Starting with a Different Memorial Day
Last year at this time, people were just beginning to travel and we had little idea when things would start to get back to normal. Now according to all reports beaches might well be packed all summer.
It is only in the last couple of weeks that we have had our first two meals in a restaurant. It came just in time as we were ready to give up on takeout food. Also for the first time in sixteen years, we did not enjoy Memorial Day at the beach. The reason that we were not dodging holiday bridge traffic is the same reason that I have not gotten a newsletter out this spring. We moved.
Our house in Carteret County sold at the end of October, and we moved inland to an area just west of Winston-Salem in February. We live just east of the small town of Mocksville which is only about four hours from the Crystal Coast. We hope to become beach visitors once we get settled.
Selling a house, buying a house, and moving during a pandemic are pretty stressful. We feel blessed to have accomplished all that while managing to get both our vaccinations done by the middle of March. We still have boxes but we have not gotten any forwarded mail for a while.
Fortunately, I have several friends still living at the coast so I will keep the newsletter going as long as I have useful information to pass along. I hope to keep writing about my favorite coastal paradise for a few years longer.
The Crystal Coast is a very special place but it is also a very fragile place. It was a very different place when we moved to our former home on the White Oak fifteen years ago. In 2006 one of the anchor stores in Carteret Crossing shopping area was a Maxway which likely many have never seen or visited. There was no Lowe’s Home Improvement Store and the only drug store in the area was CVS on the Island. There certainly was no Walmart in Swansboro. Even in the short time since we moved, Jersey MIke's has opened in Carteret Crossing and there is a Starbucks on track for the same area by fall.
Fortunately, some things have not changed. Clyde Phillips Seafood is still operating between the bridges even after category 3 Hurricane Irene and the devastating Hurricane Florence. Winberry’s Produce still holds down its spot in Cedar Point and Bogue House still offers up some good food which helped to get us through the pandemic. Being inland, I certainly miss the fresh local shrimp that I used to buy at Clyde Phillips.
The most important thing is that the beaches of Emerald Isle after their most recent renourishment remain little changed since our arrival. I am even more pleased with the knowledge that the Point area which I first visited in the summer of 1969 by four-wheeling down the beach from Atlantic beach can still feel like a wild place if you take the time to walk beyond the crowds. While Emerald Isle now has roads and houses which it did not have in 1969, the density of houses still allows for lots of space on the beach except in a few spots.
While there has been plenty of development on Emerald Isle, it still remains uncrowded and accessible when compared to many beach areas. It has missed the fate of becoming wall to wall high-rise condominiums. Much of the areas development has taken place on the mainland where development seems to be accelerating. Residents that I know are very concerned that a recreational camper park planned for a recently rezoned 156 acres along Highway 58 just a few miles from Emerald Isle will further strain parking and other amenities in the western end of the county.
Those thinking of moving to the area might want to read the post that I did in the fall of 2019, An Adventure Lived Well. I think the area is still a great place to live.
The good news is that Emerald Isle remains a desirable place to visit. The bad news according to a good friend at one of the rental companies is that they have been 100% booked for summer arrivals since January. According to her, new listings which go online are booked within hours. Her only advice is to get on a waiting list or take the first thing you can find.
If you have a flexible schedule, you might want to consider booking for fall. Most of us who have lived on the coast will argue that early fall, late September through early November can have some of the nicest weather. The water is still warm, the air not as humid, and the fish are biting.
Until last week, Carteret County and much of Eastern North Carolina were begging for rain. That changed on Friday, June 4, when much of the County got between two and three inches which put a sizable dent in the recent drought. Some inland areas like Chocowinity got nearly six inches of rain. While all of that might seem like a lot of rain, multiple storms of two to three inches happen most summers. They are brief and intense but they do not usually wipe out a beach vacation.
For basic information about the area, visit my Crystal Coast Life homepage. If you do not already have your reservations, this might not be your summer to visit the Crystal Coast but do not let that stop you from planning a trip. There are not many small town beaches left. Ten years from now we might be talking about where they all went.