Saturday, March 6, 2010


Renaissance Hotel, Portsmouth, VA
My hotel is the last tall one on the left

My travel week ended in the 300 year old shipping port village of Portsmouth, Virginia.  Since I had to stay over Friday night I figured I may as well have a nice view.  Portsmouth is across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk and is the home of the US Naval Shipyard.  Many large Navy ships were in port for maintenance and I could see the flashes of light as welders worked on the big gun ships.  It's also the home of Maersk, the container shipping company.

After checking out the restaurant in the hotel lobby I decided to seek alternatives.  I could see some large retail area across the river and asked the desk clerk about it.  He said it was a restaurant district in Norfolk and directed me to the river ferry to gain passage.  For a dollar and a half I was ferried across on a 60' paddle wheel boat.  I dined at Joe's Crab Shack.  For once, I didn't really mind eating alone because the mess of eating crab legs and whole shrimp is not something you want people to see you doing.  My steampot also included a link of andouile sausage, red potatos and corn on the cob.  It was pretty tasty.

After diner I had a half hour to kill so I walked the docks and looked at the big dollar yachts tied up in port.  I could smell the odor of someone smoking the wild wood weed.  I had to laugh, realizing I hadn't smelled that odor in well over ten years since my days as a cop in Arizona.  I guess it's like the smell of death, once you smell it you never forget it.

The ferry boat blasted it's fog horn to announce it's return.  I boarded as the only passenger at 9:15PM.  Despite the 40 degree evening chill I made my way to the top observation deck and stood watch as I cruised the Elizabeth.  300 years ago English sailor navigated these same waters.  If her depths could talk she'd speak of times when war ships were made of wood, not steel.  She'd tell of Civil war battles rages on her shores and of the night the Confederates burned the shipyard rather than turn it over to the Union forces.  She'd cry of the nights her current ran with blood.  For 300 years hulls have hovered above Elizabeth's floor.  I gave pause to wonder, when 300 more years has passed who will know of this night when I quitetly cruised the waters of history?  Will my blog be bouncing around some digital field in the atmosphere or will a printed copy be stored in some box somewhere?  Perhaps carried by a solo sailor following the course yet to be set by me.

In this view of the Elizabeth, from the web, my hotel can be seen at the point on the left side, toward the top of the picture.  Moving up and right across the river is the Waterside restaurant district where I dined at Joes.

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