Monday, September 22, 2008

Bucket List #1 - Off-Season Surprises

When you live in a resort area, you often fail to appreciate the aspects of it that draw visitors from all over the country (people really pay to come here?!).

Virginia Beach bears the distinction of being the world's largest resort city, or at least that was one of its claims as recently as about 10 years ago. The city is very large, but most of it is not the resort area, but suburban residential, rural farmland, and WATER. Everywhere you go, water. Rivers, sounds, inlets, bays, harbors, swamps. You can't go down the stinkin' street without crossing water in one form or another. Crossing it both over & under. It's everywhere! I love that about here. And did you know that geographically, part of the Outer Banks lies in Virginia Beach? Yeah, yeah, really. See this picture and notice that the state line puts a bit of the barrier islands in Virginia Beach, in fact almost halfway up the east coast of the city. This link gives you a better view.
Take that, NC!

So, for the 1st item on my bucket list, I am going to explore some of the under-appreciated gems of my own city. I started this by accompanying BS, my niece & her husband down to the oceanfront on the bee-yoo-ti-ful last day of summer. The temps were in the 70's, there was a slight breeze blowing, the sun was shining, the sky was blue. Late September & early October is the very best time to go to the beach. The weather is perfect, and the mobs of tourists are gone.

Old joke - if it is tourist season, does that mean I can shoot them?

Here they are on the boardwalk, a misnomer if there ever was one, since it is not now nor was it ever made from boards. It is cement. When I see this picture, BS looks like a veritable giant next to his wee cousins.

We wandered up the 'boardwalk' for awhile and saw a few interesting sights you don't usually see during tourist season:

A steel-drum band playing for some outdoor diners. Well, they do have this kind of thing during tourist season, but they made a very pretty sound as we walked along, so I included them. In fact, during the summer, there are sidewalk musicians performing all up & down Atlantic Avenue - the main 'drag'.

The tail-end of a wedding on the beach.

You NEVER see this during tourist season. In fact, I've never seen this before on the beach at all. We saw a couple of riders off in the distance, but they were too far away for a picture. I wonder if someone follows along behind them with a jumbo pooper scooper and a baggie?

I have to give props to our mayor. When I moved here in 1970, the oceanfront was kinda seedy. Not a place you would want to wander around alone after sunset. But after Mayor Meyera came in office, the resort strip has gradually morphed into a very nice place to visit and quite lovely.

Most of the hotels have very nice landscaping on the oceanfront facing side. It goes like this: hotel - strip of grassy area - bike path - boardwalk - beach - ocean - Spain... oops, I went too far.

A picture of the bike path from last year. The ocean is to the right .

The cut-throughs from the beach to Atlantic Avenue are located every block, and most of them have been decorated with pretty stuff, like these hermit crab sculptures. Other blocks have such beachy things as fish, sea shells, beach balls, dolphins, etc. Nice.

A view of the boardwalk with giant King Neptune in the distance.

The Virginia Beach (Seatack) Lifesaving Station

The United States Life Saving Service, the precursor of the Coast Guard, has a long and noble history of guardanship over the treacherous waters of the Atlantic coast. The waters off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in particular, are especially dangerous. Known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic", they have been the final resting place for many a ship. Even in Virginia, survivors of an early shipwreck created the lost town of Wash Woods using lumber which washed ashore. Bad weather eventually claimed the town. The fates of the other lifesaving stations of Virginia.

This is the Norwegian Lady, a memorial given to Virginia Beach by Norway after the heroic efforts of the Seatack Lifesaving crew on behalf of the ship "Dictator" after it foundered off the Virginia Beach coast in 1891. Its sister statue stands in Moss, Norway.

One of the newer things at the beach is a memorial to Naval Aviation. This part of Virginia is home to the largest Naval installation IN. THE. WORLD (thanks, in part, to the presence of Hampton Roads harbor). NAS Oceana, the Navy's East Coast Master Jet Base is in Virginia Beach. This memorial, I swear, wasn't here last year.

You can see the Norwegian Lady in the background.

Oh, and the beach is family friendly now too. They play muzak on Atlantic Avenue to calm the hoards and at 2:00 am (or is it 1:00 am?) the floodlights come on to discourage the scallywags from making mischief and bothering the slumbering (and well-paying) tourists...

The li'l cuties having one last pizza break at the front of the original Virginia Beach Post Office, and a lovely afternoon draws to a close...

Oh oh, ps - every year in October, Virginia Beach is the home to the North American Sand Sculpting Championship. These are from last year:

During construction

Finished sculpture

In conclusion, never take the gems of your own hometown for granted, and seize opportunities to explore & appreciate them.


Marilyn said...

Bravo to you for getting out and seeing your own town. It's all to easy to forget to do that. That is one of the reasons I started my culinary tour of the world in my own hometown. It is amazing to see the variety of cultures that exist in our small Midwestern college town.

BTW, I'd flunk the code of conduct thingy in the one picture, since I live in sleeveless blouses (even in the winter). I blame menopause for this.

I am really enjoying your blog. Pat yourself on the back, dear.

xmaskatie said...

Just found your blog (thanks Rosie), I'm enjoying it, and now I need to visit VAB. It is usually just a place I drive through, but now I've decided it is a place I'd like to see. Hey Rosie, want to go with me for the sandcastle thingie?