Down the East Coast we Go

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As we waved our goodbyes to NYC, we were rubbing our gambling hands getting them ready for Atlantic City. When we got there, we walked the famous old boardwalk where we actually learned things. Like the game Monopoly was made there, and all the street names from Atlantic City are on the board! Jim said the boardwalk reminded him of the weird dream sequence Sopranos episodes that were filmed there. We also found out Salt Water Taffy was started there as well. Well, it is not made from salt water, but when a storm washed out a Taffy stand, people starting calling it Salt Water Taffy and it stuck! Also along the boardwalk, I found a place with cheap shoes and got a couple of sandals to take the place of some of the shoes we left on the side walk back in Brooklyn. And although most of us have heard a million jokes about the unpleasant scenery of New Jersey, I got a wonderful shot of an orange moon rise coming over the ocean and some sea grass. Yes, we walked down the boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean hand in hand. A nice sight before our dinner at the Taj Mahal, Trump’s Taj Mahal that is. A casino and hotel, in typical Trump over the top style, yet with good food. Then, I went to bed! Exciting, eh? And Jim went to win Momma a new pair of shoes! And not only did he come back with his only pair of shoes still on, he came with enough winnings for several pair of shoes! The next day we slept in, had my last Sabrette hotdog, and then we were on our way to Washington DC.

The only hotel that we could afford or that was available for some reason in or around Washington DC was in College Park, MD. The Burbs, man, but right next to the University of Maryland. At least college towns are never that bad. We were also within walking distance to the Metro, Washington’s subway system. We ordered food in for dinner, caught up on email, blog writing and TV that night. After yet another good free continental breaky, we walked to the Metro and hit the Mall. The Washington DC Mall with the Smithsonian Museums and monuments, that is, not the location where local teens hang out to spend Daddy’s money on cheap Claire hair accessories. We went to the Hirshorne art museum where we saw some great modern art. There was an amazing video of this excruciatingly hard mousetrap-game-like never ending contraption, “The Way Things Go” by Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Next, we walked by the Air and Space Museum, and were only going to quickly walk through but ended up there for over an hour. Planes, jets, spaceships, all antique, modern or futuristic…very impressive. Had a Native American lunch at the Native American museum, what a great idea! Not sure how authentic the recipes were, but everything sure was tasty! Cool museum done in modern times and from the view of how individual people live in different tribes now. Really was drawn in by one particular story of how so many Cherokee Indians worked on the largest steel structures in America. Once things had advanced in America, Indians had to learn how to make money to survive and fortunately, Cherokees were exceptionally good at steel work. They helped build the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and even the World Trade Center buildings. After that, I guess we did not have our fill of museums and walked to Hall of Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Bill of rights up front and in person. Then we decided to spend some outside time on the lovely, sunny, not that hot day, so went to the Washington Monument, and checked out the war memorials. The war memorials were especially meaningful in this time of war in Afghanistan and Iraq; is Iran next? We do not want anymore people to die, but understand war is necessary at times. We do not think this is one of those times and are ready for this one to start winding down before it bankrupts our country. Oddly enough, Washington DC did, not in a whole, make me feel even more warm and fuzzy about the good ole U. S. of A., but going to so many outstanding museums for free makes me feel great that british scientist James Smithson, who had never been to the USA provided the money to start the institution! We took a rest on a grassy knoll (we’re in DC, not Dallas!) overlooking the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial, and met some very hungry ducks and squirrels. We did not have any food to give them, so off they went, but we got some good photos of them before they scampered off. A bit down the park, we met Freaky Le Squirrel II! Freaky Le Squirrel I lives in Chicago. Let me explain: the Freaky Le Squirrel tribe, are of a black coloring and are very aggressive. Freaky Le Squirrel I traumatized my friend Nicole when he flew through the air and landed on her. I look forward to meeting the FLS III! With Freaky Le Squirrel safely behind us, off to Georgetown we walked. And walk we did, for longer than we had planned, but all in all, good exercise. We were tired from being on our feet all day long and hit the nearest English pub for a beer. Okay, there goes the exercise, but it sure did taste good! And hey, it was refreshing as it was a hot day out and we were damn tuckered. After our pick me up, we walked more checking out places to eat and shop (still on the lookout for replacement shoes!). After many more blocks we decided to head back towards the Metro stop. On the way there, we found a great Spanish Tapas joint with great décor. Had some yummy food for dinner and relaxed a bit. Back to the Metro station for the ride back to the Burbs where that bargain hotel was located, and then yet another walk from the metro to the hotel. And then, my friends, an early night of sleep for the drive we had coming up the next day.

During the beautiful Eastern Shore drive down the coast we found this small shack (seriously, it was a shack) serving seafood, Metompkin Seafood Market. It had hand written signs, you know the Mom and Pop kind, out front. They sold fresh uncooked seafood, but also had an array of cooked stuff “to-go” too. I have never had a crab cake with so much crab in it before, imagine that! After that the next big excitement was going over a 17 mile bridge and under 2 miles of tunnel, The Chesapeake Bride – tunnel. I think they should have given it a clever name like the English/French with their Chunnel and named it the Chesabrunnel or Tridge, but no. Then not too long after that we arrived at the Glasier abode in Virginia Beach. Greeted first by Justin, surprised Diana at the back door and then came Harrison. David came home a bit later after work. For dinner we had my favorite North Carolina BBQ pork sandwiches. Yummy! Then the HenderBalz made a big hit with Harrison and Justin, Diana and David’s 16 year old and 10 year old sons, by pulling out those fireworks we bought in Tennessee. Apparently, I could have gotten bigger fireworks without upsetting Diana, as fireworks are a Glasier family favorite! The boys set off some and we all had some laughs on how loud they were, where they went and how the boys reacted. Then after a funny impromptu improv performance from Harrison, the actor in the family, we went to bed on the earlier side, but yet still slept in some the next morning.

Diana gave us a tour of Norfolk, VA, a small city near Virginia Beach in hopes we will chose it as a place to live after our year away in Central America. We are still not sure, but we will think about it. During our tour, we went to Nauticus, a museum of naval history along with a tour of the battle ship Wisconsin. Nice guns! Lunch came next and what would you think of a placed called No Frill Grill? No frills maybe? But the food was of the home-cooking pretty darn good variety. I think adding in fettuccini in with chili is a frill, don’t you? Then we drove around checking out neighborhoods, who knew Norfolk had such cute old homes! We were even given a tour of a 10th floor condo overlooking the bay, cool place and lay out, but too modern for us.

After going back home, we relaxed and got ready for a big night out in Norfolk. We had an awesome dinner at Havana’s, a Cuban style tapas place. Mojitos all around and more than enough delish tapas were shared. We were in a lively night spot, so out we went to look for the perfect place. But for some reason, nothing was really hopping, except that one place where no one was over 21.5 years of age (except for a few cougars). We did go to Time and got a drink, laughed at the 80’s music and youngins’, but did not stay for long. We hit another place, but it was not “Our” place, so on we went. Finally, we found the perfect place. A sports bar of all places, plenty of drunken people to entertain us. First there was the “eating fire hot serving of chicken wings in under 60 seconds for a free t-shirt” guy. For some reason he liked us, and gave us a free pitcher of beer. Then there was the “Elegant Violence” guy. Elegant Violence is a T-shirt put out by the Naval Academy’s rugby team and David has one himself. He was across the bar from us and some how he and David got into an incomprehensible sign language war which proved to be hilarious. I went over to check out his story and from then on we had a funny not so little friend. After he left looking for his even more drunk friend, it was time to get back to the kids, so we hailed a cab and fortunately that was a quick task. Funny pictures on the ride home and to bed we went.

Saturday, once again we slept in, you’d think we had some sleeping disorder, but maybe traveling is more tiring than one would think, but then again the drinks do not help either. Had a nice continental breakfast laid out for us by Chef Diana and after we were all ready to do, we went to Justin’s foot ball game. Ten year old little guys, playing a serious game of football, tackle and all. It is so freakin’ cute in that go-team-go kind of way. Justin is not even my kid, and I cried after the game when they did their circle team cheer. Feeling all flekempt, we all went emotional shoe shopping. I got 2 pairs at the second place and Jim finally got a pair at the third store we went to! Thanks Die! After that chore we needed a much needed treat….pedicures for everyone. Well, Jim declined but he did enjoy the massage chairs. All through the day and the day before we had been hearing and seeing the Blue Angels doing their fancy schmancy practice tricks and doing low altitude fly-bys. So an air show extravaganza at the beach was in order. We caught most of it in the car on the way there, stretching necks out the window. Even in that position it was pretty darn cool, an airplane with fireworks coming off it as it flew back and forth, and also parachuting troops with fireworks coming off their feet as they landed on the beach right there at the bandstand. We made it to the event in time for the introduction of the parachuting troops, the Red Devils, the Leaping Frogs and some other troop named after a colorful animated character. Then the Blue Angel pilots, those guys are awesome, but them flying in their planes are even more cool. Tummy’s grumbling, we worked up even more of a hunger walking the 10 blocks to the Seaside Raw Bar. What a dinner, raw oysters, oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, steamed shrimp and crab legs…talk about Extravaganza…we had our own Seafood Fest right there in front on the table in front of us. Reno, Vegas and Atlantic City…your seafood buffets have nothing on that dinner!

We decided to head back to the Glasier homestead to enjoy Jim’s bottle of Opus One wine…another one of his prized wines he saved to drink with friends and family on this road trip of ours. Thank goodness it was not past its prime. After talking going on for too long we hit the sack.

Sunday we got up for a walk on the beach with Gus and Bruno, no not the bear gay neighbor’s, but the Glasier family dogs. Justin also came along for some surfing, but the water was not right for surfing, so boogie boarding he went and quickly, fortunately in a wetsuit. I got some good shots of him catching the waves, uh well, one of his hair, his foot, his board! No, really, check out the photo album above, he caught some good waves and I caught them on digital (does not sound as good as being caught on film, does it?). And then Jim got some good shots of Gus and Bruno fighting a tiny little crab. Gus and Bruno are not of the he-dog variety, but they were intimidating to this not even one inch off the sand crab.

When Justin was done, we picked up Harrison and headed out for lunch at Alice’s. Although not planned, we adults could not pass up the Bloody Mary Bar special they offered. I went mild where Jim went crazy spicy hot (hotter than planned; the first hot sauce had a dropper, the second came pouring out). Harrison drove us home, not because we were loaded, but because he needed his practice time behind the wheel. He did great, especially with 4 back seat drivers! Some of us relaxed some at home, but whirling dervishes Diana and David not only shopped and prepared a great meal, but mowed their large lawn as well! Us lazy folk, read, slept and played on the computer. Damn! We need a bit of Diana’s DNA to get us up and moving more!

We had a nice dinner with Joy and Bill, Diana’s parents I have known since I was 18 years old. It was nice catching up with them before we left the area…they are the same. Bill still loves to golf and Joy has a sharp biting sense of humor. It was nice to hear about their son, Diana’s brother and his fiancé, who had just returned from teaching in Honduras. After we packed a bit for our next morning’s departure, we watched the new HBO vampire show and then Entourage. I think we are getting hooked on Entourage, what will we do in Honduras without it?

The next morning we tried to get an early start, but we did not get on the road until 10am. We did get to say our good byes to most of the family, but Harrison’s 6:30am departure was just way too early. We took our time driving down the coast to the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. We took the time to stop by the Wright Brother’s Museum, what they did was really amazing and without even high school educations. We got into Wilmington, North Carolina around 5:00pm. We took a drive into the old part of town and then decided on what hotels to hit up for the night. We stupidly went to a Motel 6, which fortunately we decided against due to the foreign not good smell in the room, and found this cute little motel called The Carolinian Inn. A retired banker all dressed prim and proper waiting at the check-in counter, buildings wrapped with big old oaks dripping with tiers of moss…what a welcome. A clean, smell free room for 45.00 with tax made it even better. After a quick settle in we went to “town” and found a wooden walk way along the river going from shop to shop and restaurant to restuarant. We ate at the Pilot House on their nice outdoor patio and of course we had more southern seafood, Mussels, raw oysters, crab fritters and fried green tomatoes. Yum-a-licious! Okay, not good for our waistlines, but can we not worry about that until Honduras please? After dinner we walked through the town, checking out the old buildings, then settled into the oldest bar in Wilmington for a night cap.

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~ by HenderBalz on October 4, 2008.

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