Swansboro's Centennial Park and weather fit for paradise

If the weather gets much better, all work is going cease. It's probably good that the fishing isn't very exciting right now or all the boats would back in the water. Today we decided to get out from the weight of the Internet which delivered about 30,000 click-throughs to my other sites from an article that I wrote about the upcoming MacWorld.

We went out to breakfast at Laurie Ann's Kitchen (I'll do a review when I get time), then drove over to the Swansboro Centennial Park and enjoyed the expansive water scenery from the piers. After that we took a trip down through Swansboro's Historic District. The only excitement was Morris, one of the town cats, was helping with merchandising just outside one of the stores. After that we drove across the bridge to Emerald Isle to check the movie times. We then headed back to home in Bluewater Cove. I immediately changed into shorts and tee-shirt as the temperature was well into the upper seventies on the very sunny south side of our house. I finished a project to add some tippet to the leader for my fly rod and then headed to the dock to exercise my new NC Saltwater fishing license.

I got in some good practice casting into a slight wind. The extra tippet was perfect. I didn't expect to catch anything but I had some very pleasing casts. I don't have nearly as fancy a saltwater fly rod as the one which is my favorite for mountain trout fishing. The rod I'm using is a St. Croix one with a LL Bean reel. So far I haven't seen much fly gear here in the Swansboro area, but I keep looking.

I know fishing picks up in the spring along with the interest in the beach rental market. With the weather the way it is right now, it would be a great time to rent a spot over on the Emerald Isle beach. There are no crowds and the rates are low, but the water might be a little cool for a dip.

After my fishing, I went for a forty five minute bike ride in the neighborhood. It was almost too hot. I had to take a shower when I got back before we headed out to our 3:10 movie over at Emerald Isle. Since we came to one of the early shows, we got our tickets for $5 each which is a good deal these days. We watched "The Pursuit of happiness" (review also coming) and after it was done headed to the Ice House in Swansboro for dinner. We both had Grouper Grandwiches for dinner. Since I'm trying to do better with my food selections, I did at least switch the fries out for a small salad.

As we left the Icehouse, and noticed the crowd of people waiting for seats, we were glad we had come early. When we got home just before seven pm, I was surprised to find the house where we left a number of windows open still at over seventy two degrees Fahrenheit.

I guess that is the way it is in paradise here on the Southern Outer Banks. I hope tomorrow is as much fun.

The great lamp quest, some clouds and my first tornado watch

We headed down to Morehead City yesterday (Thurs) to look for that last lamp for our new house. As we pulled out of the driveway, we grabbed the mail, and I was pleased to see that my new Saltwater Fishing License was already here. I have to give the state credit, that was really quick. I only ordered it Tuesday. Now if they could just deliver some fish to the end of my line that fast, I would be a very happy fisherman.

I'm always amazed how far the drive to Morehead seems even though it is only seventeen miles. It doesn't take but a few minutes, but it just seems longer.

We pulled into the parking lot at Shore Decor and spent a few minutes hunting down every lamp that they had. They had lots of furniture and plenty of lamps but none that really excited us enough to take home. I did snap a picture to show Tommy, the designer at Mills and Thomas Furniture who has been so helpful in getting all of our furniture to coordinate. We were just getting ready to pull out of the parking lot and go in search of bagels when my wife told me to back up. She had seen an attached lighting store. We repeated the lamp hunt and found one that we both liked. The folks at Creative Lighting, Kitchen, and Bath were nice enough to let us take the lamp home for twenty-four hours to see if worked. We got it home, took a picture of it and sent it to Tommy who told us the shade was too big for the table. It being a stained glass shade, there was no way to replace it, so this afternoon we headed back to Morehead City.

Fortunately I got out of the Friday afternoon lamp hunt. Thursday except for the trip to Morehead I spent the day answering feedback from an article of mine, "What Jobs told me on the iPhone," that the Guardian in London, England had published. There were about 20,000 people who once they read the article clicked on a link to one of my blogs. Many sent email comments and a couple of people that I had known years ago surfaced. After we got to the lamp store and unloaded, I had a couple of cell phone calls to make. It got so warm in the car with the sunshine and blue skies that I had to roll down the windows. Just as my last call was winding down, my wife showed up with a sales person carrying another lamp. I hope this one is a keeper.

Still we had not managed to get to Morehead City before the three o'clock daily closing of Bountiful Bagel so we thought about getting some from Dunkin Donuts, but the late Friday afternoon traffic on Arendell Street convinced me that a bagel wasn't worth a left turn out of the Shore Decor parking lot.

As we headed west along Highway 24, the clouds seemed to roll in well before we got to Cape Carteret. Late this evening we got some brief but heavy rain and then saw the announcement that we had a tornado watch. So far we seemed to have survived our first watch without any problems. It isn't set to expire until 1 am tomorrow morning, but hopefully we won't have get more experienced on this.

Tomorrow the temperatures are predicted to hit 74 degrees Fahrenheit before an early week cool down. Maybe I can finally get in a bike ride and use that new fishing license.

Blue skies and warm temperatures are back

There's nothing like coastal or mountain weather. If you don't like it just wait a few minutes. Tuesday we went for a drive over to Emerald Isle. This shot was taken from the sound side of Emerald Isle looking towards the mainland. We even stopped and went for a walk on the beach. It's a little hard for an ex-Canadian to fathom walking on the beach with a warm sun beaming down on your back on January 3, but I am trying hard to adjust. Wednesday I even wore short sleeves to a business meeting. As far as I am concerned I would vote for this as our year round climate.

As we were driving around, it dawned on me that many Emerald Isle neighborhoods get down to very few souls in the winter time. I know it is better than many coastal area, but still compared to our spot in Bluewater Cove, things are a little deserted for my taste. Of course some people thrive on the extra privacy. However, it hit me that the best way to tell is to show up just before trash collection and see how many cans are waiting at the curb.

Wednesday was an even a nicer day, so I keep wondering when the weather gods are going to demand their pound of flesh. I know people all along the east coast are enjoying higher than normal temperatures so just maybe we won't be singled out when the time is near to pay for this wonderful winter weather.

Thursday I have promised myself that I will save some time for fishing and bike riding. Why live in paradise if you can't enjoy it some?


The clouds roll in & saltwater fishing license time

It was a strange New Year's Eve. The weather was so warm that we went out on our deck and watched the local fireworks while no even wearing a coat. It was a beautiful night, much more like a spring night, that a mid-winter night. We ended up sleeping with the windows open once again. I think last night's low temperature was 65 degrees. This morning, it was sunny at first and the temperature quickly rose above 72 degrees. When I checked the Weatherunderground site tonight, it looks like the 72 degrees Fahrenheit is a new record for Cape Carteret.

Earlier today, just as I started thinking about going fishing at around eleven am, the showers rolled in. We were pelted with rain for a good portion of the rest of the day. The temperature, however, stayed above sixty all day, and once again we have the windows open trying to cool the house so we can have some good sleeping temperatures.

Other than an early morning trip to the grocery store, we had a very relaxing day watching football games. There have definitely been some good games on and with rain outside, it wasn't too hard to dedicate time to soaking up some of the last of the college football for the year. It's a little hard to believe the last bowl game isn't until next week. Maybe with a few more, football can compete with March madness.

Since today was the first day of the new saltwater fishing license, I went online and purchased a license. I was not sure what the residency requirements would be, and was a little worried that I might have to have my NC driver's license first, but it turned out that I didn't. I only had to be "domiciled" here for sixty days so residency was no problem. You can get your saltwater license online at this link. You also get to print out a temporary license which you can use until your permanent one comes in the mail. At least this way I won't have to stop fishing, Of course the fish are in no danger since it has been a while since I caught any.

Today being the first day of the New Year, we had to honor our family traditions by having greens (spinach in our case- no collards allowed), black-eyed peas, and pork for a meal. Now I really hope the good luck works for this year.

I am also excited to have my first article in the "Dropping Anchor" magazine. It's the winter weather article on page 24. I guess I get to be a mystery author since Will forgot to include my name. Anyone familiar with my background will recognize my Canadian stories. If that is the worst thing that happens to me this year, I won't have many complaints.

I am looking forward to my first full year on the Carolina Coast. If the weather will stay this way, at least the heating bills won't be very challenging.


A big coastal view

Sometimes my favorite part of living here is driving across the bridge from Cape Carteret-Cedar Point to Emerald Isle. The view you get from the top of the bridge is truly stunning. This picture was taken looking southwest towards Emerald Isle. As the year draws to a close, we certainly can't complain about the weather. This afternoon the outside thermometer at our house in Bluewater Cove on the White Oak River registered 72 degrees Fahrenheit. After reading the local paper this morning, I think the economy looks relatively strong with a number of organizations hiring so perhaps 2007 will be a great year for lots of people.

I took in an article this morning from the NY Times, "America the Overfull," (subscription required). Paul Theroux, the author, laments about an overcrowded America.

I grew up in a country of sudden and consoling lulls, which gave life a kind of pattern and punctuation, unknown now. It was typified by the somnolence of Sundays, when no stores were open. There were empty parts of the day, of the week, of the year; times when there were no people on the sidewalks, no traffic in the streets, no audible human voices, now and then no sound at all. In this hushed world, a bumblebee was a physical presence, the sound of a cicada could dominate an August afternoon.

I wonder if I should send Mr. Theroux an invitation to visit the Crystal Coast. While there were plenty of stores open today along the Crystal Coast, there were a number that were closed. It seemed pretty peaceful, perhaps with the exception of the Maxway store in Cape Carteret having a going out of business sale. People today were out washing their cars and talking to neighbors. I don't get the feeling that Carteret or Onslow counties are very crowded. We took the Stella road over the headwater of the White Oak and then cut on another road over to Route 24 where Route 172 intersects it. I was impressed with all the agricultural land tucked in around the White Oak.

Though no place can lay claim to having stopped time. I find that the Crystal Coast strikes a pretty good balance between growth and retaining the feeling of years gone by. Certainly some of preservation efforts here have resulted in some interesting main streets surving. I certainly don't feel the same traffic pressure that I do on Interstate 81 in Virginia or Interstate 40 near Raleigh. When were driving down late at night earlier this week and turned off Interstate 40, I got that feeling that we were practically alone on Route 24. We could see some red lights in the distance but there was very little traffic. I almost felt like I had gone back in time to those days in the late sixties when I drove nearly deserted highways between Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was in military school and Mount Airy, North Carolina which was home. We picked up traffic as we got close to Jacksonville, but driving through Swansboro was pretty peaceful at 11 pm.

At night when I walk out on our deck, there is no ambient noise unless there is training going on over at the base. Typically I find myself alone with the stars and very little else. This afternoon when I was enjoying the last free day of saltwater fishing, there was little noise but some birds, the wind, and my fly line. I feel immensely lucky to live in such a beautiful place even if there are a couple months of tourists. The rest of the year, there aren't a whole lot of traffic jams. Perhaps it's fortunate that Mr. Theroux isn't singing the praises of our coastal paradise or all of New York would be down here.