Summer Waters Are Still With Us

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The shores of the White Oak River

The shores of the White Oak River

While many areas consider Labor Day the last gasp for boating, here in Eastern North Carolina, we expect to enjoy summer waters for another two to three months. Summer still has a grip on us and many of us will continue boating all through the winter.  I will probably skip kayaking in January and February, but I will in out in our skiff almost every week this coastal winter unless we get iced in for a while.

The waters in our big rivers like the White Oak will take a long time to cool down from their mid-eighty temperatures. Just to make sure the cool waters do not come quickly, we are in the midst of some serious warmth with high temperatures in the mid to upper eighties. There is nothing like going into fall with a blast of summer weather.

It has been so warm that midday boating can actually be almost too hot unless you get out into the ocean. Of course if you love the water, a little heat is not going to slow you down.

Even with the warmth, I have managed to kayak on the river three times this last week of August 2014 and have had our skiff out a couple of times as well. The main difference between our late summer heat and our mid-summer heat is that the fish have started biting in earnest. I have caught three keeper flounders this week, one at 1.5 pounds, one at 1.75 pounds, and another at 2.25 pounds. At a market price of nearly seven dollars a pound, that is over $38 of flounder.

With bright blue skies and warm waters, it is a perfect time to enjoy our beaches. The wet weather that was hanging around in mid-summer seems to have disappeared and there is also some surf fishing action.

This Labor Day weekend does mark the last of the crowds for us. Next week we will likely visit the Emerald Isle Food Lion for the first time in a couple of months. I am already planning a hike over at the Point. My last trip over in mid-August, the Coast Guard Road parking lot that I use had no empty spaces so I had to head up the beach for my hike.

This is one of my favorite times to hike the beach. During the first two weeks of September, the beaches are still vehicle free so I try to make the most of that. There is nothing to match standing in the surf on a warm evening and fishing.

If you have the flexibility to do a fall vacation at the beach, you will not regret coming. It will not be long and we will be having warm days with less humidity and not even the hint of a crowd on the beach or the waters. Even the skies seem to get a deeper shade of blue.

Our most recent Crystal Coast newsletter went out a month ago and can be read at this link, Stunning Weather.  Summer Is Here was the previous edition of the newsletter.  You can also read what has been happening in the last few months on our Southern Outer Banks site or visit my my homepage for more links.  Our next newsletter will be out by September 1.

If you need some quick and free travel advice, try our free quick guide to Emerald Isle.

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Beach Day or Pool Day?

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Waters that give the Crystal Coast its name

Waters that give the Crystal Coast its name

We are at the middle of August and here on the North Carolina coast we are expecting a stellar beach week. Certainly the number of visitors already here will increase just with the pressure of this being the last week before school starts in many areas. If the weather looks to be as good as it has been this second week of August, then we are going to have a lot of folks contemplating one of modern days questions that is actually a nice problem to have.

That challenging decision for some families is whether to go to the beach or enjoy some time at the pool.  I say this with the full knowledge that there are many dedicated beach goers who come only for the beach and could care less about a pool.  However, there are plenty of pools here on the coast and a good number of folks will have to face this decision.

We are blessed to have this choice between jumping waves on the beach and relaxing in the pool. However, deciding between the two can divide some families right down the middle.

There are good people who are not fond of having sand cover much of their body. There are others who find the idea of swimming in a small self-contained pool crazy when there are miles and miles of ocean and plenty of waves to jump.

As someone who enjoys both, I am going provide my perspective as a coastal resident and a longtime lover of both beaches and pools.  Maybe I can help reduce some of the tension which has no place in a vacation.

First off let me say that I often enjoy both pool and ocean in the same day. Sometimes I manage to go to the pool, visit the beach, and come back for a night swim in the pool.  I am fortunate to not have to deal with teenagers when it comes to getting to the swimming pool but I have watched them at our neighborhood parties when they are torn between being cool teenagers and just giving it up for some real pleasure in the pool.

We live in a small subdivision ten to fifteen minutes from the beaches of Emerald Isle. I can see our neighborhood pool from my office. It takes me less than five minutes to walk over to the pool from our home.  I wish I had more time to take advantage of it but some of us still have day jobs.

I am one of those people who does not enjoy a crowded pool. We are lucky that our pool except perhaps on a hot weekend afternoon is rarely crowded. I tend to enjoy the pool mostly in the mornings and often I have it to myself.

Often in August our pool water is so warm that I rarely visit until the nights get a little cooler. This year July and August have not been as hot so the pool is a perfect place to cool off.  One of my pool observations is that many people who are not fond of pools are really just not happy with crowds of people being at a pool. If you give them a chance at an empty pool, you can often covert them to a person who loves a pool at least at the right time of day.  Having a pool to yourself is truly an advantage if you are renting a home with a pool even if the pool is small.

When it comes to beaches, I happened to have married a lady who is not particularly fond of getting sandy. I am one of those people whose fun at the beach can be measured by the how big a pile of sand that washes off my body in the driveway when we come home.  That also means I rarely feel the need to use a beach where you can get hosed off when you are done.

We solve our dilemma of two different beach personalities by going to beaches where we mostly walk along the edge of the surf. We often do it late in the afternoon when the crowds and heat are gone. Typically we go on a falling tide so that my wife will not be surprised by a wave that might get her wet. I usually carry a towel in our car so she can brush the dry sand off her legs.

We are old and independent enough that my going alone for a morning swim does not bother my wife any more than me taking a couple of hours to hike the Point at Emerald Isle does.  My wife is also not fond of being in water that is over her head or of even being in a bathing suit.  However, when our six-year old granddaughter visits, she can be attracted to the pool.

We are lucky that our pool has a shaded porch with rocking chairs.  It is the place that my wife retreats when she has had enough sun and dangling her feet in the shallow end of the pool. If you do not enjoy sitting on a porch rocking chair in the breeze by a swimming pool on the North Carolina coast, there might not be any hope for teaching you relaxation.

My wife and I have also had a couple of enjoyable beach trips that involved us hitching a ride on a beach taxi and being delivered to a remote area and then being picked up later. It is great way to see an area which might require some serious hiking to see. I wish we had a vehicle taxi system like that at the Point on Emerald so my wife could visit the area.

Getting our six-year old granddaughter away from the neighborhood swimming pool for a trip to the beach is sometimes a challenge.   We know she will have a great time when she gets there as you can see from the first picture on this post.  Her mother has been known to dangle the offer an ice cream cone on the return trip home.  That always seems to work.

I will not pretend to have a solution for getting today’s teenagers to the beach, it was hard enough twenty years ago when mine were that age.  They will eventually come back to the beach and remember how much they loved it.

While they might not enjoy roasting in the sun on a towel perhaps the challenge of hiking the Point might click with them.  There is plenty to do here in addition to having a pool or beach day.  Unfortunately many of the young folks take their electronic world with them so it does not matter where they are. They should be wave catchers instead of being plugged into their iPods.

However both kayaking and boating which are high on my agenda especially since we can do both twelve months out of the year can attract the attention of the young.  Paddling on a board is also a good activity that is popular with younger folks.  I will admit that kayaking and boating are often just excuses to go fishing for me but that has been a life-long addiction.

Our area is a place where it is pretty easy to do it all even if you just visit.  If you enjoy outdoor activities like I do, the Southern Outer Banks are also a great place to live.  It might have been wet in the middle of the summer but we are having perfect beach weather now as you can see by these photos from a couple of recent evenings on the beach.

Beyond beaches and pools, try to arrange a boat ride when you visit.  I doubt a visit to our area is complete without one.  You can always just get a ride on the ferry to Hammocks Beach.  You can make memories there that will last a lifetime as you can tell from these pictures.

With a boat on a lift behind our house, I am lucky in that I can sneak out before breakfast for a boat ride to the marshes. Coming back and taking a quick dip in the pool is not out of the question. I have done both and finished before 9AM. Some days I can add a hike around the marshes at lunch and maybe a little later even a kayak ride out to the oyster rocks. Next on the agenda would be a ride over to the beaches and perhaps an early evening visit to the pool.  You are guaranteed to sleep well after a day like that.

You are also guaranteed to have fun here on the Crystal Coast if you take the time to enjoy both time on the beach and by the pool.

Our most recent Crystal Coast newsletter went out a few weeks ago and can be read at this link, Stunning Weather.  Summer Is Here was the previous edition of the newsletter.  You can also read what has been happening in the last few months on our Southern Outer Banks site or visit my my homepage for more links.

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We Enjoy Our Warmth

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White Oak River late one warm August evening

White Oak River late one warm August evening

Where you live and the weather you enjoy or endure becomes a very personal thing. Some people never get to pick where they live. Personal circumstance dictates where home is. My wife and I have tried several places and have definite opinions about what we like in weather, what we will tolerate, and what we try to avoid.

Life has given us the chance to live our dream which brought us to the western side of Carteret County. Luckily the area has just enough warmth to fit us very well.

As the WeatherSpark site says, “Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from 33°F to 85°F and is rarely below 24°F or above 89°F. The warm season lasts from May 21 to September 10 with an average daily high temperature above 78°F.…The cold season lasts from December 22 to February 25 with an average daily high temperature below 57°F.”

I like to sum it up by saying that most winters a cold day is one which does not reach fifty. Even when we have a cool spring things usually turn out pretty well and beach season always seems to arrive.

It is a pleasant climate with not enough cold, hot or hurricanes to chase us away. After some background, I will explain our reasons for loving the warmth that keeps some folks for settling here.

You cannot understand why we value the warmth of the Carolina coast without knowing what we have experienced in weather. We have enjoyed living in places as different as Tay Creek, New Brunswick and Columbia, Maryland. Tay Creek was a small farming village in the hardwood hills just twenty miles north of the provincial capital of Fredericton. We lived in Tay Creek for ten years and saw temperatures as low as minus 40 in January and as high as 100F in June. Snow was a part of daily life there for over five months a year. The snow plows did not even bother running unless we got over six inches of snow.

Columbia, Maryland which was our reentry point into the United States was a completely planned community halfway between Baltimore and Washington. Even the service stations had to be hidden in Columbia. We only lived there a couple of years, but the humidity and heat just about cooked us. Columbia was the only place we have lived that I never mowed our yard. We found life much more tolerable for the next twenty years on a breezy mountainside in Roanoke, Virginia.

While Roanoke is a place that can get hot, cold, and very windy, I mowed the yard there many times at the beginning and end of the season. The beautiful bluegrass yard was just a bonus in an area that was certainly a good place to raise a family in spite of some snows worthy of Canada as you can tell from these snow pictures.

We ended up in Carteret County next because we wanted to be here. The weather in the county was part of our decision to move here. One of the things that really attracted me to the county was the lack of clouds. Cloud cover ranges from a median value of 15% to 34% depending on the time of year. We do have a lot of blue sky in the county. While hitting our blue sky numbers in the rainy midsummer of 2014, might be a challenge, I will look forward to the time when we will catch up.

Beyond blues skies, we value warmth. I shoveled plenty of snow even after we left Canada. Snow is pretty to someone who has moved as much of it as I have only when snow does not have to be shoveled. I can handle a little ice on the water as long as it goes away relatively quickly. So far in our eight years here, I still have not had to worry about clearing snow from our driveway. The infrequent snow and ice storms are just a reminder of the many winters we survived. A little snow and ice really does not mean a lot here in the flat lands of Carteret County where I work from home anyway. There is no worrying about driving down an icy mountain like was often the case in Roanoke.

Warmth means something besides purely decorative snow. It means that we get to live in our world without walls for a good portion of the year. I can safely be out on the water or in the water for nine or ten months out of the year. October when most people start thinking about winter is often like summer on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. It is not unusual for me to go kayaking in our inlet in December.

Warmth also gives us a gardening season that extends through most of the year during a normal winter without a wandering polar vortex. We love working outside and this year we got our first ripe tomato on May 25. We were close to getting peas in January last year before the severe cold hit. Most winters we enjoy January lettuce.

Warm weather can bring the challenge of the muggies but even at its worst, the hot and humid weather can always be conquered by a dip in the surf.

This year we seem to be skipping the hottest part of the summer. We have had some classic heat but not enough to get the folks from up north grumbling about how hot it is here.

Whenever I hear someone complaining about the heat, my mind floats back to the days before air conditioning when I was youngster in North Carolina’s Piedmont. Shade trees and dark woods were the only refuges from the heat. You got out of your home to escape the heat and hoped some of the heat left the house before you had to try to sleep.

This strip of beaches along the North Carolina coast is a special spot and the heat that comes with it makes this watery world just the right spot for us. There is so much more here than one can imagine at first glance. Having some heat most of the year makes it easier to enjoy it all including a late evening kayaking trip like the one when I snapped the picture at the top of the post.

Our most recent Crystal Coast newsletter went out a few weeks ago and can be read at this link, Stunning Weather.  Summer Is Here was the previous edition of the newsletter.  You can also read what has been happening in the last few months on our Southern Outer Banks site or visit my my homepage for more links.

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