Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Foggy Tybee...

This past Thursday was a day like many others I have had. I worked the opening shift at the “mine”, and got home in the early afternoon hours. A good full night’s sleep had eluded me yet again for the previous night (insomnia and I are old adversaries), so for the most part lethargy seemed to be winning out in planning the rest of my day. In other words, no plan was to be hatched as I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

Then I had a thought. More like a demand. A necessary component of my mental health routine had been slid to the back burner for a time. Not a good decision on my part, but life has a way of eating up time one usually sets aside for therapy of the ‘self’. There are two primary components to my mental health regimen: 1) nature; 2) photography. Both are very important to me. I had been showing them both some neglect, and my subconscious was there giving me a wake-up call. It was saying, “Get up, get dressed, grab your camera, and get to the beach. Now!” I couldn’t refuse. I knew I needed it.

The beach. Tybee Island’s north beach. A haunt of mine I hadn’t haunted in weeks. There are a couple of places in Savannah that I visit regularly for therapeutic photography time. The aforementioned beach is one, another is the Laurel Grove Cemetery. The majority of my trips to the sandy shores of Tybee Island have been blessed with little to no crowd(s). Just the smell of the salty Atlantic in the form of misty spray from the waves roaring up to the beach. The occasional cargo vessel can usually be seen gliding along the water’s surface in the far distance, while the white and grey feathered forms of seagulls wheel and flutter in the winds swirling overhead. Sea grasses and wooden sand barrier fencing cover the field of dunes that sit between the parking lot and the beach itself, the Tybee Lighthouse towering from its place across the road. Yes, I know the north beach very well. For as much as I know it, I always seem to experience something new. Something special. 
I got dressed, grabbed my camera, hopped in my Audi, and headed out. I live on Wilmington Island, which has the only outlet to get out onto Tybee. The crossing from here to there is via what I call the “land bridge”. When I neared the edge of the island (Tybee is pretty small in the grand scheme), I noticed most of the cars heading back to the main land had their headlamps on. The farther I traveled, I noticed wisps of what initially appeared to be smoke drifting across the road. I had my windows down to enjoy the ocean air, and didn’t smell fire. The wisps grew thicker the farther onto the island I drove, and it quickly became clear that a thick fog was moving in. Living on the coast, I’m used to the fog we get. Tybee is maybe ten miles at the most from home. This would be the first time I would experience thick fog on the island.

The closer I got to the beach…my beach…the thicker the fog became. I passed a number of cars driving slowly through the soup (the speed limit on a sunny day is 15 mph)…it appeared that I wasn’t the only one intrigued by the socked in weather. At first I was worried that the beach would be much busier than I would prefer. Pulling into the large hazy lot I was pleased to find only about a half dozen cars, and half of those were parked by the small bar that butts up against the remains of Fort Screven (an old fort that skirts the edge of the parking lot opposite the beach). By this time I was really jazzed. The thick fog, the cawing of the seagulls, and the rushing of waves on the other side of the dunes, promised something special. I was not to be disappointed.

I parked near the mouth of one of the bridges/walkways that lead visitors over the dune field. Usually when I would reach the top of the grade, I could see the expanse of water stretching away on the other side. Not this time. Looking out, the veil of fog obscured everything. No far horizon line. No cargo ships. Just some nearby waves breaking against the beach from what looked like nowhere. It was both mysterious and peaceful. 

The walkway over the dunes leads to the path on the right...not sure what it would be called. A 'beach runner'? *grin* From this vantage point, it looked like a jumping off point rather than a walkway to the ocean.

Would have loved to be able to explore the dunes, but beach fencing and signs warning of a fine prevented it. On a clear day you can see the coastline, and the condominiums lining it.

The tide was out, so there was a wide band of very wet beach. About a dozen or so seagulls were wandering around, probing into it with their beaks looking for food. Some took flight and disappeared into the fog. The misty air hung there like a gauzy curtain. The bird would vanish into it, and then pop back out. There was nothing gradual about the disappearance and reappearance. It was fascinating to watch.

The weathered beach swing I usually sit on when I visit. It's so grounding to just sit and listen. No traffic noises or sirens. Just the surging water; cawing birds; laughter of children playing nearby. It was chilly there by the water. I was wearing a t-shirt, but no jacket. The fog created a moist film on my skin. Some people might have been cold, but I found it exhilarating.

The sun was heading down towards the horizon for the impending sunset. This shot is back towards the center of the island and the lighthouse which can't be seen through the fog. It's quite close, so that's testimony to just how thick the fog was.

Some of the other visitors. I only saw distant dark forms like shadow people haunting the beach. The murmuring of conversation was carried dully on the breeze, but it was incoherent babble.

The breakwater is one of my favorite things to photograph at the north beach. I always get some great shots of form and shadow.

The rocks were covered in barnacles and some other type of larger shelled creature. There was also this lovely bright green algae on the tops of the rocks.

A dormant lifeguard stand waiting to be brought back to life in warmer weather.

This was the closest I got to another person during my visit. I noticed him sweeping the surface of the sand with a metal detector...looking for buried treasure, I suppose.

"Run for the shadows, run for the shadows,
Run for the shadows in these golden years..."

The jukebox in the parking lot bar sent the strains of Bowie's classic out into the haze. The patio area was empty, but the vehicles served as evidence of patrons inside.

The Tybee lighthouse and museum.

A shot of one of the bunkers of Fort Screvens remains. It seemed extremely appropriate that a black cat slunk past, pausing long enough for me to get this photo. Of all the shots I got, this is the only one that actually shows the puffs of fog. Haunting image.

I spent about an hour at the beach, and then it was back home across the 'land bridge'. The setting sun colored the horizon line a deep orange, a color that was not visible from foggy Tybee.

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