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The Delmarva* Peninsular

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Monday 20th November

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Tuesday 21st November

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*DelMarVa comes from the three states which make up the Eastern Shore - Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Monday 20th November


Guess what - another lovely morning!   We really were being spoilt.   However, the car had been parked in the shade and it was really iced up.   Tracy had to scrape ice off the windows and run the engine to warm it up.   We had a continental breakfast in a little dining area near the check-in desk.  Best Westerns seem to have this set-up.   It's very good.      We drove in to Annapolis for a quick look.  This is a town for very keen yachting enthusiasts - boats everywhere - as well as being home to the US Naval Academy.    Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and is very old - in fact it is one of the oldest towns in the USA.    As it is the capital, it has its own Capitol and it is a very beautiful town with Georgian style architecture.   Tracy sailed from Buckroe to Annapolis in April, with Al Gore's cousin Dar Lafon as skipper.   He was working at Langley and asked Tracy to be part of his crew to sail his yacht to Annapolis where he now rents a house while working in Washington.   As we left the town we looked for an overlook shown on the map but we never did find it.   It was very obscure.   We crossed on a HUGE bridge over Chesapeake Bay to Kent Island, the largest of the Chesapeake Bay islands and a popular sailing area.   We then passed onto the Eastern Shore and drove through farming country to St. Michaels, a delightful town situated on the Miles   Back Home  River.   St. Michaels had lovely old buildings - a very pretty little place.  We toured the Chesapeake Maritime Museum, which showed us a lot about ships, sailing and fishing on the Chesapeake.  This was a very interesting, well set up place, including the Hooper Strait lighthouse.  This had in it a chart and pictures of the lighthouses of the Chesapeake, many of which no longer stand.  Tracy saw two of the most beautiful ones when sailing to Annapolis.   We had lunch in the Crab Claw Restaurant, or Clab Craw as I was calling it.   Not a great meal - Tracy and I made bad choices.  Even the pickle tasted better than the rest of mine!    We drove on in brilliant sunshine.   The trees in this area still had their autumn coloured leaves.   We travelled out on a peninsula with Harris Creek, an inlet of the Choptank River on the left and Chesapeake Bay to the right.  We crossed a bridge on to Tilghman Island and out to Black Walnut Point, the tip of Tilghman Island where "Devon Island" would be if it existed, as in the novel "Chesapeake".   We looked out over the Choptank River then drove back through St. Michael's before branching off to Oxford.   We boarded the Oxford - Bellevue ferry across the Tred Avon River to Bellevue - so much water everywhere. This is the longest running privately owned ferry in the USA - it was established in 1683.  The river was very rough with the wind whipping it up.  Oxford was beautiful - lovely homes.    We crossed the Choptank River to Cambridge - another pretty main street dating back to 1684.   This was a much bigger place though, with a population of 11,500 and therefore had more shabby parts.   We then crossed the Nanticoke River - all of these areas are mentioned in "Chesapeake", which I was trying to read, but we were doing so much during the day that I was 'bombing' out early at night.   We skirted Salisbury on a ring road.  This is a big place.   We thought we were in England with the names in this area.    Then we drove across to Chincoteague Island.   This island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and bridges which we travelled on.   We drove around and found the Assateague Inn, a very nice comfy place, even though it was a bit old.  It was a wooden structure, with decks and docks out over the water.  We had a suite so we had plenty of room - and guess what. We scored a lovely comfy bed, but poor old Tracy had a lumpy sofa - and she was paying for it!  That's fair.   We had dinner at the Village Restaurant, just beside the Inn.  Chincoteague Island is famous for its ponies.  Legends say that these ponies are descendants of mine horses that survived the shipwreck of a 16th century Spanish galleon.   However, historians think the first ponies were brought over by the first English colonists who turned the herds loose on Assateague and Chincoteague Islands in the late 1600s, when the horses began to damage their crops.   Whichever theory is true, the ponies have been there a long time.    Pony penning takes place on the last Wednesday and Thursday in July.  On these days the partly wild ponies are rounded up from their home on the southern end of Assateague to swim back to Chincoteague.   Foals are sold at auction and the rest swim back to Assateague.    I am not sure that I like this idea, but it's a tradition of the area.  

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Tuesday 21st November

Another glorious day - the rest of the east coast was getting snow, but not us.    We had our 'stolen' brekkie in the room.  I had 'stolen' three bagels and an apple from the motel the morning before and as we had a toaster in the room, they proved very handy.    After breakfast, we drove out in glorious sunshine and across to Assateague Island.   Here we visited the Visitor Centre where we met three lovely ladies.  One of them gave me a big hug because she wants so much to visit Australia.  We found that everywhere we went people were interested in Australia and want to come here.   The ladies really were lovely.   While we were talking to them I 'espied' a gorgeous teddy bear called 'T.R.' after Teddy Roosevelt, founder of the first National Wildlife Refuge.    We then set out on the Wild Life Loop where we saw thousands of snow geese.  They'd travelled south for the winter.  As we were watching, more of them flew in.   As we were coming to the end of the Loop, we spotted a deer crossing the road so we stopped to watch it.   We walked to the Assateague Lighthouse, which was really lovely.   Walking back on a bed of pine needles and watching leaves gently falling around us I thought we were very lucky people.  We heard some grunts but David said it was not wildlife, but two pine trees rubbing together.  I'm not so sure though.   We stopped to watch snowy egrets on the banks of a creek - 15 of them all together.  They were beautiful. We drove on to the Bay Visitor Centre and on to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  The wind was freezing.  While we were driving David spotted a white tailed deer on the banks of the creek.    On the way back Tracy said how much she wanted to see the wild ponies of Assateague and guess what - we saw some.   Her wish was someone's command.    We then had to call back at the Visitor Centre for Tracy to buy a 'T.R.' bear and me a lighthouse for my Christmas tree.   Then it was back through Chincoteague and on to the mainland.    We drove through farming and fruit growing country.  David couldn't get over the houses not having any fences or gardens wherever we went.  It was warm and cosy in the car.   When we came to Turner Sculptures, a place Ben and Joanne had told us about, we stopped for a look. Ben and Joanne have three of the Turner Carvings and all I can say is that they must have more money than the Smarts.   The sculptures are magnificent, but very expensive.   We then passed through a cotton growing area.   When we stopped for drinks the lady serving me told me it had snowed there on the Sunday when we were in Washington and they'd had scurries again that morning but still we hadn't seen any - except on the mountains in Canada.    The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is really something to see.   It goes 17 miles over and under Chesapeake Bay.   Like the bridge near Arlington, it had two separate spans.  The bridge we travelled on was opened in 1964 but the volume of traffic became too much and a second bridge for traffic the other way was opened.   It is really some structure.   We could see Virginia Beach off in the distance as we crossed the Bay.   This bridge/tunnel is a very important link for those on the Eastern Shore.  It was very dark in the tunnels and ships 'ran over' us as we went into the second tunnel - we could see six ships out in the bay.   We did a U turn at the end and went back to a pier at the South End of the second tunnel to have a look.   The seagulls have a ball in this area.    It was fascinating to watch them here and in fact, all the way along the bridge.   Then it was time to set out for the Outer Banks, North Carolina.   On our way we crossed over part of the Intercontinental Waterway, which goes from Florida to the Great Lakes - you can sail all the way without going out to sea.    We crossed into North Carolina - we passed some hideous 'sights' in this area.  So many bill boards.  (In Canada no-one but Native Americans can put up billboards so if you see them you know it is an area that Native Americans own.   However in the USA - well!   We called in at the Wright National Memorial but it was too late for a proper visit so we just took photos of the beautiful sky.  We 'chased' the sunset for a while but gave up and went looking for a bed.  As we drove along between houses on sand dunes it reminded Tracy and me of Denmark.   After searching for a decent looking motel that was open, because this is definitely a summer resort and lots of them were closed, we booked in to the Holiday Inn.  This was okay, but it had seen better days, as had a lot of the area.   We asked the lad at the front desk for a place to go for dinner and he recommended Basnights Lone Cedar Café, which was set on a causeway out to Roanoke Island.  It was a place with a great atmosphere and great food.  The lad at the motel had not led us astray.    TV again.

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