Hog Heaven

07/05/2017

Friday, 30 Jun

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"A Navy warship," assault carrier Kearsage, escorts a sub past Fort Wool.

“Securi-tay, securi-tay, securi-tay.” There’s no mistaking the voice over the VHF. “This is United States Coast Guard…”

And the voice continues, explaining that all vessels transiting Hampton Roads this morning then are advised—warned would be more like it—to stay out of the way of the US Navy submarine now passing over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. She’s escorted by “a Navy warship,” the voice tells us, and the safety zone surrounding her is enforced by numerous patrol boats with flashing blue lights.

They have no need to worry about Steadfast. She is well out of the way, heading as she is westward from Hampton to motor up the James River. Our goal today is the home of “Hams, History, Hospitality and HeART,” so the brochure states, the town of Smithfield, Virginia.

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Smithfield Station boasts a shoal to starboard, sweeping cross current and full-size replica of a screwpile lighthouse.

This destination comes highly recommended by others who’ve visited, including the crew of Quintan. During the five-mile run up the Pagan River, there are reasons—narrow twisting channel, shoal waters—to question why. And the cross current creates an interesting challenge docking at the town’s one marina, Smithfield Station.

But a stroll up the Church Street hill to Main provides the answer. No question, Smithfield is a charmer!

This, of course, is the origin of the only genuine “Smithfield Ham” you can buy, as we're reminded by former Mayor Florine Moore as we pass her Church Street home. If it weren’t for pork, there’d probably be no Smithfield.

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It took two years to build this 1901 Queen Anne Victorian for pork baron P. D. Gwaltney.

Instead, the town has a history that pre-dates the Revolution, much of it lovingly preserved in the collection of sixty-plus 18th and 19th century homes--like Ms. Moore's--that cluster among just a few blocks of town. There are shops, of course, and places to eat, too. And a lovely park at Windsor Castle with a well-groomed nature trail of four miles. A good stretch of the legs, eh?

So thank you to those who said “Go!” Smithfield turns out to be well worth the trip, an excellent adventure for Kate and Bill’s first excursion back together.

Steadfast out.

 

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