I was still riding my high from such an awesome week when Saturday (two Saturdays ago) rolled around. Hubby and I packed up our double kayak & our bikes and drove over to the neighboring town of Beaufort for a fun day outdoors. I almost felt like a tourist hehe.
We got a little later start than usual, and arrived on the waterfront around 10 a.m. Fortunately it wasn't too crowded. It took no time at all for us to launch, and off we went. Our destination was Carrot Island, also known as the Rachel Carson Reserve.
It was a simple effort to paddle over. The tide was low and still going out, and all we had to do was steer as the water carried us to our first stop. I was on the hunt for something specific and hubby knows all the spots, most days when I am at the barn he is in the water. He pulled us up on the deserted west facing shore that had exposed oyster beds thanks to the low tide.
|looking toward Duke University Marine Lab|
Hubs was on the right track. He led me over to a small nook in the tree line, and on the ground was overwhelming evidence that what I was looking for uses this spot as a hang out. But no one was currently hanging out. So we spent roughly fifteen minutes walking around looking for shells or anything else that struck our fancy.
The only thing on this small stretch of beach, aside from us, were tons of crabs. It's difficult to get a picture of them with your cell. They're very quick, and they scatter at the slightest movement.
After leaving the oyster shore we paddled closer to the inlet and state port. Advantages of kayaks are access to areas the motorized crowd can't get to, like this huge tidal pool pictured above. I couldn't help but think how badly I needed a carriage whip as my husband walked us across the pool. As soon as I snapped this pic, I jumped out and started walking also. The water was so warm. No clouds in the sky. A perfect beach day. We made it across the tidal pool and immediately I saw more evidence of what I was looking for.
|large and small? this could only mean one thing|
More fresh tracks, and that was all. I had only missed them by a little bit. Damn.
We left the kayak and continued walking across the narrow sandbar toward the beach. This is the oceanfront side of the island, but technically there is one more island between us and the ocean so this stretch of water is considered part of the inlet.
We beached it here for a couple hours. Once our towels were laid out and we'd staked our claim, I had a quick snack and then jumped in the water. The ocean was calm and there were no currents to spoil the fun of being lazy in water up to your chin. I would go back and forth between the really deep wading water, and closer to shore where I could sit down but still be up to my neck. I dug around in the sand with my hands and toes, and found all types of shell-bound life forms. Sometimes I came up with hermit crabs. Sometimes I came up with another type of crab which closely resembled a shrimp. I also found tons of sand dollars. Most I didn't get pics of because phones and water, ya know?
|tiny shrimp legs protruding out front|
After a couple hours of back and forth in the water and a relaxing 20 minute beach nap, we packed up and got back in the kayak. The tidal pool we walked across earlier was getting deeper, and I paddled us out while hubby got all his stuff organized. I still hadn't seen what I really wanted to see.
We were gonna try one more spot. A lagoon in the middle of carrot island that, like the tidal pool, only kayaks and paddle boards can access. This is a highly dependable spot for viewing wildlife, and I felt guaranteed success in finding something in there.
The paddle to get there was much more strenuous than paddling to the beach. We backtracked the morning path and went all the way to the other end of Beaufort waterfront. It really is a lovely small town with such a rich history.
|turn right to enter the lagoon|
I cold not believe that for the first time ever I was only seeing birds in here, nothing more. Don't get me wrong, the birds are of all varieties and fascinating in their own right and we took the time to enjoy them, but I was frustrated and put my phone away while we paddled around in the lagoon.
After making one large lap along the lagoon shoreline we worked our way back to the kayak launch. I was tired and sun baked by now. We locked the yak up in public dry storage and grabbed our bikes off the back of the truck.
Across the road from dry storage is the visitor's center. It's the former town post office and I had no idea it changed to a visitor's center. I tucked inside quickly for a bathroom break and on the way through the lobby I was greeted with a set of murals across the top of the walls. There were four paintings, all WPA, showing various aspects of local life here on the coast. I am a history and art fanatic, how have I lived here 15 years and not heard of these paintings' existence?
|I think they need one more sign out front|
The largest painting ran the entire length of the short side of the lobby. It depicts sailors being rescued from a shipwreck. Our coast line is known as the graveyard of the Atlantic. Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered just off shore from here. One day many years ago I came over on my lunch break to see a cannon that had just been removed from the water. It was covered in barnacles and a dude was hosing it down the entire time it was on display, which was only a half hour or so. It was then carried to ECU for three or four years of restoration and brought back to our maritime museum in Beaufort.
The first of the three smaller paintings featured Canada geese. Many species of waterfowl spend all or part of the winter in the area due to our temperate climate (relatively speaking) and available habitat. I assume the tent is a duck blind?? I have no idea what those things are sticking up out of the water.
This one shows our beloved Cape Lookout lighthouse. It's built on the other island that stood between the ocean and the beach I just spent my afternoon on. I've never seen a boat fully enclosed exactly like that one, a few local boat builders still make a square style boat that is only half covered and open in the back.
The last one is obviously my favorite. That is what I was looking for all day long. Our banker ponies!! Looks like this was the only ponies I was gonna see today. I still have no freakin clue what those things in the background are :/
Hubs and I proceeded to bike across town via residential streets to a tiny new craft brewery behind his place of employment. We drank a couple pints and then ate a huge dinner. After all the food we loaded up our gear and came home and crashed. Sunday was a barn day the first half, the second half was a bit chill, a bit preparing for the week ahead. Now if I could just get past Monday and Tuesday...