Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Durham NC to Kingsport TN June 22 Monday

We were up and out early to visit the NC Botanical Gardens with Daniel and Robin before beginning our trip home about 10:30. It was a great Garden with lots of activities for children.

It was a rather uneventful trip with a stop at Quiznos in Mount Airy for lunch. We finished up our second book on CD and listened to some Prairie Home Companion Joke tapes that we had gotten in a gift swap last Christmas. They were entertaining but mostly stupid jokes. We arrived home about 3:00 to face high grass, many limbs and sticks in the yard, and about 10 inches of growth on tomato plants! We had continued to have thunder storms and rain during our time away as we had for the 2-3 weeks before we left. The rain has been great for the plants. Tomorrow we face the laundry and garden. Tonight we rest! Good to be home but we had a great trip.

VA Beach to Durham NC June 21 Sunday

We managed to have a comfortable nights’ sleep because of the fan. The temperature when we awoke was 75 degrees; but it began to rise quickly as the sun came in the back of the Van. We quickly ate breakfast and broke down camp leaving by 8:15 – about an hour earlier than we had thought.

The trip out of the metropolitan area was uneventful with light Sunday morning traffic. We selected US 17 as our route south-west hoping to see the Great Dismal Swamp. The maps did not identify where the visitor center was and it turned out not to be on US 17 and was over 40 miles away on a side road. We learned the visitor center was not open on weekends so did not make that detour. The road was 4-lane all but a few miles (for a draw bridge) and we zipped right past Elizabeth City, Edenton, and were in Rocky Mount for lunch. Jane had been craving a hamburger for the past two days so we stopped at a Wendy’s and had a great one!

The trip from Rocky Mount to Durham took about an hour and we arrived at Jeff’s before Daniel was up from his nap. When Daniel was up we had a great adventure to Loco-Pops – the local popsicle store. They had many flavors and we all had different ones ranging from chocolate/apricot to birch beer. They evidently have some favorites all the time and a variety of flavors that change from day to day. All the flavors we had were great. We next ventured to Southern Seasons, a gourmet food supermarket, that was having their semi-annual sale!

Back at home we played and cooked up the crab cakes we had brought from the DELMARVA. They were good but not as good as the lump crab cakes from MD. We had frozen them but were really afraid to keep for 9 days so we bought on our last day in DELMARVA. I believe they were appreciated!

It is amazing how Daniel changes so quickly – it has only been about 3 weeks since we saw him but I believe he had grown taller! I took a few photos but realized the next morning my camera battery was dead and they did not take. So no Daniel photos – Robin however took some so I will get them from her…

Kiptopeake State Park to First Landing State Park June 20 Saturday

We broke down camp and left by 9:30. After a stop at West’s Seafood to purchase crab cakes we headed across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The length is 18 miles with two tunnels and a toll of $12. If you make the round trip within 24 hours is $17. It was hazy so we could not see far but did observe many fishing boats and we saw one large tanker heading out to sea.

View From Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Entering First of Two Tunnels under Chesapeake Bay

As we left the Bay Bridge we headed to Fort Story for Jane to get her last lighthouse photos of the trip. We took the photos of the old and new Cape Henry Lighthouses and stopped at the First Landing Visitor Center. To get on the base you had to undergo a security search with getting out of the vehicle, showing ID, opening all the doors, and a mirror under the van search of the Sprinter. We were here pre September 11th and the security is MUCH tighter. We noticed significant new base housing as well.

New Cape Henry Light

Old Cape Henry Light

We found our way to First Landing State Park and have a campsite near the beach. It is the warmest temperature we have seen – 94 degrees. There is some breeze and it looks like we will be able to leave the doors open with screens up and capture the breeze. We considered going to an art show on the boardwalk in VA Beach but think we will head to the Aquarium instead where it will be cool.

Our Campsite at First Landing State Park

One Tree in our campsite had 9 pair of sunglasses decorating it! Look Closely!

The Aquarium was undergoing some renovations so the some of the exhibits were not open. We saw lots of ocean fish and a diver feeding them in one tank. There were lots of sea turtles and sharks. The exhibits about the Chesapeake were interesting. Best of all it was cool! The temperature outside was between 95 and 100. About 4:00 we headed towards Carrolton and Buck’s house. We crossed VA Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk before we reached their home in Isle of Wright county. We saw many container yards and cranes in the Portsmouth and Norfolk area.

Aquarium in VA Beach

Newport News Shipyard - Northrop Grummon work on Aircraft Carrier

Container Yard in the Norfolk/Portsmouth Harbor

We had a lovely visit with Buck and Peggy and enjoyed great crab cakes. A little after 7:30, we left and headed back to First Landing State Park. This time we completed our circle of the Hampton Rhodes area by crossing two more bridges(one with tunnel) to go through Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk reaching VA Beach and our camp about 8:30. Jane was able to hurry over to the boardwalk and get a photo of the very last of the sunset. It has cleared considerably today and she saw sparkling tiny lights along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as far the eye could see.

Almost missed the Sunset at VA Beach

We have all the doors open on the van with the screens attached, the fan on, the ventilator and fan on – and in about 15 minutes the temperature has dropped from 91 to 84. We hope it keeps on dropping about 10 more degrees. There is a breeze so hopefully it will not be intolerable. This is the warmest evening we have had on this trip. We remember why we do not do much summer camping in the south! This campground, however is full to the brim!

Kiptopeake State Park June 19 Friday

What a nice slow morning we had. Jane cooked biscuits, sausage and gravy. There will be enough for tomorrow. The rain from last night was gone leaving beautiful blue skies. After breakfast Jane went on an excursion to several shops she had seen on the highway and to Cape Charles. Ben elected to stay behind at camp and download and study the photos he took at Winterthur.

When we visited Cape Charles 10 years ago we remember a small community with almost no businesses. Today the main street is full of nice shops and the bay area has a boardwalk and stairs over the dunes. The beach was very nice with a number of people sunning and swimming. The shops I visited were very nice – the art gallery had nice stained glass and woodwork as well as jewelry and various paintings. Their water tower is painted to be a lighthouse. One of the shop keepers said the new condominium and marina had been very instrumental in turning the area around.

Art Gallery in Cape Charles

Water Tower in Cape Charles looks like a Light House

We were back at the campsite for lunch and some reading before our venture out for the afternoon. We drove south the three miles to the end of the island and stopped at a Wild Life Refuge. We saw baby osprey in a nest. They have placed a web cam to view the nest. We also walked down a trail to a marsh view area where we could see the Smith Island Lighthouse and remnants of World War II Gun Emplacements. We continued north on the peninsula to find some fish and scallops for supper. We bought scallops and trout at West Seafood. They also have crab cakes which we may go back to get tomorrow morning and freeze them to take to Jeff’s.

Smith Island Light - this was as close as you can get

World War II Gun Emplacement

Back at camp we headed to the beach area for Ben to try his hand at crabbing. He got his cage down below a pier and then tried the line and net method on the beach. He saw two crabs that got away before he got the net ready. The seaweed made it very difficult to see the crabs. After over an hour of crabbing he gave up – the worst of it was his crab cage string broke and he lost the cage – the water was too deep to go in after it…

Crabbing - Ben uses net and Chicken Gizzards on String

Ready to Drop Crab Pot

Supper was good with Jane cooking – trout, scallops, hush puppies, and asparagus. The campground is filling up today. There were only people on one side of us yesterday and none behind us. Now we have neighbors on all sides.

The sky is clear tonight so we will likely not have a repeat of the thunder storms that plagued this area last night. There were tornado warnings in Virginia Beach and all around the Hampton Rhodes area. We had some rain but no serious storms. It was interesting to watch the weather warnings go all around us. We leave tomorrow for a short about 40 mile trip to First Landing State park.

Assateague State Park to Kiptopeake State Park - June 18 Thursday

Pouring hard rain greeted us when we woke up – enough to keep us in bed for a while. The rain on the roof and the flapping of our TN flag let us know the weather was fairly bad. We have had rain a couple of other nights but none in the daytime. We finally got ourselves up; Jane tried to make coffee but charging the computer all night had eaten up our electric battery power so no coffee! Should have charged the computer as we drove – just did not remember we had to conserve for this one night with no electric. So we took down camp – which did not amount to much since we had not connected to power and had not put up the tent.

We plugged in our next campground in the GPS with a mid way stop at Chincoteague and were ready to stop at the first coffee spot we found. We found a Dunkin Donuts about 30 miles down the road in Pokomoke City, the last town in Maryland and got some coffee. We drove out to Chincoteague and visited the beach and several sites. The surf was very rough and the sky still very threatening although it has finally quit raining. The trail to the lighthouse was closed so Jane had to settle for a shot from the bridge. Since this lighthouse is in a forested area – that may be the only way to get a good shot.

Chincoteague Light

We stopped by a Comfort Inn in Chincoteague to check email and so forth. Then we headed on down the Eastern Shore looking for a seafood truck or shop to buy something to cook for dinner. We found a guy with shrimp, scallops, crab, and clams….bought ½ pound of shrimp and ½ pound of scallops for $7 total. We arrived at Kiptopeke Campground about 2:00 and since we will be here two nights and it might rain we put up the tent. Nice flat campsites with electricity, water, and cable TV.
This campsite is probably ¾ full. The same was true of Assateague last night. It really appears we could have found spots everywhere we have been so maybe the reservations were not necessary. From what we hear from everyone the season is getting a late start this year.

Campsite at Kiptopeake State Park near Cape Charles VA

Old Ships sunk as a break at Kiptopeake State Park

Our supper was great – shrimp scampi on rice and lightly breaded fried scallops. We investigated a little and this campground has a nice beach, fishing and crabbing area, huge playground, and several hiking trails. Ben will crab tomorrow, Jane will explore several shops she saw on the way in today and the village of Cape Charles. Depending on Ben’s catch we will have steamed crabs and/or fish.
Today we realize we are on the way home – two nights here, one at First Landing in VA Beach, and then a night a Jeff and Robin’s in Durham. The time has gone by very quickly.

Wilmington DE to Assateague State Park June 17 Wednesday

We left Lum’s Pond Campground and were almost immediately on the freeway headed south. We turned on our CD book and as we approached Dover DE we stopped at a Comfort Inn Parking lot and downloaded email, uploaded the blog, and caught up on a few on-line bits of news. We then headed on south stopping for lunch along the way. The weather was cloudy – no rain but wind and cloud cover. The temperature hovered around 70 degrees all day. We stopped at a grocery for coffee, juice and water. Our groceries otherwise have seemed to last well. We drove right to our campsite at Assateague State Park. We are in a campsite right behind the dunes from the ocean. The surf is rough and the wind blowing but NO MOSQUITOES ! I will take the wind any day over mosquitoes.

Campground at Assateague State Park

Ben spoke with the campground host about his solar panel as we have considered buying one. This campground has no electric. The inverter and batteries on the Sprinter do fine for keeping the computers and camera charged and will run the lights and make coffee tomorrow morning. That is about it…so it would be nice to have the solar panel if it is not too expensive and works…. The campground host told Ben the panel cost $89 and has worked great for them for several years. But he has been here all of June and has not had one day of sunshine – so he had to go get his battery charged up!

Ben had a great time flying his kite, purchased at Kitty Hawk several years ago. The wind was great for flying.

Ben Prepares to Fly Kite

Successful Kite Flying

We drove into Ocean City (about 9 miles) for supper. Jane was going to cook but this will be our last chance for a seafood buffet and so we selected one and enjoyed a little bit of everything. We drove back to camp and noticed the sky is clearing and the sun finally making a little appearance. Maybe tomorrow morning will be nice. We will drive about 100 miles south to the Virginia section of the Eastern Shore and stay 2 days.

We hope for a quiet night after the last two with helicopter maneuvers for 2 hours each evening! This has been a slow restful day – but that is what vacations are for!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wilmington DE - June 16 Tuesday

The helicopter talk around camp was that they had been searching for an escaped convict last night along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal that is a short distance from here – maybe ¼ mile. We had thought that last night as a possibility as well as searching for a drowning victim, or a huge wreck but we heard no rescue vehicles. We will buy a paper this morning to see what we can discover or try to find internet somewhere. Another story from a young ranger was the helicopters were a training exercise from one of the nearby military bases. Who knows? Very quiet morning here with overcast skies.

Winterthur Country Estate and Museum

GPS led us the 15 miles through Wilmington suburbs to the Winterthur Museum, Mansion and Library. This was the home of DuPont and was given to the Museum Foundation prior to his death in 1969. He had three loves – in addition to his business and family – Holstein cattle, American art and furniture, and naturalistic gardening. Winterthur was fully captured the American Art and Furniture and the Gardening. We toured some of the Galleries and had a nice lunch before Ben’s appointment with the curator of metals for the museum. I note this just so I will remember it to make a similar pita sandwich one day – Antipasto Pita – with mozzarella chunks, Italian meat, sweet red pepper, and tomatoes. It was great.

Ben was meeting with the curator to review their sword collection and resource materials on metalworking. Ben, an amateur silversmith, is currently working on a silver dagger. Ben reported a wonderful visit with the curator and swords that were from the personal collection of the older DuPonts. One of the DuPont Great Grandfathers used one of the swords in the Civil War.

Ben researching in Winterthur Library

While Ben was studying swords and silversmithing, Jane toured the DuPont home, the Campbell Soup Collection of Soup Tureens, and watched a film narrated by the DuPont daughters. One is still alive and one died this year. They must have been an interesting family.

This building was unique – part home and part museum - it was large (175 rooms) with numerous bedrooms and drawing rooms etc. The original home was modest 12 rooms or so…then Mr. DuPont began collecting Americana -rooms and furnishings – He would hear about a period home being torn down somewhere in the country – he would buy it and move it to Winterthur – use the panels, fireplaces, woodwork, etc for the rooms in his home and then find furnishings to match the period of the room. Jane saw about 8 such rooms on the general tour. There were many, many more – One of the most exquisite was a drawing room papered in 16th century Chinese wallpaper that had been purchased by a woman in New York and never used. It was too large for the room he had so Mr. DuPont made the ceiling cove so it would be tall enough and moved a wall. There was also a 3 story circular staircase from a home in NC was used to replace an existing staircase. It was a most enjoyable tour. The soup tureen collection from Campbell was moved here from the Campbell soup factory because the location of the factory was not conducive to being viewed by the public. It was nice with antique china, silver, and even modern whimsical tureens.

Winterthur Room with Chinese Wallpaper

Gardens at Winterthur

Silver Turtle Soup Tureen

Reflecting Pool outside Winterthur

Jane found Ben in the Library when she went there to view an exhibit of the around the world cruises taken by the DuPont family. He was hard at work taking notes from several books from their collections. They had really given him the royal treatment. He reported one of the items he had asked to see had never been viewed by anyone since that curator had been at the museum. Ben says every item in the home that belonged to the DuPont’s had been catalogued and stored in boxes in climate controlled areas.

We visited the reflecting pool, the gift shop, and book shop before leaving to find Little Italy. Ben has been wanting a cannoli for several months. We were going to also eat dinner somewhere. We found Papa’s Pastry Shop and bought cannoli’s and a few other treats. We then drove around wasting some time until we could eat dinner. Lunch had been early so we were hungry and ate dinner about 5:45. We saw much interesting architecture in varying state of repair. We finally stopped at Grotto’s Pizza and Ben had a great Stromboli and Jane Spaghetti and Meatballs. We shared a salad. All was great and it was reasonably priced.

View Across Lum's Pond

Back at camp we finally ate our cannoli and are closed up in the Sprinter writing this blog and reading. The temperature is 70 degrees with a rather stiff wind. It appears a front is approaching and we will probably have rain off and on for the next couple days. It will be very comfortable sleeping tonight – if we just do not have helicopters! Well we did from 8:30 until about 10:30 and then they went away – at least not as long as last evening!

Cape Lookout to Lum's Pond - June 15 Monday

Drum Point Light

Cove Point Light

We left camp a little later than planned – 9 AM and drove to Lexington Park where a McDonalds was supposedly located – this one did not exist and as we drove on down the road came to where the new one was being built. We tried a Days Inn for WIFI – secure site. Stopped at a Starbucks – they had it but you had to get a card and password to use it on line! Well we enjoyed the coffee! Then we found a Comfort Inn and were able to connect and Jane uploaded the blog for 3 days – did not take time to do photos this morning so will add them later.

We headed on to our two lighthouses. Jane had to drive over a very high bridge over the Pautuxet River and was as nervous as driving along the Columbia River in Washington State. High above water with very little guard rails! The first lighthouse, Drum Point, was incorporated into the Calvert Co. Marine Museum. It was one of the octagonal type. Jane got a photo but not a perfect one as we were not interested paying to see the entire museum just to take one photo. We found the second lighthouse, Cove Point, and got a good photo there. The Chesapeake Bay is wide along this section and there was another petroleum terminal – this time natural gas. We continued up Route 2 to near Annapolis stopping in Prince Frederick at a Walmart for Ben to get the duck tape and something other tool he could not get at Target yesterday.

Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore

We continued on to join up with I 95 to I 695 around Baltimore. We crossed the Frances Scott Key Bridge and thank goodness Ben was driving now. It was very, very high over the Baltimore Harbor. About 15 minutes after Baltimore in the midst of a downpour we had to make a sudden stop due to traffic ahead. We did fine but there was a 4 car wreck behind us that Ben saw in his rear view mirror. I did not actually see it – all I saw was the empty 4 lane freeway behind us. We continued on and in about 20 miles came to a very nice rest area. Two gasoline vendors, about 6 food vendors including Phillips Seafood! We headed for the picnic area and had our crab from Saturday with cocktail sauce and crackers – umm, umm good! We saw an interesting group of monks at the rest area traveling in a van with California plates. Long way for that many guys in a van!

Monks at MD Rest Stop

We continued on up I-95 – into Delaware. We had now paid tolls of $2 for one bridge; $5 for another bridge; and paid $4 to get on the Delaware Turnpike – then the GPS voice says take the first exit for your destination. Our campground was probably ¼ mile into Delaware! If we had only known we could have gotten off one exit sooner and saved the $4!

Lum’s Pond is a lovely campground. The campsites are widely spaced around a circular meadow. There are big shade trees throughout the area. We had set up the screen tent under a tree and can pull the Sprinter right up beside it. We have electric here and water a little way down the road. Since we have the tank of water in the Sprinter we really do not need it right beside our site. Across the road is a view of the pond which is fairly large and there are many birds around. I would imagine there are 10 other camping units here. Only 10 – 12 of the 70 sites have electricity so I would assume that is why the others are not filled. Most people want power these days.
We have researched the Winterthur Museum for tomorrow – it is 15 miles. We are eating Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches for supper tonight. Jane did a little research on the best locations before we left home and Capriotti’s it is….there is one only 5 miles from here! Time will tell but it had good reviews. Tomorrow night our plan is to find Little Italy and a restaurant there.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich from Capriotti’s was great. The one close to us in Middleton did not have much eat in area so we brought it back to camp and ate the whole thing! We then sat around camp and explored Lum’s Pond Park. Jane did some clean-up of the Sprinter.

We read for about an hour until we heard what we assumed was helicopters. They seemed to be going back and forth, very low, over the pond, campground, and surrounding area. This continued getting very loud and then fading away and then returning for over 2 hours. At several points we looked out but all we could see were faint lights through the trees. Ben called 911 that said they were probably medical transports. Finally at 12:19 according to Ben – I have to admit I finally fell asleep –they left.

Lum's Pond Campground, Bear DE

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oakville VA to St, Mary's City MD June 14 Sunday

Hard rain storm through a good part of the night – woke up, went back to sleep, woke up again but never for long. We had left the chairs out since the sky was clear when we went to bed – they were VERY wet. We ate breakfast and broke camp and left before 9 AM. We drove up state route 205 towards US 301 to cross the Potomac into Maryland. We passed the home of James Monroe but did not stop to view. We did try to stop at the McDonalds in Colonial Beach for WIFI but no luck. It was Sunday Morning and the smallest McDonalds we had ever seen – of course it was a small town – but no WIFI.

We crossed the Potomac into MD on the Gov Nice Memorial Bridge – which the map said was a toll bridge. There were toll booths if you were entering from MD side but none on the VA side – strange but to our advantage since we are not returning this way. The toll on the Bay Bridge Tunnel on return will be more no doubt than this bridge.
We were hoping to find a Wal-mart and maybe internet and found a Target as we continued north on 301 to LaPlanta where we visited the Thomas Stone House. Thomas Stone was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. From MD he was a very low key but dedicated politician and that is how they must market his National Memorial too! Rather difficult to find. No paved road, one ranger. Nice visitor center, short movie and a rather plain but unusual colonial home.

Thomas Stone National Historic Site
We got the stamp for our passport, visited the Target and got most of the things on our list and set off down the St. Mary’s peninsula to the St. Mary’s Crab Festival. We found the fairgrounds in Leonardtown without any trouble. We ate clam strips, fries, and a crab cake sandwich. The clam strips were great – the crab cake sandwich OK but no anywhere near as good as the crab cake in Reedville. We walked around and looked at the crafts, car show, and watched them steam the bushels of live crabs. They were $36 a dozen. That seemed like a lot compared to signs we had seen along the road. We passed that up. They had bands and line dancing and were going to have singing later on.

Crabs into the Steamer at St. Mary's Crab Festival

Crab Races at St. Mary's Crab Festival

Back into the van and on to the Piney Point Lighthouse. It was a short squatty white lighthouse. The location was interesting as it was the site of a large oil tank terminal. We also saw an osprey nest near the pier and watched them for a while and Jane got her photo.

Piney Point Light

Osprey Nest at Piney Point

There were many nice homes along the sliver of land which led to the lighthouse. We drove on to our campground and the lighthouse at Point Lookout. This is the point of land where the Potomac joins the Chesapeake Bay. Today we followed the Potomac River side of the peninsula; tomorrow we drive up the Chesapeake Bay side of the peninsula to Annapolis and then on to Wilmington. We really have two choices of route for tomorrow and will determine the path forward.

We found our campsite easily and set out the wet chairs to dry before leaving to view the lighthouse while the light was good.

Point Lookout Light

This is a very nice park – lots of fishermen, swimmers, and quite a few campers. The loop we are on has only 4 electric sites (one is us) so it is not as full as the other loops. It is fine with us to be by ourselves. We drove out to take the photos – could not get past the wire fence. The lighthouse here is open only one weekend a month. This area has housed a huge military hospital, a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War, and of course played a huge part in navigation.

We got back to our campsite to find our chairs gone! We were just sure someone had taken them – only thing ever taken in all our years of camping besides a skillet once at Roan Mountain Campground years ago. We reported it and about 30 minutes later the ranger showed up with our chairs. It seems when checkout time came and all that was at our campsite was 2 chairs a “rookie” ranger thought they had been left behind by someone and took them to headquarters! As Ben said it restored our faith in humanity! Not that they were worth that much – it is just the principal!

We are eating in camp tonight – Jane is cooking Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy -a change from all the seafood. Then we will try out the TV antenna and or read. Tomorrow will be a longer driving day but we will stay 2 nights in Wilmington. We cleaned up everything for the mosquito spraying at 7PM and then Ben took out the air mattress to find a slow leak. He found it and made a temporary patch. The mosquitoes have been medium bad – Jane who gets the most bites has kept the spray on all the time and has only gotten 4-5 bites but by taking Benedryl when they itch too bad is keeping them under control. Tonight Ben said he was putting on repellent!

We bought a small fan at Target. One night was very hot, tonight is pleasant. The internet connections are not that great so will add the photos when I get home. We finally found one this morning at a Comfort Inn that worked fair.

Campsite at Point Lookout State Park

Reedville VA to Oakville VA June 13 Saturday

Family of Geese at Reedville VA

It was fairly quiet during the night with only a few loud people arriving in one of the cabins about midnight and the fishing boats leaving very early to fish or crab. Neither bothered us very much as we slept until after 8. We were able to get a weak internet signal so checked email and some blog activity while having coffee and breakfast. A highlight of the morning was a family of geese who made their way through our camp. Mama led the way with children next and dad bringing up the rear.

Reedville Fisherman's Museum

After breaking camp we headed back to Reedville to visit the Fisherman’s Museum. It was very nice with several restored boats, historical information about the area and the fishing/crabbing development on the Chesapeake. The place was run by mostly volunteers who were very knowledgeable about the area. They had lots of models of ships, lighthouses, and even a train set up with to scale replicas of 3 towns in the area. It was around noon when we left heading west up the “northern neck” toward Oakville and Westmoreland State Park.

We stopped in one small town under a huge tree and ate lunch. We continued on through very nice countryside. Farms with wheat and corn and the various seafood industries seemed the most prevalent businesses. There are many new homes in the area – from reading it appears these are retirees, summer and/or weekend homes. Some seem to be restored old mansions and others built from scratch. The real estate is not cheap from reading one of the sale papers.

We stopped at a small market and bought crab and fish to cook for supper. We also got some yellow squash at a roadside stand. Then we made our way to the George Washington Birthplace National Memorial.

Monument at Washington Birthplace National Monument

200 Year Old Hackberry Tree at Washington Birthplace

View towards Potomac from Washington Birthplace

It was very nice – a film again which was on the ancestry of George Washington. His grandfather had come in 1600’s from England and eventually purchased and farmed a large estate. His father as well as older brothers all had large estates in the area. The men were all successful farmers, and involved in government, military and community. The estate on which George Washington was born is on Pope Creek where it joins the Potomac. It is a beautiful site. The home had burned and one was built by the state of Virginia after much research as a memorial to the president. When the park was given to the National Park Service, they of course did more research and found the house had not been built on the correct spot! Thankfully someone had the sense not to tear down the beautiful house that had been built and just marked the foundation nearby for everyone to see. The view to the Potomac was beautiful. Also of interest was a 200+ year old Hackberry Tree that stood beside the home when Washington lived there! They had a working farm area but we skipped that as we were getting tired and left to find our campground.

Campsite at Westmoreland State Park, Oakville VA

Westmoreland State Park was about 5 miles back down the road from The National Park Site. We found they were expecting us this time – our campground is full! Good we had the reservation – of course it is the weekend. At our site the electricity was off for some reason but we could run our extension cord to the site behind us and all is well. Jane prepared a great supper of the crab, fish, and squash. Squash is great coated in seafood crumbs and fried lightly. The blue fish was good and so was the crab. Jane is finishing up this blog entry so we can post tomorrow. Ben is studying about the swords that he will see in Delaware at the Museum. Our special TV antenna gets several channels so we will see what we can find on one of them tonight.

Chippoaks to Reedville June 12 Friday

We finally saw the campground host when he made the rounds about 7:30. Jane made coffee and some breakfast – ham and cream cheese on a bagel.

Chippoaks Plantation

We drove out to the historic Chippokes Plantation. The home was not open yet but the grounds were nice.

Butterfly Weed at Chippoaks Garden

Chippoaks is a large working plantation. The volunteers were preparing for a wagon ride and sheep shearing that would take place later today. Too late for us though as we were on our way after a visit to the Visitor Center to view one of the films. The farm has been continuously farmed since the 1600’s. There have been several families own the land and the last one willed it to the state of Virginia. It continues to be farmed by local farmers who lease the rights to different acreage amounts and grow corn, peanuts, wheat, and perhaps other crops.

A ferry operated by the state of Virginia operates between Surry and Jamestown. It is a large operation with 4 ferries in a fleet. They are fairly good sized ferries. We arrived and were lucky to only wait about 5 minutes. We were one of the last vehicles loaded – there were 48 cars/trucks/vans; 3 motorcycles, and 1 large truck on our ferry. There was also a fairly good sized observation tower but we did not go up into it. The ferry ride took about 25 minutes – including loading, crossing the wide river, and unloading.

View from James River Ferry

We drove right off the ferry to the Colonial Parkway and were at the Jamestown National Park. They have a new visitor center since we were there before. All we remember about the place was the downpour of rain and they were excavating the area of a church under a tent. We were here during rain before Hurricane Dennis hit the costal VA and NC towns. We watched an excellent movie in their new visitor center and viewed displays and some of the historic buildings.

Church at Jamestown

Then we were down the road to Yorktown. We drove along the Colonial Parkway which is similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway in that it has no commercial signage or buildings. There were very limited access for crossroads and all the overpasses were brick – it did indeed look “colonial”! There were beautiful views of the James River on the northern portion of the parkway, we went under Williamsburg in a tunnel, and then there were beautiful views of the York River on the southern portion of the Parkway.

View down the Colonial Parkway

We arrived at Yorktown and ate lunch under the trees in the parking lot. We viewed another good film and reviewed the exhibits in their Visitor Center before hopping on a trolley for a ride through historic Yorktown. We got off down near the river and walked around the waterfront and browsed in several very nice shops. One had nice jewelry and one very nice hooked rugs. The rugs would have been Jane’s purchase of the trip so far – if she had lots of money and a place to put the rug! Her favorite was in pastel colors with various sea shells.

A large tall ship was docked nearby – a visitor for the weekend from Wilmington Delaware. There was another sailboat that gave daily tours along the York River. There was also a sunset cruise. That is for another day! We hopped back on the trolley and were back at our van.

Tall Ship visiting at Yorktown

Our next venture was to find an internet connection for Ben to send the photos from his inspection yesterday. Jane did not have blog entries ready to upload. We were headed to a McDonalds thanks to the GPS when we passed the Yorktown Library. Ben went in and managed to upload his photos. Jane called and talked to her Mom. Then we were on our way across the York River to the Gloucester County and the middle neck of this eastern Virginia area.

We followed the GPS directions through numerous small towns in Gloucester Co.; Mathews Co.; and crossed the Rappahannock River to the upper peninsula or the “Upper Neck” as they call it here. We drove through Lancaster Co. into Northumberland Co. where Reedville was located. Jane had selected a campsite on this peninsula – there were 4 – and we needed 2 – so she selected this one right on the end in the Chesapeake Bay and the second almost the other end of the northern neck. Chesapeake Bay Resort had a nice web page and appeared to be a nice place. Reedville was indeed out of the way but it had restaurants, bed & breakfasts, and a nice museum….so we expected a fairly nice campground. It was the most expensive of our trip at $40. Well when we arrived we could find no one – a repeat of the night before! We finally found one man who said – “well, he ain’t back from the cruise to Smith Island yet.” Knowing there was a daily cruise boat from this site to Smith Island we did not think too much more about it – just drove around the deserted campground and picked out a site right on the water. About an hour later the owner drove up in his golf cart to see who we were. We remained the only campers in the entire park that could have accommodated over 50. There were about 10 small cabins and by the end of the evening most of them were full.

Ben Relaxes at Reedville Campground

We drove into Reedville (about 3 miles) and found the Crazy Crab restaurant right at the end of the road next to the marina. We had a fantastic dinner. Jane had crab cake topping Fried Green Tomatoes and Ben had Crab on Crab – sautéed crab topping a soft shell crab. Both were fantastic and some of the best crab we have ever tasted. We viewed the rest of the town – one street with churches, a few businesses, and numerous large Victorian homes. They called that are Millionaire’s Row.
We found our way back to the campground, watched the activity on the bay, read our books and fell asleep.