OBX Snow Day

Pelican's Perch, beachfront home available from Joe Lamb, Jr. in a rare Outer Banks snowstorm.
Pelican’s Perch, beachfront home available from Joe Lamb, Jr. in a rare Outer Banks snowstorm.

It was a snow day today on the Outer Banks.

Away from the beach the snow falls in gentle white patterns, cushioning the sound of cars as they drive by, yet somehow carrying even farther than usual the shouts of joy of the kids in the neighborhood.

On the beach though it’s a different story—the wind blowing at 20mph from the north whips the snowflakes into stinging pellets of ice. The ocean is surprisingly calm, probably because this storm is a land based storm, crossing from the west and then heading up the coast.

The beach has a surreal look to it. The ocean, unnaturally calm today, has not encroached on the three or four inches of snow that has fallen. Against the darkening gray of the winter storm, the white of the snow stands in sharp contrast.

Visibility is reduced, much more than at other places along the Outer Banks. There is nothing to stop the wind from picking up the snow that blankets this strand of sand between the dunes and sea, and that combined with the snow that is falling creates a haze-like visibility that makes anything beyond 300 or 400 yards indistinct.

It’s too cold to stay here very long. The dampness of the wind off the ocean, the stinging nettles of ice or snow, the general feeling of cold pushes its way through multiple layers of clothing and in five minutes—perhaps 10 at the most—a steaming cup of hot chocolate begins to sound as wonderful as water in the desert.

Dark and Stormy Night Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday

JJsuperbowl
Will the knowledge of veteran QB Peyton Manning prevail over the skill and athleticism of Panther’s QB Cam Newton? The OBX gathers and waits.

“It was a dark and stormy night . . .” pretty much describes the Outer Banks weather this Superbowl Sunday. Actually the following phrase of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s line—the author of that phrase—seems apt as well. “. . . except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind. . . “

In short, a perfect night to watch the Superbowl.

More evidence of just how it’s a great day to be inside. Here are two surf reports from

OBXSurf.com—one of the best surf forecasting sites.

“ . . . your Kitty Hawk surf report. Cold and windy this morning. Surf in the 3-4 ft range with unorganized conditions. North winds at 20 forecasted to reach 40-50 later this evening. Perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the super bowl.”

and

Nags Head: “Unsurfable today. We are expecting a coastal storm to blow out of the North anywhere from 30-potentially 60mph … plus rain. There is also a coastal flood warning in areas North of Cape Hatteras today. . . It’s recommended to secure loose items around the house and keep an eye on the sound side water levels. . . Sounds like a perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the Superbowl.”

All things considered, the best place to be today is with friends, family or at local sports bar, enjoying what has become a wonderful part of 21st century America.

Being from North Carolina, it seems natural that we would favor the Panthers. However, there are so many transplants on the Outer Banks that we’re being very careful about taking sides.

Outer Banks Evening Entertainment

Rob Robinson (front) and Matt Payne demonstrating the cuisine of Mexico.
Rob Robinson (front) and Matt Payne demonstrating the cuisine of Mexico.

After Dark at All Saints is a reminder of how wonderful winter can be on the Outer Banks. There is nothing earth shattering or headline making about what happens throughout the month of February at the Episcopal Church in Southern Shores—it’s just community at its best.

Started seven years ago as a way to bring the church to the community and the community to the church, After Dark has grown into a marvelous month-long offering of classes in cooking, wine and beer tasting, art, healthy living and more.

Stu Baldwin offers two courses in surf-fishing—beginning and advanced; the staff of Trio in Kitty Hawk is on hand for wine tasting, beer tasting and an evening of “Discovering North Carolina Cheeses”; this is the time to learn about reflexology or the history of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

The most popular classes by far are the cooking classes, and those fill up almost right away. Wes Stepp from Red Sky Cafe teaches an evening class based on his Healthy Gourmet menu; Rob Robinson and Matt Payne of Bad Bean and Baja Grill are on hand to demonstrate the cuisine of Mexico. There are dessert preparations and seafood demos—all classes, unfortunately filled . . . although there is always next year.

Classes are just $20, and there are still some openings. The net proceeds after expenses—mostly printing costs—are all donated back to the community. Through last year over $60,000 had been given to five local organizations: Interfaith Community Outreach, Food For Thought, Community Care Clinic, Beach Food Pantry, and Room in the Inn.

A great way to spend a winter evening, gaining a little bit of knowledge and all for a good cause.

Energy Forum at Jennette’s Pier

Coastal North Carolina is at the center of an energy goldmine. Listening to a panel of experts at a Outer Bank Chamber of Commerce luncheon today—Thursday—that message came amidst all the talk of renewable and alternative energies.

Chart
Chart showing NC growth of renewable energy 1950-2015. Yellow on right is solar. Source: NCSEA.

Jim Bennet, Chief of the Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), was on hand. BOEM has identified three offshore wind energy sites along the North Carolina shore and according to what he told the guests at Jennette’s Pier where the event was held, the first leases will be sold by the end of this year for the Kitty Hawk Block.

The sale of a lease does not mean energy production is imminent—it’s at least a three to four year process—but it is a very significant first step.

Ivan Ulaub, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) pointed out that North Carolina is one of the leading producers of solar power—fourth in the nation now, and more solar power is coming on to the grid at all times.

There is already a 20-megawatt site in Shawboro next to the airport on mainland Currituck County and plans are being drawn up for development of the closed Goose Creek Golf course as a solar energy site.

There are other long-term possibilities as well. Some very preliminary studies of the Gulf Stream are underway at this time looking at it as a potential source of energy.

Passing closest to the continual US at Cape Hatteras, the flow of the Gulf Stream at that point is equivalent to almost 90 times the flow of every river on earth.

Dare County Art Show Highlights Student Creativity

childs drawing of a cat with butterfly wings
Happy Cat with Fangs & Butterfly Wings. According to the artist the cat has butterfly wings because she likes butterflies.

One of the most remarkable facets of life on the Outer Banks is how strong the art community is and how much a part of everyday life artists, musicians and writers seem to be.

This past Sunday there was a great example of that at Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head where Glenn and his wife Pat hosted the annual Dare County Schools Art Show.

An art show of a very different type, the Gallery is given over to the art of Dare County students . . . all students . . . from first grade to seniors in high school. And every school is represented.

The reception was Sunday afternoon, although the show will remain on display through January 24. The reception is amazing as every child who has a picture hanging brings at least one parent, usually both as well as assorted aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends. The kids are always excited, but there is every possibility that the parents are even more excited about what their child has accomplished.

The show is a remarkable display of the talents of the kids. Some of the work of the youngest artists is striking in the joy they depict in their paintings, giving way over time to a much more nuanced and sophisticated view of the world.

The Eure’s have been putting the show on for a number of years. Glenn wasn’t sure if it was 28 or 29 years, although he was certain it was less than 30. The number of years doesn’t really matter, though—what is important is the generosity of the couple and the spirit of creativity of the kids.

Unprecedented-Cold Stunned Sea Turtles on Outer Banks

 

loggerhead turtle
Cold Stunned Loggerhead at Roanoke Island STAR Center

We sure had a warm December on the Outer Banks. Then suddenly earlier this week, temperature plummeted, we had a dusting of snow and a whole day where the temperatures struggled to reach the freezing mark. Inconvenient and a little bit miserable for us warm blooded animals, but for for cold blooded animals—especially sea critters, it’s a disaster.

For evidence, look no farther than the unprecedented number of sea turtles washing up on Hatteras Island beaches—somewhere around 350 at last count.

The STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium was designed as a care facility for injured and sick sea turtles, but never anything on this level. The problem, according to Christine Legner who oversees the facility, with all the warm weather, the turtles “ . . . just didn’t get the cue to leave.”

It is taking an amazing community and cooperative effort to help the stricken turtles. An otherwise cold stunned turtle will recover if they are kept in a relatively warm environment that will allow their bodies a few days to readjust. Every year the STAR Center gets a few dozen cold stunned turtles—mostly green sea turtles with a few Kemps Ridley and an occasional leatherback—and they are prepared to handle a typical winter influx.

350 or so? No. No facility is ready for that. Yet the aquarium team working with N.E.S.T. (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) volunteers have managed to do an amazing job, losing to date just six turtles.

Walking into the STAR Center, there are bins and buckets everywhere with one, two or three turtles recovering. In the large tanks, some of the turtles are engaged in what is called a swim test—the last step before they are released.

The problem with releasing them is they cannot be released into local waters and have to be sent south. The first batch of 85 was sent to Florida earlier this week; the next batch is scheduled to be released into the Gulf Stream by the Coast Guard from Fort Macon, NC early next week.

Things have slowed down with milder weather and hopefully, the sea turtles who are still swimming about got the cue and headed to warmer waters.

Joe Lamb, Jr. Outer Banks Review of 2015

 

jl2015review

By any standards, 2015 was a good year on the Outer Banks. Final figures aren’t in yet, but unless November and December post a negative number of people coming to the Outer Banks, visitor spending will set new records. The housing market is back on its feet again. There has been steady improvement for the past five years, and 2015 seems to be the year we can safely say it has come back; new construction is significantly up over 2014, the number of properties sold passed 2014 in November and we’re still waiting for the December figures to finalize the year.

There was other good news as well. NCDOT and the Southern Environmental Law Center reached an agreement that halted lawsuits preventing a replacement for the aging Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet. NCDOT also decided to accelerate the timetable for the Mid Currituck Bridge and with any luck there will be traffic relief in Southern Currituck and Southern Shores by 2021.

We gathered a some of the headlines from bigger events by month to look back over 2015. Some are significant; some remind us how much fun it is to be on the Outer Banks.

January

Wedding Expo Best Attended Yet

Weddings and events are big business on the Outer Banks and the 2015 Expo brought brides, grooms and their entourage from all over the US. This year’s Outer Banks Wedding Association’s Wedding Expo is January 16-17.

February

Possibility of Offshore Wind Energy in NC Future

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced lease sites for offshore wind energy development. Located 28 miles offshore, the Kitty Hawk site is one of the potentially most productive on the East Coast.

March

OBX Opposition Grows to Offshore Oil & Gas

With the news that BOEM was going to reopen the Eastern Seaboard to offshore drilling, a unified Outer Banks rose up in protest. The issue is still undecided, with surveys of potential drilling sites not yet finished.

The Joe Lamb, Jr. BBQ & WINGS Showdown

Part of the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach, the Joe Lamb, Jr. BBQ & Wings Showdown packed them in. Well, we couldn’t help but pack them is since it rained that day and we had to hold the whole event in a giant tent, but we would have packed them in anyway. This year’s Taste of the Beach is March 17-20.

April

A Special Day for OBX Special Olympics

Held the last Saturday in April, the Dare County Special Olympics brought together over 200 athletes in a remarkable display of love, family and competitive effort.

May

OBX Brewfest

The first of what we can only hope is many OBX Brewfests. Great beer, great music and a wonderful atmosphere. The initial event for the refurbished and expanded Outer Banks Event Site, the setting could not have been any better. Look for the 2016 version over Memorial Day Weekend.

June

Bonner Bridge

An historic and hard fought settlement between the SELC and the NCDOT put an end to the litigation holding up construction of the replacement for the Bonner Bridge. The bridge, built in 1964 originally had an 40 life span. Construction for the replacement span should begin this spring.

July

Jefferson Starship

Under the heading of what’s old is new, Jefferson Starship made an appearance at the Lost Colony. Amazing that after all these years, they still sound as fresh and new as ever.

August

34th New World Festival of the Arts

Back in 1981 Edward Greene, owner of the Christmas Shop in Manteo, felt there had to be some way to get people to come to the town so he introduced the Outer Banks to the New World Festival of the Arts. He’s handed it off to the Dare County Arts Council—Edward is 91 and wants to slow down a bit—but the festival is still a marvelous combination of craft and high art.

September

Mother Nature Forces OBX Cancellations

Mother Nature really threw a curve at us in September. Hurricane Joaquin started to come this way then veered out to sea and that was followed by an early season nor’easter. Quite a number of events had to be cancelled and the Beach Road north of Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk was washed out for the second time in 2015.

October

Brewtag-Can Beer Kegs Fly?

The short answer is apparently not—or at least not well. But the event, sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, was a lot of fun.

November

10th Annual Outer Banks Marathon This Weekend

Blossoming from a single event 10 years ago to a weekend of family fitness time with races from fun runs to the Marathon. Near record times in 2015. The 2016 Marathon Weekend will be November 11-13.

December

New Town Council in Southern Shores

Capping a year of turmoil a new town council was seated in Southern Shores with three the three incumbents standing for re-election voted out of office.

Record Warmth for the Month

More like spring or early fall that winter, the Outer Banks experienced 60 and 70 degree daytime temperatures all month. The fishing was great, the surfing ok—there wasn’t a lot to stir up the ocean—but the spirit of the holidays was alive and well.

Winter is Wow on the Outer Banks

Couple waking on beach in winter

Now that winter has officially settled on the Outer Banks things will slow down, but that slower pace does not mean there’s nothing to do. Actually there is almost as much to do on the Outer Banks in the winter a there is in the summer, although we will admit that not too many people go swimming this time of the year.

For the folks who are coming for a visit, here are three things to do:

Go Fish

Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean the fish aren’t there. Especially in the Gulf Stream, tuna and billfish are biting. Of course that takes a charter boat to get to the the action, but for anyone who has the time to take a day or half day to see what’s out there, it’s a good time of the year.

Nearshore. inshore and from the piers this is a great time for stripers, although when the water temp falls below 50 things do slow down. Look for red drum and occasional blues and trout as well.

Surfing

Winter is the time of year that some of the best wave action is generated, although conditions can be a bit iffy, especially if a nor’easter blows through. Nonetheless, the surf action is worth checking out. Bring your wetsuit and booties though. Water temps regularly fall to the low 40s.

Walk on the Beach

Not every activity is an athletic contest on the Outer Banks in the winter, and there may be nothing quite as pleasant as walking along a mostly deserted beach in January. A great time to look for seaglass, driftwood and the oddly shaped shell, because you’ll have the beach mostly to yourself, winter may be the best time to take a walk

Merry Christmas From Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates

 

Woman & Man smiling
Receiving a Twelve Days of Christmas gift bag from Meals on Wheels.

The winter solstice is upon us here on the Outer Banks and evening comes early, although the darkness of the winter night is pierced everywhere by the sparkling lights of Christmas decorations that line the streets and neighborhoods.

The younger kids are getting excited, hoping that fat jolly old elf will remember the first two or three things on their lists. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, for Christmas is a time of joy, anticipation and hope.

There is more to it, of course, and those other things are what make this such a special season and is the reason everyone at Joe Lamb, Jr. is so proud to call the Outer Banks our home. This is a time of family, friends and tradition, a time when so many come back to the Outer Banks to celebrate the holidays together and renew the family bonds that are so important to all of us.

A remarkable spirit of giving and generosity seems to describe us. There is the Outer Banks Hotline’s Festival of Trees that so many local businesses contribute to; for the past two years Renee Landry or Renee Landry Events and Shirley Cook of Sugar Snap Events have been individually wrapping 12 small gifts for the Twelve Days of Christmas for 25-30 people who receive Meals on Wheels; at the malls and grocery stores, Santa’s helpers ring bells collecting for the Salvation Army.

Giving gifts, and receiving them, is nice but the true meaning of the holidays is in the generosity of spirit, in the coming together of families and the belief that we can all be better people.

It is in that spirit, in the true meaning of the holidays, that all of us here at Joe Lamb, Jr. wish all of you the very merriest Christmas and all the best in the coming New Year.

A New Outer Banks Author Comes to the Scene

book cover nautical theme

Cover of Creatures of Imagination by Carol Willett.

Outer Banks authors are a diverse lot writing everything from children’s books—Suzanne Tate and her Nature Series; to history—David Stick; mystery—Joseph Terrell, and even a best selling novelist who has settled here. That would be Matthew Quick, author of Silver Linings Playbook and his latest novel, Love May Fail.

Add to that list Carol Willett’s Creatures of Imagination-A Journal of Discovery.

Words fall short in describing how marvelously different this book is. Carol has been creating art in the form of whimsical mythical creatures for a number of years, and her book takes that whimsy to a whole new level.

Telling the story of intrepid 19th century world-traveller, Gwendolyn Remington-Burke, Carol traces her heroine’s journey from her native England to the four corners of our planet. Her story is recounted through journal entries, primitive photographs and paintings that recreate the creatures she encounters as she circles the globe.

Typical of her entries is this from 3 August 1889.

“Tracing the path of the notorious pirate Blackbeard past the Island of Ocracoke and up the Albemarle Sound, I encountered a deep-billed sea bird that seemed a cross between a pelican and a cockatoo . . . This Frilled Pelican answers to the name ‘Elvis.’”

The journal entries are guaranteed to keep the reader chuckling; Carol’s artwork is spot-on and adds perfectly to the sense of adventure the book evokes.

A large format book, beautifully produced by Linda Lauby of Outer Banks Press, this is the kind of book that will engage just about everyone.

Just published, the book is available at the Dare County Arts Council in Manteo, Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head and should be making its way to other locations soon.