The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Norfolk and Random Thoughts

Entering Norfolk directly from the Great Dismal Swamp was a bit of culture shock.  After miles and miles of trees and still water, we turned the corner to find ourselves in one of the largest ports and shipyards in the Country.

Our neighbor across from the Waterside Marina was a huge working shipyard, with mostly US Navy ships being repaired and refitted.  We saw everything from aircraft carriers to submarines in the docks and yards.

Since 911 or maybe the USS Koll incident in Yemen, the navy has no sense of humor if you get close to their ships.  Small gunboats patrol the perimiter of the yards.  There is no mistaking their intention if you misbehave!

Since we raced up to Norfolk several days ahead of schedule due to Carrie's thumb, we ended up with a rather long stay (10 days, I think) here.  Given that was more than twice our planned stay in Norfolk, I would like to say we saw all the sites worth seeing.  But our time was spent mostly doing things around the boat, hitting the chiropractor every other day to try and get my back fixed, and yes, partying with our fellow loopers.  We caught up again with Moonstruck, and also met another Algonquin, this one from Canada with a couple of terrific folks, Garth and Cathy. 

Carrie and I did manage to rent a car one day and go through Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown battlefield (our favorite).  The National Park rangers at Yorktown are quite passionate about honoring the place where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was won by Washington and his troops (with some help from the French, back when they used to know how to fight).  As the ranger put it, "We declared our independance in Philidelphia on July 4, 1776, but we won it on October 17, 1781 when General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown."

We also took time to cook up a batch of Nono's spaghetti sauce and I learned something.  You don't need to make five gallons of it if your three kids and their tuperware containers are 3,000 miles away!  We made about a gallon which should last the Admiral and I quite a while.  But, truthfully, I wish the kids were here to scrounge some up.

I learned a couple of Looper quotes I think are worth passing on:

1)  (with regard to friends and family who want to come visit you on the loop) "You can pick the date, or you can pick the place, but you can't pick both"...and,
2)  "I'm NOT on a schedule...and I'm sticking to it!"

Carrie (in Mrs. Howell mode) made a corollary of her own.  During a looper seminar a guy in his planning stage asked the group how much money to budget to do the loop.  Well, that generated about ten differing answers.  During the free for all discussion that ensued, the lovely Mrs. Howell leans over and whispers in my ear, "I'm NOT on a budget...and I'm sticking to it!"  Ya gotta love her.

In that regard, we found that our fellow loopers were great sources of information.  We had been told that there was no replacement for our built in refrigerator, which seemed to be running about 90% of the time and barely keeping things cool.  Barb, on Tropical Breeze which happened to be docked right behind us, disappeared for a few minutes and returned with an invoice for a very expensive Italian made refrigerator that fits perfectly.  Mrs. Howell made her move and the new one was installed this morning.  Likewise, our Canadian buddies hearing us complain about our sore backs brought a brouchure for a custom mattress they purchased from a company in Fort Lauderdale.  After Mrs. Howell and I went aboard and laid down for a minute on it...well, the new matress should catch up with us in Baltimore or New York. 

We attended the AGLCA (Looper's) Rendezvous over the last four days, which was our original planned length of stay here.  We met a ton of fellow loopers in boats of all sizes and shapes.  We also opened our boat up to what they call a "looper crawl", which allowed other club members to wander through and check out your boat.  We enjoyed that when we attended the gathering last year and felt obliged to reciprocate.  It was kind of fun and our boat (and dinghy lift) were a big hit.

Tomorrow we are finally moving north and plan to spend about eight days in the Chesapeake Bay before meeting up with our good buddies Rob and Denise from home in Baltimore.  We'll get there...sooner or later.

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