The Heart of Summer
Months of anticipation and now summer is here
Summer is a lot of things to me but it has always had the beach as a big part of it. Even today as I live within ten minutes of the beach, I feel the excitement as the Fourth approaches. The reason is simple. The beach with its beautiful waves is the heart summer. In January when I am holed up by the fire when our weather dips below 50F, I can only dream of the beach. In the summer I can walk it and fish along in the surf all I want.
We have enjoyed some great weather in June 2016 and I think everyone is ready for the Fourth of July. The corn is already reaching to the skies and I recently posted my survival guide for staying at the beach during the week of the Fourth. The best advice is pack some patience in your suitcase if you plan to visit a grocery store or restaurant this upcoming week in Emerald Isle. I plan to survive on tomato sandwiches. Our homegrown tomatoes will keep me from being tempted to go out to eat.
The bridge to Emerald Isle can be tricky to navigate with stop and go traffic at times and beautiful scenery that cries out to be enjoyed on both sides of the bridge. Give yourself plenty of room between your car and the next vehicle. Also be careful in the grocery store parking lots. Some folks have trouble unwinding after a very long drive.
This is actually a very safe area and the quicker people focus on getting into their vacation mode, the better off everyone is. I have often thought that we should require folks to go for a beach walk before they can go to buy groceries. The beach will slow you down if you just give it a chance especially if you listen to the waves instead of your electronic device.
Of course if you just cannot survive without some touches of city life, trying visiting our city, Morehead City. It is part of the Crystal Coast magic and will help you forget about the big city you might call home. A meal at Banks Grill (they close at 2PM) or El's Drive-in is a good way to start the holiday weekend. If you are already on Bogue Banks and are in the Salter Path area, you can try the Big Oak Drive-In. See my travel guide for other recommendations.
The good news for returning visitors is that we have some new businesses for people to sample. First I can suggest the Candy Edventure in Swansboro. My granddaughter is in love with it but be mindful that it does not open until 11AM. I can assure you than no youngster can survive looking through the windows there for thirty minutes. The store is amazing and well worth a visit even if you do not have grandchildren.
As for the beer drinkers in the family, I can suggest Goose Creek Growlers on Emerald Isle. They are having their grand opening this weekend. Go enjoy some great beer on tap and take some home in your very own stoneware growler. There is also a new donut shop on the road to the pier at Emerald Isle if your sweet tooth is calling out for relief.
When you are ready for some exercise or a nap under an umbrella, the beach is in great shape and the water is just the right temperature. You might enjoy some of my recommendations in this blog post, Last Parking Spot at Third Street. Parking spots at all the beach accesses will be at a premium this weekend. Go early, go late, walk, bike or have someone drop you off. I recently had a great time taking my granddaughter over to the Bear Island part of Hammocks Beach State Park. It truly is a great way to make some memories and have an enjoyable boat ride. You can see some of my recent beach pictures at this page of online albums.
There will be music and fireworks this holiday. The Tams will be in Swansboro this weekend. There will be fireworks in Swansboro and more fireworks from the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle. You can also enjoy the fireworks from almost any spot on the White Oak River.
Speaking of the river, the fish are starting to bite. One of my neighbors joined me in my skiff recently and we found some trout. While I was working today, he was out fishing and tortured me with a picture of a slot red drum that he caught this morning. Since the Intracoastal Waterway will be so busy for the next few days, I hope to do some kayak fishing in the river where I can hide behind oyster rocks.
If you cannot manage to catch any fish, Clyde Phillip's, Captain Sam's, or Willis Seafood can help you with your shrimp or seafood needs. Sara Winberry's produce stand in Cedar Point has plenty of local vegetables to go with your seafood.
One of the new things this season is the availability of food at the regional beach accesses. Rotating food vendors are available at both Eastern and Western Regional Beach Accesses. Also snacks and ice cream are available at the pavilion on Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park. I am guessing there will be a number of food trucks around this weekend. Try the Cedar Point Market.
Whatever you do, be careful, wear sunscreen, keep hydrated, do not drink and drive or boat and remember the freedom that the Fourth of July celebrates. Lots of people gave their lives so that we could have the freedom to walk these beautiful beaches.
Our newly revised 2016 version A Week at the Beach The Emerald Isle Travel Guide is live on the Kindle Store. You can also order the paperback versions from Amazon or pick them up locally at the Emerald Isle Town Office or Emerald Isle Books and Toys at Emerald Plantation. The paperbacks are 142 pages, the Kindle version has some additional material and live links to lots of extra content. The Kindle version is $3.99. Locally the black & white book is $8 and the color version with over 100 color images is $20.