Friday, November 5, 2010

The Beach in Winter

The beach in winter is a lonely place. The beach houses and cabanas seem to be waiting for happy families and energetic children to return. In the off season, bathhouses always interested me because of their symmetry. They have a transient appearance, but yet many are decades old.

These first two photographs are from the beach club at Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The bathhouse is built on a narrow sand spit, Napatree Point, that sticks out west into Long Island Sound. The second scene is looking north into Watch Hill Cove.

Drive a few miles east along the Atlantic shore of Rhode Island and you reach Misquamicut State Beach.

The parking lot view is a bit utilitarian, but the ocean side of the bathhouse is quite nice with its cheerful turquoise paint and expansive view of the ocean. The rows of sand fencing shows that the state workers are trying to trap as much sand as possible. Rhode Island's beaches have been retreating (eroding) for decades, but I am not sure what the rate has been here at Misquamicut.

Atlantic Avenue near Misquamicut has the normal beachy collection of motels, convenience stores, and restaurants. The one above has seen better days.

Rhode Island somehow avoided the most crass examples of late-20th century beach architecture, such as the giant pink shops selling swim suits and tee shirts. The monstrosity above was the former Souvenir City near Biloxi, Mississippi, in October 2006, over a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

Let's move Across the Atlantic to the North Sea coast of the Netherlands. The cheerful little dressing cottages above are are on the island of Texel, near the resort town of Da Koog. Da Koog is popular with German tourists. They did not often see Americans there.

Now let's move south to the Gulf of Corinth in Greece. There is minimal tidal variation in the Gulf, but it experiences seiching (water set-up caused by steady wind pushing the water to one end of the basin). This is also a very seismically active area with opposite sides of the Gulf experiencing uplift or sinking at different rates.

This is a night club/bar near the town of Nerantza, a few kilometers west of Corinth. Note the umbrella posts in the water.

Even lake beaches have bathhouses. This is the Bains des Pâquis, in Geneva, Switzerland. The bath house and a small beach were built in 1872 on a pier that projects into Lac Leman. The present structures were rebuilt in 1932. The water is cold, even on a hot summer day. It is a relaxing way to spend a day if you are passing through Geneva.

There is a popular and modest-priced cafe at the Pâquis. If you don't finish your meal, a sparrow or duck will finish it off.
2018 update:  Here is a summer photograph of the Bains des Pâquis (scan from a Kodachrome slide, taken with a Leica M2 rangefinder camera using a 20mm f/5.6 Russar lens).


ELMalvaney said...

I love this whirlwind tour of beach fronts and bath houses around the world--thanks!

Unknown said...

Nice! Watch Hill really empties out in the off-season.