First anniversary

Thursday morning we packed the car, got Illa in, and drove off to Seven Corners where the malamute rescue keeps their dogs. We decided on the car trip that we would adopt him, and called Lezlie the next day to let her know (we pick him up tomorrow). We stopped in Fredricksburg where gas was $2.69 a gallon on the Exxon ($2.99 across the street at the Mobil – go figure). No traffic, so we were in Williamsburg by 11:30, in the colonial area by noon. We bought the midlevel pass, good for two days, that let us hit the Governor’s Palace, Capitol, DeWitt Museum and the Public Hospital. First stop was the Governor’s Palace, where we only waited about two minutes for a tour. Long one, too, as the hostess gave us details about the pre and post war happenings there. Next, we shot down to the Duke of Gloucester Street for lunch at Chowning’s Tavern. Ok food, I had a roast beef sandwich and Jill had a cheeseburger. We continued down the street, stopping by several shops and the milliner. Jill exchanged shop talk with the apothecary, then we strolled down to the Capitol. They were doing a tour in 20 minutes, so we went to the gunsmith for a while first. The Capitol tour was nice – they had three different guides for each house and the upstairs rooms. Next, we took a shuttle bus over to the hospital, also known as the insane asylum. Then we went downstairs to the De Witt museum, but didn’t stay too long. My feet were getting awfully sore, and after we saw the African American religious exhibit, I sat down at a shuttle stop while Jill checked out some more stores and exhibits. I took some more pictures, then sat down, reading downloaded web sites on my phone and people watching. Jill was worn out by that point as well, so we rode the bus back to the visitor center and went to the hotel.

We hadn’t booked anything by Monday, so I went and booked us into the Travelodge, since it a) had a jacuzzi and b) was .2 miles from the colonial area. What a mistake that was. Both the jacuzzi and pool were closed (which wouldn’t have mattered anyway since Jill has a near open wound – D’oh!), and it was at least a mile, maybe two from the colonial area. And it turns out Jill doesn’t feel safe in motels, and the only working ice machine was on the third floor of the other building (as I was told by some guy with a Russian accent). We got over it, and relaxed. Jill finished the book she’d brought, and bemoaned the fact she had brought no other books. I grinned and asked her if perhaps she’d like her anniversary gift early. She stared at me suspiciously as I hauled out a duffel bag and dropped it on the bed with a thump. She unzipped it only to see about 30 books from her favorite mystery series. I even had a complete list of what she had and what she needed. She then got out my gift – 3 Redskins tix for the Chargers game after Thanksgiving (and a partial birthday gift as well). Very nice, and we’ll try to get my Dad to join us.

Later, we got ready for dinner. Jill had chosen to eat at Christiana Cambell’s Tavern near the Capitol. We showed up a little early and waited on the porch, next to a large and obnoxious family – luckily we weren’t seated near them. Jill had the house “salet” and a seafood pastry, and I had an appetizer extravaganza – the salad, plus the crab soub, baked shrimp and spinach and fried oysters with bacon relish. That’s right – bacon relish. Pretty tasty. The best thing was the bread – biscuits and sweet potato muffins. Of course my reliability as a witness may be a bit suspect as I got blitzed on a “Rummer” – dark rum mixed with peach and apricot brandies with a splash of lime and a cherry in a big glass. Oh and a beer – Jill had to take the remainder of her half bottle of wine back to the room to drink.

Friday we planned on getting out early to avoid any beach traffic. Of course we didn’t make it out until 11, so we decided we’d get breakfast once we made it over the James and past any bottlenecks at the bridge-tunnels. Since “you can’t spit without hitting” a pancake house in Williamsburg in Jill’s memorable words, we thought we’d hit one soon after we got into Portsmouth and got on 17. Wrong – unless we were looking for a Rent-A-Center, check cashing place, or Popeye’s, we were out of luck, so we continued down 17 to Elizabeth City. The plan was we’d have lunch in Elizabeth City, then kill some time until 7 when Rusty and Meredith were scheduled to arrive. Once we saw Elizabeth City, we decided to head east towards the Outer Banks – there was one restaurant on the waterfront in Elizabeth City, and it didn’t look like a place we could kill 5 hours.

Now I hadn’t been to the Outer Banks before, and perhaps I have some misconceptions (it seems like everytime someone cuts me off, it’s a asshat in a SUV with an OBX sticker on it). It took us about an hour to get there, and we stopped at the visitor center in Kitty Hawk. The lady there gave us a map to the Wright memorial, and when we asked where to have a nice lunch on the water, advised us to go to the Black Pelican on Kitty Hawk Rd. It turns out the Black Pelican has a Wright Brothers connection (it was a Western Union building when they took their first flight, and they sent telegrams from it), but the food was great. We split a greek salad, then each had a pizza – shrimp and scallop for me, Landlover’s (pepperoni and andouille sausage) for Jill. That and a beer totally hit the spot. Then we parked next door and went across the street to the beach, where we went into the ocean for a while, then stretched out on the sand and read. About 5, when the sun started setting, we went to the Wright memorial and walked through the small building with a replica plane, then visited the actual spot. For some reason that moved me more than anything I saw at Williamsburg. I’d gotten the call that Rusty was almost there, so we headed back. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much traffic coming in at that point.

We went through Elizabeth City again, and soon were in Hertford, a small town (2 traffic lights) just off 17. Meredith’s parents owned a nice house (known as the Newby house after the first owner in 1905) on the banks of the Perquimans River there. We got our stuff in from the car, and hung out as Rusty grilled burgers and Meredith made a salad. We ate and chatted and drank beers late into the night. Rusty is an old fraternity brother and a longtime friend (as well as one of my groomsmen), and it was good to catch up in a one-on-one setting that we don’t usually get the time to do. Of course after they went to bed, Jill and I were up another couple hours reading.

Saturday morning I was awakened by Rusty and Meredith moving furniture. I recalled them mentioning that the night before, so I whipped the previous night’s clothes on and helped them get the furniture (from Rusty’s grandmother) upstairs (they were still furnishing and finishing the house). Rusty had to return the trailer, so I showered, then got some cereal and an english muffin. Next I went down by the banks of the river to read. I was trying to keep a book a day pace on vacation, and only just finshed my first and started my second then (rerearding my way through Terry Pratchett, “Men At Arms” anf “Feet Of Clay”). After Rusty returned, we took a quick tour of the town (Jill enjoyed the antique shops). We had some lunch after that, Rusty and Meredith had some sandwiches, and everyone had some of the eggplant and squash we brought after Jill cut it up and I sauteed them in olive oil and Mrs. Dash (the spice selection was a bit limited). Everyone read through the afternoon, though I was the only one who wanted to be right next to the water, and Jill returned to one of the antique shops for a silver coffee set she’d decided she wanted.

I finished my second book, and read all the way through my third, Neil Peart’s “Travelling Music”. Neil is the drummer from Rush, and this his third book. They’re all travel books, but totally different. “Masked Rider” is about a bike trip to Cameroon, West Africa in 1988, and “Ghost Rider” is the best one so far about recovering from the devastating impact of losing his daughter and wife back to back and how he rode 55,000 miles on his motorcycle to see if there was a reason to keep going. “Travelling Music” is ostensibly about a trip he took from Santa Monica to Big Bend, Texas and the music he listened to, but it’s close to a memoir as he relates how music and travelling has guided his entire life. An intriguing read, especially if you’re a Ruch fan, but the way the narrative jumps back and forth makes for trick reading unless you’re a big Heinlein fan.

I finsihed with enough time to get ready for dinner. We had reservations for 6:30 at the Beechtree Inn just east of Hertford. We were there early enough to get a private room, which was nice. We all had the prime rib, and I had the she-crab soup while Jill had a portabello mushroom barley soup. She split a bottle of merlot with Rusty whiel I had a local ale. Jill enjoyed a chocolate chambord cake and forced me to have some. Very nice place and the owner herself came and waited on our table. After we got back, we had an epic battle of Trivial Pursuit, at least 3 hours long and culminating in a trivia off between Jill and I. Next we tried Uno, which was taking forever until we discovered the rules we’d all been playing by forever (if you can’t play, you pull cards until you can) weren’t the official ones (only draw one per turn unless a draw two or draw four has been played), and we finished that game quickly as well as another one (ok, I won them all). We were pretty tired, and headed for bed (and more reading).

We got up the next morning and read for a little (I finshed my next book, back to Pratchett and “Interesting Times”) then went to brunch at Dotty’s in town. I enojoyed my sausage and egg wrap and sticky bun, but Jill didn’t like her “Belgian” waffle (ordinary waffle with no whipped butter and real maple syrup as promised). We packed up the house later, then read for a last little bit before leaving (I didn’t want to start anything big so I read the first volume of PVP). We got on the road about 1:30 going our separate ways. We reversed the way we’d come down, quickly getting into Virginia and past Williamsburg. We stopped a bit past for a bathroom break and so I could drive (she’d been driving the whole trip before that). I drove up to Fredricksburg, where we stopped for gas around 4:30 at the same Exxon (now $3.29), then kept on going up 95 to the Fairfax County Parkway. We stopped at Starbucks in Burke for another bathroom break and fuel for Jill, then she drove the rest of way home (would have been home at 6PM but we stopped for groceries).

We brought everything in and put the food away, then Jill decided she was in the mood for the buffet at Charlie Chang’s, which almost never happens (I love buffets, and she’s mostly not fond of them), so I took full advantage of that, and got my money’s worth. After we got back, Jill went online while I put this together, then I started uploading the pictures from the trip. Right before midnight (since the actual anniversary was today), we shared the two cupcakes we’d saved from the wedding, as well as some carrot cake we got today (since the groom’s cake disappeared without a trace 10 minutes after it was cut). A very nice anniversary weekend, and now we’ve got tomorrow free for the Labor Day Jazz and Wine fest.