We were blessed to enjoy Independence Day in one of the most strategic military ports in the United States. Norfolk is home to the largest Navy base in the world. The city is at the core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. Hampton Roads has become known as the world’s largest natural harbor. The area is steeped in 400 years of American history. It was, for example, here that the famous Battle of Hampton Roads between the first American ironclad warships, the Monitor and the Merrimack took place.
We started our 4th in the late morning by walking up to the MacArthur Center, a huge modern mall just a few blocks from our marina. We enjoyed lunch in the Food Court and did a little iPhone upgrading at the Apple store. Afterwards, we walked over to Nauticus, a marine-themed science center and museum nearby. The main attraction for us was a visit to the USS Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built. In Charleston, we had visited a submarine, aircraft carrier and destroyer, so we needed a battleship visit to complete our naval experience. The Wisconsin played a major role in WW II in the Pacific. She also served in the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War. In the attack against Iraq, she led the Navy’s surface attack.
Nauticus also houses the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which we also enjoyed visiting. There are exhibits on the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, the Civil War in Hampton Roads, the Great White Fleet, WW II, and the Cold War. It was a very interesting visit.
We then returned to Beatitude for a couple of hours of rest before eating dinner at Hell’s Kitchen, an edgy restaurant in downtown Norfolk (unrelated, as far as I know, to the TV show of the same name). After savoring some good food, we walked over to Town Point Park to enjoy some of the city’s 4th of July celebration. At 7 p.m., the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors performed. Their music consisted primarily of original music, funk, and a standard or two. At 8 p.m., the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band performed. They were very, very good. How blessed we felt to be laying on our blanket on the soft grass of Town Point Park in Norfolk listening to great music performed by members of our military on the 4th of July.
Impending storms caused the organizers to move up the fireworks from 9:30 to 9:00. So, shortly before, we walked the quarter-mile back to Beatitude, made a couple of enjoyable beverages, and sat out on the front deck to watch an awesome fireworks display. Once again, how blessed we felt!