We all have dreams and sometimes if you are lucky enough you get to live one. In the summer of 2003, my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking a trip to Beaufort, North Carolina.
It was great to get away with Glenda and visit such a special place. That trip planted a seed that eventually blossomed into the hope that we might one day be able to live on the coast.
We were not sure where we wanted to live and had never really looked at coastal towns as anything other than vacation destinations. We started taking short trips and trying to imagine ourselves living in some of our favorite beach areas. We went as far north as Chincoteague, Virginia, and as far south as Southport, North Carolina.
We also visited places in beween like Virginia Beach, Nags Head, Hatteras and Ocracoke Island. We even tried a mountain destination, West Jefferson, North Carolina, just to make sure we were hooked on the coast. We kept coming back to North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. I have a long history with the area and it just felt like home.
Finding a spot on the water proved a challenge back in the days of the real estate bubble when the whole world seemed to trying to move to the coast. We finally admitted to ourselves that we could not afford waterfront property in the Beaufort area and ended up living just off the White Oak River not far from both Emerald Isle and Swansboro.
While I would love to see a stronger economy in the area, living in Carteret County has been even better than I imagined. In a certain respect it seems like our life was a journey that was destined to bring us here. I grew up in North Carolina, went away to McCallie, a military high school in Tennessee, and then kept going north with a stop in Cambridge for college. Canada beckoned after college and we eventually spent ten years on the farm before getting sucked into the whirlwind of Apple.
The changes that I have found in Carteret County after growing up in North Carolina and making such a long journey to get back to where I fished in the summer of 1969 inspired me to write a short book, The Road To My Country. Before settling in Carteret County we looked at places which were not nearly as friendly.
We have found a great church, Cape Carteret Presbyterian, and a nice neighborhood in which to live. We are close to modern services which are spread from Morehead City to Cape Carteret and Swansboro. We have made some good friends and there are enough good restaurants to keep us happy.
More importantly I have been able to fulfill my dream of being able to slip my kayak in the water and go fishing just about any time that I want. I still work in technology about half the week but beyond that fishing is just another thing that I choose to do. My kayak and skiff are just a few steps behind the house. With the water almost at our doorstep, I no longer have to put my kayak on top of the car to go kayaking. It is a wonderful treat to just go fishing without a lot of planning.
Fishing the Southern Outer Banks requires some dedication but the rewards are great when you do land a nice sized fish like the Red Drum that I chased for a few years. When I get tired of fishing there is always boating or walking the beaches of the area. One of my favorites spots is the Point at Emerald Isle. It is the same spot I fished in the summer of 1969 with my uncle, Austin Brown.
There are a whole series of special places that I love in Eastern North Carolina. Areas like Hammocks Beach State Park are treasures that remind us of what the coast was like before it was developed. Where we live is such a special spot that I felt compelled to share the secrets that I have learned in a travel guide for the area, A Week At The Beach - The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide. It is available both in paperback and Kindle format.
I cannot think of a nicer place to live than where we currently have our home. We are surrounded by the Croatan National Forest and the waters of the White Oak River. Bogue Banks protects us from storms and Cape Lookout National Seashore is an easy forty-five minute drive.
With Nags Head under three and one half hours away, the Intracoastal Waterway just ten minutes from my dock, and the Atlantic Ocean just another ten beyond that, I think that my priorities are in order. The nearest Target or SAMs Club are thirty-five minutes away. That is actually a little too close for my taste.
On Wednesday of this week we fished in rough water out beyond the Point in our skiff, but I also managed a couple of wonderful kayak trips including one on Friday, August 30, when I missed a nice drum on the oysters rocks. I will probably head back out and look for him again today. It only takes me fifteen minutes to paddle there.
It has just been a little over a year since we finally sold our other home and were able to bid adieu to Roanoke, Virginia, where we lived for over twenty years after coming back from Canada. That makes it even easier to think of the Crystal Coast as home. How hard is it to love a place where summer hangs on well into the fall?
As far as I am concerned a life by Raymond's Gut is living my dream. Seven years after moving here I think I am part of the dream.