his extended soccer family.
Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, Hunter Davis moved to the Outer Banks in 2011, the summer after she graduated from college. Davis, who works in marketing for Twiddy & Company, has come to love winters on the OBX, as her position keeps her busy at work while allowing her the opportunity to spend time with her friends who are taking advantage of their “freetime post-summer grind,” Davis says.
The weather in February tends to be a little chilly for Davis’s liking, she says, which is when she will chase the sun and head for somewhere warm. “Cuba is on the top of the list,” Davis says. “From the Caribbean beaches, Hemingway’s home, and preserved palaces, to the colonial architecture and constant live music, everything about this place sounds appealing. The thought of cruising around to see it all in a classic 50s car doesn’t sound too shabby either,” says Davis. ♦
Abby Stewart is a freelance writer who lives in Currituck County but has spent most of her summers on the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks.