Carteret County

Access to the Point repaired

Nearly forty years ago my Uncle Austin and I took a trip to the North Carolina coast in my old Bronco which managed to carry me to places as far away as Cape Breton Island in the northern part of Nova Scotia.

In those days, something like the Bronco was required to reach the Point on Emerald Isle. In fact we drove down the beach a long way to get to the Point. Roads were a rarity on Emerald Isle forty years ago.

Roads have come to the Island as have lots people. The ocean does not really care. It keep moving sand just as it always has. I recently wrote about shifting sands on the Crystal Coast Living blog that I write for our real estate company.

As I wrote in my article, it was only last year that the ramp to the Point on Emerald ended up being damaged. In fact most of the Point was under water last November at high tide. That was a big difference from early 2007 when I took this picture of a sunset on the Point. In January 2007 I went for a walk on the Point and posted this album of pictures.

During the summer we watch at the beach in the area began to repair itself. Frank Rush, the Emerald Isle city manager, made some statements that the beach would be okay at the Point. It turned out that he was right. The currents and probably the lack of a big storm this summer helped the sand to keep accumulating.

This week we read about the ramp being fixed. We went over on Saturday before the football games and saw that things were in pretty good shape. I took some additional pictures and posted them to the web.

Frost finds the White Oak

I was really surprised this morning when I walked out to get the newspaper. Our front yard had frost.

This is at least two weeks earlier than last year. Even then our backyard which is close to the water survived without frost until December.

I guess weather is always strange, but this year has especially been weird. The heat came very early in June and held on longer than usual into September.

We had tropical storm Hannah drop by, but Hannah only brought us wind and very little rain.

We have had a couple of recent nameless storms that have brought us higher water than Hannah.

Fall has been spectacular until this recent cold snap which I just wrote about on the Crystal Coast Living Blog.

We have a really nice week of weather lined up for next week, and my tomatoes did not survive the winds of Hannah, but frost is such a harbinger of cold weather that I would rather do without it.

I have much more fishing planned for this fall, and temperatures in the forties are not what I like to feel when I am out on the water.

Of course I will have to admit that my best ever day of fishing occurred in the rain with the temperatures in the mid-forties. If I could catch that many fish again, I would once again endure the cold.

Still we cannot complain very much with the early frost, the weather on the Southern Outer Banks sure beats the snow that fell from Pennsylvania up through Canada.


More than a beach county

With miles of beautiful beaches and a thriving tourist industry, it is easy to forget the farming that goes on in the county.

While most people are familiar with the produce farms that have roadside stands, fewer people wander off the roads to see the fields of corn, soybeans, wheat, or cotton that often dot the landscape.

While this is a great field of soybeans on West Firetower just after the intersection with Peletier Loop. You don’t have to drive far up towards Maysville to see some fields of corn that haven’t been as fortunate when it comes to moisture.

We farmed for over ten years in Canada, and it is probably the biggest gamble that you can take in a business unless fishing surpasses it.

With farming you can spend all the money and do everything right and still end up with nothing.

I had a nice steak for lunch today. It was a porterhouse that was on special. It ended up costing just a few pennies over $6. I’ll get two meals out of it. It is scary to me that beef prices aren’t that much different today than they were twenty-six years ago when we dispersed our cattle herd.

Diesel fuel cost almost nothing then. I can’t even imagine what a tractor costs today and how much it costs to operate it.

I am thankful for the farmers who plant the crops and have the courage and skill to keep ahead of the market. I know it is hard.

While I am talking about farmers, I have to get in a plug for the fishermen. Their job hasn’t gotten any easier either.

I make it a rule to buy local produce and local fish/shrimp whenever possible. I would like to see the next generation have a chance to make those family businesses work.

We are blessed with a climate that provides an oppotunity for success just as the waters in the area provide the same chance for the fishermen.

There are no guarantees fo success in this world, but if there are two businesses that should get help in tough times, it is our farmers and fishermen. We cannot do without them.


Summer is flying by


Busy summer


Shrimping time

I have been patiently waiting for the season to come.

The last couple of weeks have finally brought some shrimp relief.

The shrimping boats are bringing in local shrimp and other assorted delicious seafood.

Today we actually saw one on our walk down the beach at Emerald Isle.

We have enjoyed a couple batches of fresh local shrimp recently. We did one our normal way of creating perfect shrimp, and I grilled one batch.

Both were excellent and confirmed my belief that there are no better shrimp than the ones that come from NC.

The weather is approaching perfection. We just need for the winds to drop a little more and everything will be right with the world.

I finally got time to stick my GPS back on the boat so today we headed down the White Oak and went out Bogue Inlet to the Point. It was good to be back out in the water.

I posted a set of slides of the trip from Swansboro up the ICW and out Bogue Inlet.

I will do a more exhaustive job of taking pictures the next time. I was busy piloting the skiff today

You have to watch where you are going with boats getting stuck near the ICW.

Out on the water

This morning was one of those days that begs for you to get on the water. I had a few things which had to be done, and a lot more which needed some of my time.

I thought carefully about all the options and then I decided to go kayaking.

I once read something that helped me immensely with my decision making. It said to always choose that activity which you will find easiest to remember in ten years.

Would I remember spraying weeds or writing a post on a blog that might even be gone in ten years? The answer is no.

However, I will remember this warm, blue sky day when the winds softly carried me out Bluewater Cove towards the White Oak. I will also remember catching a nice flounder for lunch and just getting back in time to clean the flounder as the first raindrops from the afternoon storms started falling.

I made some memories today. For that I am thankful.

We made more great memories this past weekend when we visited Tryon Palace with our oldest daughter. We had a magical time, and I have posted pictures of the outside of the palace, the flowers, and the magnificent vegetable gardens.

It is well worth a visit.

Croatan cleanses the memory

We took a trip down to Myrtle Beach earlier in the week.

The trip just reaffirmed what I already knew. Carteret County (and Swansboro) is a much better spot for me.

I do not need all the night life, shopping, and multiple six lane highways.

It does not take long to realize that while the beach is still nice in Myrtle Beach, getting to it and enjoying it become challenges.

For a few years we lived in Columbia, Md. almost exactly half way between Baltimore and Washington. Obviously there was no shortage of wonderful things to do, as long as you did not mind sitting in traffic or fighting for a parking spot.

We ended up organizing our lives around the rhythm of the traffic. Whatever was happening in the natural world had to be shoehorned into traffic patterns.

That ends up being backwards. It reminds me of many of the trips that I took on business to California. I would often have some free time between meetings in Cupertino which was not far from Santa Cruz and even Monterey.

I rarely chose to go down there, because the traffic was so bad.

I guess my trip to Myrtle made me feel good about living in an area where I do not have to wait for a bad day to clear the roads before I can visit the beach.

When the weather is cool and damp as it is this weekend, we relax by the fire with the knowledge that the next great day, we will head over to the beach or find some time to walk the trails of Croatan National Forest.

According to my calculations it took at least three walks on the Croatan Tideland trails before I cleansed my memory of all those beach high rise buildings.

Ballyhoos, home of my favorite Grouper sandwich

Grouper is one our area's favorite fishes.

Certain there is nothing wrong with the occasional meal of fresh pan-fried flounder.

Of course when you can get them a tasty Spanish Mackerel, or some local Trout hit the spot.

However, our own local Grouper remains my favorite area fish.

The advantage of Grouper is that it is widely available in our area and likely to be fresh. I have enjoyed it at other restaurants in the area, but I am pleased to report that I have found the spot for the best Grouper Sandwich.

These days I am trying to make conscious choices which result in a diet of healthier food. With that in mind I was excited to find a grilled Grouper Burger on the menu at Ballyhoos.

I have now had Ballyhoos Grouper Burger at least four times. It has been consistently good so I can highly recommend it.

It has become my meal of choice when I am looking for good fish. It is well seasoned and sometimes is even a little spicy which I love. It is also only $8 and is a healthy portion of Grouper.

The folks at Ballyhoos are flexible enough to let me get some steamed veggies instead fries so the meal turns out to be delicious and good for me. I even had a nice Red Stripe beer with it tonight just so I could get the full health benefit.

My wife has decided that the Chicken Quesadilla is her favorite dinner at Ballyhoos. She got hers with a Spinach Tortilla tonight. Based on the taste that I got, its also a delicious meal.

The food always tastes better with good service. I can say the service at Ballyhoos is always professional, and it is a smoke-free environment.

It is a great place for a meal.


Festival time

This weekend marked the beginning of the beach season if festivals are any indication.

We attended the Emerald Isle Saint Patrick's Day festival on Saturday.

Later in the day, after a short wait in line, we enjoyed the Swansboro Oyster Roast.

The weather could not have been more perfect.

I actually think that I could have worn shorts instead of blue jeans.

We had a great barbecue sandwich at Emerald Isle, but we were careful not to overeat since all you can eat Oysters don't come around every day.

Shorts would have been a good uniform for the Swansboro festival.

There was quite a crowd there, especially around the Oyster tables.

Also it is hard work eating your way through those piles of steamed Oysters.

There was definitely something for everyone on Saturday.

I can highly recommend the festivals which seem to always be the same weekend.

If you are smart, you will circle the weekend on your 2009 calendar.

What could be better than few dozen steamed Oysters or fantastic barbecue?

As long as you are not afraid to use an Oyster knife, and you have a good glove to protect one hand, this is great sport.

I find a towel helpful to keep my knife clean, and a beer to quench my thirst the only other ingredients needed.

If you love Oysters, you will go away happy and full from the Swansboro festival.

It was a great Saturday, I cannot wait until the next festivals along the Crystal Coast.

I am happy to see the season moving towards summer. Now if the weather will just warm back up to what it was Saturday.