A Travellerspoint blog

November 2007

Day 90 - Yorktown (Video Added)

We visited the Yorktown Battlefield (National Park Service), the Nelson House in Historic Yorktown (the Town), and also the Yorktown Victory Center (State of Virginia facility covering the whole Rev. War period)

sunny 50 °F

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 65 RT
Weather - Clear & Sunny, Very Cold
Camped at - yes, we're still at the fancy Thousand Trails campground, but I skipped the hot tub to work on the blog (Sad face)

Confessions:

We did not dress very warmly today. Why did we walk around freezing to death when the RV was just a short walk away - full of warmer clothing, hats, gloves, etc.? Duh. - Fire the tour guide!

Narrative:

Yorktown and Jamestown have somewhat parallel situations. The National Park Service runs the actual site (Historic Jamestown and Yorktown National Battlefield). However, the State of Virginia has developed living history museums close by that also have a lot to offer but from a totally different perspective.

First we went to the Yorktown National Battlefield. The visitors center is located at the east end of the British fortifications and has short guided tours available as well as some musuem exhibits.

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Our tour guide used a map to explain how the battle transpired.

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The British, under Gen. Cornwallis, had been winning most of the battles in the South. However, they were at the end of a very long supply line (3,000 miles to England) and did not receive as much support as they expected from loyalists. Although some of the battles were technically won by the British, they had also been costly in terms of men and supplies lost. So by late summer of 1781, Cornwallis's army was tired and low on supplies. He was ordered to locate a deep port on the Chesapeake Bay to await the British Fleet & Supplies. The small village of Yorktown had a deep water port and a very defensible position on the bluffs overlooking the bay. The main British positions were to the left of the town as depicted in this painting.

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Cornwallis put his men to work constructing earthen fortifications and settled in to await the fleet and fresh supplies & troops. Here are a couple of shots showing the view of the Bay from the British position and also some of the British guns (guns with a greenish coating are original Revolutionary War pieces).

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Washington and the French Commander, Rochambeau joined forces and marched their armies from Rhode Island and New York to confront Cornwallis at Yorktown. The French fleet was able to arrive at Chesapeake Bay before the British fleet and blockaded the entrance. When the British fleet arrived, the French ships attacked and the smaller British fleet was forced to withdraw and sail back to New York to make repairs. So the supplies and reinforcements Cornwallis was waiting for never arrived.

General Lafayette and his command had been operating in Virginia for some time and was able to provide Washington and Rochambeau valuable intelligence on the British strengths and positions.

So when the French and American troops got to Yorktown, Washington directed them to build earthworks parallel to the British lines. Since there was water on one side of the British and a deep swamp/ravine on the other, the American's could concentrate their forces and block the British fairly effectively.

Here are a couple of shots showing the American & French earthworks from the British position. Even in the late 1700's, these lines were well within artillery range of each other.

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Rochambeau had advised Washington to use a siege against Cornwallis, rather than a frontal attack. From what I could see of their positions, this decision probably led to the American/French victory (together with the French Navy blocking the port). The British position was quite strong against any sort of frontal attack, but it also trapped the British behind their lines. They had more artillery than the French & American's, but it was smaller (6 pound cannon). The French had been able to bring down some of their big cannon, such as this one, nicknamed the Lafayette. It actually has a hole indented in the side where it was hit by a Britich cannon ball!

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On October 9, 1781 the American's and French started shelling the British positions. On October 14th, Alexander Hamilton and Baron Viomenil took two forward redoubts (defensive positions) on the left of the British line, enabling the allies to complete a new siege line only 400 yards from the British. (See map above)

Cornwallis sent a force to try to break through the allied lines but it was not successful. He also had been prepared for the contingency of a siege and had stockpiled small boats to carry his army to the other side of the narrows. However, when the first boats attempted to evacuate Yorktown, a storm came up and sank several of them. After this, Cornwallis was completely trapped and forced to surrender, which was completed on October 19th.

After we learned about this battle from the tour guide, we also went through the museum. They actually have parts of the tents General Washington used for his headquarters during the battle; however the light was too dim to take a picture and I didn't want to risk using a flash (which probably wasn't allowed anyway, the cloth is very fragile and in a carefully climate controlled display room). You can also take a driving tour of the battlefield, but I elected not to do this so I would have enough time to check out the Yorktown Victory Center.

So we left the Yorktown National Battlefield (NBF) much better informed about what transpired there.

The Yorktown Victory Center is located a couple miles NW on the other side of the small village of Yorktown. As we drove through town, I decided to turn on "Main St" just for fun. (I wouldn't recommend this in the summer as it could be quite crowded and the streets are narrow). Today we pretty much had the roads to ourselves, so I wasn't too worried about getting trapped - a little worried maybe, but we got through the narrow streets just fine). We started driving past a large brick house on the left and noticed a National Park Service sign and flag out front. Not knowing what to expect, I decided to pull over and check it out.

This was the Nelson House. It was built by Thomas Nelson Jr.'s grandfather about 1730 and remained in the family until 1908 when it was finally sold. It has since been purchased by the National Park Service.

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Thomas Nelson Jr. (1738-1789) inherited the house sometime before the Revolutionary War and it was his residence during the war. He was one of the patriot leaders from Virginia and signed the Declaration of Independance. Later, he was Commander of the Virginia Militia during the battle of Yorktown. There is still an allied (Am/Fr) cannon ball embedded in the side of the house from the seige of Yorktown (we bombed the town also since it was being used by the British as their HQ. Patriots had fled when the British occupied the town in early August, so for the most part only British and Loyalists were in the town during the seige).

There is a painting in the house of Thomas Nelson Jr. when he was sixteen.

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In the famous painting by John Trumbull, "The Surrender of Cornwallis", Thomas Nelson Jr. is the first officer to the right of the American flag.

The dining room/parlor is set up using furniture as it might have looked in 1781, since the original furnishings have not survived. The wall paneling is original and the colors are accurate however (based on restoration studies).

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Excluding the furnishings, much of the house itself is original, including most of the handrail on the staircase. Since Nelson was one of the founding fathers, George Washington and Lafayette visited this house as well as other notables. Of course, I made sure I touched the handrail when I went upstairs...

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After we left the Nelson house we went to the Yorktown Victory Center. This is a facility run by the State of Virginia that covers not just Yorktown, but the entire Revolutionary War period, including events leading up to the war. They have electric carts available, so Mom really liked this place!

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We started at the Museum, but all along the path to the museum was a timeline with key events and sometimes paintings and additional information. Here is just one example, the whole thing was very informative.

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When we finally got to the Museum, it also was filled with informative signage. They especially tried to cover the era from the perspective of everyday people who lived through it, not just the famous leaders we've studied in school. Here is another example of the types of signs in the museum.

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Reinforcing this theme of the impact on normal people was a series of exhibits set up as diarama's. Each one had display cases with real artifacts and the background played a series of recordings being read from journals, diaries, or letters written by the people who's story was being presented. For example, this diarama had a recording of the letter written home by the soldier to his wife playing in the background.

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Mom especially liked these multimedia displays.

Behind the Museum is a re-enactment of a Continental Army encampment, complete with cannon demonstrations and soldiers. Since everything here is a replica, you can walk through the tents, touch things, and talk with the re-enactors. This was both fun and informative.

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Here is a short video of the cannon being fired (1/2 pound of powder and no projectile, as in a salute). The sound was much louder then this, the camera just didn't pick it up very well from my angle I'm afraid.

After we visited the army encampment, we made our way up to the 1790's farm which is also part of the center. My camera batteries were almost dead, so I only have one photo (don't know why I didn't walk up the 100' or so to the RV and get new batteries, probably because I was too cold to think because I was also too lazy to walk up the 100' or so to the RV and get a warmer jacket...). I did ask some questions of the re-enacter's working on the farm and learned that the average farm in Virginia at that time was only 75 - 100 acres. There were also big plantations, but these were the exception. Most families only farmed what they could work themselves. Only 5 acres would be tobacco, since that's all a man could work, it was a very labor intensive crop. Tobacco was the cash crop, with 5 acres they could produce about two 'hogs head' barrels a year for export, which at 10 - 20 pounds sterling per barrel, would be the farms cash earnings for the year. Other crops would be raised for the families consumption. I used my little remaining battery juice to get a picture of a 'hogs head' - now that's a big barrel.

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Tomorrow is Saturday, so will take Mom to church near historic Jamestown. While she's there, thought I'd check out the reenactment settlement the state has built nearby. Then we'll probably check out the glass blowers nearby.

Sunday we will probably rest again and I WILL GET THE BLOG CAUGHT UP (and maybe some other chores).
Monday we'll finally leave here (we are both quite ready to move on), but will drive NW to Monticello (maybe Mount Vernon on the way), then start heading south generally towards NC - but may stop in Richmond and/or Petersburg on the way. In any event, we should be out of VA before the end of the week.

Posted by jl98584 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 89 - Jamestown (Photo's Added)

We visited Historic Jamestown (place of the actual 1607 settlement) and spent the whole day there.

sunny

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 108 RT
Weather - Cold & overcast in the morning, then the clouds burned off and it was quite pleasant & sunny the rest of the day.
Camped at - Still staying at the nice Thousand Trails campground (and we did visit the hot tub when we got back)

Confessions:

I'm getting older, the Colonial Parkway has NO lights, NO painted strips at edges or center, very hard to drive at night if you're not familiar with it - and if your eyes are getting old! Maybe it's time I hung up the old keys, Mom could drive back?

Narrative:

Today we decided to visit 'Historic Jamestown'. This is the actual location of the first permanent English settlement in America. I included the name in quotes, because nearby is a Virginia State facility called "Jamestown Settlement" which is slightly different (we visited that on Saturday). 'Historic Jamestown' is run jointly by the National Park Service and the "Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities", or APVA.

Following Columbus (re)discovery of the new world in 1492, Spain was becoming rich exploiting her colonies in south. France also started establishing colonies in the north to exploit fur trade and England wanted a part of the action. In 1585, an attempted settlement on Roanoke Island in present day North Carolina failed (the 'lost colony'). In 1606, King James I granted a charter to the Virginia Companies to establish a new colony north of area's previously settled by the Spanish. The Virginia Company was formed by investors who hoped to get rich on the venture and sold stock to raise money on that premise.

In December 1606, they sent three ships from England with 104 Men and boys to locate a place suitable for a new settlement. There were no women aboard as this was initially considered a military adventure (they were seeking Gold, Glory and God - the three 'G's). The ships arrived in April 1607 and spent about three weeks looking for a suitable place to build a settlement. They needed to find a place that wasn't already occupied by natives, a place far enough upriver and out of view of the Spanish (who claimed all of the new world for themselves, whether they'd settled it or not), and also with deep enough moorage for their ships. None of the sites they investigated were perfect, but the Island they choose was the best fit they could find. The James River is deep enough along the edge that they could tie thier ships up to trees on the island (also a reason that end of the island has eroded).

On May 14, 1607 they tied up their ships off of James Island, as they named thier new home. They immediately set about building a small base, which eventually became a three sided fort covering about one acre. This was the primary settlement (called Fort James after their king) for the next few years. Eventually, people started locating their homes outside the fort walls and the 'new town' developed to the east. Jamestown continued to grow and develop and remained the colony's capital throughout the 1600's, but there were also a lot of problems associated with the location (bugs, lack of fresh water, etc). After the town burned done in the 1690's, they decided to move the capital to nearby Williamsburg. Over the next 50 years or so, people began to abandon Jamestown and eventually it became just a tobacco plantation. As the buildings disappeared and the island's shoreline eroded, most people thought the site of the original fort had been washed into the James River, although they did know approximately where it had been and also where the town itself had been.

In 1994, the APVA began excavations where they thought parts of the fort might have still survived on the island and almost immediately started finding artifacts. In fact, only a small corner of the fort had been lost and the archeology had added a great deal of knowledge about the settlements earliest days. Although this is still an active archeological dig, the site is open - both for the original fort and also the 'new town' area just outside it.

When you first visit the 'Historic Jamestown' site, you walk across this foot bridge over a pine and tar swamp. The colonists tried to harvest the pine & tar for use in shipbuilding. It was only one of many ventures they tried, but the colony was unable to turn a profit on most of these ventures. (You can see the fort walls in the background).

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At the end of the bridge is a memorial set up to commerate the site. This is where the ranger tours start.

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We joined a tour that had already started, so missed some of the early lecture - probably just as well, it was very cold at that point so we didnt' want to sit around too much. The ranger did take us by a statue of Pocohontas. Popular folklore had her saving Capt. Smith's life - but some folks now think that doesn't make very much sense. Capt. Smith was known to embellish or make up things, so it may or may not have been true. What is known is that Pocohontas was her father's favorite daughter and when she married John Rolfe, one of the colonists, it brought peace for a few years anyway.

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Next to the statue is a very nice looking brick church. Not surprisingly, this is not original to the site but was built in the early 1900's on approximately the same site of a 1640's church. They also attempted to build it using drawings from the 1600's, so it may be somewhat like the original. The tower on the far end is original - it is the only remaining 1600's structure on the island and is from about 1640. There was a church in the original fort prior to this, but it was wood. The 1640's church was a later replacement built of brick that would have also been more for the town that had grown up outside the fort.

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Finally, we went through the fort itself. Of course, all signs of the original buildings have been lost for centuries (it has been 400 years afterall). However, archeologists have been able to locate where the walls actually were since when wooden posts rot or burn, they leave different colors and traces in the soil. Here is a diagram showing the location of the fort superimposed over a photograph of the island as well as the portions that were lost to the river erosion:

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The reconstructed walls are built using the same types of materials and methods. Only the walls and a frame for one building have been reconstructed. The corners are still open and sections are roped off while the archeologists (and archeology students) continue their digging.

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In the center of the site is this statue of Captain John Smith. He was a very interesting person and important to the survival of the early colony. While the initial colonists worked hard to build their fort, they really wanted to search for gold and silver and get rich like the Spanish had done. Captain Smith realized earlier then the rest that they needed more practical work to survive and instituted some rather harsh punishments for anybody who didn't. He is also credited with helping negotiate with the local Powhatan tribes to trade for food (although some feel his story about being saved by Pocohontas is an exaggeration. Unfortunately (?) for the colony, he was injured and returned to England in 1609 for medical treatment, although he continued to promote the colony and wrote about the new world in England. He also returned to New England later on a mapping expedition.

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The ranger guided tour ended at the fort (you don't have to take a guided tour to visit the fort however, and after the tour you are invited to continue your visit as you wish). Mom and I were both cold, so elected to visit the Archaearium next.

This is a museum just outside the fort area. It was built on top of the foundation for the old state house that burned down in 1698. They have built this on raised platforms so it doesn't disturb the original foundations or other burial locations found at the site. The Archaearium is where the artifacts found at the site are displayed, as well as interpretive displays. However, they don't allow photograph's so I haven't got much else to post on that.

We spent quite a bit of time in the Archaearium and somehow, when we got out the cold, overcast morning had burned off and turned into a very pleasant - mid 60's and sunny! Mom was pretty tired however and elected to return to the main visitors center while I elected to explore the 'new town' area. A few brick foundations are visible (from previous excavations) and fairly thorough interpretive signs dot the area. Houses were built as the settlement grew and a number of wharfs and warehouses built along the waterfront (warehouses were small then, much like a garage of today). The colonists started making bricks, at first mostly for fireplaces and hearths then later on for brick homes. They also tried a number of enterprises to help turn a profit for the Virginia Company.

Here is an example of what one of the earliest houses might have looked like and a foundation as it looks today:

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Later, about 1650, a 'Row House' was built where three homes shared a common wall. These were built out of brick, so leave a little more substantial foundation.

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Also, in the new town area are the remains of a1750's plantation house - not really part of Jamestown, but interesting none the less.

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In the first few years, nothing was very successful and the colony would not have survived except for the food they traded for from the Powhatan and supply ships from England. In 1609 there was a drought and the Powhatan didn't have enough food to supply the colonists. Since many of the early colonists were soldiers, they weren't very good at hunting and fishing - and as relations with the natives grew worse, they feared leaving the fort to hunt as they were being killed. The winter of 1609-10 has become known as 'the starving time'. The Virginia Company did send more supplies and colonists managed to keep the colony afloat while they kept looking for a way to make a profit. Among other things they tried glass, silk & wine making. They did send raw materials back to London (iron ore, wood, ?) but not enough to offset the cost of supporting the colony.

John Rolfe arrived in 1610 and started growing tobacco from seeds he'd brought over. Tobacco had been grown in Virginia by native peoples but it wasn't as good as the sweeter variety that the Spanish were selling. John Rolfe's experiment worked and he started shipping large barrels back to England. This was so successful that people started growing tobacco in the streets. It became the 'golden' crop that finally started making money for the colony and defined the development of Virginia in many ways.

OK - I guess that kind of jumped around a bit, may try to fix it later.

Anyway - there are also some artifacts on display at the main visitors center that you can photograph. Here is an oven from the original fort area they dug up during their excavations.

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Also this piece is from 1675 - it is the handle from a pewter spoon cast in America about 30 miles SE of Jamestown. You can still see the makers mark on the end of the handle. This is one of the earliest (if not the earliest) pewter pieces that can positively be identified as being made in America.

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Hm, this stuff is really, really old and all very impressive - but kind of makes the Fairbanks House up in Massachusetts even more so - there we have an intact, whole wood frame house still standing from the 1640's!

This took a long time to write, we learned a lot about Jamestown today that I probably didn't capture very well here - there's just too much. We stayed so long that it was getting dark by the time we left. On the drive back to the RV campground, Mom got out to get some sand from the James River, which gives us a nice parting shot for tonight I think?

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Posted by jl98584 19:11 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 88 - Colonial Williamsburg (Photo's Added)

We went to a very interesting concert of Crystal Instruments (Glass) by Dean Shostak, including a Glass Armonica invented by Ben Franklin!

sunny 52 °F

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 111 (in a circle, as planned)
Weather - Cold
Camped at - we are continuing to stay at the Thousand Trails campground while we explore this part of Virginia. This is a little different sort of travelling then we are used to, staying at one campground then taking trips to sightsee from there. There are advantages, but I think I prefer striking out for the unknown.

Confessions:

OK - watched the DWTS finals Monday and Tuesday night, will have to get this caught up as I can...
I finally noticed that Travellerspoint puts the date up top when these blog entries are published, so unless anyone objects, I think I'll start eliminating the date from the titles?

Narrative:

In spite of the pretty sunshine, it was quite cold out. Colonial Williamsburg requires quite a bit of walking around to really take it in, so we opted to just take the shuttle around and look at it from afar. Also, this time of year there aren't as many reenactors as in the summer, so I didn't want to spend $36 each just to go to maybe a museum or two. We both were interested in something called a 'Crystal Concert', so I did buy tickets for the concert & the shuttle bus.

The concert was by Dean Shostak. He featured an instrument called a 'Glass Armonica'. It was invented by Ben Franklin after he attended a concert in England of water filled wine glasses. The wine glasses sound pretty, but need a lot of fine adjusting to get the notes tuned correctly and only one note at a time can be played. Franklin figured he could do better, good old Ben! His insrument uses specially tuned glass bowls turned on their sides and connected so that when they are turned, they can be played with with more than one finger at a time (up to ten fingers if you can stretch them enough).

The Glass Armonica was very popular between 1761, when he invented it, and the early 1800's when it was largely eclipsed by the piano. We were asked not to record video's during the concert, but could take still shots, so this is what the instrument looks like. These are glass bowls turned on their sides and glued together with a piece of cork at the base.

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In addition, I was able to find a video on YouTube of a segment from the History Channel describing and demonstrating the instrument - if you have the time, it's worth a watch also (and much better done than my own would have been of course).

Whew - that's a lot to absorb! However, the concert didn't stop with the Armonica. Mr. Shostak also played a set of glass bells he had specially made for him. They looked kind of trickey, but were pretty.

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After the glass bells, Mr. Shostak opened up a small case sitting near the front of the stage. Inside was a glass violin - no kidding! He showed this to us for quite a while, then also played it. The Hario Glass Company in Japan made this for him - it took them a year to figure out how to do it and they have only made two as far as Mr. Shostak knows. I did find a video of someone playing a glass violin at a Hario trade show concert and also a Dave Kim playing a glass violin in Reno, but his could have been an electronic one (video was hard to tell). At any rate, there aren't many of these around.

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Finally, there was a really odd looking thing off to the left side of the stage. Mr. Shostak went over to that and described it as a relatively new glass instrument that had been invented in France by Bernard & Fracois Baschet (in 1952). It is played by rubbing glass rods that are tuned to different frequencies. He played a couple of pieces on this.

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After the concert we were allowed to come up and take pictures and buy CD's (which we did). You can also order these at:

http://www.glassmusic.com/

After the Crystal Concert, we did walk around Colonial Williamsburg a little bit. There wasn't too much going on probably because it was the off season. To get the full experience you also need to be able to do a little more walking than Mom can handle, so we just walked about a block and looked around a bit. They did have some crafts people working as well as some Revolutionary War re-enactors, which looked like fun. The place is also very nicely done to resemble the town as it was in the 1770's (except cars are not totally restricted from the core area, so that does spoil the mood a bit). I only took a few shots,

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We did also visit the Marketplace, where several (expensive) shops are located with some nice things. Most of the goods were beyond our budgets, but we did enjoy looking. Here are just a couple of examples (I liked the Silversmiths Shop):

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We had a number of unplanned route changes on the way back to the campground. Ugh. However, we did make it back safely (with some help finally from the GPS software) and were able to continue our adventure another day...

Posted by jl98584 19:03 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 84-87 - Time Off (Photo's Added)

We're in a really nice campground (with no cell phone service) and really need to do some reorganizing in the RV (and some resting in the bodies), so just took a few days off

48 °F

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 141 RT
Weather - 48 F Saturday, 50 Sunday, 70 Monday & Tuesday
Camped at Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails Campground

Confessions:

Saturday & Sunday I just vegged (sorry, could have gotten all kinds of things done)

Narrative:

Monday - Drove to Virginia Beach to have fill valve replaced on propane tank. Also, Mom got another prescription filled and we finally found a place that was still giving flu shots - so both got poked. The RV place in VA Beach was a bit of a family affair. The work at Eric's RV was done by Eric, but his mom ran the office to great affect (& was the only RV place I'd called that bothered to return my message)

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Tuesday - Finally sorted some of all those boxes of a paperwork I brought with us, got lots of stuff to mail home now. Got lots more to sort, but will have to wait until later...

In the meantime, since there is no cell phone signal here, I hiked out to the main road (abt 1 mile?) to make some phone calls. Thought it might also be fun to take the camera and get some shots of the campground (& hot tub) for those who've never RV'd.

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One thing we've both enjoyed here very much is a very large hot tub. Since it's so late in the season, most of the time we've pretty much had it to ourselves.

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Also there were quite a few birds here which I wanted to try to capture (with the usual difficulties)

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The interesting thing came when I got to the main road. Off in the distance, I kept hearing a large bird of some sort (screeching?) I kept watching, but didn't see anything so expected this to be another missed opportunity. Finally, about when I'd finished my phone calls, I began to see a bird circling way over by the tree lines. Of course I wanted a picture, but it was quit far away and I expected it would fly even farther away. Today this was not to be, it continued to circle and actually flew quite close overhead, with this result.

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Posted by jl98584 15:47 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

Day 83 (11.23.07) - Chincoteague to Gloucester (Photo's Add)

We drove down the Eastern Shore of Virginia, met a rude local, some nice people, then crossed the 17.6 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and made it to the Campground (finally)

overcast 53 °F

Logistics:

Miles driven - 197
Weather - Sunny, but very cold and windy (high no more than 50F)
Camped at - Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails Campground

Confessions:

I haven't been paying enough attention to maps. I was vaguely aware that we would have to cross a bridge to the mainland if I took the coastal route, but had no idea what I was in for! (In addition to thinking I could make it to Gloucester, VA by Wednesday night...)

Narrative:

We drove hard today and finally made it to the fancy campground I'd had reservations for two days ago. On the way, we took a little time out to stop for things, but not too much.

The first place we stopped was in Onancock, VA - I'd seen signs for the Kerr Place, which looked like it might be interesting. It was closed (it was the day after Thanksgiving afterall), but they had an outdoor display with a 1904 Chesapeak Bay work boat that was interesting. This was built without plans, the builder started with five logs, then built up the sides from there. It was large enough for the crew to 'camp' in for several days if needed (45' long).

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I also took a picture of the downtown area. So much of the coastal area's are built up and filled with expensive condo's, this one was more basic, like a midwest farming town. This area of Virginia is referred to as the eastern shore. Because of it's isolation and the distance from the big cities, it seems to be more rural, quiet and less affluent.

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A few miles down the road from this Mom saw a sign for 'Silver Beach'. She was itching to get some sand from the Chesapeak Bay, so even though the sign said it was 10 miles, I turned off. After a long drive, we got to Silver Beach. At high tide, this is misnamed, no beach is visible. In addition, there is no public access to the shore. There is a public road that goes along it, but it has no outlet (a stub) and no public parking along it. Since we were exploring a bit, I went ahead and tried it, thinking I'd be able to turn around somewhere, then got out to take a picture. One of the local's promptly came out and let me know that we needed to leave, couldn't stop there, and generally made sure we weren't welcome. I suggested they should have a sign 10 miles back at the highway saying there wasn't any public access, but he didn't care. Well, I guess it wouldn't be realistic to expect everyone to be friendly? (We have also encountered some very rude drivers in VA, so must be some of that east coast charm I suppose).

So here is my pic of the run down eastern shore house we saw enroute, and the illigit pic of silver beach - then let's move on, shall we?

Day_83_-_Cheap_House.jpgDay_83_-_Silver_Beach.jpg

As Mom described the bridge a bit more, I decided I definitely wanted to pull over before having to drive across this thing. It was also getting close to lunch town so we pulled off in the last town before the bridge, Cape Charles. On the way into town, we passed a small museum and it was open! There wasn't anybody there except the lady at the front desk, Mary, so we had the place to ourselves for the most part. They had an interesting mix of exhibits, including mostly stuff from the local town and history. The room was dwarfed by a giant diesel engine that had been used as the towns backup generator for many years (it looked like the building originally housed it as well), so that's probably why it was the main exhibit. They have this set up so it appears to run (an electric motor I'm sure) and Mary was kind enough to demonstrate this. I also threw in this shot of an ancient telephone switchboard on display since I worked on one once (briefly).

Day_83_-_C..chboard.jpgDay_83_-_C..nerator.jpgDay_83_-_C..___Mary.jpg

The museum also had some information about an ancient crater at the south end of Chesapeake Bay some 25 miles across. Scientists think this was caused by an asteroid about 2 miles across that hit the earth about 35 million years ago. The crater is still causing problems with the groundwater around the region. Later I saw another sign about this event near the beach, so I guess it's a pretty big deal in this area.

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After touring the museum briefly, I drove out to the coast where Mom could get some sand (the town is on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore, not the Atlantic side). It was too cold to get out and do very much, but we could eat lunch in the nice warm RV and still enjoy the seashore! Not being one to be too daunted by a cold wind, I bundled up and walked across the dune to check out the beach. Then I saw a most unusual sight - very colorful kite like things in the low sky. After watching these for some time, they came nearer then right up onto the beach. Attached to each kite was a man (in wet suit) and a board - these are Kite Boarders - they love high wind days like this! These guys had put in 10 miles to the north and boarded (surfed) down to Cape Charles for sport, very aerobic. (I tried taking some video but don't know how usable it is, will try to edit & upload if any can be salvaged, it was very windy).

Day_83_-_Cape_Charles.jpgDay_83_-_C..oarders.jpg

I had run out of excuses and was well rested, so decided to go ahead and tackle the bridge. We were somewhat afraid (or is that hopeful?) that the bridge folks would not allow us to cross, but they didn't consider RV's to be unacceptable. They simply required us to turn off the propane (Boston tunnel folks - take note). So over we went.

The Chesapeake Bridge - Tunnel is 17.6 miles long. Most of this is bridge that crosses Chesapeake Bay from Cape Charles to Norfolk. But it also includes two sections of tunnels, each about one mile long. While it was quite windy for such a long bridge crossing, it wasn't too bad since there wasn't anytying to break the wind (like tree's). A steady wind is easier to adjust to than gusts. I had a little trouble keeping my speed up to the posted minimum, but the traffic was light and nobody seemed too upset (they must not live on Silver Beach I guess). Just before we got to the southern side was a pullout with a gift shop. I pretty much bought out the store as I felt I needed an award (or souviner) for making it across.

It was actually quite an experience - the highlight of the day. With the wind, many seagulls were just hovering above the side of the bridge waiting for fish to crash into the pilings. A couple of seagulls almost drifted into our lane but we didn't hit any and just enjoyed watching them hover. The sea was beautiful, with the wind a bit specticular crashing into the bridge pilings and blowing up waves.

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Day_83_-_B.._Tunnel.jpgDay_83_-_T..ntrance.jpgDay_83_-_B..el_Stub.jpg

Posted by jl98584 15:42 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

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