Another beautiful day here in Virginia with gleaming blue skies and temperate weather. You know it’s the 4th of July weekend with the high volume of cars driving along the Interstate highways, every one needing to get home for the long weekend. The Old Glory is waving outside proud American homes; red, white and blue balloons and streamers announce markdowns and other gimmicks. Folks are filling up their tanks for that long trip, and at the grocery store, you’ll see them stocking up on the charcoal and the meats for that Sunday barbecue, the ice and beer not far from reach.
Meanwhile for visiting folks like us, the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk is on the agenda. Norfolk is home to the largest US Naval base, and to the Nauticus – its National Maritime Museum. So under the blazing hot sun at mid-afternoon, we drove down to Norfolk waterside where the battleship is at her berth. We parked our cars and crossed the street, looked around at the fancy mermaid sculptures scattered throughout the area. On the road to Nauticus, we also saw the familiar cruise ship Spirit of Norfolk on port at the Elizabeth river. I attended a Christmas party there some years back and remembered how nice it was to have dinner as the ship sailed around the harbour under clear starry skies in cold December. Waterside has changed since its heydey though, before the trendier MacArthur mall stole the spotlight; there’s only a few stores left and obviously lesser visitors. On this particular day, where most folks were busy preparing for the holiday, it was almost empty save for a few visitors to the Nauticus.
I don’t remember being on a battleship before so it was a nice experience especially when accompanied by a previous sailor who served as our personal tour guide. We walked on the decks made of solid teakwood and got closer views of the massive gun turrets and gigantic chain links that hold the anchor. The astounding size of this retired Naval battleship did not fail to impress and you can tell so much history is embedded in every nook and cranny of its grandeur. We finished off the tour at the stern of the ship where the American flag proudly waves.
Definitely a significant way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon on the eve of Independence day.