The One With The Big Decision

Heading north on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) out of North Carolina, we faced our first big decision: steak or swamp.

Let me tell you, this is a widely debated fork in the road for boaters!

For those who know me well or have followed our family travels for a while, you may remember that I get huge travel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out.) Naturally, I really didn’t want to make a decision.

Here’s the real dilemma: after crossing the Albemarle Sound boaters can go two different ways to arrive in Norfolk, VA. One, towards Elizabeth City, NC, leads to The Dismal Swamp Canal.

The Dismal Swamp dates back to George Washington and is some of the most beautiful natural land still existing in America. The canal itself is also considered by boaters to be a bit treacherous. Only about 1,800 boats go through each year- making it somewhat special to say you’ve done it.

The Virginia Cut is the other option. While the route itself is nothing spectacular, there is a very famous stop: Coinjock Marina.

The Coinjock Marina Restaurant serves a 32 oz prime rib. Yes, I typed that correctly…32 ounces. It’s fair to say that this is the most talked about food in all of boating.

By now I’m sure you understand why this was such a big decision for our family!

Brent gave me the reins and told me to pick. (He should know me better by now!) Y’all. I could not make a decision.

So guess what I did? I figured out how to do the impossible: BOTH!

After studying the map for a few days I discovered that Elizabeth City was just a short 45 minute car drive from Coinjock Marina. And, as luck would have it, Elizabeth City had a rental car place very close to a marina.

I wasn’t sure Brent would go for it, but I proposed that we steer our boat off the Albemarle towards Elizabeth City. Dock at a marina. Rent a car. Drive to Coinjock. Eat steak. Then navigate The Dismal Swamp.

We could literally have our cake (steak) and eat it too! Win/Win.

When I verbalized my plan to Brent he looked at me like I was all kinds of crazy. (Which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise!) But shockingly, he loved my plan. And our friends even agreed to join us.

Let me just say, we were NOT disappointed!

I can’t be sure, but I’d say there’s a good chance we might be the first boaters who’ve ever done both stops in one boating trip!

So, the million dollar question: which was better?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I have to say that the Dismal Swamp was overrated. Yes, it was pretty. But it wasn’t extraordinary. In my book, it runs a close second to the 4 Corners (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out The One Place I’ve Been That I’ll Never Go Again.)

On the other hand, the Prime Rib exceeded expectations.

I don’t regret the big decision that we made to do both. My FOMO probably wouldn’t have let me do it any other way. However, I don’t think we’ll do the Swamp again (except *maybe* if we were traveling in the fall when the leaves were changing colors.)

If you’ve done either Coinjock or The Dismal Swamp, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

As always, thanks for following along on our adventures! You might also enjoy reading:

25 Great Questions To Ask Children On Long Road Trips

10 Years of Traveling With Kids

The One Where We Cross Things Off The NC Bucket List

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