Surfing the swells from Hurricane Rafael on the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks surf was up this past week, thanks to Tropical Storm or Hurricane Rafael. Rafael was one of those very courteous tropical systems that surfers especially appreciate, staying well offshore–in fact, to the east of Bermuda–it was a big, powerful storm that sent a few days of long even swells to our beaches.

This month has been a remarkable time on the Outer Banks, with one spectacular event heaped on top of another, which is great because it gives visitors a reason to keep coming here. Yet the one thing we never want to lose sight of, is what truly makes life at the edge of a continent so unique, so beautiful and so rewarding.

The Outer Banks is so much more than any one event or even a series of events.

We are very much a vacation paradise, and we have marketed ourselves as a family destination–and have done so because our families are so important to who and what we are.

When I was out taking some pictures of surfers, there were two kids in the water . . . looked like they were between 9 and 11. They weren’t trying to catch the big waves 30 or 40 yards out, but were doing a good job on the smaller riffles 10 or 12 yards off the beach.

About five or ten minutes into this, a woman walks a little way into the surf and says, “C’mon boys. We have to go. You’ve got karate, and you still have homework to do.”

That’s about as family as you can get.

Which brings me back to what the Outer Banks is all about. It is beautiful and unique. There is magic in watching a pod of dolphins pass just a stone’s throw offshore. Every time the sunsets on the sound, it is exquisite. The maritime forests that dot the western shoreline are a visual and ecological feast.

All of this is a backdrop to the true wonder of the Outer Banks.

I had a chance to go to the Outer Banks Seafood Festival this past Saturday. It was down there in Nags Head, so if you were up in Corolla, it was a bit of a hike. But if you did make it, and there were a lot of people who did, it was worth it.

A great time, great food, great music . . . but at the core of it was what the Outer Banks is all about. The Seafood Festival was a celebration of a family heritage–a recognition that families that live on the Outer Banks have turned to the sea for sustenance and a livelihood for generations.

You can’t fake that. Our families are too important to who and what we are to be the subject of a casual promotion. The reason every single event of this October has been so well designed for families, from the infant to the great grandfather, is because the people organizing the event are part of that fabric.

Which seems a serious note for so many happenings that were so much fun. But then again, can you think of any place that the serious business of being a family is more fun than the Outer Banks?