Monday, May 27, 2013

Cape Charles Chiaroscuro

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  There are few edges to life where I live. The Housatonic River and the ridge of mountains that follows it hint at an edge, but once one is there things are much as they were before until finally there is the Hudson. It is similarly so for an hour or two in most directions, and so, except when I hike, my navigational brain map has become a scattering of intellectually held points without ever quite feeling the lay of the planet under me.  Perhaps it is the result of having grown up in Manhattan where all you need to know is East Side and West Side, and you can get all over a geography neatly bordered by rivers.  Periodically it is necessary to find edges and honor them.

So it was an exercise in planetary exploration to drive out of the hills, last month. From previous explorations, I could feel as I dropped south of Red Bank and left the security of having Manhattan close at hand. The coast line is  an edge to be relied on and it was out there to my left as population thinned through the Pine Barrens, and I was still not far from the fixed coast through which I had driven a year earlier, coming north from Cape May just ahead of Hurricane Sandy. This time I would steer the less traveled middle path through the Delmarva Peninsula. Although I had been this way before, this time I would have time to explore some of the jagged coast  and the small towns down the bay side to Cape Charles and back up on the ocean side.  Now that's edge.

I had come this way before.  I had driven north into Delmarva on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It was a fine trip but it has come to seem a violation. That perfect lobe of land must have a proper end.  It was a violation I'd come to correct. This time I would have the satisfaction of putting myself at the end, the stopping point of the peninsula.  

Well, I never reached the National Wildlife Refuge at the geographical tip.  Perhaps that will be a planetary exploration for the fall. I did reach the tip, however, as far as transit was concerned, the Cape Charles train depot where freight cars are still loaded and unloaded from barges that cross Chesapeake Bay.  My camera had failed a couple of hours up the road.  I was glad I had a backup. At the end of a long drive and a good dinner, it was a great place to test the limits of my backup camera in the setting sun off the edge of the peninsula where the barges dock.