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Virginia Beach 2005

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4

Part 1

Virginia Beach fishing pier as viewed from the southAs happened in 2004, I took some time off of work and spent it in Virginia Beach.  This year, I spent August 22-25 there, and what a time it was!  Four days in Virginia Beach to enjoy the surf, peruse the strip, and photograph to my heart’s content.  All in all, it was fun.

When I take a trip, it will take one of a few different formats.  There’s the get-there-and-get-back format, where I try to make as good of time on the driving as I possibly can.  There, all my stops are usually predetermined, and I concentrate all my energy on the destination.  My bi-weekly trips to Washington DC are usually like that.  I get up there, make as much out of the day as I possibly can, and then get back.  My stops are completely predetermined, and I avoid making any stops on the way up or back outside of those designated locations.  Then there’s the road-trip format, where I kind of have a destination in mind, but this destination is by no means etched in stone.  In fact, it’s quite negotiable, as I have done in the past, like a recent trip where the intended destination was Fredericksburg, but I ended up going in a big loop around the state, spending time in Charlottesville, Richmond, Massaponax, Stafford, Woodbridge, Arlington, Washington DC, and Woodstock.  I think you’ll agree it was quite a road trip.  And then there’s what I call the “hybrid” format.  That’s what I did this time.  I have a specific destination, and a goal time to get there, but I have a lot of time built in for unplanned stops, and will get off the highway if I find something interesting.  I’ll also take local roads as I see fit if I find something that amuses me.

So with that in mind, the first thing I did after getting out of the neighborhood was to take the scenic route to the Interstate.  Now to get to Virginia Beach from Stuarts Draft, you take Interstate 64 eastbound until you reach I-264 in Norfolk (your choice on whether to take I-295 around Richmond or going straight through it on I-64 with a short multiplex with I-95).  Then you take I-264 eastbound until you hit Parks Avenue, which is the formal end of I-264.  The road, however, continues as 21st Street for another six blocks to Atlantic Avenue.  Reaching Atlantic Avenue, you are “there”, and for any more eastbound progress, you’d better know how to swim.  Now normally, to get to eastbound I-64 from my house, I would take US 340 straight into Waynesboro, and join up with I-64 at Exit 94.  Instead, I took Route 610 (Howardsville Turnpike), which is a windy, hilly road through some really rural country.  That links up with Rt. 664 (Mount Torrey Road) which turns into Delphine Avenue, which connects up with I-64 at Exit 96.  Then from there, I high-tailed it out of the area via eastbound I-64.

The first stop was a planned one: Zion Crossroads.  There, I grabbed a copy of the McPaper and had some breakfast at McDonald’s.  Zion Crossroads is, as I once described in the Journal:

Zion Crossroads, for most people, is a small cluster of roadside businesses in the middle of nowhere designed to capture business from people getting off of I-64 for a food and gas break. There is a Citgo station (which is also a truck stop), a combination Burger King/Exxon station, a combination McDonald’s/BP station, and (get this) a University of Virginia Health System Dialysis Center.

The grub was good.  I not only devoured the meal, but also the newspaper’s front section, reading about a strike by unionized mechanics for Northwest Airlines.

Then it was back on the road, and I was off!  I followed I-64 straight into Richmond, and stayed on I-64 through the multiplex with I-95.  I wonder, though: can you consider the I-64/I-95 multiplex to be a “wrong-way multiplex”, even though one road is signed east/west and the other north/south?  Northbound 95 shares with westbound 64, and southbound 95 shares with eastbound 64.  If you consider a wrong-way multiplex one where the mileage counts in opposite directions (in the multiplexed section, eastbound I-64 counts up in mileage while southbound I-95 counts down), then this qualifies.  If you consider it strictly where one number is northbound and the other is southbound and they share the same direction, then this doesn’t quite count.

Following Richmond, I stopped at the New Kent rest area, which I visited last year.  It’s still a nice rest area, but it’s starting to show some signs of wear a year after my first visit.  The paint on the doors was practically gone in places.  Additionally, there was a fly problem, as the building had more flies buzzing about than I would have liked.  Of course, it’s likely the nature of the beast for a lot of it.  You have a high-traffic building with lots of people coming in and out from outside, and you’re bound to let some flies in, and then they’ll be trapped inside when the door closes.  Plus don’t forget that it’s nice and cool inside.  Still, it looks like they need to fit some blowers over the doors into the building to keep the flies away.  Perhaps they should also place some fly paper in strategic locations to take care of those flies already in the building.

After the rest area, it wasn’t far from there to Williamsburg and then Newport News.  I consider Newport News to be the boundary for the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.  Thus crossing into Newport News is an important step.  I also had some goals for Newport News.

First, though, some backstory.  Back in 2003, when I visited Norfolk to shoot what ultimately became part of An Urban Comparison and Norfolk Waterside, on the way back, I stopped at a mall for a restroom break.  It had a Barnes and Noble as an anchor store, and had Edwards horn/strobes in the fire alarm system.  It was enough to make a positive ID on it if I found it again.  Doing research online at home beforehand, I thought it was the Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News.  There was a Barnes and Noble there, though it was on an outparcel rather than part of the mall itself.  Inside, the mall was undergoing a renovation, which further clouded things up.  After all, the Barnes and Noble store could have moved, and the mall was well into a renovation.  However, I was getting the feeling that the Patrick Henry Mall wasn’t the right one going in, since even the approach to the facility didn’t look familiar.  Exploring around the Patrick Henry Mall, though, I found that it was a nice mall on its own merits, and certainly will be even nicer when the renovation is complete.  I also spoke with the employees at a jewelry store there, and found out about the Coliseum Mall in Hampton.  I got directions on how to get there, and made notes in my cell phone.

But first, I made a stop at the nearby Newport News Wal-Mart.  Why?  My understanding was that one of our former Waynesboro associates transferred there.  So I swung by to see if I would see them.  I did!  I ran into Carliqua, formerly one of our cashiers in Waynesboro, running Register 33 in Newport News.


This is Carliqua, formerly of the Waynesboro Wal-Mart.  At the time, she was expecting a little baby girl.

This is Carliqua, formerly of the Waynesboro Wal-Mart.  At the time, she was expecting a little baby girl.


Before running into Carliqua, however, coming in, two things happened.  One is seeing a plane coming in for an approach to the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.  The airport must be literally right across the street, because this plane was flying LOW over Wal-Mart’s parking lot!  So low you could almost make out faces in the windows.  Then the second thing was this lady who got out of a car at the grocery door as I was coming in.  She appeared to not be walking very well.  She kindly asked me if I could get her a cart.  I figure, I’m a nice guy, so sure.  I asked if she wanted an electric cart, and she said she did.  So I went in, got the electric cart from the greeter, and took it out to her.  I didn’t even get out the door, when the woman yells to me that she didn’t want one of those!  She wanted a regular shopping cart.  Needless to say, I was starting to get aggravated.  So I brought the electric back into the store and brought out a regular cart.  While I did that, she got some other guy outside to get her a cart, and as I came out, she told me that she did.  Now, I was really irritated.  Before taking any frustrations out on the lady (who would have deserved it, mind you), I just turned and walked back into the store, noticeably perturbed.  I vented about it to the greeter, who witnessed the whole thing, and who understood.  Kind of a bond between Wal-Mart people there, I guess.

The thing that gets me about these situations is that I always come up with the good comeback after the fact.  After she yelled at me for the electric cart, I should have simply said, “You can get your own damn cart then!” and taken the cart back in and been done with it.  I thought of quite a few other comebacks, too, but they were mostly unprintable, with a nice sprinkling of four-letter words, and a five-letter word or two, too.


After visiting Wal-Mart in Newport News, I found the Coliseum Mall.  All I have to say is, JACKPOT!  This was the one.  I remember taking all the approaches before, most notably a long flyover bridge to a side street, and this was most definitely the place.  I located the Barnes and Noble (and the nearby Hooters restaurant on an outparcel, which was another landmark), and headed on in.  The entrance didn’t really look familiar, though, as it was nighttime when I visited previously.  But once inside, there was Edwards on the wall.  This was it!  So I explored around the mall some.  It’s not as nice as Patrick Henry Mall, but it felt really good to get it right, and having finally put a name on the mystery mall that I visited in 2003.  And that whole name thing had been bothering me for some time, too, so a resolution on that was a good thing.


And there you are - Edwards fire alarm horn/strobes.  This was the way I knew I was spot on this time.

And there you are – Edwards fire alarm horn/strobes.  This was the way I knew I was spot on this time.


Then from there, it was non-stop to Virginia Beach.  I took the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to Norfolk, and missed my exit to I-264.  Why did I miss?  I was not properly positioned to take the exit due to not seeing it in time, and with traffic’s being too heavy to comfortably bust a move across.  No problem, though.  I just looped around like I accidentally did in 2000.  This took me to I-64’s eastern terminus, and onto I-264 at its western terminus.  That took me through Norfolk and through the Downtown Tunnel.  Then I crossed I-64 where I was supposed to have taken the exit, and it was all clear from there.  I-264 eastbound then turned into 21st Street, which finally ended at Atlantic Avenue.  Made it!

From there, I quickly found the Travelodge at 19th and Atlantic.  But I didn’t stop yet.  I had to get some supplies first.  So I passed it, and continued.  I switched to Pacific Avenue, which then turned into General Booth Blvd.  After a drive in heavy traffic, I made it to Nimmo Parkway, and found the same Wal-Mart that I visited last year at the beach.  This time around, that store seemed a little less impressive as it was last year.  There were no carts waiting inside the store – they were all out in the lot.  And no cart pushers in sight to clear it.  I also experienced the difference between doing this at midday like I did in 2004, and later in the afternoon like I did this time.  The difference?  Lots of other thirsty people had already gotten their hands on all the 24-ounce six-packs of Pepsi.  So I had to figure out something else, which ended up being a 24-pack of Pepsi in cans.  I did get the six-pack of 24-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola that I had intended to get.  I mixed it up this year a bit.  After I got so completely tired of Pepsi on 2004’s vacation, since that’s all I got to drink, I got Coke as well.  Then I also bought a couple of adult beverages, consisting of some Arbor Mist wine, plus a box of Pop Tarts, since I wasn’t going to eat out for both breakfast and dinner.

From there, I headed over to the self-checkouts and found the shortest line.  This lady got in line behind me and complained how people were so slow on the self-checkouts.  I even told the lady that if she wants speedy, watch me.  My turn comes up, and I’m scanning, bagging, and putting my items back in the cart like I work there, even if this is the IBM version of the self-checkout, and not NCR’s Fastlane system like I’m most accustomed to.  Zap, Arbor Mist.  Zap, Coke.  Zap, Pop Tarts.  And key in that Pepsi, which I’m not picking up any more than I have to.  And then with it all done, the attendant came over and approved my adult beverages.

Now for that, I’m surprised she gets away with the way she approved that.  She came up to me, and asked me, “What’s your birthday?”  Not, “May I please see your ID?” or just keying past it.  I didn’t exactly feel comfortable letting her go on my word alone (after all, I could be 20 years old with four years’ experience), so I showed her my ID and let her key it in off of that.  And then I got to see what would happen if the name of the store manager changed at this store, since this was the store with two lines for the manager.


Wal-Mart receipt

And there you have it.  The “Jim Wilburn, Store Manager” line is still there.  My guess is that it will stay that way for a long time.  The other manager line now reads “Willie Cheeks”, which I presume is correct.


Then it was back to the hotel.  I checked in, got a luggage cart, and I was off – off to get all my junk and bring it up to room 711.  Going up, though, I was wondering if I’d made the right decision about my choice of accommodations.  The building was kind of old looking, and was mostly painted cinderblocks on the outside, with a little stucco on the parts housing the stairwells and the elevator.  The small corridors to the rooms looked kind of dumpy as well, and you could see that the air conditioners were retrofitted in the walls at a later date.  And the elevator was very old looking.  However, it turns out that despite the exterior’s appearance, the accommodations were good.  It’s a suite configuration, with a living room, kitchenette, and bedroom.  And all of recent mint, too, as the rooms were all refurbished in 2004.  And the balcony was private, too, with solid partitions in between the different rooms’ balconies, even if they were obviously retrofitted.


The living room was nice.  It had a little dresser, a mirror, a TV, a table, and a couch.  The living room was nice.  It had a little dresser, a mirror, a TV, a table, and a couch.

The living room was nice.  It had a little dresser, a mirror, a TV, a table, and a couch.


The bedroom was fitted with a king size bed... all for me.  The bathroom had a strange configuration, however, with the sink in the small corridor in the living room, while the toilet and shower were off the bedroom.  The bedroom was fitted with a king size bed... all for me.  The bathroom had a strange configuration, however, with the sink in the small corridor in the living room, while the toilet and shower were off the bedroom.

The bedroom was fitted with a king size bed… all for me.  The bathroom had a strange configuration, however, with the sink in the small corridor in the living room, while the toilet and shower were off the bedroom.


The kitchenette had a coffee maker, a refrigerator, some cabinets, and a microwave.  The kitchenette also became the home of Big Mavica, as I kept the camera bag and charger plugged in here.  I also kept my cell phone on the charger here, too.

The kitchenette had a coffee maker, a refrigerator, some cabinets, and a microwave.  The kitchenette also became the home of Big Mavica, as I kept the camera bag and charger plugged in here.  I also kept my cell phone on the charger here, too.


The balcony was a simple affair, with a concrete floor, a railing, and the retrofitted-in sides.  The furniture was basically the same as at the Ocean Holiday.  Two chairs, and a little table.

The balcony was a simple affair, with a concrete floor, a railing, and the retrofitted-in sides.  The furniture was basically the same as at the Ocean Holiday.  Two chairs, and a little table.


And after I fully checked out the hotel room, I took a moment to relax.  Ahhhh.  Turned on the TV, and checked out what that was like.  Strange was that the picture was somewhat poor (with the exact quality of the picture depending on the channel) on the living room TV, but the bedroom TV was crystal clear.  Guess it was a problem with the cable connection to the living room.  No problem, though.  I also spent some time out on the balcony, watching the surf, hearing the sounds, and smelling the sea air.


I also had some fun with Big Mavica and the tripod from my balcony...  I also had some fun with Big Mavica and the tripod from my balcony...

I also had some fun with Big Mavica and the tripod from my balcony…

I also had some fun with Big Mavica and the tripod from my balcony...  I also had some fun with Big Mavica and the tripod from my balcony...


As it started to get dark, I started to think about feeding my tummy.  It wanted dinner!  So I grabbed my wallet and room key, and it was off to the strip to see what looked interesting.  I ended up getting dinner at the same place I went to in 2004 – the Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant on 21st Street.  Nice place, and I had a margarita again.  However, this time I got it frozen.  And it didn’t get me totally tipsy like before.  So that was a good thing.  And from there, back to the hotel again, and then out again, this time with Big Mavica, my camera bag, and my tripod.  I was going out to the boardwalk for some night photography.  Last year, I basically stayed within sight of the Ocean Holiday while I did this, and didn’t stray very far.  This year, I was on the boardwalk, and went about two blocks south, to 17th and Atlantic – just beyond the Boardwalk Hotel.  I took all sorts of night photos, too.  Some photos were of the hotels.  Some were of the boardwalk itself (which is a bit of a misnomer, as the “boardwalk” is concrete).  Some were of the ocean.  And some were of the beach.  All in all, I got a nice look at things.


First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...  First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...

First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel…

First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...  First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...

First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...  First, however, I warmed up with a little aerial photography of the strip from the street side of the hotel...


By the way, for reasons like this, I ended up being very appreciative that the hotel corridors were open-air, since it allowed me clear photos all the way around the hotel, which turned out fairly well.  I was originally a little concerned about the open-airness of it (I normally prefer an enclosed corridor), but it ended up working out.


And then from there, off to the boardwalk!  And then from there, off to the boardwalk!

And then from there, off to the boardwalk!


The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...  The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...

The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel…

The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...

The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...  The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...

The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...  The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...

The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...  The Boardwalk Hotel had bright lights mounted to its roof that shone onto the beach.  It really had an interesting effect on the photography in front of the hotel...


In front of the Boardwalk Hotel, a woman approached me, curious as to what I was photographing, having noticed my walking back and forth along the boardwalk, stopping to take photos and such.  That ended up blossoming into a full conversation about all kinds of stuff.  I showed her my photos on the camera, and we shared our respective experiences.  She also called her boyfriend over, to show him the photos I did as well.  Turns out that they were from Pennsylvania, and were staying at the Rodeway Inn on Pacific Avenue, which they described as being downright awful.  Looking online at reviews of the hotel, they’re not the only ones who thought poorly of the place.


And right before we all parted company, I got their photo to remember them by, and I gave them the URL to Schumin Web.

And right before we all parted company, I got their photo to remember them by, and I gave them the URL to Schumin Web.


And finally, back to the hotel.

And finally, back to the hotel.


After returning to the hotel, I got ready for bed, as I was going to get up early to watch the sunrise, and possibly get some more photos of it as well.  And now, sleepy time!

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4

Part 1