Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lafayette Park, Norfolk, VA

I had to do a greyhound home visit in Norfolk this morning, so thought I would look for a nearby park for us to explore. I decided to go to Lafayette Park on Granby Street right next to the Virginia Zoo.
Lafayette Park is one of the oldest parks in the City of Norfolk. In 1899, the city officially opened it, and a year later, the park began acquiring animals to put on exhibit. By 1901, the Lafayette Park zoo had acquired over 200 animals including mammals, reptiles and birds. We could see one of the animals, some kind of an African herd animal, through the bamboo but it's very hard to see in our photo. It's kind of a light brown blob on the right hand side of the photo below!
 In the early 1900s, visitors could drive their cars through the park and look at the animals. It wasn't until the late 1960's when the zoo was fenced off from Lafayette Park.
The park is very shady, with lots of paths to walk on. It also has a playground, basketball courts, soccer field, tennis courts, picnic pavilions and rest rooms. There are a lot of homeless people at this park--I don't think I'd feel safe after dark--but on this bright, sunny morning it was OK.

If you walk along the north edge of the park and zoo, there is a boat ramp to the Lafayette River. We met several gentlemen fishing for croaker at the boat ramp.
Sammy and PG weren't interested in going into the river. I guess the day wasn't hot enough for them to want to splash around.
The Lafayette River was originally known as Tanner's Creek. Tanner's Creek was renamed the Lafayette River at about the same time Lafayette Park was established. River and park were named in honor of the Marquis de La Fayette, a French Army officer who became a popular American Revolutionary War hero.

J'aimerais que tu sois là (wish you were here!),
Sammy & PG

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Newport News Park, Newport News, VA

Just off Interstate 64 at Exit 250B--you will find Newport News Park. What a treasure!
This 8,000 acre park is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. It is beautifully maintained with manicured landscaping all around. The picnic shelters all have nice pavers and look more like  outdoor cafes rather than a picnic pavilions.
We made a wrong turn when we first got there and ended up by the Disc Golf course. We went on a short walk past an old Japanese tea house. It is surrounded by a stream with a waterfall. I've been looking for a path with a waterfall--who knew there was one right in Newport News!
We left that area and drove a little farther into the park to the Discovery Center.
I recommend going here to start out. There are a number of trails that start from this point. For history lovers, Newport News Park is the site of some of the best preserved Civil War fortifications, earthworks and redoubts in Virginia, and is a designated stop on the official Virginia Civil War Trails network.  There are signs on the trails explaining different battles.
The path is sand or gravel covered and level so it's easy to walk on. There are hardly any elevation changes but there are lots of roots across the path that you have to watch out for. We walked on the Discovery Center trail.
We came across some wildlife--a mole poked its head out at the wrong moment as we were walking by. PG snatched it up, shook it and killed it. At the end of the trail, we came across 4 deer. Hounds that instinctively want to chase game are very excited when they come into contact with deer! And the deer are so used to people--they didn't even run away. An exciting end to the walk!
When we go back, we're going to walk on the White Oak Trail. It's a 2.4 mile trail around the lake.  Maybe we'll do that in the fall when the leaves are changing--it should be beautiful!

Wish you were here!
Sammy & PG