I could have easily used a picture of Emerald Isle Bridge traffic from the afternoon of July 1 as the picture for this post, but anyone headed this direction is going to see plenty of traffic and doesn't need to be reminded of it with another picture.
It is best if people focus on what they are going to see once they make it to the coast. That is why my picture is of the ocean water just west of Third Street Beach. If everyone just remembers that the beach will be here no matter when they arrive, then just maybe, everyone can make it to their destinations safely.
My trip on Friday, July 1, over to Emerald Isle allowed me to gauge the afternoon beach traffic. It was also a look at the parking situation so I could guess what kind of holiday crowd will make it to Emerld Isle this 2011 Fourth of July week.
My first stop was Third Street Beach which is about eight miles east up the beach. After taking a parking space for my truck, I counted about five other parking spaces available in the small Third Street Lot. Normally Third Street is practically empty. If we find more than one or two cars in the lot, we consider it crowded.
Still the beach was relatively empty, and I had no trouble finding plenty of walking space. There were even some empty seats on the beach just as you walk in the access point. I suspect folks were in having a bite of lunch and perhaps dodging the midday sun.
On my way back down the beach, I swung into the Eastern Regional Beach Access to check the beach parking there. My estimate is that at around 2 PM on Friday, July 1, the main lot was around one third full. The overflow lot was practically empty. The beach fee hut was ready to roll for this holiday weekend.
I also checked the new Emerald Isle boat ramp. It had more boat trailers than I have seen there since it opened. However, there was still plenty of room for more trailers. If you haven't seen this facility, it is an impressive one and a great place to watch the boating activity or even see some of the areas birds.
My final stop before heading back across the bridge to the mainland was the Western Regional Beach Access just off Islander Drive. It was just a few minutes after 2 PM when I circled through the parking lot. It was basically full, but I did count two empty spaces, and saw a couple of enterprising teenagers were selling parking at the entrance to Islander Motel.
I didn't even bother checking the small parking lot on Coast Guard Road since it has been running nearly full on nice days for the last couple of weeks.
Plenty of traffic was headed south across the bridge as I left the island, and it was stop and go at times. Traffic was also backed up a little on Highway 24 in both directions at the stoplight just before the bridge.
Actually I thought there was going to be an accident at the intersection of 24 & 58 as the people headed west on 24 from the Morehead City direction kept turning left well after the stoplight had turned red and given the right of way to people going south on Highway 24 who were trying to turn left and head towards Morehead.
For a moment there were two lanes from different directions trying to turn left. It was a messy sight. Fortunately there was no accident. In a couple of minutes the cars cleared the intersection, and I got to head north on Highway 58 back towards Bluewater Cove.
By 5 PM when we came out again to run some errands, the traffic seemed to have slacked off. I will be out July 2 to check on things and will do another report. I will drop by the tourist information building and get their take on the holiday traffic.
I might even get brave and see how the grocery store traffic is at Lowe's in Cape Carteret. I would not dream of visiting Food Lion on the island until Tuesday when things settle down a little. We got our grocery shopping done on Thursday, but there is always something you forget.
Right now my guess is that we are going to have a very busy holiday week.
Save a stop at one of the tourist bureaus and download my area map with restaurant suggestions and local services marked. A link to the PDF map brochure is located on this web page.