12 January 2013

1/12/2013 - Virginia Beachy, Beachy

Wilmington NC to Fort Eustis to Virginia Beach VA

THE STATS: Miles traveled today 358 and moving time 5'52". Highest elevation 128 near West Point and zero in VB VA. Temp high 66. Right now 55 degrees at 8pm. Sunshine at wake up, slowly deteriorating to dense fog by the time we hit our hotel.
Stopped for gas at Nashville NC. We had traveled 451 miles on this tank with MPG of 51.8. Price of gas here $3.28. This was a strange little station with big cement animals, mostly life size except a big rooster with big spurs. Thought of Finns old "territorial" cock and glad he wasn't this big. They had a horse rearing up, a cow, a team of oxen, a bear, a leopard, an elephant, and others. I guess the kids would enjoy climbing on them on a nice day.

Fun fact:  In Wilmington NC, we entered I-40 at its easterly start point. While we were out west in October we entered I-40 at the other end in Barstow, CA. Here we saw the sign saying 2,554 miles to Barstow. There we saw the sign stating 2,554 miles to Wilmington NC. Maybe someday we will travel the stretch between Fort Smith Arkansas and Raleigh/Durham NC to complete the I-40 "experience."

THE HAPS:
Did not have a good night's sleep last night, so took my first daytime driving nap. En route missed the town of Mt Olive (where they make the brand of pickles we like). Why isn't is called Mt Pickle? Anyway, never been in a pickle factory before. May have taken a side trip if I had been awake. 

We only travel two or so miles above the limit, so no worries, but there were lots of unmarked road cops in NC. And, for a change, people were going the limit on this stretch. Roads were dirty though. Not a lot of respect for litter laws, if there are any.

The goal today was Fort Eustis VA and then as far as we could get. No final destination in mind. We hit Virginia about noon. We stopped at the Visitor Center at the state border and it was the nicest on our trip so far. We give it a five for the usual reasons ... but it turned out it was actually the City of Petersburg (not a state) Visitors Center.

We wanted info about Fort Eustis. Because of all the waterways and ocean inlets between here and there, we couldn't figure the most direct route. The info man turned out to be retired Army, but not the Army Aviation division that Mike was in. It was very weird, he kept calling it Fort Useless and said where he went to school for Logistics was better. He started a kind of one-ups-manship that I didn't really appreciate. No one part of the military is any better than another, but he didn't see it that way. Left a bad taste in my mouth.


Continued on. Good roads, very little Spanish moss in trees now, ads for 20%(!!) Wild Irish Rose Wine. Passed by West Point, Jamestown, William and Mary College, and Williamsburg, all places we would like to see, but not this trip. Saw an "Are we there yet?" sign with a dog pictured. That's a new one. It was an ad for a doggie poop and play area.

We got a little shocker when we arrived at the Fort Eustis gate. Unlike Fort Rucker where we showed ID and continued on, here we were asked to get out of the car, open all doors including the hood and trunk, and waited for a pretty thorough inspection. Even had mirrors to check the under carriage. Had to show our ID and insurance / registration info. Mike says they were looking for bombs or terrorist paraphernalia. All gate personnel in military garb, but no sniffer dogs. We found the difference between here and Rucker is that Eustis is manned by military personnel and civilian employees handle Rucker.

We passed muster and continued directly to the US Army Transportation Museum. It was more interesting than I expected. You wandered through a winding hallway that displayed the history of Army Transportation from the beginning. That is from mule travel to present day, including the Hueys and Chinooks that Mike was familiar with. This included vehicles from land, air and water, and military uniforms throughout history. They also displayed things that were not so successful like individual jet packs.

Besides the indoor display there were also three huge covered areas of vehicles, including trains, trucks, amphibious vehicles, history of jeeps and tanks, and a few robotic type machines. Some of them were huge, with tires bigger than me.

After the displays we road around a little trying to see things Mike remembered on base, but, again, no luck. We traveled on and made it as far as Virginia Beachy, beachy. We had a great ocean view room on the fifth floor and it was good to smell and almost see the ocean again. Forever fog.

In keeping with our "thing" about not eating at our hotel, we trudged out (without enough outerwear, I might add) to find an eatery. Not much open in this off season and we walked way too many blocks in the fog and chilly air. Finally came across a not promising from the outside, but open, bar named Murphy's Irish Pub. Once inside, it was a gem because it had a wood-burning fireplace.  Nothing like fog and fire and good food. There was a college football game on so the crowd was lively. And there were little toadstool and leprechaun stained glass windows all around, keepin' it real. We had fish and chips and a little too much wine and beer, but it hit the spot. Did not even feel the cold on the way back to the hotel. Although felt the alcohol a bit the next morning though.

BEST OF:
Best City Visitors Center ever visited ... in Perry NC. Clean, eco-ish, atmosphere, historical displays.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.