Wednesday, 21 May 2014

American Road Trip - Off to the Outer Banks and a real emergency - Part 4

So leaving Liz and Portsmouth, we retrace our steps and head back to Jamestown to see the little fortress and what it looked like inside; talk to a armourer about his weapons, and go aboard the  Susan Constant, the biggest of the three ships that came across from England.  This "mockup" of the first settlement is built on the mainland, not far from the island, and not 500 yards away the three ships sit at anchor.  They too are not the originals, but a lot of work went into making them as authentic as possible.  The biggest is the Susan Constant, a 120 ton merchantman.  The other two were the Godspeed at 40 tons and the Discovery at 20 tons.
Historical Jamestown, VA
Discover in the centre.  Tiny!!

 If I tell you that the Constant Susan is tiny, how small do you think the other two were?  Those passengers headed for the new world would have remained below decks, with no clean clothes, no washing facilities for most of the journey and this ship probably held 70 passengers as well as the crew.  The voyage was via the Canary Islands, over to the West Indies, and then up the coast to Chesapeake bay - a long route but taken because of the prevailing winds.  I listened to a re-enactor on the deck of the Constant Susan, telling another person about how the ship caught the wind and how they learned to use the sails on a ship of this kind.  I heard that it was rare for the passengers to be allowed up on deck for long, and certainly only in very small groups (particularly the men) in case of fighting.  The entire voyage started Dec 20 1606 landed at Chesapeake April 26, 1607.  They'd stopped in the Canaries, and then in the West Indies for food and water, but by the end of the voyage the water could not be drunk, and the food was dried out or mouldy.  No wonder they gave thanks when they stepped ashore.
Susan Constant, Jamestown
The Susan Constant - judge it's size by the crew members shown

So.  We'd learnt a whole new slice of history.  Here in the UK, we really only know about the Mayflower and the pilgrim fathers.  I can't think why we don't know of the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery.  But thanks to Alton and John, our hosts in Richmond, we do now.

If you are doing the Historic Triangle, suggest you put aside at least one whole day and wear comfortable shoes!  We spent around 5 hours total at Jamestown alone.

Now, taking the tunnel and the bridge from Newport News Over to Norfolk, we head east again for the Outer Banks, driving alongside the Dismal Swamp Canal for around 30 miles with a quick stop off at the information centre for the Dismal Swamp.  We drive across the bridge at Point Harbour,  onto the Outer Banks and on southwards to our town for two nights, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.  It's a surprise to us that this sandbank is so h.u.g.e that we can't see the sea!  Along malls full of shops and supermarkets and restaurants, and we know we are on a sandbank, we know we are on the Outer Banks, but where is the water?!!  From our route down the main road there isn't even a glimpse.  Is it really that wide?  We can't see the Atlantic, and on the inside, we can't see the Curritick Sound, the body of water between the mainland and the Outer Banks either!  But we follow the polite English voice on the GPS and we find the home of Jessie and Denver, and their gorgeous dog Dundee.  We are going to stay with them for 2 nights  but we will need to eat.  Denver says the best place in town, and not on the tourist infested main drag, is the Black Pelican, so after a chat and a quick wash off we go.  It's worth remembering that when any American (or Canadian) says "it's just down the road", it probably isn't.  Distances being so great everywhere, I guess it is just down the road for them, but that description for us Brits probably means no more than one quarter of a mile on foot.  But we found it, and ate well.  We got back just as they were retiring (Jessie works around 70 hours a week, and currently Denver does three jobs.... so a good nights rest is what they need).

We decided that bed was the place for us too but we never got there.  As I was sorting out nightwear, I heard a worried shout from John in the bathroom.  He had a nosebleed of gigantic proportions - the sink looked like a murder scene, and it just would not stop. After about 20 minutes (it seemed much longer) I decided help was needed, and went downstairs just as Denver came out of their bedroom having realised that something was wrong.  He drove us, in our hire car, 5 miles to the hospital, Jessie following behind so that she could drive him home again. The lovely Doctor Valentine and her duty nurse sorted him out by checking everything, attempting to stop it by normal means, then decided that plugs were the answer.  These are inserted before tiny balloons inside are inflated; then they have to stay in place for at least 24 hours plus before being deflated and removed.  Here he is in deep disguise with plugs in place.........
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The white valves at the ends are locked until the balloons are deflated.  Happy days - but he did need the disguise!