Hampton Roads


30th June 2002

People ask me where I live, and sometimes I get confused about how to answer them. I live in Virginia Beach. But not on the beach. And Virginia Beach is a city that is jammed up against a bunch of other cities, and the distinctions between one and the other are blurred. The cities are Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk. The whole area is best described under the collective name Hampton Roads. Hampton Roads was the name given to the waterway where the James River empties into Chesapeake Bay. And that's a good enough name for the sprawling land area around the water. There are two local regions. The southside is Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake. The peninsula is Hampton and Newport News.

So many rivers and creeks, so much wetland, and swamps all around. Not forgetting the Great Dismal Swamp. The whole area is waterlogged. You really notice it when you fly over the area and there are waterways and watery bits everywhere. In June 2002, I flew over the area and got some photos, just to show how much water is around.

[Watery Hampton
  Roads from the air] [Watery Hampton
  Roads from the air]
[Watery Hampton
  Roads from the air] [Watery Hampton
  Roads from the air]

You Know You're From Hampton Roads When ...

This arrived in the email. After four and a half years, I have finally found out where it comes from. It was an article in The Virginian-Pilot Daily Break - 757, April 2002, by Andrew D'Huyvetter and Ben Kennedy and Danielle Solomon. It's a great way of describing this area, how strange it is, how different, how "special", and how "special" the people are.

You know you're from Hampton Roads when...

  1. You can name at least three of Mike Joynes' law partners.
  2. You can finish the Beach Ford song.
  3. You know that 64 West in Chesapeake is actually going east.
  4. Virginia Beach is Va Beach unless you actually live there.
  5. You know that Hampton Roads aren't actual roads.
  6. You don't go to the beach every day.
  7. You don't want to go to the beach every day.
  8. You know which beaches to avoid, unlike the tourists.
  9. You believe that Meyera Oberndorf will be the mayor of Virginia Beach for all time.
  10. Little Neck and Great Neck are not locations on Long Island.
  11. Little Neck Creek is not on Little Neck.
  12. Any westbound trip you've ever made involves at least one tunnel.
  13. You can name at least three underwater tunnels within a
  14. twenty-mile radius of your home. Extra points if you can name all five. [1]
  15. One of your Adopt-A-School partners in elementary school was a U.S. Navy vessel.
  16. You can say Norfolk while sounding neither obscene nor incorrect.
  17. You don't stop and look skyward when aircraft fly over.
  18. You've seen Rudy Boesch in the Farm Fresh.
  19. You've seen Pat Robertson in the Farm Fresh.
  20. You've seen The Neptunes in the Farm Fresh.
  21. You've seen Timbaland in the Farm Fresh.
  22. You've seen Missy Elliott in the Farm Fresh.
  23. You even know what a Food Lion is.
  24. You know which parts of each city to stay out of.
  25. Sometimes the cities just blur into one big metropolis.
  26. Sorry, I meant suburb.
  27. You've been to more minor-league sports games than major-league. (More points if you can name three Hampton Roads minor-league teams) [2]
  28. You know that on-base purchases have no sales tax. (Further points if you can name four military installations in the area) [3]
  29. Newport News is not a catalog, it is a city.
  30. It's Hampton, not The Hamptons.
  31. It's not a peninsula, it's the Peninsula. With a capital P.
  32. You can name all the I-64 spurs.
  33. It's not Portsmouth, its P-town.
  34. It's not Virginia Beach Boulevard, its just The Boulevard.
  35. The Strip isn't a nudie bar, it's a tourist trap.
  36. To you, Scope isn't just mouthwash.
  37. The Boathouse doesn't actually dock any boats.
  38. You've been to the 17th Street Surf Shop.
  39. No, the real one.
  40. You know what WRV, Hotline, Roxy, Billabong, and Quiksilver are.
  41. You've ever heard South Side by Moby while actually on the Southside.
  42. You know Dam Neck and Birdneck aren't necks of any kind.
  43. You use Cox Cable and refer to Cox High School without even snickering.
  44. You know Mount Trashmore is a real place, not a joke.
  45. You don't mind the jet noise.
  46. You don't slow down in the tunnel, because it's not a big deal. Stupid out-of-towners.
  47. Walking up hills causes an instant asthma attack.
  48. While away from home, you can identify a fellow HR resident by their being the only one in a 17th Street shirt and flip flops. In December.
  49. You can go surfing and strawberry-picking in the same day.
  50. The left lane is not the passing lane, it's the only lane.
  51. You know what Rita's Italian Ice is.
  52. You have friends at three other high schools, minimum.
  53. Jimmy Buffet is a regular fixture at parties and social events.
  54. A hermit crab is a legitimate pet.
  55. You know not to bring your golf clubs to the Tidewater Country Club.
  56. No, it's a city. Not a county.
  57. It's normal for seven cities to be linked in almost every conceivable way.
  58. Your city is 20 miles long but only 3 miles wide.
  59. You can leave town for years at a time to find the same sections of road still under construction.
  60. Base/shipyard traffic is one of the most dehumanizing experiences you can think of.
  61. You have to adopt a surrogate professional sports team because you live in the largest metropolitan area without a single one.
  62. It's Seven Five Seven, not Seven Fifty-Seven.
  63. An inch of snow closes everything down.
  64. 3 inches is a blizzard.
  65. You've been due for a Major Hurricane for about 15 years.
  66. Earthquakes? Pardon?
  67. Your region is having an identity crisis: Hampton Roads? Greater Norfolk? Tidewater? Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News?
  68. At least 75 mph on the interstate: It's not just a good idea, it's the law. If you want to survive.
  69. You know who the Norwegian Lady is.
  70. No, you can't walk to the beach. Moron.
  71. You block the box.
  72. You didn't immediately respond to #70 with "What?"
  73. The pedestrians are only at the beach.
  74. You've seen Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and First Landing. And don't think it's that big of a deal.
  75. During Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, instead of saying, "Too bad for him," you say, "That guy was in my gym class!"
  76. You can see another 7-11 from the 7-11 you're currently at.
  77. You can't afford Nordstrom. But you have one.
  78. Why shop at Gap and Old Navy when you have Walmart, Target, and Payless?
  79. MacArthur was not only a brilliant general, but a fine shopping establishment.
  80. Bridges go over water, not land.
  81. Tagalog is a language, and you might know a few words, if not speak fluently.
  82. You know not to swim at Buckroe Beach.
  83. You know Jefferson Park is not a real park.
  84. You don't laugh when you hear Rip Rap Road.
  85. You hear downtown and immediately think of some other city.
  86. You have to specify which Lynnhaven, Princess Anne, or Kempsville Road you're referring to.
  87. You have to go to DC to see any of the big-name concerts because you live in the largest demographic cul-de-sac in the United States.
  88. You can name all the HR cities. [4]
  89. You don't know what the big deal about lacrosse is.
  90. Nor do you know what the big deal about ice hockey is. Rhinos?? [5]
  91. You know that Norfolk International Airport isn't really an International airport.
  92. Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport never even enters your mind.
  93. No, you're not hallucinating. Those are mermaids.
  94. You've attended the Neptune Festival without being pagan.
  95. You're still wearing sandals in November.
  96. You're a Republican.
  97. You know the real reason we haven't been hit by a hurricane in the last several years is because of Pat Robertson. Emphatically cough here for emphasis.
  98. You've ever wondered how many fish and crabs PETA killed building their new headquarters on the banks of the beautiful Elizabeth River.
  99. You had a nickel for every OBX sticker you saw on the road, you'd be a rich man by now.
  100. You're tired of there being no respect for your home.
  101. You know that it all started here. [6]


Additional Questions

In January 2003, I was sent some additions to "You Know You're From Hampton Roads When ..." by Jemmell'z Washington. Several months later, I finally add them to the page.

  1. You can refer to Wilhoughby Spit with a straight face.
  2. You know the best surfing waves only happen when a hurricane hits.
  3. You've been invited to a hurricane party.
  4. You can spell "Doumar's."
  5. The ONLY place to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts is at the location on 'the boulevard.'
  6. You refer to the I-64 spur to 44 as "the flyover."
  7. Visiting Nauticus is NEVER an option. No matter how bored you are.
  8. You remember public transportation when it was called "TRT". Bonus points if you remember what it stands for.
  9. When someone asks for directions "downtown," you send them to Norfolk.
  10. Your high school graduation was held at the Pavilion.


This area and the surrounding few towns are the early colonial settlements of the USA. This is THE historical area of the USA. If you want to see where the USA started and grew up, then come to the Hampton Roads area and then start touring around it.

  • Roanoke The first English settlement in the USA was at Roanoke in 1587, just a little bit south of here. This was one of Walter Raleigh's sponsored settlements. The settlement disappeared, and is now known as the Lost Colony of Roanoke. The oldest non-stop running play in the USA is still going at Roanoke about the Lost Colony. The Lost Colony also featured in a X-Files episode. There are many stories about the what happened to the Lost Colony. I've just finished reading Lee Miller's book "Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony". Worth reading. Roanoke Island today is a pretty little island, but there's not much in the way of history except for the amphitheatre and the plays and a mini-museum.
  • Jamestown Then came the second English settlement in 1607. The settlers stopped at Cape Henry before heading further inland and founding Jamestown. That was a pretty disgusting settlement, and they starved and they died. The survivors persevered, found tobacco to be a great cash crop, and did well for a time. Eventually, they realised that the area was just not worth living on, and they packed up and moved to Williamsburg in 1699. Now there's the Jamestown Island archaeological dig, and there's Jamestown Settlement, a commercial reconstruction of the place and a mini-museum. Both are worth seeing.
  • Pocahontas The Jamestown region is where Pocahontas met John Smith in 1607, and she brought food supplies to the Jamestown Settlement.
  • Yorktown In 1691, Yorktown was founded to be the big tobacco port for the region. Big battles for the War of Independence against the British. Besieged in the Civil War, the War of Northern Aggression. Lots of historical sites to see here.
  • Williamsburg In 1699, the Jamestown settlers moved to Williamsburg and thrived there. Williamsburg became the state capital, until losing it to Richmond in 1779. The War of Independence started here. After the Revolution, it died off a bit. Had a few scuffles during the Civil War, and then it really died off until it was resurrected as a huge historical theme park - Colonial Williamsburg. We've been several times and it's a lot of fun, and we'll probably go a few more times.
  • Richmond Founded in 1637, at the furthest point up the James River that could be navigated by boat. It became the state capital in 1779. This is where the "give me liberty or give me death" speech was made. Attacked by the British during the Revolution. Attacked mightily during the Civil War. Heaps to see.
  • Outer Banks Known as OBX. Amazing place to visit. Wild horses dumped from Spanish ships. Blackbeard the Pirate. Heaps of Pirates. Civil War fort now under water. Kittyhawk where the Wright Brothers learned to fly.