Thursday, June 21, 2018

Virginia - Williamsburg - Part 1


May 20, 2018 was moving day to Williamsburg, VA. The end of our drive took us not only across the James River on I-664 but it also took us under the river

Williamsburg Campark was home for a week.
It is a very large park but most of it is no longer in use. The property is owned by the Williamsburg Pottery Company and they are trying to sell it. It was developed in the 70's as an Air Stream Park.
For the first few days our site was nice and wide, until they moved people into the sites on both sides of us. Then we were a little cramped. We weren't home much so it wasn't all that bad.
Our site was a grass pull through and level. We had full hook-ups and a picnic table. The park is well maintained and quiet. The pool is small but clean, and there are no chairs or tables around it. There is no laundry on site and we didn't use the bathrooms. The WiFi was decent. Verizon signal was strong. We paid $27.75 a night with our Passport America discount.

Jim and Sharon are one couple we met at this park. They are just starting their full time adventures.
We sat and talked with them for quite awhile and we got to see how they travel with their motorcycle. The automatic ramp is a pretty cool.

We were just minutes from Colonial Williamsburg. You can spend the whole day wandering the the village and seeing all the sites without spending a penny.
There is no charge to enter, only if you want to tour inside the homes and buildings, or take a carriage ride. We think it is wonderful that places do this so everyone can enjoy it without worrying about the cost.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is a private, not-for-profit education institution. It started in the late 1920's when Rev. Dr. Goodwin, pastor of the Bruton Parish Church shared his dream of preserving the history of the city with John D. Rockefeller Jr. More than 80 of the structures are original buildings. Dozens of people live in some of the historic homes, 75 of the houses are rented through the foundation and the people either work at Colonial Williamsburg or at the nearby College of William and Mary. That would certainly make for a short commute.

The entrance bridge into the village is lined with metal plaques noting a time in history. They line both sides of the bridge and the history goes back in time as you enter the park,

and forward in time as you leave the park. We loved the saying on the last marker. "What difference will you make?"  It is a very interesting start and finish to your day.

The Great Hopes Plantation is a recreation of a typical Virginia plantation of the 1700's. 90% of Virginians, both free and enslaved lived on farms similar to this one. The average plantation was 100-200 acres and primarily grew one crop, mostly tobacco, for sale and export. Any food grown was strictly for the family and workers.

On these smaller plantations the planter and his family worked along side any enslaved workers.
Most plantations consisted of the planters house, a modest structure (still to be built here); a tobacco drying house (top left), sometimes the largest building on the property; a kitchen house and smoke house (bottom row); and slave quarters (top right). The walkway that takes you through the exhibit is lined with informational signs describing what life was like here.

The welcoming committee 

The Governor's Palace was home to five Royal Lieutenant-Governors, two Royal Governors, and the first two Governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Construction of the palace was completed in 1722, and was destroyed by a fire in 1781 while it was being used as a hospital for Americans wounded at the battle of Yorktown. It was reconstructed on its original foundations in the 1930's, and is furnished as it was when it was home to the last British Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore.
Each side of the Palace Green is lined with houses and storefronts, some set up like they were at the time and others set up for today's tourists.

A few of the houses that line the streets 
The Bruton Parish Church is still an active church with weekly services. It has quite the history. It was first built across the street in 1684 and very quickly became inadequate as the congregation grew rapidly. In 1706 the current church was built and prospered for many years. By the end of the Revolution the church was barely surviving and the building fell into disrepair. In 1862 it served as a hospital for Confederate soldiers.  In the late 1820's an attempt to "modernize" the building left it unrecognizable from its glory days.  In the early 1900's restoration started on the church to bring it back to its original status. By 1939 the complete renovation was done and it is now an authentic replica of the original church.
It is surrounded by a cemetery with graves dating back to the late 1600's. Many of the tombstones were repaired during the reconstruction. Colonel John Pace, died in 1692, it is the oldest to date that we have seen in our travels. Oh, to think what life was like for this person?

The Colonial Gardens are beautifully laid out, with flowers and herbs. You can actually get your hands dirty and use tools from the time period. The poppies were a favorite for us, we used to grow them at our first house in Detroit. The spider was a fun find.

The Courthouse and Market are directly across the street from each other. We met a couple from Ann Arbor, MI while at the Market, and their gentle giant Obie.

The Capitol Building is not nearly as impressive as the Governors Palace but not too shabby either.
The House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virgina met here from 1705, when the capitol was relocated from Jamestown, until 1779. Two buildings served the colony on this site, the first from 1705 to 1747, when it was destroyed by fire. The second from 1753 to 1779.
This reconstruction, built in the early 1930's, is of the first capitol building.

The College of William and Mary was founded by King William and Queen Mary II. It is the second oldest institution of higher education after Harvard. Our third, fifth and tenth presidents, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler along with many other key figures of the day attended the college.
There is a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the campus that is fondly called the "Dead-beat Student". We don't know about dead-beat but the pose could be of any current college student.
There is also a statue of James Monroe.

Two other roadsides that we found in the area were a statue of Jimmy Maloney who started the Williamsburg Pottery Company and an interesting speed limit sign - do speedometers even show a 1/2 speed?

On our visit to Historic Jamestown we stopped at the Jamestown Glass House. They do live glass blowing demonstrations throughout the day and there is a nice selection of glass items to purchase. Nancy got a beautiful cobalt blue glass and we picked up a fun shaker for our friend Anne who shares Nancy's love of blue glass.

As you drive through the park it is hard to imagine living here as there is so much water everywhere. There are pull offs along the road that have informational signs about the history of the area. At Jamestown Rediscovery Village, you can see what life was like here back in Colonial days.

Part two will have more history and fun roadsides.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ tip will be included in part two.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

North Carolina - Chocowinity


We arrived at the Twin Lakes RV Resort in Chocowinity, NC on May 13, 2018. The campground is on a small peninsula bordered by the Chocowinity Bay and the Pamlico River, just across from Washington, NC.

Twin Lakes is a large campground, divided into multiple sections, tents and cabins around one lake, seasonal guests around another, permanent residents around the canals with boat docks and overnighters in another section.
It is well maintained and gated. Sites are gravel and grass, mostly level with a picnic table and they are about average width. Laundry and bathrooms were clean, there is a large game room and a well stocked store. WiFi was a separate fee over and above the site fee, so we did not use it. Our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $43.77 a night with our Good Sam discount.

Les found some stowaways when he opened our awning and one hiding in our lawn chairs. We hope they like their new home.

Once again we went in search of Roadside Oddities. Our search for Roadsides takes us into so many small towns that we would otherwise never get to. It has certainly helped us to get off the beaten path and really see the area.
In Bear Grass, NC we found two Henry Cowan sculptures. In the 80's the local artist created a number of painted concrete military and animal sculptures. We found only one military sculpture, along with a giant standing bear in front of the local school.

Greenville, NC has been taken over by pirates. At the local gas station you need to watch your head while pumping gas.

They also like to hang out at the local mall.

When you are done fending off the pirates at the mall you can pay your respects to those who have passed at the Shopping Mall Cemetery. It is nestled between a restaurant and the mall entrance.

They paved right over the graves and around the headstones, most of which have now fallen over.

If you have been following us for any length of time you know we have been to a lot of cemeteries. This was a first for us, and actually very sad. It is formally known as the John Evans Cemetery.  John and his wife Anne Leticia are buried here along with five of their 10 children and other relatives. The graves range from 1819 to 1922. A listing of those buried here can be found in the above link. 

Speaking of Pirates, we visited Bath, NC, established in 1705, making it the oldest town in the state. In 1708 there were only 12 houses and 50 people who lived here. Before becoming the town of Bath, it was called the St. Thomas Parish and in 1701, Reverend Thomas Bray opened the first public library in the state.
It was also home to Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach. He lived here in the early 1700's and was close friends with Governor Charles Eden. Blackbeard was killed in 1718 on the nearby small island of Ocracoke that is bordered by the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bath Fest is what brought us to town, a three day festival that includes music, arts and crafts and lots of pirates. We did a little early Christmas shopping.

The St. Thomas Episcopal Church is the oldest church building in North Carolina, it was built in 1734.

The majority of buildings date back hundreds of years, many have been turned into museums like the Van Der Veer house circa 1790.

We also found a land locked lighthouse just outside of downtown.

Washington, NC is steeped in history. Many of the old buildings have been standing since the mid 1700's.

L: Marsh House -- R: Myers House
At the visitor center you can pick up a map for a self guided walking tour of town that takes you past many historical buildings and homes. Two that we found interesting were the Marsh House, 1795 and right next door is the Myers House, 1780.

Both houses still have cannon balls stuck in the siding.

Cover of the
info brochure
St Peter's Episcopal Church was established in 1822. In 1864 the original building burned down during the Union occupation of the town. A crystal chandelier and the baptismal font were pulled from the fire, both are used in the current building.

The church was built next to a cemetery that dates back to the late 1700's. The oldest headstone we found is from 1799. It, like many others is slowly sinking into the ground.

A Weeping Angel is a tribute to 9-11

Willow Trees seem to be the most popular symbol in this cemetery, some a little different then the ones we usually see.

The town was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. The museum, which is in this rail car was closed while we were there.

Our stroll down the Waterfront Docks allowed us to see some art, we loved the painted electrical boxes, and enjoyed the view down the river.

There are a number of beautiful flower gardens and a very active birdhouse entertained us for quite sometime.The docks were lined with boats of all shapes and sizes and Mielikki once again made a friend.

Two in Bath, NC

The mosaic one was definitely the prettiest 

A number of towns across the country have adopted an animal as their mascot. It seems fitting that a coastal town would choose crabs.

The Crabs on the Move project was started in 2006, when local businesses and artists came together to create art for the city. The crabs were auctioned off so a number of them are no longer in town. We found a total of eight in Washington and two in Bath.

Another claim to fame for the town is that Cecil B. DeMille lived here, along with his father Henry C. DeMille, a playwright.

On one of our rain free days we drove out to the Outer Banks and explored the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The three islands that make up the National Seashore were opened to the public on April 24,1958. The seashore is a combination of tourist towns, wild life areas, camping, fishing, historical sights and home to many different species of birds and animals. It is also listed as a Night Sky area due to the limited lighting, so it's perfect for star gazing.

There are five lighthouses along the seashore. We stopped at two.
First, was the Bodie Island Light Station, (pronounced body). The first Bodie lighthouse was built in 1847 on the south side of the Oregon Inlet, it was abandoned after 12 years due to a poor foundation. The second one was built in 1859 close to the original site. It was blown up in 1861 by retreating Confederate troops. This current and third Bodie Lighthouse, was built in 1872 and it stands 150-feet tall. It is located on the north side of the Oregon Inlet. The flashes from the Fresnel lens can be seen 19-miles out into the ocean. After you climb the 200 steps you get a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pamlico Sound and Bodie Island.

The second stop was the Cape Hatteras Light Station. The pictures we have seen just don't do it justice, just as the pictures we took don't. It is also known as "America's Lighthouse". It is the tallest brick lighthouse in the country, standing at a majestic 198-feet.This present lighthouse was completed in December 1870.
The first lighthouse was built in 1803. The sandstone structure was only 90-feet tall and the light beam was not strong enough. It was increased to 150-feet in 1854 and a Fresnel lens was installed. In 1861, retreating Confederate soldiers took the lens with them. After the war another Fresnel lens was installed.

In 1999 the lighthouse was moved to this current location, a half mile from where it originally stood to save it from the eroding shore. The lighthouse was cut from its original base, hydraulically lifted onto steel beams and traveled by railroad to this spot over the course of 23 days. In the 1940's while the lighthouse was not in use the Fresnel lens was vandalized. It now uses two, 1000-watt lamps, visible for more than 20-miles.
You can climb to the top if you want to walk up 257-steps. The view would definitely be worth it. We did not climb either lighthouse due to the dog and Nancy's love of heights and open stairs, or lack there of.
There are two keepers houses on the property that you can tour.

Like everywhere else there is road construction going on, a new Herbert C Bonner bridge is underway. The large pylons were being brought in the day we were there. It is always fascinating to see things half done. The bridge crosses the Oregon Inlet Cape and we took advantage of being stuck in traffic to snap some pictures.

As we traveled down Hwy 12 we had the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pamlico Sound to the west. Quite a contrast of nature. All the way down to the Cape Hatteras Light Station we saw wind surfers on the sound side.

What would be the point of going to the Outer Banks if you didn't find a beach to enjoy? Just north of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse we wandered the beach looking for shells and driftwood to collect. The water was surprisingly warm, which made walking in the surf very enjoyable. Mielikki loved every minute of it, but wasn't so thrilled about being brushed before she could get in the car!

On our way home we stopped to help a turtle get across a busy road. He looked a little rough around the edges, and while he wasn't exactly thrilled about us moving him along he did make it safe and sound to the side of the road. Snapping and snarling all the way.
Remember, if you ever help a turtle across the road keep them moving in the same direction they are headed, even if it doesn't make sense to you why they are headed that way.

Also on the way home we found some more roadside oddities. What is claimed to be the largest replica of the largest lighthouse sits on the edge of the Alligator River in East Lake. We did not verify this information!

Outside of The Full Circle Seafood Market on Hwy 63 we founds lots of metal sea creatures.

 All but just a couple of North Carolina State Parks are free for hiking and picnicking, with charges for camping and fishing. Goose Creek State Park was about 10-minutes away so we took advantage of another nice day and went hiking.

Before our hike we stopped at the Visitor Center where Nancy tried to make friends with a grumpy bear and an assortment of other wild creatures.

They recently did a controlled burn in the area surrounding the visitor center so the start of our hike looked a little desolate.

We hiked the boardwalk trail, which as the name suggests starts off on a wooden boardwalk across the marsh.
Mielikki was on lead, and she is generally afraid of water so we never dreamed she would end up in the muddy marsh! We came upon two deer feeding just off of the boardwalk and when they took off running Mielikki decided she should go after them. We are guessing that the green cover on the water fooled her into thinking it was solid ground. She hit that water and panic ensued, Les had to pull her back up onto the boardwalk. Needless to say she got a bath as soon as we got home.

Next up Williamsburg, VA and lots of history.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ More tools - we really need to stay out of Harbor Freight!
As you know from previous posts we have a wide assortment of tools. They are all kept in the underneath storage - split between both side of the RV for weight distribution. The latest addition was a high impact wrench. While we would probably call roadside assistance for help if one of the RV tires went flat, especially an inside one. This did come in very handy while changing the tires on the tow-dolly. It also helps to tighten any of the lug nuts if they come loose.