Clouds Sometimes Visit The Beach

Clouds Over Raymond's Gut, Near Swansboro, NC

Clouds Over Raymond’s Gut, Near Swansboro, NC

It is unfortunate but it is sometimes cloudy at the beach.  Stunning blue skies are common here along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast but even we have a few off days.

If you live in the South, you learn to take advantage of cloudy days in the summer.  In the heat of the summer, a cloudy day is a great time to get some work done in your garden.

We have gotten plenty of rain as we head into the last couple of days of June, but those of us living in the South know that things can quickly get dry so you will rarely hear me complain about rain.

Clouds are actually easier to deal with than rain or wind.  I love a nice coastal breeze but yesterday the gusts were in the 20+ MPH range which is high enough to get old quickly.

Still it is summer and I am working as hard as I can to enjoy it.  We have been fortunate to have family visitors for the last couple of weeks.

While it means that I am usually in the water more than usual,  I generally have to give up my long beach walks while we have company.  People think it is weird if I go walking on the beach for two or three hours.  Still I love it and will be back doing it as soon as our company is gone.

The clouds might make taking great pictures a little more difficult, but the high winds are making paddling a kayak or taking our skiff down the river a real challenge.  I am stubborn enough that I will go kayaking even if I know well the battle that I will face getting out to the river.

Last week the wind was blowing so hard against me while paddling out to the river that some of my muscles were sore that night.  The next day I took the skiff down the river to test a fuse that we replaced.  There were whitecaps on the river and even trying to ride down the river on top of the white caps,  I ended up getting sprayed.  The good news is that the river water is in the mid-eighties so there was no danger of getting cold.

The clouds have brought us plenty of rain which means all our vegetables are doing well.  Just this week, we have nearly been over whelmed homegrown tomatoes.  One of our neighbors kindly shared their corn harvest with us and we’ve just now had to buy lettuce after we harvested the last of the spring lettuce from our patch.  We really enjoy our lettuce patch.

While the clouds have visited there have been some exceptional beach days.  That is one of the reason you have to come to the beach long enough to see the weather change a few times.  The great weather convinced me to tour a number of the North Carolina beaches in the last month, but none captured my fancy.  I am still very happy with our area.  It is hard to beat convenience and spectacular scenery.  Still I enjoy looking at other beaches.

The beaches of Ocracoke Island definitely had a hold on me during my college years, but I have a different beach mistress these days.

If you have never visited our area, come see why the Crystal Coast deserves its name.  I suspect you will see plenty of sun even if there are some clouds around to tease us.

We do try to schedule our rain at night but sometimes some showers slip through.  If you would like to learn more about the area, drop by the Crystal Coast Google+ community that I am building.  It is not complete, but you will find lots of information which might get you to thinking about a visit to the Crystal Coast and its beautiful beaches.







We Try To Schedule Rain At Night

A Day At Our Neighborhood Pool On The Crystal Coast

A Day At Our Neighborhood Pool On The Crystal Coast

Everyone wants a perfect week at the beach.  While glossy tourist brochures often seem to hint that we never have anything but blue skies,  the reality is a little different.

It does rain at the beach.  Many of us have vegetables and yards that need regular moisture.  We actually need rain a little more often than some areas because of the sandy nature of our soils.

We had a very dry May but we have received some welcome rain since the first of June.  We are headed towards our summer weather pattern but we are not there yet and as is often the case, the weather will be what it will be.  Forecasting the weather here on the coast is extremely difficult.

Some of the severe weather which looks to be on a direct collision course with us dissipates as it hits the coastal air mass.  Then sometimes storms which no one had in their forecast will spring up just off shore and make their way to land.  Our big coast rivers can attract and enhance storms or move them in different directions.

We have a complex environment for weather systems but we also have weather forecasts that are pretty generalized for an area with so many factors that can radically impact our weather.  There was a forecast for severe storms on June 17 and 18 in North Carolina.   From reading the forecasts it looked like the Crystal Coast might be hit by some of the strong storms on the afternoon of June 18 which happened to be the first day of our granddaughter’s visit to the beach.

Being a typical five-year old granddaughter, she was determined to go to the pool in our neighborhood as soon as possible.   A few dark clouds could not change her determination so just after breakfast we headed over to the pool across the cul-de-sac from out home.  It was a little cool in the water at first because of all the clouds, but it certainly was not bad.  We had a great time, and as noon got closer and closer the sky got more friendly.  The sky eventually turned almost all blue and the sun warmed us up nicely.

Our morning at the pool was one of those times we gambled with the weather and won.  The pool is so close to our house that it is pretty easy to go home if we see a storm headed our way.  That is exactly what we did after three hours of playing in the pool when we noticed the dark clouds that looked like they might be headed our way.  It was time for a welcome lunch break anyway.

The clouds turned out to be a false alarm for our neighborhood in spite of the continuing forecasts for the potential of stormy weather.  Stormy weather visited eastern North Carolina, it just missed us.  There were some severe storms in the Greenville area and around Albemarle Sound which is to the north of the Crystal Coast.

We actually headed back to the pool a little later in the afternoon for another hour or two.  When we watched the local weather forecasts just before dinner at 6PM it appeared that the severe weather and any rain accompanying it had missed us.  Since some dry spots were starting to show up in our yard, I set our irrigation system to run on June 19 before we went to bed.  The late night forecasts seemed to indicate that we would have an even better day for enjoying the beach on Wednesday, June 19.

I had one of those nights when I fall asleep and wake up an hour later.  It was 12:30 AM as I I sat down at my computer for a few minutes. While checking the weather maps, I noticed that a storm system was almost on top of us.  It appeared to be coming from the water.   In less than five minutes, I heard rain on our windows.  It was such a nice night that I went out to my perch on the front porch and watched it rain for a few minutes.

It did not take much of the sound of the falling rain to make me ready for some sleep.  I did manage to go turn off our irrigation system before I made my way back to bed.  It drives me crazy to see irrigation systems running just after it rains.

This morning when I checked the rain gauge, we had received .7 inches of rain.  That should be enough so that I can take watering tomatoes off of my schedule today.   We seem to have a fair amount of rain during the very early morning hours before sunrise.  My plants are happy to get the rain whenever it comes and I am sure our visitors are happy to have the rain confine itself to those bedtime hours.

So far the clouds are hanging with us today, but things are supposed to improve after 2 PM.  Maybe my favorite bathing suit will be dry by then and a little nicer to pull on before we head back to the water.  We will make the best of whatever weather that we get.

If you get stuck at the beach and are looking for something to do, our book, A Week At The Beach- The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide, has a whole chapter on rainy days and what to do for fun.



Nags Head, One Of Our Carolina Beaches

The Nags Head Beach From Jennette's Pier

The Nags Head Beach From Jennette’s Pier

Luck of birth sometimes works in your favor. My family has been around North Carolina for a long time.  Fortunately I was also born here between the mountains and the sea.

Life in North Carolina when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties was pretty good.  I lived within walking distance of our elementary school.  We were lucky in those days, I cannot remember anyone being excluded from our group which got together to play after school.

When we were not playing football or baseball, we spent a lot of time wandering the fields and woods.  Travel when it happened was limited to short trips to visit our relatives who all lived with twenty miles of our home.

The one exception was summer vacation.  I live for those two glorious weeks during the summer when my mom closed down her beauty shop and headed off to the beach or the mountains.  I never kept track of which direction we went the most, but the beaches of North Carolina won my heart before I even started school.

There were no huge homes along the shore.  We would rent a small cottage two or three blocks from the ocean. I do not remember air conditioning being one of the amenities until the early sixties.  I doubt we cared.  There were no air conditioners in our homes during the fifties.

The sand, water, and blue skies owned us and no one complained about the heat or the fact that we ate a lot of tomato sandwiches to keep down the cost of our trip.

One of our favorite places to go was Nags Head which happens to the beach picture that I have chosen for this post.  I can remember many other beaches but Nags Head has always stuck with me.  There is something special about it.  While Nags Head has gotten fancier over the years, you can still have a relatively inexpensive night on the oceanfront in Nags Head.

I am happy that Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head got built before our politicians decided that all government spending is bad.  The pier is a great place to soak up the beach and that wonderful ocean air that you find on the Carolina coast.  There is nothing wrong with Jennette’s Pier being a day trip for us.

After our recent trip to Nags Head, I was talking to a friend and mentioned that we had just gotten back from a few days trip to the beach. He responded, “What are you doing going to the beach, you live at the beach?”

While it is true that we live less than ten minutes from the beautiful sands of the beaches of Emerald Isle, that does not mean that I am limited to just enjoying those beaches.  Sometimes you have to spread your wings and fly a little.

Our recent trip “Down East” and to Cedar Island where we caught the ferry to Ocracoke Island brought back a lot of memories. On Ocracoke we stayed in the same motel which I checked into for a night in 1969 so that I could see that first black and white step on the moon.

Sometimes it is good to reconnect the dots. After all there is no denying I love the beaches of Emerald Isle.  I would not have taken the time to write A Week at the Beach – The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide without lots of love for this area.

Still there will be no complaints from me that the drive to Nags Head is less than three and one half hours.   With those beaches being that close, maybe it is time to write a little guide about some of North Carolina’s other great beaches. I am thinking maybe my next guide will be called, “A Back Door to Ocracoke Island And The Beaches Up To Nags Head.”

If nothing else, the research is going to be a lot of fun.