Great beaches in Morehead City, North Carolina, and more Air Canada woes
This guest report comes from The Star's Richard Ouzounian, who appears to have fallen in love.
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – Best. Beach. Ever.
I’m sorry to betray my previous devotion to Tofino, Coronado and Fire Island, but after a few days on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, I’m a convert. This is what a beach holiday should be.
This stretch of sandy paradise is only a 3 hour drive from the Raleigh airport which, in turn, is only a 90 minute non-stop flight from Toronto. You can leave your home in the morning and be splashing in the surf by mid-afternoon. Nice.
Just south of Morehead City is a strip of beach that stretches for 20 miles along the coast. The homes north of it are all private but the beach is all public, so once you find your way down to the shore, it’s just you, the sand, the surf and the sky.
What I wrote about Wrightsville Beach further south on the Carolina coast applies for this area and then some. It’s not a party-hearty destination, the streets aren’t filled with tacky tourist traps and almost everyone you’ll run into is from North Carolina, which is a nice thing.
Friendly? They wrote the book on it. At a local drugstore, I purchased a paperback thriller and a couple of bottle of cold water before heading out to the beach and the clerk put them in separate bags, “so your book won’t get wet.”
Drop by a place like the On a Roll Gourmet Deli and you’ll not only get the best breakfast biscuits anywhere (two of them, swimming in creamy sausage gravy for $4.95), but you can hear a table of locals discussing the US election with down-home humour, or be waited on by co-owner Kat, an ex biker-chick from Michigan whose conversation is as tasty (and salty!) as the sausage.
Or take the Local Yokel Ferry with lifelong resident Ellis Yeomans, who’ll scoot you across the water from Harkers Island to the Cape Lookout National Seashore for a real taste of the areas natural splendor and one of its imposing signature lighthouses. (www.ncbeaches.com/CrystalCoast/HarkersIsland)
There’s also fascinating historical destinations like Fort Macon, which went from Union to Confederate to Union during the Civil War and came back to battle U-boats during World War II. If this inspires you to get down there quickly, the 150th anniversary of the big battle takes place Apr. 21-22 with a full historical re-enactment. (Go to www.ncparks.gov for details.)
The food and hospitality down here is generally awesome, as are the prices.
Lunch on the outdoor deck at The Channel Marker (www.thechannelmarker.com)includes a dozen fried oysters with hush-puppies for $12.95 and Moet & Chandon champagne for $8 a glass. (No, that’s not a typo!)
And in the evening, Chef’s 105 (www.chefs105.com) is a beautiful high-ceilinged room with a menu that mixes local Carolina food with some pretty spiffy techniques, including Chicken-fried sweetbreads ($9), cast-iron seared NC mountain trout ($23) and a bison burger ($15) that my son, the burger lover, gave two thumbs up to.
Lodgings are also nice on the wallet and we stayed at a very comfortable room at the Hampton Inn, with a water view, pool, free wifi and hot breakfast, all for $150 a night. (www.hamptoninn.hilton.com)
It’s a great place to spend a holiday, whether you’re sporty and active, traveling with kids, or just looking for a fun time. Check it out: www.crystalcoastnc.org.
AIR CANADA WOES
Back to Jim Byers here.
The Star's Vanessa Lu is out at Pearson this morning and says the job action by Air Canada pilots - sorry, the ALLEGED job action by Air Canada pilots - doesn't appear to be affecting things too badly. It sounds like perhaps 40 flights have been cancelled today, out of several hundred per day for Air Canada in Toronto.
Probably it's no consolation to folks on cancelled flights, but Lu reports it's not as bad as some winter days when Pearson gets socked with snow and has to cancel flights en masse.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told Lu that "most pilots are working and reporting for duty" and that "the vast majority of flights are leaving.”
Still, it's yet another black eye for Air Canada in its continuing struggle for labour peace - and good p.r. You just know the folks at WestJet and Porter are gonna find ways to exploit this latest mess.