This was the view from my hotel balcony!! Ahhh... And the best part- I only paid $59. There's something to be said about the "off season."
As a reward for surviving the early alarm, I treated myself to a delicious breakfast.
I found this cute little local place called Mary's Restaurant. It was PACKED but to my relief, since I was starving, the service was incredibly fast. I was impressed!!
With a soft spot for old people and a desire to know the locals, I got to chatting with a very nice old man down the counter from me. Like the old man in North Dakota, he was retired military. He explained to me that had a choice when he retired to live here or Florida. He chose Virginia Beach because it is in a pocket that gets fewer storms than most other coastal towns on the east coast. Go figure!!
I asked him if he had half a day, what he would recommend seeing. He told me to either go north to the Navy base or south to the wildlife refuge. He told me that if I went to the base they would search my car. Halt-- that makes my decision easy. The thought of unpacking everything in my car, filled with a house, and re-packing it all, put me into apoplexy. I would spend more time doing that than seeing anything.
Note: It took me 4 days to pack this car before I left.
So, naturally, it's off to the south...
I wove my way through this beach-front neighborhood where a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house was 2.3 million.
At this cute humble abode, I found a very fitting yard decoration and had to stop for a photo.
We have arrived!! It's the ocean outside the city. It is very different than the west coast because, while it has some dunes, it is fairly level and barren. No big cliffs, no rocks, no trees, just sand, some grass, and ocean.
Back when I was in town, I saw this foam on the beach and figured some kid was playing a joke and had dumped a bottle of dish soap in the water or something. I giggled and moved on.
BUT now I was about 20 miles south of town and I found the same foam. Hmmmm... That must not be dish soap. I have heard the term, sea foam, but didn't know it actually existed. With every wave, the foam comes in and blows down the beach in chunks. It skims across the wet sand like a hockey puck skims across ice.
Now, how could you come to the beach and not write in the sand? It is a must do for everyone. Me and my handy writing stick
Beauty!! What more can I say about this picture...
Since it was a wildlife refuge, they had signs everywhere asking you not to walk on the dunes and to stay on the boardwalk.
It was a rather unstable path and you had better bring your snake finder with you.
Aaaaaa... Step back slowly and don't breathe. He had his head lifted and was watching my every move. One gentle step at a time, I made my way backwards to get out of reach of him. I didn't know if he was deadly, but I knew he could bite and he was thinking real seriously of using his snake powers on me.
OK. Not to be a bubble burster or anything, but for those of you that have a dream of leaving snow country and moving to the beach because you are sick of shoveling. Let me assure you, you will want to bring your shovel with you.
Oh, and pack a scrub brush and power washer while you're at it! A storm had come through a few days ago and the sand was in every crevice of the exterior of the houses, including each square of the screens over the windows. Even the 6-million-dollar houses looked like this!!
Take a look at the street. The plows were clearing it just the same way they do snow except it doesn't melt!
NOW, these folks ain't no dummies!!!
Once I was done with my beach fun, I started to make my way back west. It feels like this trip is half over because instead of getting on every road going east, I have to go west. Trust me, it is easy to forget and out of habit get back on going east. I found myself doing this and after a half hour of left turn, right turn, U-turn, and a few choice words, I am sure to remember "west" the rest of the trip.
About halfway across Virginia, I knew I had reached the south.
How y'all doin' ta-day? It's som mighty nice weatha out ther. Wouldn't ya say?
And the houses turned from wood sided to brick built.
Instead of the highways being lined with wheat or corn, they were lined with cotton fields.
Yep, that's your shirt hanging there. One ball at a time.
When I stopped to take this great picture of the cotton field, I picked the most perfect stopping spot. I was able to pull off the road so I didn't get hit by some fast driver. I hopped out of my car and headed for the field. My eyes were looking straight ahead, so I could spot just the right picture taking view. Then mother's words, "You should always watch where you step," rang in my head. As I hopped from one foot to the other, what I felt was not solid ground. Whoosh, I went right down into the cold, mushy mud. Since I couldn't stop the forward motion, both feet landed right in it. Good thing I packed 4 pairs of shoes and 20 pairs of socks!!!
I was whizzing along a state highway at 65 mph singing my new favorite song, "Small Town USA," when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a u-turn worthy country store.
By the way, I am in hog heaven here because U-turns are legal to everyone!!! The man out front is my new friend, Steve. He owns the place. He and his wife have been collecting antiques for over 30 years and when they retired, they opened this little shop next to their house. There was a big sign out front that said "OPEN," so I was surprised to find the door locked. Then I noticed the little note next to the door that said to ring the door bell and he would be over in a few minutes. So small town!! I don't know what the population was here but as he spoke, I got the feeling it was under a thousand.
We chatted for about an hour and he told me he had seen my part of the country. "Oh, where?" I asked. He so proudly said, "Southern California." Hmmm... I didn't have the heart to tell him that is not even close. I did recommend a visit to Oregon and Washington to see the Cascade Mountains.
As we neared the end of our chat, he told me that if I did nothing else on my way to Georgia, I needed to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Great Smoky Mountains. He told me to stop at the welcome center in North Carolina and they could give me information. Oh, boy, an adventure for tomorrow!!
This last picture is to give you an idea of what it looks like out here. The trees are short and you can see some of the color still. The ground is smothered in leaves and the grass below the leaves is green.
Good night and I'm looking forward to seeing the mountains of the southeast tomorrow!