SUN & SHIPS - VIRGINIA BEACH

Trip Start Sep 07, 2008
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Trip End Dec 10, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Monday, November 10, 2008

As we look back over the last couple of months, we can distinctly categorize our trip in stages:  coastal, lakes & mountains, snow, cities and now we're looking forward to embarking on the next part of our journey  - beaches.   
As we drove through the states of Maryland and Virginia, the sun was shining through the window, bright blue sky, trees with autumn colours as far as the eye could see  .....  an enjoyable, scenic and easy drive.  The weather has got noticeably warmer as we head down the east coast, although when I say warmer, I'm talking autumn weather - certainly not quite for swimming yet, but that's coming. 

On our way down we drove past several military sites (all big) including the Andrews Air Force base which houses Airforce One.    Actually the camp site we stayed at last night was right next door to a Navy Master Jet base (largest in the world), so you can just imagine the sounds we heard throughout the day and night ... the roar, the hollowness as they travel faster than speed of sound - others don't enjoy the noise but we loved it!! 

An interesting site we saw, was on the way was at Langley (near the research base).  At first sight it looked just like a small plane (which it was), but we did think it was quite low and seemed to be almost hovering at different points.  As we approached it a bit closer we realized it was unmanned!  Had a rather satellite dish thing on the top of it.   Obviously, a rather large remote control .... Not your normal household toy and no, we didn't get a picture.
 In  terms of beaches ... there are many.   But we chose Virginia Beach today quite simply because of its Naval Base - Norfolk, the largest navy port in the world. Although, let me say, the beach and boardwalk  are quite stunning also.

At any rate, we got on a 2.00pm naval tour (Gary dropped us off to get tickets, while he parked at least a mile away and ran back), and we 'set sail', or rather motored out.  The boat wasn't at all crowed, and there was seating inside and out.  The sky was cloudless, it was just the breeze off the water that made it a little cool.   
With a full commentary we took a look around the harbor first, where we had landmarks pointed out, and those ships that were in dry dock and explaining how the whole barge/dry dock thing works, in order to get those massive ships out of the sea.  Very interesting.    We were off then out to the base,  where we saw all sorts of naval ships, including war ships, submarines, nuclear  vessels, (did you know that nuclear ships only have to be 'refueled'  once every 20 years?), and even an enormous vessel that carried the helicopters and had its own hospital with intensive care unit etc.  

Also docked there, was the USS Cole, a victim of a terrorist attack in Yemen in 2000, (you might remember it).  17 unsuspecting crew lost their lives.

We got back into port and right there on the wharf was the huge warship USS Wisconsin.  We were back in too late to have a look around it, but they do, do free tours, so instead we had a look around the museum which featured this particularly vessel, its history etc.

Fascinating, educational, delightful day.
 
 
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