Thanksgiving is next Thursday!
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Paddling into the Holidays 

Fall has been extraordinary

Matthew slipped by the Crystal Coast with minimal local impact on October 8, and then the great weather arrived. There has been plenty of outdoor activity since then here on the coast.  We have had mostly sunny skies and little or no rain.  When I paddled out Raymond's Gut to the White Oak River on November 14, I knew that I was in for a treat.

The water in both the inlet and on the river was as calm as you ever see it.  Kayaking a big tidal river can be intimidating since a kayak twelve feet long is just a speck in a river that is one to two miles wide.  However, I have been going out on the White Oak for over ten years so I feel comfortable on the river and I can almost sense the river's moods. 

There is really nothing like a trip on the river in a kayak when the water is glassy smooth and the tide and winds are offsetting each other.  It was an easy trip out to the area where I feel that I have the best chance for fish. This map of an early November kayaking trip provides a good idea of the scale of the river.  I usually turn on my GPS tracking when I get close to the oyster rocks so I can anchor in the proper spots.  The rocks are usually covered but I have the best luck fishing in cuts in the rocks. As has been the case for the last couple of weeks, I caught some fish on my trip.

Fishing has been very good this year.  In my short trips on the water, I have landed well over a dozen drum and a handful of trout. Most of the drum are not keepers but they are still enjoyable to catch. My best catch so far is a 21" drum that I let go. I did bring one nineteen inch red drum home for dinner.  A couple of nice trout, and a black drum have also ended up on our plates.  We actually got our fill of fish for ten days, but I am eager to go back out before the real cold weather hits this coming weekend and perhaps bring back another fish or two.

I have not forgotten the beach.  My last long hike over on the shore was October 20, and the water was as crystal clear as ever.  At that time it was warm enough to feel almost like summer.  This beach picture was taken at the Point on Emerald Isle. I was standing just north of the western most piece of sand on Bogue Banks. This is a map of my October 20 beach hike. While the beach was closed to driving that day just east of where I entered the beach, I still do not think the Point and the rest of Emerald Isle's beaches received any serious damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Matthew did manage to cancel this year's Swansboro Mullet Festival but otherwise we fared much better here on the coast than did inland areas.   New Bern rescheduled their Mum Fest for the weekend of November 12, and from all reports they had a very successful event.

We have ventured out a few times to local restaurants since our last newsletter.  I have managed to eat a shrimp burger at El's in Morehead City, a couple of soft shell crabs at the Spot Grill in Beaufort, a gyro platter at Santorini's in Swansboro, and a bacon cheeseburger at Jeff's Burgers in Jacksonville.  The soft shell crabs at Spot Grill and the fresh local flounder were exceptional.  The gyro platter continues to a winner along with the chicken souvlaki at Santorini's.  The shrimp burger at El's was good but it is no match for the shrimp burger made from local shrimp at Bank's Grill also in Morehead City. The cheeseburger at Jeff's Burgers was a worthy challenger and the fries were hand cut, but the burger was not good enough to abandon Highway 55 in Swansboro.  However, we will go back to Jeff's Burgers when we are in Jacksonville.

With just enough restaurant meals to keep the chef happy, we have enjoyed several excellent meals at home including one of our specialties, browned-butter, panko-encrusted baked red drum.  Our fall garden has also provided us lots of fresh treats with everything from cucumbers and Romaine lettuce for Caesar salad to fall onions and fresh white half-runner green beans.  We are especially excited about our fall tomato crop.  The first fall tomato is almost ready for harvest and close to three dozen more should follow.  There should be plenty of lettuce to have a few BLTs. We also had the good fortune to be invited to a neighbor's oyster roast.  There is nothing quite like a steamed Bogue Sound oyster especially when there are more than enough to fill everyone. No sauces or dips are needed.  They are tasty right out of the steamer.

Local news has been quiet except for a bit of brouhaha about the ownership of the street by the planned new Emerald Isle grocery store. Things appear to be settled and it looks like we will eventually have a Publix in the neighborhood.  Construction started this week on the Swansboro Walmart.  It is just across the road from Battlefield Tire and close to Hammocks Beach Road.  There is still no sign of the wandering Bojangles but a Jersey Mike's Subs has opened in the shops by Mills & Thomas Furniture.  The referendum to fund dredging of the inlet by slightly raising the sales tax has failed.

Thanksgiving is a great time to visit the beach and you can cap off your Thanksgiving visit to the beach with a Pancake Breakfast at the Emerald Isle EMS on Saturday morning, November 26.  It is always delicious.  The Annual Emerald Isle Christmas Parade will start at 3PM that same day.

There are no restaurants in Emerald Isle area that I have found that will be open on Thanksgiving Day.  However, a few restaurants in the greater area are open on Thanksgiving. Cox's Family Restaurant in Morehead City has a Thanksgiving special with choice of ham or turkey, two sides, a drink and dessert for $8.95 for adults and $6.95 for children.  Clam Digger Restaurant in Pine Knoll Shore has a buffet for $27.38 tax and gratuity included. They are open 11AM-3PM.  Floyd's 1921 in Morehead City has a Thanksgiving meal for $24.95 but they are already booked. They are doing a waiting list also will be doing takeout. If the weather is nice, they will seat outside. Cracker Barrel in Jacksonville is open regular hours.  If all else fails, Golden Corral in Jacksonville and MHC are both open.  Bojangles MHC and Atlantic Beach will take turkey orders until Saturday.  They are open until 1PM on Thanksgiving Day. For what I can tell all the restaurants that I talked to are only going to be closed one day.

Lowes Grocery in Cape Carteret does full turkey dinners with sides and gravy from $44.99 for an eight to ten pound turkey to $49.99 for a ten to twelve pound turkey.  They need at least a 24 hour notice and will be open from 6AM to 4PM on Thanksgiving Day.   All the grocery stores are loaded with turkeys and hams so do not hesitate to come for some last of the season beach walks. Food Lion is open the same hours as Lowes but Piggly Wiggly will only be open from 6AM to 2PM on Thanksgiving day.

It looks like Thanksgiving Day might open with some early, very light showers but the day will clear and the temperatures should be in the mid to upper sixties along the coast.  The water is below that temperature so activities around or on the water will seem cooler.

Truly it has been a magnificent fall on the Crystal Coast.  You can read our September newsletter at this link.  If you need a holiday gift for someone thinking about visiting the Crystal Coast, please consider one of our travel guides.  Each book adds a dollar or so to my new camera fund.

Have a wonderful holiday season and if you need a post to put you in a peaceful mood try this one, Nature’s Peace Will Flow Into You.  The Crystal Coast is one of the few places where people slow down for the holidays instead of speeding up.

Our next newsletter should come out around the first of the year.  You can always keep up on my other web posts by visiting this site.


David Sobotta

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