Mockhorn Island, VA – May 28, 2013
A bridge stretches across the Chesapeake Bay’s wide mouth, dipping beneath the water and tunneling under shipping channels to make room for freighters and warships to pass above.
I slip over the first tunnel, watching the line of anchored freighters waiting for a call to port. I look at the road sink down and try to imagine hundreds of cars rolling underneath me somewhere below the waves.
It doesn’t seem real when you imagine it. It’s a fantastical concept, an artist’s rendition splashed across a page, but it’s all function in person, almost boring. It doesn’t have the majesty of the Golden Gate or grit of Brooklyn’s bridge. It’s just a low concrete highway that reaches an island, disappears into a tunnel, and comes out on the other side.
Seventeen miles felt far away when Isle Royale hung on the horizon like a smear of paint and I felt swallowed in blue halfway across. Even seven miles felt long off the coast of Mississippi when I couldn’t see the barrier islands over the waves. But this seventeen felt small, made little by the long bridge guiding me, it’s pylons slipping by, giving me a sense of movement.
The second channel came and went. A grey warship plowed through behind me to join the fleet in port. The bridge ran on as an incoming tide swung me far back inside the bay before leaving me on the northern shore where I looked back toward Norfolk and saw nothing but waves and that long, low bridge dipping under the water.