Virginia Beach, Virginia: Population = 452,994 (metro area = 1,700,000) , elevation = 10 feet, average January low temp = 31.9, Average July high temp = 87, average sunny days = 213, annual snowfall = 7.1, annual rainfall = 47.8, air quality index = 36.5, water quality index = 61, comfort index = 35
October 22nd marked the one year anniversary of our road trip. Over 25,000 miles, about 35 states and 4 provinces, and 78 rentals so far. Still enjoying the trip…
From our roost on the peaks of the Shenandoah Mountains, we descend into the coastal plains of Virginia. The highway twists and turns and crosses deep misty valleys along the way. All too soon we run into the web of highways that tie the big cities together: Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth. Four to six lanes of aggressive, turn signal impaired, impatient drivers, all in a hurry to get to someplace that lies just ahead of the bewildered geezers with the South Dakota plates.
The next day, Sunday, we are meeting some dear old friends: Mick, Deb, and Gerry. It is really great to get together and catch up and gather hugs all around. Deb graciously greets the visitors from Minnesota with her Vikings headgear and earrings.
Our hotel is just across the street from the boardwalk that runs for miles. The summer season is just about over and the beach is quiet. A few people dot the beach, hiking and biking, strolling and rolling. The amusement park is closed. A long walk gets us to Ocean Eddie’s Seafood, perched on the end of a fishing pier. Their last day of the season is Saturday and the deals are delicious.
The other elephant in this room is the Navy. There are Navy bases and shipyards all over. The ships can be seen from beach and freeway. Nearby there are Naval Air bases where the jets off carriers land and take off with ear-shattering roars. Supporting and supplying the Navy is the biggest business in the area.
The Chesapeake Bay played an important part in America’s history. The Virginia Company settlers arrived here in 1607. The old lighthouse that stands today was the first federal construction project, back in 1729. In 1781 a French fleet, supporting the revolutionary Americans, fought the British to a standstill here, stopping them from joining forces with General Benedict Arnold’s troops.
We picked a nice warm, sunny day for a day trip and headed over to the Williamsburg. Our first stop was the Williamsburg Visitor’s Center, where for a price, you can do tours and activities ranging from carriage rides to musket shooting. We took a bus into the Historic Williamsburg “downtown” area and strolled along the streets, admiring the homes and businesses. To my eye, these buildings looked too flawless, too modern, to be original. Most are recreations or largely restorations. Williamsburg is more historical park than historical site. Unfortunately, we were too late for Jamestown and missed seeing the excavations.
Just a few blocks away from our hotel we found the Virginia Marine Science Museum. They have an amazing collection of local marsh, river, and ocean species, as well as a few surprises.
Virginia Beach is a great place to visit in the fall, and probably a great place to visit in the summer when the beach is thriving and coated with bodies glistening with suntan lotion. If you don’t mind running the freeways, there are lots of interesting and fun places to visit.
Next up: Raleigh, North Carolina