04 July 2010
Our family has a long tradition of beach vacations. I am told that my first trip to the beach happened when I was less than a year old. Many beach trips in the early years were for two weeks.
While two week vacations were the rule in the fifties and sixties, I know that one of the reasons we came to the beach for two weeks was to outsmart the weather. Usually we would get a rainy day or two.
Sometimes a break from the beach was welcome since youthful exuberance occasionally wore down the best of us. Still two weeks almost always gave us plenty of great weather.
I can only remember one really rainy vacation at the beach, and it was one which was only a week long. It was also after I had become the paying adult. We were staying on the sound in Duck. The whole crew was there including a couple of grandmothers and our Labrador Retriever.
Even with the challenging weather and lots of family, we managed to have some great fun.
Yesterday the rains started late in the afternoon. Today they were much earlier. Still when I went over to the Eastern Regional Beach Access, there were four cars in the parking lot. Also people were in the water enjoying the ocean.
While playing in the ocean in the rain is not my idea of fun, I suspect that I might have done some of that in my earlier years. With today's beach houses, entertaining yourself is not much of a problem. However, hanging around the house on a rainy day is just not my idea of fun.
There are actually some pretty neat things you can do here on the Crystal Coast when the weather is not perfect. The Maritime Museum in Beaufort is one of my favorite places to go when it is too hot, windy, or wet for quality beach time. It happens to be one of the few museums in the world that excite my son. He really loves poking around in the Maritime Museum, and I never tire of going there.
Of course one of the most popular things to do when the weather does not cooperate is to visit the NC Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. Fortunately I live here, so I can go in February on a sunny day when fewer people are trying to see the fish. It is a great spot, but expect to have plenty of company on a rainy or very hot day.
There are also a couple of smaller museums, one at Hammocks Beach and the Core Sound Museum up on Harker's Island. I think both are interesting museums and worth visiting. There is also the History Place in Morehead City.
And if museums cannot be sold to the ones needing entertainment, there is always MAC Daddy's in Cape Carteret. There is plenty of bowling there and lots of games.
Of course if you are from a large city, we cannot match the huge city stores of your hometown. However, both Swansboro and Beaufort have some interesting shops in a setting where you can easily duck out of the rain from one store to the next. You can take a break and have lunch in town.
You will often hear the saying that if you do not like the weather, just wait a few hours, and it will change. That is a fairly accurate description of our weather. Getting a complete washout day in the summer is rare. At our place near the White Oak River, we only had one quick rain in the month of June. The total amount of rain for the month was about one quarter of an inch.
Of course we are making up for it in July. With today's rains, we are over six inches for the month. This time of year it is fairly standard for us to have blue skies in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon. You should get out on the beach early and be prepared for any afternoon surprises.
While you are out there on the beach, be mindful that it is better to miss some time in the water than it is to risk being in the water when it is unsafe. The same thing goes for boating. If we locals are not out on the water, there is probably a really good reason. Our world of waves can be a challenging spot even with all its scenic beauty.
The good news is that the forecast for the rest of the week, which takes us well into the second half of July, has more sunshine than anything else. I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy some blue skies, emerald water, and nice beach breezes.
Salt water is a very sensual pleasure. Usually I can smell the richness of the ocean long before I actually see it.
Often as I cross the dunes, I am amazed at the subtle colors of the waters along the beach.
Depending on the day, sometimes I can hear the crashing waves well before my skin reacts to the water temperature.
Then if the temperature is just right, and my whole body makes it into the water, it is normal to get a taste of salt water.
When you put all this together with the anticipation that builds as we near a beach, it is understandable that salt water evokes intense feelings especially when the water has the clarity and color that is common along the Crystal Coast.
It is no wonder that people have a hard time leaving our shores and cannot wait to visit again.
I wish that I could remember back to my first beach visit, but all I have are the stories from my mother. It is much easier to recall the wonder experienced by our granddaughter who will turn two this August.
Since we live here at the beach, she has been blessed with a number of opportunities to sample salt water at an early age.
Our granddaughter's second visit last summer was just before her first birthday. I still remember the amazement in her eyes as her mother and aunt held her hands as she walked into the surf for the first time. The next evening, she had traded the white sundress for a bathing suit. She enjoyed just sitting in the sand and letting the gentle waters splash her legs.
This year she brought her own beach chair, and I watched her taste the salt water as he molded sand figures. The vastness of the ocean must have been hard to take in since she preferred her chair turned towards the beach. Maybe she enjoyed being surprised as the small waves washed around her feet.
When I was over on the shore this past week, I knew what to expect as I pulled into the parking lot at Third Street Beach around three PM. First I knew the sun had baked the sand to the point that sandals would be required to cross over to the damp sand. Even with sandals, I did a little dance across the hot sand.
I had read a Facebook entry from a friend that the surf temperature was around eighty degrees, so I knew that the water would feel pleasantly cool on my skin. My feet definitely needed some cooling.
The one thing that I could not predict was the color of the waters. I had a sense that my visit might coincide with one of those afternoons when the water color almost defies description, but there was no guarantee until I crossed the dunes and saw what the sky had painted on the waters.
It turned out to be a very nice time to be standing in the waves taking pictures. Even with the thousands upon thousands of wave pictures that I have taken, I managed to take a few new favorites.
These water pictures will help trigger pleasant thoughts of my early July 2010 beach walk. It will be memorable just as many others have been.
Maybe the memories stay fresh because salt water got in my veins during those early visits to the beach with my family. Perhaps that is why I love those moments on the beach in the warm salt water. The beach brings back thoughts of family members long gone.
Still sometimes I could use an explanation for why I never seem to lack an excuse for making a trip a cross the bridge and up the Island. Mostly I just fall back on the truth. I love the salt water, beaches, and all that goes with a trip across the dunes.
Seeing water like I captured in the attached photo is one of life's great pleasures, and no one charges admission. It is even possible to indulge yourself more than once in a day. Two trips in one day makes for an especially nice set of memories.