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The first week

bulletWednesday 8th November - at home
bulletThursday 9th November - Hampton
bulletFriday 10th November - Sailing
bulletSaturday 11th November - Norfolk and Virginia Beach

Wednesday 8th November

We woke to a dull morning for a change.    I did the washing and we sorted ourselves out.  Tracy had gone to work.    David and I watched the video of Jack that Jamie and Jayne sent for Tracy's birthday.   It was great to see the little fellow, right from last December up till September.   We hadn't seen him at a lot of the stages on the video.   We then watched with interest, the race for president.   What a joke this all turned out to be.    We couldn't believe the voting slip in Florida.  The whole election hung on Florida's vote and in one county, many of the older people were angry because their votes probably went to a 'non-runner' in Buchanan instead of to Gore to whom they wanted their votes to go.   The voting slip was a 'butterfly one', which we'd never seen before.    They were told to prick the dot to the right of the person they wanted to vote for.   Bush was first and  Gore second on the left hand side.   Meanwhile, Buchanan and others were on the left hand side with Buchanan at the top.   A lot of the older voters realised afterwards that they pricked the second spot thinking it was for Al Gore, but instead it was for Buchanan.   Talk about complicated.   Give me our system anytime, and also the merit of preferential voting really came to the fore in this election.  Give me good old Aussie voting!    We decided to go for a walk to nearby Buckroe Beach, passing some rather fantastic homes on the waterfront on our way.   On the way back we had a chat with a young girl who wanted to know where we were from.    Everyone is so interested as soon as they hear our accent and find out were not English.    We came back and I started typing some of this diary onto the computer.   Did an email to Leanne and everyone back at school as there were a few things she wanted to know and I wanted to rub it in.     It was so pretty looking at the sunset over the bay from Tracy's.  I cooked dinner (!) and we watched "Galaxy Quest" while we ate - a very funny movie.   I didn't think I would like it but laughed my head off.

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Thursday 9th November

Tracy went off to work and then we phoned when we were ready to venture into Hampton so she came back for us.  We dropped off Lisa's print for framing and then Tracy left us to get our bearings.   We visited the Visitor Centre for information and then set forth to cash travellers cheques at a bank nearby.    Well we thought we would.   What a fiasco.   We used travellers cheques all through Canada and we weren't knocked back anywhere.   However, the banks in Hampton would not change one for us - we tried three!   At the last one, I am afraid that it was too much for me and as I left I was heard to utter, "It's no wonder you can't choose a President - you can't even change travellers cheques!"   It was a bit mean and didn't do any good, but I felt better.    Feeling rather frustrated and also worried, as we didn't have much cash at all, we went over to the Air and Space Centre.   Without any hesitation, they changed one of our cheques and in we went.   This is a fantastic place where we spent about three hours wandering amongst the exhibits.  There are planes of all shapes and sizes hanging from the ceiling - a bit like a very small Smithsonian Space Museum.   A nice gent told us about the space capsule there.  An original one form one of the space shuttles.   David played a sort of 'virtual reality' video game and I'm sorry to report that he crashed his plane on landing.   We then had hot dogs for lunch in the middle of our tour around.   The old chap serving us would have cracked his face if he'd smiled.   He was a real old grump.  Southern hospitality? - I think not.  Then we watched "Solarmax" in the Imax Theatre there, before pushing buttons and creating space shuttles and all sort of things in the rest of the displays.   It was a great way to spend a day.   I couldn't believe it when I bought postcards and things to the value of $5.40 and the girl would change a $100 travellers cheque!  So much for banks!   They're no better over there than they are here.   After this we wandered over to where they have the ir Carousel housed in a special building.    This would have to be the most beautiful carousel in the whole world.   It used to be in a 'sideshow alley' at Buckroe Beach for many years.   When this carnival area closed down the city of Hampton asked if they could buy the carousel.   They painstakingly took it apart, took it back to its original colours and renovated it.    Families and businesses in the district donated money towards it and there are brass plaques in the beautifully shiny wooden floor of their carousel, commemorating their donations.    One said, "To Henry Parker who loved children".   I thought this was lovely.    The horses are in lovely soft golden colours, the floorboards gleam, the old original music is loud, but wonderful.   The lady turning on the carousel seemed to be having a ball and it was a great experience - all for fifty cents each.     We then walked along to the quay where there were lots of boats.  We saw the ferry that goes out to Norfolk and decided that was something we had to do at a later date.   We then walked to the Brass shop where we had a chat with two ladies who were very interested in Australia.  As I have said, most people are.     Tracy picked us up from the Visitors Centre and after she changed we went out to a shrimp 'feast' - all you can eat - at Bubba's Boat Restaurant in a place called Poquoson.   Tracy had a lot of trouble finding the place as she had only been to the area once before and that was also in the dark.   We met Robyn Taylor, a Colonel with whom Tracy works, and her husband Roy who is also a colonel in the Air Force.  We had great fun with them and stuffed ourselves with shrimps.   We could eat all we liked.    Robyn and Roy had invited us out sailing the next day so, after our meal, out we went to see their magnificent 44 foot yacht.   I wanted to go, but I was a bit unsure until I saw the size of that boat.   (I figured even I would be comfortable and safe on a boat that size).  It was a wonderful evening - in fact the whole day was great.


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Friday 10th November

All of us.jpg (95230 bytes)We drove to the wharf at Poquoson where we met Roy, at the yacht, in all its glory.   Robyn was still shopping for our lunch.   We had thought the night before that the yacht was big, but in the daylight it was magnificent!    It is 44 feet long and so beautifully equipped.   It's obviously Roy's baby, not to mention Robyn's.   They are both so proud of it and so they should be.    They bought it in June and sailed it up from Florida - it took them four weeks to bring it home.  We did the grand tour before setting sail.  It has a central 'cockpit' which enables them to have a bedroom in the stern, complete with double bed and bathroom with bath/shower.  Then eating and galley areas in the middle - with seats to make into bunks - and a forward area with another toilet and shower.   It was like a very big comfy caravan on water.   Up Skipper.jpg (87247 bytes)top there was a seating area around the wheel - this was covered and also had roll down sides - very cosy.  Talk about comfort!     We cast off and set out through the channel.   It was pretty choppy here and I wondered what was ahead, but I didn't have to worry.  They hoisted two of the sails and we were off.   We had to keep a keen eye out for crab pots for a start.  It was wonderful - we sailed out to about 8 or 9 miles out in Chesapeake Bay, with no one else in sight.  Roy had music playing, very much like the chap playing on 'Wave Dancer' when we went out from Port Douglas earlier in the year.  The sea was not rough at all.   Robyn and Tracy prepared lunch and we cracked a bottle of champers.   I said I felt like Grace Kelly, but Tracy raced to assure me that I did not look like her - how disappointing.   At about 2.00 p.m., after Tracy and Robyn had both dozed off for a while, Roy turned the boat and we Mum and Dad.jpg (85931 bytes)headed back.  As we turned we could see a big tanker heading for the deeper waters.  We had to watch out for two other yachts for a few minutes - the only others out there.  As we were sailing along, Roy said, "Oh, I just saw a whale's tail I think.or it could have been a bird."  He copped a fair bit of flack for that.   As we got closer to shore the water flattened out completely to be as calm as a millpond and the sky was so pretty.   We tied up at the wharf and a mate of theirs, an Aussie, came along.  His name was Brian Wilson and he originally came from Adelaide.  He knew McLaren Vale and Kangarilla well.  "It's a small world" once again.   Brian came over here in the eighties with his job, married an American girl and is still The crew.jpg (91971 bytes)here, but has been home many times until three years ago when his mother died.  (Brian later phoned and invited us to Thanksgiving at their house, but we were already invited to Kurt's and Lisa's.  It's a pity that we didn't catch up with Brian and his wife, but as usual we ran out of time.)    We sat chatting on the boat for ages.  The sunset was just so beautiful - in fact the whole day had been.   Roy used to be a pilot and has all the right navigational equipment.  He's really well set up and knows what he's doing. It was a magic day - very relaxing.  Tracy had caught up on some sleep and we all felt very relaxed and happy.    When we got back to Tracy's I phoned Nick and caught up with him at last.  Also phoned Raylene for her birthday and received the news that their garden won first prize in the Out of Town section of the Garden Competition at Kangy.  I was so thrilled for them after all their hard work.
  Tracy.jpg (68700 bytes) Red Marker.jpg (59181 bytes) Marina.jpg (59027 bytes) Sunset Poquoson 2.jpg (35689 bytes)

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Saturday 11th November – Remembrance Day at home, Veterans Day here and Raylene’s birthday

I got up early and read some more of Chesapeake.    I was so interested in the book now that I'd seen some of the area written about, but to find time to read was pretty near impossible, as I was so tired at night that I bombed out pretty early.   Tracy booked flights, on the Internet, to New York on our last Friday, which was coming up too fast.   She also booked a flight back for herself.   We checked out hotels in New York, but they were so expensive if you wanted to stay close to the action.    We then left to go to Hampton to see the 51st Annual Oyster Bowl Parade.   This was unbelievable - "The Khedive Shriners" organise it for Veterans Day.   Who or what are the Khedive Shriners you may ask? . (They have their own web site). We think it is a lodge that raises money for sick kids, but standing there that Saturday morning, we wondered what in the hell it was all about. They were all wearing fezzes and it was very strange, to say the least.    The parade was a prelude to a football game between Methodist College from Fayetteville, North Carolina and the Newport News Apprentice Schools.   As I said, we didn't know what we were looking at but it was fun.  Tracy thought a lot of it reminded her of the Simpsons!   Actually it was big boys with big toys if you ask me.  Some of it you could only see in America!    At the end of the parade we went back to Tracy's and she showed us the video shown in the USA as a prelude to the Olympics Opening Ceremony.    It was promoting Australia and our way of life and towards the end who should fly up in it but our own 'Birdman' Brett Burton - of course.   It was a wonderful promotion for our country.   It should be sent all round the world.  I'm sure we would be inundated with tourists.    We then set out for Norfolk, across the bridge, through the tunnel and across the bridge again.   Norfolk has a really lovely waterfront and in several places along there we saw the afore-mentioned painted mermaids (like the cows in Calgary and the moose in Toronto)  The mermaids were quite beautiful, especially a golden one right near the sea.    Tracy took us to Joe's Crab Shack for lunch - once again, a great place.   Such decorations!   Tracy and David had crab cake sandwiches and I had shrimps stuffed with crabmeat.   Talk about delicious, and a more normal sized serve.     Then we drove back to Tracy's netball practice, but no one turned up so we headed for Virginia Beach in readiness for another exciting parade - well we thought it would be.  It was their Hometown Christmas Parade and we had visions of Adelaide's pageant.    Uh, uh.   We all needed a coffee so we stopped at a great book store which had "Starbucks" in the front of it.   We had a wander looking at books (and buying!) then set off for the Beach for the Hometown Parade.     This parade was dreadful.   It seems that if you put heaps of noisy vehicles on the road, put a few lights on things, have lots of kids, mostly not dressed up and make a hell of a lot of noise, then it's a parade!   It was shocking. Give me good old Kangy any time.   It made me feel very proud of our little old 125th Birthday parade.   Finally, when the parade finished, we walked down to the beach.  It was freezing but I insisted on touching the water of the Atlantic.  That water was very cold!   On our way back home we drove over to Fort Monroe. This is a very interesting place - well worth a visit, but we never did make it.  Next time!   From here we could see where Tracy lives, across a very short area of water.   When we got back we phoned Jordy for his 6th birthday.   He was hilarious, as usual.   Watched "Glory", a wonderful Civil War film which really drives home the futility of war and the waste of human life, whatever the war may be.    A different day, but still enjoyable.

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To Sunday 12th November

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