July 2017 Wild Dunes - Osprey Marina - Southport, NC - Swansboro, NC - Adams Creek, NC - Oriental, NC - Great Bridge, VA - Norfolk, VA - Lottsburg, VA - Washington, DC

      “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”    Quote by Natalie Babbitt.

     Many of us spend our days muddling through the mundane with each day as predictable as the next, waiting for vacation time to take that trip, or travel to visit family or friends not seen for years. We fool ourselves into the mindset of limitless time and catch ourselves saying, “Oh, well, there’s always next year!” However, as our aging becomes apparent, reality sets in and living becomes more about quality instead of quantity.

     Cruisers and RV-ers are fortunate people who have come to this realization and opted for a nonconventional way of life in order to embrace our moments and days, rather than months and years—true adventurers who set out to find what the world has to offer.


     The hot month of July began with a bang. Our cruising is dictated by weather and mechanical status so we were delayed departing Wild Dunes/Mt. Pleasant/Charleston by a few days. Nothing to be sad about. We have friends there whom we love so hanging around a few extra days wasn’t a chore.  As I’ve said before, we can’t make plans—we just have intentions and they’re cast in dilute Jello. After 10 years, this lifestyle has just about broken my rigidity.  The most difficult part of having to leave was saying goodbye to our church, our volunteer placement, and friends there. 

Departing Wild Dunes

     Our dock had a 4th of July shindig with fun and food galore. D Dock has a great group of folks and we miss them, too.
Goats at Osprey Marina

     We’ve had great cruising weather and beautiful calming breezes for anchoring at night. 

     We’ve heard so many glowing reports about Osprey Marina but had never stopped there because of a beautiful anchorage that we love in very dark tannic water and surrounded by elegant cypress trees. 

     My morning walk today was somewhat pastoral! Heard chickens crowing, loved on horses noses, and observed the Billy Goats Gruff from afar.

                 Farm life seen on my morning walk near Osprey Marina     

     Most probably “we’ll never pass this way again” so we spent a night in Osprey.

     A couple of nights found us in Southport, NC, visiting with boating friends and Jim, my “role model” watercolorist. Robert and Kay’s front porch is an absolute “destination”. Their house is perched on a bank with nothing between them and the water but a one-way road. They get the coffee going at 5:45 AM and cocktails at 5:00 PM so there’s a constant flow of folks all day and night. Loved rocking on their front porch and watching the water and boats coming and going.

     It's questionable whether I'll ever grow up. I've had this kite for decades and just found it in the bowels of the lazerette so flew it from our aft deck while in Southport Marina. I feel even more free than the kite---I have no string attached.

     We enjoyed dinner with Patsy and Rick at a wonderful restaurant on the main drag. Food and service were great at Mr. P’s Bistro, and catching-up conversation about our lives over the past 3 years was non-stop.

     No trip through Swansboro is complete without a stop at Casper’s Marina and breakfast at Yana’s--straight from the '50's!

We summoned all of our resolve and by-passed her wonderful peach fritters. 
Notice the old soda fountain dispensers

     As an experiment the town set up a water slide down a street with the greatest incline but think they lacked enough water to make it fun. People were on their little swim rings pushing along like water bugs to get to the bottom but it was a big hit. Young, old, big, and small were lined up for tickets.

     One of our favorite anchorages is Adams Creek. It also holds bitter-sweet memories ad that's where our little Bailey Dawg took her life while we were anchored there several years ago. She was very arthritic and we had and appointment to have her put down but she just couldn't wait two more weeks so she took care of that herself.  We have boating/RV friends, Lee and George, who live on the waterfront within sight of our anchorage so they hopped in their skiff with a bucket of crabs and came out for a visit. Their visit was sweet and so were the crabs.

     At last we arrived in Oriental! We’d been looking forward to seeing Gina and Ernie AND their new round house. Ernie was our children’s and my swim coach 30 years ago when he was just a tow-headed new Wake Forest grad. The first US Masters Swimming Nationals that I went to was in Irvine, CA, and Ernie, another of our swimmers, and I went out there to swim. After that I was hooked on Masters Swimming. Gina used her civil engineering talents to design the interior of their home. It’s spacious, quite open, of course, and very few walls except for bedrooms and baths. Ernie grew up in Singapore so their decor has that flavor. Great to catch up with them and fun to see their “igloo”.

                      Adieu to Oriental and happy the Neuse is nice today.

     We anchored for 3 nights but the temps were rising so we spent a night at AYB and took advantage of their 50 amp and our A/C. When there in Great Bridge, we always have to patronize El Toro Loco and this time was no exception.  

    Used to be a Lock Virgin till the 100+ we did in 2012. The Great Bridge Lock was underwhelming. Not even sure if we went up or down. Big to-do about nothing. Just more practice in un-lassoing cleats. Now steaming at 8.4 kts providing us with a refreshing gentle wind.

     We spent 4 nights in Norfolk’s Waterside Marina and what a treat that was!  It's been several years since we've been in Norfolk and has it ever changed!!! Except for the snow, this is a place I could live. Gentrification is rampant downtown. So much construction is underway and this work was being done even over the weekend. 

Reflection from the Hilton
View of the harbor from the cutting edge Hilton Hotel
     The new Hilton has an incredible art display on their 5 floors. We spent quite a long time there last night just enjoying the different types of visual art. Additionally, the building is quite exquisite. If you've not been to Norfolk in a while, you wouldn't recognize it. The waterfront with Waterside Marina, restaurants, and bars has exploded into life. We're moving on this morning but we've thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Norfolk. I think it has the friendliest people of anywhere we've been. EVERYBODY wears a smile, speaks, offers a compliment or a positive comment.

Tow Boat needed a tow!

     Chrysler Museum of Art is a collection of 30,000 objects and more than 50 exquisite galleries filled with paintings, sculpture, glass, photography, and the decorative arts, this gallery delighted, inspired, and transformed me. 

     Can you believe that this world-class collection is always free. 

     Photography is encouraged and these can be shared on their site. Artists are welcomed to sketch in the galleries with dry media. Wet media is also allowed with permission.

     The museum opened in 1933 and the building reminded me of the palaces of the Italian Renaissance with a U-shaped palazzo surrounding a courtyard that faces the Hague Inlet of the Elizabeth River.

     We had a surprise serendipity when Mike and his friend, John, pulled into the slip next to us. It was Mike's slip we used when we were in Wild Dunes. His boat was at Zimmerman's for some first aid and they stopped at Waterside for a few nights on their way back to S.C.
     The high point of our time there was visiting with Sydney, our granddaughter, who’s now a proud Norfolk resident.  

     Bill toured Nauticus and the Wisconsin while Sydney took me through the NEON District and The Plot, an artsy and creative community gathering space constructed of materials reclaimed from the site and other city sources.  The Plot celebrates the community effort to create a better Norfolk block by block and it’s definitely happening. 

     She and I also spent time in the Chrysler Art Museum - a massive display and impossible to absorb it all in one day.

     The main library downtown is a place to include on your to-do list. 

     The Dallas Morning News voted Slover Library one of 5 best libraries worth traveling to visit.. 

     A corner of the old and one of the new. Its architecture is award winning; 

     There is are giant touchscreen photo gallery; they offer free live music events and technology classes.  The KidZone has a video game lounge. 3D printers and a large format printer are available for the use of patrons.Daily tours are also offered. 

View from our slip

     Each morning we walked the waterfront, Ghent, and  Freemason Harbor.  The Marine Observation Tower, also known as the Taiwanese Pagoda, is the centerpiece for a serene garden.  The tower was a gift to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Norfolk honoring Taiwan’s trading ties with Virginia. There’s a two-story pagoda, with Chinese architectural details and ornamentation sits on the concrete foundation of an old molasses tank. On Sunday mornings they provide a mouthwatering waffle buffet.



     The primary focal point from our niche in the marina, is Town Point Park along the Elizabeth River. The park is anchored at each end with fountains. The fountain just off our bow is an interactive fountain and children and adults were loving it in the sweltering temperatures. The large rectangular grassy area is dissected by walk ways and comfortable furniture is arranged beneath shady trees. Ping pong is available, hula hoops, corn hole, and a variety of games for parents and their children to enjoy on weekends.


     Live music is provided daily except for Mondays. Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a steel drum band performed by area high school students who earn a place through auditioning. It was so refreshing to see those teenagers thoroughly enjoying playing and entertaining and each wearing a smile.

     As we cruised north from Norfolk, passing numerous facilities belonging to the Navy--AND us, we saw several hovercrafts making much noise, kicking up oceans of water, but moving like a snail. Their top speed is 80 mph.

     In Virginia's Northern Neck, returning to Olverson’s Marina is like coming home again. 

     After spending 4 nights there, it was time to move on but not before thoroughly enjoying visiting with long-time friends. Jon, Page, and Shirley took us to Cole's Point Tavern. 


    We love 'dives' and this was our kind of place. Everyone's food was spectacular. My crab cake was almost as big as the plate and was ALL crab. The parking lot is in VA but the tavern is in MD. The state line runs along the shore line and MD owns the Potomac River.

     Don't know what came over me. Maybe it's the fresh country air but on my morning walk I went 6.6 miles over rocky roads, across corn rows, and down cow paths. Just couldn't stop. Felt like the Energizer Bunny or like a wind-up toy whose legs just keep going. Really felt great and I loved it.

A visual treat on my walk

     We had the honor of attending a memorial service for a retired Marine and an icon of cruising and anything related to boating and the element in which that activity is enjoyed in the Northern Neck. This was the first military service that I'd ever attended and it was very moving. I'm pretty much over-the-top regarding patriotism so it was difficult to maintain dry eyes. I was right beside the Marines who participated in the flag folding ceremony and presentation to the family and my eyes never left theirs. 

     We saw this darling little church on a provisioning run and just needed to stop, snap, and share.

      Our final evening was a terrific treat in the lovely Rivah Cottage of Bill and Rosemary. She attributed the spread to Wegman's but nevertheless, it was elegant, complete with candle light. Mutual friends, Wendy and Russ, were also guests so we had a "catching up" good time.

    We cast off our lines and continued north. It's always kinda sad to leave Olverson's. We were strangers on our dock but those who live in the area and keep their boats there on that dock were very friendly and welcoming to us. 

     We arrived in our nation's capitol 31 July and will spend 2 months here. We've been here for a month on 2 different occasions so need more time to delve deeper into this incredible city.

     This will be our home for 2 months and we can't wait to get out and see what's new, changed, and different.

Sweet dreams and hope your July was as fantastic as ours has been.

Bill and Laura Bender
Aboard Kindred Spirit III
Gangplank Marina
Washington, DC


Dinata Misovec said…
I'm looking forward to your Washington, DC posts. It is my hometown, but I still haven't seen everything there is to see. There is always something new and the old stuff warrants revisiting.

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