The Great Figure )

Younger son got his retainer this morning, much to his chagrin -- a few weeks with no braces and he was really enjoying having his mouth all to himself. Ultimately he will need braces on the lower teeth, too, poor guy. I dragged older son out with us so I could go buy them both new shoes after the orthodontist...younger son now wears a size bigger than I do in Merrells, which we both love, while older son is rapidly catching up to [ profile] apaulled. And their shoes are getting expensive...eep!

In the afternoon my father took the kids to the pool, since my mother is visiting my sister for several days (my sister, having tired of trying to get the family together for my mother's birthday, is taking my mother to Canyon Ranch later in the summer a long with a bunch of her equally wealthy friends and their mothers, so my sister has probably won the Good Daughter award for the year, as I can't hope to compete on that playing field). I am only halfway done with our eight laundries, so that is Saturday morning's project! I did watch the Stargate: Atlantis season finale, but having missed parts of this season and all of the last, I am in no position to say anything intelligent about it, other than I think I like Elizabeth better than anyone else I know.

[ profile] fridayfiver: The Sun Goes Down Alone )
[ profile] thefridayfive: Changing Formats )
[ profile] fannish5: Bad Remakes )
[ profile] hp_fridayfive: Theories and More )

Jamestown Reenactment )

I was distressed to read that according to The New York Daily News, Boston Legal is replacing nearly half its regular cast. Casting spoilers! ) At least Shatner, Spader and Bergen are staying!
High Hopes )

To my great regret, we left Virginia Beach on Thursday morning, though we had a very nice just would have been nicer if it ended with more beach. We spent the summer solstice celebrating America's 400th birthday at Historic Jamestowne, site of the original city that's now a national park, and the Jamestown Settlement recreation. Both are terrific and a person could spend an entire day at either one. We went to the excavation sites first at Old Towne, where new walls have been put up around the perimeter discovered under the soil and the living areas are still being explored. The park has a terrific film-in-the-round and indoor exhibit with some of the findings from the site, too. Plus it's right on the river, with statues of Captain Smith and Pocahontas overlooking the rebuilt church and the water respectively, which makes it a gorgeous place to have lunch.

After a brief stop at the Jamestown Glasshouse, a recreation glassworks a few yards from the original first English industrial venture in the New World which has been partially excavated, we went to the settlement living history museum, which is run by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is not inexpensive but is well worth it. There are recreations of the fort, nearby Powhatan village and riverfront where replicas of the Susan Constant, Discovery and Godspeed can all be boarded. Guides dressed as original settlers and Native Americans talk about everything from how corn and tobacco were harvested to how weapons were made. Inside the museum buildings are dozens of artifacts from the settlement itself and from England and Africa before people arrived in the New World. Lots of the exhibits are hands-on for kids, from the ships' tillers to celestial navigation to putting together a Virginia assembly. There were chickens in the fort and turtles and frogs in the nearby wetlands.

The Settlers' Ships )

We had a mostly easy drive with great views of the naval ships near Norfolk and herons in the rivers, at least until we hit post-rush hour traffic coming around near Tysons Corner and the local Beltway was horrible! But we made it and now I have about ninety laundries to do. Fortunately I have salt water taffy to console myself!
I Come From There )

It was raining by the time we finished breakfast, so we left early for The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, and it was a good thing we did because we spent more than four hours there. This is a fantastic museum with huge galleries devoted to the history of boating on the Chesapeake Bay, the Age of Exploration and the development of the steamship, plus model tall ships and nautical art, but the major attractions are Civil War-era -- in particular, the turret of the USS Monitor, most of the rest of which is still sunk off the Outer Banks where the ship went down.

It's hard to pick an exact date for the start of the Age of Fighting Sail, but easy to name the end: March 9, 1862, when the Monitor met the CSS Virginia and it became obvious that even the most advanced wooden ships didn't stand much of a chance against a steam-powered ironclad ship. The Mariners' Museum has several galleries devoted to this event, since it's local history and pieces of both ships are in the collection; there's a slide-show-in-the-round about the battle (narrated by Salome Jens of Deep Space Nine), a multi-screen movie about the sinking of the Monitor in a winter storm and a short film about the discovery of the ship and raising of the turret. Then there is a scale model of the ship, several galleries where people can attempt to maneuver the frigate on a computer, see the inside of the ship during the Battle of Hampton Roads and walk through a replica of the turret as it looked when brought up from the bottom of the sea. The original turret is in a conservation facility visible through windows, kind of like where the Mary Rose is being preserved in Portsmouth, UK.

As if that weren't enough, the museum has a temporary exhibit on "The Nelson Touch" first opened for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The gallery is organized around Nelson's actions at the battles of Cape St. Vincent, Copenhagen, the Nile and Trafalgar and how they entered the popular imagination as well as how they affected military strategy (I did not know until today that "turn a blind eye" came from Nelson's refusal to see the signal to withdraw being sent by his admiral, but this exhibit had little 19th century action figures and book illustrations of the incident). The museum also has many of the features of other domestic maritime museums, from knot-tying practice to seafood harvesting equipment to USS Constitution memorabilia to the rise of naval aviation (particularly important in this region). We had lunch there but didn't even begin to explore the surrounding marshes and hiking trails, nor did we spend a proper amount of time in the small craft center, scientific collections, art galleries or model ship rooms.

Mariners' Museum )

In the late afternoon we went back to Virginia Beach, but it was still overcast and the kids' legs were stinging from a combination of goosebumps, salt water, sunblock and chlorine from the pool, so after a bit of wave-jumping and digging for sandcrabs (we saw a great many and I found a shark's tooth, too), we got dressed and walked more than ten blocks trying to decide what we wanted for dinner, only to opt for going back to the hotel and finishing the sandwich meats and hummus we had brought for lunches and hadn't finished. Then we went out for ice cream as all the local musical acts were taking up their positions on street corners and walked briefly on the beach. I am very sorry to be leaving but younger son has an orthodontist appointment at the end of the week so there's no help for it! Have a wonderful Litha/Midsummer/Solstice!
Workout )

Any day that is spent entirely within a mile of the shore is a good day in my book. We got up very early Tuesday because our room faces east and the ocean, so the sunrise over the Atlantic sent light even through the heavy curtain. Looking out the window, we saw dolphins jumping just offshore! They appeared sporadically throughout the early morning and while we ate at the hotel breakfast buffet, though by the time we went out to swim, they had swum off. There were pelicans diving to grab fish and the usual gulls and crabs.

Younger son got a bodyboard on Monday evening, and Tuesday morning we tried it out. By Tuesday at lunchtime we had decided we each needed one, and we took them into the water in the late afternoon. Why in all the years I have been going to the beach did I never try one of these before? The waves were somewhat larger late Tuesday and there cannot possibly be a more relaxing way to enjoy them than floating over them on a board without even having to tread water. I love swimming in the ocean, but sometimes I just want to lounge and surf in without effort, and these are fabulous -- [ profile] apaulled got one with a pirate skull, while mine has a pink lizard and flowers, hee.

In between these beach visits we went to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which we knew had an extensive salt marsh and local wildlife pavilion but we did not know had visiting African penguins. We arrived to see an enormous inflatable penguin out front and went in to discover that, while a big section of the aquarium is undergoing renovations that have required moving the permanent ray tank, there was a new exhibit with six penguins and all sorts of activities about their food, eggs and habitat. There was some thunder while we walked on the trail through the salt marsh, looking at crabs, birds and turtles, and we were afraid the weather would turn but it had cleared completely by the time we left.

Virginia Beach Wildlife )

In the evening we went to George’s Breakfast & Seafood Buffet, where I ate far, far too much salmon, crab, stuffed flounder and shrimp plus dessert. Our original plan had been to go to a free production of The Tempest at the historic Coast Guard station on the beach, but the kids had been so late getting off the beach that it was already well underway by the time we got there, so we watched a bit (nice costumes, good Prospero, some overacting from what I saw of Miranda and Ariel), then walked back to our hotel up the beach. Haven't seen any ghost crabs; I don't know if it hasn't been dark enough or if they need bigger dunes than Virginia Beach provides.
Optimism )

I have had a very lovely waterside Monday, as we drove from home to Virginia Beach via a couple of stops elsewhere in Virginia, like lunch at a parkside rest area and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Lighthouse Museum. The latter was particularly enjoyable -- it's on the site of the oldest naval shipyard in the US, building ships for the Union during the Revolution and the Confederates during the Civil War, and now the museum houses models, artifacts and a large scale model of the shipyard from more than 200 years ago.

Then we continued on to Virginia Beach, where we checked into the hotel -- our suite is on the sixth floor overlooking the ocean -- put on our bathing suits and went down to the water. It was over 95 degrees and the ocean felt fantastic; this is a very clean fine-sand beach with a layer of sharp pebbles and shells a few feet offshore, and today the breakers were only about 6-10 feet high. I found my first mole crab of the season, a great big one more than an inch long, within moments of first sticking my hand in the sand. After a couple of hours of swimming, building sand castles and picking through shells, we went to the hotel pool and superlative hot tub, then came upstairs for dinner.

We took a walk in the evening on the strip across the street from the hotels, which is a typical Atlantic beach shopping area (ice cream, salt water taffy, hermit crabs, tie-dyes, shovels, surfboards, shell jewelry and dozens of silly pirate souvenirs) along with a historic coast guard station and naval aviation monument (there were military jets flying overhead occasionally). Beach clothing is some of my favorite, and I bought a tie-dye sweatshirt and an Indian cotton dress for absurd sale prices while we ate soft serve ice cream. While waiting for the boys to get ready for bed, I watched the William and Harry interview, which was interesting; I have almost no interest in the British royals, but having been in England several times since Diana's death, reading about them was almost unavoidable!

Virginia Ships )

Poor Pluto. Not only has it been relegated to dwarf planet, but now astronomers are saying that Eris (formerly Xena) is bigger!
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