After a long winter of busy schedules and bad weather, I decided a GIRLS LUNCH was long overdue! So, I called mom, told her to grab her camera and I would pick her up early! We two girls were off on an adventure! She had no idea, and that is what makes these treks so fun! Today’s surprise would be on Virginia’s Eastern Shore!
Our travels today would take us over the beautiful Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel! This spans across the bay for 17.6 miles, and has two tunnels, two man-made islands and one high bridge. In the 1930s a ferry operated this route delivering passenger cars and train cars across the Chesapeake Bay from Virginia's Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach. In 1964 the bridge-tunnel opened. There are two one-mile long tunnels beneath the two navigational channels in the bay and you often see huge tankers and Navy ships on the waters there. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. And you can truly see why!
When I was young, my father was head of communications aboard the USS Boxer stationed in Norfolk. He would be out to sea for months, then mom would get the call from the ‘officer wives phone tree’ that the ship would be returning! One of my favorite memories was getting dressed up to meet the ship as it came in to port. And now, I wonder what he must have felt, being gone so long, and passing through the Bay Bridge channel turning toward home.
Once on Virginia's Eastern Shore, we were amazed at the untamed and natural surroundings - water to your left (the Bay), and the right (the Atlantic Ocean)! You are immediately greeted by a Welcome Center and we proceeded our way up the highway enjoying the views.
We were headed to the Historic Cape Charles Harbor today to The Shanty, a restaurant that made the “Top 10 Virginia Restaurants With A View” List. We twisted around the town, laughing at our GPS which was obviously sending us on a sightseeing path rather than a direct one! Finally we turned on an oyster shell parking lot with nautical decor pieces everywhere. We had arrived! Mom and I both needed seafood today! And, you can’t come to the Eastern Shore and NOT EAT seafood!
The restaurant was charming! With three walls of windows facing the Bay, their Marina and the Coast Guard Station there was plenty to view!
I immediately spied a Fresh Shrimp Basket served with Old Bay Fries. Mom selected her favorite, a Crab Cake Sandwich with the Old Bay Fries as well! The restaurant prides itself on serving local ingredients and this food was amazing! My shrimp were big, juicy and had a great exterior crunch. Fries were lightly seasoned. Moms Crabcake was filled with lumps of crabmeat and not a lot of filler. We loved our meal!
As we walked down their Marina’s pier, mom spied an Osprey. She is a budding photographer and loves to chase down birds to capture ‘just the right shot’! She also uses her zoom lens to identify things out of view!
We learned that the town of Cape Charles served as the terminal for ferry service years ago. Rail barges still depart from Cape Charles, transporting railcars over the open waters to Norfolk. Trains drive down the Eastern Shores peninsula, detach, load onto the rail barges and make their way across the bay to be reattached to another engine, and continue their travels west. There were a lot of tracks- coming in, and heading straight to the bay, then stopping! Mom and I even walked across a few of them.
Neither of us had been to Cape Charles before so we took a drive around this quaint town. The road we entered was lined with small shops. Its water tower is a creative sight! I even pulled over so we could get a few good pics!
There were several blocks of older homes, definitely from an era long ago. The Cape Charles Beach hosts hundreds during the summer months, but today it was quiet and calm. On the way out of town, I spied a small flower stand and pulled in. I announced, “We each HAD TO buy one plant, so pick a pretty one”! We jumped out and made our selection, and both, of course, selected the same flower! Like mother- like daughter! We laughed.
We had tons of fun but it was time to head home. This time, as we crossed the Bay Bridge, we spied something unusual on the water making its way to the bridge. I asked mom if it was on fire. Or was it smoking. No. It was spraying water all around it as it made its way up the Bay. As we approached, mom had her camera perched, trying to get a better look. Note: Peering through a zoom lens on a bridge in a moving car is not a great idea! But, we soon were on it. Or rather, it was on us! The craft passed over as we went down through the tunnel. I pulled over after we cleared the tunnel and mom quickly took pictures! It was “31 LCAC” ! (hovercraft) Used as a landing craft by the US Navy-Little Creek. Only 91 have ever been built and at a max speed of 70 knots this thing was spraying water everywhere!
It was a great outing! A long one, but oh, so worth it! I love spending time with her, and we have such a great time out exploring the countryside and great restaurants together.
Can’t wait til the next one!