Has it really been 19 days since the last post? Yikes.
All is well at this end of the blogosphere. Hellishly hot, perhaps, but well all the same. As is true with each summer, my thoughts have turned to whether I should buy insulated water bottles and what level of SPF sunscreen would be best for me. There was a rather nasty storm last Friday that left 1.5 million people without electricity. Six days later, tens of thousands still have no power and the heat has been near 100 degrees almost every day. Fortunately, your humble scribe was spared in this year’s tumult.
I took a vacation while I was gone. Once again we wandered to Fort Story, adjacent to Virginia Beach. This time, my wife (who has chosen the moniker “Diesel” due to her unique running ability to keep chugging along) brought along her bike. She used it only once to ride with me on a pleasant six-mile trip into town, whereupon she did some souvenir shopping while I sipped a soda and guarded the bikes in the street. I could have locked them, but I was getting some very uncomfortable stares from passers-by – the sorts of stares a Lamborghini might have got. Loyal readers will recall from earlier reports that Virginia Beach is awash in cool (and inexpensive) beach cruiser bicycles. My carbon-framed Madone and Diesel’s Fuji Absolute definitely stood out in the crowd of beaters.
In any event, the ride was pleasant. So pleasant, in fact, that Diesel is interested in trying another organized ride. We’ve tentatively planned to do the 34-mile route offered during the Reston Century this August. This will be a personal best for her and comes at a time she is training for her first-ever marathon this October. It should be interesting.
My big solo ride was a 41-mile jaunt to Dam Neck, where I once again traversed the boulevard named after the racist, sexist, embezzling (and city saving) General Booth. I took the road further south than in March and made my way to Sandbridge Road, which I hoped would be a lovely ride in the country until it met the sea. I was not disappointed.
Dotted with horse farms, old churches, and coastal swamp, Sandbridge Road is a pleasant ride. The lack of a shoulder for long stretches made it a bit of an adventure, especially during rush hour (or what passes for rush hour in this part of the world). I encountered the first item of interest almost immediately. Nimmo United Methodist Church. Consecrated in 1791 on land sold at a cost of five shillings by Anne Nimmo, it is the oldest surviving Methodist church in Virginia. The architecture is unusal for the area and even includes a cemetery on the premises – definitely more European in style than contemporary American. When one considers that nearby Virginia Beach was established in 1963, it is striking just how old this congregation is.
Next up was the Lotus Garden Park. This was a nice waterway just off the road. Apparently, people launch their kayaks and canoes from this point and paddle for several miles in either direction. There was a stone marker recognizing the efforts of Crezia Covington Reed, who apparently was instrumental from 1955-1975 in helping the Lotus grow in its natural habit, a portion of which is presumably the creek pictured below.
Immediately after the park was another Methodist church of considerable age – the Tabernacle United Methodist Church. I couldn’t find very much historical information on this building, but a large sign stating its establishment in 1831 suggests a relatively long lineage. One wonders how two churches of the same denomination in a rural area have been able to sustain separate congregations despite being only two miles apart.
I eventually reached the beach and turned north along Sandpiper Lane. The houses were a mixture of McMansions and “merely very nice” homes. There is a penchant for naming the houses and displaying said names on signs, which provided entertainment at each driveway. Names such as “Paradise On Stilts” (a reference to the stilts used by many to prevent hurricane damage), “Livin’ E. Z.,” and “Checkmate” managed to stay with me long enough to type them here.
I was hoping to cut through Naval Station Dam Neck on my way home and was frustrated by the locked gate I found on the southern entrance to the installation – darn you, Al Qaida! I was thus forced to double back on my route and travel five miles further than planned. I still arrived back at the cottage in fine form, ready to take on another vacation day of beach walking, sun bathing, and napping.
I suspect this may have been our last visit to Fort Story. The hotel and its associated cottages will be shutting down September 30th as the facility moves under U.S. Navy control. There is no word as to the longterm fate of the hotel, but the prognosis isn’t good. That is a shame as we have always enjoyed our visits and will miss the opportunity to enjoy sites such as the one below.