Monday, October 8, 2007

The Long Row: 2007 (Part 2)

Section 2 is a long open stretch down to “the mansion,” the point at which the end is figuratively in sight. Psychologically, this is the most difficult phase of the trip. It’s not boring; there are many points of interest along the way. Mentally, I break the trip into sections of shoreline broken by inlets and characterized by undeveloped shoreline and sections lined with houses, docks, and boats.

After leaving the I-20 bridge, the route takes me along an undeveloped stretch of shoreline with several small inlets. Then I round a point to arrive at Park's Ferry Park which has several picnic areas, a campground, a beach (2), and a boat ramp. Normally there’s a lot of activity at this park. Last Friday, however, the park was empty. The only inhabitants in view were a flock of Canada geese, most of which were sleeping in the sun.

The shoreline of the next section is level ground lined with lakefront cottages. Most of these are older and nestled among trees that provide lots of shade in the summer. Occasionally, houses of modern design have been built among the older houses. Lawns are meticulously manicured and frequent plantings of cannas or elephant ears (Colocasia sp.) flourish at the waters edge. In addition to the varied architectural designs of the houses, there are a fascinating variety of boat dock styles with colored canopies as well as boats – power boats, pontoon boats, and numerous jet skis. Some docks are intended only to provide protection for boats. Others have a spacious deck with chairs, umbrellas, planters, and the occasional grill.

Following the next inlet, the shoreline rises to a bluff that has only been developed in the last five years or so. It’s not possible to see more than a glimpse the houses from the water. The main points of interest along this shore, in addition to the docks, are the stairs or driveways from the bluff down to the water. Some houses have a zigzag path down to the dock; others have stairways that go straight up the cliff with either uninterrupted stair treads or with periodic landings that break up the monotony of the climb or descent.

The next section of shoreline rises from the water up a hill to houses on a ridge (3). These are older cottages with docks. With one exception, the lawns are meticulously mown. The owner of the standout has maintained the area between the house and the water in its wild state of grasses and wildflowers. Only a wide winding path has been mown down to the water. I always wonder what the neighbours think of this wild front yard. Many probably regard it as an “eye-sore” and weed ridden but it’s somewhat refreshing to see some of the shoreline in its native state. I look forward to seeing this property. I’m sure I’ll be very disappointed someday to find that it’s joined its neighbours as a manicured lawn.

Another inlet. Then a short section of undeveloped shoreline with pinewoods right to the waters edge. Another inlet. Another short section of undeveloped woods up to the edge of the Reynolds Landing (formerly Port Armor) Golf Course (4). I always hope golfers are out on the green that runs along the waterfront. This hole is challenging. The fairway runs from south to north; the hole is next to the woods and there is a small inlet between the fairway and the hole. Not much room for error. Hook the shot to the left and your ball will be in the water. If the shot is short, the ball will end up in the inlet. Not a fun hole. However, I’ve seen many golfers playing this hole and not seen any balls end up in the water.

Past another small inlet and on to the final section down to “the mansion.” The mansion (5) is an enormous house that appears to be made of sandstone. It has verandahs and a wide staircase that descends as a single staircase and then splits into two to descend to the lawn level. There’s a pool, a pool house, and a dock. It sits on a point at the inlet . This marks the psychological end of the second section. On to section 3…

Photographs: Walter W. Knapp
Maps: Google maps

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