This portion of the trip runs through Pamlico Sound. It’s not the open ocean, but it’s very large with lots of exposure to the ocean, enough to make us feel tiny & heighten our sense of adventure. “There is a moment when pushing away from the dock, everyone on board recognizes that another journey has begun. Your destination is your goal and the object is to reach it and to arrive there without injury to crew or vessel.” (Paraphrased from William F Buckley Jr’s Atlantic High) There’s no “driving” to be done, just set your course on automatic pilot, sit back & enjoy. Even heard the commercial fishermen talking about how perfect the weather was. Then we listened to the Coast Guard rescue of a 42 ft boat that was taking on water. A reminder not to get “too” relaxed. Tonight we are on the Pungo River. Took the courtesy vehicle into the little town of Bellhaven, NC. Spent some down time relaxing before making dinner as we are traveling everyday for the next few days. We have had many people (& not just locals) remark that North Carolina shrimp is the best. We bought several pounds and will have some tonight along with the last of the Mahi-mahi. Looking for a Redwing win tonight! Oh my, these Michiganders are beginning to rub off on us!!!!!!
It’s a holiday weekend & we didn’t even realize it was the weekend. Such is the life of the retired! We have options to consider once again in our journey. Different routes take us either 1) Close to the shores of Kitty Hawk (the birthplace of modern aviation) or 2) The Dismal Swamp (22 miles of beautiful wilderness highly recommended by all Loopers). Being pilots, the Kill Devil Hills Museum & Wright Brothers National Memorial is a draw, but after careful consideration, the Dismal Swamp route takes us to Elizabeth City (where the infamous Rose Buddies are) & through a natural area that so many have told us about. Kitty Hawk is not directly on the waterway that our boats would be on and would require a day of rental cars and driving. Today we arrive at the Alligator Marina in Columbia, NC around 1pm. We bought the best price diesel of the trip so far ($1.86/gal)! The closest towns are 16 miles in one direction & 25 in the other. We don’t need an extra day to explore here so we will move on tomorrow. But “Headquarters” is here as are “Final Decision” & “Summer Wind” & others we have bumped into up the coast of the last 3 states. So we all met for cocktails at the picnic table and got take out from Miss Wanda’s Kitchen for dinner.
Elizabeth City, NC is known to boaters as the “Harbor of Hospitality”! Many years ago 2 retirees appointed themselves the unofficial welcoming committee to visiting boaters on their waterfront. They came to the complimentary city dock area daily bearing roses for the ladies & hosted a “afternoon get together” for all the boaters. The Mayor has carried on the tradition since the last “Rose Buddy” passed away last year at the age of 93. Being nice to people must have agreed with him as he was healthy enough to continue his tradition of hospitality to within of month of his passing. They have a wonderful museum here about the Albemarle Sound with its rich history of life here throughout the ages including a lot about the Civil War & how torn this area was in the conflict. This city actually set itself on fire burning 2/3 of the town rather than have it fall into Federal control. On a lighter note, we saw an actual address board off a crate where the Wright Brothers had equipment shipped here to use at Kitty Hawk. They stayed in a hotel here when they were first scouting the area for the perfect topography for “short flights”. Dare County is named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born to English parents in the new world in 1587. She was part of the lost colony that was supposed to be provisioned by England but ships were not available for several years and when they finally came, the whole colony had disappeared. This is a very interesting area.
Happy Memorial Day! We celebrated the holiday by doing the Dismal Swamp today. Up & out at 5:45am in order to get to the locks & bridges that only open at certain times. This was our 1st lock since the TN-Tom in November. Dismal Swamp connects Elizabeth River in Va & the Pasquotank River in NC & is the oldest continually operating canal in the US. George Washington & 5 other investors purchased the 40,000 acre swampland for $20,000 after George surveyed it & decided the canal could be dug, swampland could be drained & turned into farmland, the trees could be cut and shipped via the 22 mile canal. Through the years it was important for commercial shipping and strategically located for Civil War supply routes (for both sides).We are glad to be in Norfolk for a couple of days now. It’s our 80th Port of Call for our Great Loop Trip. We have traveled 5 days in a row and are ready for some down time. And guess what…..Bob & Deb (Headquarters) are here. They had already done the Dismal Swamp and went the alternative route several days ago. So we all went to Hooters for Hot Wings & Burgers tonight. Yeah, nice holiday, but we are all tired from long days of travel. Our fun card is just about punched out & we need to sleep in tomorrow!!!!!
Our first day in a city on the Chesapeake Bay! Morning walk around downtown & then the girls walk to The Market for a few items. Adam, who works at the store, offers to give us a ride back to the marina & suddenly it’s super shopping time. We never fail to make the most of provisioning transportation! While grabbing a bite of lunch, the clouds gather & we get a shower. Phooey, we were just getting ready to get out on our bicycles.
Whether the weather be mild or whether the weather be not,Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot,We'll weather the weather whatever the weather,Whether we like it or not.
But the sun did come out and we biked over & enjoyed the Norfolk Naval Museum. Doing dinner with “Good News” & “Headquarters”. I did the Pasta Salad!!
Gorgeous weather here in Norfolk today! Mary, Deb & I checked out MacArthur Mall, lunched @ California Pizza Kitchen, & visited the Douglas MacArthur Memorial & Museum. The boys worked on boats & dinked over to Portsmouth for oil, filters & other boy stuff! Then we got ready for “The Great Crab Cake Cook-Off” between Mary & Deb! I did the sides of grilled asparagus & salad and Brad & I were the official judges because we are not prejudice & we don’t have a crab in the race. We couldn’t believe it!!!
We used a 10 point system covering 14 categories of fine crab cake characteristics and it was a dead heat! We may have to see what they can do with clams to break the tie. This will be deliciously interesting if it goes into overtime!!! After dinner, the girls all sang to the soundtrack of “The Big Chill.” FUN!
So sad to wave goodbye to Bob & Deb (Headquarters)! Our itineraries are different & we are not sure when we will see each other again. We will miss them. They are so much fun! As we leave Norfolk we are in awe of the Naval Fleet that is based here. We even saw the USS Cole in dry dock having some work done on her bow hull. Our travel today was in fairly open water but it was a good day for cruising. As we came up the channel we could see the Yorktown Victory Monument. It was here that Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. George Washington, ending the American Revolutionary War. At the Riverwalk Marina in Yorktown around noon, the currents were pretty swift & made for some dicey docking. “Good News” & “Salvage Crew” came in fine, but with some big eyes & tight, well our eyes were BIG! Mary & Andy got off the boat for a few days here to visit friends. Brad & I plan to tourYorktown, Williamsburg, & Jamestown.
A glorious day dawns and we are up and ready to go. We take the “free shuttle to Colonial Williamsburg” at 9:30am. What a great tourist community that provides complimentary transportation for us to go to Williamsburg & Jamestown. We are back in Yorktown by 3pm & take a brief siesta before checking out the “Watermen” Museum. Watermen are people who make their living 12 months a year on the water, regardless of what their job is (crabber, oysterman, fisherman, boat Captain, etc). The only other place this term is used is on the Thames in England. We bicycle around town until we get thirsty and find ourselves back at Ye Olde Pub. We met nice local people there (they have a weekend place nearby). Meeting nice folks like the Davis’ is part of what is so great about this trip! Everyday is amazing.
We always look to see if the town we are in has a Farmer's Market on Saturday. We have been to some great ones & in Yorktown, at 8 AM I found wonderful fresh produce, jalepeno cheddar popcorn, oysters by the dozen (glad I saved my shucker from Appalachicola), Big Daddy Teriyaki Sauce, Homemade Sour Cream Pound Cake, Green Mountain Coffee, tomatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, Arugula, fresh spinach and YES, I bought all of the above. By the time I got back to the boat, Mel & Susan Davis were calling. We met them last night and he said “We are picking you up at noon, we want to show you our community”. What a wonderful day. Their primary home is an hour away but they have the most beautiful 2nd home in the KingsMill neighborhood. We visited their home, the golf club & spa, marina, drove over & visited Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement founded 1607), came back and met their friends (2 other couples) for dinner. What a spectacular day. Thank you Mel & Susan, you helped us make a memory today that will shine in our Great Loop Log. The Loop is awesome. The places are unforgettable. The adventures are so cool. But the friends we have made along the way…….well, that’s the best of the best. We are so blessed.
As we left Yorktown this morning two Eagles circled overhead. How appropriate to have the symbol of our country present as we leave this historical area. The Sarvers got back from their visit with friends last night & we got an e-mail for Deb & BK (Bob Koerner).
We will all be together in Deltaville today. As soon as we got there we grabbed the marina “Mercedes stationwagon” and visited the local Mariner’s Museum and stopped at other interesting shops on the main road. Deb made a wonderful spaghetti dinner for all of us since she was in port today while we were in transit. We are planning to stay here a few days because the boys need to do maintenance on the engines. Change oil, oil filters, check all fluids, etc & that is best done when engines are cool!!!