Tag Archives: travel

Day 5… a trip to Virginia Beach, a long lunch and a lot of alcohol.

 

Our 5th day had us meeting the ex wife of an old Marine Corps buddy. There’s a long sordid story that goes along with this statement, but suffice it to say you never really know anyone. Honestly, you don’t.

The man we’d been friends with for over 35 years? The one we thought was honest, trustworthy and stable? Is now on his third wife, estranged from his children, drowning in debt, filing bankruptcy for the second time (while working as an accountant for the Federal Government) and being sued by his own lawyer for fraud. Did I mention he lies like a rug and told wife #2 that wife #1 accused him of having an affair with me?

I mean come on.

I know I like to drink…. but I think I would have remembered that!!

Needless to say it was a verrrrry long lunch.

But I’d never been to Virginia Beach before so we took a little scenic drive before heading to the restaurant.

 

IMG_0605

 

My first impression?

Busy and crowded.

 

IMG_0617

 

With the typical big city high rise hotels lining the road near the ocean.

 

IMG_0609

 

Complete with all that ticky tacky crap I hate, designed to suck your wallet dry.

 

IMG_0615

 

In other words, it’s similar to Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach and numerous other places we’ve visited along the Florida coast.

No thanks. You’ve seen one you’ve seen ’em all.

 

IMG_0613

 

Even this gang of tropical fish escaping the surf and heading for the highway didn’t make it more appealing.

 

aaa

 

We drove down a few side streets to check out the houses near the shore…

 

IMG_0622

 

Which was nerve wracking in that behemoth of a vehicle the husband had rented.

 

IMG_0621

 

Seriously, it took up the entire street.

 

IMG_0624

 

We found a few pretty spots, but overall? Being jammed right up next to your neighbor is not where I want to live…. waterfront or not.

So, lunch.

 

IMG_0650

 

Was at a place called Rockafeller’s right on the water.

 

IMG_0631

 

We got there early.

 

IMG_0633

 

Okay, really early.

 

IMG_0628

 

But at least we didn’t have to wait for a table with a view.

 

IMG_0629

 

I have to admit I got a kick out of the illustrated cocktail menu.

I’m guessing this is for when you’ve had too many and can no longer enunciate properly.

 

 

If you can smile and point?

You’re not too drunk to serve.

 

IMG_0635

 

This is the Mojito, which shouldn’t have been yellow but was tasty all the same.

 

IMG_0636

 

One drink in, we spotted some fishermen bringing in their catch.

 

 

It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

 

Two drinks in, our friend arrived and we talked, and talked, and talked.

Or rather, she talked and we did a lot of listening.

And drinking.

 

IMG_0634

 

Did I mention there were multiple pages of cocktail lists?

 

IMG_0642

 

Maybe Virginia Beach isn’t so bad after all.

 

IMG_0630

 

3 hours in we figured we’d better eat.

Crab and shrimp hushpuppies sounded like a good way to start…

 

IMG_0641

 

They were huge, not at all like hush puppies and absolutely horrible.

Flavorless wads of fried dough. If there was shrimp or crab? I never found it. The husband had an equally bad platter of steamed shrimp. Which is hard to screw up, but they did, so I went the safe route…

 

IMG_0643

 

And ordered a chicken Caesar salad…. which turned out to be practically chickenless.

 

IMG_0649

 

I imagine even the mosiac Santa dolphin out front would have tasted better. But it was a good time and nice to see our friend.

So we left Virginia Beach…

 

IMG_0651

 

And headed back to Williamsburg…

 

IMG_0653

 

Wondering who Willoughby was and why he was spitting.

First stop? A decent place for dinner.

 

IMG_0654

 

And proof that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Tucked in the back of a very ordinary looking strip mall was a wonderful little Italian place…. that I can’t remember the name of to save my life.

But the garlic knots were to die for… light as air.

 

IMG_0655

 

And my cheese tortellini alfredo with chicken, broccoli and sun dried tomatoes?

Ooh la la! So rich I had to take half back to the resort.

(I hope this quiets you food screamers. Two meals in one post. Now hush!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mariners’ Museum 5…. toys, a submarine, weapons, an Enigma and a 3D coral reef.

 

I realize this is the 5th post of our trip to the museum, but fear not…. it will also be the last.

 

 

Oh, stop being so dramatic and admit you learned something. Even if it was just how to use seashell toilet paper.

We’d spent all day roaming these halls and closing time was approaching before we were even a quarter of the way through.

So we literally trotted from exhibit to exhibit.

 

IMG_0571

 

Vintage naval toys?

 

IMG_0572

 

Check!

 

IMG_0569

 

The hull of the Oracle that won the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010?

 

IMG_0570

 

A ginormous check!

 

IMG_0573

 

Submarine cutout?

 

IMG_0574

 

Got it.

 

IMG_0575

 

WWII memorabilia?

 

IMG_0578

 

Yup. Tons…

 

IMG_0576

 

They even had an Enigma!

How cool is that?

 

IMG_0577

 

If you haven’t seen The Imitation Game about the life of Alan Turing, the man who broke the unbreakable code and then tragically took his own life… with an apple?

You should.

 

 

 

Teddy Roosevelt was there…

 

IMG_0581

 

As was this precious little sword wielding cherub.

 

IMG_0582

 

Because yeah…. what could go wrong with that?

 

 

There was too much to see…

 

IMG_0584

 

And too little time.

 

IMG_0586

 

Look… interesting, not to mention decorative, ways to kill people!

 

IMG_0587

 

And I didn’t have a chance to read all the details.

 

IMG_0585

 

And that.

What was that?

I don’t know!

Because the husband was bound and determined to watch the 3D movie about the coral reef before they closed. So we ran to the theater, put on our plastic glasses and found a good spot to watch and take pictures.

 

IMG_0589

 

Until this woman moved seats and put her head in front of my lens.

Rude. Very rude.

 

IMG_0591

 

The Great Barrier coral reef?

Beautiful.

 

IMG_0595

 

The Great Barrier coral reef in 3D after I moved away from the back of that woman’s head?

 

IMG_0596

 

Stunning.

 

IMG_0597

 

It looked like all these little things were reaching out for you….

 

IMG_0598

 

And I swear the husband jumped a foot when he thought this fellow was right beside him.

 

IMG_0600

 

Beautiful. No two ways about it.

So that was it.

We spent 8 full hours in the museum that day….

 

IMG_0602

 

And were too tired to go out to eat.

Oh, stop screaming.

We got Chinese take out and went back to the condo.

 

IMG_0603

 

The absolute worst Chinese takeout I think I’ve ever had… but there.

Still a food picture.

Mariners’ Museum 4…. in miniature.

 

The next section of the museum was fascinating if you’ve ever been a fan of model ships.

 

IMG_0543

 

Growing up I had a friend whose father had a passion for it, and while his were lovely….

 

IMG_0545

 

There were nothing like the ones on display here.

 

IMG_0544

 

Case after case of fabulous ships.

 

IMG_0546

 

Even the most famous ship of all.

 

IMG_0554

 

Complete with icebergs…

 

IMG_0553

 

There was even a model of a ……

 

IMG_0548

 

Yeah, I had no clue what it was either.

 

IMG_0549

 

Anyway you look at it, they were all impressive. But when the docent asked us if we’d been in the masterclass room yet…

 

IMG_0556

 

I realized there was a whole other level of craftsmanship.

 

IMG_0559

 

These models?

 

IMG_0558

 

Were simply works of art.

 

IMG_0560

 

The detail was almost unbelievable.

 

IMG_0567

 

I’d never heard of Mr. Crabtree….

 

IMG_0566

 

But my proverbial hat was off to him.

 

IMG_0564

 

I can’t even imagine the patience it took to create these beauties.

 

IMG_0563

 

They were exquisite.

 

IMG_0565

 

And if that doesn’t knock your socks off?

 

IMG_0562

 

Oh, come on.

That’s crazy!

 

IMG_0568

 

Bravo August.

You certainly did that…

 

 

Mariners’ Museum 3…. some sweetness and a little toilet humor.

 

Yes, we’re still at the museum. But this post should make everyone smile.

Done with the Civil War Ironclad section….

 

 

Oh, stop. You learned something… and that’s never a bad thing.

We saw a large board filled with children’s drawings.

 

IMG_0542

 

Every child that visits is encouraged to add one and some of them were wonderful.

 

IMG_0539

 

We saw it too, and yes…. it was.

 

IMG_0540

 

This one melted my heart for obvious reasons.

 

IMG_0541

 

And this one made me laugh. They love the water, but have a ship marked with a big red X so the circling sharks can find them.

Nicely done little Peter Benchley.

And then, because I teased it on yesterday’s post…. some toilet humor.

Since we’d spent half the day exploring the museum, I had need of the ladies room where I found this on the inside of my stall door.

 

IMG_0502

 

How great is this?

Not the latrine duty, that had to suck… but reading historic toilet facts while you’re on the toilet? Pretty great.

You don’t often find that kind of symmetry in life.

It must be celebrated when you do.

 

IMG_0503

 

So you know I had to go stall to stall and photograph them all.

(Apologies to the woman in the last stall. I wasn’t stalking you… really. I just needed a picture.)

 

IMG_0504

 

Ouch indeed.

 

IMG_0505

 

Now that’s historical trivia at it’s best. Impress your friends the next time you play Jeopardy.

You’re welcome.

 

IMG_0506

 

There you have it.

Proof positive museums can be fun.

Or at the very least, museum restrooms can.

 

Mariners’ Museum 2… the movies, the Monitor and the turret.

 

So class, yesterday we learned about the CSS Virginia and how most people call her by the incorrect name of…..?

The Merrimack.

 

 

Sure you do… you just haven’t realized it yet.

It’s okay. I’ll wait.

Today, we’re going to the movies.

 

IMG_0468

 

In a surround sound theater that promised an ‘edge of your seat exciting’ depiction of the Ironclad battle.

“You’ll feel like you’re right there!” exclaimed the docent.

 

IMG_0471

 

Yeah.

About that…

 

IMG_0472

 

It was a cartoon.

 

 

An informative cartoon, I grant you…

 

 

But a cartoon all the same. And even with the rolling smoke that issued from the walls and floor…. I didn’t feel any more there than I did watching Bugs Bunny as a child.

Oh well, there were better things ahead.

 

IMG_0482

 

Like the USS Monitor… famous for her spinning gun turret.

 

IMG_0483

 

Is it me, or does that thing look like a drunken owl?

 

 

She was built in 100 days, which was an amazing accomplishment for the time.

 

IMG_0484

 

And the museum faithfully recreated what the officer’s quarters looked like upon completion.

 

IMG_0487

 

Not too shabby.

 

IMG_0485

 

If a wee bit small.

 

IMG_0486

 

There were lots of interesting artifacts to examine.

 

IMG_0492

 

As well as photos of the men who served aboard her.

 

IMG_0494

 

Of course, being me…. you know I had to find some reference to alcoholic refreshment.

 

IMG_0493

 

And then, in the next section of the museum….

 

IMG_0495

 

A replica of the recovered Monitor’s turret.

The original is currently on site and being slowly and painstakingly preserved. Read about it’s discovery and journey to Newport News here.

 

IMG_0496

 

This was basically what it looked like on the ocean floor.

 

IMG_0497

 

All that rusty metal! You know my other half was thrilled….

 

IMG_0499

 

But one of the most impressive aspects of this museum’s exhibit?

 

IMG_0500

 

A life size USS Monitor right outside.

 

IMG_0518

 

Of course it was raining and they advised you not to walk on her slippery deck….

 

IMG_0524

 

So that’s exactly what we did.

 

IMG_0519

 

Stand on the bow of an Ironclad?

Uh… yes. I will!

 

IMG_0526

 

Husband even rung the turret’s bell for good measure.

 

IMG_0527

 

Cool beans!

And if that wasn’t awesome enough? Back inside and down a flight stairs….

 

IMG_0501

 

Took you inside the turret.

 

IMG_0508

 

And literally inside the ship itself.

 

IMG_0511

 

Admittedly the engines and engineering diagrams were above my pay grade.

 

IMG_0513

 

But the display really gave you a feel for the ship.

 

IMG_0514

 

And my inner history nerd was sighing with satisfaction.

We did climb up to the observation landing to peer into the lab where the original pieces of the ship are being restored, but it was just giant vats of seawater with electrical current running through them.

Not very photo worthy, so I’ll spare you the shots.

 

 

Fear not.

The second half of the museum starts tomorrow…. and it will be a little more fun.

Here’s a little preview.

 

IMG_0517

 

See?

Fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4…. the Mariners’ Museum

 

If you’re not a fan of museums, or history, or naval war battles and the Civil War Ironclads?

 

IMG_0601

 

Please feel free to skip the next dozen posts because that’s probably how long it’s going to take me to document this amazing place in Newport News, Virginia.

 

IMG_0420

 

It was an overcast day that was threatening rain so I thought this would be a good choice. I had no idea what to expect and was ready to pay a large ticket price… so imagine my surprise when I saw this.

 

IMG_0588

 

My first reaction was… man, this place must bite.

But oh, was I wrong.

 

IMG_0421

 

Upon arrival this magnificent eagle greets you.

 

IMG_0423

 

It’s a remarkable carving and was lovingly restored from it’s original perch on the bow of this ship.

 

IMG_0422

 

Look closely, it’s there. And gives you some perspective of how large those ships really were.

Next up was a light.

 

IMG_0424

 

But not just any light.

 

IMG_0427

 

And if these were the items in the lobby?

 

IMG_0426

 

I knew we were going to have a great day.

 

 

There are 2 distinct areas of the museum to visit, but being a Civil War buff? I had to choose this first.

 

IMG_0431

 

The Ironclads.

 

IMG_0429

 

If you know nothing about them? Hang on.

 

IMG_0432

 

You will by the time I’m through with you.

 

 

Great.

Let’s continue….

 

IMG_0433

 

Turning the corner, we entered this bizarrely blue movie theater that told the story of the Monitor’s sinking.

 

IMG_0438

 

Turn another corner…. and there she was.

Right under your feet.

 

 

And by watching the films, you come to realize how truly dedicated these people are to preserving history.

 

 

I found it quite moving.

Around the next corner…

 

IMG_0448

 

Some interesting artifacts and a glimpse into our Naval past.

 

IMG_0450

 

I tend to read faster than the husband and am always a few exhibits ahead.

 

IMG_0451

 

Interestingly enough most people think of the Battle of the Ironclads as the Monitor vs the Merrimack, but technically that’s incorrect.

 

IMG_0452

 

This was the Merrimack.

 

IMG_0456

 

She was originally a Union ship that was captured by the Confederates when Gosport fell.

 

IMG_0453

 

She was damaged, but thanks to this man…

 

IMG_0459

 

Would be overhauled, covered in iron plate and turned into the CSS Virginia.

 

IMG_0457

 

The Confederate’s Ironclad.

 

IMG_0461

 

This is the museum’s recreation of her outfitting.

 

IMG_0462

 

And what she looked like upon completion.

 

IMG_0465

 

The Merrimack no longer.

 

IMG_0464

 

There, you’ve learned something.

Now that wasn’t so bad… eh?

 

 

No! Not boring.

It’s history!

 

IMG_0467

 

And how many of your friends can say they’ve seen inside a Civil War Ironclad?

 

IMG_0476

 

None, I tell you!

None.

 

IMG_0477

 

But now you have…

And are sure to be the envy of all your neighbors at the next block party.

 

thank-me-later-5cc2e0

 

Colonial Williamsburg…. the blacksmiths, a test drive, an oak, some cows and yes, food.

 

Although I hated to end our day, the time was drawing near and my phone battery was gasping it’s last breath.

 

IMG_0389

 

Naturally the husband had to see the blacksmith’s shop with all it’s rusty tools.

 

IMG_0394

 

And we were both surprised to learn that women worked there as well back in the day.

 

IMG_0393

 

So after test driving a wheel barrow…

 

IMG_0392

 

A few more natural wreaths…

 

IMG_0400

 

IMG_0304

 

Some private homes…

 

IMG_0398

 

More wreaths…

 

IMG_0395

 

And a massive Live Oak that is supposed to have been here when George Washington walked these streets….

 

IMG_0399

 

We said goodbye to the cows we saw on the way in….

 

IMG_0401

 

And went back to the car where we had to charge my cell phone long enough for Trip Advisor to point us to our first dinner in Williamsburg.

 

IMG_0416

 

I love that app.

 

IMG_0406

 

And I loved this restaurant.

 

IMG_0404

 

Come on…. they had blue jellyfish lights over the bar.

How could you not?

 

IMG_0407

 

Cocktails? Check.

 

IMG_0409

 

Their Orange Crush was made with fresh squeezed OJ and was fabulous.

 

IMG_0410

 

Hushpuppies and cornbread let us know we were in the south.

And may I just say? I had no idea how much I missed hushpuppies until I started eating them again.

Yeeha!

 

IMG_0408

 

Dinner was tough to choose.

 

IMG_0411

 

Husband started with mussels.

 

IMG_0414

 

And moved on to perfectly pan seared sea scallops with garlic smashed red potatoes and green beans.

Me?

 

IMG_0413

 

Me?

I was in the south, baby! Bring me those low country shrimp and cheesy grits.

Lord have mercy….. they were the best thing I’ve eaten in months.

 

IMG_0415

 

Husband had room for a New York Style berry cheesecake….

And then we called it a day.

Day 1.

You realize that, right?

It took me 8 posts to get through Day 1 of our two week vacation.

 

 

Oh, don’t be so dramatic.

It’ll be fun!