Hard to escape the heat in August
If there is one month that I might choose to miss on the Crystal Coast, it might be August. I have never seriously considered it but with August 2016 following a consistently hotter than normal July, the thought has crossed my mind this year. It is a good thing that I caught a drum the other day to keep me focused.
According to the Morehead City weather office, July temperatures in Carteret County were "2 to 3 degrees above normal across the entire region." We never really got a break from the heat in July and there were no evenings that we got into the sixties at our dock on Raymonds Gut just off the White Oak River. The heat has meant that some days our neighborhood pool has been empty.
Now we are in August and breaks from the heat or humidity are extremely rare. Rainfall this past month was variable across the region with the gauge at our dock registering 11 inches for July even with a streak of ten days when we had no precipitation. The beach areas of Emerald Isle were much drier in July than we were on the mainland.
Except for a little too much heat, we had great weather in July 2016. The Fourth of July managed to slide by us with only a couple of minor accidents that tied up the bridge briefly on consecutive days. My wife and I managed to make it to the Emerald Isle EMS Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, July 2 with very little delay. It is a great event and one of the quickest ways to get a wonderful breakfast outside your home on a busy holiday weekend. The mayor of Emerald Isle, Eddie Barber, was even serving pancakes that day.
The pancakes are some of the best that I have tasted. I am looking forward to the next breakfast on Saturday, August 13, at 7604 Emerald Drive. The event normally runs from 7AM to 11AM. We concluded our holiday weekend celebrations by going to the movies in Havelock on Monday, July 4. We watched Finding Dory but unfortunately an impressive thunderstorm took out the power at the theater and we missed the last five minutes. The serious thunderstorms have been with us most of the summer. This shelf cloud is just one of the threats we have seen this summer.
My trips to the beach in July have been limited to quick trips to Third Street Beach but I have not had any trouble snaring a parking spot. However, I always go towards the end of the day when the worst of the heat has disappeared and the crowds are thinning. In getting to Third Street, I drive by the Eastern Regional Beach Access, which also is uncrowded by 4PM when I usually pass by the parking lot.
I found the beach very serene on July 15, the waves inviting on July 20 and the water was crystal clear on July 28. By contrast the river has not been as friendly. The heat often creates a lot of wind because the water and the land warm differently. It has not been unusual to see whitecaps on the river in the afternoon. It was not until July 30 did I find what I would call a glassy-water morning for my kayaking on the river. Still it has been beautiful out on the river with the oyster rocks always leaving an impression on me. We did go out fishing in the skiff once in July but in spite of being on the water by 6:30AM we did not catch anything to brag about from that trip.
We have done some wandering by auto. We managed a trip to the Duke Marine Lab for their annual open house. It is always interesting to go and see what you can learn from the scientists. This year I finally figured out that the fiddler crabs which are behind our house are Marsh fiddler crabs, Uca pugnax. I probably could have guessed the common name myself but it was nice to hear the scientific name from an expert. We did get a great view of Beaufort and all the boat traffic headed out Beaufort Inlet while we were on Piver's Island at the Lab. It was a truly hot day even by the water and shade was at a premium.
We have tried a few restaurants this last month but the only one that I feel comfortable recommending is the new Moore's Barbecue in New Bern. We had some of the best hush puppies that I have eaten with the exception of the ones that I make myself. When we stopped by the restaurant, we got the last parking place. We were expecting a long wait but after giving our order at the counter, we found the food made it to our table as we were sitting down. I continue to recommend Highway 55 Burgers and Shakes in Swansboro for a quick and tasty fast food meal. The food is great and the staff is very friendly. On the other side of the coin we tried one of the old Carolina seafood houses and were very disappointed. Caribsea has opened in Emerald Isle but we have not tried it yet.
We also made a trip down to Wilmington this past month but it was for an airbag recall on my car so our restaurant selection was limited to what we could walk to from the auto dealer. We did manage to hit Trader Joe's and replenish some of the goodies that we enjoy from there. On our way home we dropped by Boombalattis Homemade Ice cream. The ice cream sampler was worth the stop.
On our trip to New Bern we managed to visit the NC History Center near Tryon Palace. It is not a huge museum but they have a lot packed in and we are looking forward to taking our granddaughter back to enjoy the interactive section of the museum. It looks like a lot of fun for young children.
The hot weather is bringing the area gardens to an early end but we have had a great run this summer with more cucumbers than we can handle and enough tomatoes to enjoy and share. The Bogue Sound watermelons are still available at all the stands and we have enjoyed the watermelons that we have cut this year. We still have a couple of cantaloupes growing in our front beds and a handful of tomato plants still alive.
Until today there has been little critter excitement since I used a trap to get the mole that was eating our earthworms and destroying the roots of some plants. This morning I dumped into the gut a tobacco hornworm that was eating up one of our tomatoes. While the fish were checking out the worm, the water exploded with an otter. A pair of them entertained me for a few minutes. The green heron and the kingfisher are also back in our inlet so things are pretty normal for this time of year in Raymond's Gut.
In other news, there was an announcement that Bojangles will be building a restaurant in Cedar Point. Emerald Isle will also be getting a new shopping center complete with another grocery store. In upcoming events, the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival is coming back on August 27, 2016. It is going to be held at Western Regional Beach Access.
Before we know it, Labor Day will be here and the best beach season of the year will be starting. If you have never experienced the Crystal Coast in the fall, you need to put that on your to-do list. The Southern Outer Banks is special during the summer but it hits its peak in the fall months. In my humble opinion there is nothing as nice as fall on the North Carolina coast.
If you decide to make your way to the coast, please do not forget our book, A Week at the Beach The Emerald Isle Travel Guide. We have new Kindle and paperback versions available. The 2016 versions were introduced at the end of May and we sold 75 copies just in the month of July. We just got a very nice review in the August Island Review from the owner of Emerald Isle Books and Toys at Emerald Plantation where you can pick up black and white copies of the book.
In addition you can order the paperback versions from Amazon. Our travel guide is five-star rated on Amazon. I am also very pleased that the Emerald Isle Town Office has available both our color and black and white books. The paperbacks are 142 pages, the Kindle version has some additional material in addition to 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 66 color images is $20.
Look forward to our next newsletter around Labor Day and stay cool until then.