Monday, July 07, 2003

Back from Rivah Country

I spent last week working out of the Virginia office, watching the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill soak Central Virginia. As is typical when I travel East for work, I was in back-to-back-to-back meetings, trying to get face time with those I normally only interact with via phone or email.

I was able, therefore, to spend the holiday weekend with my parents at their home in Virginia's Northern Neck. I just found out that this piece of land between the Rappahanock and Potomic rivers that I've been visiting for the last 5 years is actually the same region that old-school Virginians refer to when they say that they're going "to the Rivah" for the weekend. The weekend was certainly dominated by the water.

Friday morning, I missed the first check of my dad's crab catch (I was on a run, trying unsuccessfully to beat the heat), but arrived back in time to make the trip to see the eels. We drove out to pick up crab-bait (frozen perch) and a few more live crabs for dinner (to suppliment the ones in my dad's pots) at a plant that freezes and ships soft shelled crabs and eels. The fun part of the trip is looking at all of the tanks full of eels caught by local fisherman to be sent to European and Asian markets (not much of a domestic eel market). Also in tanks are the blue crabs, patrolled every 4 hours to catch the ones that have just molted, to be frozen while still in their soft, post-molt, soft-shell state.

Friday afternoon was spent on the dock power-washing everything that can be power washed. Washing the boat was fun; not too dirty, and it was great seeing the boat become clean through my efforts. Not so fun were the oyster floats. My dad washed those (with help from my mom and me hoisting them out of the water and sorting through the oysters to go back into their cleaned floats). The floats were covered inches deep in muck, seaweed, and barnacles. While sorting the live and dead oysters, we also got to sort through the worms, baby crabs, and eels that feed on the oysters (ick). It took hours to do this job (while we were at it, we cleaned all the crab pots), and it was hot, slimy, muddy work.

We were rewarded Friday night with a fantastic dinner of steamed blue crabs, cole slaw, and fresh corn on the cob. You don't get food like this in Seattle.

Saturday I tried to keep those bike muscles moving with a ride through the area to R.E. Lee's childhood home, Stratford Hall. That wasn't really the destination, but was a great place to check my map and suck down some water on my ride through "Historyland USA" (G. Washington's birthplace was just a few more miles down the road). In the afternoon, it was back to the water, for a boat ride and swim off of a little island at the junction of the Potomic River and the Chesapeake Bay. We finished the day off with some Roman candles and sparklers on the deck, overlooking the moonlit water.

I enjoyed my time on the Rivah, but it's good to be back in Seattle where I can enjoy the water without black flies and 90+ degree days.


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