21 March 2010
There was a smile on my face yesterday well before I made it to the beach. All week I had tried to go for a walk on the beach. One day earlier in the week I had to turn the car's heater on to warm my hands after standing on the beach for five minutes and taking pictures.
Yesterday I knew well before my toes hit the sand that it was going to be nice. Wednesday afternoon we had taken my skiff out for a quick ride on the river. What we had found besides the power to my GPS was not working was that it was actually nice on the water.
The winds had also disappeared. By lunch yesterday it was almost seventy degrees Fahrenheit, and the winds were still calm,. Based on that, I was nearly certain that a trip to the beach would be a success.
Perhaps one of the things that I enjoy the most here on the Crystal Coast is the opportunity to enjoy good weather when it happens. I can remember some vacations when we tried to do warm weather activities even though the weather was not cooperating. With a vacation of one or two weeks, it was often impossible to reschedule because of weather. Now that I am living on the Crystal Coast, I grab any opportunity like yesterday to enjoy the beach especially this time of year.
As I crossed the bridge to Emerald Isle, I noticed a small boat anchored in the Intracoastal. That too was a good sign. When I got to the Coast Guard Road stoplight, I rolled down my windows just to check the temperature. I guessed the upper sixties, and when I checked against our car's temperature sensor, I found it was reading 67 degrees.
I have definite preferences for beaches. One of my favorites is Third Street Beach. As I have written before, the only place that I can find "Third Street" is on a Google Map. However, the small parking lot is easy to find, if you continue east along Emerald Drive until you get to Fifth Street. Turn right on Fifth Street and then make an immediately left turn on Ocean Drive. The Third Street Beach parking lot will be on your right in just a short distance.
As is often the case there was only one car in the parking lot. I parked, walked the short distance to the board walk entrance to the beach, descended the steps, and left my sandals at the bottom.
The warm sand felt great on my feet. I spent the next thirty to forty five minutes taking pictures and walking on the beach. I had a wonderful encounter with a very cooperative Willet. I even stuck my toes in the still cold water.
Much of the really soft sand has been trapped between the dunes. We will have to wait for the wind to blow from the other direction to get a nice soft sand coating back on the beach. Based on the way the winds were blowing sand around on the beach earlier in the week, we should not have to wait long.
As I put my sandals on, I made the decision that it was too nice of a beach day to let it end this early in the day. With that in mind, I headed back to Emerald Isle and made my way out Coast Guard Road. I parked in the parking lot just before Coast Guard Road ends at a stop sign. It is only a short walk to the beach from there.
I especially enjoy the board walk to the beach at this location. It crosses almost three complete sets of dunes. This is also one of the nicest beaches on the island. The slope is very shallow, and I have taken some stunning sunset pictures. from this beach.
I spent another thirty to forty five minutes wandering the beach. I did not see another person on the beach. I thought that I could see some people way in the distance, but I could not tell for sure. By the time I got back to the car, I was a little warm, but it felt great.
Now that the air is warm, we just have to work on getting the water temperature out of the fifties. There are links to more beach pictures in this article .
That is the thing about spring. Just when you think things are headed in the right direction, along comes a cold front, and you are back to wearing blue jeans and sweat shirts to preserve the illusion of warmth.
From what I have heard, this weekend was absolutely great. Someone told me that it was even nice enough to be out boating for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday. I am a self-confessed weather junkie so it was no surprise to me that this morning when I managed to find some rain about half way out to the mailbox on my trip to retrieve the morning paper.
Later in the morning, the rains became heavy enough to send our cat scurrying back inside after he ventured on the deck while I was taking a picture of the downpour. Fortunately the rain did not last long so we did not get the soaking that some mountain areas received. Still it was a rude reminder that it might be a bumpy ride to summer.
When I finally caught up with things today and ran out our for a few errands, I got a little over optimistic and ended up wearing shorts and a tee shirt. It only took me a couple of stops to figure out that I had made a strategic error. Had I known that the North Carolina mountains would be receiving snow showers along with their rain today, I would picked some different clothing.
Still I did not end up frozen, and likely if I had worn shorts a few weeks ago, there would have been a different result. There is no doubt that everyone is ready for spring. One of my errands was searching for tomato plants. I had managed to purchase some nice ones in Roanoke, Va over the weekend, but I left them in our Virginia garage. Now most people would just wait and retrieve the other plants, but I am the defending tomato king among my circle of tomato growing friends, so a day lost now might cost me my crown.
I also had to get a few bales of pine straw for the temporary windbreak that I create for my plants until the spring winds die down a little. Hopefully I will get the plants in the ground tomorrow. We have some nice weather coming so I am hoping for a strong start on my quest for a third straight crown. Tomatoes are huge part of our diet in summer, so having them ripen around the first week of June is also a welcome sign that summer has unofficially arrived.
Late this afternoon, the clouds started dissipating, and I became a little more hopeful that I might find some blue sky and capture a few photos. I changed into some warmer clothes and headed over to Emerald Isle around half past six. I decided to head to the Eastern Regional Access so I could check out the progress on the new bike path. I am pleased to report that much of the new trail is just waiting for pavement. A short stretch at the far end is still under construction, but I think the trail will be done soon.
As soon I got parked at the beach access and opened the door to my truck, I knew that March had tricked me once again. Even with blue jeans and sweat shirt, it was a cool walk to the beach. By the time I had snapped a few photos of the waves and empty beach, my hands felt frozen. I had to turn the heat on in my truck as I cruised back to Emerald Isle. I just missed a spectacular sunset over Bogue Sound by about five minutes, but there is always tomorrow, and it is supposed to be clear and warmer.
March and a good part of April are always tricky. Sometimes it looks cold and windy, but by the time you get to your destination, your trip turns out to be a great idea. Other times, you gamble with the weather and end up being glad to be back in home port.
With Bradford pear trees already blooming along with the daffodils, it will not be long before the azaleas are in bloom. Then in just a few weeks, we will be complaining about the heat. As it has often been said, if you do not like the weather just wait a few hours, and it will change.