DAY 3 - Fowler Shack - Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Another unseasonably warm day here.

Took advantage of this by spending part of the morning sketching the Fowler Shack and the Fuller-Bessay shack. Fuller-Bessay is the other shack that you can see in close proximity to Fowler in some of the pictures I’ve posted. Unlike many of the shacks, the caretakers of Fuller-Bessay have occasionally stopped into their shack since I’ve been here. I know this because I was startled by the gleaming red lights of their jeep Cherokee careening over the sand dune ‘roads’ late last night.

Fuller & Bessay are the last names of the original owners, but now the shack is looked after and lived in by Peter Clemons and Marianne Benson. There is a fair amount of controversy over the ownership of the shacks and you can read more about that here if you are interested:

After some drawing, I spent the majority of the day hiking through the dunes and better orienting myself with the surrounding landscape. With temperatures in the upper 60’s it felt more like summer than late fall, and I found myself shedding many layers of clothing throughout my hike. I’ve included pictures in this post of the Margo-Gelb shack, as well as more of Fowler, and Fuller-Bessay.

The experience of climbing a soaring sand dune only to discover an equally dramatic valley below you, as I did today, is really awesome. One of these “valleys” resembles a large sand bowl, and I was amused to see someone had arranged pinecones in a formation at the center of the bowl (pictured). It's intriquging to see other signs of life out here besides coyote and snake tracks in the sand, or the occasional water bottle on the beach. Speaking of litter, it is very difficult to witness how much garbage there is near the ocean, one of the disgusting and selfish parts of modern life that I had hoped to be able to forget about while I’m here. ..

One of the abandoned shacks here has a sign on the outside of it that reads: “Please do not break the windows. You will find nothing of value here except a little solitude.” It’s true. It's unbelievable to me that these little buildings have been dotting this small strip of seashore for longer than half a century. Walking into Fowler, and into C-Scape, I was met with the same unmistakable feeling that I was not alone. There is an almost overwhelming sense of history in these “buildings” and a very palpable presence of its past residents. It is not the feeling of a ghost per se, but more so of an implied understanding that you are in a sacred place, similar in weight to entering a place of worship.

After my hike today the sun began to set. I thought it would be great to open up one of the (many) bottles of wine I had brought and have a glass while watching the sunset. By the time I returned to the shack though, I was surprised by the amount of energy I still had despite a full day of hiking. It was still very warm out, so I opted to go for a run along the beach.

I almost never run. While I like to think of myself as an athletic person, I tend to favor playing sports or weight training to running. In the city and suburbs, it just feels too monotonous. But, this trip is about pressing the reset button on everything, so I put on the bathing suit I had felt foolish packing only 3 days earlier and ran east along the ocean. As the sun set in front of me, I ran toward it feeling every grain of rough, wet sand under my feet. After a certain amount of time (the notion of time and location is so abstract when traveling on sand) I passed a group of seals (at least 20) that were hanging out less than 10 feet from the beach.

We looked at each other for a while and then I continued running. They seemed to follow me in the water for a little while at least, but maybe I was imagining this. Oddly enough, during this run I had the 1980’s classic “I Ran,” playing in my head. Apropos considering my companions on this run were, in fact, A Flock of Seagulls.