Saturday, October 20, 2018

Heat, Humidity, History and Hurricane

October 10 -12, 2018
Williamsburg, Virginia

Last year I was checking the air quality map every morning to see if we could get out of the smoke. This year it's the weather map to see if we can avoid the latest hurricane. While Florence moved slowly up the coast as a tropical depression, Michael is much faster and wider, traveling inland, and is still a tropical storm. 

I decide to take a chance on Williamsburg, Virginia, continuing our route to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tuesday's 2.5 hour drive takes us back to just west of the Chesapeake Bay.

This is another historic tourist destination, and the RV park prices and availability reflect that. With one exception. I warn Bill that we may be staying at a "sketchy" park.

Williamsburg Campark is a Passport America park, and is almost worth the $22.50/night. It's a testimony to poor management, a treasure that has been allowed to rust away. Driving past over a hundred abandoned FHU sites we find the dilapidated office where, as instructed, I call Dora to come check us in. 

While waiting 20 minutes in the heat for the manager to drive around like a maniac looking for the guy mowing the lawn who has the office key (seriously?), I learn the sad history of a once beautiful park left to a widow who's made two decades of bad decisions. 

We finally get checked in and set up in a grass FHU site with 50 amps. Crossing my fingers the coming rain won't leave us in a muddy mess, I'm grateful we're not under the big trees nearby. 

Can't complain about the crowds!
As it turns out, the park is just fine. Everything works, is quiet and dark at night, the WiFi works some of the time, and we feel plenty safe. It's also close to the historic sites we plan to see. We'd probably stay here again (if it's still open).

Although Wednesday is even hotter and just as humid, we figure we really have to see some of Colonial Williamsburg. The information on how to see it is a bit confusing, making it seem that you have to pay $35 just to "get in". Fortunately this is not the case. You can pay $2 for an all day shuttle from the Visitor Center, or (we learn after we're on the shuttle) you can drive and park your own car for free. The "ticket" price is to get access to all the buildings, some with narrations, and other presentations throughout the town.

The market place built in 1750 where goods were sold inside and out in the square. The quality and prices were regulated by city officials.

The cobbler's shop has that wonderful leather smell.

The city garden is nearly "done" for the season.

I love this wispy vine along the fence.

Like many of these stately old homes, the trees are just as impressive.
I know that the heat and humidity is impacting our experience here, but while there's a lot of authentic history, it feels a bit contrived. Even though most of it is original, there's a Disneyesque feel that turns me off. I'm glad we didn't pay for more than the shuttle.

Thursday we venture further to the Jamestown and Yorktown areas, which turn out to be a much, much better experience for us. Still lots of history, but a lot more nature at our own pace, without the structure.

We bypass the Jamestown settlement to drive the peninsula and are greeted by this slight doe.

Much of Jamestown Island is marsh land. It's beautiful, even under hot and cloudy skies.

Board-drives keep us off the fragile environment.

On the one-way loop drive are turn-outs with signs explaining the history of each location. 
At Yorktown we watch a great film on the battle and siege that marked the end of the American Revolutionary War. I'm sure we learned about this significant battle in school (from Bill's dad, our history teacher!), but of course we don't remember the details. Unlike so many battles where the two sides lined up and shot at each other across a field, the siege lines were a big part of the eventual victory.

It's fascinating to see the actual trenches hand-dug by both British and American soldiers surrounding Yorktown.
Using the driving tour map, we spend a couple hours where George Washington's militia along with French troops, surrounded Cornwallis' army at Yorktown for nearly a month. It was at this same time of year in 1781, and hard to imagine that after marching on foot for over 450 miles, these men fought back the British who defended the town from a 2,000 foot trench (the redoubts). Once they captured Redoubt 9 and 10, the Americans dug trenches of their own, each one getting their cannons closer to the walls where the British waited for their fleet that never came. 

At this home of Augustine Moore, Washington and Cornwallis sent two officers each to negotiate the surrender of the British army on October 18, 1781. Wow! this very house!

A few teenagers hanging out in the back yard.

Healthy and handsome.
Thick forests hid the approaching army, but provided challenges as well.

Beautiful signage identifies significant locations.

Wonderful to have all this natural beauty surrounding the history.

About the only fall color we've seen.

Neon splashes among the bare trees.

Tessa stands where George Washington set up his headquarters during the month-long siege of Yorktown. She's very impressed.

Canopy silhouette.


Archeologists have identified the locations of key encampments from the battlefield.

Some of the old growth forests feel like the giant redwoods in California.
We get home just in front of Michael's wet and windy arrival. The area has been under tornado warning most of the day so we keep our weather alert on throughout the evening. Eventually we bring in the large slide as the winds reach nearly 30 mph with higher gusts. Lots of rain.

It clears out by 10 pm and we sleep great with cooler temps. Friday morning is beautiful. The storm took the high temps and humidity and left behind the nicest day we've had in weeks. 

Celebrating with zoomies.

Lots of room to run. The ground is much wetter than it looks.

The hundreds of abandoned hookups look like an old cemetery.
All that fun is exhausting.
I forgot to share these amazing flowers that were at a restaurant in Stafford, Virginia. They're from San Salvador and look like velvet.

The day's cooler temps encourages us to stay our course to the Southeast. We've seriously considered just turning west and getting out of the heat and humidity. But the reality is that it will be snowing by the time we get to cooler places, and the weather will then be much better here!

Fortunately we find not only a little better weather, but a unique and wonderful world on the Outer Banks.


  1. You guys deserve an award for sticking with the heat and humidity. Love Tessa's "comfy" pose!

    1. Every time we're ready to throw in the towel we get a beautiful day :-)

  2. What beautiful pictures! I love the history of our country. To see the trenches that were dug by the British has to be amazing.

    1. It really is amazing to see and be where history happened!

  3. Sad to see, and worse to stay in, a run down RV park. Shuttle seems like a good deal depending on parking. Love the idea of board-drives and that dense forest is amazing. Glad the weather has improved.

    1. That park is in a prime location with three pools and so much room. It looks like the owner is trying to get Chinese investors to build a hotel instead. Sad.

  4. We've been to Williamsburg several times and have loved it. There seems to always be something new to see. I also loved the RV site in the middle of the grass. It's much better than squeezing in between two close rigs.

    1. I think we would have enjoyed it a lot more if the weather were better. Next time maybe we'll do a Spring visit.

  5. The marshes and fall colors that you photographed are beautiful! I don't believe I've ever seen a boardwalk for driving on—I had to look twice at the photo! I'm glad the weather has shifted and that you're going to continue on with your plans for the southeast. I think you'll enjoy it. :-)

    1. It was weird to drive on that board-road! A great idea but it felt more fragile than it is. We've had two cooler days in a row so fingers crossed!

  6. I've never been to Williamsburg except for a brief look. It always had that Disney feeling to me, as well. You three really are really tough to continue touring with the heat and humidity. And the further south you go, the worst it gets. So glad Michael blew it out and you got some much needed coolness. Tessa looks like most women in the humidity with drooping hair. Good to see her zooming around enjoying the cool air. Too bad she can't get comfortable...haha!

    1. I'm so glad we're getting a reprieve in south Carolina and now Georgia. Fingers crossed we have passed the worst of it - but there's still Florida and Alabama! Tessa rolls with the weather better than we do.

  7. Could you imagine having to wear all those layers as the woman in front of the building?! No thanks! Glad you were able to find some 'nature' after all of the 'city' you've been to lately. Tessa sure is happy to be in a grass field :-))

    1. And the heavy uniforms they marched in!! Being there the same time of year, I can't imagine how they did it.

  8. I'd say an OK park with few people and great prices is a win in the Williamsburg area. You really have not been in the mid atlantic at the right time of year to enjoy its history. Doing Williamsburg is like Disneyland in the sense that it takes several days to get into it and absorb the massive amounts of history and historical minutia of a living history museum. You're the only person I think who said they liked Jamestown and Yorktown better. Try again in the spring of the year. So much fun to get into it and "pretend". We used to come for 2 or 3 days and dress up when Carrie was a little girl and into that stuff and she'd skip down the street behind the fife and drum corps in her bonnet and long dress. She's in a lot of people's old home movies. Wonderful memories, thanks!

    1. And if it really has turned Disneyesque rather than serious history, I guess I'd better go back and see for myself.

    2. It was hard for me to see the history around all the tourists in shorts and tank tops. I was amazed at the roped lines in the visitors' center, like rides at an amusement park. But I would love to take the grands there when it's cooler and hope for an authentic experience. And I LOVE Disneyland. I think I expected more like Deerfield, MA, which was wonderful. Of course it was cool and dry with lots of fall colors so that could have influenced the comparison.