In the Heart of the Chesapeake

In the words of novelist John Barth, “Neither dry land nor sea, … the Chesapeake is neither salt nor fresh; emblematic equally of stagnation and regeneration, of death and new life…” Barth then goes on to describe the slow immersion of these marshlands under the rising tides wrought by global warming.

Is this in-between land that special? I see other places affected by climate change and other coastal parks exhibiting some stagnation and regeneration, but the stagnation stands out here as no other place in memory. That could be depressing if you don’t perceive the regeneration part.

The neighbors in the campsite next to us said they came here because places like this (and everyone else) are doomed. It is hard to escape that thought while here.

With our site near the water, the first wondrous experience was a beautiful sunset, the like you will have a hard time finding in most of the Eastern U.S. To see more of the island, the observation tower near the camp store is about 25 feet above ground level. Better yet, try one of the many paddling trails in and around the island.

The fire roads laid out in a grid along with all the mucky black drainage ditches are eyesores typifying the stagnation Barth wrote about, but I learned some plant lore and met a very showy holly tree while hiking the whitetail trail.

The island with birds of many feather is a great show. Sitting with binoculars on the campground side, I saw a snowy egret, a white heron, and a great blue heron all within the circle of my binocular viewing angle. Many others caught my eye while in flight. Be sure to bring binoculars!

Our departure is scheduled for a sunny day. After many colorful sunsets hinting at dissolution, the brightness of a new dawn will end this trip with a message of hope.

Birds aplenty

Lots of birdsong. Mostly peaceful and quiet. An old Vietnam vet named Jim stopped by to give us some sweet potatoes and fill us in on the local history. He also told us that Elmwood is a better choice if we ever make it back this way. He said that since this campground is not serviced by the Rangers, there have been cases where people have had items stolen when their site was unattended. Jim told us that it was around this site that General Francis Marion gathered his forces to fight the British in a decisive revolutionary war battle. He said they mainly subsisted on the sweet potatoes grown here. He told us that it was only about 5 miles southeast of here that the church burning recreated in the movie The Patriot took place. Old Washington road I think he said and you can still visit it. Jim is not the only friendly local ambassador we met. When I was struggling with a big log I wanted for firewood, a man on property to the west saw how hard it was for me to split a big log and brought a couple of nights worth of cut wood over in his very old jeep. My biggest disappointment here was the pit toilet. It seems they could do better with that or maybe just stock some cleaning supplies there.