Showing posts with label ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ocean. Show all posts

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island Jekyll Island Jekyll Island

Here are a few old photos from Jekyll Island, Georgia, a barrier island on the Atlantic coast near the town of Brunswick. The island was developed in the late 1880s as a resort for northern robber barons -- J.P Morgan, various Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Goulds, and their ilk. The island's fortunes waned (so to speak) after the stock market crash of 1929, and the state of Georgia has owned and operated it since 1947. A number of the original "cottages" (i.e. vacation mansions) still survive, as does the central clubhouse building, now a hotel.

You may have gathered this is not a comprehensive photoset about the place; I took these in the late 90s, and I had no idea at the time that I might need a bunch of photos for the internet someday. In any case, I could never muster a lot of enthusiasm for the extravagant lifestyles of ultra-rich oligarchs, so if I did have a bunch of interior photos I'd probably just snark about them anyway. The island's beaches were beautiful, though. It's worth a visit just for the beaches.


[View Larger Map]

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Hunting Island, SC

Hunting Island, SC Hunting Island, SC

Here are a couple of beach photos from South Carolina's Hunting Island State Park, a barrier island on the coast about 15 miles from the town of Beaufort. The island's dense palmetto-filled forest comes right up to the beach, like something you'd see in a movie about remote South Pacific islands. I would have liked to have better photos of the forest, and the rest of the park, but I only have these two photos. I think I may have run out of film after this pair of photos, come to think of it. I also had a crappy camera at the time, and (more importantly) I had no idea what I was doing. I realize I keep trotting that out as an excuse when I post old photos, but it's true. I ran across a forum thread with some great photos, if you want a better look at the area.

I wish I'd still had some film left when we ran across an alligator, asleep and sunning itself at an inland pond. Not an enclosure, not an exhibit, just a pond with a wild alligator. At the time, we lived a couple of hours north and inland, and while alligators were known to exist in our area, there were far more rumors than sightings. And of course coming from the Northwest we weren't used to even that degree of alligator-ness. So stumbling across one here, out of the blue, was kind of a big deal. Any locals who saw us gawking and pointing must have found it hilarious. It probably wasn't even that big of an alligator, thinking back. Still, I could have walked over and touched it if I'd wanted to, which I didn't. Nobody else seemed to want to pet the gator either.


View Larger Map

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Assateague Island


[View Larger Map]

Since I've been on a vacation photo kick lately, here's another slideshow from coastal Virginia, this time from the south end of Assateague Island National Seashore and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge next door. After I checked in to my Chincoteague Island hotel, I decided I wanted to at least dip my feet in the Atlantic a little, so off to the beach I went. Assateague Island is the ocean-facing barrier island due east of Chincoteague Island, and the two are separated by a channel of shallow water and salt marshes. So it's a bit of a drive, with a few sights here and there to stop and take photos of, which I of course did. At the beach itself, well, I'm not really keen to be That Guy who lugs a big camera around at the beach, taking photos of who knows what. That's right up there with White Van Metal Detector Guy in the rogues' gallery of suspicious-looking beach denizens. So I switched to phone photos, and didn't take a lot of those either, since I actually don't like having people in my photos and it was hard to avoid there.

Atlantic barrier island beaches like this are all variations on a simple theme: Long flat straight expanses of sand, a low rise behind the beach with some low shrubs (assuming developers haven't had their way with the place), and behind that a wide expanse of salt marsh between the barrier island and the mainland. So the beach here reminded me a lot of the Canaveral National Seashore down in Florida, which I already had photos of. I did the toes-in-the-nice-warm-Atlantic thing though, which was the main goal here. Ahead of photos, even, if you can believe that.

If the names "Assateague" and "Chincoteague" sound familiar, it's either from avidly reading my other blog posts here of late, or more likely from the famous series of young adult books about the islands' wild ponies. I never read any of the Misty books as a kid, but I seem to recall grade school classmates being obsessed with them. And then begging their parents for ponies of their own, probably. The books, while fictional, were based roughly on real people, horses, places, and events. If only I'd done a little more research ahead of time, I would've learned that two of the famous horses, "Misty" and "Stormy", were taxidermied and are now on display at the ranch where they once lived. This seems like a hilarious bit of macabre bad taste. If only I'd known, I would have carved out a bit of time to go visit the former children's book stars in their, um, retirement. I mean, where else can you see something like this? It's not like they've taxidermied the former stars of the Harry Potter movies, at least not so far. Not giggling would be the hard part. Or at least not giggling to a disruptive degree.

Every year, ponies from the island are herded and made to swim across the channel to Chincoteague Island (even though there's a perfectly decent bridge they could walk across) to be auctioned as a fundraiser for the local fire department. This has become the area's largest annual tourist event. I understand the need for some sort of herd management. As in the Western US, wild horses are an introduced species with no natural predators. Furthermore they're an introduced species that the public has become attached to, so removing them isn't a viable option. Thanks to the lack of predators, the unchecked population grows until it outstrips the local food supply, and the public won't stand for starving horses any more than it would accept the absence of horses. So they've taken to auctioning "excess" horses every year, to keep the herd size manageable. (Which is what the BLM does in Oregon and other western states, somewhat controversially.) The pony herd on the Maryland part of the island (kept separate from the Virginia ponies by a fence) is on birth control, believe it or not, which keeps the size of the herd down in a somewhat less picturesque way.

This business about ponies is not really a digression, because one of the books ("Stormy, Misty's Foal") centers around the real-life Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, which also played a key role in the protection of the National Seashore. Much of the island had been platted for development, roads had been built, and some construction had begun when the storm swept through and flattened everything. Instead of rebuilding everything at taxpayer expense, which is what usually happens, the federal government acquired the island and handed it over to the National Park Service to run as a public beach park. Possibly this was due in part to sentimental attachment to the ponies. It's not clear what would have become of them if Assateague Island had been converted into vacation homes and trinket shops.

The adjacent wildlife refuge protects an extensive area of salt marshes, along with the historic 142' Assateague lighthouse (both of which I have photos of), and inland parts of the island where the local pony herd tends to hang out, which apparently are closed to the public. The lighthouse was closed for renovation when I was there; I didn't really mind since I've never really had a thing for lighthouses. I'm not going to make fun of people who do, though; I have wayyy too many posts here tagged 'bridge' for me to go around casting that particular stone.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Neptune's Park, Virginia Beach

Neptune's Park, Virginia Beach
[View Larger Map]

At the tail end of my recent trip to Virginia, I made a brief detour over to Virginia Beach to take some photos of the huge and sorta-famous King Neptune statue and the surrounding Neptune's Park. The statue is a mascot of the city's Neptune Festival and has actually only been there since 2005. Based on the photos of it that I'd seen, it looked cheesy enough that it merited a side trip, plus I had a rental car I actually liked for a change and I wanted to drive it a bit more.

Neptune's Park, Virginia Beach

So I got there and realized there was some sort of municipal weekend festival going on, and the whole area was clogged with tourists, and it was $10 to park in the nearby public parking garage. I only had about 10-15 minutes to spare before I needed to head toward the Norfolk airport, so this was a problem. I don't like to think I'm a stingy person, but paying $1/minute to park struck me as a poor allocation of funds. So I figured I could still pull off a blog post if I drove by the park on Atlantic Avenue and snapped a few quick phone photos of the statue while I was stuck in traffic. The resulting photos turned out to be comically, hilariously bad. I think one of the photos may include part of either the head or the trident, out of focus and behind some festival stands and tents and so forth, but I'm not really sure about that. It could also be a bigfoot sighting, based on the photo quality. For what it's worth, I also had big sticky half-eaten chunk of baklava in the car to maybe chuck at Pat Robertson (who's based in Virginia Beach) if I saw him, and then blog about it from jail, but that didn't pan out either, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have actually done it anyway, and I ended up throwing the baklava away at the airport instead.

Neptune's Park, Virginia Beach

So I went back and forth trying to decide whether I had enough material for a blog post or not. The photos I ended up with were so terrible that I figured I could go with a "so-bad-it's-good" angle, sort of the Plan 9 from Outer Space of blog posts. And then I thought, if I only go with photos from successful photo-taking forays here, I'm creating a skewed idea of what this blogging lifestyle is really like, and kids will grow up wanting to be just like me, not realizing how frustrating and annoying it can be sometimes, until it's too late. Or something like that. Anyway, trumping all other concerns was the idea that I either use these crappy photos, or I don't get a little "Virginia Beach" pushpin on the map for this humble blog. That's kind of an absurd reason and I imagine I'll get over it sooner or later, but for now I'm still kind of big on adding exciting new places to the map. Even if they're just a blur.

Neptune's Park, Virginia Beach

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pics: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Some old vacation photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, from February '08. I'd just gotten my current camera, and I didn't really have the hang of taking low-light photos, so relatively few came out decently. The aquarium itself is very cool, even if I can only show you a few bits of it. I'm sure one or two other people out there have taken photos and put them on the interwebs, if you want to see more than what I've got here.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

A while back I went through and picked a few out that I thought were acceptable, and even got to the point of uploading them, but I never quite put a post together. I think I just forgot or something. So I thought I'd just go ahead and remedy that now...

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Seals, Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Aquarium