Friday, June 29, 2018

Kiptopeke–Week 4

Moss growing on the concrete ships

Camp Hosts Tom & Casey

I can’t believe our first month is over all ready!  Our time here is passing quickly, and now that school is out in Virginia, the pace is definitely picking up!  The campground doesn’t get as empty during the week now, and we’re pretty much fully booked every weekend. 

So far, we’ve been pretty impressed with our campers – we rarely find trash left behind on the sites or in the firepits, and everybody has been really good about checking out on time at 1pm.

That makes our job really easy! So easy, in fact, that Tom has been helping out in maintenance on the days that I work, in order to keep busy.

We also had a project here at home to take care of this week.  We’ve been having trouble with the 50 amp breaker in our pedestal tripping, even without excessive load on it.  I only ever run two A/Cs at one time, stagger the use of the washer and dryer, and always keep an eye on the number of amps being drawn on each leg.  Tom also noticed that both the breaker, and the plug on our cord have been extremely hot lately.

Looks pretty bad

We had actually picked up a replacement 50 am plug end for our cord back in the fall, in anticipation of having to change it, but just haven’t needed to do it until now. 

We looked at the plug again, and it definitely looked ready to be replaced!  Its time had come!

New plug

We watched a couple of You Tube videos on changing the plug, and they made it look very simple – a 5-10 minute job!  We weren’t quite that quick, but we were done in less than an hour with no issues!

Prepping the cord for the new plugAfter cutting off the old plug, we cut the 4 wires to the defined lengths and stripped off 3/4” of insulation form each one.  Then we removed the cap from the new plug and attached each of the prongs to the appropriate wire.

Attaching the prongs of the new plug

We got them installed into the cap – this was probably the trickiest part and took the most time – and installed the cover.

Installed, and ready for the cap

All done!!

All done!

Then the moment of truth – we plugged it in . . . and it worked!


It works!

We monitored it for a day, and the cord and plug no longer got hot . . . but the breaker still was, and our progressive EMS shut us down the next morning.  So Tom talked to the maintenance ranger, and he gave Tom a new 50 amp breaker to install in our pedestal.

I didn’t get any pictures during that process because I was too afraid he was going to touch something he shouldn’t and end up  propelling himself across the site!  He didn’t though, and now everything seems to be working great!

Smile   Smile

We had a few cooler days last weekend, and that was a welcome relief!  We were able to do a little bike riding and have a couple campfires in the evening.  The stormy skies made for some interesting photos, too.

Depends on which direction you look

Stormy night June 22nd

Even a rainbow!


One night after the storms had passed, we had an unusually high “high tide” – the dock along the boat launch channel was completely under water!

June 24th

We didn’t do a lot of sightseeing this week . . . just hanging out at the campground, taking to fellow campers.  We had a couple of really nice neighbors recently – one couple were fairly recent fulltimers, originally from Marietta, Georgia.  We spent quite a bit of time visiting with them and comparing notes on places to go, and things to see.  When they left, a family from the Shenandoah Valley moved in with their motorhome and fishing boat.  They were very nice, and did lots of fishing!  They very graciously shared some of their catch with us, as well as some tomatoes from their garden and some homemade sausage!  I took advantage of the cooler temps and did some baking – banana bread and blueberry muffins – which we shared with them in return.

You meet the nicest people in campgrounds!

Rather than crossing the bridge-tunnel to do our shopping this week, we decided to take a drive up to the Walmart in Onley, about 30 miles north of us.  On the way there, I spotted a little quilt shop and just had to stop!!

Quilt Shop

Luckily, there was a TruValue Hardware Store next door, so Tom had somewhere to go while I looked around.  It was a nice little shop – I didn’t buy any fabric, but I did find some pearl cotton and embroidery floss in colors I needed for my wool applique projects I’m working on, so that was a good find.

The wonderful temperatures didn’t last too long, though . . . soon we were back in the 90s with heat index over 100 degrees!  Whew – hot and humid!

The interpretive ranger at the park does several programs for kids in the park – one of them is a fishing and crabbing program.  We went down to watch one evening to see if we could pick up and tidbits of information!

He caught 2 crabs!

People have been saying that the crabs are really late this year, and nobody has been catching any . . . but this little guy caught two in his crab basket on the first try! 

He was very excited, and even held the crab to throw it back in the water once Ranger Stan picked it up for him.

These two guys showed up with two nice-sized Cobia . . . Tom was drooling over them, but they didn’t share!

What a catch!

With the warmer temperatures, we were back to beautiful sunsets!  I never get tired of them, and love watching the progression of the sun over the horizon!

First view – over the concrete ships

Sunset June 23rd

Sunset June 23rd

First view of sunset

2nd view – at the beach

Sunset June 23rd

Sun setting over the Bay June 23rd

Getting closer to the water

Sun sinking into the horizon

June 23rd

And the day is done . . .

Sunset June 23rd

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kiptopeke–Week 3

June 14th approaching sunset

Back on our own, we’ve been keeping busy around the campground.  We had some lower temperature & lower humidity days, so we were able to turn the A/C off for a while and open the windows.  I even spent one afternoon at the beach – catching up on some reading and trying to get some of my Florida tan back!

Dune flowers

Calm evening on the Bay

Path to the beach

In addition to keeping up with the tent sites (which are pretty empty during the week), we’ve made it a daily ritual to ride bikes or the golf cart (if Casey comes with us) down to the beach and fishing pier in the evening to watch the sunset over the Chesapeake Bay. 

Tom likes to hang out at the pier to see if any fishermen have extra fish they don’t want!


We’ve had some pretty amazing sunsets – and several days this week did not disappoint!

June 14th Sunset over the concrete ships

Reflection on the water

The Concrete Fleet – a great backdrop for the nightly sunset view!

The Concrete Fleet, also known as the Kiptopeke Breakwater, consists of several concrete ships lined end to end just west of the former Chesapeake Bay ferry terminal. The crumbling hulks consist of 9 of the 24 concrete ships contracted by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. In 1948 the ships were brought to Kiptopeke Beach in order to bring protection to the terminal during severe weather. Once arranged, their bilge-cocks were opened to bring on water and they were left to settle on the bottom of the Bay.

The ferry was closed in 1964 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel opened but the breakwater still protects the pier and beach while providing a home for coastal fish, shellfish, and birds. Since being scuttled in the bay the rusty bones of these ships have been exposed to half a century of weather creating an incredible show of decay. Certain sections of the wrecks offer holes large enough for a small boat to pass through where one can see the interior structure of these vessels up close.

Once the sun dips behind the ships, we move over to the beach where we have a new view as the sun finishes its descent into the horizon over the bay.

June 14th

I never get tired of the beautiful sunsets, and there’s always something new to see, too.  One night it was dolphins, and another night we saw a sting ray.  There are always seagulls and pelicans flying around,

Two flocks of pelicans

and in addition to all the cargo ships waiting their turn to enter Hampton Roads, we often see interesting Navy ships.  Fishermen, too,

June 15th Fishermen on the Bay

and sometimes kayaks, like the sunset kayak group that was out on the bay last Friday.

Sunset Kayak

Yep, never gets old!

June 15th Still amazing!

June 15th Love this!

Our weather was predicted to take a turn toward the hot and oppressive on Sunday, so we decided to get out on the bikes on Saturday afternoon to check out the trails. 

There are about 5 miles of trails in the park,


and they are all classified as “Easy” and accessible for both hiking and biking.

Hiking Biking Trails

We started out from the picnic area on the Raptor Trail, planning on picking up the Songbird Trail and making a loop around the perimeter of the park.

The trails alternated between hard-packed sand two-track roads, grassy paths mowed through fields, and pine straw covered paths through the woods.

Riding the trails

The trails were fairly easy to follow, but we did take one wrong turn which put us on a trail through the woods that was pretty narrow and winding, with lots of tree roots to navigate around and branches fallen on the trail.

It did bring us to a couple of nice overlooks of the bay.

Overlooking the Bay


Once we got out of the woods and back on the wide open trail, we were doing pretty good again.  We found the Songbird Trail, which turned out to be a nice wide trail through tall pines, completely shaded, which was really nice!

We continued our ride, and came to Taylor’s Pond,

Taylor Pond

and the Native Plants Garden.

Taylor Pond

Native Plant Garden

We took a walk through the garden, and took some pictures of the blooming flowers.

Black-eyed Susans


Natural Awning

Enjoying some shade

We ended up at the trailhead at the entrance to the park,


and made our way back to the campground on the park road.  It was a nice afternoon for a ride, and we figure we rode about 4-5 miles.  Hopefully we’ll have some more cooler days when we can ride the trails again!

Later that evening, Nicolas came out for the weekend, to stay until Monday morning.  Yay!  WE love having him around . . . even if he does bring his laundry!

Happy Father's Day

Another beautiful sunset!

Sunset at the beach

June 16th Almost gone!

On Sunday, Nicolas took us out for a nice dinner for Father’s Day.  We had tried to eat at The Shanty the previous weekend, but the wait was too long, so this week we made a reservation.

The Shanty

The Shanty is located at the marina in Cape Charles,

Marina in Cape Charles

and it’s very popular with both tourists and boaters.  The food was good, and we had a nice time! 

Dinner at the Shanty

Thanks Nicolas!

Father's Day dinner with Nick

After dinner, we took a walk around Cape Charles, and I made Tom and Nick pose at the beach . . . they had a little photo-bomber!

Cape Charles Beach

Nicolas missed out on ice cream the previous weekend, so we took him back to the Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop – it’s really good!  YUM!

Yum - ice cream!

It looked like rain was moving in, so we made our way back to the campground after we had our ice cream!

Looks like rain is on the way!

On Monday, Nick helped Tom clean our the drain on one of our A/C units, and then we followed him to an exhaust shop in Portsmouth where he wanted to get some modification made to the exhaust on his truck.  After talking to the guy for over an hour, he ended up getting it done that afternoon!  He was a happy guy with the new manly sound to his truck!!

We had dinner back at his camper, and after visiting with the neighbors for a while, we made our way back to Kiptopeke.  It was a long day, but we had fun hanging out with Nick!  It was a great weekend!