Friday, September 20, 2013

Ramblings & Photography: A Long Beach Walk

The equivalent of a 79 block walk on the beach, from Rockaway Park right down to 37th street, started off as a day taking photos and catching up with a friend who had never been to the Rockaways before, and turned into a day full of adventures. It’s amazing what the imagination can do… Shipwrecks! Secret treasure troves hidden under the sand! Volcanoes! The remains of witchcraft rituals in the sand!

It all started right between 116th and 90th streets, in the sand, while contemplating the vast variety of odd jellyfish that had washed up onto the shore, what appeared to be a tugboat seemed to be heading directly for the shore, the closer it got, the more worried I was that it was going to be beached in the sand, unable to move again. That is, until it dawned on me that the boat wanted to be shipwrecked on the shore! It had been stuck on a remote island for years and was so excited to see civilization that it was heading directly towards us, and the Caterpillar diggers working on the beach to fix the pipelines damaged by the previous hurricane. Land at last! However, I don’t think that the version of civilization that the captain was approaching enchanted him that much, because he turned around after a while and disappeared back to where he came from… 

A little bit further along I nearly tripped over a piece of rusty metal wiring that was slightly sticking out of the ground. The low tide had revealed the hiding place of what could be an ancient treasure trove, locked way down under the sand, the evidence that it was there soon to be erased by the incoming tide. I wonder if this is what the captain of the tugboat had come back for, and realizing that there were too many people to witness his arrival, turned back, to come back at a later date, maybe during the winter months when the beach is deserted apart from the random person playing with their metal detector? He could anchor the boat of shore and swim inland with divers, dig out the treasure and take it back to the deserted island without anyone seeing him!

After nearly being decapitated by fishing lines pulled taut along the sand we bumped into a shaman, seemingly dropped from the sky right in front of us. A parrot on his green hair, followed by a green and pink poodle, walking towards the water, smiling at us, waiting for us to talk to him. I imagine him walking on the water, connecting with nature and the sparkling sunlight on the waves, collecting more pets and followers along the way. I wish I had managed to capture his essence on camera but I was a little nervous about his reaction. What if he decided to send his parrot to take my eyes out? He didn’t seem completely benevolent to be honest.

Walking on, we managed to avoid any more appearances for a while, until we came across what seemed to be an abandoned film set on part of the boardwalk that was still intact (all along the way parts of the boardwalk have disappeared and have not been fixed yet). We rushed over to it and found that it had actually not been abandoned, but was guarded by strange individuals who let us take photos but wouldn’t let us touch anything. We were taken back to the Prohibition era that Boardwalk Empire is set in, surrounded by billboards for Atlantic City, and an inhabited house in the sand that obviously used to be grass and road until the storm surge brought the sand inland… After removing ourselves from the 1920’s we pushed through heavy dunes of drift sand and found evidence of witchcraft rituals held in the sand at some point not so long ago. There is nothing better than a remote beach surrounded by dunes for a nighttime ritual, is there?
And then for the last discovery, before making our way back to the reality of the A train: volcanic rock hidden in the sand! The glitter of the rock in the sun, half covered by the sand, lead to a larger piece of rock, maybe the last remainder of what used to be a volcano, thousands and thousands of years ago, before the world was what we see it as today. A little reminder of what and where we come from…

All in all, the walk is really worth it, especially on a beautiful day in September, just before it really gets cold. There is so much to discover and see along the shoreline, and so much to imagine…
For the full set of photos taken please see below or HERE 

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Rockaways Sept 2013, a set on Flickr.

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