“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and winds long to play with your hair.” –Kahli Gibran
Total Miles Hiked
Fun Level (1-10)
While on our week-long vacation in the quaint little town of Cape Charles, VA we thought it would be a wonderful idea to get a little work-out in. We somehow managed to find time in between the hours of lounging on the beach and eating copious amounts of food while watching a Harry Potter marathon.
Cape Charles was a big railroad town back in the day but experienced an economic downturn after the end of the train era. Due to the chesapeake bay bridge/tunnel being built in 1964 goods could be transported by trucks instead. The bridge itself is a beautiful (and slightly scary) stretch of brilliantly engineered 17.6 miles over the bay. The only thing scarier than driving over water for such a lengthy time is the toll for the dang thing. It’s a staggering $15 dollar toll to drive one-way over the bridge. That’s just about a dollar for every mile! But I digress, it’s definitely something to experience.
The town itself has the distinct feeling of a place that is on the cusp of returning to full vitality or falling off the map. After some google research and talking to some locals over Brown Dog Ice Cream, everyone seems optimistic that the town is growing again and will return to it’s former glory in no time. Which i hope is true, the town immediately transports you back to a simpler time. You immediately notice the large victorian style homes, as well as the absence of Wal-Mart or Chick-fil-a. Since Jordan and I have been living in the Charlotte area for a while now, I felt as though we were practically off the grid!
I can’t forget to mention the absolutely fantastic public beach. Due to the fact that Cape Charles is on the bay side, the water is uncharacteristically warm and calm. It’s also nearly impossible to get into water that’s deeper than your waist. You can go far away from the shore and still feel completely safe. The only downside to this is that I bought two brand new boogie boards for this beach trip and it turns out there’s no waves to speak of. Jordan (who wasn’t sure why I needed boogie boards in the first place) was more than happy to remind me of how silly it was to buy boogie boards for water that’s only slightly more rough than a pool.
To get the optimum amount of exercise we planned on walking from our rental house to the nature preserve. Jordan and I would much rather walk than drive in most cases and even though it was 90 degrees we believe that our bodies can handle the heat better than my 2000 Toyota Corolla anyway. We set out right around 11 A.M. and headed towards Main St. where the streets are lined with cute-sy souvenir shops and restaurants, as well as the occasional dilapidated building.
Heading away from town we saw the giant railroad yard and industrial site. According to the sign we investigated during the height of the railroad era they would take passenger cars and park them by the shoreline overnight. They did this so the passengers could sleep to the sound of the water, which I thought sounded romantic and wonderful. I doubt Amtrak could be bothered today to manage that kind of customer service.
We ended up walking alongside the road for sometime before we made it to the Nature Preserve, we meandered past the marina which was filled with activity. It’s always impressive to see a boat move when it’s not in water. Eventually we made it to the Preserve and found a boardwalk that we believed was the beginning of the trail, as usual we were wrong and it was a separate short boardwalk with no obvious purpose we could find.
We did better on our second shot and found the beginning of the boardwalk trail, it wove through the trees for some time before ending abruptly at an overlook by the water. According to the sign, we weren’t allowed on the beach due to a certain kind of endangered beetle. It didn’t take long before we had exhausted all the available boardwalk trails at the preserve. It was an enjoyable walk, even if it was shorter. To be honest it was so hot and I had been so lazy all week I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go farther anyway.
The highlights for me were the overlooks by the water that gave us a scenic new view as well as the new experience of getting to go for a hike in a beachy, historic area. Although it was in the middle of summer we didn’t pass a soul the whole time we were on the path which I thought was somewhat surprising. Perhaps everyone else was smart enough to wait until it cooled down in the evening to go for a hike.