Spring was finally in the air this weekend.
It was what most islanders thought was the longest winter they could remember ? day after day of wind, cold, and gray skies. There were precious few of the warmer, sunny intervals that usually punctuate the winter months here.
This weekend was the first this spring that was sunny and warm ? in the 70s ? even if the wind was somewhat gusty from the southwest.
The Richmond-based 4-Plus Surf-Fishing Tournament was happening, so vehicles laden with fishing rods and coolers were buzzing up and down the road, as the drivers checked out beaches for the best fishing. And there were fish caught.
The docks at the Hatteras village marinas were lively, for a change, late afternoon on Saturday as the charter and private boats returned from offshore and inshore fishing and unloaded their impressive catches of dolphin and some yellowfin tuna and wahoo.
Vehicles lined the highway at the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center for the annual Powwow celebrating the island?s and the nation?s native American heritage.
Then there were the motorcycles. What can I say? There were thousands of them on the highway on Hatteras and Ocracoke over the weekend as Dare County hosted the seventh annual Dare County Bike Week. They traveled in small groups and in groups as large as 100 motorcycles. It was not a quiet weekend for the homes and businesses along Highway 12 ? and even off it.
Hatteras Island district ranger John McCutcheon said when he got off the Hatteras Inlet ferry on Friday afternoon, he counted 322 motorcycles waiting to catch the 5 p.m. ferry to Ocracoke. So we can only assume that Ocracoke was pretty busy this weekend also.
We hope the cyclists stopped at some of our businesses to give them a boost after the long, cold winter. We know Pop?s Raw Bar and Grill in Buxton had a good weekend. At lunchtime on Saturday, there were dozens and dozens of motorcycles in the parking lot. The riders filled the tiny dining area and spilled out onto the deck and into the parking area.
It is good to see people back on the island again ? even if making a left turn was a real challenge.
In other news over the weekend, there was another beach closure. The National Park Service closed Ramp 45 and the Interdunal Road.
The Interdunal Road is to the right over Ramp 44 to Cape Point. It runs along the dune line and empties out to the beach just into front of the Cape Point Campground. The area had been a cul-de-sac with only two-tenths of a mile of beach open to the east and another two-tenths of a mile to the west.
The area was closed for piping plovers exhibiting breeding behavior and foraging.
From Buxton to Frisco, this is what is now open:
? Ramp 43. Four-tenths of a mile to the north and to the south.
? Ramp 44. Two-tenths of a mile to the south.
? Ramp 45. Closed.
? Ramp 49. One tenth of a mile west toward Frisco village and 1.7 miles east toward Cape Point.
This is from Frank Folb?s weekly update on ramp-by-ramp areas open for ORV traffic. It?s a nifty way to find out where you can go. Check it out at Frank and Fran?s tackle shop Web site, http://reelbuzz.com/fishreports/frankandfrans/
And check it and the Google Earth maps on our site in the red bar on the Beach Access Page. Right now, as birds move around, deciding where to nest, closures change often ? sometimes everyday.
Later this week, Ocracoke will be busy as hundreds of surf fishermen head there for the annual Ocracoke Surf-Fishing Tournament.
We hope the Ocracoke beaches won?t have any more closures before the tournament starts.
And, finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that The Island Free Press joined Facebook this weekend.
If anyone had told me a week ago that I would be a member of Facebook, I would have laughed myself silly.
And here I am. Here we are.
Our Facebook group page went on the site about 6 p.m. on Friday. I sent out an e-mail to almost 2,500 readers who have signed up on The Island Free Press Web site.
So far more than 275 people have signed on to be a member of our group.
I will still send out e-mail alerts once or twice a week. But we post new material everyday. We will alert you to that new material through a Facebook message that will also be posted on our wall.
Just another way of being in touch.