Saturday, June 16, 2012

Opsail 2012

Gene wanted to attend the big square-rigger gathering called "Opsail," but he didn't want to go on Godspeed this time. So we set our Spring trip to start in Norfolk, then go up the east coast via the Eastern Shore and New Jersey to Vermont, visiting friends and relatives along the way. So on Thursday, 7 June, we set out.

Stopping briefly in Williamsburg to pick up some of our favorite peanut butter, we launched ourselves onto the interstates toward Norfolk. Three traffic jams later we were northbound on Route 13 in Virginia Beach when we saw a sign telling us that the first island on the Bay Bridge Tunnel would be closed to parking the next day. Darn! we had figured to be out there the next morning to photograph the beginning of the Parade of Sail.

Crossing Lynnhaven Inlet on the bridge, we spotted the fleet at anchor offshore. We stopped and went to the beach, and then out on a fishing pier to photograph some of the anchored ships. On the pier we talked to some people who said that there was a free shuttle bus out to the island in the morning, but no one knew where it was leaving from or if there was parking there. We finally decided to bag that idea. It turned out that it was just as well, since the ships didn't set sail until well after that point. So we had supper on the pier cafe and headed to First Landing State Park in order to check in and get hooked up before sunset.

At First Landing, they had a hard time finding our (prepaid) reservation. A hard enough time that when things finally got sorted out it was well after dark so we had to find a campsite, back in, and hook up in the dark. However, it is a good campground and we would be willing to camp there again, but you have to make reservations well ahead of time, and be sure to bring along your confirmation number.

Next day we checked out and drove in to Norfolk, where we found a good parking place near downtown and a free shuttle bus to the waterfront. Gene helped take Godspeed's lines and then we went off to watch the Mexican training ship Cuauhtemoc come in. It was a stirring sight, with the yards all manned and Mexican folk songs playing. Jean was quite moved, remembering her years in Mexico and all the folk dancing she had done. "The Mexicans can still do some things right." she said.

After a while, we caught the free shuttle back to the parking area. After an hour of jouncing around downtown Norfolk in seats too small for Gene's legs, we got there. We went to our new campground in Virginia Beach.  It is a big (three swimming pools) resort-type campground with lots of grass and trees. Also a maze of roads which we wandered around on for a while until we found our campsite --- which turned out to be near the entrance. It is a very nice place, except for being on the approach to Oceana Naval Air Station, where they were landing jet fighters in flocks right over the campground.

Next day (Saturday) we set out early and found a good parking place. This time we took the light rail in to downtown. Much smoother and more comfortable. We got off at McArthur Square and went in to the big mall to watch the fountain that works in spurts, then got some breakfast at Barnes and Noble and went down the the waterfront.

Gene worked two shifts on the ship, doing interpretation in costume. Jean wandered around the festival a little and took refuge from the heat by doing some shopping. Between shifts we walked around and went aboard a couple of schooners that Gene was interested in.

 We left the festival to have dinner at Schlotzky's, and went back aboard at sunset to watch the fireworks which were intense.

Afterwards we joined the crowd and caught the train (we got the fifth one) back to the parking lot. We got back the the campground about midnight.

Next day we headed back to Norfolk. Gene only worked one shift, so by mid-afternoon he was finished. We decided we had had enough of the hot festival and headed back to Virginia Beach. One of the perks of that campground was free parking at the beach, so we spent a couple of hours relaxing on the beach. In late afternoon we went back to the campground to discover that all our hookup gear was missing. We checked at the office but none of the maintenance crew had picked it up, so we were reduced to dry camping in a hookup site. We had run the vent all day to keep the temperature down in the motorhome, so the battery was low. Then to add insult to injury, the generator wouldn't start. Luckily, it wasn't a hot night. Next day we had to deal with the problem of the loss of the gear, but that is another story.

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