Transit to Midlothian and Fairfax Wrap Up

Well…for not doing anything it was a really busy week. I figured I better post and let ya’ll know that we wuz still alive and give you the trials and tribulations of our week.

As mentioned in the last blog…we had the center left brake caliper fail on our trip from Dam Neck to Fairfax last Friday. We got it looked at on Saturday and the parts came in Wednesday; so Thursday AM while Connie went off to the college for a lunch meeting Neil headed over to the repair place and got the repairs completed.

Sunday we drove down to Midlothian to have dinner with Bryan, Jenn and Alex as well as both sets of Jen’s parents…Tom and Marilyn and Wayne and Kim. We had an excellent dinner at The Melting Pot…first time Bryan had his Mom for Mother’s day since high school and the first time all of the parents were together with them since the wedding.

Monday we headed off to our dentist Doug Wooddell for cleanings and a scheduled crown on Neil’s lower right rear molar. When we got there…turned out that he actually needed 3 new crowns. Lower left rear molar the porcelain had chipped out and food gets stuck in it so that one needed replacing…upper right rear molar had a cavity under it and so it needed replacing. The insurance declined to cover that one as it was only 5 years old…doesn’t make much sense to me but that’s the insurance company leeches for ya. He went ahead and got those two crown preps done for installation on Friday. Dr. Wooddell had him come back on Tuesday morning for the crown prep on the one that was originally scheduled.

While all that was going on Connie took BAT over to the Ford dealer to get a recall completed that required some reprogramming of the computer system. Easy peasy for her.

Wednesday we stayed home…Connie worked and Neil laid around and hurt from the dental work on Monday and Tuesday.

Ditto Thursday except for the brake fix and Connie’s meeting and lunch down at the college.

Friday Connie worked again and Neil went off to get his 3 new crowns installed and finished up his cleaning…that got rescheduled from Monday as Dr. Wooddell needed the time that would have been cleaning to do the second crown prep.

With all that done…we came home Friday and just rested the rest of the day from our very busy but not much fun week.

This morning we got up and checked out of Bull Run campground…hitched up and were on the road for our 140 or so mile trip right around 0920. We battled serious traffic on I-95 south…stop and go with construction, merges, idiots, and general unfriendly drivers. We finally got here to Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield near where their human kids live about 1420 and discovered that coming into a state park campground on Saturday is generally not a good idea. There were a total of 4 sites (between already empty and leaving today by 1500) available. One we wouldn’t fit in, two we would have fit but had a heck of a time leveling and had no satellite visibility and then there was site 121. We almost stayed in this one last time but weren’t quite sure that satellite visibility would work fine. 121 had somebody in it but he was packing up to leave so we parked at the front office and had lunch then came back just as he was leaving. We got pulled in to a tight entry quite nicely and parked with the best satellite visibility chances we could get…turns out that we get 2 of 3 of the DirectTV birds so we still get most of the channels we watch.

It was seriously hot so we setup, turned on the A/C, cooled off, had a shower, and ate leftovers from Connie’s lunch on Thursday and are now resting until bedtime. I’ll get Neil to take a shot of our site tomorrow and put it in the blog later in the week.

Ok…only one more thing to report today…and it’s kind of an interesting story.

Last Sunday night after our Mother’s Day dinner we were headed up I-95 on the way home. Got stuck in two really serious accident backups and about half way through the second one we looked up and noticed that we were passing the exit for US-1…we were due to get off at VA-234 which is the next exit past US-1. So…we decided to jump off the freeway and take US-1 up to 234 to get out of the backup. Turns out that US-1 actually runs through the US Marine Corps base at Quantico. We turned up the road and started accelerating. Came around a bend at about 35 or so and passed a speed limit 35 sign. Neil says that we might have been going 35-40 but definitely less than 40 since he was still in third gear in the Mazda. Well, the blue lights lit up and these two cop trucks start chasing the 4 cars that had just passed them. All 4 of us stopped…we actually thought that the cops were going somewhere and were trying to get out of their way. They sent the other 3 cars on their way and got our registration and Neil’s license and military ID as they were military police.

While the one guy was looking at the paperwork the second one asks Neil if he knew what the speed limit was. He replied 35. Cop says how fast were you going. He replied he thought 35 but definitely less than 40 due to the gear he was in. The cop says with a straight face “well, you were going faster than the car in front of you.” Neil says “I didn’t know that was illegal.” Pretty soon the first cop comes back…noticed that Neil was a retired officer and sent us on our way.

Long story short…no idea why they stopped him. He didn’t notice that he was going faster than the guy in front of him…and that’s sort of a self limiting thing anyway since you’ll run into the guy in front if you don’t slow down. No idea how fast we were actually going other than 35-40 in third gear (manual 5 speed transmission). 

Very, very strange I’m tellin’ ya. Never knew that driving faster than the guy in front of you was a vehicular violation on a Marine base…live and learn I guess.

Sorry no photos in here…but as we did no Fun Stuff© this week there aren’t any to post. I will get a shot of our site 121 tomorrow for ya.

Tomorrow is Mass then we’re off to the human kids to see grand baby Alex.


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And It Was a Bad Travel Day

Bad I’m tellin’ ya…Bad with a capital B.

Everything started off so well though…

We got up, had breakfast, hitched up and hit the road about 0930 or so for our planned 240 mile trip up to Northern VA. Heading up I-64 and then US-460 we arrived at I-295 around Richmond right on schedule and  turned north. Stopped at the TA for fuel right north of Richmond and filled up BAT along with grabbing some lunch. So far…so good.

Continued up 95 to VA-234 and exited heading westward toward Centerville and then the fun began. After 10 miles or so we approached a red traffic light and NEIL DISCOVERED WE HAD NO BREAKS.

Yup, no trailer brakes at all. He was able to get stopped by downshifting BAT and using the truck brakes and we pulled over to check things out. Tested break controller…seemed to be working. Checked brake fluid…sure enough, empty. Looked under the rig at the brake calipers and discovered a leak on the center left brake assembly.

After a bit of discussion we decided to continue on to the campground as it was only another 10 miles or so. We kept the speed to about 35 mph max and Neil kept an eye out ahead to start slowing with engine braking and the truck brakes as necessary and we made it to Bull Run a little later than originally scheduled but without hitting anything.

Checked in and pulled into our site 113 (sorry, no picture as we were frazzled but 113 is the same site we were in last time so if you really want to know what it looks like look back around September or October last year and I’m sure there’s a shot in there). It turned out that we had parked a little too close to the power pole…we had plenty of clearance but that was a more steeply angled section of the site so we were unable to get the jacks to level us…it kept complaining about excessive angle. Sooooo…we ended up having to rehitch BAT and jockey forward and back to get into a flatter portion of the site and then used manual leveling instead of auto and finally got leveled.

Today we got up and called a local trailer maintenance place and they had an opening…so that meant hitching up and limping over to their location with no brakes. We left the hazards a’blinkin’ and got there fine. We spent a couple of hours there while they troubleshot the problem. Turned out that somehow the caliper had gotten stuck with the pads against the rotor. This wore the pad completely away and the pad metal backing plate gouged/grooved the heck out of the rotor…then the piston came out of the caliper and all the fluid ran out which meant no brakes. We need a new rotor, caliper and pads of course plus labor. They thought it might be covered under warranty and will call and check on Monday as well as ordering the parts.

The tech pulled the brake line off of the broken caliper and capped it…which meant that after he refilled the brake fluid reservoir we again had brakes on the rig…only on 5 out of the 6 wheels but 5 out of 6 is way, way, way better than 0 out of 6 I’m tellin’ ya.

We came back to the campground, got reset up which went pretty quick as we had marked where to park the rig in the site before we left and left all the hoses hooked up to the site utilities but out of the way. Came in, had a nap for a couple of hours, and went out for sushi for dinner…we had originally scheduled a visit to our favorite restaurant but Neil was feeling kinda down with the mechanical troubles and we decided that spending that much for dinner he wouldn’t enjoy was nuts…so went for the sushi instead which was cheaper and closer.

Looks like we have a plan though…it’s a couple hour repair job once the parts are in hand and we’ll adjust our schedule as necessary if we need to…but hopefully it won’t be necessary.

Tomorrow we’re off to Midlothian for Mother’s Day…Bryan and Jen invited us so we’re heading down to eat out with them.

Monday we’ll continue with our previously scheduled appointments here in the Fairfax area.


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Yeah, Connie’s Feeling Better

And about time too…it’s Wednesday and she started feeling bad 2 weeks ago tomorrow. What started as a chest cold shifted into her head/sinuses about a week into it but Sunday she finally started feeling better and has continued to improve a little each day. She finally actually feels pretty good although her sinuses and head are still stuffy but even that is getting better slowly and the coughing fits are spacing out so even she thinks she’ll live. 

We went over to Mass at a nearby parish Saturday evening…tried to go on the base at first since it’s only 300 yards from the RV sites but found out that it was closed for construction for the weekend so we quickly regrouped and found another parish we could go to so we headed over there. Found out that it was completely packed to the rafters and had to stand in the back…turned out that it was First Holy Communion day for a portion of the second grade class. No worries there but a little more difficult since Connie had to stand the whole time and her improvement didn’t start until mid afternoon Sunday.

So…on Sunday she decided she had been sitting at home long enough and we were going out to do something…so we headed off to the first of our 3 Fun Stuff© destinations, two of which were NWRs and the third was a pair of lighthouses nearby. Sunday was the Back Bay NWR and they had a short 1 mile boardwalk that was our intended destination. She decided she could handle a mile…and it was a good thing it wasn’t a mile and a half or Neil woulda had to carry her at the end but she just kept at it and we had a nice walk through the marsh. Here are a few shots from our walk.

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Grey Catbird.

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Osprey with lunch.

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Yellow Bi-bird.

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Connie was getting tired after this so we came home.

Monday we headed off for our second visit…this one was a lot easier as it involved practically no walking. Our destination was to visit Fort Story which is on the south side of Hampton Roads, which is where the James River and Chesapeake Bay empty into the Atlantic…Norfolk’s harbor and several Navy bases are up the James River just a bit. Fort Story is located on Cape Henry which has both the old and new Point Henry Lighthouse which guided mariners around the northern end of the NC/VA Outer Banks islands and shoals into the harbor at Norfolk. Hampton Roads played a pivotal but largely unknown role in the Revolutionary War…in 1781 General Washington was desperate for a major victory over the British after 6 long years of war. He left the New York City vicinity with his army and headed toward Yorktown where General Cornwallis was fortifying the city. Simultaneously Admiral de Grasse sailed from his anchorage in the West Indies to challenge British naval supremacy in the Chesapeake Bay…and Admiral Graves sailed the British fleet from New York to Chesapeake Bay. Admiral Graves arrived after the French fleet and had the advantage of both wind and tide…but failed to prosecute these advantages and instead depended on the standard British naval tactics at the time. Graves allowed the French fleet to escape the bay and late in the afternoon of Sep 5, 1781 the fleets exchanged fire for several hours. The fleets sailed on parallel courses into the Atlantic for 4 days and then the French slipped away in the darkness and returned to Chesapeake Bay, joining up with additional French warships that came independently from Rhode Island. British Admiral Graves decided his ships were too damaged to return for another fight with the French so he returned to New York. This action…which involved no American forces and with relatively light damage or casualties on both sides…gave the French fleet control of the Chesapeake Bay and allowed General Washington to surround and eventually force General Cornwallis to surrender…which effectively won the Revolutionary War. Strange how we never learned this in school…I vaguely remember that the French blockaded relief for Cornwallis from the sea but had knew none of these details. 

The original Point Henry lighthouse was built in 1792 and is both the first federally funded lighthouse and the first federal construction project after the adoption of the Constitution. It is a 90 foot stone octagonal tower 26 feet in diameter at the base. In 1881 it was replaced by a slightly taller structure about 350 feet to the southeast after it was struck by lightning and damaged in the 1770s. The original lighthouse was left standing as a day marker and unlighted navigational aid. The new light is 157 feet tall with a more powerful light…but since the original was built on a small hill the new one is only 20 or so feet higher effectively.

Fort Story was established in 1916 and used as a coastal defense artillery station through WWII…originally with a 16 inch howitzer battery and then in the late 1930s with 155mm mobile artillery, 6 inch naval cannon and 16 inch naval cannon…the latter two being repurposed naval guns and the 155mm being the standard Army artillery piece for shorter range coverage across the Hampton Roads while the longer ranged naval artillery covered the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The artillery was replaced by a Nike antiaircraft battery for defense against potential Soviet bombers in 1957 and the missiles were retired in 1974. In 1946 the Fort was converted to a Navy base despite but retained the Fort designation and was used as an amphibious forces base until 2001. The base is today a subsection of the amphibious forces base at Little Creek and houses primarily EOD, logistics, transportation, and naval reserve units. 

Interestingly enough…Fort Story is right next to First Landing State Park here in VA Beach…First Landing is the original landing spot on April 26, 1607 of Christopher Newport and the Virginia Company colonists. They stayed here for just a few days before moving another 40 miles or so up the James River where they established the Jamestown colony on May 14, 1607 since Newport decided that a location more sheltered from the ocean would be a better spot.

Here are a couple of HDR shots of the original lighthouse…Neil got a new version of Lightroom a couple weeks back and it includes a new feature to render HDRs directly rather than exporting them to an outside program like the older version. The good news is that it’s easier…the bad news is that there are essentially no options for how the HDR is rendered as opposed to Photomatix Pro which is what he normally uses for HDR rendering. The first shot is the new Lightroom version…the second is the Photomatix version which as you can see he varied the  settings to get a more vibrant depiction. Photomatix can do anything from minimal processing all the way through making it seem moody or stormy all the way to what is commonly called the grunge look where the image is heavily modified and starts to become more of an art thing than a photo thing…so he prefers to (mostly) stay away from heavy handedness with the HDR processing. What do ya’ll think…do you like the easy but no poetic license approach or the slightly harder but easier to get better results with approach of Photomatix Pro? The firsts one brings out the shadow detail a bit but the second one looks closer to what the sky actually looked like with the eye although the second one also has a little brighter green in the vegetation than the eye perceived. He’s leaning toward the latter because the eye will almost always give better results than automation, particularly as no two lighting situations are the same. Let me know in the comments and I’ll pass them along to him.

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Here’s a shot of both the old and new lighthouses…the two of the old one above were taken with the new one just behind and to the right of where he was standing.This one was also done in Photomatix Pro but with a different preset combination for a visually different rendering.

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We then walked over the dune that was behind and to the left of Neil when he got the above shot of both lighthouses and Connie got a shot of one of the breakwaters on the beach to prevent erosion along with a container ship that has exited the Gulf Stream to the east of the cape and is headed into Hampton Roads…but no idea whether it’s going to Norfolk or someplace further on up the Chesapeake…likely the former though. Neil got a shot of one of the amphibious forces ships tooling around as well but no idea what he’s doing out there but likely headed into the Navy Base based on his position and heading. He also got a shot of some flowers along the boardwalk over the dune that Connie liked.

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After that we headed home.

Tuesday Connie was feeling pretty good…so we headed out for a short hike and then a planned 3 or so mile bike ride around the dike at the Mackay Island NWR which is on the coast just south of here and across the border into NC. There were a couple of overlooks and a short hike around a pond that we planned and did…but the bike ride got truncated to just about a mile or so as Connie had a hard time breathing still once she started pedaling. Some sights from this mostly driving trip.

Tree Swallow.

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Juvenile White Ibis and and Osprey that flew by.

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A pair of nesting Ospreys…one of them is leaving to hunt while the other stays and guards the nest…it stayed sitting nearby for awhile then moved over to the nest to brood.

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And the one that went off hunting as it circled by us a little later.

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A Red Winged Blackbird displaying his epaulets to attract females and warn off other males.

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Some turtles sitting on a log…Connie got this one out the car window with the bird lens as they’re pretty skittish. Neil’s gotta learn her how to use a little smaller aperture to get a bit more depth of field for shots like this.

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The pond we hiked around.

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We then tried our hike after driving as far out the dike as we could…and after turning around due to Connie’s lack of being able to breathe we headed back in the dike towards the NWR entrance. We spotted this Osprey on the other side of the canal…he gave Neil the Stink Eye then flew off to another tree…then after hovering right over the canal caught itself some lunch. It flew about 10 feet from the car down the canal with the fish in it’s talons but we couldn’t get the camera up fast enough…so had to settle for some shots of it sitting in the tree eating…Neil likes the one with the bit o’ fish flesh hanging out of it’s beak. Pretty good sized fish though…looked like it was having some difficulties carrying it.

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As he got back in the car after the Osprey photos above Connie the Spotter spotted (naturally) this Nutria swimming in the canal…she had no idea they were as large as they are. Most are in the 30-40 pound range and probably 2 feet + long.

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With that our day was done…she was about of gas so we headed back to the rig. Neil checked the pressure in all of our tires on BAT and the rig and added a little air to most of them…then we had dinner and a shower.

Today Connie’s working and Neil ran over to the credit union branch to get some more cash and to the package store for more brews…we’re almost out and since this is the last base we’ll be on for awhile we wanted to take advantage of the slightly cheaper prices (albeit the slightly cheaper base price was partially offset by the slightly higher package store at the beach prices). Tonight we’ll have some leftovers for dinner along with some Italian sausage and a baked winter squash…Neil’s calling it fusion cuisine instead of leftovers and what-have-you.

Tomorrow is laundry day and probably more work for Connie then Friday we’re off to Fairfax where we’ll park at our favorite site in Bull Run Campground…one of the few that has satellite visibility and the utility connections in the correct location for easy hookup. Sunday we’re driving the Mazda down to Midlothian…Bryan is taking his mother out for Mother’s Day for the first time in recorded history along with Jen and Jen’s mom and step-dad. We’re going to the Melting Pot which is a fondue place…Bryan likes it and we’re easy. Most of next week we have things to do/people to see…dentist, financial guy, folks at the college. We do have a dinner scheduled for one of our favorite restaurants in the area…the Renaissance Cafe which is a small French place in downtown Vienna. Not cheap but we haven’t had a romantic, dress up dinner in quite awhile. We’ll be in Fairfax a week then it’s off to Midlothian where we’ll be at Pocahontas State Park for 5 days to visit grand baby Alex and offload some stuff from the basement that we won’t need on the trip to Alaska.

Before I go…a couple of funny ones for ya. First two is apropos for our upcoming trip to Alaska…this one is “What’s a bear gotta do to get a beer around here?”

Whats a Bear Gotta Do for a Beer

And “hello, anybody home?”

Anybody Home

This one…just in case you wondered…baseball really is a simple game ya know…all ya gotta do is score more runs than the other team.

Baseball  a simple game really


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Ditto Last Post

Just a quick post to let you know we’re still alive but have really done nothing since my last post on the 29th.

Connie’s still sick…coughing and nose running and no energy. She doesn’t have any fever and so far hasn’t felt like going to the clinic on base was worth it as her cold pills are mostly dealing with the symptoms.

It’s also been rainy and windy the past 2 days…temps only in the 60s at best and 25-30 knots of wind constantly until today when it died off to about 10 or 12 knots, the sun came out and the rain stopped…but it’s still not very warm. So…we would have not done much even if she did feel better.

She did feel well enough…mostly because she had to…to go ahead and do what she needed to get done for her students going out soon and for the webcast with her first year students to give them the presentation on how to behave when you go out on clinical.

Neil took the Mazda over and got the A/C fixed…it needed a new high pressure hose so that was 530 bucks down the drain…and he got the part and fixed the broken sun visor clip on the drivers side while he was at the Mazda place.

Other than that we’ve done nothing…eating dinner in every night, watching TV, and lazing around during the day. Neil did get out and sewed up the rip in our LR slide topper…that’s kind of an awning thing that extends over the top of the slide as it extends outward and it keeps the leaves and trash off of the top of the slide and hence out of the inside when you pull the slide back in. The only drawback is that when it’s windy the slide topper bangs around and makes a lot of noise but that’s better than the alternative. If we spent lots of time out in the west then leaves aren’t as much of a problem and lots of people that RV mostly there don’t have slide toppers. Here’s a shot of where he did the repair so you’ll know what a slide topper looks like…the white section is where he sewed it up.

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That’s about it…we might run out to the commissary later on this afternoon.


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Transit to Dam Neck VA and Connie’s Still Broke

Well, we successfully made it to Dam Neck VA on Monday…but it took pretty much all Connie had to get here and she’s just been vegetating ever since.

After our last hike on last Friday she continued to feel worse and worse all weekend and then even worse on Monday. Naturally, this meant that we had to move on Monday which we weren’t too happy about but ya gotta do what you gotta do. Luckily it was a short day…just 221 miles and Neil did all the getting ready parts except for those that needed hands farther apart than 4 feet or so as he’s just not able to do those alone. We started getting ready to leave around 0800 Monday morning and pulled out of the Onslow Beach CG at Camp Lejeune a few minutes before 1000. Our trip was mostly up US-17 and I-64 but it was four lanes most of the way. We made a quick stop at a rest area for a bathroom break and another one in a shopping center parking lot to have burger from the Golden Arches…but other than that we just chugged along with Connie just wanting to be there. We made it to Sea Mist RV Park at the Dam Neck Annex Navy base in Virginia Beach VA around 1500 and got backed into site 7. Neil put out a recliner for Connie to rest in as she was pretty much done in…and only got her to help with the things that required two people. We got setup in site 7, Neil ran over to the Subway on base and picked us up a couple of meatball subs for dinner, then we just rested until bedtime.

Tuesday was more of the same…except we ran out of cold pills and ran over to get some more…we picked up one that had a decongestant in it as well and luckily by Wednesday she’s feeling a little better. Not good by any means and not over whatever it is she has…but she’s on the upswing at least and although tired is able to do a little more around the rig…but no Fun Stuff© yet as she’s not better enough for that. She’s working today and it’s raining tomorrow and Friday so she hopes she’ll be better enough by the weekend to actually do something she wants to do instead of just sitting around feeling lousy.

Neil went on a bike ride and we got an appointment to get the A/C in the Mazda checked…discovered the other day it isn’t making enough cool so he’ll get that looked at tomorrow while she does some more work that needs doing.

He’s been giving her cold pills and taking care of her as best he can…but unfortunately the only thing that’s really going to make her better is time passing.

Sea Mist is a pretty nice spot…$254 for our 11 nights here and pretty much right on the beach although we’re behind the dune and can’t see the water unless we hike up to the crossover to the beach at the end of the campground. Here’s a shot of our setup in site 7.

Sea Mist CG Site 7

That’s the road behind us…not the beach, the trees are across the road which is about 10 feet below the level of the campground. The beach dune is behind where Neil got this shot from.

Yesterday he climbed up and repaired a small tear in our LR slide topper material…sewed it up and sealed the stitching with some silicone sealant along with repairing an area where the edge seam stitching is coming out. Other than that…we pretty much done nothing since we got here but given how Connie feels that isn’t surprising. Jen and Alex are supposed to come over to visit on the weekend…but we’re thinking of canceling that since we’ll be in Midlothian in another 2 weeks anyway…since Connie won’t feel like doing much we’ll save her the 2 hour each way drive.

Sorry if it’s a boring post…but sometimes that’s just the way it is.


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Short Hike Yesterday…Connie’s Broke

The title says it all…Connie’s broke.

She started feeling poorly Thursday afternoon…coughing and a bit of temperature but just took some extra doses of the drugs she takes to combat her inner ear problems…they’re essentially cold medicine and help keep her eustachian tubes open so her ears will drain. After coffee and breakfast she decided to just HTFU and get along with life as she wouldn’t feel good no matter whether she was sitting at home or going on a hike.

Our day originally consisted of 3 short hikes of about a mile each but we decided to just go on 2 of them that were close together and closer to the rig than the third one was…so we headed out to the Tideland Recreational T rail in the Croatan National Forest just northeast of the base. We got there and the gate was locked with a keep out, no vehicles authorized sign. We started researching why it might be closed on their web site but a guy drove up with a dumpster he was delivering…turned out there was construction down in the campground area where we would have been parking. So…no hike for us there…and we headed out to our second destination which was the Emerald Isle Nature Woods trail. It was only a couple of miles from the first location but was over the bridge to Emerald Isle. We found the parking lot and headed out on a beautiful day…her coughing was acting up a bit and she was finding it hard to breathe well…so we just finished out the 1.3 mile loop back to the parking area.

Along the way we did get a couple of photos of the area. First up we spotted a bunch of Blue Jays which kept flying from the tree over the car to one across the parking lot and back…we had never seen them flocking together before and it took us awhile to identify them as the little crest on the back of the head wasn’t as visible as it usually is.

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We spotted this Canada Goose and didn’t realize there was the egret/heron wading in the background until Neil processed the photo later.

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A shot of the marsh looking out towards the bridge to the mainland followed by an oyster bed visible right off of the canoe launch since it was low tide. The canoe launch was different from anything we had seen before…instead of being a pier type thing it had a solid ramp you could put the canoe down on, get in and then slide down some rollers into the water…maybe it was because the path to the ramp was designated as a handicapped trail so they put in the canoe ramp to make it easier to get from a wheelchair into the canoe. The oyster bed is a pretty small one due to the small size of the sandbar it’s on top of.

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When we got back to the parking lot we stopped and had lunch then talked about whether to drive the 10 miles more to the hike we had originally passed on…but Connie had had enough fun for the day so we headed home. As we exited the hike area we turned towards the island rather than back to the bridge in search of a seafood market…we wanted some fish for dinner. A bit down the road we found Captain Willis’s Seafood…so we went in and picked up a couple of trigger filets for dinner. After that we headed home and took a nap the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner was the aforementioned trigger…added some Bam! (Emeril’s Essence homemade spice mixture) and some corn meal to the bag and shook them around then gave them a quick fry in the pan. To go along with the fish Neil made some couscous laced with goodies…Andouille sausage, onions, dates, cocoanut, and toasted pecans. It was pretty good but needed a little more spice than he put in so we’ll remedy that when we have the leftover couscous for lunch. The fish was excellent with homemade cocktail sauce.

After that it was just TV for us and feeling miserable for Connie until bedtime. She got up this morning and still feels bad…even a little worse so Neil’s taking care of her today…although she does have to work for an hour to have her monthly phone call with her boss but after that she’ll just vegetate.

A couple of quickies for you though…the first one is just a teaser for our upcoming trip to the hinterlands…although this shot is from a lake in Jasper National Park in BC we’ll get a lot of similar ones on the way to/from Alaska and other points northwest. The second one is clearly somebody that stole Neil’s license tag…this is one of his favorite sayings over the years.

Lake Jasper NP

I Hate People


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Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve

Today was scheduled to be another fun day…so after Connie did a bit of work in the AM we had lunch and then headed off for our hike at the Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve about 30 mile southwest of the campground. After a 9 mile drive just to get to the far side of the base we crossed the New River and turned onto US-17 toward Wilmington another 22 miles then arrived at the preserve. This is a low key nature preserve maintained by the North Carolina Land Trust and is adjacent to Poplar Grove Plantation which is one of those tour the old plantation grounds and house sort of places. We parked in the plantation parking lot and after figuring out where the hike started…there was a slight miscalculation in where we parked and the directions to the trail from our All Trails app which assumed we were in a different parking lot…set off on what turned out to be a 2.7 mile hike total.

Connie noticed this afternoon that she was coming down with some sort of lung crud which gave her a fever and made her feel bad…but she decided to bore on and just deal with it. We shortened our planned hike a bit since she wasn’t feeling all that great though. Not much wildlife to be seen…just a couple of turtles and a dragonfly as you can see from the photos. We spotted a couple of cardinals but none of the photos were worth posting.

Nonetheless…it was a nice walk through the woods on a beautiful, cool day and we did get a few nice shots of the walk and the pond we crossed towards the end.

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We got back to the car…changed out of our hiking boots and headed back to the base. We were a little early for the opening time of the Heroz sports bar which was planned for dinner so browsed around in the Marine Exchange store for awhile then headed over to Heroz. We split a pitcher of Yuengling and 16 wings…and Connie was fading fast so we paid up our bill…all of 21.00 including the tip…and headed home. After a quick shower we sat down for some TV for the remainder of the evening.

More hikes planned tomorrow…but we’ll have to see how she feels in the morning before making a decision on whether to go or not.


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