Archive for the ‘Maryland’ Category

October 3 (Sunday)

The hotel had a continental breakfast, and I took advantage of it after the previous night. We bid farewell as soon as we could to Salisbury.

Welcome sign at the Virginia visitor center

The sun had come out and this was more of what I was hoping for. We were on US 13 at this point. The bucolic countryside with occasional small towns, that’s the Maryland I wanted to see. It wasn’t long, though, until we reached the state line and were in Virginia. We stopped at the Virginia visitor center for brochures and the like. Very nice and helpful.

The drive continued to be nice. I was sorely tempted to detour to Assateague Island, since the guidebooks had made it sound very appealing. But it would have taken way too much time to fully appreciated, so we skipped it.

The Virginia side of US 13 was just as pleasant as the Maryland side. Seventy odd miles of mellow, you can’t beat it.

We finally reached one of the things I’d been really, really looking forward to seeing on this trip. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Or as I referred to it, the Brunnel. Since that underwater thing connecting England and France is called the Chunnel, why not?

Fisherman Island

The Brunnel. I really recommend seeing it. After it opened in 1964, the American Society of Civil Engineers named it “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World“. It lost that honor to newer wonders years later, but it’s still pretty amazing. I could go on at length, but check the article (linked above) for a better explanation. We stopped at Fisherman’s Island, the beginning of the north end. Then we drove most of the rest of the way, stopping again at one of the manmade islands that’s part of the Brunnel. They had a tourist shop and restaurant, so I got a snack for Mom and me, and some t-shirts. We drove the last bit, and then we were back on the mainland, in Norfolk.

One of the bridge sections of the Bridge-Tunnel

I know it’s a major shipping center, and I saw huge ships in the distance. No stopping there, but I’m quite interested in a revisit. It took some doing to get out of the city (it’s a biggie). But once we passed the edges, it was mostly rural again. US 58 is another road it was a pleasure to drive. I am confused by one memory. I could swear I saw a sign along the road indicating a turnoff for the FBI headquarters in Quantico. But that’s in the extreme north of the state, over 160 miles away. I could see a sign like that on an interstate, but not a semi-major road like US 58. Maybe it was for some place else.

We were driving along and after a while we started seeing fields with denuded bushes. They had what looked to me like balls of spiderweb on them. I expressed my puzzlement and Mom said they were cotton plants. I lived in Florida all my life; how was I to know what cotton looks like? We laughed at my ignorance, though. Since then, I’ve seen small fields in the Panhandle, and I always remember this moment.

We continued on our leisurely way until we reached Emporia. I believe we stopped for gas or something, since it had been at least a couple of hours since Norfolk. Also, this was where we would get on I-95. In my mind that made it the beginning of the end of the trip, since we wouldn’t see much scenic the rest of the way. But I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong on that account.

First off, there had been an effort to landscape the interstate, at least while we were in Virginia. Which wasn’t for long, since Emporia is only 10 miles from the North Carolina border. But I-95 in that state is a nice drive too.

I wasn’t sure where we’d wind up for the night, or even if we’d find a room. Since we were back in the badly hit area of the east coast, I was afraid it’d be like the first day in Franklin. We stopped in Fayetteville and got a room with no problem. It wasn’t too late, and if I’d known of any sights to see, I might’ve tried to squeeze a few in. Instead, we settled on finding someplace for dinner. The place we found was, for me at least, a sight for sore eyes. Western Sizzlin’.

Back in the day, when I was still in the SCA in Gainesville, we’d go out to dinner after the Tuesday meetings. We had our favorites, and one was Western Sizzlin. I thought they completely went out of business, but apparently they only closed their Florida locations. It was just like I remembered, the steaks, the potato bar, everything. Mom liked it, but she didn’t have the association like I did. But she was happy that I was happy, and I was happy I had someone to share that happiness with.

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October 2 (Saturday)

So, the last meal at the Deepwater Diner. Mom thought the available relatives should have breakfast together, and where better than the Diner. We were going to pay too. The relatives went along, since breakfast wasn’t an expensive meal, especially at the Diner. There were about ten people, and it came to about 50 dollars. Beat that, Rachael Ray!

The funniest part was Uncle Francis. Aunt Mae wanted Eggs Benedict, but not the whole thing. Mom convinced Uncle Francis to split it with her, which appealed to his frugality. To put it nicely. So all he needed was a plate to put his half on. Everyone gets their order, and Uncle Francis is still waiting for his plate. He grumbled, “Did they have to send to China for the plate?” Karma, baby, that’s all I’m saying.

We bid our adieus and headed out. We crossed the I-295 bridge and were in Wilmington, Delaware. Another odd detail I remember is that we were looking for laundromats. It was a week and a half into the trip, and clean clothes were a concern. But we realized we were OK. Mom had enough, and I’d been buying t-shirts as souvenirs, so I was set. There were only a couple more days until we’d be home, so we could manage.

I don’t recall the exact route we took to get out of Wilmington, but I know we eventually made it to US 301. I’d driven so much of it in Florida that I wanted to traverse some of it outside the state. It was very rustic and mellow. In no time at all we were in Maryland. It was overcast the whole day, but I didn’t mind. After driving through the remnants of a hurricane, any weather less severe was a walk in the park.

Saint Dennis Catholic Church

The first scenic stop was happenstance, in Galena. I saw this neat looking old church and had to stop. It was the Saint Dennis Catholic Church. All the different sized stones assembled like a puzzle to make it impressive. It was built in 1933, but seems older. The cemetery next to it was established in 1893, which is odd. Interesting place.

South we went until we got to US 50. We could have headed west across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis and DC. But I wanted to see the Delmarva Peninsula, so it was south again on US 50.

Chesapeake Bay at Tilghman Island

Next was somewhere I’d seen in one of my travel books I’d brought, Easton. Actually, Tilghman Island, but you had to go through Easton to get there. I wanted to see Chesapeake Bay, and some of that New England aquatical scenery. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of that to see on this road, and the overcast sky detracted from the ambiance.

Chesapeake Landing

We did get one of Mom’s wishes satisfied, though. Well, it was more my and her hairdresser’s wish for her. Her hairdresser had given her money to get crabcakes in Maryland on the trip. I swore she would get them, come hell or high water. I saw a restaurant on this sidetrip, called Chesapeake Landing, that looked like a likely candidate to get some. It wasn’t on the water, but you can’t have everything. They did indeed have crabcakes. I can’t remember what I got, but it must’ve been good, because I’d remember if it was bad. I tried a bit of her crabcake. I guess it was good, but I don’t like crabcakes, so I’m not the best judge. Mom liked them though, so that’s what counts. I didn’t get my Philly cheesesteak, but I didn’t mind, since Mom got her crabcakes.

Old Trinity Church cemetery

Once we traveled back the winding road to Easton, we headed south on US 50 again. We crossed a bridge and were in Cambridge. I know we stopped after the bridge, I think at a visitor center, though I can’t find it on a map. I think in one of my guidebooks I read about an old church, so it was off to find that. It was one of those “did I miss a turn?” drives, but I found the Old Trinity Church and Cemetery. The church itself was built before 1690. That’s still the oldest church I’ve visited. OK, the oldest built in America. St. Bernard de Clairveaux beats it by around 4 centuries. While I was exploring the cemetery, a church person came out and asked Mom if I wanted to see inside. Tempting though it was, it was getting way late, and the overcastiness was making it get darker faster. I didn’t want to be driving in the dark looking for a hotel in a more rural area, so I passed.

I wanted to get as far along as possible, so I could spend more time over the next couple of days seeing as much as I could. Therefore, we continued on to Salisbury.

Which I really wish we hadn’t. If I never visit Salisbury again, I’ll not cry. We came in on US 50, then south on US 13, which is one of the main roads through the city. They must’ve been resurfacing it, since it had those multiple grooves along the length, which makes it such a treat to drive along. I saw a hotel and stopped there, though it looked less than appealing. It’s a Budget Inn now, hopefully it’s improved. The check in desk clerk was behind glass (bulletproof?), which made me even more concerned. I said to myself that if Mom wanted to, we’d stay there, but I wouldn’t like it. Fortunately, Mom was as underwhelmed as I was. So we went across the street to Best Western. It was about 70 dollars a night, but you definitely get what you pay for. Yet it was still annoying, as there were people in adjacent rooms who were up all hours making noise. Not a good night’s sleep. Maybe Salisbury has a good side, but we didn’t see it.

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