Day 1 – Virginia to North Carolina

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We both slept reasonably well for at least a few hours but woke early. We showered, had breakfast at the hotel, spent some time with the WiFi to catch up, checked out, took the hotel shuttle to the airport and the Avis shuttle to their yard, and picked up our Chevrolet Cruze. We were on the road before 9:30 am.

We were warned by prior experience with a GPS transported far from home and started it before we left the hotel to give it time to acquire the satellites necessary for a position. Luckily it acquired the satellites before we reached the Avis depot so we we set to go as soon as we had the car loaded.

Majella took the first shift of driving while I sorted out the navigation. There was moderate traffic for the first while and we managed to fluff the first toll station, driving through the ezy-pass lane instead of dealing with the toll. We’ll need to phone them after the holiday to sort that out. We handled the second toll with cash and drove on to the I-95 and headed south.

Once we had passed out of the major metropolitan area the road was 2 or 3 lanes each way with forested country on either side and mostly dense foliage in the median. There was not a lot to see from the road.

We stopped for coffee and a look around at Fredericksburg where George Washington grew up and where he later bought a house for his mother. It being Sunday morning neither that house nor much else was open but we checked the outside of the house and a number of other historic buildings as we walked around the town before having coffee at Hyperion Espresso.

From Fredericksburg we drove on to Richmond, capital of Virginia since 1780, where we took a short walk along the canal by the river in the downtown area. It was hot (around 33 Celsius) and humid so we did not linger long, preferring the air conditioned car.

Next stop was Williamsburg, capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, where the first discovery was Quilts Unlimited. Majella had a good time looking at the vintage and recent quilts with commentary from and elderly woman who was clearly very familiar with the stock. We ate lunch of rolls with brie, olives and salad at the Fat Canary and then walked around the historic area. There was much more to see than we had time for. We could have spent a full day or more there but our short visit was interrupted by a shower of rain and it was time to move on in any case.

There were some delays in traffic as we headed further south to the tunnel and bridge across Hampton Roads. By that time it was 4:30 pm and web had an hour to go to our bed for the night at Elizabeth City NC. We opted not to take the side trip to Virginia Beach.

I’d been intrigued when I was planning routes and distances in Google Maps by the area marked on the map as The Great Dismal Swamp. The name made it too good to miss and our trip south from Virginia into North Carolina ran along the eastern edge of the swamp which is bounded by a canal created as part of a drainage scheme when the area was logged. We stopped twice along the way to look at the murky waters.

We were checked in at our down market motel in Elizabeth City shorty after 5:30 pm so we took some time to find the local Walmart, with some directions from the motel receptionist and assistance from our GPS, and do some shopping. That secured chicken, fresh bread and salad for dinner (and lunch tomorrow), wine for dinner, and breakfast.

My logging software tells me that we drove around 455 km in a little more than 9.5 hours total time. Real driving time was closer to 5 hours with the balance spent on sightseeing and associated activities. It was a fun first day. After a good night of sleep we will be ready to go again.