Archive for the ‘Kayaking’ Category

Contemporary Home On Eastern Shore Virginia Waterfront Point

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

100_1363_0001Boaters, set your course for this impressive 3 bedroom, 3 and a half bath custom built contemporary home nestled into a 1.25 acre+/-partially wooded waterfront point near Cape Charles, VA  listed by Blue Heron Realty Co.  Priced at $799,000 and located in Franktown, VA, on the scenic Eastern Shore of Virginia, this single story home is on a quiet cul-de-sac in a tiny upscale waterfront hamlet. Sitting atop high banks, it offers gorgeous views of the clear blue waters of its colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. The handsome dock with good boating water would provide the perfect home for your boat, with fast easy access out to the Bay for fishing or just a relaxed cruise.  Love kayaking ?   The pristine, calm inlet with its many prongs makes exploring by canoe or kayak a real pleasure.

 

 

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Exceptional construction, dramatic window package and an open floor plan with lots of natural light offer coastal living at its best. This unique home is truly a work of art starting with a bronze fountain featuring elegant blue herons which greets visitors at the front door created by famed Eastern Shore artist, William Turner. Lovely mosaic tiles by local artists throughout, including, in the foyer, an amazing marble mosaic reproduction of Vincent Van Gough’s “Starry Nights” by internationally known Eastern Shore tile company, New Ravenna.

 


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Interior details include elegant teak floors, custom cherry cabinets, granite kitchen and bathroom counters, amazing floor-to-ceiling custom windows, skylights, barrel ceiling and luxurious bathrooms. Everything from the custom details and the dramatic window package to the mature landscaping, trellises, many decks, hot tub and lovely in-ground swimming pool work carefully together to create a special synergy with the home itself, producing a truly inspiring waterfront haven. Only about 20 minutes to Palmer and Nicklaus signature golf and the sparkling sand beach in Cape Charles. This unique home definitely must be seen to truly appreciate. http://www.BlueHeronVa.com/boating_properties/

 

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A New Cape Charles Vacation Rental Home, Introducing “Beach Villa”

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Sand beach at "Beach Villa", a Cape Charles VA vacation rental home

Relax on the soft sand beach at “Beach Villa” on Eastern Shore Virginia

We get a lot of calls  here at Blue Heron Realty Co. for a vacation rental home with lots of seclusion but with lots of amenities too and that’s usually  a hard order to fill.  However, we  have just acquired  “Beach Villa”  as a Cape Charles VA area vacation rental.  This exquisite villa style home,  sleeping 10, offers  water views galore plus old world charm and the use of its  37 acres with beautiful Virginia Eastern Shore  Chesapeake Bay waterfront.  Best of all,   Beach Villa offers a gorgeous  sand beach, private to the owners and their rental guests, offering wide soft, soft  sands, glittering in the golden sun, perfect for relaxing under a beach umbrella, book in hand, some sweet Southern-style  ice cold tea in the cooler.  And as you wade from the beach into the Bay, the salty Chesapeake  waters start out quite shallow but  gradually reach swimming depth so bring your mask and snorkel to check everything out.   Surrounded on two sides by a pristine little freshwater lake,  imagine waking up  in the serene environment of this home  to the calls of  seabirds overhead  and  waterfowl out on the lake.  Love jogging ? Imagine the pleasure of making lazy circuits around 37 acres surrounded by such natural beauty.  Surely this is a  vacation opportunity extraordinaire.

Aerial view of "Beach Villa", a beachfront home near Cape Charles VA

“Beach Villa” offers old world charm on 37 acres near Cape Charles VA

With 3 bedrooms and 3 and a half baths plus a day bed in the sunroom, there is plenty of room to catch up on some sleep  in this nearly 4000 sq. ft. home. Large great room with living and dining room groupings plus a   gourmet kitchen make conversation with your group a breeze. The gas log fireplace in the living area is perfect for cool fall evenings.  Sliding glass doors lead from the great room to the spacious fieldstone patio overlooking  beautiful flower beds, the lake and the Bay, the perfect spot for a steaming cup of morning coffee.   Paneled den and enclosed sunroom provide additional space for just relaxing, letting the mind and body unwind in this gorgeous setting.  First floor master suite, so convenient, with a master bath which includes jacuzzi tub with marble surround.   Everything about this home is top of the line, you will not be disappointed by selecting this home for your vacation.

Witcher living room CG              Witcher master CG               Witcher kitchen

Aqua Restaurant at Cape Charles offers fine and casual dining on the Chesapeake Bay

Be Sure To Try The Delicious Seafood At Aqua Restaurant During Your Stay

Nearby amenities include Kiptopeake State Park, Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge and the Rails to Trails jogging/biking trail. The historic little Victorian town of Cape Charles is less than 10 minutes away and offers restaurants, shops, art galleries, marinas,boat ramps, train rides,  special events, holiday parades, etc.,  as well as Palmer and Nicklaus Signature 18 hole golf courses.   The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a terrific spot for a relaxing, low-key vacation, for what we like to call ” Simply Relaxing The Shore Way“.  From A for Artist Galleries to Z for Zesty clam dip,  there is nearly an endless list of things to do and see here on the Eastern Shore.   Savour sunset strolls on the beach,  kayak to our unique off-shore Barrier Islands, charter a deep sea fishing trip, treasure hunt in our antique shops,  attend a live performance at the Palace Theatre, ride horseback along waterfront trails, explore our little coastal towns, visit a local winery,  get wet clamming, enjoy a superb seafood meal at Aqua Restaurant,  see the artifacts of yesteryear at the Barrier Island Museum.  ( By the way, the Tall Ships Cape Charles Festival will be held this year the weekend of June 14-16,  an exciting event for adults and kids alike. Three tall sailing ships will be in port offering open deck tours and day sails, the Navy’s USS  Tornado will also offer tours, individual owners will be there with their sailboats, skipjacks and antique “buy boats”, the harbor will be bursting with great stuff.  Plus loads of other activities  are part of this Festival, it’s a really fun-filled event. )  But whatever you do, memories of your Simply Relaxing  Eastern Shore Vacation  will stay with you forever.  To reserve your week at Beach Villa, email us at easternshorevacations@blueheronva.com or call 757-678-5277.           (Posted  by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Time To Start Planning Your Eastern Shore Summer Vacation

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Charming Historic Cape Charles

We just finished adding a new house, “Seahorse Retreat”  to our vacation rental roster (see them all at www.blueheronva.com/vacation_rentals/ )  when it occurred to me that planning an Eastern Shore Virginia summer vacation in the near aftermath of a record breaking blizzard on the East Coast is reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood books. Anyone who has read  “The Little House On The Prairie”  series by Laura Ingalls Wilder will likely remember the winter delights described of pouring over seed catalogues, winds howling outside, fire crackling inside, planning the spring garden, imagining the delights of fresh cantaloupe, tomatoes, sweet corn. It was a necessary task but it was also pure, unvarnished pleasure, mentally transporting them to a future time of warm weather, outdoor breezes and chunks of crisp, cool watermelon. Meanwhile, the reality was that Pa would soon have to wade out into the driving snow, through Lord knows how many heavy drifts, to get to the barn to milk the cows, holding on to the rope stretched between the house and the barn so as to not get disoriented, lost and frozen to death within 40 feet of the front door. I loved those books about settling the West,  practically wore them out with re-reading, especially “Farmer Boy”, what a wonderful world it seemed to be.  And I longed to be able to have a big piece of apple pie for breakfast, just like Almanzo almost always did, redolent with sweet spices and covered in heavy cream. But, different time, different place, and in general, pie was not allowed on my childhood breakfast table. ( Happily, now that I am nearly 100, I can have pie for breakfast if I want to. So let it be known that from time to time, for breakfast both Hubby and I do indulge in a thick slice of Kate’s Kupboard’s delicious apple pie, fresh from her warm and cozy Belle Haven, VA bakery, topped with an ample wedge of sharp cheddar, gently heated in the toaster oven, accompanied by a fresh cup of steaming hot vanilla hazelnut coffee. And I won’t even disclose how old I was before it finally dawned on me that I didn’t have to continue to eat the crusts on my bread if I didn’t want to, such is the force of habit of childhood instruction. )

But, mea culpa, I digress. My original point being that the actual planning of one’s vacation is a necessary task, but one that brings a lot of pleasure. Deciding where to go is certainly the first step and deciding what house to pick is great fun. I want to give a shout out to the Eastern Shore of Virginia as a great vacation place and to Blue Heron Realty Co’s vacation rental homes as the cream of the crop ( Review  them at www.blueheronva.com/vacation_rentals/ )  depending, of course, on the desired atmosphere.  If one is looking for bright lights, loud music, thousands of people on the beach,salt water taffy and souvenir shops every step of the way, Virginia’s Eastern Shore is not the place.

Visit our scenic beaches

On the other hand, if what you’re longing for is a place for total relaxation in a low-key coastal area, with plenty to do if you want to but if you feel like just hanging around the front porch, book in hand, iPad at the ready, then you can count on the Eastern Shore as a terrific place. I can guarantee no bumper to bumper traffic, horns blaring, no overcrowded sidewalks, no blankets 2 feet in every direction from yours on the beach.

Our Pristine Barrier Islands

Just a beautiful, relaxing area, little historic towns to explore, sparkling low density beaches to enjoy, cool blue waters to swim, plenty of boat ramps and fishing piers to try out, miles and miles of coastline to kayak, our off-shore pristine Barrier Islands to explore, the freshest of succulent seafood to savor, Palmer and Nicklaus golf to keep you swinging, horseback riding through country trails to indulge your inner cowboy, an easy pad to launch a Williamsburg/Busch Gardens day trip from if the mood strikes, cute shops, terrific restaurants for fine or casual dining and friendly people. From A for “Antiquing”  to Z for “Zesty clam dip”, you can have a memorable vacation on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  it’s Simply Relaxing The Shore Way.

Seahorse Retreat

And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to 2 of  the Blue Heron Realty Co.  new vacation rental homes–– “Seahorse Retreat” and “Sun and Sand“. “Seahorse Retreat” is a charming, cozy nest for two, beautifully decorated in a — you guessed it, a seahorse motif.

Sun & Sand

A second floor walk-up unit located right in the heart of the Cape Charles historic district, it offers 1 bedroom with comfy king-sized bed, a well outfitted full kitchen, separate dining room and a living room which opens onto a veranda with views of the Cape Charles harbor. And it’s only about a block to the beach and boardwalk. “Sun and Sand” is a 4 bedroom, 4 full bath West Indies style home of nearly 3000 sq.ft. , with some views of the Chesapeake Bay. Comfortable coastal style furniture, a king sized bed in the master suite, queen sized in the others. Within easy walking distance to a sparkling soft sand beach, it also offers access to a large swimming pool/tennis courts complex and is within 5 minutes one of the Shore’s finest waterfront restaurants. More information on reserving these and other prime vacation rental homes is available on the Blue Heron Realty Co. website, www.blueheronva.com, select Vacation Rentals on the Listings pull-down menu or side navigation bar.    ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

Lovely Single Story Eastern Shore Waterfront Home With Contemporary Flair For Sale

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

On the Eastern Shore,  lovely Virginia  waterfront homes  near the Chesapeake Bay are not unusual but many of those  homes are of a traditional style and the majority of them are two story,  albeit many with total living on the first floor.  But for the  growing number of  folks looking for a waterfront home in Virginia who are absolutely set on  acquiring a single story  home, this new listing could be just perfect.  One of the features important to many of our clients when looking for a  waterfront home is being able to open the front door and say “wow”  as they look  from the foyer,  across the living area and are immediately treated to a glorious view of  the water– this home gets a  ten- out- of- ten on that score  !

A few years ago,  this lovely 3 bedroom,  3  bath home was renovated  with three goals in mind–    1) opening up the floor plan to have larger, light-filled rooms and   2) creating  water and nature views from every possible angle and  3) adding an additional, more spacious master bedroom suite.   Definite success on every goal !  Walls of windows frame scenes of the sparkling blue waters,  several new sets of sliding glass doors facilitate an easy flow between the indoors and the outdoors and the spacious new master suite also offers more privacy as it is located on the opposite side of the home from the guest bedrooms.   During renovation, the  kitchen, highlighted by custom cabinets and granite countertops,  and dining room were opened up and combined into the living room.  The resulting great room is simply spectacular !   A large skylight  centered  in the main living area was added,  offering defused natural light which spreads  throughout the  entire great room.  The fireplace adds additional cheer. Hardwood in the great room transitions seamlessly to custom terracotta tile in the sunroom.

Outside, lots of great nooks for entertaining a group or just a best friend.  Located on a gentle knoll overlooking a colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay, one of my fav outdoor spots on this property is a little landing on the path down to the dock and boathouse.  It’s a tiny landing, just big enough for two Adirondack chairs. But it’s so close to the water and offers such a tranquil feeling that you want to just sit and relax in those chairs forever !  In addition to this little landing,  there is also a attractive flagstone patio and full-house length deck with a cozy separate little portion of deck which wraps around to the new master suite.  So—  lots of places to enjoy the outdoors which is great because our very mild climate allows for lots of outdoor activities during most of the year.  Lots of mature landscaping and bird-friendly shrubs attract a variety of  songbirds year-round and of course blue heron and other wading birds stroll the shoreline,  keeping a sharp eye out for a quick fishy snack. For boaters,  a dock with  large boat lift.  The boathouse, which is a rarity here, offers plenty of kayak storage for that tremendously popular sport, both  facilitate easy access to the Chesapeake Bay which is literally just around the corner. And for those who love fishing, a  real fishing hot spot dubbed  “The Cell”  is quite close by.  For gardeners, a large garden area with lots of colorful plantings, a veggie bed,  birdhouses galore and a cute potting shed is enclosed by a white picket fence, a real oasis of  natural serenity.  

For anyone looking for a gorgeous waterfront home featuring an open floorplan, top of the line materials and great indoor-outdoor entertaining potential, this home could suit to a T.  Check it out on in the “Boating Properties” section of the Blue Heron Realty Co. website at  http://www.blueheronva.com/property.php?print=propid=1253       ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

On Resolute Wings- Celebrating Birds And Birding At The 19th Annual Birding Festival on The Eastern Shore of Virginia

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Eastern Shore Migration Paths

The importance of the Eastern Shore of Virginia as a feeding and rest area for migrating songbirds and raptors as they travel south down the Atlantic Flyway cannot be over estimated.  Because birds need to catch their breath,  rest up and chow down,   before flying over large spans of open water the beautiful southern tip of  the Virginia Eastern Shore  serves as  a Howard Johnson’s  for birds– pleasant motel plus 24 hour full service restaurant.  ( I know I’m dating myself here but as a child I loved  their fried clam strips and  awesome Indian pudding, not that anyone knows about Indian pudding anymore, and of course Howard Johnson’s has been gone for a thousand years. )  As the birds funnel down the ever-narrowing peninsula  by the thousands each fall,  flying south for the winter, flock after flock between September and November,  the habitate and food resources available in our southern tip, from Cape Charles south to the Bridge-Tunnel become critical to these birds,  life or death even.  And fortunately for these beautiful feathered creatures,  Kiptopeake State Park,  with its unique coastal habitate and ample food supply,  is ready and waiting for them.  And for over 30 years, long before it became a state park,  an important bird banding program has been on-going at Kiptopeake with over a quarter of a million birds banded in that time.

Examining And Measuring Songbirds Being Banded At Kiptopeake State Park

The bird banding program is so interesting, kids and adults alike are  just fascinated by the process.  Nets constructed of a nearly invisible mesh are placed at strategic points throught out the  Park’s wooded areas and then checked by volunteers every half hour or so.   Usually several birds have been caught in the net and these are carefully disentangled by the volunteers and the birds brought into the banding station for a careful examination.  The volunteers have data charts on which they measure and note such items are age, sex, fat, body molts, wing molts, skull size, etc., etc. for each bird that is banded.

Eastern Shore Butterfly Migration

And from the banding program and the interest of many groups including US Fish and Wildlife and the Virginia Department of Conservation and many individuals the concept of a Birding Festival was born and has been gaining strength ever since,  adding additional activities each year for Birding Festival attendees to enjoy.  In addition to all day demonstrations of Bird Banding and various Hawk Observatory programs at Kiptopeake Park,  this year some of the many other activites included  Butterfly Walks at both the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge and Kiptopeake Park, with the expectation of possibly seeing up to 60 + species of butterflies and skippers as they migrate  through,  several Owl Prowls during the evening hours at both the Refuge and the Park,  a Barrier Island Walk  at Fisherman’s Island, home to many waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds,  A hike through the Savage Neck Dunes Preserve  which has a mile of  Chesapeake Bay shoreline as well as the highest dune on the Eastern Shore and a hike at Wise Point, a pine forest located at the very, very tip of the Shore.

The Popular “Touch and Feel” Tank From The Virginia Marine Science Museum

Water related activities included eco-tours by Broadwater Bay Ecotours leaving from both Willis Wharf and Watchapreague,  getting a duck’s eye view and exploration of our pristine seaside salt marshes, mud flats and open waters, look for seabirds and shorebirds. For kayak lovers there were three wonderful trips, the Cherrystone Creek Kayak trip and the Chatham Vineyard’s Kayak and Winery Tour to see wading birds, osprey, etc. and the Wildlife Refuge Kayak trip along the Virginia Inside Passage, home to osprey, plovers, egrets and herons among others. And this year, for the more adventurous, a Stand Up Paddleboard Trip from the Wildlife Refuge. Paddleboards are billed “as the coolest craft on the water”  and apparently are a great way to do birding, certainly sounds like a lot of fun.  For the less adventurous but also interested, a variety of exhibits and demonstrations take place at the Cape Charles Fire Station including a “touch and feel”  aquarium tank  exhibit from the Virginia Marine Science Museum,  perfect for kids of all ages.  In short, this Festival is a wonderful event for everyone  who is interested in having fun while celebrating birds and birding.  For  information on the upcoming 2012 Birding Festival  on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore,  keep updated by visiting    www.esvafestivals.com .

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Wander Down Dogwood Lane and You Will Discover This Elegant Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Home

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Wander down Dogwood Lane near Belle Haven, VA  in the springtime  and  you will see it is well-named,  profuse with beautiful clumps of its namesake trees, pink and white  flowers set against a backdrop of  the broad blue waters of Occohannock Creek,  a saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  And gently rising  from a  gorgeous wooded setting is this elegant contemporary  home,  inspired by the architectural traditions of  Frank Lloyd Wright.  Perfectly integrated into its wooded waterfront homesite,  it maintains  the essential elements of  Wright’s   “prairie”  style,  the low horizontal lines of the home,  very open  interior spaces,  nearly flat roof lines with overhanging eaves,  bands of horizontal windows as well as clerestory windows, a central chimney  and solid craftsmanship.  But  a very special and unique architectural element has been added to this particular prairie style home,   an element which brings it into perfect harmony with the coastal traditions of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  

Designed by the architect son of the original owners,  this home is reminiscent of a ship,  the center portion of the home symbolizing  the stack and the brick terrace towering over  the shoreline as the prow.  It is a very attractive design,  different, bold and exciting.   One of  Wright’s central tenets was that  a “good building is not one which hurts the landscape but rather one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”  Certainly this property qualifies in every sense,  the home  looks completely natural  and in tune with the site,  almost as if it had been grown from the land itself,  the deep colors of the California redwood exterior blending in perfectly with the surrounding trees and colorful flowering shrubs,  each complementing the other and providing an attractive contrast to the blues of the waterfront beyond.

The  history of the creation of the “prairie” style architecure  is quite interesting.  At the turn of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright and a group of like-minded architects were striving to come up with an alternative to what they perceived as the over-embellishment and fussiness  of the then-prevailing European styles like Victorian, Tudor, etc.  They wanted to create something which had cleaner,  more simple lines.  By designing long homes with low silhouettes,  horizontal lines and open interior spaces they were creating homes designed to be built on large lots,  in more  open spaces.  These new styles  contrasted sharply from the tall narrow homes with closed in interiors so popular in cities at the time.   When Wright wrote an article about a  home he had just designed in the new style and entitled it  ” A Home in A Prairie  Town”,  a name and a  style were born.

As magnificant inside as out,  the interior of this home gleams with the rich polished redwoods,  accented by soft recessed lighting, pointed up by the use of interesting ornamental lamps throughout.  This is a bold house,  a house that is quite modern, a house that requires contemporary furnishings and modern art.  Actually, the house itself truly is a work of art– it’s clear that a great deal of thought was given to the visual appeal of each design detail,  even down to where to place the most interesting boards, the ones with the most intricate swirls and grains,  installing them in locations where the most beautiful boards would be at eye-level.   Shapes have been elevated to an art form in this home,  a small powder room with a 12 foot ceiling,  a short entry corridor opening into a rectangular great room overlooking a triangular patio, an intricate dining room with its focal point being a triangular shaped fireplace projecting into the room,  the kitchen a long, sleek galley with a pass-through into a long corridor overlooking the water which links the dining room and the great room.  The  bedrooms comprise a complete wing of the house,  long bands of windows suffuse soft  light throughout  the wing’s hallway,  the master bedroom placed at the end to allow for a private little deck which overlooks the woods of the front yard.  The tray ceiling of  the master bedroom blends down into a unique redwood triangular shape embossed panel  above the bed and the same panel is replicated in the bathroom, perfect for contemplating while taking a long bubble bath. 

This is a house that is so amazing inside that it could be easy to ignore the outside grounds if they too were not spectacular.  Two huge oak trees anchor the mature landscaping, with hollies, azaleas, camillias landscaped through the pines and dogwoods, right  down to the shoreline along Occohannock Creek,  a tidal saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay offering shimmering blue views.

  The dock on the property is perfect for small boats and kayaks,  and the  inlet offers easy access to the Bay and all sorts of fishing, crabbing, etc., all in only about 15 minutes.   The front approach to the home has been landscaped with small white stones which the owner has raked into a labyrinth design,  the contours of the white stones in sharp contrast to the dark pebbles of the circular driveway beyond.   This incredible home is absolutely perfect for anyone seeking a strong contemporary feel in a waterfront environment and is attractively priced at $549,000.  (More info at www.blueheronva.com )

                  

The Kellogg House In Cape Charles Where I Raised my Children – Listing It For Sale ! Part 1

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Historic Kellogg House in Cape Charles, VA

A career in real estate, I can honestly testify,  is full of surprising twists and turns.  After almost forty years of service to buyers and sellers, I have experienced my share of deja vu experiences,  close calls and even seemingly perfect miracles.  Twenty-five years ago I happened upon the Eastern Shore of Virginia on a lark,  a visit during which I made a life altering decision to relocate my children here from our  home in Sandbridge  in Virginia Beach. I was a single dad raising five children at the time  and between my work and my shorthanded approach to parenthood,  I felt like I was losing control of my family. Even in idyllic Sandbridge,  the big city was eating my children alive,  starting with my 18 year old son who was on the verge of  turning into a bonafide juvenile delinquent.  My discovery of this beautiful rural community surrounded by water appeared to be my ticket to a different lifestyle,  a place where I could change the scenery,  a place which could revitalize my family life and bring my children closer together under my supervision.  Two years passed while I studied the situation on the Eastern Shore,  trying to figure out exactly where to move and what I would do for gainful employment.  

A Fireplace Hearth to Warm Our Friends Hearts

A  friend on the Shore phoned in March of 1990 to let me know of an exciting new listing on the market in Cape Charles,  the historic Kellogg House,  so I made plans to check it out.  To make a very long story quite short,  it turned out to be the house of my dreams,  a true mansion in every respect!   Being sold by an estate which was firm on price and terms,  I was forced to contract for a purchase with no contingencies.  Talk about stepping out in faith,  I drove home realizing that if this was meant to be then I would need to sell my home in Sandbridge,  sell my business in Virginia Beach  and re-establish myself here on the Eastern Shore in Cape Charles.  And,  miracle of all miracles,  it all came together without a hitch !

The Entry Hall, Grand Staircase, and Dining Room China Cupboard At Kellogg House

And so we all moved to the big brick mansion at 644 Monroe Avenue in Cape Charles, historic Kellogg House,  the wonderful home where all four of my remaining children grew to maturity,  graduated from high school  and went off to college.  I remember packing my last two children,  identical twin boys,  off to Virginia Tech,  dropping them each in their respective dorm rooms and making the long,  five-hour drive back home with tears in my eyes.  For the next three months I came home from my nearby office selling Eastern Shore real estate to a big, dark, empty, quiet home with no one to talk to, no one to cook for, no one to beg for allowance money.  I just about lost my mind while I bounced around this old mansion of a home where childrens’  laughter used to echo off the plaster walls and pounding feet sounded like a herd of elephants running up and down the wide central staircase.

The Long and Sandy Lane To My Eastern Shore Waterfront Home

Then one day,  while out driving  on beautiful Church Neck,  I happened upon an old gentleman planting a  sign in the ground by the road.  I slammed on the brakes, threw the gear in reverse  and caught the old man before he could get back in his truck. “What are you selling ?”  I asked him. “My house,” he replied, “back there.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, but in the distance all I could see was a long, sandy lane disappearing behind the farm fields into the forest. He said to follow him and he climbed back in his pick-up truck and started down the lane. I followed through fields and woods, over hill and dale. We drove a half mile back until we came upon a clearing where I could get a peek at the head of  Westerhouse Creek, a colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. By that time I was completely mesmerized by the beautiful approach to his waterfront home and its wooded setting up high over the lovely little estuary.

Love at First Sight!

Both of us dismounted from our vehicles and gazed out towards the water.  Could I look at this waterfront property to buy it,  I inquired ?  His whole demeanor changed for the better and I took a  guided tour beginning with the view over the lovely little cove.  Fifteen minutes later, after touring the cute little cottage,  perfectly sized for my new status as an  “empty nester”,  we were standing between our trucks in the driveway and I asked him how much he wanted for the place – five acres of woodland between a fresh water pond and the salt water inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. He stated a price that I just could not refuse and we shook hands on the deal then and there !  I reached into my briefcase,  pulled out a blank contract form, and proceeded to fill it out right there on the hood.  We exchanged the pleasantries as  I filled in his name on the contract.  Some familiarity caused me to pause and look at him, and I said,  “You look mighty familiar.  Where have I seen you before ?”   He looked me in the eye and said,  “My picture is in the newspaper every Wednesday with my weekly column.”  Then it hit me, I exclaimed, “You’re the Randolph Walker who writes “On the Saltier Side!”  Just about choking over this revelation, I stammered, “and I’m buying your house!”  For years I had been avidly following his folksy column about retired life out in the Chesapeake Bay countryside.  Funny stories each one,  about the tug-of-war between his wanting to fish and hunt and his wife twisting him around her little finger to finish the chores.  I had salivated at his many colorful references to the waterfront home where they lived,  always thinking that it sounded like heaven to me,  but I had never known exactly where that place was.

At Play on Westerhouse Creek, A Chesapeake Bay Saltwater Inlet On Virginia's Eastern Shore

After signing the contract, I headed back out the long, wooded lane towards the paved road. Peeking up at the blue sky breaking through the treetops,  reality suddenly hit me – I had to sell my house in Cape Charles !!   Don’t you know,  it dawned on me that here was another one of those occasions that,  if it’s meant to be,  it will  be.  Over the next two weeks,  I worked as hard as I could,  contracting  people interested in Cape Charles real estate including calling  a friendly purchase prospect I had shown property to a few months earlier and offering her my big brick home  in Cape Charles for sale.  And she wanted it!  “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I sang up on high.

Paddling My Kayak Out To The Chesapeake Bay

Heading For The Chesapeake Bay-An Eastern Shore Paddler's Paradise

That was ten years ago, and my life in that cozy cottage  on Westerhouse Creek has been even better than I could have ever imagined that day.  Now,  I am back to square one again,  with the responsibility of finding another person who will appreciate the lovely historic home on Monroe Avenue as much I did,  and as much as my friend did when her purchase of  Kellogg House  from me helped me to buy my dreamboat place from the writer who stirred my soul.

Flowering Space Invaders Discovered On Westerhouse Creek On Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

 My life on the backwaters of  Westerhouse Creek near the southern tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia is peaceful and bucolic,  coexisiting serenely with the woodland creatures that live among the thousands of acres of open land around my waterfront home.  Often I hike along a narrow and ill-defined deerpath that follows the general lay of the shoreline.  Paddling Westerhouse  Creek,  a colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake  Bay,  in my kayak nearly every day has brought me many close encounters with the native wildlife.  Catching deer swimming across the creek, watching bald eagles snatch fish out of the water  and having a river otter swim right up to my boat,  whining at me to give him space — what other surprises awaited me?  After a few years I felt I had a pretty good handle on the lay of the land and felt that there wasn’t much more to discover in my woods and along the edges of fields.

Then,  lo and behold,  while placing my kayak on the post and beam rack I have  built next to the dock,  I caught sight of a bright pink object in the brown underbrush.  It was tax time,  April 15, and as I approached,  this pink object took on a whole new form,  joined by a couple of other ones sitting high and mighty on the ends of tall green  stalks.  I had never seen anything like it!  

 So,  everyday for the next few weeks,  I studied this peculiar flowering plant,  the only one of its kind anywhere in the forest where I live.  Soon  it lost its luster and the bloom faded away leaving only the stalk and big green leaves laying on the ground.  Having qualified as a Master Gardener with three months of classes and a year and a half of volunteer gardening labor,  I felt I ought to know what this strange plant was.  I asked around but finally I researched orchids and discovered that this is the hard- to- find  Lady Slipper.   Now,  after five years,  I always look for it around tax time when the tall stalks sprouting from big, sturdy, green leaves sprout the oddest and most beautiful pink blooms.   This exotic show lasts for about a month and then fades away over summer,  to return yet again the  next spring with an additional stalk and flower.

My Secret Kayaking Spot On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Kayaking on Virginia’s Eastern Shore  is a well-known  passion of mine.   But I’m not worried about my secret spot becoming overrun by kayakers because it’s getting mighty lonely paddling around out there all by myself.  Save for the bald eagles,  osprey,  great blue heron,  kingfisher, and assorted other shore birds that migrate through the area,  that is,  so actually it’s not lonely at all,  just really wonderfully peaceful and relaxing !   Having paddled Westerhouse Creek almost daily now,  going on 9 years,  the number of times I have encountered another soul I could count on both hands. This small saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay near Machipongo, Virginia in Northampton County  has an absolutely pristine shoreline  and  is edged in the softest way by thick stands of tall green spartina grass.  I have yet to become jaded to the sublime beauty of this  place,  and especially its lack of disturbance by human encroachment.  Although others live along the shores of this beautiful channel,  near  sunset or sunrise it seems to be mine alone.

Launching my 17  foot long sea kayak  into Westerhouse Creek from my backyard finger pier is a breeze.  I climb down a short ladder to balance before scooting  into the cockpit,  sitting as comfortably as if I was lounging in my living room.  All is quiet, the sun is starting to set and shortly a full moon is due to rise in the east.  The beauty of  paddling a kayak lies in its unobtrusiveness in the natural surroundings and ease of movement through the water.  I feel at one with nature as I glide upon the fluid  surface.  This little salt water estuary is really a miniature Eastern Shore creek,  with all the features shrunk down so that an hour’s paddle takes you through the various topographical features that comprise an entire  healthy ecosystem.  The headwaters of the creek are wetlands that capture the drainage of fresh water from as far away as Lankford Highway  (Rt. 13)  which runs along  the spine of the  Delmarva Penninsula.  The marsh soon gives way to open water as the opposite banks of the stream open wider and wider apart.   Behind the spartina grow  thick stands of  long and short needle pines and hardwood trees.  In the fall,  the change of color of  foliage creates a rainbow  along the both shores,  pine greens contrasting with the brilliant  hues of  reds,  orange,  pinks  and yellows of the hardwoods.  In the early spring,  the white dogwood blossoms are the first flowers to appear through the leafless branches,  a welcoming sight.

My goal each trip is to paddle the length of the entire creek,  passing out between the sandy shores of the mouth where the creek empties into the Chesapeake Bay. There,  when the wind is blowing strong from the northwest,  I love to  catch the waves and virtually surf  the kayak back homewards into the mouth of the creek,  almost California style.

One evening in early May,  in a fairly stiff breeze,  I paddled out through the breaking 2-3′ waves and turned to catch one back to shore, but a rogue wave hit me sideways and and for the first time ever,  tumbled my boat upside down so fast I hardly knew which direction was up.  I found myself suddenly immersed in an inverted position and I literally fell out of my kayak and rose to the surface sputtering water from my mouth.  It was cold water, too, and the waves were breaking all over,  and I was a little worried about being slowly pulled out into the Bay by the falling tide.  Luckily, a couple of weeks earlier I had finished a series of  four classes in a YMCA pool in Virginia Beach to train on how to perform a kayak self-rescue and of course,  as always,  I was wearing a life vest.  The cold water was starting to sap my strength but I stripped off my waterlogged sweatpants,  gathered my thoughts and planned my every move.  Relying on an inflated bag fitted over one end of my paddle to steady the tippy craft,  I climbed aboard in the breaking surf and rolled inside the boat.  Using the  bilge pump,  I emptied the water from my kayak and steadily started paddling back towards the mouth of the Creek.  Whew!  What a relief to be afloat again and heading for home!   Maybe,  I thought,  on the next windy day I will just  turn around  in the Creek and not head out into the Bay to surf  back on a wave.   Or……… maybe I’ll just keep on being adventurous !

This evening,  however,  the water was  quite calm  so my paddling  was  as peaceful and easy as could  be,  total relaxation.   The sun began painting the waters in vivid shades of purples and pinks.  And out in the Bay,  I gazed  up and down that  beautiful shoreline,   then turned  my kayak for home,  spotting the white disk of moon peeking above the distant treeline.

My Westerhouse Creek finger pier perfect for launching kayaks.

Sun setting into the Chesapeake Bay

Entrance to Westerhouse Creek from the Chesapeake Bay