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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Greetings from the Crystal Coast

Most of my blogging is done at my 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

Summer in the Cove

Bluewater Cove
In the seventies I lived in Canada along the shores of the Bay of Fundy.  Some of our neighbors were people who would come for the cool summer weather along the Nova Scotia shore.   Their summer in the cove was often punctuated with mornings of fog and days of cool rain.

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 or so 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 Bogue Banks 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 vehicle ramp 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 but they still govern boating.  The sunshine is more frequent than in Nova Scotia 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. The warm temperatures are a small price to pay for water that can be enjoyed most of the year except for a couple of months.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter in the Cove

Bluewater Cove near Swansboro, NC
The phrase "winter in the cove" has a lot of meaning for me.

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.

From Memories

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