Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kathleen Delaney - Flying Solo

Flying Solo Day One Blog for Carolina Conspiracy

It’s been ten months since the removal of my left leg, so its been that long since I’ve gone anywhere but the grocery store by myself. It was time.

I have an idea for a new series and wanted to do some research. The best place for it was Williamsburg. That I just happened to love going there had absolutely nothing to do with my decision. And, since I was going to be in Virginia, I thought I might as well go to Mt. Vernon and Monticello, places I somehow had never managed to see. So I started planning. It takes more, I’ve discovered, when you only have one leg. It also takes more guts. I almost backed out a couple of times, but I didn’t.

It is not easy to find wheelchair accessible rooms. That’s what they call them nowadays. Handicapped is out, accessible is in. I don’t know why, but it turns out to be confusing. Sometimes that just means you can get the wheelchair from the door to the bed, other times it means you have a roll-in shower and that you can reach the hairdryer. Booking on line doesn’t tell you, so you’d better ask someone, and hope to get someone who sort of speaks English. The person I got was very kind and helpful but had no idea where or what Virginia was. We both got an education during that conversation.

I started off Tue morning bright and early, prepared to enjoy the early fall drive north. Going alone has several advantages, one of which is there is more room to bring stuff. And to bring even more stuff home. And, there is room for the wheelchair, which takes up lots of room. The directions I had pulled off the Internet were, at best, confusing. I had no trouble as long as I kept on 85, but the closer I got to Williamsburg, the more I was convinced I was going the wrong, or possibly just the long, way. Why would I want to go through Richmond? I needed gas anyway, and the other comforts gas stations provide, so got off on Hwy 40. What a blessing that turned out to be. Just keep on 40, the woman said, and you’ll end up at the ferry that takes you across to York and Colonial Williamsburg.

I love ferries. It started when I was young and had cousins who lived in Coronado, just across from San Diego in California. That was before they built the bridge. Going on the ferry was the best part of visiting them. So, when she said ‘ferry’ there was no chance I was going back to the interstate. The road was two lanes and sort of meandered through fields and small towns. Wonderful. I passed cotton whose pods had split, the white fibers bursting out, ready for plucking. Other fields were stubble, freshly harvested of what I had no idea. There were fields of plants about three-four feet high whose leaves were turning all of the lush fall colors whose identity I never discovered, and then there was the swamp. Black stubs of trees sticking out of a huge field of equally black, and very still, water lent a surreal feel to the drive. Disney couldn’t have done it better. But then the clear cutting started. Field after field of nothing. You could see where trees had once stood, and some places where they were trying to grow back with little success. Pines of some kind were growing vigorously, along with lots of scrub of various kinds, but the big, beautiful old trees were gone. Not all, there are still long stretches of woods, but they seem to be slipping away. I soon drove into what I think is the reason. The welcoming sign on the small town proclaims it to be a company town, and right in the middle of it is the factory. They make particle board. I’m sure not all of the huge old trees I saw being trucked out go into that factory, but I bet some do. I’m hoping they can use the scrub growing so enthusiastically and leave what remains of the old trees to guard the forest.

Just a little further up the road I rounded a bend and there was the bay. And there sat the ferry. Going across was great, as usual, and it was free. That was not usual, but hooray for Virginia.

My room was in the historic part of Colonial Williamsburg and looked out on market square. It was great, and I was able to do several things before dark. I can walk on this artificial leg pretty well, but not long distances and not on cobblestones. Turns out rolling a wheelchair down a cobblestone street is a definite challenge as well. I ended that day with dinner at Shields. What fun and a great dinner. Our waiter regaled us with funny customs from the eighteenth century such as the fact that most people didn’t have spoons. Instead they scooped out the last of their soup or stew with a piece of dried bread called a sippett. I’ll keep my spoon. Met Mrs. Shields and she says her cornbread is the best in the town. If that be so---. Only disappointment is they no longer serve Syllabub. However, they do have a punch---.

A great day, and tomorrow the real reason I came begins.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hi Kathleen,

You're great to tackle these challenges head on! It sounds like the trip was fun and interesting for you.

Can't wait to read the material that your trip inspired!

Mystery Writing is Murder