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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    1,703

    Default June 2008 - Maryland Eastern Shore

    On the last day of May we headed out from our home and to Maryland's Eastern Shore.
    When planning this trip, I decided to take the Garden State Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike.
    Traffic was nearly non-existent on the Garden State, and while the NJ Turnpike had abundant traffic, we were moving along at a good pace and it did not detract from our enjoyment of the trip. In Delaware we ran into a snag near Dover, where a Nascar race was scheduled for the same day.

    We found a great rest area off the Interstate, with great facilities and clean grounds, including (at least) two large pavillions with large hibachi grills. There was also a memorial walk for those killed in highway fatalities - a somber reminder to remain cool while on the road.

    Our destination was Pocomoke State Park, Shad River Landing. Since it was still early in the season, there weren't too many other campers at the park. By Sunday afternoon, there remained occupied only our site and one other in the camp loop we were in. That would stay the same for a couple of days. Let me state right now that this campground was immaculately well kept. The bathrooms were cleaned twice a day, whether they needed it or not, and almost all of the sites were large and level, and well spaced.

    That first night I was tasked with cooking dinner, just hot dogs and burgers on the grill. As I was setting up, thunder rumbled in the distance. I managed to finish cooking just as the skies opened up, rain and wind and thunder and lightning all around - a bad storm which sent us into the car and ultimately to the parking lot near the camp store so we wouldn't get crushed by a tree limb.

    When the storm finally passed, we headed into the camp store where a nature presentation was about to start. It was an interesting show, although geared towards children (none were in attendance). After about 30 minutes of a great horned owl staring me down, the show was over and we headed back to the site.

    At bedtime, the thunder began to rumble again.

    Our primary goal for this trip was to visit Assateague, and on Monday we did just that. We saw the horses almost immediately after crossing the bridge, and headed towards the beach. In the parking lot a horse was standing behind a car. We heard someone say "Look at that", to which we said "I hope they aren't going to be leaving soon". Well, that someone we were talking to said "That's my car!". Then I witnessed an act of extreme bravery when another person started pushing the horse from the hind quarters to move it out of the way. I thought for sure I was going to see a human soccerball, but it fortunately didn't happen.

    Off to the water!

    It was the first time in many years I can remember being on a beach that was almost deserted. The weather was great, but being a Monday early in the season, not too many folks were at the beach. Their loss was our gain. After spending a good portion of the day hanging around in the sun, I was surprised by the sight of another horse wandering along the beach.

    Since I'm a New England boy, I don't get a lot of sun for more than half of the year, and I figured it was time to get off the beach and get some food or else be burned to a crisp. We drove up to Ocean City and wandered around for a bit. One could have quite a good time in this location, but one should also be careful of common thieves on the boardwalk.

    After that short walk, eerily reminiscent of Hampton Beach in days gone by, we found a place with good crab cakes and, for some reason, two adolescent girls that walked around the restaurant with a basket full of bread and muffins. They approached us three times during the course of our meal. It was a little strange.

    Tuesday we remained at the campground, walking some of the paths in the woods. The oddest thing I saw while there was a Cypress swamp, though I guess there is one even farther North in Delaware. It's amazing what you can learn just by going somewhere.

    At dinner the thunder started to rumble. It rumbled for a long time, then another crazy storm. Well, back into the car and over to the parking lot. Listening to the NOAA weather radio in the car, but not having a visual radar map, was disconcerting. One storm after another came rolling in, wind, sheeting rain, hail, thunder, lightning. The thought that a tornado would be rolling in any second was foremost in our minds. Yet, somehow, we managed to fall asleep in the car, and only woke up once the storms stopped. For both of us, it was the sudden absence of thunder and wind that caused us awake. The series of storms had lasted from roughly 8pm to 3am.

    We headed back to our tent, which had remained dry inside, and fell asleep...on an air mattress that had at some point sprung a leak.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default What an eventful trip!

    Thanks for sharing this. (I have a couple of my own short roadtrip reports to do myself. It's hard to stay near the 'puter when the sun is shining to get them done. Although my trips were far less eventful than your's.)

    I'm surprised you were virtually the only campers. Even though Memorial Weekend typically storms around here, campsites are full...sometimes months in advance. But I think your storms sound even more forceful than what we typically get in late May around here. Wow...I'm amazed your tent stayed dry and glad you weren't hit by lightening.

    I love the idea of those horses running free on that island. Glad to see they're being protected (unlike what some folks want to do regarding wild mustangs...a topic for another type of forum.)

    Your writing style makes me smile.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default A great report

    Human soccerballs notwithstanding -- sounds like a great time.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Off by one

    I'm surprised you were virtually the only campers. Even though Memorial Weekend typically storms around here, campsites are full...sometimes months in advance.
    Well, this was the weekend following Memorial Day. Still, we didn't think the place would be quite that barren!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Yeah, even so....

    ...I'm really re-thinking recommendations about whether or not people should get camping reservations ahead of time. It is becoming increasingly difficult finding campsites anywhere in the Pacific NW after about Memorial Day through September. So I'm surprised you were so alone on ANY weekend.

    When we recently had to change out plans from going to Yellowstone to, instead, traveling around Washington state, I was really discouraged because, while checking out the state/national campgrounds we intended on just drop into, I discovered that they were all totally booked solid. Even during the week. I have often had this problem on the Olympic Peninsula but not so much across the rest of the state. Maybe more Washingtonians are camping close to home due to gas prices?

    Anyway, we ended up staying in a KOA for several nights, and had to make reservations because they only had a handful of tent sites not yet reserved so we didn't want to take a chance. The reason for the KOA? There was not one other unreserved, open campsite within about 100 miles of Bellingham that I could find anywhere. And we wanted to go there to visit The Son.

    Geesh! So I really envy you that you can find such a quiet camping experience. If I thought my back could handle it, it makes me want to start backpacking again just to get away from the camping crowds!

    And it might be my imagination, or maybe I'm just becoming a cranky, old codger, but even the state parks we stayed in seemed to be over-run with too many rowdy-type campers. Oy veh!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Western Eastern Shore

    Wednesday morning we wandered about the area, heading into Snow Hill and then off to Pocomoke City. Later in the day we took a drive out to Crisfield and watched the ferry leave to Smith Island, bringing students back home from school.

    Thursday was a day of chores, doing the laundry and just hanging around the campground. And buying a new air mattress, having tried to patch it with no success.

    Friday brought us back to Assateague, for another great day on the beach. Afterwards we stopped at a local crab shack for a good, though pricey, meal served by surly watiresses.

    Saturday we left for home around 11:30am, taking mostly secondary roads on the way home through Maryland and Pennsylvania. An interesting tidbit - MD-213 was very reminiscent of being in Kansas or Nebraska. Indeed, most of the Eastern Shore is that way.

    Through small towns and over many different bridges, a stop at an ice cream parlor and a scary drive through some fierce storms in New Jersey, we were home at 12:53am Sunday. I had made the wise decision to stop for fuel in New Jersey so we wouldn't have to worry about finding fuel in Western Massachusetts after midnight.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Epilogue

    Now, one thing I didn't mention is that during this time, both my travel partner and I were playing phone tag with potential new employers. She had been to a few interviews before leaving, and I had to set up an in-person interview after having a few telephone interviews.

    I had an interview at our local Fortune 100 financial company on Thursday after our trip. I don't think I have ever felt so confident as I did at that interview (thanks to Shack's on Main Street in Worcester for setting me up with a nice suit and to Perfect Fit tailoring.)

    After not hearing anything for a few days, I gave them a call the Wednesday after that.

    I know you're all wondering so I won't leave any suspense. We both have landed new jobs. She started the week before me at her new job, exactly as we did nearly two years ago. At this point, I am settling in to my new job as a systems analyst. Going from a small company to one this size takes some getting used to, but so far everyone has been very friendly and helpful. And the work-life balance is incredible - I expect to be able to deliver more field reports from this point on. I'm thinking about shopping for a new ride soon, too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Hidden Treasure

    I grew up at the northern end of the Delmarva Peninsula, but didn't really 'discover' it until maybe 10 years ago. You got to some of the places that make it so interesting, but there's still more including Chincoteague, Lewes, Janes Island, St. Michaels, Wallops Island, Oxford and more wildlife refuges than you can shake a stick at. I now make a point of exploring some new small corner of it whenever I get back to that neck of the woods. Glad you had a good time.

    And Congratulations!

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
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    Default Well put

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    ...and more wildlife refuges than you can shake a stick at.
    Indeed, during my research I made a note of many of these refuges, and I had designs on visiting some of them, but due to the weather, we were unable to do that. I do have plans on heading back to this area in the future, perhaps a couple of weeks earlier in the year. Mark me impressed that the area does have a lot to explore.

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