Happy 50th Anniversary, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

April 17th, 2014 by Marlene email
Bridge Tunnel Aerial Sunset

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Connecting Virginia Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach

The idea was beyond bold, beyond audacious even.  Build a Bridge from the Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach ?  Across and under the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean for 17 miles ?  Ridiculous, can’t be done. So said the skeptics – and virtually everyone started out as a skeptic.  But thankfully. the skeptics were wrong and on April 15th, the 50th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was celebrated with a ceremony  held on the Thimble Shoal Tunnel’s Seagull Island, one of the four man-made islands built as part of the tunnel complex, complete with speeches by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe  and Lucius Kellam III, son of Eastern Shore businessman Lucius Kellam, Jr., who was a driving force behind turning the idea into a reality and who served as the Bridge Commission’s Chairman until 1993.  Once opened in 1964, it promptly won an international competition which earned the Bridge the title  ” One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.”

Cape Charles railroad and ferry stop

Cape Charles Ferry Terminal

Before the Bridge were the ferries, operating originally out of the deep water harbor in Cape Charles, later out of what is now Kiptopeake State Park,  and connecting to the mainland at Norfolk.  A one-way trip took about an hour and a half on a good weather day and whatever if it was not.  In fact, the trip to get from the Shore to the mainland has been fixed into an Eastern Shore colloquialism still used today– “going across the Bay.”  Folks don’t say ” I’m going to Virginia Beach”,  we still say “I’m going across the Bay”, harkening back to the trials and tribulations of getting from here to there and back on a ferry, with the possibility of a sudden storm blowing up out of nowhere, maybe a mechanical problem, who knew what might happen.  It took time and effort and it was an adventure.  ( No Doppler radar for those ferry captains ! ) With a fleet of 5, ranging in size from 68 feet to the 367 foot flagship, SS Pocahontas, the biggest ferries could carry up to 120 vehicles and 1200 passengers per trip.   At its zenith, an estimated 50,000 vehicles per month were using the ferry service.   And  although service was hourly, passenger buses had priority so cars often had quite lengthy waits, with vehicles lined up for long distances along the highway awaiting their turn to board.  Demand was rising and in by 1956 the Virginia General Assembly authorized the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Commission to explore the feasibility of a building a fixed crossing.  The rest, as they say, is history !

Ocean Hiway croppedjpg  Ferry Terminal  Ferry at Night  old cape charles ferry

view of both spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

View of Both Spans of The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

The Bridge Commission reports that since opening over 115 million vehicles have crossed the Bridge, a pretty hefty number. In 1999 a parallel crossing was completed,  expanding the Bridge from a 2 lane facility into a 4 lane facility, including renovated restaurant, gift shop and amazing fishing pier.  And in 2016,  work is expected to begin on an additional tunnel .  But the Bridge is so much more than a stupendous engineering feat,  a collection of 2000 concrete pilings 110 feet long driven into the floor of the Chesapeake Bay supporting 17 miles of roadbed or 4 man-made islands, each the size of five football fields built with 300,000 tons of massive boulders and 1,500,000 tons of sand rising 30 feet above the Bay,  enabling vehicle entrance into tunnels .   The word “bridge” is defined as a structure built to span physical obstacles for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle.  But for the Eastern Shore, “The Bridge“, as it’s called, is so very much more than that,  it’s essentially a passageway between two very different ways of life.

Fisherman island looking north to the Eastern Shore

Getting Off The Bridge Onto The Eastern Shore of Virginia

The contrast between life on the Eastern Shore on the north side and life in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Chesapeake metro area on the south side of the Bridge could hardly be greater.  On the Eastern Shore,  a slender peninsula barely 3 miles across where the Bridge begins,  Chesapeake Bay to the west,  Atlantic Ocean to the east,  it’s like stepping back 50 years into a land where farming and long-time watermen traditions are still the main economic engines. A land dotted with small historic towns and tiny villages, many dating back to the 1700′s, some even earlier, towns which are reminiscent of Mayberry. But new little waterfront neighborhoods nestled between big family farms are slowly emerging, bringing the energies and talents of folks from all over who have moved here after falling in love with our relaxed, coastal way of life.  But when you travel south over the Bridge, savoring the lovely waterviews, seabirds overhead, maybe even sighting a pod of dolphins or a submarine slipping swiftly through the waters as it returns to the Naval Base at Little Creek, your 15 minute journey thrusts you smack dab into the sights and sounds of  a modern metropolis, which indeed it is. The three city complex ( formerly called Tidewater, currently called Hampton Roads and soon to possibly be renamed Coastal Virginia )  sustains a population of about one million and offers virtually every amenity one could ask for.  Obviously it’s not the Big Apple,  but  large shopping malls, great restaurants ( including several fabulous Italian bakery/deli shops that I love ),  an international airport, excellent medical facilities including a world-class hospital and an associated medical school, a wide variety of cultural facilities including a symphony hall, an opera house and numerous museums.  Sports lovers will appreciate the  sports arena, a baseball park with a Baltimore Orioles farm team and a hockey team,  even a new 10,000 seat soccer stadium .  And for me, my unofficial “home away from home”,  4 jam-packed- with- the- latest- goodies Barnes and Noble bookstore choices calling out to me like the Sirens on my every trip across the Bay.

Harbor Park Aerial  Norfolk-Harrison-Opera-House-e1360597486304  Nauticus  MacArthur Mall Interior

And therein lies part of the wonder of living on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  the ability, in a 15 minute time span, to move virtually effortlessly between two very different worlds.  I’ve had a major operation at that world-class Norfolk hospital, we’ve enjoyed many performances at Harrison Opera House,  the Wells  Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” is great,  my grandkids loved “The Lion King”

Cape Charles  Southern Tip Aerial Photo

Home Again To The Beautiful Southern Tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore

production at Chrysler Hall.  Every year my eldest grandson waits in great anticipation for the Norfolk Tides baseball season to start at  Harbor Park and the battleship  USS Wisconsin moored alongside the Nauticus waterfront museum awaits the fulfillment of my promise to the grandkids to take them all for a deck tour this summer… and  the beat goes on and on and on.  BUT… after the fun, after the chicken tikka marsala with garlic naan at Saffron Indian Bistro,  after a Macy sale at MacArthur Center Mall, after the “Jersey Boys” musical at Chrysler Hall, after the Cherry Blossom Festival at Redwing Park,  etc., etc., etc.,  it’s always so great get back on The Bridge, to return home to our serene, relaxed feel, our slower pace, to the Eastern Shore’s  pristine, natural  beauty, its friendly atmosphere, the peace and quiet.  And that is the magic of “ The Bridge ”  – making possible the amazing “have your cake and eat it too”  eclectic lifestyle that those of us living on the Eastern Shore are so lucky to have.   So, thanks Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel– and Happy 50th Anniversary !

Ready, Set, Go— Now Is The Perfect Time To Lock In Your Week At A Cape Charles VA Vacation Rental House

March 21st, 2014 by Marlene email

SnowflakeIt probably seems a bit counter-intuitive to be planning reservations for a warm, sunny summer vacation in the midst of all this cold, snowy weather which seems like it has been making East Coast life miserable for eons.   Or maybe not.  Definitely planning can take the mind to a better place, sort of like warming one’s hand on a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter afternoon brings a smile to the face, it just feels good. When I was a child, my mother used to pull out her seed catalogues on a wintry Sunday afternoons and work on her garden plan. Not that she had such a huge garden but she had it organized down to a T– what needed to be rotated to a new spot, what plants complimented the other, where to stick insect repelling marigolds, she planned it all in detail, usually changing her mind numerous times before she was satisfied.  But it seemed to me that she enjoyed working on her garden project most on a really cold, miserable day– and in Ohio, unlike on the Eastern Shore,  there are a whole lot of really cold, snowy, icy winter days !  Just like back to the future, she was mentally transported  from winter’s wind and ice to the cool  days of Spring, outdoors in the sun, in her garden.

Simply Relaxing The Shore WayBut, I digress, my point being that planning one’s vacation is a task  that offers a lot of fun in the execution.  Just deciding where to go is key and offers lots of opportunities for on-line exploration of  lots of great places– for instance, not that I’m biased of course, the Eastern Shore of Virginia.   Naturally a lot depends on the type of vacation one is looking for.  If its  bright lights and  loud music, then the Eastern Shore isn’t the place. But if you’re looking for a quaint, restful area with lots to do,  the Shore is a great place to enjoy a unique coastal vacation experience.  Not only can you enjoy our pristine natural beauty, there is nearly an endless list of fun things to do, from ”A” for artists galleries to “Z” for zesty clam dip.

Savor sunset strolls on our uncrowded beaches, feel the exhilaration of  kayaking our to our string of off-shore Barrier Islands. Charter a boat for a deep-sea fishing expedition.  For golfers, the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Signature courses which front along the Chesapeake Bay in Cape Charles offer opportunities to challenge your game on some of the most beautiful waterfront courses on the entire East Coast.  Or check out our museums and art galleries, treasure hunt on the beach or in one of our antique shops.  Get wet swimming, clamming or crabbing.  Explore our quaint little towns, visit a vineyard and winery, check out our Wildlife Refuges or State Park.   Or just chill out on the porch, gentle breezes blowing, book in hand, letting  the stresses of everyday life disappear.  And at Blue Heron,  we call this “Simply Relaxing The Shore Way.”

Beach chairs tide out

Sunset with Bikes and people on deck 6a Surfer golf cart Seagull close resized

Edwards 002This year the Blue Heron Realty Co. vacation rental department is introducing a new vacation rental home, “Seashell Cottage“,  located   just a quarter block off the soft sand beach in the little Victorian town of Cape Charles, VA.   Seashell Cottage offers 4 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths plus a 3 rd floor loft overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.  Its open floor plan, comfortable furniture and close proximity to the beach make this a great vacation home.  And the wrap-around porch is perfect for outdoor dining and soaking up the dazzling sunsets.  Check it out at www.blueheronva.com, click on the Vacation Rental section under “Listings”  and  give us a call at 757-678-5277 to reserve your vacation week at one of our great vacation rental beach homes.  From a cozy in-town cottage to a beach home on acreage in the country,  the Blue Heron Realty Co. vacation rental agents can help you select the best home for your needs and budget.

 

4 Great Places In Cape Charles, VA To Take Your Sweetie To Dinner On Valentine’s Day

February 13th, 2014 by Marlene email

Happy Valentines DayIf you’re looking for a great place to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s  dinner,  you definitely couldn’t go wrong by trying one of these 4 terrific restaurants  located in or around the quaint Victorian town of  Cape Charles, VA.   Menu info and phone numbers for reservations are included.  So pick your favorite, make a reservation and take your Sweetie to Valentine’s dinner in this lovely little beachfront town by the  Chesapeake Bay.

 

 

Aqua 1.Aqua- Cape Charles’ only  fine dining bayfront restaurant,  Aqua overlooks the majestic Chesapeake Bay. Dinner here at sunset is a sensational choice. Unfortunately, sunset comes a little early in February but Aqua is lovely after dark as well.  In addition to  its elegant decor,  starched white linens and superb service,  for Valentine’s Weekend , Aqua is offering several special entrees including a luscious sounding Stuffed Lobster,  slow baked Prime Rib and  Chicken Piccata.  And one of the succulent appetizers, Southern Oysters and Grits, sounds like a mouthwatering version of one of my  personal favorite’s,  shrimp and grits.  Chef Shelly Cusamina  has been the head chef at Aqua for a number of years and prides herself on featuring fine food with the freshest of ingredients, locally procured when possible.  Especially for Valentine’s evening,  a live jazz band will be playing.  Located at 900 Marina Village Circle near the King’s Creek Marina. Call 757-331-8660 for reservations.

Hook Up Gourmet 2.Hook-U-Up Gourmet- Located at 227   Mason Avenue right  in the heart of the Cape Charles,  Hook-U-Up is quite the eclectic restaurant.  By day, a purveyor of savory pizza and gourmet sandwiches.  By night, on Tuesdays, it is a Bistro serving elegant and delicious food, a  bit of a continental flair  right  in the Cape Charles Historic District.   And once a month, a special Wine Dinner, offering, as a friend who attended one recently told me,  ”some of the best food I’ve ever eaten”.  High praise indeed and well-deserved for talented  Chef and owner, Tim Brown,  who is going all out on Valentine’s  Week-end  with both a prix-fixe and an  a la carte menu available.  The prix-fixe sounds tantalizing, Artichokes stuffed with Lump Crab or Baked Brie in Phylo with Orange Preserves among his appetizers, an Arugula and Watercress salad,  Chateaubriand with Black Truffle and  Béarnaise sauces for the entree’.  The sweet for your sweetie is  almond and black cherry tart with espresso ice cream, ambrosial no doubt.  Highlights of the a la carte menu include  Beef Wellington,  a “Surf and Turf” consisting of a  Petite Filet+ Lobster Tail+ Lump Crab  and  a  Flounder Meuniere.  For reservations, call 757-331-2275.

Kings Creek Inn 3.  King’s Creek Inn- With its long views down King’s Creek and out to the Chesapeake Bay beyond, King’s Creek Inn is another beautiful location for dinner.  Offering their “Fireside Feasts” on Friday and Saturday evenings all winter long,  they are cooking up something special indeed for Valentine’s Day week-end.   Dining by a crackling fireplace is always romantic, in addition, all the ladies will be receiving a long-stemmed rose to help celebrate the evening.  Entrees will include Filet of Sole stuffed with Lump Crab, a Surf and Turf,  Lamb Shanks slow roasted in wine and Chicken stuffed with Brie and Cranberry.  Dessert sounds delightful, their signature Chocolate Mousse Cake or a Truffle Cheesecake, yummy.  Located at 3018 Bowden Landing just outside town. Call 757-678-6355 for reservations.

 

Kelly's Pub Cape Charles 4.  Kelly’s Gingernut Pub- Offering great food in a unique and casual atmosphere. Located at  133  Mason Avenue in the center of Cape Charles, in what was once a historic brick bank building, now lovingly renovated by owner Gene Kelly.  Try the cozy seating section called “The Vault”,  located in what was once, duh,  the bank’s vault.   Kelly’s combines  a fun atmosphere with excellent pub-style food plus some excellent chef’s specials for dinner on week-ends.  For Valentine’s Day, among other offerings,  Kelly’s will present  Oysters Rockefeller, Crab Claw & Shrimp Cocktail,  Three Cheese Ravioli in a Crab and Cream sauce, Surf and Turf as well as a Grilled Rib- eye Steak with Portobello Mushrooms.  Cheesecake with Berries for dessert.  Call for more info at 757-331-3222

 

A Glorious New Year’s Day 2014 Trip From Eastern Shore Virginia To Williamsburg, VA’s Historic District

January 28th, 2014 by Marlene email

CBBTBright, sunny, beautiful from dawn till dusk, New Year’s Day 2014 was simply lovely.  We had planned early on to ring in New Year’s Day in Williamsburg and the weather could not have been more co-operative.  One of the  delights of a trip to the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg in December are the beautiful holiday decorations– the door of each home in the restored area is adored with a unique, handmade wreath.  And since they are all crafted by the residents, no wreath is duplicated.  For about the last ten years we have made an annual pilgrimage on New Year’s Day to enjoy a guilt-free buffet brunch at one of the hotels because afterwards we take a brisk walk through the restored area to work off all those calories !   ( An excellent excuse for sampling several deserts …..)  And the trip from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg is so easy,  a glide over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, clear blue waters below,  chop-chop-chop up I-64 E , exit onto Colonial Parkway and, insto-presto, in less than 2 hours it’s napkin in lap, fork in hand, ready to enjoy a luscious lunch.

 

Williamsburg InnLunch this year was an interesting buffet at the always special Williamsburg Inn– in addition to  Southern regional dishes like oyster pie,   seafood fritatta and minced Smithfield ham salad,  a surprisingly excellent offering was a black-eyed pea bisque.  For those not familiar,  it is a Southern tradition that on New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas – they are supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.  I don’t really enjoy them and the idea of black-eyed pea bisque was initially not appealing whatever. But Hubby tried some, wow, said he, this bisque is really excellent, you really should try it.   So I did…. once, twice and three times a charm !  Couldn’t believe it, that’s how delicious it was, best darn thing on the menu, I shall remember it aways.  Well, maybe not always but at least until next year when I hope they will serve it again !  The desserts were fun, especially the crepe’ station, rich, thin crepe’s filled with Bananas Foster, topped with a little scoop of fabulous ice cream and sliced fresh strawberries, very, very yummy indeed.

Williamsburg Historic area shop 244The weather was  delightful,  a little warmer than usual, about 55 degrees,  so when we started our walk  Duke of Gloucester Street was teeming with folks from all over, tourists wearing their badge passes,  locals,  students from the College of William and Mary which is located just a few blocks away, everyone quite  relaxed, just enjoying the afternoon, strolling down this historic street.  If you love dogs, Gloucester Street is also a “meet and greet” heaven for dogs of all kinds and sizes, as owners leisurely traipse down the street behind their pooches.  This year was an especially great year for ”people walking dog”  watching– a Bernese Mountain dog, Labradoodle, Great Pyrenees, Scottie, Doxie, Boxer, you name it, they were enthusiastically escorting their owners down this four hundred year old street where individuals  like  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both alumni of William and Mary, probably walked their dogs too.   Interestingly, you almost never see aggressive canine behavior there, just doggie curiosity and tail wagging which makes the whole “man’s best friend” scene lots of fun. And to add additional interest to this convivial scene, the  period style carriages were out in force, each drawn by two gorgeous, well-cared for horses, stepping high, coats gleaming in the afternoon sunlight, liveried driver seated high above.  The carriages are apparently hand- manufactured in Austria according to one of the drivers but the wheels themselves are actually handmade at the wheelwright shop right in the Williamsburg Historic Area. Anyway, four or five horse-drawn carriages traveling down the street is quite a sight.

Williamsburg Christmas Decorations 241 This year’s batch of wreaths and swags was interesting as always.  Nearly every home and shop in the Restored Area is decorated each holiday season with a wreath or swag made entirely of materials which would have been available to residents of  the 18th century, basically constructed from fresh greenery pine, fraiser, boxwood, holly, magnolia and decorated with a myriad of dried different flowers, seeds and fruits, no artificial decorations allowed.  To up the ante’ a bit for residents, 1st, 2nd. and 3rd place blue ribbons are awarded and given the obvious amount of  effort many wreaths show, I’m guessing there is a bit of friendly competition every year to win a ribbon.  The effect is so pleasing that every year literally thousands of visitors come each year over the holidays to see the decorations and enjoy a holiday meal in one of the period taverns.  Each Tavern is  gaily decorated for the season, softly lighted by candles with costumed servers offering food authentic to the period– one of the most famous is the King’s Arms Tavern which is famous for its peanut soup,  Game Pye as well as an unusual veggie offering, a rich creamed celery with a hint of nutmeg,  which doesn’t sound that great but which was quite delicious.   There is always something new to see or try in Williamsburg and a visit there is  a great way to kick off the New Year.

 

From The Entire Crew At Blue Heron Realty Co., Our Wishes For A Happy Holiday Season And A Great New Year !

December 24th, 2013 by Marlene email

Well, it’s that time  of year again,  putting up the outdoor lights, decorating the big cedar tree in the front yard,  getting  a wreath properly hung on the door so that it isn’t that  tiny bit crooked, and,  my special favorite, stringing long loops of  colorful holiday lights along the full length of our back deck, such a cheery sight as dusk falls.  And all the usual outdoor holiday decor tasks  are made so much easier here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia because of our mild but definite 4 season climate. ( The delights of  the  Shore’s fabulous climate  were brought into sharp relief today by a call from an employee who had made what was to have been just a quick trip to Houlton, Maine, expecting to be back for work as scheduled on yesterday.  Instead, she got trapped by a major winter storm with a projected duration of at least 2 days, 8-12 inches of snow and lots of ice accumulation expected, so she missed  work  because it was too dangerous to drive.  You just wouldn’t  believe it, said she, ice pellets are falling fast and furiously, snow drifts are about a gazillion feet high, I’m so ready to get back to the Shore !  )  So,  counting my blessings as I puttered out on the deck yesterday afternoon, dressed in a light windbreaker, potting up pansies into  3 beautiful flower pots  I  got as  gifts for a special friend,  sky blue, sun shining, slight breeze blowing off the water, nary a snowflake in sight, no black ice, no 30 car pile-ups…..  I think next year I should just print t-shirts that say:  ”Life is good ….on Virginia’s Eastern Shore“.

On a more serious note, this is the time of year when friends and family  are close in mind and heart, and, if we are lucky, in body too.  Trivial and petty are hopefully cast aside,  leaving more space for thinking  not just of family and friends but especially about helping those less fortunate.  By nature, I am an optimist and 13 is my lucky number–  but it does seem that 2013  has brought  definite economic improvement here on the Eastern Shore and nationwide.  For this, at Blue Heron Realty Co.,  we are truly grateful.  And we would especially like to thank our clients and customers, all the many folks who have purchased or listed property through our firm.  Please know that we very much appreciate your business and really value your confidence in us.

And to the readers of this little blog about life and real estate on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, we hope you found some of the information you were looking for and had some fun too, learning about our slender peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Happily,  we had our 15 minutes of fame and celebrity this year as the Home and Garden Network (HGTV) premiered  a “beachfront house hunter” episode earlier this month about the Eastern Shore of Virginia  and one of its most charming little historic towns, Cape Charles, VA  and, ta-da, featured Eva Noonan, sales agent in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office and her buyers, the Outlands.  I loved watching the HGTV crew film the show over 4 days, it was such a fun and a unique experience, keep an eye out for  repeat showings of our episode.  And I’m hoping in 2014 you will keep reading our little blog to learn more about the amazing quality of life and the outstanding real estate opportunities on the Eastern Shore to purchase beachfront properties, homes with backyard boat docks, Bay Creek Golf Resort listings,  historic homes as well as  town and country homes  listed for sale by Blue Heron Realty Co. in the Chesapeake Bay area   

And so, from Lemoin, Marlene, Montaigne, Mike, Gerry, Heather, Kay, Lisa and Brandi in Blue Heron’s  Machipongo, VA  main office and from Dave, Eva, Jennifer, Luisa, Bonnie and Cynthia in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles, VA branch office,  thanks once again for your continued support, we really appreciate it.  Best wishes to you and yours from the entire Blue Heron crew for a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous  2014.      ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA. )

Christmas party blog photo

 

” A Victorian Winter Wedding” Was The Theme Of The 18th Annual Cape Charles VA Holiday Progressive Dinner

December 12th, 2013 by Marlene email

18th Annual Holiday Progressive Dinner Tour brochure Sponsored for the 18th year by the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, and chaired this year by Blue Heron Realty Co. client, Tammy Holloway, owner of  the gorgeous Bay Haven B&B,  the annual Cape Charles  Holiday Progressive Dinner is always a fun event, homes dressed to the nines, holiday lights blazing, food, wine  and lots of good cheer. But what sets the Cape Charles event apart from progressive dinners all across the South (where they are very popular)  is its wonderful entertainment. Due largely to the influence of the Arts Enter ! theatre group sponsored by the historic Palace Theatre,  the Cape Charles Progressive Dinners always feature a special theme and offer entertainment, usually consisting of  numerous vignettes produced by the theatre group, with each home on the Tour playing  its part  in  the  theme. This year’s theme was ” A Victorian Winter Wedding“.  Like the town itself, it is set at the turn of the century,  and  revolves  around the elaborate preparations for the wedding ( fictional) of the Mayor of Cape Charles to the son of a well-liked local  businessman.  The wedding theme was embellished at every stop on the Tour, as each home offered a glimpse of a particular aspect of the extensive preparations for the wedding.  To better set the mood, at each stop the home’s owner,  host and greeters were elaborately costumed in elegant period fashion.  ( One  of the  really clever aspects was that the Mayor’s daughter was marrying the son of one of the town’s foremost businessmen, the builder W. H. Lambertson,  and two of the homes on this year’s Progressive Dinner were  actually built by W.H. Lambertson in the early 1900′s.)

 

DSC_0434The evening  kicked off  at the striking, art-deco style Palace Theatre, built-in 1941 and now fully refurbished, thanks to the fund-raising efforts of Art’s Enter.  We were in the early group, started at 3:20, ended about 6:00 pm.  In general, organizers have it  arranged so that  ticket holders consist of groups of about 25 and departures staggered about 20 minutes apart.  At the theatre, setting the evening’s theme, we were treated to a short play starring the irrepressible Trina Veber, veteran of many Progressive Dinner vignettes, in the key role of the Mayor’s wife, mother of the bride, anxious to uphold her position as a pillar of Cape Charles society.  Here we learn that although the Mayor is cheap, famous for pinching pennies, his wife has arranged to have the wedding dress purchased and fitted by the most prestigious dress shop in town, whose owner has recently made a buying trip to New York City to secure a variety of lovely but expensive dresses for this high society wedding.  We also learn that so many guests are expected that both the Cape Charles Inn ( in real life also an inn, the Chesapeake  B&B) and the famous ( in real life as well) Miss Mollie’s Boarding House, (where the portrait painter for the official wedding portrait will be staying ), both will be filled with VIP wedding guests.  As the little play ends,  the audience is  left wondering if Daddy isn’t  going to throw a conniption fit when he gets the bill for all the grand wedding preparations. But we shall find out before our evening ends.  While the action is proceeding on stage, Dinner ticket holders are enjoying a  High Tea–  tender tea sandwiches, cucumber dill and  liver mousse with red onion, prepared by Hook-U-Up restaurant’s  fine chef, Tim Brown,  as well as a fluffy, orange-iced cranberry orange scone baked by the Cape Charles Coffee House, served with sweet orange tea.

DSC_0527Off then to the second stop,  a  classic American four square home, one of the many examples in Cape Charles, which the playbill proclaims as home to the Lambertson family whose son is to marry the Mayor’s daughter.  From the owner’s speech before entering the house, we learn that when she purchased the property in 2009, this now-lovely house was in serious disrepair and served primarily as the abode for a large flock of pigeons !  As we walk through and see it now,  the house has been beautifully restored and is a real credit to the efforts of its new owners.  In the theme of the wedding, this house serves as  the elegant dress shop. In an upstairs bedroom several mannequins are dressed with beautiful bridal attire in various stages of being fitted.  ( Kudos to all the efforts of Arts Enter volunteers  in securing the gorgeous period costumes– it must have been a real labor of love.  In fact, it’s  the numerous participants, volunteers all, over 150 of them, that make the Dinner possible. Without them it just couldn’t be pulled off  ! )  Food here was prepared by The Shanty,  a fun new seafood restaurant located right on the Cape Charles Harbor, and featured Oysters Rockefeller and Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque.  Unfortunately, although I live in one of the finest oyster producing regions in the entire country, I’m not an oyster person so didn’t have any— but Hubby and Eldest Daughter assured me they were succulent.  However, I can personally attest that the bisque was absolutely delicious– smooth, creamy with a hint of  char at the finish.  Actually, it was my favorite dish of the entire dinner, especially as I am a devotee’ of butternut squash bisque. Wine accompaniment was  Church Creek Steel Chardonnay by Chatham Vineyard, a fine local vineyard and winery.

DSC_0446 DSC_0455 DSC_0457 DSC_0453

Mayer home 2From there, we were off to the Inn, a walk of a few short blocks. In the Dinner’s theme, the Inn was to provide  accommodations and hospitality for many of the out-of-town guests expected for the wedding and is elaborately decorated for the occasion.. In real life,  the Inn really is an inn, the Chesapeake B&B.  Listed for sale by Blue  Heron Realty Co., it is a gorgeous 2 story historic brick Colonial Revival home which overlooks the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Charles’ soft sand beach.  One of its most stunning features is the arcaded 5 bay brick front porch. For the Dinner,  the owners  had decorated both porch and shrubbery with a stunning display of bright holiday lights, total eye candy.  ( For more information on the features of this extensively renovated property, visit http://www.blueheronva.com/property.php?propid=1516 . )  Our group arrived just as the sun was beginning to set, the sky was streaked with soft pinks and violets, absolutely stunning. Prepared by the historic Eastville Inn  in Eastville, VA, the offering here was a rich Rockfish Chowder.  Rockfish is probably the Eastern Shore’s most prized late season fish, mild and firm flesh, perfect for a chowder.  This particular dish is the signature fall-winter dish of the Eastville Inn and includes corn and asparagus, is seasoned with applewood smoked bacon and a touch of garlic and thyme,  served with sweet potato rolls spread with a brown-sugar cinnamon butter.  Yum !

DSC_0461 DSC_0473 DSC_0477 DSC_0479

DSC_0511Next stop, in my opinion, one of the most charming homes in all of Cape Charles, with one of  the indisputably most beautiful front porches in town, curved, graceful  and full house length. Built in 1912 for Cape Charles’ first banker by W.H. Lambertson, whose son ( in the play) is to marry the Mayor’s daughter, this home continues the evening’s  theme as being the home of the bride’s best friend. It is at this gorgeous home  that the bridesmaids and friends will gather to make  decorations and guest favors for the wedding.  The tools and materials for same are seen as ticket holders tour the bedrooms at this house. Food served here was prepared by   Aqua Restaurant, offering fine and casual dining right on the shores of  Chesapeake Bay  at King’s Creek Marina .  A modern update of  a traditional Waldorf salad and a lightly curried chicken salad in a small brioche roll, very tasty, were served, complemented by Italian white wine selected for the occasion by the Gull Hummock Wine and Cheese shop in Cape Charles.

DSC_0488 DSC_0494 DSC_0500 DSC_0505

DSC_0529The final home on the tour was Miss Mollie’s  boarding house which was, in real life, Miss Mollie’s Boarding House. Apparently Miss Mollie ran the boarding house for many years after her husband’s death and was known Shore-wide for her famous pound cake. At the house,  a video interview of Miss Mollie, done many years ago for a special Cape Charles history event,  was playing on the VCR– fascinating, a real highlight and I took a quick pic for this blog post.  Miss Mollie died at 101 and in the TV interview I’m guessing she was somewhere in her nineties but still sharp as a tack because when the interviewer, long-time local pharmacist, George Savage, apparently asked a particular question for a 2nd time, he received a  quick retort,  ” Why you already asked me that !”   When George inquired how many of her famous pound cakes she thought she had baked over her lifetime, she guessed she had baked plenty more than a thousand–  which is a heck of a lot of   home baking !  Food served here was prepared by Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, a fun place with  good food located on Mason Avenue in Cape Charles and included a delicious roast beef-Yorkshire pudding canape plus a roastedvegetable tort served in individual tart shells topped with a creamy, buttery sauce.  The piece de resistance’ was a little slice of Miss Mollie’s cake, a rich vanilla pound cake, prepared by Heritage Hall in Nassawadox, baked according to Miss Mollie’s very own recipe.  As party favors,  printed copies of Miss Mollie’s recipe were available for guests to take with them if desired– I took one and intend to try it out for myself.

DSC_0521 DSC_0523 DSC_0524 DSC_0525

DSC_0543Leaving Miss Mollie’s,  it was just a short walk to the Cape Charles Town Library where the theme and the Dinner concluded,  with the penny-pinching Mayor was scheduled to see his daughter modeling her gorgeous, albeit expensive,  bridal gown for the very first time.  Suddenly he forgets the expense of the wedding and realizes that his baby girl is going to be gone, about to get married and move from his home, that it is family, not fortune,  he should be thinking about now.  Thus endeth  the play and also the Dinner,  after  the dessert course, naturally.  A  collaboration between Heritage Hall and Brown Dog Ice Cream in Cape Charles,  dessert was a delectable ginger snap cookie “sandwich” filled with Brown Dog’s heavenly ice cream,  Caramelized Fig and Mascarpone Cheese flavor, easy to hold, delicious to eat. It was the sweet end to a sweet day.  But one more treat to come– Pheiffer Stables, whose farm is  located on the outskirts of  Cape Charles, had brought a holiday-light decorated carriage into town, pulled by Rosie, a lovely patient horse. Horse and driver  stood ready outside the Library,  prepared to ferry  weary Tour members  back to the Theatre.  So aboard Hubby and I hopped,  not  spring chickens any more,  nice to get off our feet after several hours walking  town. So with sleighbells bells ringing,  off we rode to our car,  a perfect end to a  great evening.

DSC_0540 DSC_0544 DSC_0545 DSC_0538

The Alpacas Stole The Show At The 11th Annual Thanksgiving Artisan’s Guild Open Studio And Vineyard Tour On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

December 6th, 2013 by Marlene email
Brochure for the 11th annual artisan open studio tour on Eastern Shore VA

The Tour Is A Great Way To Find Unique Gifts For Special People On Your Holiday Gift List

It’s that time of year again– splendid Thanksgiving repast over, excess turkey safely ensconced in a light cream- and- sherry tetrazzini sauce, friendly football bets all settled– and on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, time for something different, one of my favorite events of the year,  the annual Thanksgiving Artisan Open Studio and Vineyard  Tour.  Pleasant, low-key, the Tour is the Friday-Saturday-Sunday after Turkey Day opportunity to personally meet talented local artists and select unique and beautiful art for some of the special people on your holiday gift list.  One of the great things about this self-guided driving tour, for locals and visitors alike, is that it is spread over a  wide- ranging area. Since the event is held in the participating artists’ studios, which are quite often located at their personal residences, visitors often end up traveling down scenic by-ways and into little hamlets that they would not ordinarily be exploring  if not for the Tour.  Thankfully,  the Guild puts out an on-line brochure and map, plus plenty of  signs and arrows are placed strategically along roads, their red bows waving in the breeze, helping to  guide folks along the way.  This year’s  Open Studio sites were scattered  from Capeville to Onancock.  ( One of my favorite Tours took place a  few years ago when we visited Open Studios  located from south of Cape Charles up to the island of Chincoteague near the Shore’s northern border with Maryland,  a distance  just shy of  70 miles.  We got started early in Cape Charles and visited just about every venue.  In fact,  after touring the 2 of the 3 open studios on Chincoteague that year, we spent the remaining half hour + of daylight at the beautiful Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, home of the famous Pony Round-up.  The vast flocks of snow geese were so  impressive, elegant white birds serenely floating on clear blue waters. )

Brown Alpaca Youngster

Am I Cute Or What ??

Because of another commitment, this year we were unfortunately unable to start until after lunch.  With two grandkids in tow, aged 8 and 11,  we set off for the By The Bay Alpaca Farm in Pungoteague.  The approach to the property is down a long farm road, through large fields blanketed with green winter cover crops,  when suddenly they appear, some of  the cutest farm animals you’ll ever see,  a  herd of 14 beautiful alpacas.  During the drive I had asked the boys what they knew about alpacas– the 8 year old piped up that he thought they were members of the camel family and the 11 year old commented that they are a lot like llamas.  But none of us had ever seen an alpaca up close and personal so we  were looking forward to reaching out and touching one of these adorable creatures.   Definitely not disappointed, they were the highlight of the entire Tour for the 4 of us, absolutely stole the show !  These graceful animals, with cloven hoofs like deer, in various shades of beige, white and brown, placidly chewed their cuds,  completely ignoring their many admiring visitors.

Alpaca on a leash ready to be petted

OK, I’m Ready For Some Petting

Awards and ribbons won by the By The Bay Alpaca farm

A Sea Of Awards and Ribbons Line The Walls At By The Bay Alpaca Farm

Andrew Leach, who with Tara King  runs the farm,  was kind enough to put a leash on one of the sweetest youngsters and let the 4 of us pet him.  I was quite surprised at how long and deep the fleece is, about  3 inches this time of year, although it will be at least 6 inches long by the time they get sheared in the spring. And soft, it was amazingly soft,  which is why it is so prized for sweaters, scarves, gloves, etc. , all of which Tara makes right there on the farm in her light-filled studio.  By The Bay has won numerous awards for its fleece.  The studio is a veritable sea of ribbons and awards, a real accomplishment for the owners, especially considering that they started with only a single pregnant female and have built their herd of 14 from there.  Aside from how incredibly soft the fleece is,  we were all surprised by how much alpacas vocalize as well as  by the fact that, unlike cows, horses, etc.,  they are essentially “potty trained”.  Though I hesitate to get so earthy in a blog post, we were all astonished to see three or four different animals walk up to what apparently is their selected potty area in the middle of the pasture and do their thing,  right on the exact same spot where a previous  animal had just finished.  I asked Andrew if I was just imagining this and he said that alpacas like to keep their pastures clean and that they do basically adhere to a central toilet area instinctively, no attempts at training from him !  Who would have guessed ….

Artist display of blown glass

Reflections Glass On Display

From By The Bay we were off to Onancock, specifically the historic Onancock School which now houses the studios of  about 10 artisans.  We visited the studio of Elizabeth Hunt, a well-known potter who does beautifully decorative stoneware,  David Farlow, the Harbormaster at the Quinby, VA harbor, who is a 4th generation Eastern Shore decoy carver  and the  Reflections Glass Studio, owned by the Careys, a husband and wife glass blowing team.   There were more studios at the school to visit but because of our late start it was almost the witching hour and I still wanted to visit the studio of Vesna Zidovec,  a well-known potter, whose mirrors decorated by borders of  her hand-made glazed marine life tiles are legendary here on the Shore.  Vesna has a very cozy studio in her home in Onancock, toasty warm from a wood stove in the corner,  flanked by a chessboard table, soft classical music playing,  a great place to end the Tour. We selected a lovely glazed bowl decorated with, of course, a blue heron,  and then it was time to head for home, another Tour, albeit abbreviated, under our belts, a delightful time had by all plus a lot more info on alpacas.

 

 

 

DSC_0407 DSC_0398 DSC_0392 DSC_0404

“Fire”, A Female Cooper’s Hawk, Was The Hit Of The 21st Annual Eastern Shore of Virgina Birding & Wildlife Festival

November 25th, 2013 by Marlene email
Image of Eastern Shore flyway

Eastern Shore Virginia bird migration flyway

Every year during the first week of October, thousands of bird lovers gather on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for the annual Birding Festival.  Hosted by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Festivals, Inc, a local non-profit, we recently celebrated the 21st annual Birding and Wildlife Festival.  Coinciding each year with the annual fall bird migrations,  the Festival is a celebration of the amazing variety and quantity of bird life found here on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore, especially at the Shore’s beautiful Southern Tip.  Since the land mass of the DelMarVa  (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) peninsula, of which the Virginia portion is the southern terminus, is widest at the northern section and narrows gradually as one moves south,  it acts almost like a funnel.  The bountiful tip of  Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  just south of Cape Charles, VA where the land ends as the  Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay converge,  is a bird-friendly area offering lots of food, water and protective vegetation becomes the natural  ”layover”  point for  millions of migrating feathered friends as they travel south along the Atlantic Flyway. 

Eastern Shore Virginia Barrier Island chain

Eastern Shore Barrier Island chain, part of the Virginia Coast Reserve

So what better location to hold a Festival to see and learn about a whole variety of birds than the special place where they stop to rest and feed before beginning a  journey over open waters ?   Having spent a summer nesting and parenting,  munching on gourmet goodies like seeds,worms and insects, just generally loafing around and yuking it up in the temperate climate of the East Coast of North America, the Birding Festival takes place during the peak migration period.  Migration is dangerous, a  journey from which  is estimated that nearly half  will not survive to return to breed in the Spring because of  the  predators encountered en route and the hazards of  a long, energy-demanding flight over  lengthy stretches of open waters.  Since the Chesapeake Bay is a large physical barrier,  it is especially important that natural habitat offering plentiful food and cover be available at the tip of the Shore to provide for refueling and protection from predators as the birds  rest for a day or two before  departing on the next leg of their journey.  This makes it especially important on the Eastern Shore for individual landowners and conservation groups to make sure that the trees, shrubs and grasses which  provide the critical seeds and berries needed by the birds are maintained . Towards this end, several large farm parcels  located in this very critical rest corridor have been purchased by The Nature Conservancy for the express purpose of trying to maintain vegetative cover for bird habitat. And The Nature Conservancy has also been very active in preserving other critical  bird life areas on the Eastern Shore including  acquisition of  the famed “Virginia Coast Reserve“, the off-shore Virginia Barrier Islands chain, now designated as a United Nations Biosphere,  purchased by the Conservancy to protect them from development and to maintain crucial wildlife habitat.

Kids petting a skunk at eastern Shore VA birding festival

Petting A De-perfumed Skunk At The Eastern Shore Virginia Birding Festival

Fire, A Harris Hawk, Munching On A Her Raw Chicken Reward

Fire, A Trained Harris Hawk, Munches On Her Reward For A Demonstration Well Performed

The Festival includes a central Exhibitor’s Hall in Cape Charles, a forum for conservation groups and private firms to provide information on their programs. Once again the exhibits by the Virginia Living Museum were a big hit, especially the de-perfumed skunk which the kids had great fun petting.  But some of  the really fun stuff  involved a few special programs and the amazing variety of  unique field trips.  Which brings us to the beautiful  Harris Hawk  named Fire.  She is the big star of  an amazing show featuring  various raptors  in flight, called, duh, the Flight of the Raptor.  Started in 1995 by Master Falconer Ray Pena,  this fascinating demonstration includes numerous hawks and peregrine falcons who have been trained to catch a lure in mid-air and bring it to ground,  just as they would in the wild.  Apparently for nearly four thousand years  raptors have been trained by man to help  hunt for food, especially rabbit and pheasant.  During the show, Fire and other hawks are released and freely fly to any nearby perch— in Fire’s case,  to the top of a Bay Coast Railroad locomotive.   The falconer then twirls a feathered or fur lure in circles over his head, the hawk circles overhead and then dives for the lure, bringing  it dramatically to ground.  Ray gets the hawk to release the prey to him and rewards it with a bit of raw chicken,  Fire’s favorite treat. ( By the way, hawks eat everything from their catches —  feathers,  fur, bones, the whole nine yards, which help satisfy the mineral requirements in their diets. )  The substantial crowd which had gathered for this demonstration was pretty amazed to see how, when these hawks are released from their perches, they fly off to a nearby tree or whatever, watch for the lure, dive for it and then let the falconer take it away from them.   

DSC_0112 DSC_0016  DSC_0089 DSC_0075

Banding songbirds at Kiptopeake State Park

Bird Banding At Kiptopeake State Park During The 2013 Eastern Shore VA Birding Festival

Aerial view of Oyster VA harbor

Aerial View of the Oyster, VA Harbor, Departure Location For Several Birding Festival Boat Tours

All kinds of interesting field trips are available for attendee  participation — ranging from bird banding demos, hikes,  boat tours and workshops, there is something for everybody.   The bird banding is fascinating and the  hikes are a big favorite, especially the  Eyre Hall Hike over 600 acres of diverse habitat along Cherrystone Creek.  Here hikers will see mature forests, freshwater marshes and ponds, open saltwater beaches and tidal flats as well as open farm fields.  Bird watchers are invited by the owner to tour the famous gardens associated with Eyre Hall’s  circa 1760 home.  The  Owl Prowl Sounds of the Night outings at the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge and the Kiptopeake State Park are also lots of fun and  good opportunities to experience nocturnal wildlife activity.  Captain Buddy Vaughan’s Cobb Bay Boat Excursion leaving out of  Oyster village harbor is an exciting way to see a barrier island beach and view numerous shorebirds including oystercatchers, whimbrels, sandpipers and terns. For attendees hoping to see clapper rails saltmarsh sparrows and maybe even a Delmarva fox squirrel, Capt. Rick Kellam’s Broadwater Bay Ecotours out of Willis Wharf  offered a boat tour of the pristine Machipongo River, a seaside saltwater inlet from the Atlantic Ocean.  Popular workshops included the Butterfly Walk and the Dragonfly Workshop &  Field Trip.  Another interesting boat trip, sponsored by the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality, was the Sea Grasses and Oyster Reefs Boat Trip.  Also departing out of  Oyster village, this trip traveled to the nearby sites of the US’s largest and most comprehensive  aquatic grass restoration project,  a $6,000,000 investment by Virginia Coastal Zone Management to support shellfish farming and ecotourism.  Something for everyone is the promise of  each Birding Festival and it truly delivers on that promise. 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous B & B Listed For Sale In The Charming Victorian Beachfront Town Of Cape Charles, Virginia

November 7th, 2013 by Marlene email
Beach blanket and flip flops at Cape Charles VA beach

Cape Charles, VA Was Named One Of Southern Living’s “5 Best Little Beach Towns” In 2012

What better opportunity to marry a  love of fine historic homes with a spirit of entrepreneurialism than operating a B&B ?  And what better place to purchase a gracious Bed and Breakfast  featuring fine Southern hospitality than in Cape Charles, VA  which offers an exciting coastal lifestyle in an intimate small historic town environment ?   Presto,  Blue Heron Realty Co. has just listed a fine opportunity to follow your dream of  both owning a gorgeous historic home and running your own business with this charming 7 bedroom, 8 bath beauty.   Located on the beautiful Southern Tip of  the Eastern Shore of  Virginia, which is the  slender terminus of the DELMARVA peninsula,  bordered on the West by the Chesapeake Bay and on the East by the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia’s Eastern Shore  is a dream location for anyone interested in coastal traditions. And the charming  Victorian town of Cape Charles is the epicenter of  cultural and maritime events on the Shore,  so it’s a terrific place to live a water-oriented lifestyle as well as  to operate a business that takes advantage of these special assets. In fact,  in 2012,  Cape Charles was named by Southern  Living magazine as one of its ” 5 Best Little Beach Towns.”  And we’re also proud to announce that Cape Charles and Blue Heron Realty Co. were  recently chosen by the Home and Garden TV Network  (HGTV)  to be a featured episode, airing in January, 2014, of  its exciting new series entitled “Beach House Bargain Hunt”.

Cape Charles House B & B

Cape Charles House B & B, A Classic Colonial Revival Featuring 7 Bedrooms And 8 Baths

Introducing the Cape Charles House Bed and Breakfast, one of the town’s largest and most opulent homes.  Constructed in 1912 on the highest point of land in Cape Charles, this 5900 sq. ft. classic Colonial Revival was lovingly restored by the current owners. Featured on the well-known HGTV program, “If Walls Could Talk” and a recipient of the coveted Governor’s Award for  B & B Hospitality,  this long-established B & B  has been welcoming guests since 1993.  With 5 spacious guest rooms, each with a sitting area, an en suite bath and individual climate control, Cape Charles House offers guests a great place to just unwind and relax.  Numerous large, sunny windows in guest rooms and in the spacious common areas create a pleasant, light and airy feel throughout. The gorgeous original hardwood floors were hand restored. The original moldings, pocket doors and high ceilings help maintain the integrity, warmth and beauty of this stately historic home. Outfitted with comfortable furniture and plenty of reading material and games, the common rooms include a large dining room with fireplace, a spacious living room with fireplace, a roomy parlor and, of course,  the cheery kitchen with  “never-ending”  self -serve coffee and tea service plus guest  ice maker .

Evans cape charles house marlen 030 Evans family room Diningroom view ge Evans dark blue bedroom

Gracious Front Porch on Cape Charles House B & B

The Gracious Wraparound Porch- The Perfect Place To Relax, Unwind And Enjoy The Virginia Eastern Shore Slower Pace Of Life

The gracious wrap-around porch is a favorite guest amenity and the perfect place to kick back on a balmy summer’s eve. Filled with pots of blooming flowers and decorated with white wicker furniture, guests love to relax and unwind here, enjoying the refreshing breezes flowing off the Chesapeake Bay just a few blocks away.  The town’s soft,  sparkling sand beach and swimming area is not just a favorite of Southern Living magazine,  it is one of the many prime recreational amenities that attract guests to Cape Charles House year after year.  Golfers fall in love with the two side- by- side 18 hole award-winning Arnold Palmer Signature and the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses located less than 10 minutes away.  The deep water Cape Charles Harbor Marina and the King’s Creek Marina are both boater’s delights– in fact, lots of  B&B guests arrive by boat and golf cart rentals are available for guests to tool around town during their stay.  For Nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, the nearby Eastern Shore of Virginia Wildlife Refuge and the Hawk Observatory at Kiptopeake State Park offer a full range of unique outdoor activities. The Cape Charles Historic Area boasts  vibrant little shops, art galleries, restaurants and the beloved Palace Theater, a lovely venue for live dramatic and musical performances. ( As a matter of fact, some  impressive artists, including  the Virginia Philharmonic Orchestra,  have played at the beautifully restored Art Deco design Palace. Theatre. )   Fine and casual dining opportunities, both  in-town and nearby,  offer a variety of delicious cuisines including luscious local seafood,  the famed steamed Chesapeake Bay blue crabs  and authentic  Southern-style BBQ.

   Beach white sand yaht in background 1golf carts on Bridge DSC_0008 DSC_0316

645 Tazewell Ave Cape Charles-VA

Prospective purchasers will really appreciate being able to retreat to the roomy owner’s quarters.  Offering total privacy from the rest of the house, the third floor has been remodeled into an owner’s penthouse apartment, complete with a master and a guest bedroom, an office area, a sitting room and a kitchen.  The owner’s quarters sunny master bedroom overlooks  park-like grounds and includes a huge walk-in closet and a sumptious master bath.  At the end of a busy day, the owner’s apartment provides the perfect place to relax and retire into your own private world. What a great house and terrific town for actually being able to live the  dream of owing a spectacular historic home and being your own boss !!   In addition to the real estate itself, the  purchase price of $695,000 for Cape Charles House B & B includes most furnishings, as well as ownership of the trade name, website domain name, the telephone number, the B&B’s very attractive website  and its valuable guest list.   Financial information is available upon request  by calling the Blue Heron Realty Co.  listing agent team of  Gerry Forbes and Heather Brady,  who may be reached at 757-678-5200.

645 Tazewell Ave Cape Charles-print-134-3rd Floor Family Room-2896x1944-300dpi[1] 645 Tazewell Ave Cape Charles-print-137-3rd Floor Kitchen-2896x1944-300dpi[1] 645 Tazewell Ave Cape Charles-print-147-3rd Floor Master-2896x1944-300dpi[2] 645 Tazewell Ave Cape Charles-print-148-3rd Floor Master Bath-2896x1944-300dpi[1]

 

 

 

 

 

The 21st Annual Eastern Shore of Virginia Harvest An Unqualified Success

October 18th, 2013 by Marlene email
Harvest Fest on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Harvest Fest On The Eastern Shore of Virginia

When you live on  the Eastern Shore of Virginia, as the first week of October rolls around, you can look forward to a few traditional  pleasures– mums start to bloom gloriously, pumpkins appear in riotous hues of orange at roadside farm markets but, best of all, it’s time for the annual Virginia Eastern Shore Harvest Festival,  sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.  Ticket sales are limited to about 2500 each year and there is no better hangout for an entire afternoon of food, fun, hospitality and some old-fashioned  “howdy-I’m-so-and-so-and-our-candidate-would-appreciate-your-vote”  state and local politics. Ground Zero is the Sunset Beach hotel’s spacious beachfront acreage at the beautiful southern tip of the Eastern Shore , right at the edge of  the mighty  Chesapeake Bay. 

Harvest Fest food tents

So Little Time, So Many Seafood Goodies

Although there is always lots of  great local art for sale, the seafood, of course,  is the big drawing card, a veritable cornucopia of Eastern Shore delicacies from the deep,  plus a few harmless veggies ( i.e., French fries and corn-on- the-cob, although this year there was also a salad station,  which mysteriously I somehow managed to miss ).  And for the landlubbers, fresh, local BBQ  and  the ever-popular Southern-style chicken wings do the honors.  First off, the trick is to start out by making a big circle around the entire venue, checking out exactly what’s on offer and then setting one’s eating strategy.  To dive enthusiastically into one’s favorites or to go with  the conventional appetizer/entrée’/dessert  strategy, that is the question.   Personally, I think most folks just dive into their favorite seafoods right off the bat in this all-you-can-eat heaven but almost everybody in our little group went with an “appetizer first” strategy, meaning that first up were the steamed little nicks,  everyone picking up baskets heaped with the ever- so- tender, half-dollar sized beauties, accompanied by melted butter.  And for those who love ice-cold oysters on the half shell,  an army of volunteers was kept busy popping opening these glistening beauties, enticingly  displayed on deep beds of crushed ice. 

Harvest fest 2013 015 Harvest fest 2013 014 Harvest fest 2013 041 Harvest fest 2013 061

Harvest Fest Winery Tent

Snagging A Nice Cool Glass of Local Chardonnay Wine, Perfect To Accompany An Afternoon Of Munching On Luscious Local Seafood

But, heresy of heresies, here in the land of  prolific clam and oyster aquaculture, I don’t like either clams or oysters!  So, while others were busy smacking lips over the bi-valves, I was moseying on over to the other side of the grounds to scoff up on a nice cold glass of Chardonnay to enjoy with my seafood. On the Eastern Shore we are fortunate to have three great local wineries, Chatham Vineyard, Holly Grove Winery and Bloxom Vineyard.   We’re  not Napa Valley but still, it’s great to be able to brag about having our own wine appellation, the Eastern Virginia Appellation.  And from there I headed straight into the arms of the Shrimp Station tent.  Now I really love shrimp, they are my personal seafood favorite,  but I am very particular about shrimp preparation. Be they steamed, fried or scampied, what reader of  this blog has not suffered through  rubbery, what-the-heck-are-these, grossly over-cooked shrimp ?  I must congratulate the charge’ d’affaires  of  the Shrimp Station  for a job really, really done well.  It’s hard to even imagine the challenges of  on-site cooking for literally hundreds upon hundreds of people,  in an open air tent, with portable equipment,  grappling with the logistics of  assuring that  every single ingredient is on hand, in the correct amount, definitely no possibility of just stepping into the pantry for more.  But to do this with shrimp, which are so easy to ruin with a too-thick, greasy coating or by over-cooking, is even more of a challenge.  But these were excellent,  tender, succulent, crisp in a light, crunchy tempura style batter, congrats to the whole Team Shrimp !   And did I  mention the accompanying sauce, a smooth, mayo- based sauce, delicately seasoned with tangy horseradish, a few spices and a bit of mustard, offering just enough bite  to contrast with the sweetness of the shrimp, absolutely delightful.

Harvest Fest Toadfish Tent

Toads By Any Other Name Would Be More Delicious

After a couple of turns with the whole shrimp thing,  it was off to Toads–fried toads. Not the jumps-out-from-behind-the-flower-pot kind of toad but rather a toadfish toad.  When cooked, they’re just  tiny things, about three inches long and about an inch or a bit more across.  But despite the off-putting name, they are delicious, with a delicate white meat, not fishy at all,  This was the first time that I can recall toads being served at Harvest Fest but they seemed to be very popular and I certainly enjoyed them, several helpings worth.  From there, it was off to the Flounder Station. Flounder is a fav fish of mine,  I especially like it served a la Sting Ray Restaurant’s  style, topped with a  rich Crab Imperial and finished under the broiler until smoking hot and crispy brown.  Totally yum !   Sadly, but of course, the Fest Flounder wasn’t topped with crab,  but it was still very good, tender, with a crisp seasoned coating, very nice.  

 

Eastern Shore Harvest Fest Crabcake Tent

Waiting In Line For Some Savory Crabcakes

While strolling around, scooping up shrimp, toads and flounder, I had also been keeping my eye on the Crabcake Station which been sporting a pretty long  line all afternoon.  However, when you’ve got seafood on the brain and there are savory crabcakes to be had, well, trust me, like the Sirens tempting Ulysses,  those  crab cakes call out,  long line or not.  So, hey girl, better just get in line with the dozens of other folks looking for their crabcake fix.  Presented this year by the well-known Exmore Diner,  prepared on a sizzling grill instead of deep-fried, I did wonder at the outset if these would be worth the wait.  But reaching the end of the line and picking up my prize, a plate of two aromatic crabcakes, made from the famously flavorful Chesapeake Bay blue crab, subtly spiced, with a pinch of parsley added,  delectably rich,  melt-in-your-mouth, I had to say, oh yes, they were worth the wait !

Harvest Fest - Virginia Eastern Shore art tents

Surveying The Local Art Talent

By then, totally sated, I was ready to move on to the Arts and Crafts tents and check out all the  paintings, carvings, sculpture, etc.  Harvest Fest always has always included great variety of local artisans displaying their creative works.  Among this year’s group were  Billy Crockett, a well-respected local carver,  Mary Onley, known affectionately as “Mama Girl“, whose whimsical paper-mache’  figures have become quite famous locally and Copper Creations, well-known for their Nature based copper art figures as well as garden art.  It’s  always fun to browse through, taking in all the beautiful things on display, especially as I have no talent whatever along those lines . I’m  always amazed to see how many really gifted artists we have here on the Eastern Shore and  I love wrapping up the annual Harvest Fest with a stroll through the art tents, a real feast for the eyes after such a delightful feast for the tum-tum.

Harvest fest 2013 069 Harvest fest 2013 068 Harvest fest 2013 004   Harvest fest 2013 074