Friday, January 15, 2010

Just Beachy

My husband is a residential drywall hanger and finisher, and he does a lot of his work on or near the Emerald Isle beach. Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining, and the temperature was finally decent again after that 3 week cold snap. We decided to meet in the picnic area of the Croatan National forest and have a nice lunch al fresco.

This is one of our favourite places to just sit and enjoy nature. Mr. A took this pic of me finishing off my lunch:

You can see the tall pines of the forest behind me. North Carolina's state tree is the pine, and I'll get into some of the interesting history of the pine processing industry in a later blog. This cone came off of a long-leaf pine. It's about as big as my foot!

While we were munching, one of our favourite birds buzzed by and landed in an oak tree a few feet away, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

This is my embarrassing, crummy picture that I took today (man, I really need to find $1000 on the street and buy a new camera. You can just make out his red head...

This is what they look like with a professional camera:

We have a suet feeder, and they will occasionally drop by and have a bite. Beautiful. And they have a really distinctive call that you can hear off in the distance, and know they're in the area.

After Mr. A left to go back to work, I decided to go for a little drive, and take a walk on the beach. One thing about coastal NC, is that the landscapes differ hugely within even a few miles. Emerald Isle beach is just down the road from the Croatan.

Beach vegetation in this area is highly protected. There are plants called "sea oats" that grow on the dunes, and they help protect against beach erosion. That's such a huge problem in this area, that many houses have been condemned because they've literally ended up in the ocean. Hurricanes really do a number on the land. If the beach patrol catches you on the dunes messing up the sea oats, they can slap you with a $500 fine.

The other way that they keep the dunes in place is lining up people's discarded Christmas trees on or in front of them. Looks crazy...

...suppose it works, or why else would they do it?

Today I went with him to work, he had to do some patches on a beach rental house. They do them in the wintertime to get them ready before the Memorial Day tourist rush. The size of some of these houses is insane...most of them are on pilings to clear them from the flood zone.

This house wasn't one of the bigger ones, but it had one had one of the steepest driveways I've ever seen. This driveway angle would never fly in the North, because you'd never make it up there in the wintertime :P When you reverse, it feels like you're going backwards down a rollercoaster.

The camera really didn't capture just how steep it was...I should have sat on the ground to take it ;)

This was the view from the third floor balcony. I love the sunrises here just as much as the sunsets.

I find that the gardens of these beach houses are usually very minimal. The tourists come here to look at the beach, and not at the yard of the beach house I guess. The landscaping consists of a few palms and shrubs. Flowers would take too much work (and money I'm sure) on the part of the rental owners.

The palms in this region are aren't the tall, majestic palms of Florida or California. They're sort of short and scrubby. But they still look neat...especially the bark:

The weather was as beautiful today as it was yesterday. About 62F/17C. I keep looking in vain for signs of the coming spring, and I get rewarded occasionally. This is some "Alabama Crimson" honeysuckle that was growing wild in the yard. Hasn't bloomed yet, but just about!

And I did notice one of my daffodils finally had a bud emerging out of the foliage..spring, hurry up!


debsgarden said...

Hi, this is an interesting post. You are not too far from us. We sometimes have those woodpeckers on our property here in Alabama, and it is always exciting to see them. We have lots of hills.The house we lived in many years ago had a steep, curving driveway. I put my car in reverse, guided with the steering wheel, and gravity did the rest. I got use to it, and even now I find it difficult to back up now on a flat drive. But that wicked driveway was the reason we moved from that house - too dangerous for children. One thing we don't have here are palm trees. The bark is amazing. I found you through blotanical. Welcome! I look forward to your future posts.

Kyna said...

I love woodpeckers. Last year we also had red-headed ones, and downy ones. The downy ones are such cute little things. :)

I'm glad the driveway at my house is flat, I have enough problems backing up as it is lol.

Thank you very much for your comment! :D

crystalcoastnews said...

Love the woodpecker shot. The croatan picnic area is awesome, especially in the cooler times of the year. Looks like you guys had a good day. The landscaping on beach houses in Emerald Isle is indeed minimal, but I think the deer, salt, and people damage many of the non-native species. Keep blogging, your blog is great.