Heading South through Virginia
25.11.2004 - 27.11.2004 7 °C
Our trip up the Intercoastal The Stressful Spring of 2004 was such a hassle that we decided not to do the trip by boat again. But we were still snowbirds at heart. Since Bob was retired military, we had available Space-Available condo rentals for very reasonable prices ($349 for the week regardless of the size of the unit). So I made reservations at various condos, week by week, to go down the coast for the rest of the winter of 2004-2005. Driving this time instead of sailing.
This is what we have booked for this winter (Condos and Military base accommodations are in Bold)
11-14-04 - embark on the Norwegian Crown at 1:00 bound for Bermuda
11-21-04 - arrive back in Baltimore 0700 and disembark. Should be off
by 10 because the ship starts re boarding for the next cruise by 1 pm.
11- 25 -04 - Daughter's in Ellicott City MD for Thanksgiving.
11-26-04 - Cape Henry Inn, Ft. Story VA (Sandpiper section)
11-27-04 - Barrier Island Station Ocean Pines Beach Resort Villa
12-04-04 Check out of Ocean Pines
From here we are traveling via Summerville to Miami.
Hoping to arrive12-09-04 in Miami at daughter's house.
12-10-04 Leave Miami on flight 849 at 11:39 am Arrive New Orleans 12:42 pm
Check in Maison Pierre Lafitte 108 University Pl. New Orleans LA 70122
12-17-04 Check out of Maison Pierre Lafitte. Pick up rental car and
visit New Iberia (where Bob was stationed in 1960)
12-20-04 Turn in rental car At 2:00 pm Take flight 1502 Arrive Miami 4:50 pm
12-20-04 to 1-6-05 Staying in Miami and possibly house sitting
The rest of the winter 2005
After we got back from Thanksgiving dinner at our oldest daughter's (which was very good and a lot of fun), we started to pack and get ready. We had taken my car up to her house in Ellicott City, and when we got back we filled the fuel tank (178 miles total for the round trip and took us 2 hours on the way up and an hour and a half on the way back) and, Bob serviced it for the winter.
Bob periodically complained that we only had a car and we needed a moving van, but I tried really hard to wean down to just a couple of suitcases. I have actually three (carryon sized) small bags, plus a bag of travel materials, and two computers. Bob has his night blooming jasmine in a large pot to give to our Florida daughter,
a cooler of stuff from the refrigerator, plus supplies like toilet paper for the condos, a hanging bag for his suits, and two or three small bags. Plus we had the Xmas presents for two families.
November 26, 2004
Friday morning, Bob serviced the furnace (found a dead mouse), ran the dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer one last time, turned off the water and put antifreeze in the toilets, turned the furnace down, unplugged the TVs, and packed the cooler and the car. He also made a final run to the dump.
What have we forgotten? Bob again forgot something in the refrigerator - this time bacon, which won't go bad right away but will be inedible when we get back. I can't find my keys to the Mercedes - they may turn up in a pocket somewhere. I also forgot to pack a pair of black trousers (I only have blue) or a skirt or a long dress.
We shoved off from the dock (left the driveway) at 12:17.
We were across the Potomac by 12:55 and decided to eat lunch at Dahlgren where there was a choice of Mickey D's, Pizza Hut, KFC/Taco Bell and Burger King or we could have gone down to Port Royal and eaten at Hornes. There's also an Arby's being built. We picked Burger King
and were back on the road and down to Port Royal to turn onto US 17 by 1:35 p.m.
Bob had observed that fuel in the Tappahannock area was cheaper than in Leonardtown (where diesel was $2.19/gal) when we were there on the trip to Great Bridge, so he wanted to fill up there.
But we didn't stop in Tappahannock. We went on to Kilmarnock. According to the Kilmarnock town website "Kilmarnock is the commercial trade center of Virginia's Northern Neck". The population is less than 1,300 people. It is a small town. There are only two traffic lights. It is named after town in Scotland. Well-known (!!) residents have included Henrietta Hall, first American woman to go to China as a missionary. Kilmarnock has a museum.
When we came to Chesapeake Bay Boat Basin by boat (Indian Creek off Fleet's Bay) we've never been able to get to the Kilmarnock Museum (in the old Steptoe's Ordinary) so on this trip we were going down VA Route 3 to Kilmarnock. The museum is about the only thing to visit IN Kilmarnock as far as I can tell. I wanted to see their film of the 1952 fire which almost burned down the town.
There are supposed to be .."Exhibits of photographs and artifacts recall the early days of the bustling town of Kilmarnock, first known as Steptoe’s Ordinary when it was settled in 1719. Open Thursday -Saturday 10 am to 4 pm."
But we couldn't visit it this time either.
The sign says it is open Thursday to Saturday 10-4 and when we got there it was only about 3 p.m. on Friday But it was closed.
So I took what pictures I could and we drove on towards Yorktown. We continued on VA 3 across the Rappahannock and we eventually got fuel across the Rappahannock in Warsaw for $1.99/gal.
We crossed the Piankatank and joined US Rte 17 down near Gloucester. Then proceeding through a town called "Ordinary" which was so small I didn't get a picture because we were through it before I realized we were in it, we crossed the York River to Yorktown and exited off 17
to go to the Battle Monument. We can't check into the Cape Henry Inn before 4 pm, and it is less than 200 miles from Leonardtown to Virginia Beach, so I figure we can take a couple of detours.
- ACK - the whole of Water Street in Yorktown has been torn up and is nothing but mud studded with earth moving equipment. We turn around. Even the Waterman's museum which is on the west side of the bridge is closed. What to do?
The Waterman's museum website says that it was founded in 1981 for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown to interpret the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay’s watermen and women who harvest the bay’s seafood from the time Native Americans fished local waters to the present.
All I had originally intended to do was to visit the Battle Monument. I had not intended to go to the actual battlefield as I thought that would take more time than we had (and I was correct).
I direct Bob to go to the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor's Center, from which I think we can get around to the Battle Monument.
We get there just about 4:15 p.m. and bought a Golden Age Passport for $10. This allows the two of us a lifetime admission to all National Parks, Seashores, etc. and a reduced price on tours etc in the parks. We had just time to see last showing the 16 minute movie (at 4:30) all about how the French fleet defeated the British fleet off Hampton Roads, and about Cornwallis's surrender. This helped us to understand the information at the Cape Henry lighthouses better.
There is also a museum, sales shop and restrooms. From here you are supposed to do the two self-guided auto tours that will allow you to enjoy and learn the history of the Siege of Yorktown at your own pace. A 7-mile Battlefield Tour Road, which takes about one hour, will give you a first-hand look at where the events of the siege took place. A second, 9-mile Encampment Tour Road, which takes about one-half hour, reveals the locations of the allied encampments during the siege, including Washington's Headquarters. Also included in the National Park are parts of the Town of York. Needless to say we did not have enough time for either tour. From here we drove over to the Yorktown Monument (about 5 p.m.) where I took a picture of it at dusk.
Lady Victory is on top of a pedestal of Maine granite. In 1956, the original figure of liberty, damaged by lightening, was replaced. The shaft is 84 feet high and Liberty is 14 feet high Construction began a century after the battle, and it was completed in 1884.
This sign is about the establishment of Yorktown in 1691, and has a map with the Visitor's Center and the Battle Monument on it.
Now we have to find our way to Ft. Story. Fort Story is on Cape Henry, which is the northernmost point of the south shore of Hampton Roads It is getting dark. I was going to go down US 17 and get on I-64 E. But Bob sees a sign saying that some ramp is closed and goes off down VA route 134 and I can't figure out where we are. Eventually I turn on the computer mapping and we get back on I-64
and get to Fort Story. Since this is an Army fort, most visitors have to have ID and go through an inspection process, but we have a military sticker on the car and we have military ID, so entry is quick for us. We get to the Cape Henry Inn and check into our room about 6 pm. It is too dark to see much outside. The Cape Henry Inn at Ft. Story is open to anyone who has a military ID (active duty, retiree, DOD) and they take reservations up to a year in advance. The rates are on a sliding scale depending on the time of year. This time of year it is $29/night. In March when we come back I think it will be $35, and it goes way up in the summer It was fairly basic, but offered a free breakfast. They tell us that local calls are 35 cents each - they have public internet, but you have to pay for it.
We asked for recommendations from the Ft. Story Inn and got several. We decided to drive back towards Norfolk until we came to one that we liked. We went to dinner at the Beale St. BBQ,
and each had a wet half rack of ribs with two sides for $10.95 each (I had cole slaw and beans and rice, and Bob had cole slaw and potato salad).
And we shared a 'pig picking cake' for dessert. It had coconut icing. I ate the icing off and then decided I was full, so Bob ate the cake part so that it wouldn't go to waste. The total bill was $38.43 counting tip and two iced teas. Rachael Ray ($40/day) has nothing on us
I had a hard time logging onto the internet from the room afterwards (I was using a modem on a phone line in 2004) and used the 800# for a little while. After I did that, of course, I could log on with the regular number.
One of my teeth has been bothering me. It hurt a bit to chew at dinner.
November 27, 2004
We got up in the a.m. (the full moon was just setting) and got dressed
From our room we could see the Bridge Tunnel and ships anchored waiting for tugs or pilots.
We went up to the meeting room where they said there would be a free continental breakfast. This was coffee, orange juice or apple juice [none of which we drink], donuts, bread (and toaster), and various kinds of cold cereal and various kinds of milk. No tea or tea bags although one of the guys used the coffee maker to make hot water. So we each had a donut and some juice.
We have about 140 miles to go today from here to Duck (our first S/A condo), and we aren't supposed to check in before 4 pm, so I've figured out a time wasting route which wasted a bit more time than I intended through getting lost a couple of times. I find that the mapping program is VERY difficult to use from a moving car if you don't know where you are because if I can see the detail I can't see which direction I'm supposed to be going on the route. [At this time, we did not have a car GPS, so I was using a mapping program on a laptop which was hooked to a little yellow GPS thing which rested on the dashboard]
We checked out about 8:15, and our first destination was the lighthouses at Cape Henry on Ft. Story. There is an old brick lighthouse which is open to be climbed from 10-4 in the winter, and the new black and white checkered lighthouse which isn't open. The lighthouses are pretty easy to find. (Lighthouses tend to stand out.)
There were a lot of informational signs, but those proved to be about Ft. Story itself and not the lighthouses. Ft. Story has some units stationed there from the army, navy, and marines for something they call JLOTS (Joint Logistics Over The Shore).
The old lighthouse is an octagonal sandstone tower with lantern and gallery. Tower unpainted; lantern is silver-colored. This is the first lighthouse built by the Federal government and one of the best preserved lighthouses of the early Federal period. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Congress transferred ownership of the lighthouse in 1930 to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, now called Preservation Virginia. The interior was restored in 2002, and in 2003 the eroded sandstone foundation of the lighthouse was repaired.
It was too early in the morning and the lighthouse was not open yet.
The NEW Cape Henry Light is the 1881 replacement for the old Cape Henry lighthouse. It is NOT open to the public. It was was built to replace the older light only 357 feet away.
The New lighthouse is a 164-foot octagonal tower made up of cast iron plated inner and outer walls, with a masonry lining, making it the tallest such lighthouse in the U.S. To appreciate the size, look at the large two story keeper's house next to the base of the lighthouse.
It has a first-order Fresnel lens and is painted in black and white alternating vertical stripes. In 1923 the lantern was converted to electricity. The 1,000 watt light was automated in 1984 and has an intensity of 80,000 candlepower.
Overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, its 20 second flashing light can be seen for only 15 miles out to sea because of the bright city lights
Bob stayed in the car while I photographed the lighthouses. He did get out to look at the two monuments one a cross put up by the Daughters of the American Colonists commemorating the first landings of the English colonists in VA in 1609 (put up in 1935)
First Landing State Park is just south of Fort Story. This cross is right on Fort Story right next to the Cape Henry Lighthouses and is apparently part of the First Landing State Park. Access to the site is free. The large granite cross put up in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists is to commemorate the first landing of the English colonists in VA in 1609. The inscription on the bottom on the cross says:
"Here at Capt Henry first landed in America upon 26 April 1607 those English colonists who upon 13 May 1607 established at Jamestown, Virginia the first permanent English settlement in America"
National Society Daughters
of the Amerian Colonists
April 26, 1935
He looked at one put up in 1976 in honor of the French Admiral deGrasse.
The plaque on the monument says:
FRANCOIS JOSEPH PAUL de GRASSE
This statue, a gift from France is placed here overlooking the waters where Admiral Comte deGrasse successfully engaged the British fleet on September 5, 1781. The battle off the capes prevented crucial reinforcements from reaching Cornwallis thus hastening his surrender.
Dedicated in grateful remembrance of the decisive conv??tion of Admiral de Grasse to the winning of American Independence October 17 1971.
There were explanations of the battle that we had seen the movie about at Yorktown the preceding day on a more recent monument which shows the
which commemorates the Battle of the Capes, which took place within visual distance of Cape Henry during the American Revolution. On September 5, 1781, nineteen British warships were surprised by an awaiting fleet of twenty-four French ships commanded by Admiral Francois Joseph Paul de Grasse. The two navies battled for four days, each sustaining heavy damage. On the 9th, another fleet of French ships arrived from Rhode Island, forcing the British to flee the area and return to New York. The outcome was instrumental in the American victory over the British at Yorktown. The British ships were loaded with supplies and reinforcements for General Charles Cornwallis. A little over a month later, Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington and French commander Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau.
The monument is made of pink granite which is very hard to read, but at the bottom are two quotes:
"I wish it was in my power to express to Congress how much I feel myself indebted to the Count deGrasse and his fleet" G. Washington, Oct 19, 1781.
"I consider myself infintely happy to have been of some service to the United States..reserve me a place in your memory"... deGrasse Nov 3, 1781
Bob also walked up to the top of the dune line where there was another display about the naval battle.
When we left there, my next objective was the Life Saving Museum because when I planned the trip, I noted on the map that the Life Saving Museum at the Old Coast Guard Station (formerly the Life-Saving Museum) was in Virginia Beach right on Atlantic Ave. We got there about 9:15, but it was not open until 10.
This is the only existing station in Virginia with exhibits on shipwrecks and rescues. The museum chronicles the role of the Coast Guard from the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II to the present day.
After Bob parked, I walked back and took a picture and then we went on. I thought it was sad that it was completely overshadowed (literally) by the tall hotels on either side.
I wanted to get on I-264 from 22nd street directly. But for some reason we couldn't seem to do that, and in the bright sun it was hard to see the computer screen. We got fuel while we were wandering around trying to find I-64 Bob took a turn onto US 17 which on both the AAA map and the computer map was called VA 104. We ended up crossing the Steel Bridge over the Virginia Cut route on the ICW at 10:15.
Last time we were here, in April, we were on a boat going under this bridge.
We stopped at the NC Visitor's Center on the Dismal Swamp Canal at about 10:30 and used the bathrooms.
Penny at the Visitor's Center told us that in spite of what has been published, that as of last week the Corps of Engineers IS going to keep the Dismal Swamp Canal open. She also said that 104 has been renumbered as US 17. I got directions from her to the Nosay house AKA William Riley Abbott house.
I thought I had seen a house which had a Museum sign on it when we went through South Mills lock last year,
so we went on down to South Mills to look. I had taken a picture of the South Mills Museum, but when we went back by car, the sign had been removed (the frame for the sign was still there, and you could tell that a sign had been hung there). I haven't been able to find any information about this museum.
South Mills used to be an important port. That's why there was a South Mills battle of the Civil War. However now, it is a tiny village just north of the lock. Its population was 454 as of the 2010. It has three churches, a post office, a gas station, a nail saloon, and a small market.
South Mills Civil War Battle
On April 18, 1862, US General Burnside sent US General Reno from Roanoke Island to destroy the South Mills lock of the Dismal Swamp Canal, which connected New Bern via Norfolk to Elizabeth City. If successful Reno would prevent the rumored transfer of Confederate ironclad warships from Norfolk to Albemarle Sound. Reno's 3,000 troops disembarked from their transports near Elizabeth City that night and advanced the following morning on an exhausting march toward South Mills. CS Colonel Ambrose R. Wright posted his 900 men to command the road to the town. Reno encountered Wright's position at noon. The Confederates' determined fighting continued for four hours until their artillery commander, CS Captain W. W. McComas, was killed. To avoid being flanked, Wright retired behind Joy's Creek, two miles away. Reno did not pursue them because of his losses and his troops' exhaustion. That evening he heard a rumor that Confederate reinforcements were arriving from Norfolk and ordered a silent march back to the transports near Elizabeth City. They reached New Bern on April 22, mission defeated.Estimated Casualties: 114 US, 25 CS
We went across the South Mills drawbridge twice,
and then headed out for Nosay Rd. Which we found. The William Riley Abbott house built in the 1840's is an unusually large Greek revival plantation house near South Mills.
This is a private residence and isn't open to the public.The focal point of this house is its entrance with its Doric type columns, wide veranda, and balcony over the front door. This house is said to have been used as a hospital for soldiers wounded in the Battle of South Mills. Period of Significance: 1850-1874
When I saw the house in person it looked much smaller and more puny than I was led to expect from Claiborne Young's website.
It is known locally as the Nosay House and is on NC rte 1224 which is known as Nosay Road. The windows are unusual looking and I suspected they had been modified to take modern storm windows or else fake shutters were added
Later, I got a letter from a former tenant who wrote: "I lived in that house in 1998 and wanted to confirm your suspicions that the windows are not original. During our year there the windows were indeed the original windows with some of the glass appearing to be original. However, because of the age they were extremely drafty in the winter time and caused our heating bills to be astronomical. The owner had refused to repair the windows so we moved. One year later the owner replaced all the windows, removing the original working shutters and install the fake shutters shown in your picture. It's unfortunate because the house looked much better previously."
Then we went the wrong direction on VA 343 and went through Camden and ended up in Elizabeth City which I totally didn't intend to visit.
We went over the Elizabeth City bridge (there were some boats at the docks but we didn't stop).
We had to circle around through Elizabeth City to get going in the direction that I wanted to go in. We went north along the Pasquotank, through South Mills AGAIN, and then went north on US 17.
The mainland of Currituck County, on the western bank, has several small communities. Moyock, Point Harbor and others lie along the highway route to the famous Outer Banks. We eventually got to Mojock
and had lunch at Hardee's.
I got a 3 piece chicken which was 2 pieces more than I could eat, and Bob got two 'slammers' which are plain hamburgers about the size of the old White Castle hamburgers. ($1.25 each).
Then I didn't start the computer up in time to get onto the road over to Knotts Island and we ended up on a toll road ($2) going north
and were in Virginia and almost back to Virginia Beach before we could do anything about it.
We did eventually get to the correct road and took VA 615 down to Knotts Island.
Knotts Island is a marshy island and a small unincorporated community and is home to Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge was established on Knotts Island in 1960 as a winter haven for migratory birds. In the winter, the refuge focuses on marsh and water management to provide food for thousand of swans, ducks, and geese inhabitants. In the spring, the refuge opens its trail system for visitors to view the huge variety of waterbirds and songbirds.Although we drove along through the refuge, these gulls were the only birds we really saw.
The reason we were there was to take the free car ferry over to Currituck. The ferry lands at NC Route 615 at the south end of Knotts Island. This ferry is also used by the high school and middle school students to get to school.We got to the ferry stop at 1:38 and saw the ferry approaching the dock. The ferry left at 2 on schedule. I've decided ferries are a Good Thing. We've seen enough of them from our boat, so it's our turn to ride. There were only 4 or 5 other cars on the ferry with us - somewhere I read that the ferry has a capacity of 30 cars, but it was a bit difficult to figure out where they would put them..
After the cars are driven on, the ferry turns around for the trip across Currituck Sound. The trip takes 45 minutes. Bob sat in the car,
and I roamed around and took pictures.
The ferry then turns around again - really stirs up the water, but Bob says with 2 engines you can turn like that.
Currituck is also a small town (a little over 300 households). It is the unincorporated county seat. The Courthouse and Jail are on the National Register of Historic Places.
From here it was pretty simple to get to Duck and we didn't get lost.
It was, however, starting a fine misty rain. We got fuel again (just 5.4 gals this time but it was $2.199/gal.) We checked in at 3:45, and arrived at our unit at exactly 4 pm. The cleaners were just finishing.
My daughter came to stay in Ocean Pines condo unit in October 2000 and she liked it very much, so I decided to book the same thing for the late fall of 2004. From here, we did quite a bit of sightseeing along the Outer Banks. At this time of year the activities in Duck seem limited to beach walking, kite flying, and fishing.
Our phone number is not on the phone, but it is 252-255-2042. We look right out over the beach where the waves are really crashing down. There's no way anyone can swim out there. The complex has a pool although I haven't used it yet.
This sand is made for walkin': smooth, light gray, plenty of elbow room even at high tide. From where we were staying in Duck, we could walk across the dunes right onto the beach. In most places there are walkways and stairs that are built over the dunes so that people do not damage the grasses that hold the sand in place. There were two such walkways that we could see from the deck of our unit.
I didn't walk on the beach but I saw some few others (other than gulls) that did. People also fly kites on the beach, or fish, or sit on the deck and watch the waves. I can't give a good estimation of the cost of this condo because I don't know what the regular rental would be. Rates in the winter (November December January) for rental seem to be between $660 to $715/week for 4 to 6 people. I'm not sure if these units are available for rental during the season. The units are supplied with one roll of toilet paper and a package of dishwasher detergent in a welcome pack, and after that you supply your own. You also are to leave the dishes and the kitchen clean when you leave. Housekeeping does not come in during the week.
No pets are allowed. Camping vehicles are not permitted on the property. A deposit of US$100 (Visa, MC, Amex, Discover or check) is required. You must be at least 25 years of age to rent between Feb and April. Our unit faced the ocean, but others face the court or the swimming pool. We didn't use the air- conditioning or the fireplace (you have to bring your own wood). We did use the televisions (there was one in the bedroom and one in the living room, but only one controller worked to access the menu), the dishwasher and the microwave.
There was another couple in the unit over ours. They are really heavy footed. Our unit has 17 steps to get up to it but it's over the garage and laundry room so we don't have to worry about walking lightly. We got the car unloaded before it really started to rain.
A website on the Outer Banks says: "Located on the north end of the Banks, Duck remained undeveloped until the 1970's. Commercial development has been limited along Highway 12 and the community has considerable ''old beach'' charm.
"Named for the sheer numbers of waterfowl that once flocked here during migratory seasons, Duck has experienced exponential growth over the past ten years. Duck is a thriving year-round town as well as vacation destination. Characterized by quaint boutiques, fine dining, and a variety of water sports both on the sound and in the ocean, Duck is rapidly becoming one of the most popular beach destinations in the country."
Staying in Duck off-season means that the beach is not so much of an attraction. But there are various sights and attractions near to Duck so we are not just restricted to the beach. These are the ones we visited this week (in alphabetical order).
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- Currituck Beach Lighthouse (in Corolla north of Duck)
- Ocracoke Lighthouse
- Old Corolla Village and The Whalehead Club
- Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Roanoke Island attractions including the Elizabethan Gardens, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, the North Carolina Aquarium and North Carolina Maritime Museum (and The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse replica)
- Roanoke Island Festival Park, the Settlement Site at Festival Park, and the Adventure Museum at Festival Park,
- Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park
- Wright Brothers Memorial including Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center Page and the First Flight Centennial Exhibit Buildings,