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.