Friday, June 1, 2012

Carteret County, North Carolina

Emerald Isle
George and I were lucky enough to spend Mother's Day Weekend 2012 in Emerald Isle, which is in Carteret County, NC. I grew up going to the beach in Carteret County (Atlantic Beach, mostly, later Pine Knoll Shores), so this is familiar territory! My sister and her husband have rental property in Emerald Isle now, so we gathered at the beach for good times on this holiday weekend! We were planning to go out on a boat Sunday afternoon, but the wind picked up, so I decided to explore Carteret County for this blog instead! I thought it was going to be a solo afternoon trip, but my mom decided to join me! It was a nice mother-daughter mini-adventure on Mother's Day!

North Carolina Aquarium
I stopped at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores first. It's had a big renovation since the last time I was there, and since it was Mother's Day, there was a pretty big crowd! I enjoyed the big tanks of sea creatures, though the special penguin exhibit was small. The gift shop is bigger than I remember, and now there's a Dairy Queen/Orange Julius outside the exit. That was a little startling to see, but there was a line already, so it seems to be a popular addition, if a little out of place commercially.

I have many good memories of the NC Aquarium, seeing exhibits and taking classes there with my nieces there while they were growing up. It was a different feel, walking through by myself.  Still, I'm glad I stopped! A nice facility before, it's larger now, with more parking as well.

Emily, Lisa, and Mom at the Sanitary Fish Market, Morehead City

After the Aquarium visit, I learned that my mom wanted to join me, so I met up with her in Morehead City, where I stopped in at DeeGee's and the Sanitary Fish Market, two Morehead City institutions! Mom and I went into Sanitary together, hoping to see John Tunnel, a regular, there. We didn't see him, but I found this great StoryCorps clip of him talking about early days at the Sanitary. Click here to listen. (It'll only take about four and a half minutes of your time, and you'll be glad you did!)
Harker's Island
Next, Mom and I struck out for Harkers Island. Harkers Island is a bit out of the way, and was actually separated from the mainland for a long time, so native Harkers Islanders have a distinctive dialect. A common example of this dialect is that the word "tide" sounds like "toid," Harkers Island is known for fishing, boat building, and more recently, waterfowl decoys. Mom and I drove to the far end of the island, where we were delighted to spot the Cape Lookout Lighthouse across the sound. I took a picture, but the lighthouse is so tiny, you can barely see it.

Carteret County Courthouse, Beaufort, North Carolina
In Beaufort, the county seat, we stopped for a few pictures of the courthouse before visiting the waterfront. Beaufort is a charming town, home to numerous old homes and churches, cute and yummy restaurants like Beaufort Grocery Company, and a charming waterfront, in addition to the Duke Marine Lab on Pivers Island. (Click here for a webcam of the view of the Beaufort waterfront from Pivers Island.) NOAA's Beaufort Lab is also on Pivers Island. I've been to Beaufort so many times, and it never fails to charm. I would have loved taking more photos around Beaufort that afternoon, but time was limited.

Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
Next, Mom and I drove back over the bridge that connects Morehead City to Atlantic Beach, and turned left toward Fort Macon State Park. This state park offers public beach access, in addition to open access to Fort Macon, which was built after the War of 1812, and was active during the Civil War. (Read here about the Battle of Fort Macon.) We saw the new visitor center, which looked really nice, but being in a hurry, we went straight for the fort, and where I got some pictures to record the visit. The family has been to Fort Macon State Park several times over the years during summer vacations, including a memorable outdoor music event that we still talk about (but not for the music!).

After Fort Macon, Mom and I headed back to Emerald Isle, so George and I could pack up the car and head back home. It was a fun afternoon, and as always,  I look forward to heading back to Carteret County!

All of my Carteret County pictures are located here.

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