30 May 2010


Ocean Beach Club, Virginia Beach, VA
Gold Key Club Resort

It’s hard to leave the Ocean Beach Club. If there’d been any openings on the Virginia or North Carolina coast we’d have stayed at the beach for another week. I can’t say enough about Virginia Beach and the Tidewater area. There’re so many wonderful places to go and things to do, and just hanging out is great, too.

The food has been fantastic—not one bad or even mundane meal. We’ve eaten at Surf Rider, Π Pizzeria, 11th Street Taphouse (twice), Catch 31, Mahi Mah’s, and RockFish. And, we leave knowing we missed some restaurants this time around. You can only eat so much.

We leave in time for the 9:00am service at Spring Branch Community Church, and are so pleased that we worked this into our day. The church is warm and welcoming, while allowing us to remain anonymous. I’m surprised, then pleased, that the sanctuary is no larger than it is. There is a balcony which we can’t see, but in all I doubt that more than 500 or so can worship here at one time and they have just two weekend services—9:00 and 11:15am on Sunday.

The service starts with delightful and worshipful music, augmented by a bagpiper. There are Civil War era ballads, praise songs, and traditional hymns. All very attuned to the Memorial Day theme and bring us into a solemn, patriotic, spiritual mood.

Virginia Beach is a huge Navy area, and at one point in the service a group of officers and enlisted men march on stage and stand at attention. All active military personnel in the audience are recognized and honored, as well as former military and military families.

Michael Simone gives a strong message, Memorial Day: The Bugles Sang on faith, courage, and sacrifice. He quotes much scripture and also from Sebastian Junger’s new book War. I appreciate Michael Simone’s persona and teaching style. I met him, was in the same meetings and places with him, many times during my years working at the not-for-profit. He is very, very good at what he does, but never needed the spotlight or drew attention to himself. He’s built this church and he continues to teach the Word to standards of excellence. We could worship here weekly if we lived in this area.

We leave the service very happy that we worshiped God and heard from his Word this morning.

We try for breakfast at Citrus, but there’s a 30 minute wait and when we view a few plates being served, decide to pass. We head across Shore Drive to McDonald’s and our first fast food in over a week. A bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit tastes pretty good alongside an orange juice and coffee.

established 1938

We’ve decided to stop in Williamsburg and Charlottesville as we drive toward Beckley, WV today. We’ve spent many days in the historic area of Williamsburg, so today we’re focused on revisiting the Pottery Factory in Lightfoot, where I spent many hours with CA and with friends during our years in Virginia.

We take the Lightfoot exit and wind down the lane toward the Williamsburg Pottery Factory. Not everything looks familiar, but it’s been 24 years or so since we’ve been here. Can’t say we aren’t disappointed, although the crowds are very light on this holiday. There’re still lots of interesting deals on cookware, table settings, linens, and garden art. And, there’s a plant nursery which I don’t remember from before. All-in-all there’s just a lot less here than in the past and while it’s still very rustic, it’s not as rambling and patched together as before and I miss the tumbling messiness of that era.

I spend very little. I find shot glasses that are labeled: Marielle’s Bar, Matthew’s Bar, and the best—Judy’s Bar—which I buy for TL. (Unfortunately, Judy’s Bar doesn’t make it home in one piece so the joke is off.)

Patricia Cornwell

In less than an hour we’re on the road toward Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. We are hungry for lunch and decide to explore downtown Richmond, something we’ve never done in the past. The first thing we see is Commonwealth of Virginia Forensic Science Laboratory officing Kay Scarpetta, I guess. Kay Scarpetta is the heroine in most of the Patricia Cornwell novels which CA and I have both enjoyed (especially the first 8 or 10).

We’re convinced that Kay is working today even though it’s a Sunday. She’s always in the middle of a huge serial killer drama. We know that she’s moved on in novel life, but we’re convinced that in real life she’s still hard at work protecting the Commonwealth and half the world.

We don’t find any promising restaurants in downtown Richmond, but we enjoy the architecture and history of this southern city. We drive on a bit and find a University of Richmond exit, knowing that there’s always food near a University. We find a Jimmy John’s and happily share a #12 and a bag of chips. I’m hooked on the ½ lemonade/1/2 iced tea drink which I’ve learned to call an Arnold Palmer.

UVA, The Rotunda

Back on the road we stop at a visitor center on the outskirts of Charlottesville for a map, and then drive the perimeter of the campus, awed as always by Thomas Jefferson’s vision come to life. We continue to the downtown mall area—brick streets closed off to traffic—and easily park. We wander the mall, enjoying the street musicians and looking for ice cream.

Alakazam Toys, Charlottesville, VA

Of all the ice cream joints in Charlottesville, she walks into mine.

We stop at Alakazam—a wonderful children’s store—and after buying a book for LE and two greeting cards we ask where to get ice cream. The young woman suggests Chaps, and we cross the mall and walk down a bit and into a traditional soda fountain/ice cream shoppe. This might be the very best ice cream I’ve had in my life, and CA agrees. He chooses a pralines and cream clone—Golden Nugget—and I opt for German Chocolate Cake. The waffle cones are freshly made and crunchy. The ice cream is full of butterfat and creaminess. The best!

Now it’s serious driving as our destination is Beckley, WV and the Microtel where we’ve made our $65 reservation for the night. Driving the Interstate through these green-covered mountains is so refreshing. We wind through forests and over hills and dales (I think). Traveling is easy because we’re driving on Sunday and not Memorial Day Monday.

The entrance and lobby of the Microtel are a bit dicey, but our room and bathroom are fresh, clean, and inviting enough. We’ve passed an Outback Steak House on the way here, and quickly settle in and drive the mile or so for some MEAT!

I order the roasted pork tenderloin with an apricot glaze, garlic mashed potatoes, and thin green beans. CA is in a pasta mood and orders the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. You can always depend on an Outback meal to measure up to standards of quality.

I’m mourning the loss of the ocean and the beaches, but very much looking forward to tomorrow’s white water rafting.

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