Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sandbridge, VA

The place we are staying at is a suburb (of sorts) of Virginia Beach. Sandbridge is surprisingly free of commercialization for an east coast beach town. There is a restaurant, and a condominium complex at each end, sandwiching about four miles of vacation homes. Actually, the complex at the end of the road is under construction. It is painted in gaudy pastels, and doesn’t seem to fit the relatively modest architecture that distinguishes the rest of the place. It does make me wonder what kind of development awaits this sleepy little resort. Will it one day join the majority of other ocean front communities, building a succession of overpriced high rises and slowly segregating itself from anyone but the wealthiest?

After the behemoth-in-waiting at the farthest end is the Back Bay National Wildlife Preserve. It’s got dunes that are covered by scrub vegetation, and looks like what one might imagine the entire coast must have looked like in the 1700’s. This area is at least nine miles long, the vast majority of which is inaccessible to anything but bikers and hikers. There are purported to be black bears and wild horses… weasels and all kinds of avian exotica. I didn’t get to see any of this stuff though. I did get some nice photos of dragonflies and spiders…and walked off a bunch of calories in jeans and boots. The federal government earnestly implores you to protect yourself from chiggers, ticks and mosquitoes. It even suggests the unlucky traveler may stumble upon a copperhead if he/she is not alert.

I had the opportunity to visit Virginia Beach at night. That’s for another time.


Anonymous jefg said...

During my four visits to Sandbridge (one each of the last four years), my take has been the same (sans the Wildlife Refuge, which I've seen but haven't entered). In 2002 the first condominium was just under construction, and I thought at that time it would ruin the spirit of the island. I don't believe it has...it seems very quiet and unobtrusive, at least in early June. I know singles are being bought for the land (and not cheaply at that), and larger elaborate houses replacing them, but that seems OK and a way of life. However, the condo under construction at the far end really is another matter. It's quite ugly, and absolutely does not fit into the character of low single homes that populate Sandbridge. Apparantly there is more than one kind of snake on the island.
PS...there are two restaurants on the island, and the one down by the refuge gets my recommendation.
Good luck with your photos.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I can't claim to have visited the majority of the east coast beach communities, but from what I have seen middle class earners are being completely priced out of the beach house market everywhere. Also, these gentrified beaches sometimes go to great lengths to discourage day visitors. You have to drive for a half hour just to find a place to pay exorbitant parking rates. Once you get to the beach, you have to buy a tag just to remain there on the sand. I understand wanting to keep your community uncongested and "unspoiled", but then the condomium phenomenon seems to counteract those efforts.

11:03 AM  

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