June 23-25 – Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk and Suffolk, VA

Monday morning we drove to Virginia Beach where we took the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the eastern shore of Virginia.  Our brochure said this is the largest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.  Opened in 1964 the bridge-tunnel measures 17.6 miles shore to shore and consists more than 12 miles of trestle roadway, two mile-long tunnels, two bridges, four man-made islands, almost two miles of causeway, and 5 ½ miles of approach roads, totaling 23 miles.

After paying our one-way toll of $13 we headed out onto the bridge.  We stopped on the first island just before the entrance to the first tunnel where there is a restaurant and gift shop.  From here you can see the other end of the first tunnel and in the distanced the entrance into the second tunnel. 

We walked out on Sea Gull Pier, a 625 ft fishing and viewing pier which is 3.5 miles out in the middle of the bay.  This is a great place to watch ships coming and going and you can see the Cape Henry Lighthouse in the distance between these two ships.

Just as we were getting ready to get back on the road to go into the tunnel this Navy ship was coming into the bay.  It sailed over the tunnel while we were inside and we were able to see it again when we exited.

When we got to the Eastern Shore of Virginia we stopped in the town of Cape Charles and walked out onto one of the boardwalks along the beach.  We were able to watch these two Ospreys working on building up their nest.  They had two or three chicks that were just starting to flap their wings and bounce around in the nest.

After watching the Osprey for a while we found an Irish pub called Kelly’s Gingernut Pub where we had a great lunch.   The pub was in an old bank building and our table was in the vault area.  


After lunch we continued driving up the peninsula and just before the Maryland State Line we stopped at the Assateague Island National Seashore, Assateague State Park and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  At the south end of the island we took a short hike to the Assateague Lighthouse which was originally built in 1860 and rebuilt in 1866.

 After our lighthouse hike we drove to the end of the road and walked out to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side.

It was time to start our return trip so we headed south back toward the bridge-tunnel.  Our toll schedule showed that if you returned within 24 hours the return toll would be $5, but when we got to the toll booth we were told that had been discontinued and we had to pay another $13 toll.  It could get expensive if you travelled across the bridge-tunnel very many times.  It was a long day but we enjoyed the bridge-tunnel and seeing the “eastern shore of Virginia”.

Tuesday morning we went back to Norfolk to take a naval base cruise and to see the Nauticus Museum and tour the USS Wisconsin.  Outside the museum was a war memorial that had bronzed plaques on the flagstone walk of the last letters written by soldiers to family and friends.  The letters were from wars ranging from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm.  This letter was written on April 3, 1943 by Robert Baum who was killed later that month.  It was beautiful with the live rose someone had laid on it.

After reading many of these letters we boarded the Victory Rover for a cruise around the Norfolk Naval Base.  We have a beautiful sunny day for our cruise.


 We had a great view the Norfolk skyline and a small ferry heading towards the dock.

We also cruised by the shipping docks and were able to watch a crane lifting containers off this ship.

We saw a lot of ships docked at the Naval Base.  We were fortunate to get to see the USS Cole in port – the same ship that we all saw on the news years ago with a gaping hole in the side from a terrorist attack.

The USS Harry S. Truman was at the last dock.  You can’t see it in this picture but there is an armed guard standing on the rear of the flight deck.


At the end of the cruise we sailed past the USS Wisconsin docked at the Nauticus Museum.

We really enjoyed the cruise and seeing all the ships in dock at the naval base but were getting very hot sitting on the top deck in the sun so are glad the cruise is coming to an end.

After the cruise we walk over to the Natuicus Museum and signed up for a 3 pm tour of the USS Wisconsin.  We had about an hour and a half before the tour started so we looked around The Hampton Roads Naval Museum which is on the second floor of the Nauticus.  This museum is operated by the US Navy and has some great displays about the history of the fleet in the coastal region of Virginia.

We had two very knowledgeable tour guides for the USS Wisconsin, one of the four largest battleships built during World War II.   The Wisconsin was commissioned April 16, 1944 and decommissioned September 30, 1991.  It served in World War II, Korea and Desert Storm.   We got to tour the upper decks and inside the lower decks.  Rex is standing in front of the big guns (16 inch).

It was impressive to view the guns from the bridge – they have downtown Norfolk in their sites.

We really enjoyed the tour of the USS Wisconsin – another long but enjoyable day.

Wednesday morning we stayed at the resort and relaxed after all the sightseeing we have been doing.  After lunch we took the kayak’s to Bennett’s Creek Park and paddled in the Nansemond Wildlife Refuge where the Nansemond River meets the James River. 

 Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife but saw a number of egrets, a couple of vultures and lots of little crabs.  The crabs were so thick on the shores that the ground seemed to be moving when they were scurrying away from us.

After paddling around for a couple of hours we were ready to call it a day and get out of the heat and humidity.  The air conditioning in the 5th wheel sure sounds good right now!

There is so much history in this part of Virginia that we could spend months here and not see it all.  We think we will have to make another trip to this area.


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