'There were a lot of nights when I worked in the DC area that I wished for one of those nights when you get out of the car and you feel like you're at the beach.
Once in a while I have walked across the parking at the Kroger at Ridgewood Farms in Roanoke, VA and it briefly felt like a beach night. I never got that feeling in Reston. Summer in the city is different. Maybe there are too many roads or the buildings absorb too much heat.
The feeling of an evening at the beach is a curious mix of warmth, moisture, and breeze. It is a little like the warmth encircles your body without really heating you up. Just as you feel the heat getting ready to make the jump to your body, the breeze comes along and pushes away just enough of the heat to keep you comfortable.
Here on the Crystal Coast, it is not surprising that we often have evenings that feel like we are the beach. The beach in fact is our neighbor and only a few miles away. A strong sea breeze and the humidity of summer are almost always present. We just need a day when the heat doesn't linger past six or seven PM.
Then if you are anywhere within a few miles of the beach, it still feels like you are at the beach. That embracing warmth is a feeling that makes those of us who live here feel at home.
Heat in the city and at the beach are two different animals. I've been really hot in the city a few times usually when I was wearing a suit and hiking to the Pentagon on an account call.
While in the city, the pavement and buildings absorb the heat, here on the coast, the water absorbs more heat that almost anything except people working outside.
Those days that I have been hot in the city, the cure is pretty simple, get into an air conditioned space and take off as many clothes as possible. In the city it is almost like the heat is trapped in your clothing and not your body.
It's different here on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. When you work outside, you start with as few clothes as possible except you add a straw hat. If you work hard outside for a few hours even during the early morning hours, the heat will penetrate your whole body. You can take your clothes off when you come inside, but unlike in the city, the heat is still in your body. It is a lot like having a good workout in a very hot place.
When you come inside hot from mowing the yard, the only way to cool down is to get in the shower and turn on only the cold water. With our waterlines not buried very deep, our summer water is never very cold, but it is the perfect temperature to cool an overheated person.
After cooling and readjusting to the inside world of little humidity, it is easy to go back into the heat as along as you don't stay for extended periods in the middle of the day. A trip outside when it is ninety degrees isn't much of a shock to system mainly because most of us on the coast don't cool our homes below 78F.If you keep your coastal home at 72F, each time you walk inside, it will feel like you have walked into a meat locker.
There are days and nights that it never cools and never feels like you are at the beach. You just feel like you are stuck in a sauna. Fortunately for us those nights are rare and often confined to August with maybe a few nights in late July where the heat also never dissipates.
July 9, 2012 was a warm day across the east coast, but not as warm as the day before. I expect as the sun gets behind the Longleaf pine trees and the bite of the heat of the day disappears, it is likely that the night like so many others will feel like a night at the beach.
While the warm feeling of being at the beach isn't as welcome in the summer as it is the cooler fall air, still it is a comfortable feeling that would have helped me get through all those nights in the city.
If you haven't had your escape from Northern Virginia and DC yet this year, give the Crystal Coast some thought. We are about six hours from Reston. Once you get here, you will find one of the greatest remaining family beaches in North Carolina.
Development hasn't been as dense as it has in many places. Also we still have much of our natural vegetation. In many areas you get to experience a Maritime forest. You will also find some of the nicest and most accessible beaches on the east coast.
Our area is not an area of wall to wall high-rises and dozens of golf courses interspersed with outlet malls like Myrtle Beach. It is a magical place protected on one side by Cape Lookout National Seashore and on the other side by the 158,000 acres of the Croatan National Forest. The Marines at Camp Lejeune and the Atlantic ocean take care of the other two sides.
There are many special places like the Point at Emerald Isle out beyond the yellow house or the beaches of Hammocks Beach State Park that you reach by state owned pontoon boat. The Crystal Coast is a place where the residents seem to live without walls. Learning to live with the heat is just part of living in the South. Enjoying the nights when the whole area feels like an evening at the beach is part of life on the coast.
My 87 page travel guide for Emerald Isle has all the information you need for a truly memorable holiday. It is currently available for $4.99 in Kindle format with an iPad version in the works. It can be read on any device by using the free kindle reader software on other devices.
If you give the Crystal Coast a chance, you might be really surprised at what a neat place it is.