In Priscilla Cummings’book, Chadwick the Crab, Chadwick begins his story by asking his friend Bug-Eyed Benny a loaded question, “Is there something missing in your life?”
If Chadwick were asking me, 30 year old girl living a simple life in Worcester County, MD, I’d have to say no. A rewarding job, wonderful husband, fabulous friends and family.
In June of 2012 though, it came to my attention that I was lacking any long-term, non-career oriented goals. I realized this on a long road trip, returning from a camping trip in southern Virginia. As we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and passed Fisherman’s Island (the southern most point of the Delmarva Peninsula), my goal became obvious: kayak around the entire peninsula before you die. Simple, right?
I’m originally from “the Western Shore” as the locals in Talbot County refer to it. Amidst the rolling hills of northern Baltimore County, interest in the Chesapeake Bay was first sparked by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Mayo (no it was not short for mayonnaise) when she read us Cummings’ Chadwick the Crab. Although I was fascinated when learning anything about marine science, I brushed the passion aside until college; marine science was nerdy, right?
With a Biology degree in one hand, and a kayak paddle in the other, I started my career at Delaware Seashore State Park as a park naturalist. I spent the next 4 years playing in the marshes of Delaware’s Inland Bays, teaching kids about horseshoe crabs, instructing adults on how to cast a surf rod, and experiencing a bit of local maritime history through the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum.
Next career move shifted me to Tilghman Island, MD. Everyday I took a boat to an environmental restoration site known as Poplar Island. I was a bit bummed that having that “real job” prevented me from taking off with a backpack to a foreign country whenever I wished – that was a perquisite of working seasonally for state parks. However, as I got to know that “waterman’s town”, I realized there was just as much culture to experience here in Maryland as there was somewhere out in Patagonia or Indochina.
For two and a half years I spent most of my weekends visiting my wonderful boyfriend – now husband (his name is Brian by the way… his name might show up occasionally). Although Brian lived 95 miles away at the time, it was the perfect weekend escape – to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We spent most of our weekends fishing from the beach or paddling various waterways within Accomack County. His awesome job even allowed us (and still allows us) to explore some of the undeveloped barrier islands such as Metompkin, Cedar, and Parramore Islands. If we got sick of the Atlantic side, we would just switch it up and explore the Chesapeake side. I’m always amazed beyond words at how rural this area is. There are times when we’re headed up a creek (pun not intended!) and it’s like we’ve rewound several hundred years. Not a house, not a car, not even a power line in sight. And no plane or boat to be heard.
The newest chapter in my life brings me back to the coast. I am now site manager of the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum at Delaware Seashore State Park and Brian and I live in Ocean Pines, MD. Although I thoroughly enjoyed living on the other side of the peninsula, I feel like I am home now!
So, I’ve spent plenty of time exploring some of the shorelines in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, why not check out the whole thing?
Kayak around the entire peninsula before I die. Yeah, I can do that. Watch me.