“Walking the Planks” at SeaView Fishing Pier on Topsail Island

I wrote this blog for http://www.treasurerealty.com during the week and wanted to share the magic with you!  If you love beach fishing piers, then come and walk the planks with me!

There’s something magical about a fishing pier.  One of my first memories of the beach was standing on a pier with my grandparents.  I believe we stayed in a small motel next to the pier. It was a place that mostly fishermen stayed and it wasn’t at all fancy.

IMG_20150722_132331015I remember we arrived as the sun was setting and after we were settled in the room and had dinner, Grandmother and I walked out onto the pier with Granddaddy.  His plan was to find a lucky spot and fish there all night while Grandmother’s and mine was to take a walk to the end of the pier and go back to the air conditioned room to sleep and dream the night away.

Walking to the end of the pier, I recall us looking out into the dark, starry night and staring into the black ocean.  I was almost dizzy with the thought that only a railing and a walkway of planked boards came between me and the deep sea. The cracks between the boards seemed like huge crevices and I wondered suddenly if I might be too skinny (people were always saying I was nothing but “skin and bones”) and slip though, right into the ocean’s depths.  What sea monsters were circling about under the dark swells waiting for me to join them?  I held tightly onto my grandmother’s hand as we headed back down the “planked walkway.”IMG_20150722_123503516

As I got older, I can remember actually fishing on piers with my dad and brothers.  The nearest pier would be one of the first places we’d head to after we had settled into our hotel or beach cottage.  As children, we’d put on our shoes to keep from stepping on dreaded fishing hooks and walk with reverence onto the pier.  The adults told us to be quiet so we wouldn’t disturb the other fishermen and scare away the fish.  I was still fascinated by the cracks between the boards.  We would drop small shells through them to see how long they took to hit the water and sometimes, we’d just spit.  As kids, the thought of our spit mingling in with the salty water of the ocean made our imaginations go wild as we wondered if our spit would travel across the sea to a foreign shore.  To me, it wasn’t about the fishing, it was about being on boards jutting out over the mystical ocean.IMG_1921

It’s been ages since I’ve visited a fishing pier but this week, I thought I’d visit the one that is closest to me. This is the summer, after all, that I’m being a tourist in my own “backyard” so I decided that I’d visit the SeaView Fishing Pier on North Topsail Beach.  This is the pier that is near my cousin Linda’s beach house and I walk under it every time I walk on the beach.  Each time I do, I stop and stare at it’s wooden pilings and “pier” architecture. It’s absolutely stunning to stand underneath it and look out towards the waves breaking on it.  Bill and I call it our “Cathedral by the Sea.”  It looks like the wooden beams that frame the inside of an old church and we always stop and thank God for allowing us to live near something so beautiful.

I had seen the underside of the pier and decided it was high time to visit the top and walk down its planks.  When Bill and I pulled up into its parking lot, I realized it was much more than that. IMG_20150722_132448977 There was a two storied building that looked looked like it belonged on the set of a movie based on an iconic east coast fishing village. Plus, there was a two storied little motel next to the pier that was named “The SeaView Fishing Pier Motel.” Why hadn’t I seen it before? It was much like the pier and motel that I had stayed in as a child with my grandparents.  Perfect!

I looked back over to the pier building.The bottom floor was a bait and tackle shop.  IMG_20150722_123604104_HDRWe stepped into it first and met Earl, the guy behind the counter. He proudly told us that they sold everything to meet your beach and fishing needs.  (You can pay to park there in the summer if you’d like to use their beach access.) As far as fishing needs go, Earl said, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”  I looked around and saw that there were many coolers with fresh bait inside (I couldn’t bear looking inside them) and  a wall full of lures and tackle. I was impressed with the sign on the wall that boasted of having the largest bloodworms in the state.  Who knew?IMG_20150722_123618939_HDR

I love employees who take pride in their place of work.  Earl was like that.  He gave us a bit of the SeaView pier’s history and even showed us pictures from a well-worn book about North Carolina’s fishing piers. The pier was built in 1984 but destroyed in March of 1993 during the “Storm of the Century.” It was rebuilt and opened again in 1999. Greg Ludlum bought it in 2000 and has since been the owner.  According to the materials I’ve read, Mr. Ludlum has a passion for piers and it was a life-long dream of his to own one.  He knows that many piers are are being destroyed because the land associated with them is worth more money without the pier and can be used for ocean front housing.  He hopes to preserve the joy of what it means to fish on a pier.  Most people don’t have their own docks or oceanfront places to fish.

SeaView Fishing Pier is known for its excellent King Mackerel and bottom fishing. IMG_1908It’s open 24/7 and  people seem to be fishing there all the time. We asked Earl if the fish were biting much that week and he said, “Ain’t nothing much biting in this heat. Ever so often people are catching whatever’s out there that will bite  Nighttime’s better.”  We appreciated his truth and with smiles on our faces, decided to go upstairs to the restaurant for lunch.

Now, I have to say, the restaurant wasn’t fancy.  After all, it IS a pier restaurant with a slightly “hole in the wall” feel, which to me, is what it should feel like.  Sort of like a greasy spoon.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and it’s said that they have the best cheese burgers and hot dogs at the beach.  Somebody said the chili is what makes them good. We couldn’t believe we’d been in the area for almost five years and had never been there.

We ordered cheeseburgers and fries and while we waited, chatted a bit with the cook. IMG_1893 He told us that they would fry or cook to your liking any fish you caught and cleaned there. “You catch and clean ‘em and we’ll cook ‘em.”  I thought that was a great idea.  It made me wish that I was a fisherwoman.  I made a mental note: “Buy fishing rods and begin fishing in the fall.”  That would give me enough time to read up on fishing skills.

The cheeseburgers and fries were absolutely wonderful.  They were right.  The best on the beach!  Next time we wanted a good burger and a beach vibe, we knew where to go! Bill payed for the meal and asked how much it would cost to walk out on the pier. It was $1.00 each and we thought it would be a cheap adventure for two non-fishermen.

The pier boasts of being over 1,000 feet long, which is a status that any pier owner or pier aficionado would be proud of.  Over 875 feet of planks are actually over the water, making it the longest pier on the North Carolina coast.IMG_1905

The afternoon was hot and muggy and I figured the fish were out away from the shore in the deeper water keeping cool.  Most of the die hards on the pier seemed half asleep under their umbrellas. Stopping several times to stare out over the water, I looked for sharks, but all I saw were a dozen or so jellyfish bobbing in the sea green waters and one rather large crab, swimming his sideways crabby swim as if he were trying to get away from something bigger than he was.

The end of the pier widened into a large deck-like area.  There was a round tank there to store live bait and I thought of how every parent with a child on the pier would have to keep them away from its cool luring water.  I looked down and noticed that there were still cracks between the planks, some of them big enough to drop small objects through and yes, wide enough to spit through.  I looked around and made sure no one was looking and squatted down to spit through the slat, just like a child would do. My spit got carried a little off center by the breeze but it landed a few seconds later into the endless sea.  My DNA was mixed with the DNA and makeup of the the present and the ancient past in that water and somehow, that made me feel happy.  I also realized then, that piers were really for the child in all of us.  IMG_1900We were walking the planks to get that special feeling of being out over the ocean without having to fear the deep waters and the sea monsters that lived in it.  We could look down from our high perch and wonder at the sea’s vastness and our little spot above it. It was a delicious feeling and one that seemed to put me and my world in perspective.

We walked back slowly down the planks and I decided that the night view would be fabulous and we’d have to take a midnight stroll down the pier one night before it got too cool.  I mentioned to Bill that we should take up fishing. I liked the feeling of being on the pier and the owner Mr Ludlum’s, sentiment was right.  There’s just something special about about a pier. Maybe Earl could show us some of the rods and reels in the Bait and Tackle Shop.

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Find SeaView Fishing Pier on FaceBook at:    https://www.facebook.com/SeaViewFishingPi

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The Villa by the Sea and the the Magic Lift

Bill and I were lucky this week.  We were invited to stay the week of July fourth with my cousin Linda and her husband, Bake, at their beach house on North Topsail Beach. Several other friends were joining us and it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Yes, I know  that I live only a few miles from their casa (as the crow flies) and I tell everyone I live at the beach,  but I don’t live on the majestic ocean’s shore, on the very edge of our continent.  Sand and water are not in my backyard or front yard, for that matter.  So to actually pack our bags and drag all of our “stuff” over for a few days to stay on our beautiful beach and be “real” vacationers, was a treat for us.

IMG_1869After all, didn’t I vow in a former blog post that I was going to be a tourist this summer? Heck yeah!

There are somethings that are different about staying on a vacation five minutes from home. First of all,  you don’t have to pack too much. I was the ultimate minimalist because I knew that if I ran out of clothing or needed something, I could jump in the car and run home to get it.  Secondly, I didn’t have to worry about who would water my tomatoes, peppers,  flower gardens and porch plants.   I could go home and do that myself. Guess what?  I went home every day for a few hours to be a “homie.” I enjoyed checking in at home to do a few chores, only to return back to vacation land.

I love arriving at this particular beach house. I know I’m at the ocean because of the smell of salt on the breeze the moment I step out of the car.  Taking  a deep cleansing breath to rid myself of the real world, I stretch to unwind and shake my shoulders.  I believe it’s time to leave my worries down by the elevator door. Pressing a button, I call the elevator down and begin to unload my car.IMG_1879

Now, this is where the magic of vacation begins for me.  The elevator. Did you ever read C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?”  It’s  the story of four children who are staying at the rural English home of a professor during World War II.  The children discover a big old wardrobe in one of the rooms and while playing in it, find that they are transported to Narnia, a  snowy, white kingdom ruled by the White Witch.  Together with their lion friend Aslan,  they conquer the evil witch and rule Narnia.  As a child, it was one of my favorite books and I can’t help but think of it every time I press the elevator button.  I’m going to step into the magic box and be transported to the enchanted sea kingdom of endless water and sky, sand and surf, sea witches and pirates, mermaids and sea birds, shells and sea glass.

The magic portal lifts me up and stops at the second floor. Pulling back the folding partition, I pause before I open the door.  I know that it is the only thing standing between me and my land of enchantment. I savor the delicious anticipation and slowly turn the door knob. The beachy smells of the house envelop me like the hug of an old friend. Stepping out and leaving all of my things on the elevator, I turn left, walk a few steps down a little hall and the view hits me: sand, sea and sky, a rather beige, blue and white world where troubles vanish in the wind and waves.  I love this kingdom and all of a sudden I have forgotten the outside world!FullSizeRender (2)

My days are filled with fun, laughter, a lot of beach walking, girl talk, sea glass collecting (I even found a few shards of Indian pottery washed up on the shore,) reading and catching up with some of my favorite people. Of course, for me, planning what to have for dinner is an important part of the day because in this kingdom, Thanksgiving is everyday!   What is it about the ocean that makes us all so hungry?

After sundown, when the sky and ocean blur into one and everything turns blue-grey outside, we come in and join one another at the big dining room table.  I love this table because so many folks can sit around it.  Someone has put a Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and the mood is set for the next hour or so. The kitchen island is groaning with dishes we seldom allow ourselves to have except on special occasions; comfort foods and breads with butter and cheese.  Wine is poured into generous sized glasses and we fill our plates with gusto. Dinner talk is of dreams and the future, the good memories of the past when our children were little and the cute things our grandchildren are now doing.  It’s almost like dinnertime becomes a holy and sacred affair.  We talk about the goodness of God.IMG_1863

Afterwards, we put on bathing suits and take our wine glasses out to the hot tub, where we spend most of the time looking up into the heavens, pointing out constellations and watching for satellites. In the beach kingdom the night skies never compete with outside lights.  Linda tells us of the rare time she and her son saw the Northern Lights over the ocean.  We know what a rare thing it is to view them this far south and all of a sudden, we realize again, that we’re in a magical place, a place of miracles. We pause with wonder as our eyes scan the vast universe. The black sky and pearly stars are almost within reaching distance.  Heaven feels near and our hearts are full.

We come into the air conditioned chill of the beach house.  I hurry out of my cold, wet bathing and put on my soft pajamas. The house and it’s inhabitants are settling down to rest. Crawling into bed fully expecting to read a few chapters of my book,  I notice Bill is already sleeping.  I prop myself up and try to read but it’s like a sea fairy has sprinkled sleeping dust in my eyes.  I hear the rhythm of the rising tide and the before I know it,  the new day is disrupting my dreams.

I sit up from my comfy bed, remembering where I am and I smile.  The question of what type of day it is on the other side of the curtains,  pulls me out of bed.   When I pull  them back, light fills the room and I have to adjust my eyes to the sun sparkling off the endless blue water. Walking out onto my balcony I spy a kite dancing in the wind above me.  I make an executive decision and adopt it as the flag of my “Magic Beach Kingdom.” I shake my head at my own silliness and look over to the left. I see that one of our neighbors has displayed the American flag on the crossover walkway over the dunes that leads down to the beach. IMG_1848Remembering it’s the week of the Fourth, I stare at it for a while as it snaps with authority in the wind. Reality meets my magical world.  I see the pretty kite come ride the breeze and shy away from the Stars and Stripes, dipping towards the ocean. “Oh, please let me wave over your kingdom this week,” it seems to beg.

I allow joy to rise in my heart.  My worlds have collided and I’m alright with that.   Hmmm…Is that coffee I smell?  Let the day begin!

Here’s a little Table Talk with Uncle Billy IMG_1885

Here’s my Kite video IMG_1862

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