Virginia Beach VA to Baltimore MD
Drove 277 miles today (100% in the fog). Moving time 5'44". Gassed up at Wye Mills MD at $3.33 per gallon. Drove 449 on the tank with 50.6 MPG. Wow! Thank you, Sparky (Mike's name for the Prius). Temp was 48 when we woke and 42 when we checked into our Baltimore hotel. I think it got as high as 55 during the day. Back to wearing socks again.
This day was a bit of a blur, literally, mainly due to the fog. It transformed from heavy in a few places, mostly medium, and occasionally light-ish, but never gone. So, hard to review the great sights we drove by.
Arose about 8am and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the beach off our fifth floor balcony. First thing I spotted was a fellow giving thanks to the ocean, I expect. He was sitting yoga style on the wet sand and a few minutes later rose and threw his finger tips toward the sky for a moment, then walked off. I know how he feels. We miss the foggy mornings by the beach in Half Moon Bay and will be forever grateful for the 20+ years we lived there.
Some "The Birds" excitement. I think the folks a balcony or two down from us were throwing out bread because there was a huge flock of seagulls that instantly and insanely swarmed around for a few minutes. It was fascinating and a bit spooky to watch, but none landed on our balcony or got caught in my hair!!
Others were walking their dogs on the beach, surfing on the smallish waves, spooning hand-in-hand, checking for treasures in the sand with a metal detector, jogging, other sea shore stuff.
Before heading further north we wandered the beach street to see what was what. When Mike was at Fort Eustis in the 60's, he and his buddies would come here for R&R. He said at that time there were no hotels on the beach side of the street, just sand and sea. Now it is filled with scores of high-rise hotels. On the other side of the street were the stores, bars, and cafes type things that he remembered. This IS tastefully done. A happy medium between Santa Cruz CA, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach. We'd come back here (in off season).
The biggest thrill of the day was crossing Chesapeake Bay. The bridge-tunnel divides the Bay on the west from the Atlantic Ocean on the east. It is considered one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. The toll is $12 one-way (or if you return add $5 more). Yikes! But you cross a bridge-tunnel-bridge-tunnel-bridge situation that spans 17.6 miles. Construction started in 1995 and the first traffic crossed on April 19, 1999. The original cost to build was $197,185,777. Yes, the commas are in the right place.
The views on the drive were pretty non-existent (because of ... guess what?), except for the healthy looking gulls on the railings and light posts. It was still a pretty cool scene. Please note the "brunell" even has its own gift shop with t-shirts and VA made products. We didn't stop.
After getting back on solid land we saw cotton, potato, sweet potato, and tomato farms. Some vineyards, produce packing plants, antique stores, and mostly ordinary houses (except some beach mansions right after you got off the "brunnel").
This Virginia peninsula hangs off the mainland from the state of Maryland and is completely unattached to the rest of VA. Check a map and you'll see what I mean. No real towns on the main highway north, so we took some side / business routes to check out some of the smaller bergs shown on the map. Still not much to talk about, at least where we diverted.
Mike and I are always on the lookout for crazy business combos. One we remember from the past is broasted chickens and night crawlers. We've seen many others I can't think of off-hand, but today we saw one business selling bacon, ham and fireworks, and another selling wigs, haircuts and hats. Guess you have to be creative to keep in business around here.
Another creative endeavor and the second most exciting thing for the day was lunch at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack. And this was the most interesting place we've eaten in a long while. First off, they were playing late fifties / early sixties music like Run Around Sue and From Bobby Socks to Stockings (Lynn, you would have been in heaven). The décor ranged from a bulletin board papered with paper currency from around the world to real maps to "exaggerated" and neon colored paintings of sea life to lots more stuff just hanging on nails -- souvenirs, cooking utensils, fish identifying posters, signs of all sorts.
Mike finally got his clam strips and I had yet another half-pound of steamed and peel yourself shrimp. Also shared some she-crab soup that was flavored differently from what we eaten previously, but still good in its own way. Even though this was a shack, they had a full bar and a drive-up order window. And they were watching the macho sport of BOWLING on the tube!!
Clientele were families to fisherman to a couple of tourists (us). Things for sale were oyster-shucking knives, California wine by the bottle, t-shirts, cookbooks, nuts, and (you will never believe this) six full-size and three smaller freezers full of crustacean and fish products. There was a huge variety and all looked freshly packaged. The Alaskan King was $29.99 a pound and you grab the legs of your choice.
Some people were coming in for lunch and others were coming into the same room for their seafood groceries. This was a very cool beachy bar / cafe / seafood market / knick-knack / souvenir shop and it all worked. To boot, in the bathrooms were dozens of post-it notes with people's philosophy instead of graffiti. Very cool!
Continuing on to Baltimore MD, we traveled on Harriet Tubman Highway and saw a huge stockyard of FEMA trailers, a half-dozen tombstones in the middle of a corn field, some goats grazing next to the highway (no fence between us), and one huge wind turbine (may be part of a community college program).
Arriving at this night's hotel, we found a disappointment as it was in the middle of an industrial area. No restaurants around, so ate in the hotel (which we rarely do). Hotel and restaurant were both mediocre. We've had great luck up until now in both regards, so had to have an off day sooner or later. One nice thing was it had a very international staff. Every one's name tag also had their country of origin and they all seemed happy to be working in the good ol' US of A.