I’ve had some disappointments these past couple days. First I drove down to Assateague Island, but didn’t make it there until it was dark. I barely had time to take some blurry dark photographs and step in wild horse manure before I had to speed back inland to find a larger town with a hotel. By the time I found one, I was too far inland to head back the next day, which is what I should have done anyway, but instead I drove on into Virginia. On an impulse I decide to go out of my way and head up to Shenandoah National Park. But when I get there I discover that the only road through the park is closed for winter weather, which can only mean they didn’t bother to plow when the last storm came through almost a month ago. So I have to content myself with driving beside the mountains and taking a walk in a park instead of a hike through the woods. I was so pumped up by the thought of being in the snowy mountains again, hiking and getting my shoes wet - it really was a big disappointment. Then the next day I decide to stop by the fine art museum in Richmond, but when I drive past it I see a large banner proclaiming happily that the museum will reopen in May. Grrr.... so I drive on.
After all those letdowns I’m glad that I really enjoyed Colonial Williamsburg. I didn’t think I was going to. I went there once when I was about ten. I thought it was neat, but not authentic at all and crowded with too many people in those tiny gift shops. This time the place was pleasantly deserted. There were still a good amount of tourists, but there were also lots of people jogging or walking dogs (obviously locals) and there were also the handful of costumed guides. It felt more like a real town, an oddly clean and quiet little town with strange residents, but a town nonetheless. I think what I enjoyed most was that I had full access to just walk around the houses and gardens and take as many pictures as I wanted. I didn’t feel like I was trespassing or being weird because that was what I was supposed to do. It was expected. Also I know I enjoyed it all the more because it was free. If I had wanted to tour the insides of the buildings I would have had to pay, but access to the grounds is always free.
I take a good long stroll all around Williamsburg until I get my fill and my feet get tired. Then I drive on to Virginia Beach. I end up staying at one of those trashy kind of hotels near the highway, but it was also a block from the beach. So I head on over for a walk down the shore at dusk. The water is glowing. The beach is in the shadows of the huge hotel buildings along the boardwalk. The weather is so warm and sunny. It’s a great end to the day.