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A Nomad's Notes: Want to see Brunswick County through my eyes? Here’s your chance

Greetings, Beacon reader. It is I, a local. Still typing that or saying that always gives me this jolt of pure adrenaline, because I’ve wanted to live by a beach regularly since I was like … I’m guessing before I could even talk well enough to articulate such a desire. And now, at 26, I do.
I was always afraid I might have to wait until retirement to do so, or at the very earliest when I hit the elusive yet fast-approaching 3-0 (I’ve felt perpetually 19 since 2010). But when I received a phone call seeing if I wanted to interview for my current job, I saw a new newsroom and new opportunities … and I saw me sneaking out late at night (I live alone, so really no need to sneak) and heading to whatever beach I feel like going to.
In the year-and-a-quarter I’ve been in Brunswick County, I’ve made my way across much of this huge county — so huge it could fit my old home of Boyle County, Ky., into it like five times over. And of course everyone will tell you the more typical things you should do while here: eat Calabash seafood, visit island piers, go to Wing and Fish Co., take the Bird Island walking tour — things I was told to do essentially the minute I walked into the Beacon in February 2016 to introduce myself to my new bosses.
But here are some unique Lindsay Kriz experiences I would recommend you try while you’re here if you have the time:

1: During the day, Ocean Isle Beach is my favorite beach, but at night, Sunset Beach is where it’s at. I’m guessing it’s because of the gazebo providing a nice place to sit and to enjoy the ambiance. Something about it reminds me of trips to other beaches as a kid.
But the best part of Sunset Beach at night? Stargazing. Of course you can stargaze at any beach, but one night last year I went out the gazebo and pulled out my Skyview Free app on my iPhone to find what I could. Now, that spot is my go-to. In summertime, the best things to look for in the night sky are the center of the Milky Way (it’s usually in the south/southwest portion of the sky at night) or the Andromeda Galaxy, which typically you can only see out of the corner of your eye, but can still be located easily on the app (look to the northern sky). It’s always a surreal and spiritual experience for me, knowing that in our southern sky far far away is a big big black hole, and what may seem like a fuzzy light in the distance is in fact an entire galaxy.

2: At my favorite daytime beach, Ocean Isle Beach, I like to do is take the first exit at the roundabout and go as far down as a I can to the west end. I’ve yet to make it all the way to the farthest end, but every time I go past Ocean Point Condo I realize how badly I want to stay there someday, despite the fact that I only live about 15 minutes away. If I ever have a disposable income again, that’s something I’ll knock off my local bucket list.
And something for you to see on the east end is a blue home at 339 E. First St. I’m sure I’ve driven by it numerous times and never really noticed it, but when I was working on an Island Living story about Ocean Isle Beach, Mayor Debbie Smith told me it survived Hurricane Hazel in 1954. At the time, it was only half the size it is today. Now, every time I drive by it, I stop briefly just to think about what that house has endured.

3: If you make your way to Holden Beach, there’s a house on the east end that’s definitely worth driving by and taking in: Anchor’s Holding, a cute A-frame at 315 Ocean Blvd. E. It’s set to be featured on HGTV’s new show “Beach Hunters” on Aug. 21, according to HGTV.com. Crews came to the home in January to film, and this reporter got a chance to go in the home in February and take a look around. It’s definitely beach-themed and cozy inside. Just be careful when you’re climbing the steps to the loft. They’re steep! Make sure you get a look at the outside of the home, with its wood carvings that make it unique and worthy of its oceanfront location.

4: Oak Island is just next door to Holden Beach, but because of our road system here, 20 minutes will get you from Shallotte to Holden Beach and 40 minutes will get you from Shallotte to Oak Island. Needless to say, I’ve not been there as many times as I have to the other three beaches, but what I have seen I’ve liked. Oak Island is unique in that it doesn’t feel like any of the other three beaches we have. I can’t describe it much better than that, other than to say it’s definitely longer and has infinitely more trees. It’s just a different vibe altogether, but one I still enjoy.
To complete your Lindsay Kriz tour of Oak Island, first put “Caswell Beach” in your GPS and make your way east. When you see a beach access location with two port-a-potties (I’m sorry, these are what I use as my markers to know I’ve made it to the correct location), park where you can and take the boardwalk toward the beach. But before you reach the end, stop and look down. Do you between the wood panelings underneath your feet see a Boba Fett sock in the sand, amidst the myriad empty beer bottles and used tissues? I bet you don’t. And you probably won’t.
Let me explain.
When my mom and I came to Brunswick County for the first time in February 2016 to find me an apartment, we stopped at Caswell Beach. Of course the breeze was chilly, but for some hazy reason I can’t remember I had taken off my socks to bravely conquer the cold sand. As we made our way back up, either the breeze or my derpiness is to blame, but one of my Boba Fett socks fell out of my shoe and landed underneath the boardwalk. I could have jumped down to get it, but I’m not rich enough to pay the fine I would’ve incurred for disturbing a sand dune.
So I gave up. Until a few weeks later, once I had officially moved in, and I came back to that exact spot with a Native American walking stick I got in Gatlinburg, Tenn., years earlier and an umbrella, hoping to create a makeshift claw to rescue my sock. I was successful … until I wasn’t. Because each time I was able to grab the sock, my shaky human hands slipped and it fell from the grip of my stick and umbrella, until I finally dropped it so far underneath the boardwalk there was no hope. After Hurricane Matthew happened last October, I’m afraid Boba Fett is most likely sleeping with the fishes.
Another thing I like to do while visiting Oak Island is park anywhere near the Oak Island Pier during the daytime and keep my eyes peeled toward the skies. When I hear the sound of a plane engine, that’s when I know to look for little tiny dots in the sky—which are actually parachutes of skydivers who’ve just exited the plane and are making their way back down to land (or almost sea, as one time I saw from far away a guy land right on the beach). Skydiving is something I can confidently tell you I’ll never do unless a loved one has it on their own bucket list and pays me enough. Even just a slight bit of turbulence on an airplane now brings tears to my eyes, so the idea of experiencing that falling feeling for a long period of time is a big no. Plus, often, when I’ve watched divers pull their parachutes, the parachute itself kind of goes willy-nilly in that it seems to fly whatever direction it wants, taking its passenger in weird loop-de-loops and scary angles I’d rather never have my body be in. Instead, I like to bring a book, go read at a nearby restaurant or any nice comfortable spot I can find, and listen for that distinct plane sound.

5: I don’t include Southport as a beach given that Bald Head Island kind of blocks it from having an ocean view, but it is one of five distinct “beaches” we have in Brunswick County. I probably make it to Southport more than Oak Island, but I admit it has been a while since I’ve been that way, and I lament that. Because Southport is awesome. When I’m in that area, I like to park as close to pier area as I can and sit on one of the many swings there. There are so many boats going by at various speeds that watching the boats go by is something I’ve done while enjoying a swing. I also like walking onto the pier and going all the way to the end, listening to what people are talking about and seeing what kind of haul they get. It’s nice because the pier is free to just walk onto where other places may charge.

6: It’s not a coastal spot, but near Southport is the town of Winnabow, which is home to Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson, a major pre-Revolutionary port in Brunswick County. Of course, in my home state of Kentucky, there are Revolutionary-era things to take in. But because Kentucky was still considered the west at this time in history in the late 1600s/early 1700s, living in one of the 13 original colonies and getting to see history pre- and post-United States of America only 40 minutes from my home in Shallotte is still incredibly surreal. And if you’re on the property and get to meet historian Jim McKee, ask him about the weaponry of the era. I may hate cannons, guns and any other type of loud defense systems they sometimes demonstrate during special events at the site, but they’re Jim’s bread and butter. Also, as you approach Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson in your vehicle, keep an eye out for alligators. They’re known to frequent the swamps nearby.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.