Cape Charles Day 3 by Bill Pike

Our granddaughter, Caroline, extended her sleep time by another five minutes this morning. She awoke at 5:55, but gave her parents a respite until 6:35. By then she was raring to go.

I was an early riser too with my light sleep jolted by the blast of a train engine’s whistle on the tracks that run beside state road 184. Never heard the rumbling of cars being towed, just three distinct toots letting me know the sun was up and a new morning was making its presence known.


Late the previous afternoon, I had rigged up my fly rod and one of my surf rods. The plan was to fish along the Cape Charles’s beach front.

My wife’s brother-in-law, Art, would have hooted at my rigging of the fly rod. All I was really interested in was to see if I could remember some of the casting fundamentals that he had attempted to teach me over the last few years. The beach front was wide open. No scrubby bushes or tree limbs for a line to tangle. This uncluttered beach was unlike some of the streams and rivers we had fished near Mammoth Mountain, California.

For the saltwater rod, I tied a short leader to the end of the line, and then clipped on a lure that had worked in the past. I knew the locals would recommend a fresh-cut bait of some type. But, for this three night stay in Cape Charles— I was keeping it simple.

I drove into town, parked parallel to the beach, and made the short walk down to the shoreline. I placed the tackle box on the packed alabaster tinted sand. Then, I snugged a surf rod holder into the same sand, pulled a pair of needle nosed pliers from the tackle box, and with fly rod in hand strolled toward the water.

A breeze was coming off the Chesapeake that consistently kicked up little breakers. Casting a light fly line into the wind didn’t gain much distance, so I turned my body to the right. This allowed my casts to float northward with a bit more distance.

Slowly, my rusty casting shoulder limbered a bit. My aging brain recalled a trace of the required motion. However, I am certain anyone scanning the horizon with a pair of binoculars from one of the homes across the street wondered what in the world is that old man doing?

I wasn’t optimistic about catching any fish. On the previous day, I had seen some good-sized minnows swiftly, scampering by me in the ankle-deep shallows. Further down to my right, two teenage boys with rods in hand waded out past me to try their luck, and sadly they had no luck.

Way out on the horizon, a couple of large ships were moving through the bay. Remaining from the previous day were two large tankers still anchored in solitude.  Even if I don’t get a nibble, I did catch something— the beginning of a beautiful morning on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Each day we are anchored to the beginning of a new day. The opening words found in Hebrews 6:19 seem to fit here:  “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”

No matter where I am in my daily living, I need something to anchor my soul. For when I am in restless, uncharted waters, consumed with worry, doubt, and anxiety, I’ll take a cast in the steadfast hope found in the good Lord.

Because in that hope is a peacefulness, a quietness, and a reassurance.

Cape Charles Day 2: End Road Work/GDSWORK by Bill Pike

Our almost two year old granddaughter seems to have an internal alarm clock like me, her grandfather. She is consistently an early riser with 5:45 her target.

This morning, she gave her parents an extra five minutes. I must have been tired. I didn’t hear her.

I rushed my packing for this trip and realized my running shoes were still in our bedroom closet back in Richmond. I had worn on the drive down my previous pair of very tired running shoes that I still wear for my YMCA workouts. I wanted to get in a run while here, so I decided to gamble that the old shoes still had enough support to let me amble out of the neighborhood.

A few minutes after 7, I was on my way headed toward 184. My goal was to run into town and back. Yesterday, it appeared to be a doable route. As I started lifting my feet and legs, I quickly felt the early morning heat and humidity. The sun was behind me, but it was up, and it rays were already starting to bake the atmosphere.

Out on 184, there was a good bike lane that allowed me to run facing the oncoming traffic. A number of cars must have realized a senior citizen was out for a jog as they gave me a wide berth when they whizzed pass me.


I barely noted on my left the framed shell of an old brick building that summer vegetation was doing its best to conceal. Railroad tracks also paralleled on my left side. Weeds and grass along the track’s bed had been treated with chemicals to push back their growth. The treatment worked as the foliage had turned from green to a faded tan.

A chubby farm dog wove in and out of soybean rows near the side of the roadway on my right. I guess the sound of a passing car kept him from joining me.

As I slogged along, a bright orange, End Road Work sign was posted on the right shoulder of the road. Within a few steps of passing that sign, a car passed me with a license plate— GDSWORK. My feeble brain matter interpreted those letters into God’s Work.

Crepe myrtles continued to make their presence known. One farm lane had a spectacular line of crepe myrtles on both sides with their rich, blushing pink extending as far as I could see.


As I neared town, the speed limit had dropped to 25. Since I was barely moving at turtle pace, I had no worries about receiving a Bernard P. Fife citation for speeding.

Most of the store fronts were quiet, a couple had some coffee activity. I worked my way along the street where the beach front starts. Sand dunes with designated pedestrian access split the sandy mounds. To the credit of the town of Cape Charles, there is no parking fee for beach access, and the town even provides a blanket state saltwater fishing license for all anglers on the town’s fishing pier.

I made the right turn that would take me back to 184. This street revealed block after block of all sorts of houses. Nifty exteriors showcased an array of colors combined with attractive landscaping creating a pleasant environment. Also sprinkled along this route were churches. Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Baptist were among the denominations represented.

With the town line fading behind me, I chugged even slower along 184.  A butterfly fluttered in front of me heading across the roadway. I wondered if it could dodge the grills of passing cars.

As I moved eastward, the beaming sun’s heat was in collusion with the humidity and dew point. Shady spots were sparse. I kept hoping my left turn was around the next bend.

Along the road’s shoulder, scattered pieces from someone’s fender bender caught my eye as did the faded wooden top from a bushel basket. I guess out here that basket might have held crabs or vegetables.

No dry spot appeared anywhere on my body, my eyes scanned further ahead. Like a child on a long family road trip, my mind was calling out, “Are we there yet?”

I thought about the End Road Work sign and the license plate I had seen earlier GDSWORK. Made me think for a moment—unlike the road work project that eventually comes to an end, our runs in life with God are always a work in progress.

That license plate had it right, I am God’s Work. Apparently, on this sweltering morning, God’s not willing to leave me on the roadside as a collapsed puddle of nothing. I reckon He’s not finished with me yet as the left turn for Plum Tree Road finally shows up.

No matter where we are in life, God, if we let him is always at work in us.

Richmond to Cape Charles, Virginia Day:1 by Bill Pike

A bit after 12:30 p.m. on Monday, July 17 the journey started. My wife, the Commander Supreme, had orchestrated this deployment to Cape Charles, Virginia. In truth, this excursion had significant other commanders, our oldest daughter, her almost two-year old daughter, my mother-in-law, and our youngest daughter. Our son-in-law and I were clearly outnumbered, but we had endured such road trips in the past, and we knew how to mind our manners and pick our moments.


So far, July had given notice that summer was officially here.  With a Bermuda high anchored off the mid-Atlantic generating 90 plus degree temperatures combined with high humidity and dew points, your were guaranteed the following:  if you ventured outside at anytime of the day, if you moved you were going to perspire, and if you really put your body in motion the sweat from your body would drench your clothes and puddles would form from the runoff where ever you stood or sat.  We were hopeful that breezes from the Chesapeake and the Atlantic might make Virginia’s Eastern Shore a tad cooler.

The brief drive down I-95 south, connecting us to I-64 east was uneventful.  A couple of slow pockets of traffic appeared in the Williamsburg to the Hampton Roads tunnel entrance section, but we kept moving. Eventually, we saw the sign for Exit 282 that would connect us with US 13 north and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

We worked our way onto US 13, and soon the traffic thinned and stop lights became more sparse.  Before long, we were in an EZ pass lane paying the toll. The first segment of bridge showed water in every direction.

Our convoy of two cars had agreed to meet at Fisherman’s Island to stretch our legs and check out the view. While there, we caught a glimpse of a huge tanker ship heading west toward port. Once we were back on the road, that tanker probably skimmed right over us in the first section of the tunnel.

Much has been written about this engineering and construction fete of linking the mainland of Virginia to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. As our son-in-law, Doug, and I drove, we wondered out loud about how all of this came together.

The logistics for staging the equipment, materials, and all of the construction workers must have been incredible, and then toss in the whims of mother nature to make the project even more interesting. Doug wondered about posting the depth of the water where the tunnel sections are placed, and then reasoned that maybe travelers would not like to know how many feet down they were.

Before we knew it, the bridge spans and underwater tunnels were behind us. Sandy shore line and green vegetation filled our field of vision as we entered into the National Seashore. That lush green was interrupted by stately deep pink colored crepe myrtles sporadically appearing along the roadside. We continued to push north along US 13 looking for our next connector state route 184 that would take us into Cape Charles.

Since our Vacation Rental By Owner house could not be accessed until 4 p.m., we drove into the town of Cape Charles, parked, and started our walk to the Brown Dog. This local ice cream place was active with locals and tourists buying an assortment of handmade flavors on a hot Monday afternoon.

The ice cream revived us as we headed toward the house and unpacking the cars. Located off 184, this development probably in its previous life had been farm fields. Flat with very few trees, an assortment of houses and a swimming pool for the neighborhood now dotted these acres.

Laziness hit us, and a carry out dinner was ordered from a local seafood restaurant. Might have been the best fish tacos I have ever eaten with thick grilled pieces of Mahi-mahi garnished with a perfectly mixed coleslaw, tomatoes, and lime wedges.

Just before an after dinner walk,  I spotted a couple of lightly tanned deer, munching on grass in an open field down past our house.

By 9, I was ready for some sleep, and headed up to try to read. I might have read a couple of pages before the Commander Supreme saw me dosing off. She recommended that I give up on the book, and I did.

It’s Alive by Bill Pike

I keep the charging cord for my flip phone in a drawer in the kitchen. That’s correct, I said flip phone. IMG_1376.jpg

My wife and our grown children shake their heads that I still use a flip phone. I think they are embarrassed when I need to use the phone in their presence.

All these new phones have too much junk on them for a rapidly aging grump like me. When it comes to cell phones, I believe in the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid).

Yes, texting is a pain on my phone, but I generally will send back one word responses if someone sends me a text.

I am a bit intrigued about newer phones that have improved photographic and video capacity. Almost daily, I’m reminded that if I had a new phone, my access to our grandchildren via technology would quickly improve.

That’s a good point, but I’m not ready to cave in—yet.

But, I do have a concern about the cord I use to recharge my cell phone—I’m pretty sure it is alive.

I have a hunch that deep down inside, you have reached a similar conclusion about your charging cord.

However, you have been hesitant to say this out loud in public. You are probably concerned that someone might think the gray matter between your ears is leaking if you told a friend in confidence that the charging cord for your cell phone is alive.

That’s ok, I’ll say it for you, and all of the rest of the timid souls out there—my cell phone charging cord is alive.

Here is my theory.

When I’m charging my phone, somewhere in that cord is an embedded microscopic cell. While the phone is charging, some of the electricity from the outlet is diverted to this cell and stored.

After my phone is charged, I disconnect the cord from the outlet. I gently roll the cord back up into a small circle. I return it to the drawer.

In couple of days, I come back to the drawer ready to use the cord again. I unravel the cord and stretch it out. To my dismay, I find that somehow, someway, the cord has formed a loop in the middle of the cord. If I pulled it tight, a knot would form.

How can this be? How does a cord left alone in a drawer for two days move about to form a loop, and not just any loop, but a loop that could become a knot?

I’m pretty sure that all the great minds of science Wally’s friend Clarence, (nicknamed Lumpy), Ernest T. Bass, and Uncle Jed’s nephew, Jethro, have reached the same conclusion:   the cord is alive.

That stored cellular electricity in the cord brings life, and the cord like a stealthy intruder, silently moves around in the drawer and creates this entanglement.

I’m convinced the cord knows these covert maneuvers drive me nuts. One day, when I least expect it the cord will spring from the drawer and rapidly wrap me up. Then it will alert similar cords in the house, and a redemptive revolution of some sort will take place.

Sometimes, my life feels like a twisted and knotted cord.  Despite my best efforts, I become so entangled with  all of my responsibilities that I lose my focus and effectiveness.

I recently turned 65.

I am constantly reminded about how fast time is moving.

Sitting at a stoplight the other day the clicks of my turn signal seemed to match the nonstop soundless clicks on my watch.

Time is relentless. Time clicks.

Time never rests.

It is always on the move.

That coiled charging cord in the drawer is moving too.

But, a twisted cord in a drawer is nothing compared to the entanglements that sometimes wrap my life, and maybe your life too.

While my entanglements wear on me, I often find my blunders are pale in comparison to challenges of people all around me.

How do we free ourselves from such snarls?

How do we prevent these twisted coils from tightening even more?

It took a lot of years, and while I am not perfect in my loyalty, I have found that entanglements can recoil with prayer.

In Psalm 42 and 43, the following verse appears three times:

 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

Clearly, entanglements have the capacity to cast me down while internally silencing me.

But in those worrisome seconds that are ticking by, wearing me down, I need to slow my pace, and realize— I can also find help and hope in God.

Over A Beer by Bill Pike

Our 86-year-old next door neighbor occasionally will ask me, “When are we going to get a beer?”

Richmond, like other towns and cities across America has experienced an explosion in the growth and development of craft breweries.  In any direction, a beer lover can find a local brewery with a uniqueness all its own, but bonded by making and serving

So on a beautiful, but warm Thursday, May 3, I asked our neighbor if he is willing to ride over to Final Gravity, a small brewery in the Lakeside community of Henrico County. He accepts.

Within a couple of minutes, we are organized and ready to depart. I am exceptionally careful on these excursions. Even though, he doesn’t think so, my neighbor’s mobility and balance are not what they used to be. So, I’m with him every step.

I know before this trip is over, I’m going to hear about Richbrau.

Richbrau came to life in Richmond in 1933. The brewery brewed beer for Richmonders until it closed in 1969. My neighbor told me there was always a tap of beer available for Richbrau employees. The only rule was— do not over indulge.

As we drove toward Final Gravity, sure enough, Richbrau surfaced in our conversation.

Somehow the Lakeside community has held on. Part of that holding on was grounded in the opening several years ago of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. It has become quite a showplace in our state.

We park in a parking lot that is the home for the Lakeside Farmers Market. It is a slow, but steady walk to the brewery.

Final Gravity started as supply store for home brewers. A few years ago, the owner decided to showcase his brewing skills and opened the brewery. So now, the location is both a store for home brewers and a successful craft brewery.

I scan the list of offerings. I’m looking for a beer that will satisfy my neighbor’s old school beer palate. The order is placed, our beers promptly poured, and we find an empty table.

My neighbor takes a sip, and he proclaims, “This is a good beer.”

I explain to him the home brewing store and how this place became a brewery. In his hey day, my neighbor was a commercial builder. Even as we sit, his still keen eyes scan the bones of this building.

He talks about the upcoming college graduation of one of his granddaughters. I sense his pride, and he reminds me she is graduating early—completed her requirements in three years.

And then out of the blue, my neighbor shared with me the story of this granddaughter’s brother. He is in jail.

The teenage years for this young man had been a challenge for him and his family. School was a battle of ups and downs. Both public and private schools were a part of that journey. Eventually, a plan was developed that allowed him to also pursue an early graduation track. That plan worked, but life after high school consisted of more challenges.

He encountered skirmishes with individuals and difficulty at times complying with law enforcement.

As his grandfather, my neighbor had many conversations with his grandson. He tried to offer wisdom, guidance, and prayer. If any of that counsel was absorbed, it was short-lived.

His life continued a trek of bad choices. The grandson favored driving an old, beat up, pickup truck that apparently had no windshield.

Late one night, a young lady was riding with him. The grandson wrecked the vehicle, and the young lady was thrown from the truck. She was killed.

In seconds, the lives of two families were impacted forever. The grandson is serving seven years for his careless and reckless ways.

I could hear the sadness and disappointment in my neighbor’s words as he shared this story. I can only guess how his grandson’s parents must feel,  and I have no concept of the grief the family of the young lady must experience.

Growing up is never easy. I had my challenges.

And you know, I still have my challenging moments.

Moments when advice and wisdom have fallen on my deaf ears too. I think about all of the mistakes I have made—the people I have hurt, let down, and disappointed.

I wish I hadn’t. But, I did. I wish I could correct. But, I can’t.

Growing old isn’t easy either.

My neighbor is as stubborn as a turtle who emerged from the thick woods only to find a two lane country road to cross. The turtle is determined to make it to the other side.

In a similar journey, my neighbor is determined to stay in his home. Both the turtle and my neighbor have tough journeys ahead of them.

We finished our beer.

A group of runners is gathering outside the brewery for their weekly Thursday afternoon run.

We make the walk back to the car without a stumble.

Psalm 143:10 states:  “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.”

I hope my neighbor and his grandson will find the good spirit of God to lead them on a level path.