One of the exciting things that come with moving to a new city is what you discover in your own backyard. When we chose our new home, we focused on location because it was important to us that Darry not have a long commute to work. His schedule is erratic at times and 14 hour days are not unusual, a long commute was not an option. We were lucky and found this home quickly and now he has a 3.9 mile commute to work each day.
The other added perk to our location, exactly that; the location. We are within the Historic Triangle which means we are a stones throw from the Historic Jamestown settlement, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. However, there is so much more here besides the very first Colonial Settlement and Revolutionary War battlefields. We are located near the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay but also between the York River and the James River. And where there are rivers, bays and oceans, there are a multitude of cities, large and small and the Middle Peninsula of Virginia is no exception.
As we settle in here, we venture further out and recently spent an afternoon in Smithfield. If that name sounds familiar, it should because just about everyone who eats ham has heard of Smithfield hams. However, when we headed that way to spend the day in the quaint downtown area, we didn’t have ham on our minds. For us, it was an excuse to take the Jamestown-Scotland ferry.
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the ferry is only 2 miles from our house, you can drive your car right onto it and it is free. Yes, I said free. You would think that it would be hard to get on the ferry because of the affordable price but we did not have to wait long. The schedule has the two ferries criss-crossing back and forth several times per hour and since it is a short trip, about 15-20 minutes, you will not wait long. The view from the ferry is typical, shoreline, houses, trees and water birds but the one thing that sets it apart, a sweeping view of the first settlement, the true birthplace of our nation, Jamestown. If you are new to the area, you will also be surprised by the width of the James river, it is about a mile wide here.
Since it was such a sunny day, we got out of the car and took in the view from the side of the ferry. Darry and Devon had fun as I took photos. Hard to believe it was winter and we were wearing thin jackets. After a quick voyage across the river, we landed in Scotland and drove on towards Smithfield which was another 15 miles or so.
Smithfield has a thriving art community and sights like this are all over the downtown area. Look for the pig statues that have each been painted by local artists.
Since it was near Christmas, many of the businesses were completely decked out and it added to the festive feel. The downtown streets are lined with Victorian homes, many of which have been completely restored. We enjoyed walking and looking-it was like being back in San Francisco or Cape May, two of my favorite places to look at Victorian houses.
Parking the car was easy; on the street or in a lot, it was free for a couple of hours and that was plenty of time to stroll around, visit shops and have lunch in the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery Cafe. Do not let the bakery part of the name fool you, it was a cafe and we had some great sandwiches and salads. The cafe prepares everything from scratch and that includes the breads. We went home with a loaf of their Honey Almond bread, a large fluffy sandwich bread that made wonderful toast.
And then it was time to head home. We caught the ferry just as the sun began to set. Again we chose to stand out on the deck and we were lucky enough to spot a pair of Bald Eagles resting on a platform in the river.
The sun set quickly as we traveled across the river towards home. There are many points of interest between the ferry landing and the city of Smithfield and we will go to each one after the winter closures end and the weather improves.