Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kure Beach Fishing Pier (Kure Beach: Day 3, Pt. 2)

The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is where we spent a few of our nights on Kure Beach.

The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is actually the oldest pier on the entire Atlantic Coast, not just in North Carolina. There's history behind this pier. It was originally built in 1923. It was originally built to draw in visitors from nearby Wilmington. That original pier was only 120 feet long. The pier collapsed and was destroyed within the first year!

It was so popular in that first year though, that it was rebuilt even stronger the next year, in 1924. This one doubled the original in length, stretching out to the Atlantic 240 feet. This pier was built more solid and lasted over thirty years. However, in 1954, Hurricane Hazel washed it away. It was rebuilt even stronger (and longer, as it was now 711 feet), in 1955 and a restaurant and tackle shop were added. The area around the pier became a hub of activity in the next 40 years as more restaurants were added and the tackle shop expanded to include a large patio overlooking the Atlantic and gift shops and locker rooms.

In 1996, Hurricane Bertha took down the pier again. When it was rebuilt it was raised 26 feet above sea level and reinforced more than ever before. In 1998, another hurricane swept through Kure but the pier survived. It currently sits at 720 feet long and has survived 18 years strong (lasting through more hurricanes than any of the previous piers). Here's hoping the current pier is the strongest one yet!

The kids cooperated and took some pictures together, then wanted to go run in the waves. We hadn't eaten yet, so we didn't want them to play too much, but that didn't stop Hayes. Within 5 minutes the kid was soaked!

While the kids were playing in the sand a lady from above on the pier began yelling down at us. We couldn't hear her because the waves were loud. "Sharks!"

Everyone on the pier above were looking out into the water, about 100 yards directly in front of us in the ocean. We were just playing in the sand at the shoreline, not too deep and didn't feel in danger (well, Kelli did). To make Kelli feel safer, we decided to head up to the pier and check out the view from above.

We saw the sharks clearly, two of them, circling about 100 yards from the shore. Both were 5-6 feet long. While the locals see plenty of sharks and dolphins, a few confirmed that these two were big and legit. Kelli was freaked out, even 20-some feet above them, but Charly and Hayes couldn't stop looking. At one point a wave swept in and the sharks rode it. I said "the sharks like waves." Hayes looked at me then yelled down to the sharks, "Hi!" waving vigorously. 

These two were hanging out at the end of the pier, waiting for some samples. They were freaking all the non-locals out. They looked like they were going to eat us!

Speaking of sharks... one fisherman caught a baby one right in front of us! Neither Charly or Hayes wanted to touch it but while we were amazed by the thing, the fisherman told us he catches them all the time. He tossed it back in.

Freddie's was the restaurant we ate at the night before. Freddie's specialized in Italian food and while it was good, we wanted to eat our fair share of seafood the rest of our time in Kure. So we headed to Jack Mackerels, the best seafood place in town.

Tomorrow, we were going to travel to Southport by ferry, as soon as my class ended. So we called it an early night after dinner. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Feeling Like a Local (Kure Beach: Day 3, Pt. 1)

Each morning we noticed a guy walking barefoot down our street to check out the beach. He would always return a few minutes later, walking barefoot back the direction he came from. When we went to the beach on the morning of Tuesday, July 1 (our third day in Kure and our fifth away from home) we saw the mystery guy... with a surfboard in hand! He was a surfer, checking on the condition of the waves each morning. 

We set our chairs in the sand and had just emptied our beach toys when a fun retired couple set their chairs right next to ours. After spending a few days on the beach, I found this to be a little odd because Kure was big enough yet remote enough to keep your space. And this seemed to be the custom each day. As the beach filled up, beachgoers would look for places to stretch out and not crowd others. But not this couple! They practically cozied right up!

The night before, Kelli was really disappointed that she didn't ask someone to snap a family picture. She vowed to get more as the trip winded down. The retired guy must have read her mind, because no sooner had he set up his chair, he was asking me out-of-the-blue if I'd like him to take a family picture. He noticed our camera and continued to talk to us on and off all morning. They were locals and were impressed we made the drive from Iowa. They had lived in Georgia and owned a vacation rental in Myrtle Beach but sold it when they retired so they could build a home and move to Kure Beach permanently. They gave us some good tips of things to do before we headed home.

With the surf it's normal wild self in the morning, Charly and Hayes focused on sandcastles. After seeing Hayes have all the fun smashing the castles the day before, Charly decided that looked like fun. I couldn't build them fast enough! 

There is not much more to say about our days spent on the beach. This is pretty much how our days were spent. We go to the beach. We build and destroy sandcastles on the beach. We run in the water on the beach. We go home and rest. We go back to the beach. We saw so many of the same vacationing families on the beach. With Kure Beach being so remote, we began to feel at home there. Kelli and I both agreed that having a "home" to come back to each day, instead of living out of a hotel, was definitely the way to go for a beach vacation! We both agreed that this was the type of place we could retire to someday!

The kids were just in awe of the water, and that feeling never tired. Each day when we stepped foot on the beach, it was like they were seeing it again for the first time all over. 

Two hours was the max for the kids though. As much as they loved the sand and the sun and the surf, after about two hours they would begin to noticeably drag. They moved slower. They wanted to be held. Hayes would want his pacifier (yep, haven't broken him of that yet). We'd venture back to the cottage for some lunch and then return when they were rested for another few hours. Then we would rest some more, and go for dinner and walk the pier. For a few days, it was the life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kure Beach: Day 2, Pt. 2

The convenient location of the cottage made coming and going to the beach easy. The afternoon brought on more of the same from the morning. Beach. Sandcastles. Waves. The temperature was warmer in the afternoon (most days reached 84-85 degrees) and the surf was more calm. The colors of the beach in the afternoon were so much brighter to, as opposed to the muted colors in the mornings. In the morning we would set up high on the shore because of the violent waves. In the afternoon, much of the shore that was covered in the mornings with surf, was free to explore for shells. 

Charly loved to let the waves come as close to her toes as possible, then turn in a flash and run away. The hilarious part though... as she turned to run, her right arm would swing out in a pinwheel motion. The picture below kind of shows this.

The picture above shows how she sometimes liked to wait and jump into the waves at the last second instead.

Sandcastles were a bit easier to build in the afternoon, because of the calm waves. We would try and build them fast, close to the shoreline, and see how many we could build. I think the most we built before the waves washed over them (or before Hayes smashed them) was 30. This made Charly feel bad so Kelli or I would try and entertain Hayes some other way. Charly takes her sandcastle building pretty seriously when she's on the beach.

After a few hours in the afternoon sun, we walked back to the cottage and got ready for dinner in Kure Beach. Kure Beach is only a town of 2,000 people, so there aren't many restaurant options in town. The options that are there however, are all apparently good so choosing one that night was tricky. The restaurants in town are also all located in the same block near the Kure Beach Fishing Pier. 

We decided to eat at Freddie's Restaurante, one of the most popular restaurants on all of Pleasure Island (what the locals call the much larger Carolina Beach and Kure Beach). There was a 45 minute wait for a table, so we put our name in and walked down to the beach to explore the pier.

The pier was impressive and picturesque. Especially at dusk. It was very calm and peaceful. The kids played in the sand, we snapped some pictures, and Hayes fell in the water again. Before we had a chance to walk the pier, our buzzer made a noise and informed us that a table was ready. Our 45 minute wait turned into only a 20 minute wait.

Freddie's was great Italian eating, but pricey! It was kind of a beachy, dive, family-run restaurant. The service was great. The Yuengling beer was delicious! Charly loved her spaghetti and Hayes had difficulty sitting still. Not even the iPad would entertain him. He wanted to see some "fish!" So we paid our bill and went back to the pier before the sun completely disappeared for the night.