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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still Room at the Table

One of the things that attracted us to Carteret County was the relative lack of crowds. During most of the year, Carteret County has about 114 people per square mile. That compares to 2,636 people per square mile in Fairfax County, Virginia is where I spent most of my corporate working years. It a huge difference. Actually the difference is even bigger than that since the people per square is calculated using just the county's land area. If you added in the county's over 821 square miles of water, our population density drops to 44 people per square mile. While we have very few people living on the water all the time, we have lots of people who spend a considerable amount of time on the water. If space, freedom from crowds, and the ability to lose yourself on the water or a beach are important to you, the Crystal Coast has space for you, but there is more than that to it.
There is actually a seat at the table for you in Carteret County. By that I mean that we are small enough communities that you can be more than a face in the crowd. You can be someone who is recognized at the grocery store or whom the waitresses remember.

There are not a lot of layers of government here. Carteret County also functions mostly through small businesses. Lots of times, the person behind the counter or planting your palm tree might be the owner, son of the owner, or someone who has worked in the same business for years.

On the flip side of this, most people here in the county give others a fair amount of space. If you want to be left alone, that will not be a problem. If you want to find a spot to hide, there are plenty of cul de sacs where your closest neighbors will be herons and pine trees.

While people are extremely friendly when they stop to talk and drop into your world, they just as quickly can move out of your world and walk on down the beach.

We end up exchanging a fair amount of pleasantries along the beach, but I have never felt like I intruded upon or bothered another person. There is something about being beside the ocean that lets you be momentary friends as waves crash on the beach. Yet just as a wave expends itself and heads back out to sea so also do our temporary friends have a few words and then disappear down the beach.

It is definitely not like being on city street. Making eye contact and saying something just does not seem threatening on the beach.

Right now we are in an in between period. Our visitors this time of year mostly come down on the weekends sometimes adding a day or two to make a long weekend. There is more traffic over on the island on the weekends, but there certainly are no crowds.

As we get closer to June, we will start seeing more vacationers. Eventually the grocery stores will be pretty crowded from Fridays through Sundays. We will end up dodging some of our favorite restaurants during their busiest times.

It is a rhythm that is pretty easy to take. In the summer months we end up doing most of our boating during the weekdays. We often hit the beaches in the afternoons just as the serious beach lovers are departing. Going out to dinner on a Friday or a Saturday night at the busiest times will likely wait for a few weeks until the peak of the tourist season passes by in mid-August.

Then as Labor Day rolls around, we will pick some late season visitors with younger children. After that surge, aside for the fishermen, we are back to having all of the space to ourselves.

We are glad to have summer visitors because they keep our businesses running. Still it is nice to have plenty of elbow room back each fall. It is great to have crowds who leave before they become permanent.

The tourist season helps Carteret County continue to be a very attractive place for those of us who enjoy a night sky without a lot of additional light beyond the stars.

We get the benefits of a summer influx of people without having to take care of them all year. It ends up helping us have services and businesses that might not be justified by our year around population. It works out well for tourists and locals.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time To Stick Your Toes In the Water

Today we saw some real warmth. Areas inland started cooking a little early this year. Northern Virgina, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey all reported temperatures in the nineties. We were lucky here along the coast. The water temperatures are still in the sixties so we got a cooling breeze off the water for most of the day. I suspect we barely made it to eighty. Today's warm temperatures were still a real treat. Before we made it over to the beach, I managed to go kayaking. In spite of a strong headwind, I paddled out to the White Oak River with little difficulty. However, it appeared challenging enough with the wind blowing so hard that a neighbor, who was headed out in a powerboat, offered to give me a tow. I declined since I always enjoy my kayaking exercise. Besides as it turned out it would have been a quick trip to nowhere since my neighbors only made it to the first buoy before turning around because of the choppy conditions.
My trip back in the kayak was a lot of fun and required almost no paddling. All I had to do was stick a paddle in the water to occasionally guide the kayak. Since my kayaking trip was cut so short, I convinced my wife that a walk on the beach was in order. We headed over to the beach and drove from Emerald Isle towards the eastern regional access.

I was surprised to see so many parked cards at the Eastern Regional access point. We decided to head on to "our private beach," the Third Street beach. It was deserted as usual. In fact we looking as far as we could see, there was no one to the left or right of the beach access.

Our real reasons for going to beach were so my wife could look for seashells, and I could take a few pictures. Third Street is actually a much better shelling beach than Eastern Regional Access. As is often the case, I managed to get my bare feet wet pretty quickly. While there was a little initial shock from the April waters, it did not take long for my feet to get adjusted and cooled by he surf. Still it is a little too early to get seriously wet.

A pretty good breeze was also blowing along the coast so we did not stay very long on the beach. We headed home where I managed enough early evening energy to grill some chicken for a salad that my wife had planned to serve for dinner.

After the grilling got started, I opened a browser on my computer only to see some amazing temperatures. It is not often you see temperatures in the ninety along the I95 corridor this early in the year. After enjoying our brief time over on the shore so much, I guessed that a lot of people north and west of us would love a few minutes on the beach to cool their bodies and warm their souls like we had done.

Tonight the air has once again cooled into the sixties, It is perfect sleeping weather, and I have many of our windows up. It won't be long before the house is chilled just enough so the covers will feel nice.

It is my one of my favorite times of year. If you have not planned your 2009 beach vacation, now is the time to get it done. Come early. The azaleas are still blooming, the local strawberries are ripe, and we will soon have the first of this year's fresh shrimp.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally An Afternoon on the Water

It has been a long wait for that first comfortable time on the water, but today the wait was over. A little after eleven AM this morning we pulled away from the dock behind our house. A few minutes later I was reeling in the first fish of the season. I was excited even though my first fish was a small croaker that I immediately threw back. It was not the last croaker of the morning. We must have caught close to twenty of them. They were all too small for anything besides bait. But for a few minutes, we were having a lot of fun just being on the water under blue skies on the relatively quiet waters of the White Oak. It was just great to be out on the water without a jacket and with the knowledge that the water temperature was in the sixties.
Many of us live along the Crystal Coast just because it is easy to get out on the water. About the only thing that keeps us off the water is cold weather, heavy rain or winds. This year we have had all three. We made one attempt at fishing on the river in March. The air was relatively warm that day, but the cold water kept us chilled.

Friday, April 24, was a nice warm day with almost no clouds. It was a nearly perfect day to enjoy the out of doors.

It did not start that way. When I first got up in the morning, I thought we were in trouble. The fog was impressive. You could not even see the river from our house which normally has a great view of the White Oak. Fortunately the fog was a temporary situation.

A little after ten AM, I headed off to get some shrimp for bait and some ice for the coolers. Before I left, I happened to notice that our high tide was a little less that I like to see it. I made a mental note that I needed to be back from fishing before 3 PM if I wanted to get the skiff back on our lift.

My trip to Clyde Phillips confirmed that we are still eating and using frozen shrimp for a while longer. The guys behind the counter said that fresh shrimp were still a few days in the future. On the way home, I stopped for ice at one of the ice vending machines.

While I was loading up the boat, my wife fixed a couple of roast beef sandwiches from her latest crock pot roast. My fishing buddy, Dean, showed up, and after packing a few more things, we headed towards the White Oak.

The night before when I called to plan our trip, we had decided to fish one of our favorite holes just outside Bluewater Cove which is near Hancock Point. We had some great luck there last fall. Friday morning we had our nice run of croakers, but they did not last very long so we pulled the anchor and headed to Swansboro harbor.

I am pleased to report that the buoys marking the channel down the White Oak are in good shape. Everything seems to be where it should be. The big red buoy just before the bridge is missing, but that is it.

There were only a couple of boats in the harbor. After a few casts while drifting in the harbor, we decided to try in the marshes on the south side of the Intracoastal. It is one of my favorite spots for a number of reasons. It is often sheltered from the wind. You can usually catch an interesting mix of fish, and if the fish are not biting, there are lots of birds to watch. We got several hits but did not land anything. Someone who had been fishing in the area motored by and told us he had only gotten one trout which was too small to keep. Since we were not having any luck and the tide was rapidly falling, we decided to head back to our home dock.

It was a great trip back up the White Oak, We had the wind at our back so it was a smooth ride. We did have to pull up just before we got to Red 16 where we turn for Bluewater Cove. Someone had anchored in the middle of the channel. It is hard to believe some folks have so little concern for other boaters.

While we were only out for three or four hours, it was just the kind of spring tonic that I needed. Since we did not use all our shrimp, my wife and I turned them into a meal of shrimp and grits. I know that I will sleep like a baby after all that fresh air and a great meal.

We are already planning our next boat trip which will likely take us to Bogue Inlet. It will be the first of many this year.

The picture in today's post was taken from the marshes on the south side of the Intracoastal behind Dudley's Marina but looking towards Casper's Marina.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crystal Coast Treasures

My first thoughts about this topic had nothing to do with Blackbeard's treasure. Nor did it revolve around our many miles of pristine beaches. The idea for the post came to me while driving up Highway 58 this afternoon when I saw the sign that the local strawberries were ripe at Buck's Corner Farm. It occurred to me that in the few years that we have been living here, there have been some special things have made life on the Crystal Coast unique. Having local farm fresh strawberries in the month of April happens to one of those things which I treasure. For many years we lived along Canada's Atlantic coast. Strawberries were something that you hoped for the first week in July. The idea that strawberries could ripe in April was completely foreign since the ground often still had some snow on it in April. There are a lot of other Crystal Coast treasures.
After we picked out a big box of strawberries, we headed off for another of the area's special treats, fresh shrimp. We stopped at Captain Sam's in Cedar Point. Given all the wind we have seen for the last few weeks, I was not surprised that they have not been out shrimping yet. We settled for some frozen shrimp from last season, but I know we will see some fresh shrimp in the next few weeks. A bowl of chilled shrimp, freshly prepared and local caught, are really hard to beat.

I suspect my next local treasure is going to cause some chuckles, but to me it is as much as part of the area as shrimp. You can actually buy them in hardware stores and even the drug store over in Beaufort. If you have not guessed yet, that treat happens to be the locally prepared peanuts that are done by Swansboro Methodist men. We have friends who enjoyed them while visiting. They take some home and the next thing we know they will call us and ask us to bring peanuts when we travel back to Roanoke, VA.

Now I might disappoint some folks but not naming collards as a local treasure, but I do believe that Bogue Sound watermelons qualify as local treats. We try to get at least a couple to enjoy each year. We have also taken them back to Virginia for Fourth of July parties. The watermelons are something the area can justly be proud of producing.

Not all Crystal Coast treasures are food. I think the White Oak River qualifies as a treasure along with Bogue Inlet. Both are very unique in their own ways. I have wonderful memories that both have created.

Of course one of my absolute favorite area treasures is the Point at Emerald Isle. It is unique in many respects and ever changing as we all know. I fished there with my late uncle over 40 years ago when you could only get there by lots of four wheel driving.

Then there are the azaleas that seem to thrive here along the coast. I think I saw an azalea today about one half the size of a house. While the color they bring lasts just a week or two, it certainly is the most color that we see in the spring.

Of course I could continue and come up with a few events that should included, but I will save that for another post. Today the strawberries and azaleas are at the forefront.

Actually I think that I will go have another strawberry before I slide into bed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Being the Local Experts For Visiting Friends

You will not live on the Crystal Coast very long before you find that you have more friends from where you moved now than you did when you lived there. There is nothing mysterious about the situation, people love to travel, especially when there is a beach in the area. Having a personal tour guide makes the trip even better. If you add the prospect of some fresh seafood, and great weather after a cold winter, the idea of visiting your old neighbors becomes irresistible. We love having company from places we have lived previously. Often you end up getting to know people better when they come to visit than you knew them when they were neighbors. So far we have only had positive experiences. Perhaps details of a recent visit we hosted will show how much fun can be had by everyone.
Having guests come visit requires that you get out and learn your area. Most visitors come with little idea of what to do and depend on you for almost all their ideas. We have developed a number of activities that are suitable for guests. A lot depends on the individual guests, what they want to do, and sometimes what they can do.

Recently one of my college roommates came for visit. We started their visit by meeting them in New Bern for lunch. My friend is in a wheel chair so we had do a little extra planning, but things worked out very well. We arrived a few minutes ahead of them so we could find some nearby accessible parking. By communicating with our cell phones, as they came down Middle Street in New Bern, I stepped out, flagged them down and pointed them towards a nearby parking spot.

We had already checked that Captain Ratty's had a table that would work, so we were instantly seated, and it did not take long before my friend and I were enjoying a delicious appetizer of lightly fried oysters. The rest of the meal went very well. After visiting a few shops, we headed off to take advantage of this past weekend's free admission to the Tryon Palace gardens. Again we had talked to folks in the Welcome Center ahead of time to make certain we could navigate a wheel chair through gardens without any problems. We had a great time looking at the flower gardens and the vegetable gardens. We even browsed a plant sale that was taking place.

Around five pm after the ladies had checked out the palace gift shop, we got on the road to Beaufort where I had recommended our guests stay. We often have friends stay with us, but unfortunately we do not have a ramp for a wheel chair. After my friend and his wife checked into the Beaufort Inn, we headed off for quick tour of town and then dinner.

After perusing the specials on menus along Front Street, we picked an old favorite, Spouter's, for dinner. Both my roommate and I chose the fried soft shell crabs. Not only were they lightly breaded and perfectly cooked, but they were also huge. They were some of the best that I have ever enjoyed. The two ladies had pasta and bouillabaisse and were both impressed with their entrees.

After dinner my wife and I headed back to Cape Carteret with plans in hand to meet the next morning. We were back in Beaufort Saturday morning by 10:30 am. We wandered around Beaufort until the ladies struck gold in a book sale being conducted by the Beaufort Library. While they filled bags with books, we headed off to visit the Publick Day at the Beaufort Historical Site. After checking that out, we headed back to the book sale where without any surprise we found the ladies were still shopping.

We decided to head on to the Maritime Museum while they finished filling their bags with books. About half way through the museum, they managed to catch up with us. As always, we really enjoyed the museum. It never fails to be a treat, and our friends were very impressed with it. After the museum we had a somewhat forgettable meal by the water in Beaufort. When visiting a small restaurant where you have not eaten in a while, you can end up being a little disappointed or pleasantly surprised. We usually will not take visitors to a restaurant unless we have eaten there in the last three months. However, our plans changed at the last minute, and we took a gamble that did not work out. I knew that we should have gone for fried clams at the Crab Shack in Salter Path.

After lunch we headed off for a quick car tour of Fort Macon where we saw several folks dressed as Civil War soliders. It is a good thing that we had not planned to stop since there appeared to be no parking places. We continued on down the beach, stopping at a couple of locations to enjoy the waves.

We had offered our friends the choice of visiting the Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores or going for a hike to the sound at Emerald Woods. They chose the Emerald Woods trail. It turned out to be one of their favorite parts of the trip. The full trail all the way down to sound is completely accessible. My wife did worry when I took my roommate and his wheel chair onto the dock, but we were fine. He really enjoyed the opportunity to take some photos right on the water.

After that we gave them a tour of Bluewater Cove where we live and Swansboro. We tried one of our favorite fancy restaurants, but the wait was over an hour. We ended up at our favorite local spot, The Fairway. Our meals were exceptional and our friends were very pleased.

As we rode back with them to Beaufort to gather our car, it was obvious that they had enjoyed their visit to our little piece of paradise. We were very happy the weather cooperated and gave us two near perfect days. We have been at Tryon Palace when it is hot so we were very pleased by the almost perfect temperatures there.

When my wife and I drove back from Beaufort to Cape Carteret later in the evening, we started planning where to take one of my cousins and his wife who are spending the night with us this Thursday.

We enjoy being hosts, especially when our guests leave with a new appreciation of the Crystal Coast and nearby attractions. Showing people what a wonderful place the Crystal Coast is remains high on my list of good fun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beach Days on the Horizon

In the last two days my rain gauge has gathered 1.6 inches of precipitation. Part of my yard feels like a giant sponge. Still I know that the weather is changing. I can feel it, the sky has a different color in the evening. Other signs are all around. Azaleas and tulips are blooming. There are some ripe strawberries showing in the rows of the local u-pick farm. It is the heart of spring on the coast, and we are likely just a few days from our first really warm weather. I knew that would be the case before I checked the long term weather forecast for the Crystal Coast. And I was pleased to find that on three of the last four days of the month, we should see our temperatures rise into the low eighties. That is the way it should be, and eighty degrees with a nice coastal breeze is just about the perfect temperature for lots of things.
The eighty degree weather will provide heat to create some growth in our centipede yards. While they have mostly turned green, they still have not hit their stride because of the lack of heat. Soon the sounds of mowers will be a regular weekly feature in the area.

With all the moisture that we have in the ground, heat will make many things besides the grass grow. I am counting on some serious heat since my tomato plants have some early blooms. For many years I have taken part in an annual tomato race with some friends to see who gets the first ripe tomato of the season. Last year I won the contest with a June 1 ripe tomato. I would like to repeat that victory, but I need some heat to make it happen. My first BLT of the season is dependent on warm temperatures.

May brings many of our early beach visitors, those folks who want to get here while the beaches are uncrowded and the rental rates are lower than in the summer season. We need those eighty degree days to start taking the chill off the beach waters. My New England friends have been known to go in our water in late April and early May. Some warming of our water will prevent them from turning blue and keep them coming back year after year.

The warming waters will also mark the first shrimp catches of the season. We have been living off of frozen shrimp for a few months now. Almost any day we will hear of some nice fresh shrimp being caught. As good as the flash frozen local shrimp are, the fresh ones are even better. I am looking forward to my first fresh shrimp cocktail of the season and perhaps a nice meal of fresh shrimp and grits.

About the same time the shrimp appear we should have some luck catching fish in the rivers and sounds. The experts are already pulling in some local fish, and soon it will be time for those of us who are not as serious about fishing to have some luck. Last year I caught the first flounder of the season on April 21. I hope to do at least as well this year.

The heat should soon deliver my favorite spring treat, local strawberries, which are already slightly overdue. In the two previous years, we were already eating fresh, delicious strawberries at this time of year. I am guessing that we will see some within the next four or five days. To me the fresh strawberries are the first real signs that we have survived winter and are actually on our way to summer. There is nothing like some fresh strawberry shortcake and a batch of strawberry freezer jam in April to remind you of why living along the coast in North Carolina is such a great idea.

As the heat sneaks up on us, it will not be long before those evening beach walks are back in fashion.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Other Reason To Come To the Coast

It is no secret among those of us who live here on the coast. There are two special places that people come to the Crystal Coast to visit. The better known spot is the beach with its waves and hot sands. Then there are people who come to the coast just to enjoy Bogue Sound. Some never even make it to the beach. In fact if you counted the number of residents living year round on the sound and compared that number to the number of people living year round on the ocean, my guess is that the sound would win. There are number of reasons why people love the sound and the lifestyle that it brings. Perhaps the number one reason is that you can have a boat, kayak, or small sailboat. Having easily accessible water transportation leads to lots of fun on the water. Of course there are a number of other reasons to love the sound.
Perhaps the other top reason for loving the sound is that life just seems a little more relaxed on the sound. The breezes are usually a little lighter, the sound of the waves is in the distance, and the pace of life just a little slower along the shores of the sound. As I watch people gather for the sunsets, I wonder how much more relaxed can you get than enjoying your favorite beverage and watching a Bogue Sound sunset?

Being over on the sound side does not remove all weather challenges by any means. However, you can often count on the sound not being as rough as the ocean. Usually the winds are tempered somewhat though that depends a lot on the direction of the winds.

Certainly the sound is usually a more protected spot during a Nor'easter, but you can have sound side flooding under the right conditions.

I believe part of the attraction of living on the sound is that the neighborhoods are very quiet and usually have lots of trees. If you live on the beach, there are several months out of the year when lots of people are going to be walking by your home. If you love people watching, it is great.

If you are looking for more seclusion, there are few beaches on the sound. It just makes soundfront homes more private.

Another attraction of the sound is boat traffic. It is rare day when boats are not visible on Bogue Sound. With the Intracoastal in the distance, there is almost always some boat traffic to enjoy.

Another plus for some people is that it is also easier on the sound side to get a more traditional yard for children and gardeners to enjoy. It is not unusual to see significant landscaping around soundfront homes.

I am most envious of the folks sitting on their docks and just watching the waters of Bogue Sound. It is a great way to relax and maybe even fish a little.

The average soundfront property usually has a spot where you can easily launch a kayak. Going kayaking becomes something very spontaneous. Instead of having to haul the kayak over the dunes and across the beach, you just slide it into the water. There is no boat launch easier. Also there is nothing more beautiful than a Bogue Sound sunset from a kayak.

Finally for those looking for one last reason people enjoy the Bogue Sound side of the island, the streets are often shaded by trees which makes them much more attractive for evening walks during our warm summer months. The trees end up being protection from wind and sun.

So the next time you think Crystal Coast, you might want to consider renting a home along the sound. It is certainly an unique experience.

Of course if you cannot make up your mind, there are places you can be soundfront and only third row from the beach. You likely will not get those shaded streets in an area of the island that narrow, but you certainly will have views of both the sound and the ocean.

It can end up being the best of both worlds.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time To Be Out and About on the Crystal Coast

This is the kind of weather that we live for here on the Crystal Coast. I love the warm days and cool nights. I do most of my writing at night, and there is nothing that I enjoy more than feeling the cool evening breeze through my office while hearing the fish jumping in the water behind our home. This has been close to a perfect weekend here on the coast after a couple of days of rain. The azaleas have started blooming, and not to be outdone the dogwoods have also opened up over the last couple of days. Today and yesterday, I even saw folks put their boats in the water for some early spring boating. It was a little windy on Saturday, but the winds backed off some on Sunday. While I am waiting for a little warmer weather before hitting the water, we did have a busy weekend which is typical of this time of year on the Crystal Coast.
Saturday found us heading for Newport for the annual Pig Cook off. It is a wonderful town festival, but the most important thing is that they have great barbecue which they start serving at 11:00 am Saturday after all the pigs have been judged. We got there a little after 1 PM and spent a short time waiting in line before getting our barbecue lunch consisting of pulled pork, beans, slaw and hush puppies. They have tables where you can eat. We met some nice folks from Salter Path and Beaufort while having lunch.

After finishing our iced tea, we took a short walk around the craft exhibits, and then headed off on another adventure. We were determined to visit the Core Sound Museum on Harkers Island. The distance is probably close to twenty miles from the Beaufort drawbridge, but it takes thirty to thirty-five minutes to drive because of the traffic in and around Beaufort.

It was a great day for the drive. I love the road to Harkers Island. It reminds me of southwestern Nova Scotia where we lived for a few years. You are never far from the water and most of the time the water is on both sides of you. It is true Down East country with wide expanses of water as far as you can see.

Just after Otway, you make a turn for the four mile run to the Harkers Island Bridge. Just after you cross the bridge there is a small marina filled with honest to goodness fishing boats. The four mile drive up the length of the island to the Core Sound Museum takes you through a closely knit community with some wonderful traditional waterfront homes surrounded by live oaks. There are some great old houses along the way. You also pass some local ferry services that will take you over to Cape Lookout or Shackleford banks.

We have made use of Calico Jack's Ferry Service a couple of times for magical visits to Cape Lookout. It is not a place you can visit without it touching your soul. Still the water on Saturday would have been a little rough for the short ten minute ride even if the ferries had been running. On top of that Cape Lookout is a summer activity not an early spring one so kept on going to the Core Sound Museum.

By the time we arrived the other visitors had disappeared, and we had the museum to ourselves. We even got our own personal guide in the form of the local lady who was running the gift shop. I was amazed at how much history is in the community exhibits from all over Down East. The museum is a wonderful community resource. In addition to the history there are some fantastic craft exhibits from carved decoys to hand stitched quilts which are still done by the local ladies in the museum. There are also several scale models of boats that have been important to the history of the area.

The museum is free and supported by donations and fund raising events. We really enjoyed our tour and will look forward to new parts of the museum as they open. As we were leaving we picked up a brochure on the self-guided nature trails around the museum. Since the day was drawing to a close, we chose the short Willow Pond trail. We were not disappointed. The trees on one side of the pond were full of white Ibises. The beautiful birds were there in numbers that I have never seen. The trail also included a bird blind to make taking pictures easy. I did see one white heron and one green heron among all the others. I made a slide show of our visit and hike.

On our way back to Cape Carteret, we stopped by the Fish Town Seafood Market and bought some shrimp. When we got home my wife cooked up some spicy cheese and garlic grits from Savor the Flavor in Sumter, SC. I cleaned the shrimp and then she sauteed them in a little olive oil with some onions. Then all it took was a scoop of grits, a big scoop of shrimp, and some crumbled bacon, and we had a great meal of home cooked shrimp and grits.

It was a great finish for one of those days that just demand that you spend time outside. The great news is that Sunday was just as nice. We managed to get in a hike on the Croatan Tideland Trail.