A while back I did an editorial for a local newspaper about changes that I noticed here in Virginia; differences my grandparents never knew. The fact that I worked part-time for a company in Norfolk shortly after we moved here made it easier for me to put the article together, since it’s a big part of the area. In any event, my last blog got me thinking about that piece, which led me to the time I worked in Norfolk, in turn bringing cruise liners to mind, since this city has a very chic port. Then, as an after thought I realized, I had never been on a ship.
The building in the City of Norfolk where I worked sits directly on the Elizabeth River, and is called The World Trade Center. The fact that I’m from New York, made this somewhat interesting. Anyway, the time I spent there, the Norfolk Cruise Center stood under major renovations. But, while it underwent an overhaul, sailings were still pulling in and out. I said all of that to say, the suites where I worked faced the river and that cruise dock. Let me just add, Norfolk is quite a cosmopolitan city. Who knew? As far as vacations go I have always been the type of person to want to get where I’m going; I never thought to have my trip on board some large floating metropolis. I’d rather spend my time mingling with the locals, visiting the regional restaurants, and exploring the land. Also, although some boats now have restaurants with individual dining, if a person/family is not eating in them, they are thrown at a table with strangers. This is something, that never appealed to me. In addition, is there anywhere one can go to find solitude, without returning to their state-room? All of these reasons have kept me landlocked.
However, working in that building, joining in with the office staff on Friday’s to watch whatever ship in dock set out, I must admit it all piqued my curiosity. When a vessel leaves the pier, it backs up or just goes forward. Each one of these could begin moving frontward, but it had to maneuver the river, which in itself is an exhibition. I remember the buzz beginning some time after four-fifteen and we then, lined the massive windows, and marveled at the ability of the crew to get the behemoth out to sea by way of this tiny river; I say small because of the size of the beast. As the horn sounded, the child in me became wide-eyed, almost wanting to press my head against the glass, thinking it would put me closer. We all watched as it moved along, then suddenly, the weirdest thing – it stopped still. What I witnessed next impressed me to the point where, I wanted to run from the building screaming, “Wait for me, I want to come.”
I had never seen anything like it in my life, even through all my travels. And, I have been up close to large liners in the Bahamas. However, to my surprise, the stern appeared to stand still as the thrusters kicked in, and this monstrous piece of metal began moving sideways. Yes, sideways, allowing the bow to come around in the complete other direction. I mean, I know there are people out there who have witnessed this before. But I must say, for me – what a sight; the passengers on their balconies, as well as the top decks, all appearing doll-like as I’m certain we took on the same appearance standing in the windows of our building. It kind of made me wish they still did the confetti and streamer thing. Regardless, it got my adrenaline going to have the passengers wave as we all wagged our hands like they were beloved relatives leaving after a long visit. What ever happened to those kind of send-offs? Oh….the environment and the fish or something like that.
At five o’clock I would head out for home. For those who do not know, some of this area consists of the Peninsula, the Middle Peninsula and Southside, which is where Norfolk is located. The area is also loaded with causeways and tunnels, since it is all a part of the Chesapeake Bay waterway. The only way to get to the Peninsula where I live, from Southside, is through a tunnel. From Norfolk I would travel through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT). Low, and behold, as I came up on the passageway, I lift my eyes to the entrance, and there, right in front of me is the craft I watched twenty minutes earlier in the river – now headed out to the open water. As I watch, I intermittently take my eyes from the road. Just before I disappear underground, in spite of everything, it goes in one direction and I in another. Suddenly, a sense of sadness came over me, and I thought…..doggoned……I wanted to go.
http://bit.ly/2anapl Elizabeth River
http://bit.ly/lOEPU7 World Trade Center
http://bit.ly/jptOZ8 Norfolk Cruise Center
http://bit.ly/9BJGYm Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT)
Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto
Thanks to Wikipedia/Kayak/Google/Norfolk Daily Photo.com for their reference material