4th of July in Yorktown
07/08/2009, Yorktown, VA
July 4th... Yorktown, VA
Sometime around midmorning we took the dinghy in to the marina and tied up. The beach was filling fast. There was a portable tower with speakers up high playing music and there were people everywhere. We walked across the street to catch the Trolley out to the Battlefield. The walking tour time had been changed, but there was one still in sight so we caught up and listened to the Ranger talk about what had happened here.
Having taught American History for many years I was well versed with the siege of Yorktown and its importance. However, unlike most of the Battlefields in Virginia, I'd never visited here. It took just a minute to see that I've had some things wrong in my head all these years. The first thing was the orientation of the site. Since Washington and his army had walked down were from New York and the peninsula runs west to east, in my mind I had the battlefield on a west to east orientation. In fact the siege was carried out from a more south to north direction. I also had visualized the road coming into town being straight.... it's not. The last item that surprised me was how close the two lines were to each other. The distance between the two armies was much less than the normal Civil War site.
The ravine where the British command post was dug in now has a bridge, but is about 60 deep with very steep sides covered with bamboo. I was surprised about the bamboo.
We walked the battlefield for a couple of hours and then headed back down the hill to town where things were really hopping. The beach, which runs for about a mile was packed, traffic was almost at a standstill and there were way too many people to watch. Our favorite Pub was over run with bikers, so we wandered down the Riverwalk to another restaurant and were seated right away.
After a nice meal we motored the mile or so back to the boat and spent the remainder of the afternoon watching boats anchor all around us for the fireworks. There was a fly-over at 4pm... and we were planning on heading back to the park for a concert at 5 but decided to listen to it from the boat instead. It was a good plan, but just before 5 an old Egg Harbor with three couples (and kids) anchored next to us and immediately turned on the nearest country western radio station.... at a volume that effectively drowned out both the Fife and Drum Corps of Yorktown and the Air Force Band that played later.
The river here is deep and there's a lot of tidal current, which is why we're paying for a mooring, and it was fun watching little boats come in and attempt anchor. In some cases their anchors never even hit bottom, but most boats just didn't have the anchors or the scope to hold. Fortunately no one was going to be leaving their boat untended.
The fireworks started as the band put a bump note on their last John Phillip Sousa March and were amazing from beginning to end. The finale had about twice as many explosions as the entire show back at Crystal Lake. I have no idea how many folks were in the area watching but it certainly numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
07/04/2009, Yorktown, VA
July 3rd... Yorktown, Va
We woke up to a cool north wind. It was probably only about 70 degrees and felt nice. Using the rangefinder to check the distance from our boat to where the fireworks will be launched, we found that we were about 700 yards away. The enforced limit will be 400 yards, so we should be ok.
The battle field is set up as a parking lot for the fireworks with portable lighting and orange barrels. If half the people show that they have space for .... there will be loads of people here.
I think that we will take our bimini off and break out the fire extinguisher. I assume that we'll be in line for some ash and debris.
After breakfast, Kathy cleaned and I read a book. Soon it was lunch time and so I made a big pot of goulash to get rid of some of our canned goods and pasta.
We spent most of the afternoon reading. I did begin the process of refinishing teak... heat gun and scraping, but made such a mess we decided we'd just wait until we were on land and had unlimited power to run tools and a our vacuum.
Before dinner we took the dinghy across the York River to check out Sarah's Creek where there is sheltered anchoring. There were a few boats anchored there and we spoke with one couple for a few minutes. Space is limited but there is probably room for 10 or 12 boats.
I grilled the last of Dave's venison which we had with some wild rice and corn. It was an excellent meal.
07/04/2009, Yorktown, VA
July 2nd Yorktown, VA
The York River narrows here to about a mile. From our mooring near the south shore we can see out across the Chesapeake to the east and up the York River to the west. The fetch is about 30 miles in one direction and 12 in the other. It would not be a good place to be in any kind of weather but the forecast continues to be favorable so we're happy here.
After a gook breakfast, we headed into the marina to tie up the dinghy and struck up a conversation with some Bayfield owners. Then we jumped on the free Yorktown Trolley to the Battlefield visitor center. We watched the requisite movie and then went with guide in to Yorktown to tour the old buildings and listen to his stories. He actually was very good.
Then we returned to the Visitor's Center and caught a free shuttle to Williamsburg about 10 miles down the road. We changed busses there and continued another 10 miles to Historic Jamestown where we saw another movie and joined an interpreter who wandered around the site giving his perspective from 1607. He was a retired trial lawyer from Richmond and his presentation was in the language of the day with a perfect British accent.
When we finished, we watched the dig for a while and then walked through the building that houses the artifacts found there.
We decided we did not have time to visit the Jamestown Settlement, which is a replica of Jamestown, and that it was time to take the shuttle system back to Yorktown. By now it was 4:00 pm and we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast so we stopped at a Pub on the waterfront in Yorktown for a burger and a beer.
Back at the boat we read until dark and then watched some video....there really wasn't any reason to eat supper.