Thursday, July 13, 2017

Salty Memories Part 4 - Familiar Places with New Faces

Three years ago, I wrote a series of blog posts titled Salty Memories about my memories of Oak Island, NC and the good times I enjoyed down there with family and friends. These posts were inspired by a return to Oak Island after being away for a few years. If you haven't had a chance to read these, please take the time to check them out here: Salty Memories Part 1 - The Beginnings, Salty Memories Part 2 - The Pier Years, and Salty Memories Part 3 - Time and Tide. These three posts provide the background to this one, and help explain why Oak Island will always be a special place to me. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some new memories with you!

Before I get started talking about our most recent trip, I'm going to ask that you indulge me a little with these blog posts. I promise there will be one all about the fishing, I went fishing every day so there's plenty to talk about. However, it's hard for me to condense a week long trip to one of my favorite places into one short blog post about the fishing. I'll try to keep the other ramblings fairly short, but I think this may become another multi-part blog post. There's just too much to talk about to squeeze it all into one post. I have to give credit to my wife for the majority of the photos. If they're good, they're hers, if not they are probably my pictures. 

As with the earlier Salty Memories posts I wrote, these are also dedicated to the memory of my Mom. This was one of her favorite places in the world.

- Joseph

The Family Under the Pier

View from the Porch
Do you have a place that you enjoy visiting that no matter how long you've been gone, it feels familiar when you get there? Things may have changed in your absence, but there's still that feeling of being somewhere that you know. I love to explore new places and see new things, but there is also something comforting about coming back to a place where even though you may be a visitor and a tourist, you feel almost a sense of home. For me, one of those places has always been Oak Island. Things have changed down there in the thirty-plus years that I've been visiting, but there's still enough familiar places that it seems both old and new at the same time.

This past Fourth of July week, I finally made it back to Oak Island for a week for vacation, although with a lot of new (to Oak Island) people. This trip was made with my wife Trina, who has been to Oak Island with me three times before this trip, and her parents, brother, sister-in-law, and our niece, all of whom had never visited before. This was also our niece Addyson's first trip to the beach, so we were excited to see what she would think about the sand and salt water.
Addyson at the Fourth of July Festival
We had several things planned for our trip, included the NC Fourth of July Festival in Southport, a ride on the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry, a visit to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, and lots of beach time. Also on my agenda was fishing as much as I possibly could. I'm happy to say that all these things were accomplished on this trip, along with eating lots of good food.
On the Beach

I was excited for this trip, as we had planned and reserved our house a year ago. The anticipation had a whole year to build, and I was looking forward to sharing a special place with more of my family. I was also looking forward to catching up and getting a chance to fish with one of my oldest and best friends, who had moved down to Oak Island a few years ago. The two of us were the original founders of the fishing trip that I talked about in the blog post Salty Memories Part 2 - The Pier Years, and we had kept in touch but hadn't had the chance to fish together since he moved to the island. 
Oak Island Lighthouse

On this trip, we had rented a house on the beach just a few houses down from the Ocean Crest Pier. This would turn out to be a lucky circumstance, as the other pier on the island wound up being badly damaged by Hurricane Matthew and is currently closed until it can be rebuilt. It was nice to be able to walk to the pier on the mornings I fished there, instead of loading up the pier cart and rods and having to drive to the pier. It was also nice to be able to head right out on the beach, and sitting on the back porch and watching the pelicans diving for fish early and late in the day made for a nice way to relax. 

We spent the day on July Fourth in Southport for the festival, and then returned to Oak Island and watched the fireworks from near the Oak Island lighthouse. Trina and I, along with my Dad, had watched the fireworks from the waterfront in Southport the last time we were there, and I think both locations have their advantages and disadvantages. Traffic was definitely much better on the island after the fireworks, but a few of the lower fireworks were hard to see clearly because of bushes blocking the view. Overall though it was a nice place to watch the show. Just look out for ant hills!

Provision Company
When it came time to eat, we had a chance to visit some old favorite places while we were there, and also tried out some new things. We cooked a low country boil one day at the house with some fresh local shrimp, and also tried a few new restaurants that turned out to be a hit. I especially enjoyed one that my friend had told me about that had steamed oysters on special for fifty cents. We also had to make a mandatory stop at the Yacht Basin Provision Company in Southport. No trip down would be complete for me without "Thee Special" - a half pound of steamed shrimp and a crab cake with corn on the cob. Our non-seafood eaters in the group enjoyed the burgers a lot as well. 
Local Shrimp Low Country Boil

We did a lot more than just eat and enjoy the beach while we were there. I highly recommend Southport and the NC Fourth of July Festival. It is a fun experience and there is a lot to see and do during the day while waiting on the fireworks. In the next part, I will either talk about the fishing, or about the fish we saw. I'm not sure yet which one it will be, but I promise there will be fish involved somehow. Until then, thanks for rambling along with me at the beach!

- Joseph

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