The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
Monday, May 7, 2018: Departing Virginia Beach at 0915 hours, Kit and I slowly made our way north across the Chesapeake Bay under gloomy skies and the threat of rain.
This huge 4,479 square mile tidal bay has a shoreline of over 11,500 miles! To put those numbers in perspective, if we were to circumnavigate the bay with our rig, the travel distance would be about the same as our annual Excellent Adventure miles!
To conveniently cross this vast body of water one must use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) system.
Constructed in the mid 1960’s, this 17-mile transportation link connects mainland Virginia with the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Peninsula to the north. A civil engineering marvel, it provides travelers with a much shorter route up the Eastern Seaboard, saving 95 travel miles, and is a preferred alternative to driving through the Baltimore/DC congestion.
Being a fixed link bridge, two separate 1-mile long tunnels were laid on the ocean floor to allow ship and boat traffic unimpeded transit to the economically significant harbors of the bay, as well as quick access of US Navy warships from the bases in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Back in the 1970’s, while stationed on a Navy frigate out of Norfolk, I transited over these tunnels many times and often wondered if the hundreds of auto travelers zipping along inside the 39-foot diameter tube lying 134-feet underwater had a clue we were cruising on the surface above their heads.
Exiting the CBBT finds us traveling through the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge.
And a pleasant drive up US-13, through Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland…
…brought us to our next overnight destination, Assateague Island National Seashore.
Where we found a nice campsite separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal dunes.
As the sun set in the west, Kit and I enjoyed a nice meal with a glass of fine Cardbordeaux wine…
…while watching the antics of our fellow island inhabitants…
…as the sun set in the West…goodnight!
Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9, 2018-Assateague Island National Seashore: Woke to cool but sunny skies, with yesterday’s storm rolling out to sea.
After breakfast, Kit and I bundled up and walked across the dunes to the shore.
Being low tide, the beachcombing opportunities were great, and I was able to collect a few of nature’s souvenirs.
After lunch, we made the pilgrimage to the Assateague Island Visitors Center.
We learned that Assateague Island is a 37-mile long, 1-mile wide, barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. Largely undeveloped, the island is home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the National Seashore we are camped at. We also learned about the islands famous wild ponies…like these fellows who were grazing outside our camper window this morning.
The beautiful and inquisitive animals have the run of the island and frequently visit the campground and other public places. These feral ponies are descendants of colonial stock that were pastured on the remote island by early mainland settlers in order to dodge the “Fence Tax” levied by the British government. Technically horses, their diet rich in salt causes their stunted growth to pony size.
As docile as they appear, these animals are wild, receiving no supplemental food or veterinarian care and have been known to be aggressive…as many other animals in the wild can be.
As in most National Park units, this campground does not have hook-ups to electricity or water. However, with our stay being only 2 days, we filled our 82-gallon fresh water tank to capacity and ensured the two 12 Volt batteries were fully charged…so we managed just fine.
Any ocean front camping has the propensity to provide for excellent kit flying opportunities, and Assateague was no exception. I spent many hours flying in the fresh ocean breeze…Kit was able to grab this shot across the coastal dunes from the comfort of our campsite.
Before we leave this beautiful spot, a few words about my camera of choice.
Over the years, folks have asked about my photography equipment and as you can see, it is pretty basic…a Canon compact (pocketable) camera. It is however, a high-quality compact stuffed with a considerable amount of pro level electronics and image capturing technology. What it lacks is a large zoom capability, high output flash, or a detachable lens. Nevertheless, it is the perfect camera for me considering the nomadic way we travel…I carry it always which makes the camera convenient to capture any view that pops up!
Well, Kit and I enjoyed a great stay at the National Seashore, but tomorrow we continue motoring north.
Thursday, May 10, 2018: Good morning…it’s 1000 hours and we are heading back to the mainland traveling under sunny skies and warming temperatures.
Kit and I are on our way to visit family in the Philadelphia area for the weekend, but first a quick overnight stay at the US Air Force campground in Dover, Delaware.
Traveling through the base, a poignant moment occurred when we passed the Department of Defense Mortuary Service Command. This hallowed facility is where all military killed in action first return to American soil. Please remember the sacrifices of these brave heroes, and their surviving families, come Memorial Day.
The RV Park at this military installation is small with only 10 full hookup sites, and it’s located clear on the other side of the runway from the gate…but the spaces are roomy, and beautifully landscaped.
Spent our time here doing some laundry and resupplying the pantry from the base commissary, followed by an entertaining evening watching military aircraft departing to or arriving from parts unknown…goodnight.
Friday, May 11, 2018: Underway at 1050 hours for the short haul into the town of Springfield, Pennsylvania which lies just west of Philadelphia, and the home of cousin Mary Kate…where we will be dooryard surfing for the next few days.
That evening, as we customarily do, Kit and I treated or dooryard host to a meal out at one of their favorite local spots…this year they choose Nick’s Roast Beef Restaurant.
A neighborhood joint that specializes in local brews and all things roast beef.
Their signature sandwich was delicious, but the side of “Gravy Fries” were incredible! If you like Roast Beef, you’ll love Nick’s! Then, with full bellies, we returned to the camper…looking forward to a fun family weekend ahead!
Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13, 2018-Springfield, Pennsylvania: My mother’s side of the family is so large, numbering over 50 folks, that Mary Kate had to organize a two-day reunion so most everyone could attend at some point. The entourage was led by the family patriarch, my Uncle Don, who is my mother’s younger brother.
A large, close knit, Irish Catholic family, they love to get together and party at the slightest provocation…and even though it was Mother’s Day Weekend, we were able to visit with most everyone in town! What transpired was basically a two-day party with family members gathering for food, fun, and frivolity.
Folks we enjoyed seeing during our all too brief stay in the area included cousin Don and Pat.
By the way, the Mars Rover that Don had a hand in developing is still roving about the red planet. Accompanying Don and Pat were one of their offspring, Sarah…shown with her boyfriend Jonah.
The two of them work for NavSea Philly in the Naval Foundry and Propeller Center…while working for Lockheed on the Navy’s newest ships, I always wondered where those props came from.
Then there were Cousin Anne and Buck with Alli, Kevin, Megan and Tim.
A fun-loving family with professional acting and musical accomplishments to their credit, this versatile and talented group enjoys entertaining.
Also, Cousin Joe and Dolores with newly married daughter Veronica and son Ryan.
Joe has been our go-to resource for quirky attractions and offbeat places to explore in the region…a road-trip pied piper, he is usually accompanied by other members of the extended Philly family.
Then cousin Mark and Ruth with college student Katie and son Stephen.
Readers may remember several years ago when Kit and I travelled with Marvelous Monkey, which was a school project of Stephen’s to see how far the students favorite stuffed animal could roam. Also, you may recall that Katie was instrumental in helping to locate a long-lost gravesite of my mom’s birth mother.
Cousin John and Denise with their offspring Neil and Owen, along with his girlfriend Maggie were able to attend.
The two boys are budding film producers with a few high school and college film credits on their resumes…look for them to be in Hollywood soon. Their daughter, Erin Marie was unable to attend due to her teaching job in Kentucky.
Next, our consummate hosts during the stay…cousin Mary Kate with daughter Alora and sons Jack and Jimmy with resident pooch Gidget.
Alora’s longtime boyfriend Ricky was able to spend time with us as well.
Alora recently graduated with a PhD. in Occupational Therapy and will soon be pressed into service caring for us aging baby boomers.
And the youngest cousin, Matthew, was celebrating his 42nd birthday!
An inspirational and loving young man, Matthew lives nearby with other challenged adults and is always included in family gatherings…Happy Birthday Matt!
And representing my departed Aunt Joan (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Jack’s family were cousin Barbara and husband Jason.
Always fun to see Barb, and Jason is restoring a vintage motor scooter, so he and I had a nice “gearhead” discussion!
Also, from that side of the family, cousin Jane and husband Larry were able to stop by.
We enjoyed visiting with these folks who are currently expecting a new grandchild.
Well, Kit and I had a great time in Springfield…thanks again Mary Kate for your hospitality! Tomorrow we’re back on the road as we have a very important function to attend in the Large MacIntosh…stay tuned for the final episode of Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure.
Kit’s Bit’s: As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the Byrnes Family. My mission this time was to learn the “order” of all the cousins, which I was able to accomplish, with their help, of course. So, here goes: on the Byrnes side, Donny, Anne, Joe Byrnes, Billy, Mark, John, MaryKate & Matthew. On the Morrissey side: Patty Ann, Jackie, Barbara & Jane. We always enjoy our time visiting with the cousins and their families! Thank you, MaryKate for hosting us.