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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back To Normal at the Beach

I have to admit to being impressed by the number of visitors who showed up for Memorial Day weekend. We did venture over to Emerald Isle during peak time on Saturday. I guess we were lucky it only took us an extra six or seven minutes to make the trip to the stoplight where you turn to go to Bogue Inlet Pier. I heard that there was an accident on the bridge earlier Saturday morning that caused a lenghty delay. I can understand the frustration that some people might feel getting caught on the bridge. I look at it a little differently. When they are working on the bridge, I will often make extra trips hoping that I get stopped on the bridge so I can take pictures. Aside from the accident on the bridge, I have not seen reports of any other problems. Of course on Tuesday it was like the tide of people had receded, and things were back to normal.
When we were in the stop and go bridge traffic on Saturday, my wife counted nine boats in the Intracoastal on the east side of the bridge, I counted five on the west side and saw two sea-doos in a channel headed to the ICW. Tuesday when we made the same trip, we saw a total of two boats.

My holiday boating was confined to Friday morning, but I talked to several people who did put their boats in during Memorial Day weekend. No one seemed to think the waters were overly crowded.

When we walked the beaches on Saturday night, we were impressed with the number of people still out enjoying the water at 8 PM.

Of course the number of people on the beaches has also dropped. The biggest difference has to be the grocery stores. They are back to being almost empty. It was nice to see everything very busy over the weekend, but it is also nice to catch our breath before the next wave of visitors shows up.

Storms have been crossing the area for the last few days. They are expected to continue through Friday night. Then things are to clear up, and the weather looks to be fantastic through at least the middle of next week.

Last year I went for my first ocean swim on June 3rd. We had been through some much warmer weather last year, but I am still hoping to duck my head in the water next week. When I get really hot, my formula for cooling off is simple. I position myself so that an ocean wave will smack me right in the middle of my back. That has never failed to cool me off. Of course I have also been flattened a couple of times.

As we move into the first week of June, we will see an increase in people staying for a whole week. Fishing should pick up also. Our next wave of area vegetables should be on us as the tomatoes soon start to ripen. The strawberries might be finished this week, but I will actually trade strawberries for a ripe tomato and some sweet corn any day. The local sweet corn will take a little longer, but it will be worth the wait.

Another week of busy grocery stores on Friday through Sunday should firmly push us into our summer rhythm of shopping from Monday through Thursday.

There was one more sure sign of summer and of things returning to normal. Some fresh shrimp were brought in during the last week. We fixed some delicious ones Wednesday night. I am already looking forward to my next batch of shrimp and some more beach visitors.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What Makes a Vacation Memorable?

We all come to the beach with different agendas. Some folks come specifically not to have an agenda. Others have a definite list of things that they want to accomplish. We just hosted our daughter from Northern Virginia. She called several days ago, and she told us that she just needed to get out of the big city. Our family B&B does that very well. In our cul de sac on most nights you can see more stars than most people could dream. The only noise happens to be frogs, and they are random. My daughter has visited us a number of times, so she came with a few things on her list. One thing was to sit on our upper front porch and read a book. Another was to go for a boat ride. She also was counting on an evening walk on the beach. Beyond that she wanted to have a very restful nap., It is interesting to see how her visit worked out.
One of my jobs when we have visitors is to cook at least one hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Since we had planned a boat ride for the first morning, we had our substantial breakfast the first morning. We had a relaxing breakfast until the last cup of coffee was gone, but still we managed to leave our dock at about 10 AM. I considered that pretty good since we had been up until midnight the previous night waiting for my daughter to arrive.

Our boat trip was just a short one but it allowed us a nice ride over to the marshes on the other side of Intracoastal Waterway at Swansboro harbor. It was a very pleasant out on the boat. I am pleased to report that my daughter enjoyed it greatly.

Since we got back well after noon from the boat ride, we decided on a late lunch at Jordan's. My daughter said earlier that you cannot have a proper beach visit without some fried Carolina seafood. I had a nice plate of flounder and oysters to support her statement.

That evening we tried to work off a little of the Carolina seafood by going for a walk on the pier at Bogue Inlet. This was a new experience for my daughter, but I always enjoy walking on the pier to check the pulse of the community. That evening we got to watch surfers and young couple strolling along the shore. There was also a good cross section of humanity on the pier, fishing and watching the fishing. I did point out to my wife that a number women seemed to have their hands on fishing poles.

Next morning we ened up at Yana Mama's for pancakes for the ladies. After breakfast we visited the shops of Swansboro. Another thing on my daughter's check list was a visit to shop on Front Street that carries, Vera Bradly purses. She had a goal of getting her mother's day shopping out of the way. It took a while to accomplish that mission, but we did get it done. That afternoon I had to work some so I think there was serious reading done at home.

When I got home everyone wanted to ride over to the beach which we did. After checking out the sights, we ended up at the Captain Willis Seafood Shop. They were slicing up some beautiful salmon; so we took home a piece to go on the grill. A friend had given us some homegrown Romaine lettuce. I had an errand to do in River Oaks Plantation. While I was in visiting with my client, my wife and daughter decided to walk the subdivision. Apparently they had a great walk except for a disagreement with three Canadian geese at the boat ramp.

After we got home there was just enough time to relax a little before grilling our salmon. It turned out to be very good, and the meal prompted us to head over to the beach for a walk. We were fortunate that much of the day's traffic had disappeared. We stopped at the Western Regional Beach Access and walked until a little after 8 PM. There were still people on the beach when we left.

Sunday morning was oatmeal in the crock pot and a trip to Beaufort to try to catch the NIna and Pinta. When we got there, we figured out that they had canceled their trip. We made it back to Cape Carteret in time to show my daughter a neat home in Cape Carteret that we had seen on our real estate caravan that week. After that I headed off to work while my wife and daughter headed home to get her packed up for the trip back to DC.

My daughter was still at the house when I got there a little after 5 PM. I guess she had finished her list by taking a long nap before the seven hours drive back to DC.

I think her beach trip was a success. There were a lot of moments that went into making it memorable. I suspect the altercation with the Canadian geese will be a lifelong memory.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Summer Is Off To a Great Start

The summer season is here, and as a local waitress said to me in the line for groceries this evening, "Life as we know it has ended for a while." Based on traffic going across the Emerald Isle Bridge this evening, I would say that the tourists have come back to the beach in force. When we drove across the bridge, traffic was slow because of a fender bender that happened just as you come off the bridge onto Emerald Isle. Even then, traffic was moving smoothly. As soon as we got a whiff of some salt air, the group decided to take the pulse of the town and walk the Bogue Inlet Pier. The pier parking lot was as full as I have seen since last fall. It was a great evening for a walk, and we saw lots of activity on the beach and pier. Though we saw some nice Spanish mackerel being cleaned, we did not see any fish pulled in while we were on the pier.
My daughter from Northern Virginia was with us, and this turned out to be her first visit to our famous pier. She is a big fan of our quiet and uncrowded beaches so I was curious to find out what she would think of the pier. She finally turned to me and said it was like being at a very laid back party.

I think she hit the nail on the head. From our perch on the pier we could see young children playing in the shallow water, There were also surfers actually catching a wave once in a while. Then there were a number of young couples enjoying walks on the beach and on the pier.

Some older folks like us were on the pier to watch the spectacular sunset that we got this evening as the sun dropped behind the beach houses. While it was cool on the pier, everyone seemed to be having fun. There were people fishing of every imaginable description. I took great pleasure in pointing out to my wife the large number ladies who actually had fishing poles in their hands. Somehow I doubt that it helped my case that she should get a license in case I get a couple of fish on different rigs.

It took us a while to get back to our truck since my wife had to visit with a dog that had just come off of the beach. Cruising back through Emerald Isle confirmed that we are on our way to what looks to be a very good crowd this weekend.

Jordan's and the Dairy Queen both had good crowds. There was so many cars parked in the Food Lion parking lot that we decided to see if Lowe's might have fewer folks so we could sneak in and pick up four or five things. My wife likes to play grocery store roulette which is my term for visiting a grocery store during summer on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

While there was also a good crowd at Lowe's, we decided to give it a try. It actually was not too bad. The exceptions were the aisle with bottled water and the area near the milk. I am glad that I am on Western Carteret Water and do not need bottled water. It looked like a swarm of locusts had consumed all of the water. The milk and junk foods also looked well shopped.

As we were leaving, I thought the crowds looked to be thinning a little. I said something about it to one of the managers. He said that the crowds had been at full force all day, and that it was good things things were slowing since they were starting to run out of some things.

I think almost all residents are excited to have some company here on the beach. Personally I am really happy to see a very good crowd here this weekend. I hope everyone enjoys their time on the beach, and manages to get home safely.

Here are some pictures of our walk on Bogue Inlet pier and some pictures of having fun on the White Oak in our skiff this morning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Season Is on the Horizon

It is hard to believe that I was standing on the beach on Saturday and wishing that I could ditch all my camera gear and go for a swim. Today I had to switch back to bluejeans and a long sleeved tee shirt in order to stay warm. As I wrote in this post predicting nice weather for the weekend, there are detours along the road to summer. This recent cool weather is one of them. It seems as summer gets closer, I can almost feel the warm wind on me as we head down the Intracoastal Waterway and make the turn to go out Bogue Inlet. Perhaps being deprived of the chance for some early season boating has made the memories even more vivid. We will soon have days as nice as this one pictured when the sunrise was shining on the shrimp boats at Clyde Phillips (photo taken June 3, 2009). Already more people are over on the beaches. The changes are coming as beach season arrives.
Even today the Emerald Isle Food Lion, which has slumbered through the last several months, was a beehive of activity for a few minutes. It was just a preview for what we can expect this weekend.

In fact Saturday over on the beach felt like summer to me. There were folks in the water, the sun was hot, and people were having a great time. Gas prices also jumped a few cents over the weekend. It looks like summer is here to me. If we can just make it through one more cool day, to Wednesday, the temperatures will climb back into the seventies. That should get us back on the road to summer.

I am certain that we will not go into summer worrying about drought this year. We have had our fair share of moisture. Gasoline, while rising in price, is still much more reasonably priced that it was last summer. As far as I can tell, aside from the construction to replace the fire damaged Valero gas station on Coast Guard Road, Emerald Isle seems ready for visitors.

The extension of the bike lane a little ways down Coast Guard Road has been completed. The beaches look great. The access to the Point has been repaired, and the pedestrian access is open and ready for bare feet.

Area restaurants have been going steady all season. There are few new ones around, and I am sure that all will be busy this weekend. I have just seen advertising that what was once Gourmet Cafe is now a new Mexican restaurant.

Since last season, Swansboro has completed its new Riverwalk Park. There are now some nice boardwalks down on the north side of Highway 24 by the river. They also have a brand new picnic area just off the parking lot. It is across the road from the First Citizens Bank. I was impressed to see an accessible picnic table which can be used by someone in a wheelchair.

I understand that dredging has been completed over to Hammocks Beach Park on Bear Island. Of course other places have not been dredged. So as usual, boaters need to pay attention. If not they might be doing some pushing to get off of some new sandbars.

During the winter Emerald Isle finished up their accessible ramps at both the Eastern and Western Regional Accesses. Each has a nice platform. If you want to look at beach without getting sand between your toes, the new platforms are just the ticket.

Up Beaufort way, the newly renovated boat ramp and kayak ramp at the far end of Front Street has opened. I have heard that the parking lot has even been paved.

Since last season, we have added a new Harris Teeter grocery store in Morehead City along with a Panera, another Dunkin Donuts, and a Chick-Fil-A. A new Quiznos recently opened in Cape Carteret.

I think that our ducks are all in a row. All we need are visitors and some great weather for them this weekend. For my sake I would like for the fish to be biting on Thursday and Friday of this week. As long as the wind is not blowing, I plan to be fishing then.

That will be a great way for me to personally kick off the summer beach season. It is about time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Peace on the Beach

May is a a transition month here on the beach. The waters are warming up, the winds are dying down, and we are beginning to see a trickle of our summer visitors. There is more traffic over on the Island, but not so much that it makes any real difference. The grocery stores are a little more crowded on the weekend, but really this is the quiet before the storm. The beaches are still virtually empty except on the nice warm weekends which seem to draw a fair number of people who come for the day. May is stiil a time when one can find plenty of peace and near isolation on the beaches during the week. It has been a busy week for me. I spent much of the week on real estate work including a movie which is a virtual tour for an upcoming listing. After lunch on Friday, I was ready for some beach time. I was fairly sure that we would have the beach to ourselves.
Around 3 PM we loaded the car for the trip. The gear I put in the car was simple but included my favorite lightweight surf rod and my tiny fishing bucket which has a few lures, a pair of pliers, and a fishing glove. A couple of cameras also made the trip with us.

We rarely sit on the beach since both my wife and I prefer to stroll along the water's edge so we did not bother with chairs. The quick trip through Emerald Isle confirmed that there were a few more people in town but nothing serious to cause worry. It was only a few minutes before we drove by the eastern regional beach access and a few drops of rain started hitting the car. I noticed that there were only a couple of cars at the eastern regional access.

Seeing so few cars there practically guaranteed that we would have Third Street Beach to ourselves. The rain kept sputtering on us as we drove further east, but it never got to the point of being serious. However based on the puddles, there had been some substantial rain just before we arrived.

There were just a few very light sprinkles coming down as we turned into the empty parking lot at the beach access. While the rain was a non event as far as I was concerned, my wife announced that rain meant wet sand which would stick to her feet. I rolled my eyes and handed her the keys to the car. Then I strolled over to the beach.

She headed off for a walk along the shore road. Just as I was walking onto the beach, a young father walked into the parking lot with his three year old daughter. While I proceeded a little east along the beach until I found water that looked right, they set up shop directly down from the access point.

I was actually happy to see them. Watching youngsters experience the pure delight of playing in sand and water, is something that always brings a smile to my face.

I took my camera out of my pocket and snapped a couple pictures to get a feel for the light and scenery. Then I attached a gold Gotcha lure to my line and started flipping the lure into the water just inside the sandbars where the waves were breaking. I actually was not expecting to catch anything. I just wanted to get my feet in the water and do a little casting.

That is exactly what I did. While the little girl played in the water and built sand castles, I focused on working the water in front of me. I did not see any signs of fish, but the ocean water was warm on my bare feet, and the gentle roar of the waves was the only sound that I could hear. My wife even called me on my cell phone, and I did not hear it ring.

I probably fished in the same general area for twenty minutes or so before deciding that the picture I wanted to take for this post was probably a little farther west on the beach. I gathered up my tackle bucket and waded past the little girl and her father. We exchanged some beach chat as I headed to my new position on the beach.

I fished a few more minutes while waiting for a little more of the sky to go from clouds to blue. Then I snapped twenty or thirty pictures so I could have some nice choices for this post.

After the photos, I briefly considered switching lures, but since I had seen no birds feeding or schools of fish, I decided to make a few more casts and call it a day. I noticed my wife had been watching me for a few minutes from the safety of a picnic table surrounded by decking.

It was not long before I made my way up the stairs to the picnic table. My wife asked why I was giving up so easily. I think I mentioned something about being nicely refreshed and headed to the car to load my fishing rod and camera for the trip home. I noticed that the dad and his little girl had been close on my heels when I left the beach. They walked through the parking lot to the rental house across the street.

I was refreshed as I told my wife, but a better description would be cleansed. I had forgotten about some frustrations from the week. My mind had moved on to some new thoughts, mostly about fishing. When we went by Jordan's Restaurant and the Fairway Restaurant, I noticed that the evening crowds were starting to build.

As we drove home, I wondered if there might be time to sneak in a short kayak trip out into the river before dark.

As luck would have it, dinner was a frozen flatbread pizza which quickly cooked in the oven. About ten minutes after seven PM, I slid my kayak into the water and started the short paddle out to the White Oak River. Our inlet was very peaceful, but by the time I got into the White Oak, there were some fairly serious waves for a kayak, dark clouds, and a strong wind coming in from the ocean. I managed to hold my position in our boat channel for fifteen minutes while I hoped for a spectacular sunset.

It was not meant to be. The sun stayed far behind the clouds so I quickly turned and paddled back to our dock. I had not even bothered to make a single cast with my fishing rod which always makes the trip in the kayak. In the space of a few hours, I felt like I had been in three different climate zones, beach, inlet, and river. They were not very far apart in distance, but the beach and inlet were far more pleasant than the river.

As I was putting my gear away for the evening, my thoughts drifted back to the peace that I found on the beach. It was definitely the highlight of my day. The memory looked even better transposed against the waves, wind, and dark clouds that I found on the White Oak.

I am going to hope for a fine beach sunset tomorrow night. I think waiting for that with my feet in the warm salt water might be a good way to end a Saturday. Who knows I might even catch a fish?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

We all have favorite things or moments. Some of them are tied to a place or evoke memories of a favorite spot. Sometime our favorites do not make a lot of sense. I actually enjoy mowing my yard as long as all the grass is long enough to tell where I have just mowed. If you have centipede grass, you will be able to relate to my feelings. It is a little strange enjoying mowing, but once in a while it brings back memories of days when I mowed acres and acres of hay fields. Then just as now getting the job done brings a sense of accomplishment that makes you feel good. There are plenty of easier things along the Crystal Coast that can make you feel good. One of my favorite diversions is to drive across the bridge to Emerald Isle. There are times when I wish I could pull over and stop at the top just to gaze at the Intracoastal Waterway. The beauty of Bogue Sound always inspires me. I also have some favorite things that are less grand than Bogue Sound.
One of them is fresh local strawberries. We have been enjoying berries for a while now, but today my wife declared that it was time to put up the freezer jam for the next year. At one time we canned, froze, pickled, and put away much of our food. Today we grow tomatoes and always try to put up some strawberry freezer jam. That is about it. There is nothing like strawberry freezer jam to bring back memories of summer on a cold winter day. We had enough strawberries today to have strawberry shortcake. The homemade shortcake was still warm from the oven when we had our dessert.

High on my list of favorite things is kayaking in the White Oak River. On a day when the winds are calm, I can stay out there for hours just exploring, taking pictures, and occasionally pretending that I am fishing. Once in a while, I will catch something, but most of the time I just relax and let the beautiful scenery burn its image into my memory.

Of course I love walking along the beaches. My favorite beach for walking is just to the east of the Point. I love the huge expanses of sand. I also enjoy Third Street beach when I am in a mood for looking at shells.

Perhaps one of my most favorite things is finding an island in Bogue Inlet and surf fishing from it. Beaching the skiff and then anchoring it just off the island while we fish is just lots of fun. Having a whole island to wander with only one other person is a great way to enjoy the ocean.

Being in real estate gives me some opportunities that others might not have. An example would be taking pictures for an oceanfront listing. I have caught myself sitting in one of those oceanfront rocking chairs and imaging waking up to a sunrise on the shore.

Some smaller pleasures that I enjoy almost every day are walking out on my dock to check the tide. I enjoy the mirror images of the trees in the water. I also spend time on our deck which looks out to the White Oak River. The wonderful summer breezes from the White Oak and warm morning sun can almost put one in a trance. I can often watch white herons feeding or like today see a hawk in close pursuit of some prey. The jumping mullet seem always to be around.

Then there is one of my greatest pleasures, the first homegrown tomato sandwich of the year. We are rapidly closing on that event. With favorable weather, it could happen as early the first of June. I can almost taste it now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Waiting For the Winds To Die Down

It seems that April and May have more than their share of breezes as the land and the sea try to work into a temperature equilibrium. Lots of wind means those of us fishing from smaller boats end up staying on shore. People visiting the beaches on a windy day can get some minor sand blasting. Areas farther inland will often get seriously warm while we have enough of a breeze to make things very comfortable sometimes even cool. We get some days when it seems like our summer weather pattern is close to being established, and then the winds start blowing again. It becomes a waiting and guessing game. When will the winds finally drop down so we can enjoy the area waters and beaches? It is a question that gets asked each year.
Saturday, May 9, was about as nice a late spring day as you could ask for along the Crystal Coast. The temperatures were in the upper seventies. The sky was blue, and there was not a hint of severe weather during the day.

All was nearly perfect except for the winds which were steady all day long. The winds did not stop us from our yard work. In fact the winds made our chores more pleasant. I even washed our car and truck. Drying them off was easy since the winds did most of the work.

Yet the White Oak River was far too stirred up to venture out in our skiff. The white caps that I could see from my deck also made it clear that kayaking would not be fun. I did notice some people going to the subdivision pool, but I generally like to do my swimming after the weather has settled into the mid eighties for a few days. Years of living in the north have made me a little slow about jumping into the water before June.

Eventually we decided to go over to the beach in spite of the winds. My guess was that it was too windy for many people to be there. I actually was hoping to record some wave sounds for a little movie project that I am doing. Lots of people would spoil my opportunity so I was hoping for an uncrowded and relatively empty beach.

On our way to the beach we made a slight detour and stopped by Clyde Phillip's seafood. I have been craving some home cooked flounder. With no opportunity to fish, I put myself in a corner. Buying a nice one at just a little over two pounds was the only way to get flounder in the pan. After the experts had turned it into four boneless fillets and iced it down, we resumed our beach trip.

On the way over we noticed a sign at Captain Sam's Seafood. They were advertising fresh shrimp. A week ago they were still working on their boat, but it appears they have been out and come back with the first of the 2009 shrimp for the area. That is a positive sign.

Our trip through Emerald Isle confirmed that our weekend visitors are still coming. The Emerald Isle police had a car and a motorcycle pulled over just before Emerald Plantation. The porch of Jordan's was packed with diners waiting to get into the restaurant.

It did not take us long to get to the Eastern Regional Access. I was really surprised to see a pretty good weekend crowd for this time of year. People seemed to be ignoring the wind. There were actually some people in the water up to their knees.

It would not have been my perfect beach day, but I guess if you are visiting, you have to take the weather that you are dealt, and today was sunny and warm in spite of the wind.

After meeting a couple of Siberian huskies coming off the beach with their owners, we headed back home to wait for a better beach day. There was no reason for us not to be picky, the closer beach spots are less than ten minutes from home. Still the trip was not a failure. I did get a few nice pictures including the one at the top of the post.

Our trip back to Bluewater Cove did not take long. Shortly after we got home, I was dropping some flounder into the frying pan. Pan fried flounder is a southern classic which always makes we wonder why the winds will not stop blowing so I can go flounder fishing.

If some of our local experts are to be believed, the winds should stop by the end of May. I am counting on that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Walking a Beach

The way you walk a beach says a lot about you. My wife and I often walk the same beach in totally different ways. When I first get on a beach, I make a couple of calculations. The first is whether there are fewer people to the east of me or to the west. I always lean towards the less crowded areas. Our beaches on the Crystal Coast run east west. My second thought has to do with light. I prefer to walk with the sun to my back when I first start out. The color in pictures is easier to control and that lets me walk back into a sunset on our return if we time things correctly. If I have a conflict between number of people on the beach and sun at my back, I usually walk with the sun at my back. Beyond picking your direction on the beach, you also have to decide where in relation to the water you will walk.
Deciding how near to the water you will walk often provides some quick personal information. Assuming the water is anywhere close to warm, I will walk in the water since I do not mind getting wet. Actually I like to get wet, and in warm weather I am often in a bathing suit with a towel back at the car. I use the towel to keep my car seat dry. When it is really warm, I often go for a quick swim. It is not a surprise that I am a fisherman.

My wife dislikes getting wet but loves to look at shells. She often walks just a few feet above where the waves are reaching. She also does not like the sand to stick to her feet. If she keep her feet dry, she can easily brush the sand off. If the weather is hot enough for her to get her feet wet, she will likely have chosen a beach which provides water to clean the sand from your feet. My wife loves the beach, but she would prefer that the sand stay on the beach.

While I enjoy looking at shells, I would much rather see some bluefish chasing menhaden in the surf. The possibility of that happening would explain the fishing rod that is sometimes my companion on beach walks. I end up looking like the ultimate tourist with camera around my neck and a fishing rod over by shoulder.

The great thing about the beach is that you can look like a tourist and not feel bad about it. Our beaches are all about enjoying the beach while not worrying about how you look.

You do not make many trips along the beach before you figure out that it is ever changing. The beach you walk on tonight might be gone tomorrow and replaced with one which feels totally different.

Sometimes the beach sand almost sucks your feet into it. Other times it feels like soft sandy pavement. Often you can be walking and watch as the beach changes character right in front of your eyes. As the water drains from the sand, the beach become firm. As the water saturates sand filled with shells, the beach becomes challenging for walkers.

We see all kinds of people walking on the beach. There are the first timers who have just rolled up their blue jeans and are barely getting their toes damp. The tanned year round residents are often in sun bleached clothing and walking for exercise.

The young children are the most fun to watch. It does not take them long to figure out that sand and water create almost unlimited opportunities for fun. The only creature better adapted to a beach would be a water loving dog, There is nothing more entertaining than watching a Labrador retriever get wet in the surf and then search out the driest and finest sand for a nice dust bath. The beach is a spa for many dogs.

Wind also changes the beach. I can remember walking near the point last year after a very windy period. All the light sand had been blown into hard packed dunes. You could walk on hard-packed sand, and your footprints hardly showed. The wind had also sculpted the beach into areas where the sand was coarse, very hard packed, and red in color. Some pictures towards the end of this slide show illustrate that.

I have seen people who love to walk in the wet almost mud like sand of the beaches to the exclusion of all the other types of sand. I figure those folks just love the feel of wet sand between their toes.

Most of all I enjoy walking the beach and staying on that line which goes from wet to almost dry back to wet with each wave. The walking is usually great at that line. My feet stay wet, and I catch the odd wave to remind me that I am on the beach and subject to getting wet at almost any time.

The only thing close to being as relaxing as walking on a beach is watching a sunset while kayaking.

By the time I walk back through the fine white sand, you often find just as you enter a beach, I have enough sand on me to earn a disapproving look from my wife. While she is used to me by now, she had to keep up appearances in spite of being very mellow after a nice beach walk.

Treat yourself to a beach walk this week, but do not use my words as a guide. Make sure that you write up your own manual for beach walks. After all, you might just be defined by the way you walk the beach.