The last few years that we lived in Canada, we actually managed to take a few vacations to the beach. The decade or so before that we were running a cattle operation just north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. As any farmer will tell you, vacations are very hard to do when you have lots of animals especially in an area like ours where fences were optional at the back of our farms.
PEI and its beaches managed to capture us a couple of times after we moved off the farm and back to Nova Scotia. As beautiful as the windswept and sandy north shore of PEI is, there is little warmth in those waters. People kept telling us to try the Northumberland Strait on the south side of the island where we were assured the waters were very warm.
We were never successful in finding a nice beach on that side of the island and certainly the beaches we found near our home in Halifax, Nova Scotia were far too chilly for swimming. Even the lakes would turn the children blue. We were thankful for the wonderful indoor public swimming pool near our home in Clayton Park. What we did find one year was our way back to the North Carolina beaches our youth.
That summer we headed home and stopped at my mother's house in Mount Airy, North Carolina. From there we made our way to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. On the way we stopped at a fast food restaurant somewhere in North Carolina's toasty coastal plain. It was so hot as we got out of the car that the asphalt pavement in the parking lot was soft. However, the beach was worth the drive, our children played in the water without even during blue. It was the beginning of their love affair with the Carolina coast.
We eventually moved back to the states and ended up in Roanoke, Virginia. We lived there seventeen years just one year longer than our sojourn to Canada Maritimes lasted. Our years in Roanoke often had a summer vacation on North Carolina's Northern Outer Banks. We visited Corolla, Duck, Nags Head, South Nags and Buxton at the foot of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Back in 2003 as I could see the handwriting on the wall that Apple no longer needed my services after almost twenty years. That same year we took a thirtieth anniversary trip to Beaufort, North Carolina. It did not take me long to decide that I wanted to spend the next decade or so of my life with my toes in warm salt water. In 2006 we bought a home on the water in Carteret County near Swansboro, North Carolina. For a while we kept our home in Roanoke, but in 2012 we sold our home and quit commuting between the mountains and the coast.
I have spent almost all of the nine years since we bought our place exploring the waters and beaches of Carteret County's Crystal Coast. There are a lot of reasons that I love living in Carteret County but one that I rarely articulate is that it reminds me a lot of Canada's Maritimes. The Crystal Coast especially the water is just a whole lot warmer. One of things I loved so much about the Maritimes was the friendliness of the people and the closeness to nature. I have found both here on the Crystal Coast.
Behind our home is Raymond's Gut which does not travel far from our dock before joining the nearly two miles wide White Oak River. The White Oak flows into Bogue Sound which winds its way out to Bogue Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. Bogue Inlet is right between two of my favorite spots, the Point at Emerald Isle and the ocean part of Hammocks Beach State Park, Bear Island.
I love this place so much that in 2012, I wrote a travel guide to help people enjoy and appreciate all the natural wonders of the area. Our book is now in its third edition and has grown to over 180 pages with over 100 full color images, several maps, recipes and dozens of links to more information. It is a little over $20 for the full color paperback version, but you can get the five star Kindle version for only $3.99 and it is updated each year.
Many of our Canadian friends have visited us and go away with an appreciation for this special spot. We are not Myrtle Beach with lots of shows and shopping. We are actually very rural and with 158,000 acres of Croatan National Forest on one side, 56 miles of Cape Lookout Seashore on another, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, that is unlikely to change. There is no better place to take a walk on a beach with mostly stars for light.
I have walked all the miles of beach within the town of Emerald Isle and I think they are some of the best around. Some like the Point might even wrap itself around you.
A good place to start for information is my free online travel guide. We are about six or seven hours south of Washington, DC and Nags Head is a day trip for us. Read about all my special spots in our Kindle travel guide, A Week at the Beach, The Emerald Isle Travel Guide.