Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, through Wednesday, June 16, 2010: At Williamsburg, Virginia:
The trip to the Williamsburg area (we’re nine miles north of the actual city) was short but not entirely sweet. There was an accident involving at least three trucks inside a tunnel on I-64 under part of the Cheseapeake Bay. (Boy, is that bay huge!) We were stopped for at least 45 minutes outside the tunnel while they cleared the wreckage from one of the two lanes. I sought advice from the locals as to how long we might expect to be there.

So much for what was supposed to be a two-hour trip. Not a big deal, frankly, since we arrived in early afternoon, anyway. We are staying at the Outdoor Resort-Williamsburg. It’s a nice facility, with a pickle ball court(!!!), and we were lucky enough to get one of the few spaces without an umbrella of trees over it. So our rooftop satellite dish works. It was over 90 degrees when we got here, so the beautiful swimming pool, glistening in the sun, looked very inviting. Naturally, it wasn't open, since we hadn't yet reached the Memorial Day weekend. (That starts tomorrow.) So we had to settle for the indoor pool and its accompanying hot tub. Very nice, anyway. Of course, it rained the night we arrived. That seems to be a pattern for us.

On Friday we explored the area a bit, with the girls focusing on shopping. Having spent so much time recently in remote areas, it is quite a change to stay where there is civilization. Within a couple of miles of our RV park we have a gazillion stores and restaurants. I get hungry just driving around and seeing all the choices. We settled on fine dining at Wendy’s. I don’t think that gustatory experience will make the highlight reel. Saturday the girls got into shopping big time, while Bill and I checked out the historic (colonial) area of Williamsburg (after Bill loaded up at Dunkin' Donuts; we hadn‘t seen a donut shop in weeks). Williamsburg was very nicely done. We will return with the girls and get the full flavor, but this taste was impressive. There are some beautiful homes in the surrounding residential area, and the adjacent campus of The College of William & Mary (founded in 1693, it’s the second oldest in the country---after Harvard, of course) is quite magnificent.

We have talked the park manager into having the combination basketball/pickle ball court available to us old folks at 9:00 am---i.e., before it gets real hot. It used to be set aside at 4:15 pm, a very hot time of day, and only on Sunday. The sale wasn’t too difficult since the manager loves to play pickle ball and we are the only players here. He makes up our fourth, so it works for everyone. On the third day of play, Tuesday, I violated the first rule of pickle ball: Don’t run backwards to chase a shot. I tripped and fell on my butt, back, and head, simultaneously. According to the medical staff at the local hospital, I will ache for a few days, but nothing worse than that happened (except to my ego, of course).

Tuesday also saw the arrival of Chuck Conway, a former boss of Becky's at Union Bank, who stayed in one of the park models here for two days.

We all went with Chuck on Wednesday to have an extended tour of Colonial Williamsburg. Among other attractions, they have maintained the local flavor by having oxen do some of the hauling. We were told by the ox handler that oxen are not a separate species of animal, but, instead, are really any animal that is used for hauling things. I'm not sure he's correct, but it sounds good. (My dictionery says oxen are castrated male bovines. That doesn't sound good for the oxen.)

One of the buildings in the historic area is the Governor's Mansion (from when Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia). A great-great-great grandfather of Becky's, David Campbell, lived there when he was Governor. (He was also an uncle of Becky's. For unknown reasons, he adopted his niece, Becky's great-great-aunt, thereby making him a relative on two counts.)

It is fascinating, and well-restored. We had a nice, but unexciting, lunch at a restored tavern. Dinner was terrific at a (non-historic) restaurant called Food For Thought.

I've been resting my injured body while Bill and Becky play pickle ball every day. It's very hot, so they start at 8:30 and quit by 11:00 each morning. On Friday, I went on a wild goose chase to replace my ailing bedroom DIRECTV ("DTV") receiver. It's ten years old and starting to die. I've was advised by DTV (via its internet site) to go to the nearest dealer (30 miles away) and buy a new one. When I finally found the store, I was told they do not stock the receivers and I needed to get one directly from DTV. I called DTV to verify that advice, and was told to just go to the nearest Best Buy to pick one up. (It turned out to be across the street from the first store.) The Best Buy man said that DTV no longer distributes receivers through any stores, as of three weeks earlier, and that its run-of-the-mill telephone people (and, apparently, its internet site manager) had not yet been informed of that fact. I called DTV for the umpteenth time and talked to a supervisor who proceeded to agree to FedEx me a new receiver---for free, surprisingly. (I will not bother to recount that there were three incorrect phone numbers to which I had been referred by various DTV people during this exercise.)

We've now toured Yorktown and Jamestown (thus completing the Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown). The museum at Yorktown is very well-done and interesting. (The Battle of Yorktown is considered the last big battle of the Revolutionary War, though it took two more years for the war to end.) Part of the City of Yorktown is privately-owned and operating as a normal place, and intermixed within the town are federal and locally-operated historic areas. It seems to work very well. The federal parts are administered by the National Park Service (NPS), our old friends from Zion and The Grand Canyon. There are two Jamestown areas to visit---the preserved historic one, operated by the NPS,

and the recreated one, operated by a group of local charities. Both are very nice and informative. The recreated one was finished in 2007 (the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown), the opening being attended by President Bush (43) and Queen Elizabeth II. At the recreated one, there are three full-size replicas of the ships that brought colonists to the area. It is hard to believe that these tiny vessels each carried 121 people across the ocean for more than two months without their going postal.

My body is now healed and I have joined the Pickle Ball gang daily---except when we have a touring day planned. It's fun to be playing again, even though Bill likes to poach.

As soon as we finish playing each day, Bill and I head off to the pool to cool off. It's quite hot and humid here, and the pool feels very good. Pat and Becky cooled off by kayaking on a lake at nearby Waller Mill Park.

One of our nice sightseeing adventures was a trip to the Berkeley Plantation, not far from Williamsburg. It's a well-maintained/restored home on a 1,000 acre plantation adjacent to the James River. Its historic significance is that it was the home for several generations of the Harrison family---which ultimately produced presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison---and a number of the founders (Washington, Madison, etc.) visited it during its early years. It is still privately owned, and its current owners stay there several times a year. The home and grounds are lovely. We saw our first Sarah Palin 2012 bumper sticker in the parking lot there.

The last Saturday of our visit to Williamsburg, eight of us decided to visit the local Outback Steakhouse for a wonderful meal. It turned out to be a total disaster. Half of the meal orders were either overcooked, undercooked, or just plain wrong. It took at least a half hour to replace the incorrect meals, so four of us were long-finished by the time the rest of us got to eat. Then it took another half hour to get the bills right. Every one of them had to be done twice. Along the way, we sought the assistance of the manager. He was as inept as the server.

Tomorrow, it's off to Colonial Beach, Virginia, for our next RV park. We returned to Food for Thought on Wednesday to honor our last night in Williamsburg. Being a creature of habit, I ordered the mussels again. So good! It will be hard for the next places we visit to beat Williamsburg. Besides being very historic, it’s a lovely area: the roads and signage are good; the landscaping of the highways is very calming; the residential areas are clean and neat; the houses are fine but understated; and the people are gracious and helpful. It’s all very civilized.

Monday, May 24, through Wednesday, May 26, 2010: At Shawboro, North Carolina:
We came to Shawboro for just three days in order to break up the trip from Lake Gaston to Williamsburg. By dumb luck, we are staying at the North River RV Resort, a beautiful place, magnificently maintained. It is not large, but it has RV spaces, cabins, park models, and standard motel rooms---and a large pond in the middle.

We are in an area that is mostly agricultural, and the nearest city of any consequence is Elizabeth City (“EC“), about 25 miles away. Shawboro, itself, consists of a post office and a school, and not much else. The day we arrived we went on a quick tour of EC. It seems to be a nice waterfront town, with some lovely homes.

Tuesday, we went on a very long trip to Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras, and back. More than 300 miles, roundtrip. It was fascinating to see the Wright Brothers Monument, learn the details of what happened there, and see where the flights actually took place.

At the cape, we walked along the shore

and we visited what seems to be the world’s most famous lighthouse, Becky and Pat climbed to the top (the equivalent of climbing to the top of a 12 story building) while Bill and I went to a gas station to clean the windshield on the Wheelers‘ car. (We’re not into lighthouses.)

On Wednesday, we went back to see EC again and make a Wal-Mart run. There wasn’t much else to do.

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