Sunday, May 10, 2009

Virginia's Eastern Shore

Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel

On the one day I had time to snoop around in the Norfolk area, I decided to travel the 14 mile Chesapeake Bridge-Tunnel to the Eastern Shores of Virginia. I was not disappointed. You begin at the toll booth (a hefty $12 toll at that) and you are almost immediately out over the Atlantic Ocean as it enters the bay . It was amazing to be driving with water all around you. Just before you get to the first tunnel, there is a gift shop, restuarant and pier built off the bridge - there is nothing on either side but water. I had hoped to see seabirds, but the wind was blowing fairly hard and there were few birds in the air and only rock doves (read pigeons) on the rocks below.

There are two segments of tunnels, each a mile long and with one lane of traffic going in each direction. I am not good with small, dark enclosed spaces, but managed to make it through with a death grip on the steering wheel of my rental car. The bridge views more than made up for the tunnels. It is an engineering feat to be admired. The only other bridge I have been on like that would be the highway that runs through the keys to Key West in Florida and there are several islands that connect that bridge.
Immediately after coming off the bridge, I saw a sign for a wildlife refuge. That is a mandatory turn off the road for me. I drove to the headquarters building and met up with the volunteers that were working the counter. They showed me the bird viewing window that is mirrored so you can see the birds but they can't see you....a bird nerd's paradise. I watched for a long time and added a new bird to my birdwatcher's list - a glossy ibis - brown head and neck and black body with a long curved beak and when the sun shone on him, his feathers all irridesced ergo the "glossy" name. He was in the company of Canadian Geese and a kildeer. The ibis is the speck at the left of the photo below:

Pond through viewing window

I told the couple that what I really wanted to see was a cardinal. For three years I have come to Virginia and never once seen the state bird. We don't have them here in the West, but I can remember them as a child growing up in the Midwest, all clustered around the feeder and miss their cheery red feathers. I was told that if I hiked down the nearby butterfly trail I might see one and about a mile down the trail, there he was - high in the tree, but I was able to take a photo just before he flew away. Yeah!!! On my way back to the parking lot, I came across the oriole who jumped from branch to branch showing off his beautiful colors and I obliged him by photographing his choreography.

Cardinal in the treetop

Oriole dancing in the tree
After I left the refuge I drove up the road to Port Charles, a delightful little town on the Bay full of Victorian houses and a couple of Sears and Robuck houses - the kind you ordered and then built yourself. The town is well preserved and I wish I had had more time to ramble around and photograph the houses. The streets are named after fruit and I passed a sign for "Nectarine" street and the name captured my heart. I could see myself in an old house living on Nectarine Street waking up to the sounds of the sea and making art all day long. But I had to get back to set up for Vendor night and so I said goodbye and made my way back down the highway.

Just before I reached the bridge again, I pulled off to investigate a yard full of tables filled with interesting junk. The two women who ran the shop were amused that I would want to take photos of junk. They said a woman had stopped by last year and photographed an old freezer door that had been sitting against their home "forever". The woman sent them copies of the photographs she took and they were still amused that someone would take the time to photograph the freezer door....but I got that completely.

Old Sign

All too soon I had to head back to set up for Vendor night, but this was an adventure that was worth taking. I hope to come back someday and make it up to Chincoteague Island to see the ponies I read about as a child in "Misty of Chincoteague", a 1947 book by American author Marguerite Henry.


kecia said...

i totally get it too, photographing the interesting junk belonging to others. as they began to weather and rust, a sense of beauty and story begins to unfold. to us it is interesting - maybe the whole disentegration (sp?) process. i really wish i had time to stop on the other side of the bridge (Eastern shores) where i saw several Osprey nests. alas, we didn't have time and barely made our ferry as it was. congrats on seeing the cardinal- check that off your bird bingo! and the oriole was super cool.

purple bird art said...

thanks for visiting, kecia, I saw several osprey nests and the wildlife refuge had their spotting scope focused on a nesting osprey sitting on her eggs - I definitely want to return and explore more of the area