- Lots of bridges. I'm fascinated by huge bridges.
- Lots of ships. I'm also fascinated by large ships.
- She-crab soup. So tasty it feels like my tongue is trying to hug my brain.
- Other delicious and plentiful sea food victuals.
- A delightfully fun bike ride with some good people:
- Camping next to a river with a six pack, a notebook, and a pen. Oh, and a fire:
- My Tuesday morning excursion:
I guess that last one deserves a few more details.
After a weekend of work in Virginia, a state which I had previously never visited, I decided to stay a few more days to check some things out. Mostly I just didn't want to drive anymore. It would've been over 20 hours to get back to Arkansas ... sheesh! So I spent some time with my ass parked at the local Starbucks trying to catch up on admin work and also trying to straighten out a few things with my bank account. I also did a little sleuthing around the information super highway to see what this Virginia Beach area was all about. I stumbled upon some information regarding Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Apparently the only way to access the state park is by walking or riding your bike on the 4 mile trail through the refuge. Then you've got another 7 miles or so through the state park. So I decided to check it out. I was hoping to take one of the half-mile spur trails in the state park over to the Atlantic Ocean to catch a nice view of the sunrise, so I crawled out of my tent at 5:00 am to ensure a good show. After commending myself for getting up ridiculously early, I hopped on my bike and headed toward the refuge in the quiet pale pre-dawn light. I was clearly all alone in this endeavor as I left the pavement and hit the gravel at the entrance to the refuge. I rode quietly past the looming 2-story sand dunes on my left and the vast marshy expanses to my right. While looking to my left and right for wildlife in the scenery, I also glanced up a few times, hoping the clouds would clear away enough to watch the sun make its daily debut. Neither the trail nor the landscape changed as I entered False Cape State Park, the only indicator of which consisted of a typical brown state park sign with carved-out letters painted white. A few more miles later, I passed the contact station, but didn't stop. I didn't need water or trail maps or anyone to tell me to be careful. I passed the first spur trail leading to the beach and decided to continue on to the next one a few miles down. The further south I went, the less likely I was to have to share the beach with other humans. I found the second, less-used beach trail and headed toward the sound of the Atlantic smacking into the shore. After only a few hundred yards, the dense dirt floor covered by oak leaves and pine needles succumbed to the loose sugar sand between the towering dunes. Trying to pedal through became futile quickly, so with my bike in one hand and my shoes in the other, I plodded the rest of the way to the edge of the continent. Much to my dismay, the clouds still hung in the air like century-old cobwebs. I knew the sun had risen, but I couldn't see it. "They can't all be winners," I thought to myself as I laid my bike and backpack down. I tasted the unmistakable bitterness of salty sweat on my upper lip and decided it was time to cool down a little. After a quick swim in the surf, I settled down on my towel for a much-needed hour-long nap. As the sun finally broke through the clouds, the sudden heat woke me up, telling me it was time to get moving. I retraced my path back through the state park and continued on through the refuge, my belly commanding my legs to move faster as visions of lunch dominated my thoughts. I rolled up to my car with barely enough energy left to hoist my bike up onto the rack. I rinsed off at a nearby hose, hurriedly changed clothes, and drove toward town in search of food. The sign at Margie & Ray's Crab House boasted the best She-crab soup in the tidewater area, and I wouldn't disagree. Then again, I was so hungry, they could've told me it was the best She-crab soup in the universe and I would have gone along with it.