Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hampton, VA

0 nm
Wind: calm

I'm missing a couple of posts here, that I left back at the boat, but suffice it to say we did it. We're in Virginia, in a little town called Hampton right across from Norfolk, all set to start the actual Intracoastal Waterway tomorrow. I'm exhilarated, thrilled--words cannot describe. It felt like it was never going to happen, and it has.

I know, I know, we're still about two months late. November 1 is the official "safe" hurricane date when you can leave Norfolk and head south. Instead, we're here on December 13, all of twelve days before Christmas. At the grocery store today, the shelves were full of holiday nuts and gingerbread and eggnog, hams and turkeys were on sale, Christmas carols were on the speakers. It was bizarre. To be out sailing, so close to Christmas. For us it'll probably be no more than another freezing day at anchor with (hopefully) a little tiny turkey in the oven.

My parents live in Tennessee, so I'm hoping to be able to hook up with them one way or another somehow soon after Christmas. I'm hoping (although don't tell Karl) that we can leave the boat somewhere and even go visit them for a couple of days. Home--where I can take as many hot showers as I want and build fires in the fireplace and have heat!! It would be heavenly. But as of now, that's just a dream.

Hampton is a very interesting town, the home of Hampton University, the famous African-American institude founded by Booker T. Washington. At least that's what I've been able to gather from various historical plaques during our grocery-laden walk back to the dinghy. We're anchored right in front of it and it's a beautiful campus with clock towers and brick and ivy.

The town is making both of us rethink some of our prejudices, and is also making us more firmly aware that we're in the south. For one thing, we're in a definite minority. It makes me feel fairly awful that I'm so thrown off-guard by being one of the handful of white people in this gorgeous three-story town library with fantastic internet and hours until nine PM.

I guess it's good to be made aware of one's own racism--that's the only way one can fight it--but it also makes me sick to my stomach. How is it that I can have that much prejudice? It also makes me understand how unbelievably hard it must be to be a minority in any culture. I feel completely out of place, and while that may have to do with lugging around a backpack full of groceries, I think it has more to do with the color of my skin.

Still, I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm thrilled to have found wireless and groceries and to be in Norfolk, more or less. The best part is: we caught up with Marcel and Lise again! They had us over last night, wined and dined us yet again (this time with steak and macaroni and cheese!) and even let us use their marina showers. I'm in awe of their hospitality, and wish they would ever let us repay them. Instead, they ran off for Norfolk today, and we were supposed to go with them, but got distracted by our town duties. I hope they dawdle a little bit so we can catch up. They would be a fantastic pair to celebrate Christmas with.

So we're heading out again tomorrow, if we can find charts for the Dismal Swamp Canal. I've posted some pictures below up through the beginning of December. I've labeled them "pictures" so they should be easy to identify, but I'll start working on a Flickr account. Must keep up with the times, after all!


Anonymous said...

Hey there guys,
so J.P. and I were just scanning through your blog and happened on the "bit" about racism? Had no idea...J.P. says welcome to my world and you should make sure to use your "sheet's" to stay warm at night!! Not to dress up in them! He's kidding mind you but it's something to catch yourself when you really didn't have any idea isn't it!! Imagine how my hubby must feel being in AROOSTOOK COUNTY!!!! Now that's a bag in and of itself. Hope that you guys are having a blasted time and don't worry too much about the hot showers and the warmth at least your having an experience only few people can ever have and you'll have many warm showers later on, with all the memories..Merry Christmas to both of you and we love you and will be thinking about you christmas eve while we are feasting on shrimp cocktails and singing christmas songs around our tree!! As if...but you see where I"m going..LOVE YOU GUYS>>
have a good trip down the canal!
Leah and JON-PAUL

ebbtide 33 said...

Enjoy the Swamp!! We loved it- and we'll be thinking of you guys all the way down. New Bern or better yet, Beaufort, might be nice Xmas stops. You could probably find nice folks to watch the boat too if you needed to find a way to TN. Congrats on your 40-mile day, too!

-ellen and john

Melissa said...

Hey, Leah, we try. Karl was threatening to pull out the sheets the other day, but I made him put them back on the bed.

The Dismal Swamp was pretty amazing, though--it's where all these runaway slaves hid out before the Civil War. There's some pretty crazy history around here, slave rebellions and massacres and craziness. The South's great, but it does have an awful history.

Ellen and John--glad you guys are still following along!! I'm doing my best to twist Karl's arm so we can end up in Marathon. He wants to head over to the Bahamas from Miami, but I want to come meet you two!