Background: We are 2 60-something couples with both husbands Retired Army Veterans and were able to take advantage of the cottages located in the dunes at the Dam Neck Annex. I am thankful for all the help I got on this board in planning this trip and hope that our notes here will help others. (You’ll notice that it seems like all we do is eat….lol)
SUNDAY: We left CT 5:30 in the morning and made the 500-mile drive. After checking into our 2-bedroom cottage and unpacking, we decided to check out Sandbridge Beach, about a 10-minute drive south. After a short walk on the fishing pier (beautiful weather and temperatures) we went in search of a restaurant. We weren’t able to get into the Baja Beach restaurant—a very, very busy place with an hour and half wait, so we ended up at Margie’s & Rays for Calamari, She Crab Soup (delicious!) and Fish & Chips. Very good introduction to Virginia seafood.
MONDAY: We headed to the local Walmart for provisions and fishing licenses. After all the speculating and finding different results on line as to how much an out-of-state salt water license would be, it turned out to be FREE for our 65 year old men.
After spending a bit of time in the surf, we showered and drove to the beginning of Virginia Beach, parked the car and walked halfway up the boardwalk. It was a nice warm and wonderfully breezy evening. It was not too crowded so it made for a pleasant walk. Most places had an hour-plus wait, so we reluctantly settled on the nearly deserted North Beach Bar & Grill attached to the Hampton Inn which provided a good view of the boardwalk. Unfortunately while the young gentlemen was bringing out our beverages on a tray, he over-reached and upended the tray with the 2 full glasses of wine on it all over 3 of us. He was very apologetic, but we were SOAKED, thus ended our dinner plans there. After talking with the not-at-all-helpful manager, we managed to walk away with a bunch of large garbage bags so we could sit in the car without getting red wine stains on it. In retrospect, the waiter probably did us a favor by saving our money on what probably would have been a mediocre meal due to the uninspired menu. (and based on some reviews we read of the place when we returned to the cottage, it only reinforced it)
TUESDAY: We watched the news of the impeding tropical storm coming up the coast. The early predictions are a possible Category I Hurricane to hit this area by Thursday. YIKES!!
We took a walk on the beach, heading north, and walked as far as they would allow… they turned us back where they were doing practice shooting at the gun range..
We had lunch at Lucky Oysters where I had a very good tuna fish taco and the rest had various fried seafood items. Service and food was great! While the Americans were playing soccer against Belgium in the World Cup, we cooked our dinner at the cottage after which the guys headed out for some surf fishing which only yielded a skate.
WEDNESDAY: We decided to go for the ‘Early Bird Breakfast’ special at Mary’s Restaurant. We had a sweet waitress but she had to apologize *constantly* for the long wait and the apparent problems in the kitchen. I really think the regular cooks called in sick. Our over-easy eggs were rock hard and my sausage patties were like hockey pucks. She brought us new eggs (alas, this time way undercooked). The best part of the whole meal was the enormous biscuit.
After our disappointing breakfast we continued onto Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouse, then headed back to the cottage and the beach.
We had 7pm dinner reservations at Lynnhaven Fish House. We got a table in an alcove that provided a nice view of the Chesapeake Bay. It was Wine Wednesday (lucky us!!), so we were able to share a nice bottle of Malbec for only $20. They served us some of the best hush puppies we’ve ever had. I opted for the grilled platter: flounder, 2 shrimp imperials (stuffed with crab), 5 or 6 scallops and 2 Oyster Rockefellers all served on a huge fish warming dish. It was wonderful, and everyone else enjoyed their dinners as well. We got a few slices of cheesecake to go and we hoped to take a stroll on the fishing dock, but decided it was not worth $4 each to get out there
THURSDAY: We learned that the Virginia Beach 4th of July fireworks planned for Friday night has been postponed to Saturday night due to the tropical storm warnings in our area and a hurricane warning just south of us on the Outer Banks.
Mid-afternoon we heard a helicopter buzzing the shore—a quick run to the beach showed that a water rescue exercise was in full operation complete with a boat, a few people stranded in the water and a ski mobile. Very exciting.
We drove back to Virginia Beach where we stopped for appetizers at Lager Heads, beachside at the Hilton Garden Inn. It turned out to be a very good choice as it provided a wonderful opportunity to people-watch. We ordered steamed shrimp in Old Bay seasoning, nice crispy onion rings, and calamari.
We got a call from the rental place to tell us that they were going to secure the furniture on our deck due to the impending storm. We took a very HOT walk down to the Neptune statue for pictures, and were very happy to get back into the air conditioning of the car.
We took a long evening walk on the beach… and then hunkered down for Hurricane Arthur. We could hear the wind and the rain throughout the night, with some lightening thrown in. A tornado warning came in the middle of the night. I got up and looked out the back window a couple of times to see the scrub bushes blowing in the wind.
FRIDAY, July 4: In the morning we ventured down to the beach where we saw some pretty amazing white caps blowing sideways in the ocean. After being pelted with the sand and sharp droplets of rain, we quickly returned to the cottage. But what a difference an hour makes….at 10am, the sun was shining, the clouds were moving out and the wind had slowed considerably. We were happy to find that the maintenance crew came back while we were gone and freed our deck furniture!
We had 7:30 reservations at the Icehouse on Norfolk Avenue. Three of us had the full rack of ribs, and one had the crab cakes and a side of yummy hush puppies. A really nice restaurant, frequented by lots of locals (which is always a good sign!). Heading out, we noticed lots of traffic despite the fireworks cancellation. We got back to the cottage at 9 and walked down to the bridge overlooking the beach where we could see the fireworks in the distance at Sandbridge (and a few random ones happening on base).
SATURDAY: After spending the day at the beach we went to dinner at FireBrew for 6pm. We shared mussels in wine and garlic sauce (a bit too salty), I chose the crab stuffed mahi mahi special (not great, but the lemon risotto and asparagus were delicious!). The bacon blue cheese steak with garlic mashed potatoes was just so-so. It was a ‘self-serve’ wine system. They give you card which tracks the wine you pour (most are $1.25 for a taste/$4 for half glass/ $7 for full glass).
Later that night, we were able to see the Virginia Beach fireworks off in the distance, then started our packing for our departure in the morning. Again thanks to all that helped with our plans!