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Monday, November 1, 2010
Quiet on the river
Sunday night, October 31, I took a boat ride on the river in my standard summer uniform of shorts and tee shirt. I was a little cool coming back up river at just under thirty miles per hour, but when I was idling around waiting for the sun to get behind the trees, I was fine.
While it warmed up nicely the next day, it was still somewhat cooler than Halloween evening. I spent most of the day after Halloween catching up with things after our recent trip to Virginia. Each time I come back from Northern Virginia, I am reminded that I made a conscious choice to live somewhere that traffic does not come close to gridlock on a regular basis.
We were at Tyson's Corner Shopping Center on Friday afternoon before Halloween. My wife wanted to drive by the apartment that I shared with our grown children for a couple of years. It is just north of Tyson's Corner on Route 123 which seems to have grown to about twelve lanes. It was about 4 PM when we drove by our old spot, and it was clear than the southbound lanes of Route 123 were not moving. I remembered a back way over to the Toll Road so we escaped unharmed though we did have to get off of the Toll Road an exit early because of everyone rubber necking an accident.
We hung around the Northern Virginia area until about 2 PM on Saturday and then headed back to North Carolina. It wasn't long before we were in stop and go traffic on Interstate 95 for about 20 minutes just north of Fredericksburg, but that was our only hitch on the trip home. We stopped for breaks a couple of times and once for gas. Even with that, we passed through the intersection of Routes 24 and 58 near the Emerald Isle Bridge at 8:10 PM, just a few minutes over six hours after we left Reston, Va.
While we love visiting our children in Northern Virginia, we have no desire to live in a spot where you avoid going out on weekends for fear of traffic. While we might skip visiting the grocery stores here on the Crystal Coast for a few hours on each of about six or seven weekends during the summer, most of the time we go wherever we want, whenever we decide that we need to go.
I had also forgotten how small the parking spaces are in Northern Virginia. Here on the Southern Outer Banks our parking is designed for big trucks, and we even make accommodation for those pulling boats.
Of course if you need to buy something, there is hardly any place better than Northern Virginia. The malls in the area have almost any store known to mankind. Actually the women have heard of almost all the stores, and like most men, I am clueless about most of them. I did enjoy LL Beans, Levengers, and of course the Apple Store. I was amazed but not surprised that the Apple Store has done away with cash registers. The employees have a gadget that swipes your credit card, and then they can email your receipt to your smart phone.
Besides shopping, Northern Virginia has some very nice restaurants. We managed to eat at Sweet Water Grille, Coastal Flats, and Chicken Out which was one of the places I would often run by after work when I was working out of the Reston, Virginia Apple office. I also got to make a trip to Whole Foods which is my favorite grocery store. Where else can you find an ostrich egg when you need one?
Every place has its pluses and minuses, but at this stage in our lives, the Southern Outer Banks is the right spot for us. Being able to drop a boat in the water for a sunset cruise and be back at the house in ten or fifteen minutes is not that unusual here on the coast. It is a great way to soothe your soul, and I use it often.
A just-before-dusk trip on the water is how I got the picture in this post. The evening after Halloween I had to wear blue jeans and take a jacket, but it was still nice out on the water. In fact it was even more peaceful than it was the previous night. Of course the light is always a little different, and I got some great photos.
The feeling of peace and quiet that you get on an uncrowded. wide coastal river at sunset is hard to duplicate when you get near major populations centers. Access to water is one of the main reasons that we are here on the Southern Outer Banks. Of course a climate favorable taking boat rides in November is pretty good reason in its own right.
Boat gridlock is also not something we worry about on the White Oak River or out in Bogue Inlet. And we have some mighty fine small, family owned restaurants just around the corner even if they are mostly local secrets.