Trust me … there’s a method to my madness ….. there’s always a method.
Taking our detour to the Delaware Car show was just what we needed before heading out on the long and dusty trail to OBX. BUT – we still had plenty of time to kill between. After pathetically taking a much needed “pitstop” at a Walmart, buying not so great produce (yeah I know- IT’S WALMART) and a few knickknacks – we arrived in Virginia. To much fair fan – might I add – strictly on my side, naturally. We still had most of the day to kill and were fixing on doing something historical. Not that – classic cars don’t have their place in history. I had pretty much heard Bartender by Lady Antabellum and Drunk on a Plane by Dierks Bentley enough times to drive a person insane (first time it was super cute – 12th time: not so cute). Just then – like a beacon in the night …. Nick and I saw 2 chimneys peak out above the lush green foliage -lining Rt 13.
“That looks nice,” Nick noted – as he always does when we past old buildings.
“The house is stunning,” I commented as the remainder of the house came into view.
Then a sign. Literally – a sign: Historical Almshouse Farm at Machipongo/Barrier Islands Center … with an arrow. An arrow clearly indicating that the Almshouse is where we needed to spend our next few hours. It was a done deal. No arm twisting necessary. We slowly pulled into the long driveway – the Almshouse in all its splendor loomed before us and then, to my surprise, the lawn was full of dogs. Evidently – there is also dog training at the center. SCORE.
Immediately upon entering the building – we were greeted by one of the volunteers. She took the time to explain the rich and colorful history of the (now abandoned) Barrier Islands of the Atlantic. Afterwards, we watched a 20 minute video (not a snooze-fest PROMISE) about Hog Island and the recollections of the last living residents of the once thriving little town. It was unexpectedly touching and the history fanatic in me couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss – knowing that so much history was lost in the when the residents were forced to abandon/move their homes. Thankfully – the Museum has done a wonderful job of collecting memorabilia and antiques that once belonged to the Cobb’s Island Hotel, Hog’s Island and other important aspects of the Islands’ history.
In addition to a beautiful main house, de-reached kitchen and potter’s field is a “separate but equal” building that housed the pre-segregation African American population. Just as beautifully restored – but not previously as well equipped with amenities – the newly restored Almshouse boasts a beautiful Oral Tradition recording studio/library – where people can record family histories and experiences. A far cry from the 11 room, 1 fireplace, dirt floor original African American almshouse of 1910.
After spending some time reflective time on the grounds, getting some grub recommendations and bidding adieu to our new friends – Nick and I decided to take our trip back on the road. Stopping off – in perfectly quaint Cape Charles, Va – where we browsed some antique shops, had a ridiculously amazing dinner at The Shanty (the website runs a but slowly) and made it just in time to watch the sunset over the Chesapeake Bay …we were off to Norfolk.