I have written in our book, A Week At The Beach - The Emerald Isle Travel Guide, that Swansboro just ten minutes by boat or fifteen by car from our house is a well-loved adopted child of the Crystal Coast. No adoption papers need to be filed for Morehead City which is actually the working heart of the Crystal Coast. We live a little farther away, about twenty miles west, from Morehead City, but a trip down to the city by the water with the heart of a fisherman is a regular occurrence for us. It is easy to say that MHC as it is know locally is a big part of the magic that is the Southern Outer Banks.
Morehead City was actually my first introduction to the Crystal Coast that I can remember in detail. The earlier memories of beach trips here are a little fuzzy, but I can well remember one of my first trips on my own in the summer of 1969. My uncle Austin rode with me down for a fishing trip in my strange green Bronco which always had a can of stop-leak and a coat hanger for repairs. We crossed the bridge at Morehead City and four wheeled down the sandy beach and fished the Point at Emerald Isle. We did not have a lot of luck but it was a wonderful trip and we brought back a cooler full of shrimp from the Sanitary fish market.
That was my only visit that summer as I gravitated to Ocracoke and made a few trips there to camp and even watch Neil Armstrong step on the moon from the Pony Island Motel. Many years later when we were trying to figure out where to stick our feet in the sand, we made a trip to Ocracoke and quickly decided that as beautiful as the beaches were there that Ocracoke was not the home where we wanted to write the next chapter of our lives.
Now that I look back on it, Morehead City was a big part of the reason that we decided to move to Carteret County. Moving to the Crystal Coast gave us a chance to sample small town living once again but this time we could do it without having having to give up a lot services like we would have if we have gone to some of the other more remote places we visited. We did our stint of living away from almost everything in the seventies and early eighties.
While looking for a new spot, we went as far north as Chincoteague and as far south as Oak Island and Southport, but Carteret County just seemed to feel like home and offered everything we wanted including reasonably-priced water access. A number of years ago I wrote down the ten reasons why we chose Carteret County. While the real estate investment portion of the equation has not turned out like we thought yet, you can say the same thing about most properties that were bought in 2006. Long term, no one is making any more waterfront property so I suspect our home just twenty-five from the water will do fine.
Many of those services that we desired like a hospital, a few big box stores, and additional restaurants happened to be located in Morehead City which is the commercial center of Carteret County. In spite of being the heart of area's business world, there are some beautiful waterfront homes in Morehead City. Just swing off Highway 70 East at around 30th Street and take a left on Evans Street for a few blocks to appreciate just one small neighborhood.
Then there is the wonderful waterfront area where I took the picture at the top of the post. It a great place to walk off lunch and enjoy the buzzing activity that always seems to take place on the water in Morehead City. We had driven down to have lunch at Banks Grill which was packed on that recent Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed my shrimp burger there and the walk afterwards along the water was a good chance to stretch our legs.
As we drove back home by way of Arendell Street, we passed El's Drive-in which was still packed at 3PM in the afternoon. How many places do you know where they still come to your car and take your order? Even Odell's in Mount Airy has speaker ordering. We stopped at the Harris-Teeter which is one of a couple places in the county that I can find my favorite breakfast spread, Marmite, and then headed home to our peaceful spot in country on Raymond's Gut just off the White Oak River.
Our trip to the city always makes the arrival at our home even more special. Morehead City is a big part of the reason why we can live so close to nature without sacrificing any services. It is an essentail part of the Crystal Coast's magic. I am happy that the good memories about Morehead City are continuing.