Well, its goodbye to beautiful Ocracoke and hello open roads.
We have decided to head to Washington DC for the day, to see Arlington Cemetery and then head back home and spend the night in Canada. You know what they say…the road to hell is paved with good intentions….at least we started the day with good intentions, right?
We opt to take the most scenic route we can so we head up US158- Caratoke Hwy. We are driving again in North Carolina and it is so darn gorgeous here. Mountains, lush forests, country side…this woman is happy to be exploring again.
This will be a long day of driving, with only a stop for a late lunch. We left Ocracoke around 11 am…you see…I really didn’t want to go. I also didn’t realize that the drive to Arlington was about six and a half hours so there was no time to sight see today…but that did not make this day a waste of time at all…after all, this is a road trip.
We drive slightly inland in North Carolina, so no ocean views for a bit, but there are plenty of bays and rivers to see. Now, the route we take has us travelling through gorgeous countryside and many counties, but not too many cities or large towns…so bear with me if I can’t share much other than the names of the places we drove through.
We drive through Crawford which is on Bellows Bay, which is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a thin strip of land that is the location of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.
Our drive takes us through the counties of Snowden, Guinea, and Moyock. An interesting fact about Moyock is that it used to be the site for greyhound racing (insert sad face). However, when greyhound racing was finally made illegal in 1954, the track sat dormant for a few years. It reopened and was used for NASCAR racing from 1962 to 1966. This eventually came to an end due to low revenues and poor attendance. Moyock is only 40 kilometers away from Chesapeake, so it has become a bedroom community for those folks that need to commute to work in Chesapeake each day.
After a short while, we cross into Virginia…they say it is the state for lovers…well, not in my case but its beautiful just the same.
Hickory, VA is the first notable city we come to. It is considered a neighborhood of Chesapeake. It is a real mix of family homes and very upscale mansions. Quite spectacular to drive through…as I look at the mansions all I am thinking about is who lives there and what is their life like….probably alot like mine…with a little more cash.
The next notable place we drive through is Chesapeake. Mostly protected farmlands and wetlands and situated on the Atlantic Waterway, Chesapeake is an absolutely breathtaking place. The Dismal Swamp Canal runs through this town. Odd name right? This canal was surveyed originally by George Washington (prior to his becoming President). It was first called the Work Ditch as it was built to be used by merchant ships. It is the oldest continuously used man made canal in the USA and is over 230 years old. And if you love the Dollar Tree, you will find their headquarters here.
We drive on and reach Norfolk. This is the home of the US Navy and the worlds largest naval installation. It has a massive cargo port as well and is home to the worlds’ largest and fastest container crane, used to load and unload the cargo vessels at the port. There are also many cruise ships that come here on their way to wonderous and sometimes warm destinations…oh how I wish I could be on one as I write this. A really historic event occurred here in 1981. Elizabeth Jordan Carr was born here…she is the first in-vitro baby born in the USA….Oh the things you learn when you travel.
We drive through Norfolk and head toward the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. This is a 5.6 km long toll free tunnel that has four lanes and is an interesting experience to drive…I mean, once you are in it….you are committed. Built in 1957, it was originally only two lanes wide, but it was expanded in 1976. It starts out as a bridge, then takes you under the water in a tunnel and then back out to a bridge on the other side. This allows the ships and cargo vessels to still travel down the river. It joins Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads. It is slightly thrilling to drive through, knowing that a large ship could be above you and you are under water….talk about engineering.
I just wanted to add in here that this was such a long day of driving. There was construction and detours everywhere and if we were in a city, every traffic light seemed to turn red as we approached it. At one point it started to rain, and since we were driving with the top down…its a convertible remember?…we took the time to put it up at one of the red lights. The roof is almost up and the light turns green…and the not so patient or friendly dude behind us decides to lean on his horn. We finish with the roof….and then…nothing…because the light is red again. We watch him sit not so patiently behind us, until at last the green light shines and we are off. And if I recall… this guy was in a big hurry to get to a parking spot…about 30 feet from the light we had been waiting at. Please show some patience…driving angry does not get you there any faster.
We drove for hours through gorgeous farmland, driving through places called Swansea Manor, Rochambeau Village (there is a funny family story with the word Rochambeau which I will share another time…makes me smile as I drive through), Barker Corner, Corrtuck Farm and Simpkins Corner.
We are getting late into the afternoon so we need a place to eat some lunch. We find one at Giovannis Pizza in Chickahominy. I just love to say this word. Lunch was delicious, all be it quick, because we want to go and see Arlington Cemetery and head home….neither of us realize at this point that that will not be happening today.
So, onward we drive, through Pullerson Corner and Spotsylvania County and end up in Fredericksburg. Sitting on the banks of the Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg is one very beautiful city, filled with history and historic buildings. This of course attracts many tourists…over 1.5 million each year. George Washington was born here and his mother Mary lived here for many years…her home is a historical site. Another future President was born here…James Monroe. And there is a spot that everyone stops at…we didn’t have time, darn it. Carls Frozen Custard. Built in 1947 by Carl Sponseller this retro custard shop still makes homemade custard every day with its original 1940s Electro Freezer machine. When Carl passed away, he left the shop to his brothers. When they retired, their children took it over and run it to this day. What a wonderful family business. I really wish I could have tried a scoop…or three.
Our drive continues through Stafford County, and Polonia Hills, (more farmland), Prince William County and Fairfax County. And then we reach Alexandria.
What a beautiful city this is. On the shores of the Potomac River, this city due to its close proximity to Washington is home to many Federal employees, professionals, US military and those who work in the Department of Defence. It is a historic town and the downtown area, or olde town has many boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theatres. Two Presidents were born here, President Nixon and President Ford. This is also the birthplace of Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Cass Elliott and John Phillips, both of the Mamas and Papas. The city holds a very impressive Scottish Christmas Walk every year since 1969 as an homage to the ancestery of the original settlers. It would have been nice to stay here and explore for a day…on my to do list now.
It is now close to 5 pm…the idea that we will not be making it to Canada tonight is finally settling in. But we are determined to visit Arlington Cemetery today…we are not that far away now.
We arrive in Arlington. As we head towards the cemetery we drive past the bridge over the Potomac and see the nations’ capital in all of its splendor. The roads are busy with traffic and after a few wrong turns we find ourselves on the road to the cemetery. This is where we run into a problem. The cemetery is closed for the night. That is right… it is now nightfall. We make the decision to find a place to stay here for the night and visit the cemetery in the morning.
We do a quick drive and find…The Inn At Roslyn. This is not a fancy place…heck I didn’t even feel safe sitting in the parking lot here, but what is life without taking a chance once in a while. We go in to the office to get a room and notice a police car parked in the parking lot…never a good sign. My partner asked if there was a problem and the clerk at the desk said no. Apparently the police leave a car parked in the lot there every night to keep folks thinking twice about doing anything naughty…apparently that happens often in this area of town. Yikes. Ok, we take a room.
The Inn At Roslyn needs a little bit of explaining here. It was clean as anything, which I will be honest…that surprised me. Built in 1957, this motel was novel in its day and modern. Today it has a 2 star rating, but it is still very cool and retro. The floors are black and white checkered, and our bathroom had a blue toilet and bathtub. I want to just say here that the first house I lived in with my husband in the 1980’s had a pink bathtub and floral sinks…I have to say I feel right at home at the Inn At Roslyn.
Once settled in, since it is now quite late we decide to order Chinese food to be delivered to the room. Here is where we get the best treat of the day. The food came and we were so excited when we opened the bag. Unlike the normal tin containers with cardboard lids that we usually get in Canada when we order Chinese food, this order was neatly boxed in tiny little containers with handles….just like in the movies. We thought we had won the lottery…I guess we were tired and easily amused. We settled in and ate our food and watched a movie. Oh…fun fact I learned recently…the Chinese food containers actually fold out to make a plate for you to eat on…who knew. My mind is blown by this fact.
Tomorrow we head to Arlington Cemetery early in the morning and then head to Canada.
Or do we?
Live your Life…Jan.