The fog is gone and the sun is back

Yesterday and early this morning all of eastern North Carolina and especially the Crystal Coast was beset with thick fog. What is surprising, is that this is the first fog that I have experienced since we moved to Bluewater Cove on the White Oak River. This is our fourth month where we have spent considerable time here, but this is first fog that I have seen. From my years on in Nova Scotia, I learned to live with the fog. Actually our mountain home in Roanoke, Virginia is often completely obscured by fog. I love to take pictures of the sunrise and sometimes I worry that I will get through the whole month of August without ever seeing the sun come up over the mountains. There's an old mountain saying that if you count the number of fogs in August, you will know how many snows there will be that winter. Fortunately that has never played out very accurately.

I am a pretty serious computer geek, so this morning I was very excited to find that the movie I created for a DVD of Bluewater Cove had successfully rendered and burned onto the DVD without any problems. I still have some more tuning to do on the project, but iMovie HD and iDVD which run on my dual G5 Power Mac generally do not let me down. I would love to move to HD format for my movies. I am sure Sony would like me to move also since that would be my fourth Sony video camera, but I cannot justify it right now. I just have to force myself not to look at the video being shown from the new Sony cameras when I am in Best Buy in Jacksonville or Wilmington. However, that HD SR1 looks mighty tempting. The way technology is, there will always be something better soon.

After a successful viewing my movie (it looked great on widescreen) and getting my Christmas cards done (thanks to my trusty Dymo LabelWriter), I decided to go for a bike ride. My old Schwinn is a little creaky like me, but I have outfitted it with a deluxe, exceptionally comfortable bike seat that I bought from the bike shop over on Emerald Isle. The cosy seat makes a huge difference in the amount of time I spend on my bike. Of course having some flat terrain for biking as opposed to mountains doesn't hurt either. In honor of the close to seventy degree weather I put on a short sleeve tee-shirt for my ride, but about half way through my ride I wished that I had also changed from jeans to shorts. I even worked up a sweat. I did switch to shorts when I got back so that my fishing experience on our dock could be as close to summer as possible. I borrowed my wife's extra strong reading glasses to put a new longer leader on my fly line. My rod, a relatively inexpensive St. Croix model, seemed to respond the change, the artificial flies dropped to the water a little more delicately

After sunning myself and practicing my casting (I'll call it fishing afterwards when and if I ever catch a fish from our dock), I needed to get those Christmas cards in the mail. Since Emerald Isle is a little closer, I headed over the bridge to beach. I was really surprised to find that there is a Post Office in the US that closes at 4 pm on Friday just a few days before Christmas. I guess it's a serious case of beach time. Unfortunately the stamp booklet machine wasn't working either so I had to drive the Swansboro Post Office. It's not like that's a long drive. I was more successful there. They were open until five and not very crowded for this late in the holiday season.

On the way back I pulled into the parking lot of Clyde Phillips Seafood to snap some pictures of the sunset. That's where I got the shot in today's post. From all reports we have several nice days of weather ahead of us. I had a couple of our upstairs windows open all day today and in fact until about 9:30 pm this evening. It certainly is a strange winter so far. More details over at my View from the Mountain blog.

More competition for the fish

I spent most of the day writing, but I did take a few minutes for a break out on the deck to enjoy the warm but cloudy weather. I was looking down the canal behind the house and happened to notice a visitor. Based on his beak I would guess that he would be deadly on fish. I don't think we need any more competition in the canal for fish. I've already seen some river otters ( I think) and what looks like a Loon, and several other egrets or herons.

It's a good thing I enjoy just casting and that Clyde Phillips always has a good supply of flounder. I am hoping to get boat sometime after the first of the year, but until then I'm stuck on the dock or the beach unless I take my kayak out. The water might be a little cool for that, but it sure is nice out in the river. Once we get a boat, we will face the challenge of learning the White Oak which from the charts appears to be pretty complex.

That's a challenge I hope will be a lot of fun. The idea of spending a morning fishing minutes away from the house has great appeal. It's one of the reasons we spent so much time trying to find a reasonably priced home on the water. We ended up in a great spot in Bluewater Cove. So far there are no regrets.

We have great neighbors, the amenities are right on target for someone who enjoys the outdoors, and we are just close enough to shopping and restaurants so that we don't have to spend a lot of time on the road or in traffic. Then there is the beach just minutes away. It's pretty hard to compete with all that and reasonable prices. That in a nutshell is why we ended up in Carteret County by the White Oak River.

The White Oak is certainly a beautiful area. There aren't many places you can find a sunset like this.

Warm enough for the beach

If mid-December weather gets any better than this, it is going to be hard to take. It was a challenge getting any work done today. I went for a shirt sleeves bike ride after lunch, then I spent some time fly casting off our dock. I didn't expect to catch anything so I was not disappointed when I saw nothing but a cloud of minnows. There is something really pleasing about having an artificial fly drop where you are aiming. Just feeling the power of the rod transfer to the line is pretty neat. Anyway it's a great way to relax, but it is hard to explain if you have never used a fly rod.

After I was done with the fishing I decided to go for a walk on the Emerald Isle beach and try to catch a nice sunset. Though the clouds rolled in just after I got there, they usually provide for a more spectacular sunset. The beach had a few people on it, but I was surprised to find no fishermen. I walked a ways down the beach and found the right spot to watch for the sunset. I snapped a lot of pictures. Once I got home I created a website with some of the best shots. It probably no surprise that the temperatures today were in the upper sixties. I hope tomorrow is a repeat of today.

The coastal shopping experience

At times it seems like I have been in every quaint coastal gift store in Carteret County in the last three years. I know that is impossible, but I am pretty sure that I have hit a number of them.

I don't mind visiting the small stores, but I try to avoid malls at all costs. Avoiding malls isn't very hard when you live over on the east side of White Oak River. I also have an allergy to Jacksonville traffic, can find no reason to make the trek to New Bern, and get plenty of Morehead City in trips to Walmart and Lowes. I will admit to driving to Wilmington, but the mall entrances have been so clogged with traffic that there is no way that I have even been tempted to get in line to search for a parking place.

I did a post, "The Christmas shopping caper," on my View from the mountain blog about all the places I have shopped for my wife's Christmas presents over the years. This year I ended up at the Blue Moon Showcase in Wilmington. It's not that there aren't lots of neat local shops, it's just we have been in those shops so much this year taking our family and friends shopping that I need a break from the local shops.

The Blue Moon Showcase had just a few people wandering around when I visited last weekend. At the same time you could not even get close to the spot where you turn into Best Buy. There's is something about shopping in a herd that takes all the pleasure out of buying a gift. I actually could take the time to contemplate my purchases without being trampled or having loud music pounding on my ears.

Next year I won't be going even as far as Wilmington for presents. For 2007 I am counting on being free the weekend of the Core Sound Decoy Festival and for some of the other wonderful area Christmas events like the shopping by candlelight in Swansboro and the Beaufort Christmas walk. Surely not every year can be as busy as 2006.

The live oak pictured in this post was photographed recently near Snead's Ferry.

The Bagel Bakery, Hampstead, NC

Bagel Bakery
This morning on my early morning run to Wilmington for my real estate classes, I decided to stop for a bagel just before I got to Wilmington. I was hoping a bagel might help me stay awake. Getting up well before six am and driving to Wilmington for a 9 am class can make keeping your eyes open challenging.

I had seen the bagel shop in Hampstead a couple of times but it never appeared to be open in the afternoon when I had time to stop. This morning I found out why. The Bagel Bakery closes at 3 pm every day. They open at six or seven am depending on the day of the week. Bagel shops often have weird hours.

Many of our coastal shops are famous for having "island time" or basically being open whenever they please. I guess when you have a coastal bagel shop, you can expect a schedule that fit the environment. The bagel and cream cheese was very good. I bought a few for some breakfast and sandwich variety so we'll see out they turn out.

If you're headed south to Wilmington, The Bagel Bakery is located on the right on US Highway 17, in Hampstead, NC. If you go past the big Ace Hardware, you have missed it. Their phone number is (910) 270-9099.