Tranquility brewed down Route 13 and that morning I was on my way to immerse myself into the thick of it. The journey along the 75-mile peninsula of the Eastern Shore in Virginia continued.
Stepping outside into the bright sunlight of the Eastern Shore’s morning, I sipped a cup of coffee on the patio chairs outside my room at the Wachapreague Inn. The salt air helped shake the fog of sleep and the strong coffee provided by the inn got me kicking into a higher gear. After a shower, I was back on the road heading south for another glorious day in Virginia.
Sunlight On Still Water
First activity planned for the day was a kayak tour to a local winery. I met my kayak guide from SouthEast Expeditions at the landing on Nassawadox Creek.
She quickly got us set up with life jackets, paddles. Soon we were gliding across the water on a still summer’s morn. Nature has a way of calming the mind. Observing the diversity of the Eastern Shore’s ecology from a kayak is sublime. My guide navigated the waters with precision as we made our way to our destination, circling Rabbit Island and enjoying the serenity. After less than an hours paddle we pulled up upon the beach at Church Creek and headed to Chatham Vineyards and Winery.
The Grapes of Virginia
A short stroll along cornfields past beautiful country houses led us to the Chatham Vineyards. Rows of grapes just weeks shy of being plucked glinted in the morning sun, a sight that would have made Dionysus smile, the Greek god of winemaking.
The road led to the quaint building where viticulture’s final product is pressed and bottled. That finished product; an array of spectacular wines. The staff and owner, Mills Wehner, shared their knowledge and love of winemaking with me, pouring glass after glass of delectable nectar.
A tour of the facility, machinery and casks gave way to the pleasing aroma of reds and whites. Browsing the wine menu, I asked for suggestions from the staff as gifts to take home and they happily obliged. Wine lovers beware; immersed in the scenery surrounding you and the taste of wine on your tongue, you won’t want to leave.
With an armload of wine our group of travelers made our way back onto the water. The pull of the oars, the observation of jellyfish floating upon the gentle waves and the grace of the terns flying above made the passage fly. Soon I was back in my car and had worked up an appetite, next mission; lunch!
The Machipongo Trading Company housed in an old gas station along Route 13 serves up a grand combination of gourmet coffee and healthy eats. A chicken salad wrap and dark roast coffee was just the thing to give me that afternoon burst of energy and send me on down the road to Cape Charles.
Searching for a Pearl
Cherrystone Aqua Farm is a sprawling complex on the banks of the Chesapeake, in Cape Charles, Virginia. An aqua farm is where shellfish are born, bred and raised to be used for food. Managing Director Tim Rapine, took me on a guided tour of the facility. We ventured past crates heaped with clams and oysters, a room filled with beakers of brightly colored algae, massive tanks where the baby shellfish feed and outside to outdoor troughs where fresh sea water is pumped to the mollusks.
Several times in their life spans they’re planted out in the sand either out in the Chesapeake or at another of Ballard’s offshore locations and brought back into the facility. The process of raising these shellfish from wee ones to full grown adults ready for your plate is fascinating and Ballard Fish and Oyster Company have it mastered after over 30 years of aqua farming.
Back on the Main Street is the Hotel Cape Charles. A historic upscale boutique hotel with a dash of the beach life. I was warmly greeted as I arrived to drop my bags and freshen up. My room was loft style with high ceilings, two supremely comfortable beds, a luxurious bathroom, amenities such as fridge, internet, breakfast and the best part not even a stone’s throw from the beach. An elegant respite in the heart of a thriving small town. Shops, cafes and restaurants are all a few steps away.
Fire on the Horizon
As the sun melted in the west and the Chesapeake waters glowed fire in reflection I sat upon the patio of The Shanty cold drink in hand, resting my feet after an eventful day. A menu filled with the delights of the sea and land gave me enough variety to order up a couple of plates including a savory burger. Delicious food, washed down with frosty drinks while the sunset is my preferred method of ending any day, even if it is a rarity.
After a few brilliant days on the Eastern Shore this ending was particularly magical though. I looked ahead to crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the morning and the ever forward momentum taking me on to Richmond.
If you’d like more information, please visit the Eastern Shore of Virginia page!