An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 3, 2011

The Seaside Road

On Tuesday of this week I headed over to Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore for the day.  Often I vary the trip a bit getting off the main road, Route 13, primarily because it shows the ugliest sides of a lovely place. However, it's also usually thick with tractor trailers, towed boats, farm vehicles and drivers of questionable ability or sobriety.  In the summer it gets worse as people from points north further crowd the road speeding through, minds dialed to vacation mode.  This diversity of vehicles and drivers, few medium strips, several railroad crossings and an unlimited number of intersections all combine to make 13 one of the state's deadliest roads.  It is regularly the scene of horrendous accidents, which never fail to touch members of this close-knit community. 

Though it takes a little longer, my preferred way to travel on the Shore is by the Seaside Road, which runs close to the ocean side of the peninsula.  Its lacks the commercial blight and traffic of Route 13.  Between the fields, forests and marshes are a few small towns clustered around harbors facing the barrier islands and the Atlantic beyond.  The first few photos were taken in the little town of Quinby, Va.

Quinby Harbor 4

Quinby Harbor Red Cedar

Quinby Harbor 6

Just outside of Quinby is one of my favorite spots on the Shore overlooking the Machipongo River.

Machipongo River

Machipongo River (4)

Machipongo River BW

The town of Oyster seems to be pulled in several directions.  There is decaying evidence from a once thriving seafood hub, an outpost of the Virginia Institutee of Marine Science, a high tech clam farm and second homes on stilts.


Oyster (2)

Oyster (4)

As I was heading home on Tuesday the sky suddenly shifted near Seaview as a bank of fog rolled over the land from the ocean. (Might this pass for Kansas?)

Near Seaview

The Seaside Road ends (or begins) at The Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, and by the time I got there the fog was seriously thick, and cold as well.  However, I knew it might behove the photographer to get out of the car.

Refuge 1

Refuge 2

Refuge 3
Refuge 7
Update: I have chosen the picture below as my entry into Gardening Gone Wild's, Picture This photo contest. February's theme is "genius loci" or sense of place, and this shot does a good job of portraying what the refuge is like.
Refuge 6

I am the child of a mixed marriage.  My father's family were Seasiders and my mother's were Baysiders.  So to maintain familial harmony, at some point I will have to show you some scenes from the other alternative to 13, the Bayside Road.


  1. Every one of those images is breathtaking. The story that goes along with them adds to the enjoyment.

  2. wow, unique and peaceful. Thank you.

  3. Wonderful images - I love how you were able to capture the transformations as the fog rolled in.

  4. Les- Those are AWESOME pics and the most accurate description of Route 13 I have ever read! So if I go over the CBBT how do I get on that road? That is a Sunday daytrip for me and my husband and our cameras sometime soon!

  5. Love the reflection of the boat on the water.

  6. Very cool shots, each in their own right. You need to see this month's GGW Photo contest theme, having seen these photos, I wonder if my taking time to enter is worth it.
    Truly gives a sense of your love for this landscape.

  7. wonderful, evocative photos...especially the last one!

  8. You really have an eye for choosing just the right subject and angle and time of day, etc. Your photos are so clear. I would hang any of them on my wall. What kind of camera do you use, do you use lenses, do you use a tripod? Would love to know any details you want to share. Amazing that there was no snow in any of your photos and it's really not that far from here.

  9. Ok, I'll say it ONE MORE TIME. . . go pro.

  10. James,
    Thank you very much!

    Thanks for commenting. I actually took an axe to much of the text. Saying less is not usually in my nature.

    Merci, de rien.

    You would not believe how much colder the fog was then areas that were not foggy. It was bizarre.

    Garden Goddess,
    Once you go over the CBBT, take your first right after the rest area. Immediately on your right is the refuge visitors center which has some nice trails, good views and some repurposed WWII bunkers. Just past the visitors center you have to turn left or right. Right takes to the boat ramp where some of these pics were taken, and left is the Seaside Road. It goes all the way to Accomac but you have to make a couple of turns, and a map may come in handy. Email me and I can tell you a few other places to stop.

    I am easily distracted by water reflections.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Thank you very much.

    I use a Nikon D5000 with the lens that came with it. Sometimes I use a tripod, but find it more of a hinderance, I should use it more often, particularly in the low light I find appealing. I tweak things in Photoshop, but only a tweak. While I was on the Shore there were still a few snowbanks in shady areas leftover from the Christmas storm, but everything else is clear, thank goodness.

    Tell me how. FYI, your godson got 5 A's and 3 B's on his report card today. We are so proud.


  11. Stunning photos Les~You are good! gail

  12. Fine series, Les,especially the fog shots and you're absolutely right about 13. Reminds me of crossing Virginia on old Rte. 58. I always take the back roads when I can because that's where the most interesting side of life can be found.

  13. So I thought to myself, "Nothing could be more beautiful than the pier photo, until I saw the photos taken in/of the fog.

  14. Exquisite Les!! Every photo a work of art! What a lovely walk. Great work. A joy to see. ;>)

  15. Thanks for the note. Those pictures were taken from the "wooden pier" at 15th Street.

  16. Les,
    Very nice compositions. The way you captured the lighting is beautiful.

  17. Not only have you captured the essence of the authentic Eastern Shore, I think you have given us a glimpse into your heart...

  18. Once again your photos are great. Restful indeed. Since I am such a water person myself, I do enjoy the photos you post. Keep doing it. Helps me make it through out much colder winter here. Jack

  19. Les, Don't you just put together a portfolio of your photos and try to get an exhibition somewhere. A restaurant, a church, the local gathering spot to start out. You really should go for it. you really have that special something. Carolyn

  20. I've revisited this set several times now - wishing I had taken these shots! I'm tired of being homebound, and the shore is beckoning. I think I recognize a few of the abandoned skiffs you photographed from the marsh near the new boat launch at the wildlife refuge. Beautiful work, as always.

  21. I always feel I'm on the shore with you when you do a pictorial, Les. Your images pull me into the scene, and I can almost smell the salty tang in the air.

  22. Dear Les, As always, I am in awe of your photography skills! Your 'less is more' writing works well too. The drive along the Seaside Road was a special treat for me today as I most definitely have cabin fever. P

  23. Les, this series is great, if I need to choose my personal top 5 of all your photos, all five of them are in this single post! They are simple breathtaking. Each photo represents another unique world. The scenery, the weather and the lights are perfectly combined. Superb job.

  24. Thank you for this tour. I crawled past too many of those horrors on Rt 13 to ever want to go back. Until now.

  25. You really have a photographic eye. You take images that stick in the mind and make the tidewater a place to visit. Well done indeed!

  26. Thanks for getting out of the car. Those images are especially wonderful ... and you never know when they will come again.

  27. Thanks for venturing into that cold fog - you capture the unique beauty of the Eastern Shore. You've inspired us to take a boat to Metompkin Inlet when the weather warms up a bit. After reading your post about the Pine Barrens, I want to see the old growth longleaf pines - I'm trying to grow LLP seedlings with mixed success.

    On clear nights, we see lights on the Bay side, 21 nautical miles east of our home on Stingray Point in Middlesex County. In winter, we often see a broken string of lights on the Bay Bridge Tunnel.

    Many thanks for the inspiring photos and stories. ~ Pam

  28. Gail,
    You are too!

    I agree with you entirely. When I go to Mt. Rogers I take 64/81 to get there fast, and 58 to savor the trip home.

    I am glad you enjoyed both.

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    I love being able to get over top of the water like that as well.

    I will thank the gods of the day for the light.

    Thank you very much. It's easier when you photograph what you love.

    Though I like to travel, I love being around familiar waters.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Thanks. A couple of years ago I was at the refuge for the first time and the boats were there then.

    Thanks for coming along!

    I am glad I could relieve your fever, even if just for a few moments.

    Thank you very much for your kind comments!

    It is worth whatever road you take to get to the Eastern Shore.

    Thank you very much!

    I have learned that if I think conditions would be could to shoot, they probably are. Now the camera goes with me everywhere.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am glad you have enjoyed my posts. Where you live is a special place as well, and I love to travel in that part of the state.


  29. I picked the winner last time, even though not seeing all the entries. I think you are the one this time. It will be hard to beat. There is so much feeling in the image and the lighting is perfect, not to mention composition. I am not a photographer, but I like good art and I think your image is art.

  30. What hauntingly beautiful shots. I love the bleakness that you have captured so well. Good luck in the competition.

  31. GWGT,
    I hope you are right, especially if there will be fabulous prizes!

    For all the bleak brown and gray, you would not believe how many shades of green in shows in summer.


  32. Brilliant entry to this month's GGW competition Les. Can you get any more moody? Good luck in the competition, it is one stunning image that fits the brief exactly.

  33. Les, your photos are always simply the best! I give you the "gold".

  34. Hi Les - I've enjoyed your photos - many times over. They transported me right from my northern west coast to your east coast! They're beautiful - every single one of them!


  35. Thanks for your positive comments on my entry in the GGW contest. Your own photography is remarkable time after time and I know that you recognize that the judging of such contests is highly subjective. My own sense is that you have a remarkable insight into what to take pictures of and how to do it. You have given me an enhanced appreciation for the tidewater landscapes...

  36. ESP,
    I can DO moody.

    Thanks for a medal.

    Thanks for stopping by and I am glad I could take you elsewhere.

    Thank you for the too kind comments, I really appreciate them. I honestly couldn't take these if I didn't love the subject so much.


  37. Tatanya and Chuck,
    Thank you both for stopping by to comment.