We got a sayin' here that God made the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and with what he had left he made the rest of the country," drawls Randolph Widgeon, who was born and raised in Oyster and now lives in Willis Wharf.
If you haven't heard much about these handsome hamlets on Virginia's Eastern Shore, it's no wonder. Maryland's easier-to-get-to coastline steals most of the ink, which suits its Virginia neighbors and sage, nature-loving visitors just fine. Plus, it's not a place you just happen upon casually. After crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge onto this narrow, 75-mile-long jut of land, you'd most likely speed north on Route 13, focused on your destination. But turn off that antiseptic artery and you'll find yourself on country roads lined by wood and furrowed field, interrupted by brick chimney homes, clapboard churches, and restaurants with simple signs like "Just Seafood," which, on the Eastern Shore, is all you need to know.
Virtually year-round along Virginia's Eastern Shore - but especially in the midwinter off-season - the thin prong of mainland and its barrier islands ring with emptiness, friendliness, and singsong names. Metompkin, Mockhorn, Parramore, and Ship Shoal islands, and, on the mainland that thrusts between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic, the towns of Wachapreague, Machipongo, Quinby, and Exmore. To the west and north lie, by drive time, Washington, D.C. (four hours), Baltimore (four hours), and New York City (five hours), but, frankly, no one around here cares.