Taking a bite outta' Summer!
With summer waning, we jumped in the car and headed towards Colonial Beach on a quest for summer fun and shark teeth.
This quaint riverside resort town has the second-longest public beach in Virginia and is nestled on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck region.
"The history Colonial Beach goes like this. In the 19th Century, a bathing and fishing resort existed in what would later be known as the Town of Colonial Beach. Being easily accessible by boat, the Town’s location on the Potomac River was an asset during a time when cars weren't around and road travel was slow and restrictive.Most of the visitors came in by boat from Washington, D.C. to fish from boats and piers and bathe at the mile-long sandy beach. Colonial Beach soon became known as the “Playground on the Potomac.” They arrived via steamer ship and later, by plane at airports like the Reno Skypark that operated in the area from the mid-1950's to the mid 1960's. One of the most important historical events happened twenty-five years after Colonial Beach was founded as a vacation and beach resort. It became an incorporated town, organizing on February 25, 1892. The town flourished as a resort and experienced a building boom of Victorian-era homes, bungalows, summer cottages and hotels." (Excerpt from http://www.colonial-beach-virginia-attractions.com/shark-tooth.html)
As we got a late start on the day, our first stop was lunch at The Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar for she crab soup and a beautiful view of the water. As we had thrown inner-tubes into the back of the car when we left home, we then headed into the water for float races and fun. Talk about washing your cares away....
From there we packed up and headed to Westmoreland State Park, home of Fossil Beach.
The park's popular "Beach Trail" leads from the Visitor Center to the shore of the Potomac, below the Horsehead Cliffs. Embedded in these cliffs are fossil remains of porpoises, whales, and sharks from as long as 15 million years ago. Erosion over time exposes these remains and hunting for shark's teeth is a popular activity for visitors. To get to Fossil Beach, you have to take a .6 miles downhill walking trail to the beach. (Yep, the walk back up is no fun, but doable.)
"A small strainer can be helpful for finding these Miocene-era items. Scoop up some of the sandy soil at the water's edge and sift through the pebbles, beach glass, mollusk shells and other assorted pieces and soon you'll see what you came here for, a pointy triangular-shaped shark tooth. Hard to believe it is millions of years old! In addition, you might also come across things like whale vertebra, dental plates from a stingray and crocodile teeth. The main event is a shark tooth, though. Teeth from sharks like mako, cow, sand, and tiger are the most common ones found in this area. Everyone would like to find one from a Megalodon, and once in awhile they are found in these parts. Some are the size of a human hand! It will be 1" tall for every 10 - 15' of body length. These supposed ancestors of today's Great White shark were commonly 60 feet long. During the Miocene age, this whole region was under a few hundred feet of seawater. When the waters receded, what used to be the ocean floor became the high clay cliffs that now tower above the shoreline. The modern tidal river flowed, carving all those fossils out and depositing them in the sand." (Excerpt from: http://www.colonial-beach-virginia-attractions.com/shark-tooth.htmlhttp://www.colonial-beach-virginia-attractions.com)
As this was our first time to Fossil beach, we were mesmerized by how beautiful the scenery was at the base of the cliffs. We were lucky to start talking to an older gentleman who was a "regular" shark tooth hunter at Fossil Beach. He gave us tips on what to look for and shared stories of the 5-inch Megalodon shark tooth that he found years back. And sure enough, we found a few small teeth.