of New Terrain
Lane checks in with a fellow transplant to the East Coast: Alan Klapmeier
SOMEWHERE OVER IPSWICH, MASSACHUSET TS, I decided that even if I
were blindfolded, carried in an airliner to unknown destinations for
16 hours, then put in a small plane and only allowed to look outside
and guess my location when I got to this spot, I could never confuse
the East Coast shoreline with anything in California.
Sun angles aside, the California coastline is a vertical landscape
where deep ocean meets tall cliffs. The East Coast has a more shallow, gradual merging of water, sand, and vegetation. Truth to tell, I
think the eastern shoreline is more interesting to fly along, even if
the New England forests are a seriously intimidating feature. The
curved bays, squiggly little inlets, islands, marshlands, and inland
waterways create far more variety in the landscape than the West
Coast’s straight and imposing continental edge.
California wins hands-down in terms of drama, of course. Those
cliffs and crashing surf lines are spectacular to witness—from the
ground or from the air. But the East Coast is a whole lot more user-
friendly. Kayaking in California consists, most often, of heading out
through the surf until you feel like turning around and paddling back
again. Kayaking on the East Coast is an endless
process of exploration among reeds, islands,
and shallow, ever-changing inlets and passage-
ways. On the West Coast, the surf rules. On the
East Coast, it’s the tide that matters.