Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Which Samantha Becomes a Travel Doll

On December 22nd, I was permitted to embark on a great adventure - being a travel doll! Up until now, I had only ventured outside the house to nearby parks in the area. This time, I got to go on a vacation for a week! We crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and drove down the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. When we neared the mainland side, we stopped at the "visitor's center" island and shopped in the gift shop. Some people were brave enough to venture out onto the fishing pier, but it was threatening to rain and was pretty chilly, so we only took a photograph of it. A large freighter was leaving the Chesapeake Bay as we watched.
It seemed like the bridge went on and on for a very long time. It even has 2 spans of tunnels, under the shipping channels. There were a lot of gulls landing on the bridge. Here's a view of the parking lot on the island and the bridge.
Little birds were used to all of the people who stopped on the man made island/visitors' center, and would walk right up to our cars!
On our first day in Jacksonville, North Carolina, we went to the grocery store and an electronics store to get a few things. On the way, we stopped at the Beirut Memorial. Because Camp Lejuene is in Jacksonville, the community treasures their fallen heroes. There are 273 names and the words "THEY CAME IN PEACE" engraved on the walls of the Memorial. In addition to the inscribed names of those who died in Beirut and those who have died since of injuries from that blast, there are the names of three Marine pilots from the community who were killed in Grenada.
The two broken walls, which depict the crumbled walls of the bombed headquarters building, flank a soldier cast in bronze that wears real dog tags. It was a very moving memorial to see.

On the same site was a beam from one of the Twin Towers and a memorial to those who worked to rescue victims on September 11th.
On Christmas Eve, it was very warm day, so we headed to the Wilmington beaches. We went to Ft. Fisher. The Civil War's Ft. Fisher vistors' center was closed because it was always closed on Monday - I bet the people who work there were glad that they didn't have to work on Christmas Eve! We stopped at the fountain outside of the Ft. Fisher aquarium for some photo opportunities. I found a shrub with bright red berries that seemed very Christmas-y.
Here I am in front of the aquarium. Jen has been to 3 of the North Carolina aquariums now, and she says that they all have similar fountains. We didn't pay to go inside this one - everyone had already seen the inside of other 2 NC aquariums they'd visited on other trips, and they were very similar. We wanted more time to see the beach.
When I first saw the Atlantic Ocean, I was stunned by the vastness of it. It is hard to imagine how big it really is.
I got to sit on a sand dune and watch the beach-goers activities.
It was a bit chilly, but some people still ventured along the shores to collect sea shells or just walk in the sand. There was even a surfer, but he was wearing a wet suit. I could not imagine being in the ocean in December, even if we were in North Carolina.
It was really surprisingly warm - in the low 70's. It was just the gray sky that makes it look so much colder in the pictures. The wind blew pretty steadily, and that put a slight chill in the air.
Here I am, standing on the beach for a photograph.
There was a boardwalk through the dunes to the rangers' station. The rails along the boardwalk seemed just the right size for a person of my stature.

The wind-torn trees in the background were intriguing to look at. We could see even more of them from the road, and wondered just what they are.
On the way back towards home, we stopped at a beach shop, where I got to pick out a Christmas present/souvenir. I now have a Carolina Beach guitar that is just my size. It even came with a stand! Here I am back at home in Maryland with my new guitar.
The rest of our trip was pretty uneventful. We mostly just hung out at the grandmother's house with occasional trips to visit other relatives or to pick up odds and ends at the store to fix special dishes for dinner. It was a great time. I hope I get to be a travel doll again someday.

- Samantha

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