Crystal Coast

Not even a hint of chilly water

Crashing Wave
It's almost the fourth of July. I can confirm the water is ready. As we walked on the beach tonight, the water washing over my feet felt almost felt warm.

There were actually a few people on the beach late this evening. It nice to see everyone enjoying themselves. That is what the beach is all about on the Crystal Coast.

I saw kites flying, kids digging in the sand, even a little girl fishing. Someone said the little girl caught a nice Bluefish earlier in the day.

It felt like summer today. The fact that I managed to get an early morning swim in before the heat came helped, but still it was a warm day.

When we were driving back from the beach late this evening, I noticed the temperature was still over eighty degrees. It is summer what can I say?

We when got out at home just as it was getting dark, the warm air with a nice breeze felt just about right.

I need to attach my flag holder bracket to the house, and I will be ready for the fourth of July. The fridge is stocked and plans have been made to watch fireworks either on the beach at Emerald Isle or in Swansboro.

I think the beach got ready for the fourth before I did. It certainly appears the Crystal Coast is ready and waiting for the holiday visitors. Except for Saturday, when thunderstorms are predicted, things look good for the fourth of July week.

For a larger image of the waves, click here.


The Spirit of the Crystal Coast

Boats on the beach
I have been on the Crystal Coast for almost ten months now. I have been trying hard to capture the spirit of the area in a picture.

I think the one in this post comes pretty close.

As someone once told me, you cannot fully appreciate the Crystal Coast without getting in a boat.

This area is a land of almost horizon to horizon water. Some outside the inlets is very deep. The waters inside the inlets and even in the rivers are often shallow, that shallow water is often a bigger problem than deep ocean water.

Last night I went out our inlet in my kayak. I decided to explore outside the marked channel which we carefully follow with our boat. I soon found my kayak in six inches of water where paddling becomes very hard.

Yet all this shallow water is a nursery for an incredible variety of sea creatures and a very friendly human culture.

The shallower waters in the inlets and the shifting sands often create ad hoc beaches which are reachable only by boat.

I think the gatherings on those beaches really speak to the spirit of friendliness that permeates life on the Crystal Coast.

This is a magical place with opportunities for fun, friendship, and fishing that are hard to find elsewhere.


Emerald Isle's 50th Birthday Celebration Continues

Most of us in our fifties can still remember the days of drive-in restaurants. From my travels across the county in the sixties, I can even remember a few A&Ws which I also believe toyed with roller skates.

My most vivid memory is Odell's Sandwich Shop in Mount Airy, NC which continues to make its famous Big Moe. It still operates as a drive-in where you place your order on speakers near your car. The food is delivered by young guys but they are not on skates.

I first visited Odell's in the early sixties as teenager and was there as recently as last fall.

When I heard Emerald Isle and Andy's were going to recreate a drive-in restaurant to help celebrate their 50th birthday, it did not take much arm twisting to get me to put it on my beach schedule.

The beach weather is so nice that we just had to squeeze in a beach walk first. Last night's stroll by the ocean waters was the best of the summer so I was hoping for a repeat, and it turned out that we were not disappointed.

Since it was 7:30 pm when we got off the beach, we were a little worried that Emerald Isle and Andy's might have run out of food or closed, but we drove down Emerald Drive and had no trouble finding the spot since there were people in the street trying to flag down customers.

We didn't need any convincing. We soon had our big white Titan truck parked, our order placed, and our heads in another time and place with great music and Andy's staff zooming around on roller skates.

We enjoyed burgers, fries, orangeade and lemonade. Our meal was less than ten dollars which was also a treat. Seeing a burger basket on the dash brought back memories.

I think we closed down the drive-in but it was still a lot of fun. The food was great, the atmosphere fantastic, and it made me wish Emerald Isle could have a big celebration every year.

We even bought a couple of the commemorative pins for the birthday celebration. They are also pretty neat.


Cape Carteret's 48th Birthday

Bogue Sound Sunrise
Friday morning around 6 am, I snapped this photo as I came back across the bridge from Emerald Isle to Cape Carteret.. The spectacular sunrise was an appropriate beginning to Cape Carteret's birthday party.

There are a lot of reasons that I enjoy living on North Carolina's Crystal Coast, but the small town atmosphere is at the top of the list.

We have enjoyed a number of local festivals since moving here last fall, but I never expected to be treated with hamburgers and hot dogs cooked by the Mayor of Cape Carteret.

We did not need special invitations either. My wife, Glenda, had just noticed in one of the Wednesday papers that Cape Carteret was inviting everyone to lunch this past Friday to honor their 48th birthday.

Since we are trying to meet as many people as possible, we headed towards Cape Carteret's Town Hall a little after 12 noon. We really had no idea what to expect.

When we got to the town hall, we saw some smoke coming from a grill in the park beside the town hall. There were also a few people eating at a picnic table.

The friendly fellow flipping burgers directed us inside the town hall where we found a cornucopia of burgers, hot dogs, chips, and salads. A number of people were spread out enjoying the burgers in the town council meeting room.

It has been a long time since I had a burger grilled over real charcoal. I really enjoyed the treat. On top of that, there were some hot dogs that had been cooked to proper crispness.

It did not take us long to figure out that our burger flipper was Mayor Harvey Ellis.

We talked briefly with him about why Cape Carteret is such a great place to live. Mayor Ellis also warned us that it gets in your blood, and if you try to leave, you will likely be drawn back.

Though everyone has their own answer as to why they like living and working here, being a safe, friendly small town is almost always mentioned. My personal guess is that the willingness of people to accept outsiders is an important factor.

Perhaps another reason everyone is so happy aside from the beautiful setting on the shores of Bogue Sound and the great winter-free weather is that almost everyone is here by choice. Being in this area is part of a dream for most of us, so it is pretty hard to complain or be unhappy.

Also while munching on our burgers and dogs, we also to meet David Fowler, one of Cape Çarteret's commissioners, who also welcomed us to the area.

That makes it official, having met two people from local government here, I have met twice as many as I idid in Roanoke in nineteen years, and certainly no government official there, especially not the mayor, ever expertly cooked me a burger.

I also just put up a few pictures of the Cape Carteret Town Hall and surrounding area. While you are wandering the web and planning what to do for dinner, check out the article, On the trail of some treats from the sea, that I just posted on my Crystal Coast Restaurants site.


One of my favorite things

The photo sites that I maintain at Picasa Web Albums and Flickr should convince anyone that I love to take pictures.

I also have a site where maintain my favorite sunrises from our deck in Roanoke.

Since coming to the Crystal Coast last fall, one of my favorite spots for photos has been the bridge between Cape Carteret and Emerald.

I guess a little of what I find special about the photos is the challenge of getting them.

First you have to time your bridge crossing. Then I usually have to let traffic pass me just before I get on the bridge and be careful that no one is behind me before I stop.

Even with those precautions I can only get three or four shots with a fast camera so I have to work quickly while my wife watches for traffic. I have gotten some really nice photos including the one in the post.

I am looking forward taking delivery of our skiff so I can take sunset photos on the water while sipping a beer.

I think that qualifies as a great time especially if it is interspersed with some fishing.

I have gotten some really great photos other places such as down by Clyde Phillip's Seafood where I took this sun-drenched Pelican or at Emerald Wood's park where I snapped this fantastic sunset.

The beach is a great spot for sunrise photos if you can manage to get up early enough to beat the sun.

I also love to take pictures down by the Point at Emerald Isle near the intersection of Bogue Court and Inlet Drive. This sunset is a great example.

Still when I can hit the bridge at the right time, it is hard to beat. I have even managed to time it right for one sunrise.


The best burger on the beach

bestburger actually probably on the mainland. While I have only been wandering the shores of Emerald Isle for a year in this decade, I have been eating burgers in the area for a number of years. Since 2003 I have eaten good ones as far east as No Name Pizza, Cubbie's, and Andy's in Beaufort and as far south as Wilmington's P.T.'s Grille.

The quest for a great burger is a life long journey. I first sampled a Big Moe at Odell's in Mount Airy in 1963. Fortunately for all of us Odell's is still cranking out great burgers. I have been lucky enough to sample Five Guy's Burgers from Northern Virginia. Recently I have enjoyed Cookout burgers on my travels to the coast. Still until walking in the doors of the Fairway Restaurant on Route 58, my favorite burger was from Burger in the Square in Roanoke.

Actually Fairway is a favorite spot of ours for lunch or dinner. I love some of their pork chop dinners, and I have written about them before, Dining along coastal side roads, The Fairway Restaurant.

However, it was just the other day that I had a burger there which confirmed the excellence of one that I had enjoyed there recently. I love grilled burgers, and the ones at Fairway definitely tasted grilled. We actually ended up there the day of the Lowe's Home Improvement Store's opening. Burgers were promised at Lowe's but were cut off at exactly 1PM so we bailed and headed to Fairway where we got a far, far better burger.

As I enjoyed the Fairway Burger, I compared it to all the great ones that I have enjoyed. Without a doubt it is the best that I have had along the Crystal Coast. I think for pure taste it may well outshine the Burger in the Square in Roanoke which is fried not grilled. Still I might have to validate that opinion on my next trip to Roanoke.

For now, I have no doubt that the Fairway Burger holds the crown for the best burger on the Crystal Coast. I am willing to investigate challengers, but I will look only at serious challengers that come highly recommended.


The heat is on

Last night we went over to the beach but the wind was blowing strongly. The folks on the beach seemed pretty wind blown, but the waves were definitely impressive. We decided that better weather was around the corner, and we could wait a few hours for some more heat. Maybe even the wind would die down.

Our patience was rewarded. It's just approaching 1 pm in Cape Carteret and the temperature is not far from 80 eighty degrees Fahrenheit. That will be good on the crop of hot house tomatoes.

I suspect that I will get more than my toes wet today. It looks to be a great day to be living along the coast. Of course in my opinion most of the days are great days to be living on the coast. At least I believe in the product, a piece of Coastal Paradise, that I am selling


Definitely Beach Season

We had friends from Boston visit us this weekend. I was really happy the weather decided to cooperate. They left home last Tuesday and woke up in Chincoteague on Thursday morning.

It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was blowing. By the time they had wandered down to Cape Hatteras, the temperatures had improved to the sixties. They caught the 3 pm ferry from Ocracoke and after arriving in Cedar Island managed to find their way to Cape Carteret by 7 pm.

Saturday morning was a beautiful day, and we did a quick visit to Beaufort. Afterwards we drove down the beach from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle, where we stopped for a late afternoon walk on the beach at 3rd Street. The water was still a little cool but tolerable.

After a walk down the Emerald Woods trail to check out the sound, we went to visit the Pelicans by Clyde-Phillips Seafood between the bridges in Swansboro. Then we had a nice dinner at the Fairway on Route 58, and we hit the sack fairly early.

Next morning, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at T&W's Oyster House, and then we did a little light shopping in Swansboro. Afterwards we bought some nice shrimp at Clyde-Phillips. After a swing by the house to fix the shrimp and put them on ice, we headed to the beach. It was nearly as perfect as the shrimp.

There were people in the water which was noticeably warmer. We spent three hours enjoying a perfect afternoon on an uncrowded beach at the eastern end of Emerald Isle. The water was very inviting and the horizon seemed to be nothing but waves.

We finished the day with a great meal at the Crab Shack in Salter Path, and then we caught the sunset over the sound at Cedar Street access.

We sent our guests on their way back to leafless Boston this morning. They could take some consolation from the fact that the Red Sock swept the Yankees this weekend.


Blue skies, warm temperatures, and lots of beach

For those who have been waiting for the weather to improve before heading to the beach, consider this your alert that all signs point to a great weekend with things even better next week.

I snapped this picture just up the street from the arrow on this Google map. It is the area referred to as the Point at Emerald Isle. We drove by after we had breakfast this morning over on the Island, and I hopped out of the car and took the picture before we headed to Buck's Corner Farm for some fresh strawberries.

The forecast for Cape Carteret, NC shows the temperature at seventy degrees or better for the next several days. That is a much better way to finish to the month of April. It is a big improvement over the cool temperatures we saw earlier in the month.

If you are looking for a last minute beach rental, you can always make a call to see if anything is available for short term. You can also check my Swansboro or Beaufort travel guides for recommendations on other places to stay and even places to eat if you make it here.

Speaking of food I happened to be wandering down the beach the other day and stopped for dinner at the Crab Shack in Salter Path. I had a wonderful fried clam dinner. They actually use whole clams which is unusual for this area. The view from the restaurant is pretty hard to beat. You can also grab some fresh seafood next door at Willis Seafood Market. It is not hard to feel like you are close to the ocean and sound when you are in Salter Path.

These warming temperatures make it an especially great time to come to the beach. You can expect fantastic weather for walking on the beach and other outdoor activities. This early in the season there should be no crowds either on the beach or in the restaurants.


Coastal NC Strawberries are ripe

The local strawberries are here. As far as I am concerned they are the first taste of summer. It is a delicious way to start the local produce season. This afternoon I dropped by Bucks Corner Farm, just off of Route 58 a little less than two miles before the intersection with Route 24 in Cape Carteret.

Bucks Corner Farm has signs out on 58 or you can call them at 252 241-2755, 241-2240, or 241-4854 for more information or to place orders. It is obviously a great family operation which works very hard to put quality fresh produce on our tables.

I managed to get to the farm just as they were about to sell out of today's berries, but the ladies assured me there would be lots more on Saturday. The buying experience does not get any better, fresh berries and friendly ladies.

We first discovered Bucks Corner Farm last summer when we were getting ready to close on our house in Bluewater Cove. We managed to sample lots of their produce including tomatoes and those famous watermelons. I really looking forward to enjoying all the vegetables as they come in this spring.

I believe I heard them say that there will some hot house tomatoes ready soon. They can't be soon enough for that first tomato sandwich of the year.

I certainly I enjoyed the strawberries this afternoon. It is not often you get produce right from the farm these days. Later this evening I made myself a strawberry-banana smoothie so I am down to half a box and will have try to get some more in the next few days.

We are really blessed to have strawberry fields this close to Cape Carteret. Folks who have lived here a while might take them for granted, but once you live in the city and are forced to accept strawberries shipped in from California, your really appreciate what our local farmers can produce. The California berries are not nearly as good as the local ones.

I am really happy that the folks over at Bucks Corner Farm were able to protect their strawberries from the big freeze and snow last week. The farmers up the central part of North Carolina or the mountain valleys near Roanoke, Va. where our other home is were not able to do anything to save their berries from what I've heard.

We need to enjoy wonderful berries. I have a feeling that fresh strawberries and other fruits are going to be valuable items this year thanks to that Canadian cold that hit us.

Now if I just had my old White Mountain ice cream freezer down here, I might be convinced to make some homemade ice cream. I am sure someone would prevent me from using all the cream that it needs so I would be content if we could just make some strawberry freezer jam like we did last year. When you open a jar of that in the winter time, it is like opening a jar of summer.


Inviting water

I am hereby declaring it beach season. This weekend I actually waded in the water as we walked along the shore after we parked at the 3rd Street Beach Access in Emerald Isle. I thought it was going to be too cool but the water was not that cold for my hot feet.

Since our walk on the beach, we have had two really warm days so I expect things will improve until we get to this unfortunate cold snap that is headed our way for Easter weekend.

Yesterday marked the changing of the seasons for me. I showed up to work for our real estate caravan in tan pants as I have been doing since the first of the year. I was the only guy not in shorts. That is one mistake I will never make again.

I guess wearing long pants after April 1 in Coastal NC is against the rules. I am all for those rules.

When I got home at lunch and told my wife, she said that she might as well pack up my long pants since I will likely adopt the new business casual with any hesitation.

Sometimes you know that you have died and gone to heaven. To think I spent nearly twenty years wandering around Washington, DC in a suit. What was I thinking?

If you need help escaping from the rat race, call me. The advice is free if I can help you find some property.


Sunrise on the beach

Well I took another shot at getting over to the beach by sunrise. I almost made it. I did catch the sun rising on Bogue Sound. It was pretty spectacular. My wife actually said, "Does it really look like that?" I told her that folks who never get up to see the sunrise should not question those who do. Of course that meant I had to take her out to dinner tonight to make up for having a smart mouth.

Usually the dramatic effects come from zooming in on the area which is most exotically colored and then cropping out the rest of the scene. Sometimes putting pictures on the web distorts the colors a little, but usually it mutes them, and you have to adjust for that to get the image back to the way your eye saw it. Of course my eyes might see if differently than someone else's.

I got a really nice shot of the sun through the beach grasses just as I walked on the beach. Then there was this spectacular shot of the light from the rising sun catch the foam of waves that I had zoomed in on for a closer shot. Part of the reason I enjoy taking pictures into bright sunlight is that you get some very unusual effects as the camera lens adjusts for the very bright light.

Later in the morning, we took a run over to Newport and checked out the annual Pig Cooking Contest. I wrote a post, "Barbecue for breakfast," about the event on my View from the Mountain Blog. I also posted some pictures at "Newport's Big Barbecue Event."


Bogue Sound Sunrise

There were a couple of days recently when I did not take any photos. It actually bothers me since I use my pictures to help with ideas for my writing. There is one time of day that is almost always wonderful for pictures. That's sunrise on a clear morning. As difficult as it is to roll out of bed early, I decided that I wanted to get a picture of the sunrise from Emerald Isle. Unfortunately our cat took a playing spell around five this morning and woke me up. When I fell back asleep, I overslept by about ten minutes.

When I got into the car, I knew that I would be late, but I figured it was worth the ride anyway. I was right. Each inland body of water was a mass of fog so dense that my camera's auto focus wouldn't work on it. I only got to the bridge over to Emerald Isle before the sun started coming up. It was a fantastic sight, and traffic was light enough that I was able to come almost a complete stop at the high point on the bridge. That is where I snapped the shot included in the post.

I could have turned around after getting to the island and been happy, but I went on over to the first public access and got a few more shots. It was worth the effort The first shot I call beachrise and the next one simply palmsunrise.

It was cold enough on the beach to have a coat on, but it turned out to be a gorgeous day later.

This morning Yardworks finished laying some sod around our house that did not get put down in the fall. Now I can start enjoying the patterned concrete patio we had done this winter. I also put our new gas grill together this week. The gas company hooked up the gas line, and I have a nice Porterhouse Steak in the fridge for Saturday night. I am looking forward to it.

Speaking of food we had a birthday lunch for a co-worker at Rucker John's on Emerald. I think we all had one of their delicious salads. We previewed a few homes this afternoon, washed my car, and still got home in time for me to go for a bike ride and water the new sod.

This is the weather that I moved to the Crystal Coast to enjoy. Today the high temperature was 66 degrees Fahrenheit with a low temperature of 34 degrees. There was widespread frost last night but tonight we aren't supposed to be so cold. By next week, the first week in April, the forecast is for us to be back in the mid-seventies which is pretty close to perfect.

The rain earlier this week did a good job of getting much of the pollen out of the air for a few days. So there is not much to complain about except we need more rain.

Tomorrow is the big Pig Cookout in Newport. With any kind of luck we'll get to sample that great vinegar based barbecue.


Watching the waves

We were all young once. I can remember climbing out on the roof of my college dorm with nothing but an old copper gutter to keep us from falling four or five stories. I snapped this photo from one of my favorite beach houses.

After previewing hundreds of homes, on or near the water, I have to say the spot where I took this shot is one of my favorites since you can rotate 45 degrees and see a wonderful sunset.

I think it is really neat that people are drawn to some of the great spots for sunsets. It seems viewing the great ones is a daily activity for some of us. People often do little talking, mostly they just stand in awe of the natural beauty unfolding in front of them.

It is one of my favorite times of day. It's a little easier to take than sunrise which requires lots of effort to enjoy unless you have a home like we do in Roanoke where sunrise is part of your bedroom.

So far my favorite sunset is this one over Bogue Sound from the Emerald Woods trail pier. I like this White Oak River Sunrise. If you like the photos, I have some prints of other scenes in the area for sale at the Tidewater Gallery in Swansboro.


Glorious day, magnificient sunset

Now this is the kind of weather I have been waiting to enjoy. It was actually a little warm when I went to get the newspaper this morning. I know it was in the mid-sixties even over near the beaches.

I had a great day. I wrote a little this morning, had a relaxing lunch, and did some email correspondence. Then I went to the office and worked for an hour or so getting familiar with some MLS listings before coming home for a great bike ride. It was even warm enough to switch to shorts. Lots of people were outside working.

There were also plenty of daffodils blooming and none of them were falling over from dampness like they often are early in the spring in the mountains. The other great news is that I saw same bait fish in the channel behind our house. When I did a little casting after coming back from my bike ride, the small fish even boiled the surface around a plastic bait.

It's nice to see something alive in the water besides a heron, pelican, or duck. The sighting of bait fish means that there is hope for some real fish in the not so distant future. I guess I better start thinking about that boat.

After my fishing expedition, I decided to go take some pictures of the sunset. I gambled that the light would be right from the ramp in Emerald Isle Woods Park. As you can see from the photo, it was a pretty good gamble.

I posted a few of the shots that I took on both Flickr and Picasa Web Albums. Someone even piped in as I was posting and asked me the location of this photo. I also tagged it on a map in Flickr so people could see where the photo was taken. You can go to this link and click on the map link to right of the photo to see for yourself.

Bogue Sound can certainly do a wonderful job with a sunset. When I got back to my truck, there was an Emerald Isle Policeman parked behind it. He told me that he was getting ready to close the park down for the night. Fortunately I escaped before the gates were locked.

I grabbed some takeout Chinese at Golden China and enjoyed a feast at home. It seemed appropriate to have food from Golden China to go with the golden sunset.


Swansboro Sunset and the White Oak

Though the weather seems to be reluctant to get warm, we cannot complain very much. The Washington, DC area had snow as I noted in a post I did on my View from the Mountain blog. Other areas are also still experiencing lots of really cold weather. It looks like we can expect some nice seventy degree temperatures early next week. With that in the near future, I'm not going to complain about some temperatures in the fifties since the snow isn't that far from us.

The local papers have articles about the planning process for the growth along the White Oak River basin. We know the growth is happening. I live in Bluewater Cove which is one of those new subdivisions along the White Oak. There are plenty more planned which as a Realtor® I believe are important to the economic health of Carteret County.

Still it is very important that we all work to not only keep more damage from happening to the White Oak but to also repair it the best we can. It's too beautiful a spot to let it be ruined by growth which doesn't factor in the health of the river. Te


Can spring be far way?

I have been in the mountains for a few days and welcomed the coastal warmth today. While today might have seemed cool, all I can say is that you should have been in Roanoke, Va. on Sunday, March 4, 2007. The high temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts between 15 and 33 miles per hour. That translates to a very cool day with some snow flurries. You can almost feel the cold from this picture I took the next day. If that doesn't make you feel cold then this shot of snow showers across the Roanoke valley the morning of the fourth will probably do the trick.

Still it did get over fifty degrees Fahrenheit in Cape Carteret today so it was pleasant enough for me to make several casts from the dock behind the house. My left arm was a little sore so I considered it therapy. I was very surprised to see the fishing kayak paddle into the channel behind the house at not much before five pm. I asked the angler if he had done any better than I did a little earlier. His comment was that he suspected all the fish were home by the fire. Given how the temperature was dropping at that time of day, I suspect our kayaking fisherman wished he were there by the fire himself. I know it was cool enough this evening to turn the gas logs on for a while.

If fishermen are starting to flail the water, can warmer weather be very distant?


The storm has passed

I'm hoping that it won't take many days to get back to clear skies and calm water like the that in this early morning picture of Swansboro that I snapped earlier in the week. The weather system and front which passed through today after walloping the Midwest and the South, is still causing trouble in the Northeast and Canada.

The fifteen day Accuweather forecast for the Cape Carteret/Cedar Point/Swansboro area has twice as many days in the sixties/seventies as it does in fifties. So we are making steady progress towards spring. I'll take fifties and sixties over snow and ice any day of the week.

This was a huge storm even when it moved off the coast. You can click this link for a current NOAA image. If you are a little late catching this post, I did a screen capture which I hope NOAA won't mind me posting for posterity.

The better weather forecast for the next couple of weeks and the warm weather we've already had should make for some improved fishing in to the not too distant future.

In the technology front, if you're interesting in real estate tools, I have had great luck building a home virtual tour for 126 White Heron Lane which is located in Bluewater Cove. The tour includes a walk thorugh. The software I used is called Mapwing and I highly recommend it. I'll be posting more on it later.


A wonderful sunrise in Swansboro

I decided to watch the sunrise from Swansboro this morning. It was a little nippy on the hands but I got some great pictures. My buddy the old Pelican was hanging around the dock with lots of friends. The pictures of the sun coming up over the White Oak River turned out really nice. This sunrise picture caught a flight of geese I believe. It was taken from the Swansboro Memorial park which made for an interesting shot itself.

I have found Swansboro a little more difficult to photograph than Beaufort. I think it may have something to do with the wide streets in Beaufort compared to the very narrow ones in Swansboro. I was hoping to have few cars on the streets this morning, but there were plenty including a truck towing a boat. If you know anything about Front Street in Swansboro, the last thing you want to drive there is a truck hauling a big skiff.

I did get a good early morning shot of Swansboro from close to the end of the bridge by Clyde Phillips.

I can offer no complaints on the weather. It certainly a nice day here on the coast and a taste of more good days to come I hope. I even wore shorts for part of the day. It was great to get back in uniform.

Late this afternoon while I was working in my office, I had to open the window to enjoy the cool breeze. Even the cat thought it was time to taste the fresh air.


Better beach weather

Finally after a month of cold weather, we are now getting some warm temperatures once again We've had lots of Robins in our yard, and I've actually been out to get the newspaper two mornings in a row without a coat. Those are good signs. It's nice to see that the ice on channel behind the house didn't become permanent.

The last couple of weeks, I've been previewing homes throughout Carteret County. I am stunned by the selection of real estate available here on the Crystal Coast. There is everything from huge homes on the water costing in the millions to newly constructed homes priced under $270K. I am also surprised by the number of people interested in the Crystal Coast who have never even been here. People are searching for areas with low crime, great weather, pure water, and friendly people.

I feel pretty safe in saying the Crystal Coast meets those requirements with little trouble. There are lots of other advantages that come with living here. We have had a good time hiking in spite of the cool weather. I have created a web page with links to many of the wonderful accessible trails here on the coast that can be enjoyed even by those who need to use wheel chairs.

While we were checking out homes in Emerald Isle today, we decided to have lunch at Jordan's. I have given them my official award for the best piece of Flounder that I've had so far in Western Carteret County. They are located at 8106 Emerald Dr. and are closed on Tuesdays this time of year.


Mid-winter hike along the White Oak

We have enjoyed the little park off of the VFW Road in Cedar Point since we started spending time in the area. The other day we miraculously had some extra time on our hands and decided to go for a hike. We enjoyed it so much that we headed back the next day. The trails are absolutely outstanding. The weather this week through Sunday January 27 has been great for hiking or any type of outdoor activity except maybe fishing since the fish don't seem to be biting. I did take some pictures of the Cedar Point Tideland Trail and stick then up on a website for everyone to enjoy. If you visit the site you'll see that the shorter loop trail is very accessible and in great shape. The footbridges that have been built are very impressive.

Today I managed to get in a bike ride and some hiking. The temperature approached sixty degrees Fahrenheit at our home in Bluewater Cove today so there won't be any complaints from me even as the weather gets cold this week. Actually I've written another article for Dropping Anchor. The article which I wrote a couple of week ago predicts some winter weather this week.

With some cooler weather on the way and my new job as a Realtor® working for Bluewater GMAC in Cape Carteret, I am spending a lot of time getting familiar with our listings. One of the listings that we visited on Emerald Isle recently has fantastic views.


The sound view from the top floor of one this Bluewater listings was absolutely stunning, and the ocean view was almost as good. I never get tired of the water views they seem to renew my soul each I catch one of these stunning Crystal Coast panoramas. I have a lot of listings to visit in the next weeks, so I'll probably have plenty of neat scenic views to share. It wasn't too many days ago that I took a stroll on the point at Emerald Isle. I also put up a website with some photos from there. Emerald Isle is a wonder spot, especially this time of year when the beaches are empty and the streets are uncrowded. I feel very lucky to live close enough to over on the island in ten minutes or so. You never know, one of these days, we might end up living on the island.


Emerald Isle visit

I had the good fortune to attend a meeting today where I heard, Frank Rush, Jr., Emerald Isle's Town Manager discuss some of their town projects and issues that might impact Emerald Isle. I came away very impressed. I was most inspired by Emerald Isle's commitment to keeping the town a really great place to live.

Hearing the town's plans will make it even easier for me to be an advocate for this area. I could clearly see the careful planning, attention to detail, and great effort to build an inclusive community that addresses the needs of both residents and businesses.

It was actually really refreshing to see a town on top of the issues and with a realistic plan for the future. I think the incentives that Emerald Isle has created around the East Village project will end up creating a very unique area in Emerald Isle. I'm looking forward to being around to see many of these plans come to fruition. After watching the city and citizens of Roanoke, Va argue about the fate of their ancient stadium for over ten years, this was a real treat.

I was also really excited that other municipalities had cooperated to help with our local sound dredging project that has recently been in the papers. That sign of cooperation makes me feel good about living here.

I certainly hope Emerald Isle continues to have success in planning for the future. I am sure they will have a great fiftieth anniversary celebration. I knew when I went to the Emerald Isle Christmas parade that I was a guest in a special spot.

Swansboro's Centennial Park and weather fit for paradise

If the weather gets much better, all work is going cease. It's probably good that the fishing isn't very exciting right now or all the boats would back in the water. Today we decided to get out from the weight of the Internet which delivered about 30,000 click-throughs to my other sites from an article that I wrote about the upcoming MacWorld.

We went out to breakfast at Laurie Ann's Kitchen (I'll do a review when I get time), then drove over to the Swansboro Centennial Park and enjoyed the expansive water scenery from the piers. After that we took a trip down through Swansboro's Historic District. The only excitement was Morris, one of the town cats, was helping with merchandising just outside one of the stores. After that we drove across the bridge to Emerald Isle to check the movie times. We then headed back to home in Bluewater Cove. I immediately changed into shorts and tee-shirt as the temperature was well into the upper seventies on the very sunny south side of our house. I finished a project to add some tippet to the leader for my fly rod and then headed to the dock to exercise my new NC Saltwater fishing license.

I got in some good practice casting into a slight wind. The extra tippet was perfect. I didn't expect to catch anything but I had some very pleasing casts. I don't have nearly as fancy a saltwater fly rod as the one which is my favorite for mountain trout fishing. The rod I'm using is a St. Croix one with a LL Bean reel. So far I haven't seen much fly gear here in the Swansboro area, but I keep looking.

I know fishing picks up in the spring along with the interest in the beach rental market. With the weather the way it is right now, it would be a great time to rent a spot over on the Emerald Isle beach. There are no crowds and the rates are low, but the water might be a little cool for a dip.

After my fishing, I went for a forty five minute bike ride in the neighborhood. It was almost too hot. I had to take a shower when I got back before we headed out to our 3:10 movie over at Emerald Isle. Since we came to one of the early shows, we got our tickets for $5 each which is a good deal these days. We watched "The Pursuit of happiness" (review also coming) and after it was done headed to the Ice House in Swansboro for dinner. We both had Grouper Grandwiches for dinner. Since I'm trying to do better with my food selections, I did at least switch the fries out for a small salad.

As we left the Icehouse, and noticed the crowd of people waiting for seats, we were glad we had come early. When we got home just before seven pm, I was surprised to find the house where we left a number of windows open still at over seventy two degrees Fahrenheit.

I guess that is the way it is in paradise here on the Southern Outer Banks. I hope tomorrow is as much fun.

A big coastal view

Sometimes my favorite part of living here is driving across the bridge from Cape Carteret-Cedar Point to Emerald Isle. The view you get from the top of the bridge is truly stunning. This picture was taken looking southwest towards Emerald Isle. As the year draws to a close, we certainly can't complain about the weather. This afternoon the outside thermometer at our house in Bluewater Cove on the White Oak River registered 72 degrees Fahrenheit. After reading the local paper this morning, I think the economy looks relatively strong with a number of organizations hiring so perhaps 2007 will be a great year for lots of people.

I took in an article this morning from the NY Times, "America the Overfull," (subscription required). Paul Theroux, the author, laments about an overcrowded America.

I grew up in a country of sudden and consoling lulls, which gave life a kind of pattern and punctuation, unknown now. It was typified by the somnolence of Sundays, when no stores were open. There were empty parts of the day, of the week, of the year; times when there were no people on the sidewalks, no traffic in the streets, no audible human voices, now and then no sound at all. In this hushed world, a bumblebee was a physical presence, the sound of a cicada could dominate an August afternoon.

I wonder if I should send Mr. Theroux an invitation to visit the Crystal Coast. While there were plenty of stores open today along the Crystal Coast, there were a number that were closed. It seemed pretty peaceful, perhaps with the exception of the Maxway store in Cape Carteret having a going out of business sale. People today were out washing their cars and talking to neighbors. I don't get the feeling that Carteret or Onslow counties are very crowded. We took the Stella road over the headwater of the White Oak and then cut on another road over to Route 24 where Route 172 intersects it. I was impressed with all the agricultural land tucked in around the White Oak.

Though no place can lay claim to having stopped time. I find that the Crystal Coast strikes a pretty good balance between growth and retaining the feeling of years gone by. Certainly some of preservation efforts here have resulted in some interesting main streets surving. I certainly don't feel the same traffic pressure that I do on Interstate 81 in Virginia or Interstate 40 near Raleigh. When were driving down late at night earlier this week and turned off Interstate 40, I got that feeling that we were practically alone on Route 24. We could see some red lights in the distance but there was very little traffic. I almost felt like I had gone back in time to those days in the late sixties when I drove nearly deserted highways between Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was in military school and Mount Airy, North Carolina which was home. We picked up traffic as we got close to Jacksonville, but driving through Swansboro was pretty peaceful at 11 pm.

At night when I walk out on our deck, there is no ambient noise unless there is training going on over at the base. Typically I find myself alone with the stars and very little else. This afternoon when I was enjoying the last free day of saltwater fishing, there was little noise but some birds, the wind, and my fly line. I feel immensely lucky to live in such a beautiful place even if there are a couple months of tourists. The rest of the year, there aren't a whole lot of traffic jams. Perhaps it's fortunate that Mr. Theroux isn't singing the praises of our coastal paradise or all of New York would be down here.


The fog is gone and the sun is back

Yesterday and early this morning all of eastern North Carolina and especially the Crystal Coast was beset with thick fog. What is surprising, is that this is the first fog that I have experienced since we moved to Bluewater Cove on the White Oak River. This is our fourth month where we have spent considerable time here, but this is first fog that I have seen. From my years on in Nova Scotia, I learned to live with the fog. Actually our mountain home in Roanoke, Virginia is often completely obscured by fog. I love to take pictures of the sunrise and sometimes I worry that I will get through the whole month of August without ever seeing the sun come up over the mountains. There's an old mountain saying that if you count the number of fogs in August, you will know how many snows there will be that winter. Fortunately that has never played out very accurately.

I am a pretty serious computer geek, so this morning I was very excited to find that the movie I created for a DVD of Bluewater Cove had successfully rendered and burned onto the DVD without any problems. I still have some more tuning to do on the project, but iMovie HD and iDVD which run on my dual G5 Power Mac generally do not let me down. I would love to move to HD format for my movies. I am sure Sony would like me to move also since that would be my fourth Sony video camera, but I cannot justify it right now. I just have to force myself not to look at the video being shown from the new Sony cameras when I am in Best Buy in Jacksonville or Wilmington. However, that HD SR1 looks mighty tempting. The way technology is, there will always be something better soon.

After a successful viewing my movie (it looked great on widescreen) and getting my Christmas cards done (thanks to my trusty Dymo LabelWriter), I decided to go for a bike ride. My old Schwinn is a little creaky like me, but I have outfitted it with a deluxe, exceptionally comfortable bike seat that I bought from the bike shop over on Emerald Isle. The cosy seat makes a huge difference in the amount of time I spend on my bike. Of course having some flat terrain for biking as opposed to mountains doesn't hurt either. In honor of the close to seventy degree weather I put on a short sleeve tee-shirt for my ride, but about half way through my ride I wished that I had also changed from jeans to shorts. I even worked up a sweat. I did switch to shorts when I got back so that my fishing experience on our dock could be as close to summer as possible. I borrowed my wife's extra strong reading glasses to put a new longer leader on my fly line. My rod, a relatively inexpensive St. Croix model, seemed to respond the change, the artificial flies dropped to the water a little more delicately

After sunning myself and practicing my casting (I'll call it fishing afterwards when and if I ever catch a fish from our dock), I needed to get those Christmas cards in the mail. Since Emerald Isle is a little closer, I headed over the bridge to beach. I was really surprised to find that there is a Post Office in the US that closes at 4 pm on Friday just a few days before Christmas. I guess it's a serious case of beach time. Unfortunately the stamp booklet machine wasn't working either so I had to drive the Swansboro Post Office. It's not like that's a long drive. I was more successful there. They were open until five and not very crowded for this late in the holiday season.

On the way back I pulled into the parking lot of Clyde Phillips Seafood to snap some pictures of the sunset. That's where I got the shot in today's post. From all reports we have several nice days of weather ahead of us. I had a couple of our upstairs windows open all day today and in fact until about 9:30 pm this evening. It certainly is a strange winter so far. More details over at my View from the Mountain blog.

More competition for the fish

I spent most of the day writing, but I did take a few minutes for a break out on the deck to enjoy the warm but cloudy weather. I was looking down the canal behind the house and happened to notice a visitor. Based on his beak I would guess that he would be deadly on fish. I don't think we need any more competition in the canal for fish. I've already seen some river otters ( I think) and what looks like a Loon, and several other egrets or herons.

It's a good thing I enjoy just casting and that Clyde Phillips always has a good supply of flounder. I am hoping to get boat sometime after the first of the year, but until then I'm stuck on the dock or the beach unless I take my kayak out. The water might be a little cool for that, but it sure is nice out in the river. Once we get a boat, we will face the challenge of learning the White Oak which from the charts appears to be pretty complex.

That's a challenge I hope will be a lot of fun. The idea of spending a morning fishing minutes away from the house has great appeal. It's one of the reasons we spent so much time trying to find a reasonably priced home on the water. We ended up in a great spot in Bluewater Cove. So far there are no regrets.

We have great neighbors, the amenities are right on target for someone who enjoys the outdoors, and we are just close enough to shopping and restaurants so that we don't have to spend a lot of time on the road or in traffic. Then there is the beach just minutes away. It's pretty hard to compete with all that and reasonable prices. That in a nutshell is why we ended up in Carteret County by the White Oak River.

The White Oak is certainly a beautiful area. There aren't many places you can find a sunset like this.

Warm enough for the beach

If mid-December weather gets any better than this, it is going to be hard to take. It was a challenge getting any work done today. I went for a shirt sleeves bike ride after lunch, then I spent some time fly casting off our dock. I didn't expect to catch anything so I was not disappointed when I saw nothing but a cloud of minnows. There is something really pleasing about having an artificial fly drop where you are aiming. Just feeling the power of the rod transfer to the line is pretty neat. Anyway it's a great way to relax, but it is hard to explain if you have never used a fly rod.

After I was done with the fishing I decided to go for a walk on the Emerald Isle beach and try to catch a nice sunset. Though the clouds rolled in just after I got there, they usually provide for a more spectacular sunset. The beach had a few people on it, but I was surprised to find no fishermen. I walked a ways down the beach and found the right spot to watch for the sunset. I snapped a lot of pictures. Once I got home I created a website with some of the best shots. It probably no surprise that the temperatures today were in the upper sixties. I hope tomorrow is a repeat of today.

Frozen Gut on the White Oak

This morning I was up early to get ready for my drive to Wilmington. I had hoped to catch the Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars alignment, but either my eyes weren't functioning or somehow I missed it. What I did see was the gut or channel that is behind the house had frozen over night. That's not very surprising considering the temperature was 24 degrees Fahrenheit when I got up just before six am this morning. That's almost cold enough to be classified as mountain weather. I did not get home this afternoon in time to see if the water had thawed. It supposed to be warmer tomorrow, and there's supposed to be another chance to see the planetary alignment. My problem could be that we are only something like nine feet about sea level and have some very tall trees to the south and east of us.

I hope we have warmer weather tomorrow. In spite of the nippy weather this morning, the weather was great for our neighborhood Christmas party which was an appropriate ending to the coldest day of the year. It was certainly a lot of fun with plenty of great food and good company.

November 26 Daily Record

Yesterday was another great day. We mostly relaxed, enjoyed some football, fishing off the dock, and visiting Swansboro's little park by Route 24.

I did walk out on the bridge and takes serveral photos for a panorama shot that I will be posting later with Instructions on how to make your own.

Later in the afternoon I worked on my fly casting, then went for a bike ride before we went off to Morehead City for a quick evening meal.

I absolutely love being able to get on my bicycle on go for a quick ride. At our Roanoke house the road is so steep, that I have to load my bike on the back of the car and drive for a mile or two to find reasonably flat ground. With weather as warm as it has been here on the Crystal Coast, I hope to ride my bike well into the winter months.

November 25 Daily Record

The day after Thanksgiving was a busy day with the family. It was also a wonderful, relaxing day.

We managed to spend a lot of time outdoors and to get a few things done for the holidays. We started our outside activities with a late brunch at Jana's. Then the ladies when shopping for the holidays and the guys went boat lot hopping, looking a great deal.

Just before dusk, we went to see the Swansboro flotilla followed by dinner at Captain Charlie's. Later in the evening I found my Crocs had been decorated with a purple people eater which apparently was a major focus of the ladies shopping.

Today after catching the wonderful sunrise along the marsh on Route 58, we went for a walk on the beach. Then the kids all headed home. After that we made a trek over to Emerald Isle for the annual Christmas parade. I even took the time to create a website with photos of most of the floats and a few shots of the crowd.

Late tonight we got word that the kids had arrived safely back home in Cornelius, NC and Reston, Va. Now we can go to bed tonight and rest easy. We have survived our first Crystal Coast Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful.

November 20 Daily Record

have really enjoyed my first fall along the Crystal Coast. I am still busy finishing things around our new house and taking courses, but that doesn't mean that I have not been able to enjoy what is some of the most spectacular weather that I have ever experienced. I have particularly enjoyed the late fall walks along the beach and the sunsets over the White Oak River. I recently selected a few and posted them on the web at a site I call Coastal NC Shots. I did another site of shots that I took at Emerald Isle Beach on October 19. My favorite ones are at a spot that I call Margaritaville.

I have also done some articles about the local area, foods and restaurants over at my blog View from the Mountain. One of the posts was called The Magic of Good Neighbors. I am guessing that many people moving into the area are amazed about how friendly Coastal Carolinians are. It is a different pace of life here. That easy pace of life is of the special things that I hope doesn't change. It may take a little longer to get some things done, but that just gives you more time to enjoy the beauty of your natural surroundings or try out some of the wonderfully uncrowded but top knotch restaurants. I even managed to go kayaking this year for the first time in a long time. This area is perfect for kayaking.

We did get to go the annual Seafood Festival in Morehead City, but we missed Swansboro's annual Mullet Festival. All the exposure to fresh seafood has completely hooked me on the wonderfully fresh local shrimp. I even wrote a post about The Easy Way to Perfect Shrimp. Some local friends have convinced me the only place to buy seafood is at Clyde Phillip's Seafood between the bridges. We also did a crab feast and made some great crab cakes.

This is the first of my regular posts here. I will also try to provide links to new pictures of the area that I take. Many of the pictures eventually end up at my Flickr site which you can also always reach from the link on the upper right of the main page. There will continue to be local articles like The reason it is called the Crystal Coast on my main blog.