Right of Way

Right of Way

A photo essay. To view all 11 images, check out the email edition.

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From the parking lot at Fort Hale Park, you have three choices: right, left or center. The center offers rough beach, soft surf, benches with views, a long wooden dock and the parkโ€™s most active people-watching. The left offers a pretty and pleasant walk above the bluffs or, at low tide, a slick, rocky traverse below.

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The right, on the other hand, demands a little more faith. To reach its narrow stretch of beach patched with wild grasses and flowers, you have to be undeterred by barbed wire and barricades and the camouflage-painted trucks of the neighboring military installation.

The beach itself feels peaceful enough. In summer, families and fishers spread out quietly along the water, the breeze off the Sound keeping the heat and the mosquitoes, who can be considerable elsewhere, at bay. Fishers also like to perch themselves around a colonial-era cannon deck at the end of the beach, near an overgrown footpath that leads to a marshy canal and a series of retired military bunkers. Embedded in the terrain, the bunkers rise from the earth like hobbit holes, their grassy rounded roofs wreathed in flowers part of the year. Smaller hillocks rising between them offer views across the harbor and sloping access to Fort Haleโ€™s remotest beach, which doesnโ€™t actually touch the Sound. But it does border a permanent tidal pond.

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At Fort Hale Park, the quirks keep coming. The place isnโ€™t always conventionally beautiful, but itโ€™s almost always beautifully unconventional, and thereโ€™s much more to discover than Iโ€™ve mentioned here. All you have to do is head on over, and start making some choices.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image shows the tucked-away beach at Fort Hale Park.

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