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Perfect dipping water

An ocean wave at Third Street Beach

I am searching my memory for the earliest time that I have taken a complete dip in the ocean, and I think it is the first week of June.

If that is the case, I established a new personal record on May 28, 2011 when the ocean waters splashed over my head at Third Street Beach on Emerald Isle.

It was no polar bear swim.  The North Carolina water was warm, just not quiet as warm as my body.  Even though my dip occurred at sometime after 6 PM, it was a cooling dip, and not one where I had to worry about being too cool when I got out of the water. Actually the whole purpose of the trip was so that I could cool down completely after an afternoon in the heat.  We have had some heat here on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks in May 2011.

Just before our beach trip, while the sun was still beating down on our subdivision on the shores of the White Oak River, I applied fertilizer to our yard.  For some strange reason, just after I started with the fertilizer, the winds that have cooled us for weeks dropped to nothing.  That turned my tolerable job into one where I slowly baked in the sun. After retiring to the house and replenishing my fluids, I decided the proper way to draw the remaining heat from my body was a dip in the ocean.

I have often maintained that the best way to cool down is an ocean wave perfectly positioned between your shoulder blades.  It always works for me, and Saturday, May 28, 2011 was no exception.

After my dip in the water, I wandered up to the picnic table where my wife was relaxing and enjoying the ocean view from just above the dunes.

A few minutes went by before I even bothered to finish drying off.  Only after we decided to leave and drive down to Salter Path to check out the Memorial Day traffic did I put on my tee-shirt.  There is nothing like a warm summer evening on the beach to make you lose track of time.

As is normal on a holiday weekend, the Crab Shack and other restaurants in Salter Path were packed with evening crowds.  We also noticed that the beautiful Hydrangea bushes that grace some of the spots around the Oak Grove Motel were starting to bloom.  The Oak Grove had their “no vacancy” sign showing.  I was most impressed when we caught sight of two Indian Beach police cars in less than a mile.  It is a good thing to remember that Salter Path is one of the stretches on the beach where the speed limit is 35 MPH.

We didn’t bother going farther up the beach towards Pine Knoll Shores. We turned at the putt-putt course on the edge of town and headed back down to Emerald Isle where we found plenty of folks walking and riding on the bike trails.  It was good to see some holiday crowds.  Jordan’s Seafood was packed as was Kathryn’s and Chowdaheads.  The Dairy Queen and the Sweet Spot also had good crowds.

Even more impressive was the parking lot of Food Lion in Emerald Isle.  Not only was it filled to what we call the wilderness parking area, but there was also a line of people at the parking lot ATM.  It was a good day to be locals who did their grocery shopping much earlier in the week.

As we drove back across the bridge to the mainland, only impatient traffic behind us kept me from slowing to enjoy the gorgeous view looking east up Bogue Sound.  As I often say, it is one of the most beautiful views that I have ever seen.  It always renews by soul.

Our trip home took us by Fairway Restaurant which was also packed. It is good to see the local restaurants doing well. The winter months are pretty quiet here on the Crystal Coast.  Still it was reassuring to remember that we had a nice porterhouse steak waiting for us at home.   Sometime in the spring we found the steak on special for around $6 at Food Lion and tucked it away in the freezer.

The perfectly grilled steak with a sweet potato and fancy green beans doctored with sesame seeds and soy sauce was a nearly perfect ending for a busy day.  There was even enough steak left over for a sandwich the next week.   However, the real crowing touch was a bowl of fresh strawberries from the box that we had captured on our morning errands when we stopped at Winberry’s Produce just before we swung into Redfearn’s Nursery for a couple of plants.  It is not often that you get to view a triple crown of local berries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

After enjoying our steak with a glass of wine, we cleaned up the dishes.  Only then  was I comfortable relaxing in my easy chair.  I thought back over the day which included a short early morning boat ride on the almost deserted White Oak River, the mid-morning mowing of our yard, and enough stops on trip to town that it was a challenge to remember all we did.

Our errands included a visit to S&H Feeds for our centipede fertilizer where we chatted with a neighbor who just picked his first ripe tomato this week.  Then there was the perfect cheese-steak sandwich which my wife and I shared for lunch at Trattoria in Swansboro.  After lunch we enjoyed the display of flags around the Otway Burns statue in Centennial Park near where we had parked.

Fortunately my review of the day didn’t have to last very long. Within an hour or so we decided to head off to bed

Saturday was a great start to Memorial Day weekend, and  I certainly didn’t have any trouble falling asleep.

If you want to check out some of the locations mentioned, visit this welcome page for a downloadable PDF map of the area.