While working gives you some focus in life, it does not have to be the center of your life. Most of us also have family, church, hobbies, and friends in our lives. I feel lucky to live in an area where I can slice my time effectively and hit most of those bases. Our family is far away, but the beach and water draws them here regularly.
I recently wrote about how work has changed for me over the years. I have worked in high stress jobs for much of my life. I have learned that one of the most dangerous trends in modern life is that work does not stay at the office. Perhaps I was at the forefront of this trend because for years I have worked from a home office. However, I have learned how to handle working at home and still have a life away from work.
Today I feel blessed to be working from home along North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. There are times when I feel like I am living my personal dream. For those of you not familiar with the area, we are the far end of that section of beach which runs south and west from Ocracoke Island. We really are one of the last places where you will find truly small beach towns with no real urban area nearby. Just to make things even better for those of us living here, Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Croatan National Forest, the Atlantic Ocean and Camp Lejeune protect our flanks as you can see from this map. In spite of that we enjoy a full range of modern services.
With this as a background, it is probably no surprise that it is easy to sandwich in some recreation and still get plenty of work done. There are five things which I really enjoy doing. Boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking and photography are my passions. There are three general areas where you will find me doing one or more of those activities. When I am not working and the weather is nice, I strive to be outside. One favorite spot is the White Oak River. Our home is on a gut, a narrow piece of water, that leads to the river. The second place that gets my attention is the beach and the third is the water in and around Bogue Inlet and the nearby marshes. I love to fish in all these places but when the fish have a hard time finding my baits, I just take pictures of the scenery and the wildlife that I find.
I visit the spots by skiff, kayak, or on foot. Hiking every mile of the beach in the town of Emerald Isle is one of my spring goals each year. In 2013 I managed to finish my circuit of the beaches in May. Sometimes I will sneak off early in the morning or late in the evening for a hike on the beach. I also like to head to the beach in the afternoon on the weekends. I much prefer that to an afternoon in an easy chair watching football. I am rarely disappointed by a trip to the beach and my favorite spot is the Point at Emerald Isle where it is easy to hike a few miles and not cover the whole beach.
With a skiff and a kayak that are just steps from the water and our garage, it is actually easier to get on the water than it is to go on a hike along the beach. A trip to the beach requires a car and a drive over the Emerald Isle bridge to Bogue Banks. There are beaches that you can reach by boat, but that is a family group activity. In the summer one of my favorite things is to get up, have a cup of coffee and go for an early morning boat ride or a fishing trip to the marshes near Huggins Island and Swansboro, North Carolina. This is a Google map of a trip by skiff that I made the morning of September 5, 2013. I left around 7:30 AM and was back home before 9:00 AM. I was able to put in a full day of work after my fishing trip.
This is a similar map of kayaking trip late one afternoon after work. I can paddle to the middle of the river where my favorite oyster rocks are located in less than 15 minutes. I usually fish forty-five to sixty minutes and then head home. While I do not haul trophy fish home every trip, I do catch enough fish to keep me happy. Fishing on the Southern Outer Banks can be rewarding and I pursued the goal of catching a nice red drum longer than any business plan that I can remember. Having a flounder that I catch for dinner is better than any business meal, no matter how fancy the restaurant might be.
On the morning of September 5, 2013, I was racing both the clock and the weather. I needed to be at work by 10 AM and there was also fog rolling down the river. I managed to sneak out during a window when there was no fog on the lower reaches of the river and get back just before the fog blanketed our section of the river. There was plenty of time to shower, grab some breakfast and get to work upstairs on time.
My trip back up the White Oak river in a skiff at something over thirty miles per hour certainly beats the morning commute of stop and go traffic around Northern Virginia where I used to work. Getting off work and climbing into a kayak is a lot better than fighting traffic back home and going downstairs to an exercise machine.
If you have never visited the Crystal Coast, the fall is the perfect time to come, fog on the river is very rare, but warm water along the beach through October is something that you can take to the bank. On September 5, 2013 the surf along the beaches was still over 80F. We fisherman are actually hoping the water will start cooling soon, but we know it will not happen quickly.
Of course if you want to visit our beaches and enjoy them like someone who lives here, you will find our 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide very useful.