Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tank Museum

Josh and I took the opportunity to go to the American Armored Foundation tank museum in Danville on Run Day, which is when they have a couple of vehicles power up and drive around the display area. (One was an APC and the other was a self propelled gun, not true tanks, but we got the idea). Not as many WW2 tanks as I had hoped for, but they had a number of interesting things. Items of note:

  • PzKpfw IV
  • tiny Dingo II scout car
  • slightly larger Ferret scout car
  • M1917 Six Ton Special light tank
  • Honest John missile, presumably without the 20kt nuclear warhead
  • Mk 41 15cm Nebelwerfer (it werfs nebels!)
They also had a variety of uniforms, unit badges, posters, paintings, and other memorabilia. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tangier Island

Diana wanted to see Tangier Island, so we drove across the Bay Bridge Tunnel and up the Eastern Shore to Onancock, a tiny little village on the Bay. We took the ferry, which is a converted oyster boat, which makes one round trip a day, to the island. We passed quite a few osprey nests on the channel markers; once we were away from land, there were a few fish, plus passing boats and the occasional small island.
The island is pretty much as described in Wikipedia, There's a house which has been converted to a museum on the history of the island and some of the notable residents (or servicemen who signed up and left the island), The main thing is that in one day, you probably can't see absolutely everything; but you can easily walk around the island and see a representative sample of everything. For instance, you can visit one seafood restaurant rather than all of them--but "seafood" is the only kind of restaurant you'll find, except for Spanky's ice cream parlor. Take bug spray and sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes and spend a day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Great Dismal Swamp

Joshua, Diana and I went to the Great Dismal Swamp today. The auto tour road is closed on Sundays, so we walked a mile or so to the Underground Railroad Pavilion and back. ("Underground" is not the same as "underworld"). The Pavilion talks about the maroons ("escaped slave") and how they survived in the swamp--mainly by hunting, surreptitious trading with loggers, and stealing from local farms. 

There are bears and bobcats in the swamp, but we only saw dragonflies and butterflies.

We did, however, see a couple of pines which had been stripped of their bark for their whole height. We suspect that this was due to the Great Swamp Bear, a reclusive species of 40ft tall ursines. During the day, they stay submerged in Lake Drummond, with only their adorable black noses protruding above water. They feed on alligators, giant mutant catfish, and canoes ("crunchy on the outside, chewy in the center!"). In the evening, they slip from their aquatic refuge and roam the woods. They strop their claws on the pines, removing the bark and sometimes breaking the tree in half when they get caught up in some particularly contentious philosophical point, or when strands of fiberglass are stuck in their teeth.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Writer's Time

"The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book."
--Samuel Johnson

Friday, May 15, 2015


Several members of the Conversation Group -- Kathy, Sangjae, Eunhye and her husband Chowan, Gulcerin, and I--took a trip to the Fort Story lighthouse, and climbed to the top. Steep spiral stairs, then a ladder to get to the platform where the beacon was. After that we went to the First Landing Cross, the Seashore State Park on Shore Drive, and then the other end of Seashore off 64th Street, and on to the Broad Bay beach. Just hanging out, having a good time with friends.

First Strawberry

The strawberry plants froze at 15° this winter, then drowned this spring, but didn't seem bothered by it. That tulip-eating squirrel nearly got the first ripe strawberry this morning, but I armed for battle, drove off the foul beast, and rescued the treasure.

Friday, May 8, 2015


First day out with the kayak, as the weather this spring has cooler than usual. Just north of us, where the river widens out, there were a dozen or so little terns. Every now and again I'd hear a "plop!" and turn around to see one of them had just dived into the water nearby. One of them had claimed the top of one of the channel marker pilings, and another one was bringing her the minnows he caught. At the tip of the island on the other side of the river, a Canada goose has a nest. In the shallows a little farther along were some empty oyster shells, which I'm guessing were the work of an otter or something similar.