our last real winter in 2011, it is hard to complain very much about our weather.
However, we have had our share of cold days and our spring has been somewhat cooler than last year. Still when you live in an area where warmth is the expected norm, you can get a little impatient when the last two weeks of April only have five days above 70F instead of nine days like April 2012.
Whatever the reason, spring is well underway and summer appears to be lurking just over the horizon. Those of us who are avid fisherman are ready for the new season.
I finished two books this spring so I am ready for a little play time. Living in North Carolina is always a treat and that is especially the case when you live along the Crystal Coast.
Once a quarter or so I will do a simple post here, but I keep this
site alive mainly because it makes a nice landing spot for people who want to
see what I have been writing recently.
Most of my posts show up here in a day or so, and there is a large
archive of older posts here that still have useful information. If you are curious about me, you can find a little information on the about me section of my Crystal Coast Life blog where I normally post at least three times a month.
During most of the year I do a summary post at my Coastal Paradise site
at least once a quarter and during the warmer months, once a month. Posts on that site generally have links to my other articles spread back through them.
There is a simple explanation of most of my sites at this page. If you need to get in touch with me, visit my contact me page.
If you are looking for information about vacationing on the North Carolina coast, please give our 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide - A Week at the Beach a try.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Most of my blogging is done at my CrystalCoastLife.com blog and my Typepad blog, View from the Mountain. Once a quarter or so I will do a post here, but I have kept the blog alive mainly because it makes a nice landing spot for people who want to see what I have been writing recently.
We're now past the middle of February 2013 on the Crystal Coast. This month brought a little brush with winter which set me to dreaming about warm summer waters. We live close to nature here on the Southern Outer Banks as the larger area is often called. Changes in the weather are a big part of life on the coast and this year like most years we have had plenty of changeable weather.
Most of my posts show up here in a day or so, and there is a large archive of older posts here that still have useful information. I am now also writing for ReadWrite web. You can find a list of those articles at this link.
During most of the year I do a summary post at my Coastal Paradise site at least once a quarter and during the warmer months, once a month. That post generally has links to my other sites spread back through it.
There is a simple explanation of most of my sites at this page. You can find quick travel information for the Emerald Isle area at my Welcome to the Beach site. If you want more information about the beach, the best solution is to buy our $4.99 Kindle Book, A Week at the Beach, An Emerald Isle Travel Guide.
If you want to find out more about me, visit my homepage or my LinkedIn public profile. If you want some detailed history on me, buy our book The Pomme Company. I've recently written an article, A Piedmont Awakening, on the Feathered Flounder. There is some information in the article about my early life.
If you want to send me a message, visit my contact page. If you have comments or need more information on the area, send me a note, I try to be responsive and a good ambassador for the area.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Forty years later my wife and I live along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks which stretch south of Ocracoke Island. Our little piece of that world often called the Crystal Coast is one of the more unique areas of beach that remain within a six hour drive of our nation's capital.
While many beach areas along the east coast have waterfront areas that have wall to wall high rise condominiums, the beaches of Emerald Isle have maintained their low density housing with mostly beach homes as the predominant rental choice in the area. The town of Emerald Isle, which is a large part of the island of Emerald Isle only has one small waterfront hotel which is two stories high. There are a few condominium developments that reach up four or five stories high, but there is no very tall building in the town.
What the town does have is miles of uncrowded beaches. The summer populations swell the year round population of just over 4,000 people. Since we are just a few miles from Emerald Isle's beaches, it is no surprise that summer visitors have something of an impact on those of us living just upriver from the beaches.
Mostly the impacts that we see from our visitors are minor such as more crowding in the grocery stores when people check in for their beach weeks and more people on the beaches.
Life here is dictated far more by the weather than by the number of people who come to visit the area. Like many areas of the east coast we have been under a dome of very hot weather since late June 2012. Fortunately we've have strong breezes that help to keep us from the worst of the heat. Our July weather while usually warm can cool quickly to the point n that we can have a few nights when we sleep with open windows like we did last July.
When we have hot weather here, people do their outside work early and then take to the water. Our ocean waters do warm to the mid-eighties, but a breeze off those waters is a cooling one when the air temperature has been pushed to the lower nineties.
We are lucky that most of summer weather can be classified as beach weather. Most of us moved here to live a life without walls. When the heat is on, some respond by heading out beyond the beaches into the ocean. Others head to the uncrowded beach out beyond the yellow houses at the Point on Emerald Isle.
In a county where water is more than half the area, water is what summer is all about in our cove. Whether it is the community swimming pool, the White Oak River, Bogue Sound, or the Atlantic Ocean, people spend much of their summer time either on or in the water. Usually the rest of their time is spent planning how to get to the water.
Life moves to a rhythm of tides, sunshine, clouds and wind. The tides are much smaller than those along the Bay of Fundy. The sunshine is more frequent and the clouds and wind are more conducive to beach lovers.
Life here in our cove just off the White Oak River is one that comes close to defining a perfect summer experience. While we have heat and humidity, they are the two elements that make our waters so inviting.
If our area sounds interesting, try our travel guide to Emerald Isle.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
|Bluewater Cove near Swansboro, NC|
First it brings back memories of the winter of 1971 which was my first one after college. I spent that first winter in St. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia. I moved to Canada because I desperately wanted to own some land and be someplace sides the city. It was a magical time of learning to live beyond the confines of Cambridge and in fact in another country.
Living in the St. Croix Cove was almost like living in another time. Listening to the radio was our big entertainment. It is hard to imagine, but there were no supermarkets, Lowe's Home Improvement Centers, or Walmarts. There was a small grocery store in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia. It was a nine mile drive to town.
Nine miles does not sound like much, but the first three miles was over a dirt road. I grew up on a dirt road in the south, but a Nova Scotia dirt road in the winter time is something beyond what most people have experienced. That first winter it was not unusual to get several inches of snow, followed by enough rain to completely melt the snow, and finished off with an amazingly abrupt freeze with more snow.
When you translate that into the reality of a dirt road, that means snow, mud, and frozen ruts. The freezing and thawing of northern dirt roads is something to behold.
I spent three winters in the cove before we moved to just north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. We lived there until 1984 when we moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but even with being able to see water from our bedroom, it wasn't like winter in the cove.
There would be a number of stops along the way, but it would be thirty-four years before we once again got to have another winter in a cove. Our cove now is a quiet spot just off the White Oak River.
We are a lot closer to the water, and all the roads are paved. We can be at the Lowe's Supermarket in less than ten minutes. Next door is a Lowe's Home Improvement Center. There is a Walmart less than twenty minutes away. Compared to that first winter in the cove along the Bay of Fundy, we have all the modern conveniences.
We even have restaurants. There were none on our Nova Scotia shore except for Alice's Clam Shack which was open during the summer. Bridgetown didn't have a restaurant, but they did have a great hardware store. There was no Internet, and our phone line was a party line. I often did my shopping at Beaverfruit Cooperative in Lawrencetown. You could get a bag of feed for the cattle or pigs while picking up your groceries.
In spite of the many differences and forty years between the winters in the coves, there are some similarities. Life along the coast of North Carolina brings with it some isolation, but it is more self inflicted rather than absolute. Still the feeling of being out of the mainstream is similar to what I felt in St. Croix Cove in the early seventies.
The differences end being the sum total of how life in the country has changed over the last forty years.
Going to a restaurant from our home on the Nova Scotia cove required planning and at least forty-five minutes of driving in the winter. We can be at any of several restaurants in under ten minutes from our cove off the White Oak River.
It is not unusual for us to go to the grocery store several times a week. The Internet keeps us in touch with the people we chose instead of the those who want to listen in on the party line.
It was a mile hike to the shore in Nova Scotia, and it seemed the wind never stopped blowing. There never seemed to be a real warm spell in the winter.
Yet at the same time, the number of people we see on a winter day is not too far different from the number that we saw in Nova Scotia.
We are a lot closer to the water here in North Carolina. Still we live in an area where there is more wildlife than might be expected. Having the Croatan National Forest might have something to do with that.
We do get warm weather on the North Carolina coast even in January. This weekend which will mark the end of the third week of January, we should see temperatures approaching seventy degrees. Seventy degrees happens to be a nice summer day on the shore of Nova Scotia.
We just finished off some lettuce from our winter garden. You had to look for lettuce in those early Nova Scotia grocery stores, and you certainly couldn't get any from your garden in January.
I am pleased to have survived those first winters in the Nova Scotia cove. They make our winters here on our cove in North Carolina that much more enjoyable. So far this has been a remarkably nice winter along North Carolina's coast. Even during the fall we enjoyed weather that was hard to believe.
Of course winter lasts a long time in Nova Scotia and rarely stays very long in North Carolina, but it is not surprising that both places have their benefits and people who loving living in their unique climates.
You can find pictures of our Nova Scotia home and the cove at this Picasa Web Album. This winter picture is one that brings back a lot of memories from that first winter in the cove.
While we have seen snow in Bluewater Cove here along the White Oak, it is nothing like what we experienced in Nova Scotia.
|From Snow Shots Jan. 23, 2011|
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
If you try to take the heat head on, you need to be near some water where you can jump in quickly to cool off, and sometimes in this heat, a swimming pool does not provide a lot of cooling power.
The ocean waters by the beach are the last refuge of cool water here on the coast. When the swimming pools get too warm, the beach is the place to go. However, even there you have to plan your journey.
There is nothing worse than a long hike in the middle of day across hot beach sand if you dragging equipment for a group of people. We are lucky in the Emerald Isle area because our beach areas are rarely crowded during the week. It is rare that you have to walk very far to get your own space.
One of my favorite beach areas, Third Street Beach, requires a little driving, but it offers a short trip to the beach, and generally smaller numbers of people and sometimes even better fishing.
Another heat game that I play is getting out on the water before it turns hot. Sometimes if we are fishing, we will leave the dock by 6:00 AM and be back before 9 AM when it starts getting hot. Even if I am just going for a quick boat ride, I try to leave early and come back early. My favorite morning ride from the river to the sound usually starts by 7:30 AM and is over by 8:00 AM.
If the heat is especially bad, we sometimes don't even head over to the beach until 5:00 PM. Evening at the beach is one of my favorite times. It is hard to beat the light for photography, and there is almost always a breeze though even that can disappear on some very muggy nights.
As residents of the area, we are actually used to the heat. One of the tricks that we use is learning to live with air conditioning set at 78F so your body doesn't go into shock coming and going from the out of doors.
Another way to deal with the heat is learning to not rush. You can get a lot done outside in the heat if you learn to pace yourself, take breaks, drink lots of fluid, and find some shade when you need it.
While the heat might seem like an enemy, a few games will make it a less formidable opponent.
If you want more information about the beach and the Crystal Coast, check out my "Welcome to the Beach" page for links to other articles.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
My mother was fond of telling me that I was still wearing diapers on my first visit to the beach. I can remember the long trips across the two-lane roads to the coast from Lewisville, NC. We rode in my mother's blue 1952 Ford. Often it was packed with a couple of her nieces who are ten years older than me.
The cottages we stayed in were most often not even air conditioned and certainly not waterfront. It didn't matter to us that the beach was a block or two away. We just enjoyed being at the beach. It was not uncommon to bring our own water in jugs, and we always brought a good supply of homegrown tomatoes for sandwiches.
One of the treats of the whole trip would the "picnic" that would take place on the trip down to the beach. We would pull off the road at picnic table along the road and drag out the cooler and baskets. The fare was varied but always contained at least fried chicken and country ham biscuits. There were no McDonald's on the way to the beaches in the fifties, and I know they were not missed.
Not only has today's trip to the beach changed, but what you find in services once you get there is not very different from what you might at home.
Five years ago we moved to the Crystal Coast portion of the Southern Outer Banks. While we don't live on the beach, we live within just a few miles of the beaches of Emerald Isle. We can usually be parked and walking on the beaches in ten to fifteen minutes depending of course on which beach we choose.
During the busier times of the year, I will often opt for one of the more remote beaches such as Third Street or even my favorite beaches down Coast Guard Road by the Point. It requires a little hike to get to the Coast Guard Road beaches so you loose the impatient crowd pretty quickly. It is not unusual for me to go for a noontime walk on the beach at the Point.
On the way back from the beach, I can easily run some daily errands, including stopping by Winberry's Produce Stand, Lowe's Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, or even the grocery store.
It is hard to believe that we used to haul most of our food to the beach. We have four very nice supermarkets within a ten minute radius of our coastal home. If we want a little more variety, we can drive twenty minutes to Morehead City and visit the local Harris Teeter.
Grocery stores aren't the only thing that have come to the beach.
Every store that I could possibly want with the exception of a Penzey's Spice Store is within thirty minutes of our home. My wife is particularly happy about having a TJ Maxx, Bed, Bath, & Beyond and a Belk's within our normal circuit. We also take the time to make it to the newly remodeled SAMs Club in Jacksonville a couple of times a month. We have figured out that if we shop there around 6 PM on a weekday evening, we almost have the store to ourselves. Of course we have no shortage of Walmarts. There are two in Jacksonville, and one in Morehead City.
Accommodations at the beach have also changed. Today there are plenty of options from a cozy waterfront motel like the Islander in Emerald Isle to hundreds of ocean front or near ocean front homes. You might find an old beach cottage, but you would have to look for it. I was impressed with the survival of some old style beach cottages on a recent day trip to Nag's Head
We are lucky to be in the Emerald Isle area since there is almost no high density housing. There are also no high rise condos to blight the landscape. The picture included in the post was taken just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Emerald Isle. While the middle of June is not quite peak beach season, it is not far off of it, and there is still plenty of room on the beach for everyone. One of the reasons we live in the area is that quiet days are what we normally expect.
With the area not under the same pressure as the Northern Outer Banks, it isn't too much trouble to find some space for yourself on the beach or find even more elbow room by getting out on the water.
If you are interesting in visiting the Emerald Isle area, check out the 2011 version of my Emerald Isle Travel Guide. For more information about the area, you can visit the welcome page of Crystal Coast Life Blog or read my Swansboro area guide. You will also find a PDF Map of the area listing some things to do at the beach and a list of restaurant where you will find some very good food.
If you do visit us, don't be surprised to see an old guy wearing worn orange Crocs walking the beaches with a camera around his neck. I often go out searching for that perfect wave or beach bird picture. Sometimes I even carry a fishing rod for balance. Since March I have hiked all the beaches within the town limits of Emerald Isle at least twice.
Here is a link to some pictures of the beaches near the Point at Emerald Isle. If after visiting, you decide you love the area and want a place here, I can help with that also. Just check my real estate site and remember that having a REALTOR® who walks the beaches is actually an advantage.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Seventy seems to be something of a magical number. When the nights are consistently in the seventies, a lot of plants get very serious about their spring growth. Those warmer temperatures also bring some life to small creeks and guts which lead to the river and sound. Last night I heard lots of jumping in the water outside my office window. I know there are plenty of small fish swimming around the gut behind our house.
Warmer night temperatures are also favored by the palm trees and our centipede lawns. The only thing slowing down growth of everything has been the lack of rain. Even the Saturday that brought lots of tornadoes to North Carolina did not bring the Crystal Coast much rain. While our friends in Roanoke, Virginia reported over four inches of rain, we got one quarter inch or less in the area.
We have enjoyed blue skies since April 17, the day after the tornadoes. Fine weather has been with us since then. While we have had persistent wind, other than that it has been beautiful for most of April. Easter weekend was a great start to the beach season. However, the net result of all the wind and no rain is that we have been rather dry.
The line of thunderstorms that rolled through the area on April 26 helped greatly. While we didn't get a tremendous amount of precipitation, it was certainly enough to keep us going, and there are more showers in the forecast for later in the week. Once again we had beautiful blue skies this morning, but as the day moved along, it started to look more and more like rain was coming.
In the morning, after a morning run-in with a mother killdeer, I did my tomato plant maintenance, then mowed and trimmed the yard. When I went in for lunch, I turned on the sprinklers since the yard was so dry. I was well aware of the potential for rain on the evening of April 26, but I figured there was no danger of the yard getting too wet.
After lunch I cleaned our front deck, and then decided to tackle our skiff which is on a lift a few feet behind our home. I knew that I didn't have time to completely clean the boat, but I hoped the get some of the worst dirt off it. I was just finishing up when one of my fishing buddies showed up to visit. Of course having a visitor put an end to any serious cleaning.
After my friend left I was just getting ready to carry everything the few feet to our garage when I noticed some dust on the side of the boat. Likely it came from the construction site next to our home in Bluewater Cove. Hopefully they will be finished in a month. As I was spraying off the side of the boat, the rains came, and it was pouring before I could get everything disconnected and into the garage.
I got a little soaked, but it was a warm rain and a nice finish to a very productive day. The rains stopped in time for me to grill some hamburgers to go along with the fresh Florida corn on the cob that my wife had purchased on the weekend. The corn and the burgers were delicious. We even had a pretty good hothouse tomato to go with our burgers which were dressed with lettuce from our garden.