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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Water - Part 1 – Cape May Vacation

For August I'll write about water related topics, Cape May, Mer people, Pirates and a book review of a great middle grade series.

This week was a vacation. I went to Cape May, where I grew up. Its a fun place to live, if you avoid the over crowded roads that lead to the main beaches, the roads that are mostly empty in winter and in summer, bumper to bumper most days, especially weekends.

The locals sometimes know back ways to skirt around the tourists (shoebies the locals call them, because during the depression they would come down on the train to spend their day at the beach and bring their lunches in shoe boxes.)

The best parts of Cape May in my opinion are the free parts: the natural beaches and bays, the unnatural jetties that let you feel like you are on a ship at sea if you manage to find one empty at high tide, and the salt marshes that smell like rotten eggs at low tide as the wondrous bacteria clean up the waters for us. [A quote from the book I'll be reviewing later – the nose is very forgiving. It soon realizes it's lost and gives up the fight.]

In coastal environments most efforts to preserve the land for tourists and their crucial income to the locals are thwarted by Mother Nature.

Coastal regions along most of Eastern US are supposes to have dunes, salt marshes and barrier islands that flow and ebb with the tides, storms and seasons. They are not supposed to have buildings, roads, bridges and jetties.

But the coastal environment is a drastic shift from inland environments and it has that beautiful, alluring ocean. So many people want to visit
which requires access, facilities and maintenance. The people who provide these amenities would strongly prefer to not have shifting dunes and barrier islands as that interferes with their permanent structures, bath houses, bridges, restaurants, hotels, etc. They also would prefer to not have stinky salt marshes either, but try to fill them in and build on them often means that your buildings fall into the sea.

Tides and storms will not be tamed. That's part of the magical allure of the ocean anyway, isn't it? The mighty untameable sea that we get to watch and play with.

When people build jetties to try to keep the barrier islands from shifting out from under their permanent structures, they are attempting to stop a natural process. They get only mixes success. The shifting sands build up on the one side of the jetties and drop away drastically on the other side. The local authorities have to pay to have the sands shifted back by machines on a regular basis.

It's all like a giant sand castle. You keep fighting the incoming tide to keep in from washing away all your work. But the water keeps rising and the mighty ocean always wins in the end.

You go home thinking, even though you lost to the in rushing waves washing over the walls of your castle, wasn't it a glorious battle and wasn't the sunset spectacular!

What are some places that you have gone on vacation that have left you thoughtful and rejuvenated?

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