Many places seem about to explode with activity as Christmas nears. That is not the case along the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.
As we get close to the end of the year, we actually enter the quietest season here on the coast. A few of the restaurants take advantage of the smaller crowds and close for a few weeks to give their staff time with their families.
Still there are plenty that are open and happy to have customers. When we were over at Mike’s on Emerald Isle this Saturday, December 17, at 1 PM, we were only the eighth or ninth couple to come in all day. Sunday, they have a breakfast buffet starting at 7 AM. I am willing to bet there will not be any waiting for a table.
Many area residents actually get on the road themselves during the holiday season and go to visit their families. In the summer people are anxious to come to the beach. When winter rolls around, the beach isn’t as much of an attraction as it is in the heart of summer when the water is warm enough for swimming. For our area’s slightly older group of residents, it is often easier to pack up and go see the kids than it is to try to bring the kids to the beach and help Santa find them here.
That few people come to the beach in December is actually unfortunate since this is one of the nicest times of the year. That is especially true when we are having weather that makes it seem like Indian summer has never disappeared. It has been shorts weather for a long time.
I had a stellar day over on the beach on Friday, December 16. My 2.7 mile hike on the beach was enough that I wished that I had listened to my own advice. Having shorts on during my hike would have been much more comfortable than the blue jeans that I was sure I would need. The water and the sky that I found over on the beach were amazing as you can see from these pictures.
While the fishing has slowed except for some trout holes on the White Oak and other rivers, the waters have been calm this week, and they are still relatively warm. It has been a good time to go kayaking or boating.
I had my kayak in the White Oak once this week. I have been down to Swansboro a couple of times in our skiff. It has been just as beautiful on the rivers as it has been on the beaches. There are some White Oak River pictures mixed in with this album I posted from some adventures earlier in the week. It is pretty nice when you can go out for a sunset cruise with just a light jacket on in the middle of December.
The White Oak cooled from 60F the previous week to 50F on December 14. That happened before we had two days when we were at or very close to 70F during the day. I am sure the river warmed a little but has now cooled some this weekend.
Still the water isn’t cool enough to chill the sun warmed air that has been in place with our mostly cloudless skies. Wearing a coat has not been a necessity this week. Saturday was cloudy and cool, but it looks like we will recover from this weekend cool snap.
December 20 through December 24, the temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-sixties. The mid-sixties are my favorite temperatures most of the year. When I can get them in December, it does not get much better than that.
Besides the great weather, shopping is never as hectic here on the coast as it is in places like Northern Virginia. I have a long history of avoiding shopping in places which end up on the national news like Reston, Va did on Friday night.
There are plenty of small shops along the coast here. There is also something reassuring about knowing that your shopping cannot get much more exotic than Belk’s, Best Buy, Ace, or Walgreen’s. After all, some recent studies show that most people are not impressed by expensive gifts and are just as happy with thoughtful inexpensive ones.
We also have the added benefit that most of our parking spaces are designed for extended cab trucks instead of your average Toyota Prius. It is not unusual to see a pickup truck with a boat trailer behind it in one of our mall parking lots. I bet there has never been a truck with a boat trailer in a parking lot in Reston, Virginia. If one managed to get into the parking lot, it would likely be there forever.
With great weather, peaceful beaches, cute shops, great parking, and inviting waters, there is not a better place to spend the holidays than the Crystal Coast if you can get away with it. You just have to get people to understand that palm trees make good Christmas trees, and the best tree of all is a Crab Pot Christmas tree.
We really enjoyed Christmas here on the White Oak last year even with the snow the day after Christmas. This year the snow will likely stay away, but that should make the area even more attractive for a holiday visit.