It feels like summer and we even could use some rain!
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Feeling the Warmth

Outstanding Weather

By May on the Crystal Coast, there is usually little doubt that the warm weather has arrived. This year is no exception. Unlike my Canadian friends, there is no snow in the woods to keep us cool. The area waters are warming rapidly with my buddy, Doc Bogus, reporting the sound at 77F and the surf up to 71F. Some thunderstorms even rolled through the area this morning.

We have been lucky when it comes to heat, the weather before this first real warmth has been very pleasant. The gardener in me knows that it has been very tomato friendly with cool evening temperatures and warm but not hot days. That is just what we needed for the fruit to properly set on our tomato plants.  However, the season is moving quickly.  We cut the last of our Romaine lettuce today and we are down to getting sprigs of broccoli.  The lettuce and broccoli were planted on February 14.  The beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are doing well since it is their kind of weather.  The beans which were planted April 6 along with the tomatoes had their heads above the ground in six days and are now running up our trellis. The tomatoes all have small green tomatoes. Perhaps we will have a chance to eat some of our white-half-runner beans before our spring onions are gone.

Aside from the persistent wind which is normal for this time of year, the weather has been great. Even the wind has played nice at times. We took advantage of one those times to enjoy one of the Coastal Federation's bird watching tours on the Lady Swan.  I think that is my third or fourth trip on the Lady Swan. Captain Tim does a great job and I highly recommend a boat ride with him as a way to get a feel for the area waters. Here is the photo album from our trip.

Our grandchildren visited us just before the middle of April. Even in their short visit they got some very nice beach time as you can see from the picture in the post. We were already enjoying local strawberries when they arrived. The weather has cooperated so well that we are actually a little dry with only two to three inches of rain in the last thirty days.  Except for the wind it has been perfect for being on the beach as long as you respect the churning surf and rip currents that these seasonal winds bring.

There has already been a tragic loss of a couple of young lives on the beach this year so please pay attention to the conditions.  You can always check the Emerald Isle website for current beach conditions.  This Sunday red warning flags are flying.

From the early traffic that we have seen, it looks like people from the west and north of us, areas which have been very wet and cold this winter, are ready for some warmth and time on the sand. Beach renourishment has been ongoing and finished up for the season on May 1. As far as I can tell Emerald Isle is ready for visitors.  I suspect there might be some shortages of rental properties since there are still some blue tarps around.  The only way to know is to call the rental companies and check availability for the dates of any planned visit.  As to restaurants, there are still some places off the island which have yet to open, but there is no shortage of restaurants and the best in my opinion, Riverside Steak and Seafood in Swansboro, is open and ready for your special event. Try the grouper and you will not be disappointed.  You will not starve if you come visit us, the area grocery stores are filled with hot prepared convenience food if you cannot find a seat at a restaurant table.

We recently revisited an old favorite, T&W's Oyster Bar and Seafood House, on Highway 58. The place is a legend in the area and has been serving seafood in the same spot since 1971.  It did hit a bumpy spot a few years ago but it is back to its well-earned reputation of a great spot to take a big crowd for NC fried seafood.  I got to enjoy some wonderful steamed oysters with friends there in April before the season ran out.  Many of you who travel Highway 70 to reach the area drive by Sandpiper Seafood just a little west of Kinston. On a recent return from Raleigh, I stopped for a dinner of fried oysters, they were wonderful and I had enough to bring home for my wife to enjoy. Now I know why their parking lot is always filled.

Some big news for us personally is that we have decided to start the process of moving closer to our grandchildren who live in North Carolina's Piedmont region.  While we look forward to the new adventure in another place just as we have many times before, it is very hard to leave a place and a home that has become so much of a part of us.  I plan to continue to write the newsletter and hopefully update the travel guide as long as we are still here.

If you know someone looking for a coastal home that has seen a number of Hurricanes including Florence with no problems, send them our way.  We will have the home listed in a few weeks and I am happy to talk to anyone before then or send them to a trusted local agent.  You may preview photos of our home at this link.  There are few people who can say they live with water twenty-five behind the house and have never taken their skiff off its lift for a hurricane.  I doubt there are any other homes with such a distinguished Great Egret visitor as Frank 29X who has visited every year since 2012. 

The idea of moving got me to thinking of the many changes that we have seen since we bought our home in the summer of 2006.  Cape Carteret was a much sleepier little place back then. There was a Maxway store close to where Walgreen's eventually built. The best local restaurant was The Fairway which was most recently home of Angie's Lighthouse Cafe.  The building was  torn down last month but they are planning on rebuilding. It is hard to believe but there was no Lowe's Home Improvement Store in Cape Carteret.  We had to go to Jacksonville or Morehead City. Since those days, Cape Carteret has also picked up a Quizno's and a new McDonalds, and a new gas station.  The Lowe's Grocery store is now huge and includes a beer garden. Cedar Point now has a Bojangles and even a Neuse Sporting Goods. Swansboro has exploded with restaurants and even a Walmart. On Emerald Isle the waterpark has reopened and Mike's was replaced by the Trading Post. Emerald Isle now has an amazing boat launch area and Swansboro keeps adding to its wonderful parks.

The things that haven't changed are the most important. The beaches are still some of the most beautiful around and Emerald Isle remains a very family friend beach destination unlike some more commercialized beaches.  Cars will often stop to let you make a turn even during peak tourist season.  Emerald Isle now has a bike trail from where it meets Salter Path all the way down Coast Guard Road to the sign for the Point area.  The beach at the Point has grown tremendously in size and is now a place that feels almost wild if you are willing to walk a few miles. You can still easily find some private space on the beaches of Bogue Banks.

For more reading about the area, visit my posts at this link for my blog and here for older articles.

I will try to have another newsletter out just after Memorial Day as the real beach season kicks off. 

If you need more information, check out my Crystal Coast homepage or use this link to a contact form.  See you on the beaches.

David Sobotta
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