Browsing "Virginia"
May 6, 2012 -

Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, VA

I have to make a note of technological importance before I get into the details of my day. One of the things that irks me about my otherwise wonderful camera is that it has to be plugged into the computer to transfer photos over. If I forget to eject it and turn the camera off, the battery becomes drained very quickly. Plus, I’ve been known to forget the transfer cord. It would be so much easier to be able to put the memory card directly into the computer.

The problem is that Apple is always ahead of its time and the 17″ Macbook Pro does not have a slot for memory cards but rather an ‘Express Port’. That port is versatile and can hold a number of cards that do different functions. One of those cards is a memory card reader. I couldn’t justify buying the card just to transfer my camera pictures over. But now I have a wand scanner and a cell phone with memory cards, too, so in the interest of saving my sanity from cord overload, I went ahead and got a card for my Express port that can read memory cards. The card was just $10. The last time I looked at getting one they were $50, so please don’t call me cheap. 😉

Below are the photos transferred over to my computer in this method. I am never going back to cords; this is so much easier!

So today. I glanced through all my tourist info material for the area and determined that whatever was open on a Sunday was only open noon to five. So I decided to pick an activity that could occupy the whole afternoon rather than trying to squeeze in a bunch of things. I’d been wanting to drive the James River Bridge on my own, so I decided to look up Newport News attractions on Trip Advisor and see if anything fit the bill.

The number one attraction was the Mariners’ Museum. The comments were consistent: amazing and so much to see that most didn’t have time to do it all. Add to that my interest in the topic and my desire to see the USS Monitor‘s turret and this was an activity tailor made for my day. Oh, and I found a coupon for $1 off admission in my Newport News guidebook!

The Mariners’ Museum is actually several museums. There is a section devoted to maritime history in the Chesapeake region. The main attraction is the exhibit about the USS Monitor. I won’t pretend to being an expert on this part of US history, but I knew what I was getting into. The USS Monitor was an ironclad Union ship that went head to head against the Confederate CSS Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a draw, but it changed naval warfare. There is a lot more to the story than that, but I definitely went in knowing more than the average visitor to the museum. There is also a section about cartography, the Battle of Trafalgar, the American Cup, and the Titanic. Next are two model ship exhibits. Next to last, there is an impressive collection of boats from around the world. Finally, there are some exterior exhibits, including a replica of the USS Monitor, and a lovely 5 mile trail around Lake Maury.

I arrived around 12:30 and by the time I felt I’d seen everything it was 4:30!!! I decided to go for a brisk walk around the lake to make up for being indoors all afternoon. That walk was a balm to my soul, scented with honeysuckle and oh-so-pretty.

There was way too much information today to do justice to the museum. I’ve put some information below the pictures, but you’ll have to do your own research for more details. Or come to Newport News and see this incredible museum for yourself!

While I studied the American Civil War in university, I have to say that having read Gone With the Wind gave me more context to the history of this part of Virginia. I don’t think you need to know anything going in to appreciate the museum, but if you don’t and find yourself interested, you might not have time to get through all the material.

I am at the hotel again tonight and will be going home in the morning after checking out since my room isn’t available past tomorrow. However, there are other vacancies now this week, so I have reserved another room for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. I am thrilled seeing as the next closest hotel to my friend’s place is in Suffolk, meaning an extra half hour from the rig. This hotel is just over an hour away.

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Travel, USA, Virginia    2 Comments
May 5, 2012 -

Tokyo Thai Restaurant, Smithfield, VA

Tonight, I planned to come back to the hotel, have the other half of my Subway sandwich, and crash with a movie. But driving through Smithfield, a restaurant name caught my eye, Tokyo Thai. I haven’t had pad thai since Eugene, so my stomach rumbled. I decided to get to the hotel and look up the restaurant.

The reviews for this Asian fusion restaurant were excellent. They apparently serve some of the best sushi in the area and their Thai offerings are also highly rated. I decided I wasn’t in the mood for sushi (!) and that I would give their pad thai a try.

The restaurant is lovely, with the tables separated from the entrance, making it feel like you’re entering into a cozy cocoon. It has both booths and tables. I gave the menu a cursory glance and there was quite a variety of cuisines. Prices were reasonable so in addition to a chicken pad thai ($9) I added their Thai summer roll ($4), a cool and crispy combination of carrot, cucumber, and shrimp wrapped in sticky rice paper and served with a sweet chili sauce.

The pad thai soothed my itch. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had since I felt that it was missing something, relying too much on heat to give it flavour, but a squirt of lime juice finished the dish beautifully. The texture of the dish was perfect and oh-so-comfort-foody. The chicken in it was lovely. I tend to be nervous about ordering chicken pad thai instead of veggie or tofu because the chicken tends to be slimy and unrecognizable. This pad thai had  mouthfuls of moist and flavourful chicken breast. The portion was really generous; I probably should have had half of both dishes and brought the rest back for lunch tomorrow.

I would definitely recommend Smithfield’s Toyko Thai. If I’m in the area long enough, I will probably go back and try one of their sushi bento lunch specials!

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Restaurants, Travel, USA, Virginia    2 Comments
May 5, 2012 -

An Angry Sky


That’s all I can say about the massive thunderstorm that just passed through here, Petersburg, where the rig is parked. I was trying to do some computer work, but my inverter kept cutting out, so I shut down to let the computer charge for a bit and ran out to Walmart. While I was at the checkout, the sky just exploded. The thunder was so loud that I swear I felt the building shake. I’d planned to grab some Subway for lunch (I could eat Subway every day and it is TONS cheaper in the US!) and would have eaten there to let the storm abate except for one tiny detail: all my windows and roof hatches are open.

The hatch in the kitchen doesn’t have a cover, so I came home to a pretty soggy sink (no big deal). But my biggest concern was the windows in the study, especially the one by the desk. Luckily, nothing important got soaked. The rain is still coming down hard. Hopefully, it’ll take some of the mugginess with it.

As for the inverter, it keeps giving me an E01 error reading which means that I’m trying to run something (my laptop) with a bigger wattage than what the inverter is rated for. I’m pricing higher wattage inverters, but am afraid to buy anything right now with everything being so uncertain. 🙁

By the way, the inverter claimed that my batteries were at 12.8 volts, the solar controller said 14.2 volts, and the batteries themselves said 13.1. So I definitely had a full charge. 🙂

I’m not doing anything exciting again today. My friend’s health is poor, so I expected that we’d get, sum total, four or five really good long days together to go explore. For the rest of the time, I’d be parked in her yard and we could see each other a little during the day or go out for a meal, with me occasionally running out and doing touristy stuff on my own. So everything is going pretty much as planned except that I’m afraid to spend any money. 🙁

I’ll probably be heading back out to the hotel tonight and will pick some inexpensive touristy thing that’s open on a Sunday in the area of Norfolk. One thing that I am doing for sure in the next few days is getting to the coast so I can have a picture of my feet in all three oceans during the biggest adventure of my life. 🙂

I don’t really need to be back in Canada till the 18th (having decided to accept the advice about not worrying about customs) and if I have to, I could get there in one really long day, but I really want to do it in two. So I have to be pulling out of here by the 17th at the absolute latest so I can arrive on the 18th by late day. That gives me all of next week, plus three days of the following week. So if I want to get to Canada on time, I need to start the work on the rig by Thursday of this week. So if I don’t have an answer from the insurance by Wednesday, I’ll need to start the work and be prepared to pay out of pocket.

It would actually be easier to get back to Canada from my current location than from my friend’s. From there, I’d be taking the Eastern Shore route through Maryland and Delaware, then have to cut westward to avoid Philly and NYC, adding heaps more mileage.

From here, I can take I-95 to just shy of DC, by-pass on I-66 to I-81 in West Virginia, take I-88 at Binhampton to Albany, and then from Albany it’s a straight shot north on I-87, which becomes autoroute 15 in Quebec. This sounds like a crazy detour, but it’s less than 60 extra miles and all the way to Binghampton will be very familiar. I haven’t done the bit between Binghampton and Albany, and I haven’t been to Albany in years, but I know the region. So I’d be looking at an easier and less stressful drive.

Well, it looks like the storm has passed because the sky is getting a blue tinge. It feels heaps cooler and there is a breeze.

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Insurance, Law and Government, Maintenance & Repair, Technical, Travel, USA, Virginia, Weather    6 Comments