Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beach Day Interrupted

An old friend was in town and wanted to take a walk on the beach in my community. I explained that between Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and subsequent storms in 2006 and 2010, we weren't left with a lot of "walking" beach. We used to be able to walk from our community up through two or three community beaches, but the storms washed out the sand and, unless you wanted to swim, there was no way around the sea wall at the end of our beach.

I decided that we could get a good walk in at Flag Ponds Nature Park, a twenty minute drive away. Flag Ponds is a nature preserve in Calvert County that has a beautiful beach and several miles of hiking trails. There are freshwater ponds and you can walk down the beach to the famous Calvert Cliffs, the largest fossil-bearing deposit of Miocene marine sediments exposed on the East Coast of North America. The Miocene era fossils found there date anywhere from 10-20 million years old.

The walk from the parking lot to the beach is only a half mile and I imagine we got in another 3/4 mile walk on the beach. It was hot and humid and there was a wood burning smell in the air. In the hour or so we were there, it went from fairly clear to smoky. We finally decided to call it a day when my eyes started to burn. After returning home, I searched on the web for the source of the smoke and was surprised by the following:

"A strong burning smell from smoke wafting through portions of Maryland is from an unprecedented wildfire raging 200 miles away through the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia and North Carolina, authorities said Saturday."

If you live or visit the area, and it's not too smoky, check out Flag Ponds. For $4 fee per car, you can enjoy a full day on the beach - sunning, swimming, shelling and fishing, plus hiking and picnic area in a relatively uncrowded setting.
Flag Ponds Park - before the wind shifted! This view is from the beach looking back towards the park.

View of the cliffs and Nuclear Power Plant from the beach. The power plant is completely obscured by the smoke.

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