Folly Municipal Pier,
Folly Beach, SC
Rebecca over at Outdoor Bloggers Network asked about photos of special outdoor places. While I spend time outdoors all over the map, when I think about what scenes on earth my soul might most miss when I have died, days of clean waves and light winds at ocean piers in the southeastern USA are right at the top of the list.
And why shouldn't they be? Along the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern coasts (and dare I say gulf coast as well), the nearshore zone is like a flat, shallow underwater desert for miles and miles and miles - for there is no natural structure - no reef - no natural rocks. Piers act as artificial structures that aggregate game fish and just as importantly to me, aggregate sand, which creates waves of a quality and length you're unlikely to see in this part of the country (sewer pipe outfalls and rock jetties excepted).
But this picture really gets at what I love about piers in the Southeast. On a pre-dawn outting, the pier is likely the first place you check for surf, and the first place you check to see who's catching what fish. And again.....it's all about memories. The first time I rode a bodyboard at age 12, at Sandbridge Pier. My first time surfing in a real live hurricane (stupid....oh, and it was Hurricane Gordon) at age 20, at Virginia Beach Pier. Getting bitten by a bluefish (?) while surfing at the Kitty Hawk Pier at age 22. An amazing summer full of small fun surf days at Frisco Pier (destroyed in a storm 4 months ago) in the outer banks - age 24. Surfing the Virginia Beach 15th street pier the morning after my best man's wedding - age 25. Surfing the site of the old Virginia Beach Steel Pier the morning after my bachelor party - age 26 (wow, that was cold). Two amazing fall surf weeks at Oak Island Fishing Pier. And some fun mornings of tiny, clean surf at Folly Beach Munipal Pier and Isle of Palms Pier in South Carolina, between ages 23 and 35. Absolutely mind-blowing surf sessions at the Mall Pier, Ocean Pier, and Steel Pier in Atlantic City, NJ over the course of about 5 years. And of course, surfing the Nags Head Fishing Pier with my brother and my best man, the morning after my other brother's wedding.
And that's not counting the fishing memories!
And then, of course, the most treasured of all. Those nights on the fishing pier with buddies and girlfriends, drinking beers and catching (usually few) fish. The days on the beach, whether April, July, or October. Catching sun, taking in the salt, meeting up with friends (planned or not), and just living. God, it's wonderful.
Yup. I love the salt marsh. I love a lot of other places too. But I always think back to periods of my life - whether short afternoons or entire summers - when my life revolved around what was happening at the pier.