Most of us at some point feel the lure of foreign travel. We imagine ourselves ascending Machu Picchu, photographing big game on an African safari, or diving along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

I was reminded last week while sharing with lifelong friends an oceanfront beach house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks of the value of another kind of vacation.

These friends were part of a large blended family who were my dearest buddies in the early ‘70s when we lived in a small village in southeastern Turkey, where our dads were building a dam on the Euphrates River.

When my family returned to Turkey three years ago for a three-week vacation, I was disappointed that these friends could not accompany us for a reunion. In addition to visiting our old village, my family climbed Mount Nemrut, shopped Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and slept in caves chiseled from the soft rock of fairy chimneys in the Cappadocia Cave Suites hotel.

One night last week these old friends and I gathered for dinner at yet another beach house in the Outer Banks town of Salvo — different arms of that family rented three houses as three generations converged for a wedding and weeklong group vacation.

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On this night, many of us were singing along with a jam session of four guitars and one harmonica in the family room. The younger kids were splashing in the pool. Earlier in the evening, the women of this large family had battled — and beat — the men in a game of Catch Phrase. Also earlier, before the sun set over the water, on the top deck of this three-story house, we marveled at the view on one side of the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side, the massive Pamlico Sound. (The Outer Banks are only 3 miles wide at their widest spot.)

So on this night, my dear friend explained to me that she would like to visit Turkey again and would have loved to accompany me on that 2010 trip, for now, she wouldn’t miss these special times with her kids, siblings, mom, aunts and uncles for any exotic overseas vacation. During that moment, I too couldn’t think of anywhere else on the planet I’d rather be.


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