Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunset on the Chesapeake Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

After leaving Chincoteague, we needed a place to sleep.  No reservations for the night!  I had tried, unsuccessfully, to book a night at a B and B that sounded lovely. It sat right on the Chesapeake Bay and promised a gorgeous sunset. We couldn't get in, and I was so disappointed that I quit looking.  We had to 'wing it."

Our drive continued south on Rt. 13, and we vowed that we wouldn't cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel until the next day, so we could see where we were going.  We thought we'd find more chain motels along the way than we did.

A side jog through the small town of Cape Charles, Virginia, had me mentally purchasing real estate and moving there.  What a quaint little place!  Their water tower looks like a huge lighthouse.  The town is full of bed and breakfasts, galleries and shops, and the Chesapeake Bay was right there at the town's edge. Without a reservation, there was no way to get into one of those B and B's, we had already found out.

When we had entered Virginia, a lovely hostess at the state's welcome center told us of an older motel right before the bridge.  We really didn't think we'd get that far without finding a place, but guess what?  That's where we ended up!

The Sunset Beach Resort has seen better days. Actually, using the word "resort" is sort of pushing it.  We could see that there had been a huge convention area,  dining rooms for business dinners, and some time ago it had been a shiny, new resort.  Sometimes ya just have to look beyond the facade, and really look at the potential, and that's what we did at the Sunset Beach Resort.

An enormous field of newly cut grass separates the motel from the Chesapeake Bay. A football team would be happy with that field. A small, private restaurant sits right on the bank of the Bay, on the other side of that grassy field. The Sunset owns the restaurant, and hosts receptions and parties there, but it was closed this night.

Our room was on the second floor overlooking that big field and we could see the Chesapeake Bay from our front window.  The room was clean and basic, but it was rented to us by "Bill," a nice guy who was happy to accept the last quart of soup from the Soup Swap from me, since we would have no refrigerator.  He also let us use the microwave in the small breakfast kitchen near the lobby, so we could heat up the next-to-last quart of soup, which we enjoyed for our dinner.

But before we unloaded our bags or ate our soup, we drove the car down to the Chesapeake Bay and watched our own private sunset.  We didn't need the pricey B and B.  We had the most gorgeous and colorful farewell to a day that we have ever seen together. Enough with the words.  I wish the photos could do it justice.

We set the camera on a table to shoot a picture, then sat and ooohed and ahhhhed over the colors of the sky.  A fisherman and his dogs came by, and a woman who runs a shell shop pulled her car into the lot and ran up and down the beach, collecting dead horseshoe crabs.  She told me that she gets a dollar each for them.  I pictured myself setting up a stand...........

We sat there until it was very dark, then went back to our room and slept like people who hadn't seen wild horses, but  had seen a fabulous sky.

In the morning, we went back to the shores of the Bay to enjoy the beach a bit more, shoot some pictures of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from the shore, and enjoy the sunshine.  I resisted the urge to gather up a bag of dead horseshoe crabs, but did select a few choice pieces of driftwood, a few shells, and some smooth stones.  These were keepers.

Following our motel breakfast, we drove the short distance to the bridge entrance, paid the $12 toll, and drove for twenty miles across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Some of this time was spent underwater, as there were two tunnels to go through. I am talking about tunnels that go under the water. It is actually twenty-three miles, if you add the approach roads to it.

This may be one of the most amazing experiences of my driving life. Twenty-three miles is as far as from my house to my friend Jane's...........and she lives several towns away from me.  We thought the toll seemed a bit steep, at first.  We knew it was a long bridge.............but until we'd completed this amazing ride...........who knew?  The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was opened in 1964.  It has been called one of the "Engineering Wonders of the Modern World."  I would vote for that.  To even imagine building a bridge-tunnel that long to connect Cape Charles, Virginia to Virginia Beach, Virginia, had to be the dream of a true visionary.

Once over the bridge, it was all "Get to the Beach" driving. The sun was shining. It was in the high seventies, and we had no need to stop at places along the way, except for lunch, which was at a Captain D's somewhere along the way............huge butterflied shrimp with fries, served with cole slaw and a full squeeze bottle of cocktail sauce. Divine hush puppies adorned the plate.

We had a reservation for a full week at an oceanfront motel in Kill Devils Hills, directly across from the Wright Brother's Memorial, which could be seen from the motel's parking lot.

We arrived, sat on the beach and read wonderful books.  Dinner was plate of calamari and drinks at Awful Arthur's, which has been a favorite of ours (and everybody else's) since we started going to the Outer Banks together. 

Randy commented several times about how "placid" the ocean was.  The waves were calm and there was hardly a breeze.

What possibly could keep this from being a perfect week at the beach?