Tangier Island is a photographer’s dream!
We arrived by passenger ferry from the northern neck region in Reedville, Virginia which took us 2 hours and 15 minutes of drive time and the ferry ride was about 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is another ferry from a Maryland city. Tangier also has a mail boat that the locals can also use to get back and forth to the main land in Maryland.
I deliberately didn’t look at any web photos of this tiny island in the Chesapeake Bay. This was an experience I wanted for myself and it wasn’t exactly what I imagined but it was more. It was more charming, more picturesque, more real, more peaceful, more fun than I imagined!
The narrow streets were perfect for golf carts which is the vehicle of choice for most. There were bicycles, scooters and even some cars and trucks. The homes and businesses were crowded together in a haphazard sort of way. The most shocking thing to my eye was that there were graves in people’s yards! There were several cemeteries next to the few churches on the island but those in people’s yards was obviously necessary since space is at a premium.
The island is 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide (approximately). There are marshes everywhere and it’s so scenic with boats here and there. The only negative about this place is the bugs. Where there are marshes there will be mosquitos and gnats. The little buggers were very thirsty and took a lot of unasked for donations from Ray and myself. We did kill many a vicious mosquito though so if you are a PETA extremist – get over yourself.
The Reedville ferry drops people off at 11:30 am and leaves again at 2:30 pm. Three hours wasn’t enough in my mind so we booked a room at The Bayview Inn. The innkeepers were very nice and served an amazing made-to-order breakfast that was so very delish and included in the rate. Ray and I agreed that the price of the room was not reflected in the ambiance/decor but it was clean and the bed was comfortable. It is not a 5 star establishment but it was worth every penny for 24+ hour access to the beauty of Tangier.
The Tangier Islanders do speak with a lilting inflection that is from their Cornwall, England origins. It was not hard to understand once you listened for a while. Did I think they were from England? No. But it was different for this region and it was charming as well. Work on the island revolves around the watermen and tourism. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are the prime item on the menu cooked many different ways. Soft shell crabs are Tangier watermen’s biggest ticket.
The island doesn’t have a bank or a jail and it’s a dry island so that might explain why they don’t have a jail, ha ha. We only saw a policeman right before we left yesterday. They do have a fire station and rescue squad along with a newer medical facility but it isn’t a hospital. The new school is a K thru 12 and is easily the largest building on the island. The nearby church is the tallest building with its steeple.
I am so glad that we were able to experience the Tangier way of living for a short time. Watching kids play on the swingset at the school, ride their bikes or the older kids in boats on the marshes made Ray and I realize how innocent life is there.
My mind was blown by the fact that they are so isolated from the world. There is no easy access to shopping other than a small general store. Sometimes they don’t have milk or bread for a few days between grocery runs to the mainland. There is no Walmart, Target or a convenience store anywhere! The innkeeper shared that this last winter was so harsh that an ice-cutter had to come to clear a path for the mail ferry to run otherwise no groceries could be brought in.
Brenda asked if anyone commutes to the mainland for work. I don’t believe so. It’s $40 round trip per person. The innkeeper said sometimes they had to stay overnight to complete their shopping or medical trips to the mainland.
Our cell phones didn’t have a signal the entire time we were off the mainland. It was nice being unplugged from the world for a while. It was the most relaxing 24 hours I can remember experiencing.
I have over 500 photos to cull down. Many of these shots posted were taken yesterday in the harsh noon sun. But I have captured some beauties that I will post this week. For now I’m getting my landlubber legs back.