We moved marinas from the eastern side of Elizabeth River across the Hampton Roads (James River) to Downtown Hampton Public Pier. We dodged a submarine and thunderstorm.
Who knew we were perfectly placed for a voyage of discovery? Combining the rather urgent need of repairing our shattered windscreen with exploring our surrounds, we have been on the road all day.
First stop was at a canvas repairers who will be able to provide us with studs which were ripped out by the damaging thunderstorm. While we waited for their morning work meeting to be over, we discovered our first gem – Fort Monroe. It is situated on Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula (bottom of Chesapeake Bay). It guarded the navigation channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads. It was built in 1819 and only decommissioned in 2011. President Monroe commissioned it to be built at the same time as Fort Sumter, so there are many similarities. The notable differences are it is built on an isthmus, it has a moat, it has gorgeous buildings surrounding it – probably the officer quarters in later years. It is like stepping back in time to Beaufort, SC. It would have been a great posting! Without forgetting the dark side of history, Fort Monroe is the infamous place of being the portal for the first slaves to land on American soil. These first 30 men were captured by the English from Angola. At the end of the Civil War Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, was imprisoned at Fort Monroe.
Then off we set for Yorktown to get a new windshield made out of plexiglass. Mark did a great job of reassembling shattered pieces to present as a template. The outcome is we have a new windshield ready to be gently but firmly reattached.
Ever onwards we proceeded to Historic Yorktown where the English surrendered to the Americans. We watched a movie explaining the Battle of Yorktown before completing a self-drive tour of the battlefield. We visited Moore House where Cornwallis signed the dreaded deed to Washington. I learned the French played a major part in America achieving independence.
From there we ventured into the delightfully well-preserved Historic Yorktown, nestled on the banks of the York River. We enjoyed lunch overlooking the river and watched the rain well and truly set in.
We followed the Colonial Parkway – a beautiful federal road which meanders between Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, through heavily wooded forests. Not realizing Historic Williamsburg is a “gated historic city” which required a considerable fee to enter, with heavy rain falling and only a couple of hours until we needed to pick up the plexiglass, we decided not to explore this town. Cars are not allowed in, so we did not see anything of this well advertised town.
Back on to the Colonial Parkway, we headed for our last stop – Jamestown – the first permanent English settlement in the US. Hence, Pocahontas and the help of her Native American people in the survival of the English immigrants. Who knows why John Smith chose a marshy peninsula to found a colony?
And not only was the scenery lovely and the history rewarding on our inland excursion, but we also passed iconic entities: Langley Air Force Base; NASA; more large navy bases and naval weapons stations. Actually, all quite mind-blowing in such a geographically small area!
It is a pity about the rain, however, that won’t stop us exploring.
Such is LIfe!