Given that America’s east coast is the home of numerous military hot spots, it followed that the Virginia area would offer touring options for at least one of them. Our warcraft of choice was a bit of a drive from Virginia Beach, but seemed like an interesting idea at the time. We might remember it more fondly if it weren’t for my ongoing physical issues, and if hadn’t taken us two tries to gain battleship access.
Continuing my stroll down Memory Lane to revisit the spirits of road trips past, while looking forward to the spirit of road trips yet to come.
2009: South Dakota and friends
Our longest drive to date, our first foray into the Mountain Daylight Time zone, and our introduction to South Dakota, land of a thousand casinos. There’s more to see than mere impressive Mount Rushmore.
The Badlands greet you on your way into Rapid City, major tourism hub.
Custer State Park, located in the Black Hills, is inhabited by animals accustomed to being spoiled rotten by tourists. They have no compunction about invading your personal space, and may be the secret masters in charge of the park. Notice how Intrusive Burro is very intrusive.
When you’re done with Rushmore, you can visit the other massive stone monument in the area, the perpetually in-progress Crazy Horse statue. The ongoing project is taller than Rushmore and funded entirely with private donations. The nearest approach is even more distant than Rushmore’s observation area, but you can do what I did for an extreme closeup: max out the digital zoom on your camera, pop a quarter into the stationary viewers, jam your camera lens into the viewer eyepiece, and snap away.
Since we were only a few dozen miles away anyway, we spent one day on a diversion into neighborly Wyoming, home of Devil’s Tower, the free-standing mesa As Seen On Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Bring your own mashed potatoes.
Our primary destination was Virginia Beach, but I spent the week under the weather and trying my best not to dampen our spirits. The three of us also discovered something unanimous about ourselves on this vacation: none of us actually enjoy beaches. Consequently, many of our stops on the way to and from Virginia Beach were more interesting to us.
Largest of those was the U.S.S. Wisconsin, decommissioned and moored in Norfolk. Tours are guided by retired veterans proud to be serving as tour guides even when the weather is in the triple digits.
One of the nicest looking places in the area was Natural Bridge, great for scenic photos and some of the most unusual roadside attractions nearby. One caution: if you love animals, you might want to skip their zoo.
All photos are excerpted from lengthy travelogues that I wrote for each of our last several vacations for fun and posterity. If it weren’t for humility and concerns about copyright issues (will theme parks really throw a tantrum if their mascots appear in your published photos?), I’d consider compiling them into a genuine Book, also for fun and posterity.