2018-04-29 - Gloucester and Mathews Counties, VA
We are staying at the Thousand Trails, Chesapeake campground located on the banks of the Piankatank River which is located between the Rappahanock and York Rivers. The Piankatank empties into the Chesapeake Bay and though not a long river, is quite wide. The campground is very large and one of our favorites because of its location. There is a boat launch at the campground and many other amenities though there are also many seasonal campers. We were able to find a nice 30 amp spot with sewer and water hookups right on the riverbank so we had a great spot. But in the summer, we'd need 50 amp service and it would be hard to find with all of the seasonal spots. As with many campgrounds, "transients" like us have a tough time finding good spots during the peak summer season which is why we travel in the spring and fall.
For the first few days, it was pretty chilly here. So, we decided to go fishing. In Virginia, you need a license and can get a saltwater or freshwater or a combined license. If you only want to fish saltwater, though, you are exempt from paying for a license if you are over age 65. They do want you to register online for a Fisherman Identification number and so, I did that for both of us. We drove to one of our favorite kayak spots where there is also a pier and I baited my hook and waited for the big one while Bob and Roadie played. Needless to say, nothing was biting but at one point there were five osprey coasting over the water no doubt looking for the fish too. I did, however, have a pleasant interaction with a very young, handsome, state fish and game ranger who drove up while I was fishing. He approached me, and I offered to go to the car to get my FIP number. He asked if I had a fishing license and I responded that I didn't think I needed a license to fish salt water and that I understood I was fishing in the saltwater area of the river. He said that I was fishing in the right area but that there were only three exemptions from getting a license. Then, he listed them for me; one of them was being over age 65. I told him that I was exempt because I was 67 years old. He (thankfully) was taken aback and stated, "Are you kidding? I would never have thought that." Made my day! I offered to show him ID but he didn't insist on that probably assuming that a woman would never claim to be older than she was (unless she was drinking underage). We chatted about the fishing and it was a very pleasant encounter.
Saturday, the weather was beautiful and warm so we launched the kayaks from the campground and paddled about three miles along the Piankatank spotting ospreys in their nests and circling overhead. The water was about 55 degrees but there was a group of teenagers swimming to a wooden raft in the river. One of the boys was carrying a girl on his back and as the water deepened, all we could hear was her squealing that "my vagina is cold"! Thought Bob and I would tip our boats we were laughing so hard as we glided by. The boys were trying to "shush" the girl and they seemed more embarassed than the girl. It was funny though. As we turned toward "home", the wind increased and it was tough going with a quartering wind but we arrived back safely.
Also on Saturday, Roadie won "Best in Show-Large Breed" at the third annual campground Pet Show. The dogs had to circle in the "ring" next to the spectators and each owner introduced their pet by name, breed and age. Then each dog did whatever tricks he/she could. Roadie did his sit, down, and give me your paws (first left then right) and tried to lick all the spectators on the way around the ring but he did really well. Of course, all the campers near us had already met him and since the winner was judged by the loudest audience response, Roadie had a little bit of an edge because the kids were screaming and their parents were cheering too. So...he won. Bob claims that they were really cheering for him but....his tricks were not on display. See the photo of Roadie with his Blue Ribbon. We were sooooo proud of him and later, as we walked Roadie, so many people called him by name. Of course, he freely kissed everyone he met.
Last but not least, we had dinner in Mathews, Virginia, an old river community that has alot of charm but is in the middle of nowhere. There is a lovely old courthouse and old homes and a restaurant called the White Dog Bistro. What a find! One of the best meals ever with locally sourced shrimp, scallops, crawdads and other delights including alligator sausage. First, before the food and drinks, let me say that the interior was stunning with high ceilings painted dark charcoal but trimmed in squares of bright white. The walls were a light gray with white chair railings and the floors were a beautiful random width rich pine. The chairs were white and black patterned and were beautifully cushioned and comfortable. The tables were white marble. The goblets were elegantly sculpted and even Bob remarked on how beautiful they were. Now to the food and drinks. Bob had a really good Old Fashion with 1792 Bourbon that was very smooth and I had a vodka gimlet with pomegrante juice. The drink glasses were swirled with rich blue and really set off the color of the drinks. The menu was river country fare and offered unusual combinations of venison, beef, and seafood. Bob had the low country grill that was scallops, shrimp, alligator sausage and crawfish over the most amazing cheese grits. Bob doesn't even like grits and he ate every single bit declaring that he would eat them every day if he could. I had shrimp and crawfish in a lemony mushroom risotto which was also awesome. For dessert, we shared a cherry creme brulee that was also unusually good. The chef came over to speak with us and we chatted about our kayaks and his wonderful food. His wife had also asked if we were the ones with the kayaks on the roof and told us about their family kayak trips. What a nice couple and what a wonderful find. So, if you ever find yourself in Mathews, Virginia, go to the White Dog Bistro. You will not regret it.