Tuesday, 26 June 2007

"They go up diddly up. They go down diddly own down..." 299 Miles

I forgot to mention a couple of days ago I crossed the final time zone, so I am now on Eastern Time (five hours behind the UK). I only noticed when the clock on my mobile reset itself automatically and I was wondering why everything seemed to shut even earlier than I had become used to.

Decided to get off the beaten track a little and go the long and scenic way round.

One thing I have noticed about cheap(ish) motels is their lack of soundproofing. It's the plumbing that makes the most noise. A flush here, a shower there, a morning ablute. It is deafening.

A party of Wild Hogs: middle aged biker boys from Tennessee I had met the previous evening were up early and cleaning themselves ready for the off. ("We don't mind who the next President is as long as its not Hilary Clinton")

Just as I was drifting off to sleep after this Niagara of cleansing, my British mobile rang with someone trying to sell me something. "Is this a good time?" "Well, I know you have a job to do, but as it is 0600 here in the U.S I would suggest...er...NO!"

If you noticed the reference to "the final approach to New York" in my previous entry you would think that sounded like an aviation term and you would be right. Now read on....

I headed out east to the coast. Washington being on the Tar River and part of the Pamlico Basin is I suppose strictly the Atlantic. However, to me I am not there until my feet are in the water.

I took the 92 then the 264 to Belhaven where I stopped for breakfast in a small town cafe. The woman liked my accent and added by way of background: "I am half Italian but I don't speak it". Then headed out to Nags Head followed by my first port of call "Kill Devil Hills".

If this doesn't ring a bell, 6 miles further north is the small settlement of Kitty Hawk. It gets the credit for being the site of the first powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903. However, the actual spot was on the large dunes of the Kill Devil Hills.

As you would expect there is a museum. In fact there are two on the same site, both of which have much the same in the way of exhibits....replicas of the glider and the powered aeroplane.

I think the dummy that is either Wilbur or Orville is actually marginally better dressed in the original museum. Certainly there is no wear on his boots. Lets face it, they spent far more time on the ground than in the air; those shoes should have got at least slightly scuffed, particularly in the early years, as they were in lodgings and had to walk 4 miles to the site and 4 miles back everyday. Fed up with this, they built a couple of sheds one for the plane and one for them.

Not entirely sure why there are two exhibitions. I think the second was put up 4 yrs ago to mark the centenary.

There is an imposing monument on top of the hill as well as a series of stone markers that effectively pace out the first four "hops". Kitty Hawk in 1903 was the middle of nowhere. It was chosen for its high winds and soft sand (makes sense if you are expecting to crash a lot). As you can imagine it is now a mass of motels beach front houses and restaurants. Competition is fierce. The advertising is equally to the point: "Don't suffer from entree envy eat here", "Pancakes and so forth", "Bobs Grill - eat here and get the hell out".

I was travelling along a glorified sand bar with the Pamlico then the Albermarle Sounds on my left and the Atlantic to my right. The road then heads inland to Chesapeake in Virginia. At this point to head along the eastern shore you are relieved of $12 to cross the 18 miles of the Chesapeake bridge and tunnel. It is impressive as you skim the water on a low roadway that hops from island to island, every so often plunging beneath the waves in a series of tunnels.

Being on the coast the "all you can eat" meat platters have been replaced by Surf and Turf and a lot of shellfish. In fact, I have just returned from a bar and grill called "The Trawler" here in Exmore after shovelling several types of shrimp, scallop and crab into my gaping maw. A side order of krill and I would be in danger of being harpooned by the Japanese for "research purposes".

Judging by the incredible watery slooshing noises from the room next door, I think an oriental research vessel may have just attempted to capture a fellow guest. Either that or he is having a shower.



Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

There she blows cap'n! :)

Your thin wall experiences, remind of a time I went to stay at Butlins for a week but left after the first night.....

Let's hope that the US don't have a rule about gaining weight while on holiday there: any increase having to be surgically removed at the Airport before they let you fly out.... ;)

Keep smilin'


The Tour Director said...

And thus it all becomes clear! Upon reading, one cannot help but wonder whether the nation's favourite night owl may have expanded sideways to resemble a whale...

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex
I have a lot of "open cockpit" time in my logbook, but that thing looks a bit flimsy to me. Don't risk it is my advice.

Les Batt

awells519247 said...

You should have travelled through Pensylvania to see the Amish communities. They must be fascinating, although I expect a few beers would be hard to find!!!

judithollows said...

The Radio 2 webcams seem to have been out of commission for a few days. 'Yours' is back in working order - showing a dark and empty studio - Nemone is the invisible Dark Lady? Looking forward to next week to seeing on the webcam all your trophies. What has happened to the inflatable you? Squished to make room on your pony for stuff?

copter doctor said...

Hi Ace,
Enjoy the open-topped motoring and any sunshine you can avail yourself of. Home here it has done nothing but rain. Heavily. Every day. Sheffield sank, and most of Yorkshire too it seems. Doubt this revelation made it to your TV news>

Not long now, sadly; I'm going to miss this travelogue update over my early am coffee, Safe flight over the oggin