July 12: Big bangs and winding roads and something called a bridge-tunnel

Today I finally dragged myself away from Williamsburg. But, as I promised myself four days ago when I got here, I went to visit Yorktown before I headed out.

Yorktown, like Williamsburg and Jamestown, has a living history program. This one’s called Yorktown Victory Center, and it shows how the soldiers lived during the Revolution, as well as how the settlers of the time lived. I got to see a musket being fired (loud!), and helped demonstrate how a cannon is fired (don’t ask [g]), then backed way away while it was being fired (LOUD! – I couldn’t take a photo because I had to have my hands over my ears). I listened to an army surgeon talk about stuff that’ll probably give me nightmares tonight, and talked with a fellow about some chickens.

The flags of the 13 first states at half staff (I'm assuming because of Dallas) in front of the Yorktown Victory Center.
The flags of the 13 first states at half staff (I’m assuming because of Dallas) in front of the Yorktown Victory Center.
A pierced tin lantern, which I thought was a cool detail.
A pierced tin lantern, which I thought was a cool detail.
One of my better shots (no pun intended). It's hard to take a photo when something that loud goes off.
One of my better shots (no pun intended). It’s hard to take a photo when something that loud goes off.

The cannon I helped demonstrate with (I got to ram the cannonball down the cannon [g]).
The cannon I helped demonstrate with (I got to ram the cannonball down the cannon [g]).
The Army surgeon talking about Really Gross Stuff [tm]. He also taught a little girl how to fish a musket ball out of an imaginary wound.
The Army surgeon talking about Really Gross Stuff [tm]. He also taught a little girl how to fish a musket ball out of an imaginary wound.

I used to have one of these when I was a kid, except my pegs were little copper pegs, not nails.
I used to have one of these when I was a kid, except my pegs were little copper pegs, not nails.
Signing a little girl up as a volunteer. He and I had an interesting discussion about the problems of being a lefty back then, from quill pens to muskets having to be fired righthanded.
Signing a little girl up as a volunteer. He and I had an interesting discussion about the problems of being a lefty back then, from quill pens to muskets having to be fired righthanded.
This rooster's breed is called Dorking. Dorking chickens were brought over with the Jamestown settlers.
This rooster’s breed is called Dorking. Dorking chickens were brought over with the Jamestown settlers.

All in all, it was an interesting morning. The only disappointing part was that they’re building new exhibits, but they won’t be open until the fall.

When I walked out of the museum, a trolley (a dolled-up bus, basically) sat at the curb. I asked where it was going, and was told that it goes into the town of Yorktown, so I got on. Yorktown itself is a pretty little waterfront tourist town and it turned out to be a great place to get lunch, too.

The very flowery village of Yorktown.
The very flowery village of Yorktown.
Yorktown's waterfront.
Yorktown’s waterfront.

I decided to walk the half-mile back to the museum parking lot, along a waterfront trail that would have been fine except for all the kudzu. It’s bad enough driving past it, but walking? Yikes.

In the afternoon I took the drive around the Yorktown Battlefield. I knew the French came and fought with the American troops, but I had no idea how many of them there were. They really made the difference, and I need to read more – I know way more about the Civil War than I need to, but not enough about the Revolution.

The Moore house, where Washington and Cornwallis sent their seconds in command to sign the British surrender papers.
The Moore house, where Washington and Cornwallis sent their seconds in command to sign the British surrender papers.
I thought this was interesting.
I thought this was interesting.
And here's the ravine the sign was talking about. Amazing.
And here’s the ravine the sign was talking about. Amazing.
The sign that went with this talked about how most streams back then were forded, not bridged.
The sign that went with this talked about how most streams back then were forded, not bridged.

By the time I was done, and had gone back to the visitor center to peruse their bookstore briefly, it was three, but I decided to go on for a ways. It might not have been my best choice – I got stuck in some rush hour traffic in Norfolk – but it was all right.

Anyway, I’m in Virginia Beach, about two miles south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I’ve already been over/through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which was really weird. You cross a flat bridge that looks sort of like the Lake Washington floating bridges, then all of a sudden the road ducks down and you’re under the ground that’s under the water. You drive through a tunnel for what seems like a long time, then pop back up and all of a sudden you’re driving across the water again. It’s surreal. And the Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel tomorrow is going to be like the Hampton Roads one on steroids.