Norfolk to Wilmington

Yesterday we got up bright and early, enjoyed our free breakfast and hit the road to enjoy a full day’s travelling.

Not.

In fact we slept in until breakfast had been cleared away and blearily made our way out to find a Dunkin Donut on our way to Kitty Hawk. We didn’t find one.

Instead we hit the freeways and eventually picked up some fruit and water at a Food Lion supermarket. At lunchtime we came across a fantastic all-American diner – Mel’s Diner.


Mel's Diner

A shiny chrome trailer type diner with all the retro charm of the movies. And the food was fantastic. Groover had this enormous club sandwich and I had a Greek salad. Also huge and crisp and delicious.Our rumbling tummies satisfied we jumped back in the car and headed for the site of the Wright Brothers first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. The town itself is row after row of stilted wooden houses – designed for beach life. And the road down there not much more than billboard after billboard interspersed with the occasional strip mall.

Entry to the Wright memorial is only $4 per person over 15 and it lasts a week. The museum is excellent and they have a full-scale replica of the original plane and glider. The original is in the Smithsonian. Outside they have marked the flight paths and we had fun getting the kids to recreate the flights on our little video recorder. Watch the video…

We then climbed Kill Devil Hill where the brothers first launched their glider. The memorial which looks brand new was in fact built in 1932. It is very impressive and apparently is the inspiration for some random game that Groover and Hugamuga play – Bioshock. Note the jetstream of what their invention led to next to it.

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk

The dunes have been grassed over to keep them in place and they don’t like you walking on the lawn, so much so that they’ve oversown the grass with prickley pear. Nasty stuff.

Then we got back in the car for a big drive. We got as far as Wilmington where the Lonely Planet guide recommends The Water Street Restaurant and stopped in for some southern fare. Once again LP didn’t let us down. This is a great restaurant – the food is good – we had the crabcakes and the fried green tomatoes, the popcorn shrimp and a pasta dish. All delicious. The entertainment was world class. A brilliant singer who kept us entertained all night. There were a group of older folk there who come along everytime this guy performs and they were up dancing and really having a good time. They came to talk to us because they came from Connecticut and Groover was wearing his UConn tee-shirt.

Wilmington

Wilmington

Today we’re mooching off down to Charleston and Savannah. Then to Orlando and Disneyworld.

Atlantic City to Virginia Beach

Well here we are in freezing Virginia. OMG it is SO COLD! Temperatures in the 20s which means minus 4-5 in real money.

Last night we stayed at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. AC is like Las Vegas lite and the hotels attached to the casinos are cheap. 5 stars for about $59 plus tax. The kids loved getting room service – which cost more than the room – and we loved finding a bar which sold Chimay. In the morning we wanted to walk along the boardwalk but… did I mention how cold it is?
Atlantic City
It means puffy jackets and not a lot of walking along the streets and beaches taking in the sights.

Margate

This is more like guerilla strike tourism. We find somewhere – like Margate’s Lucy the Elephant – a giant tin and wood pachyderm by the seaside – drive as close as we can – leap out – take a photo – leap back in the car and turn up the heating.

The deceptive thing is it looks from inside our heated SUV like a hot summer’s day outside. The sky is clear and blue. The pavement is dry. If it wasn’t for the fact that the streets are completely deserted you would think it was hot outside. The Wildwoods further down the New Jersey coast looked like a retro 1960s ghost-town.

The Wildwoods

Jetsons style neon signs for motels called “The Crusader”, “The Lollipop” and “The Mango” line the streets and you expect tumbleweeds to roll past. We were playing spot the person.

We caught the ferry from Cape May over to Lewes. Cape May is a charming Victorian seaside resort with rows of weatherboard houses painted very elaborately. It would be a charming place to visit. In the summer. Every second house is a B&B and they do look lovely.

By the time we got across the water and into Delaware it was dark so we hit the freeways and headed south. Groover had The Taphouse in his sights and, after fighting with the Neverlost Nazi we eventually made it down the peninsula across the Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnel spectacular. I took a little video with my new Flip. It really is very impressive. Probably more impressive in the daytime.

After booking into a hotel with a computer – oh yeah and beds and stuff – we drove out to the Taphouse so Groover could sample the beers and we could have some dinner. It was really good. Well worth seeking it out.

Thanks to Lonely Planet for that one – trust Aussies to highlight the great beer houses!

Tomorrow we are starting our day with Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers first flew their airplane. Then south south south!