Saturday, April 16, 2011

The City of Steel.

As we pulled out of the last lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal, it was pretty clear that we weren't in Kansas anymore.  The water quickly changed from the clean amber pure water in the canal to a dark murky industrial soup.  Norfolk Harbor is known as being on of the most polluted bodies of water in the US.  Thanks to years of abuse from our nations Navy, it will be years until the mud and banks of Norfolk are clean.  That having been said, Norfolk is still one of the most amazing places we have seen so far.  As we round the last bend leaving the canal, the pine trees seem to shrink as if they crouched with fear as the steal ships take over the landscape.  Moving along the channel, one quickly finds that it is extremely clear which way you are to go.  To the right and left of Blue we found patrol boats and signs.  The signs made the matter clear, a violation of the security barrier would result in the use of deadly force.  Well at least there is no confusion Anna joked.  The ships are truly amazing.  As we passed by an Aircraft Carrier we suddenly realized the intimidation factor of having one of these massive ships show up off a foreign shore.  It truly is the biggest stick on the block.  Anna took pictures of many of the ships from the bow and seemed to be attracting a bit of attention from the men on the ends of the dock.  I took a look in my Binoculars and saw that they were looking back at me.  What was a bit unnerving was the fact that all of them had machine guns over their shoulders.  I quickly called to Anna on the bow and suggested we be a bit more discreet with our photography.  I tell you it was a strange feeling having all those eyes peering down on you.  As we pulled into downtown Norfolk and tied up Blue, we were so excited to sit and watch a giant destroyer being lifted out of the water in a dry dock right across from us.  It would be hard to imagine the size of the operation with out having seen it first hand.  With Blue tied to the dock Anna and I sat down to discuss a very important issue that had arisen over the past few weeks.  As many of you know I have been giving a lot of thought toward what we would do when we return to Nantucket.  Well a short while ago I had been offered a job working at St Augustine Marine Center in Florida.  The opportunity offered to us was hard to ignore and we had arrived at a decision that we would be crazy not to jump on it.  With the prospect of needing to relocate to Florida a few short weeks after arriving back to Nantucket, we decided we should put the brakes on and leave Blue in Norfolk for a week and drive back to Florida to find a place to live.  Our drive back to St Augustine was filled with emotions.  We constantly struggled with our decision to leave our lives on Nantucket, we have made so many memories their.  Upon our arrival we put our thoughts behind us and started to explore.  After a few days we had found a place to live on Anastasia Island right outside of St Augustine and were beginning to feel much better about our decision.  On our trip back to Blue we sat in the car with 1000 yard stares, man we were tired.  We have our work cut out for is now.  We have a trip to finish and a new life to start.  Bring it on, nothing can be worse than the rough seas in Albermarle Sound.  After all that Anna and I have seen and done in the past year, I feel there is nothing we can't do once we put our minds to it.




A view as we pushed off on the last leg of the Swamp.



This place cracked me up.  The sign may be hard to read in this shot but this is the superintendent house on the Canal.  Looks like the Cobbler's shoe if you ask me.


What a thrill to see how far we have come. 


Until you see one of these ships, it is hard to grasp their size.  You can see the barrier in the water around the ship.  Makes you feel warm and fuzzy.  NOT!


I think this is about as close as anyone can get to a Nuclear Sub without being in the Navy.  Note the patrol boats keeping a watchful eye.








The View from the helm on the Battleship Wisconsin
 .

The door to the main control room on the Battleship.  18 inches of steal protect the main controls and communications.  During Battle the Captain and Helmsmen would be inside this room with the door shut. 


The Helm and Command center on the Bridge.


Look at those Guns.




They say the Guns could shoot a Volkswagen Beetle.  This shell had a range of over 20 miles.



You should enlarge this photo and check out these specs.  This ship is just amazing!



Anna joked that she wished she had this on board Blue, maybe then she could get some privacy.


The Battle Ship Wisconsin was only hit once off the shore of Korea.  At the time the Captain was so mad that someone had damaged his boat he ordered the boat to turn broadside and load all six of their guns.  In one shot all six guns fired on a mountain top where a single enemy gun had got it's million dollar shot.  When the dust cleared, the spotter reported that the enemy gun had been destroyed.  He added that the entire top of the mountain was now missing.  Moments later the Captain received a typed message from the a fellow Captain in the battle group.  It contained two words.       TEMPER TEMPER.

The Chrysler Art Museum is a free museum and a must see


The flower display inside the entry was a piece of art itself


The lighting and architecture of the building are amazing


The museum was filled with room after room of amazing sights.  Of the whole loop this really was the top art museum.



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