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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Innisfil, Ontario one hour north of Toronto
    Posts
    11

    Default Syracuse, NY to Wilmington, DE - route 9?

    We are planning to take a new and untested route from Ontario Canada to Florida for the holidays... swinging east to Syracuse, NY and then down to Delaware for the first day of driving, then to see the wild ponies at Assateague Island in Maryland.

    Unfortunately with our schools letting out late this year, we will be traveling at the day I expect will be a traffic nightmare - Friday December 23.

    Can anyone anticipate the times to avoid any rush hours around the major cities, road constructions, etc on this route? Is this the way NYC travelers will choose to head south for their holidays?

    Mapquest routes me down Hwy / Rt 9 coming south through Scranton, Allentown, etc. At some point we will divert from Hwy 81 and come towards Philadelphia on 9. Is this a good idea? Is it a very curvy or hilly drive that we'd have problems with in heavy snow or ice? If its pretty straightforward, would it be a good idea to not divert from it (i.e. go to Jim Thorpe for example)?

    Can someone give me a good idea of how Rt 9 comes on to 76 or the 476 at Philadelphia? We will be heading toward Wilmington. Where Rt 9 comes in near Norristown, what signs should I watch for, and will I need to make sudden lane changes? What is the way the locals would take from Scranton to Wilmington?

    I am used to driving in heavy Toronto traffic, but considering that we will be arriving after dark, any suggestions are appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Pennsylvania Turnpike

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    PA-9 is the old route number of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (a toll road). It is now signed as I-476 from Scranton, where I-81 south from Syracuse connects with it, to where it joins the main east-west branch of the Turnpike. At that point, you exit the Turnpike to remain on I-476 south to connect with I-95 south through Wilmington, DE until you come to DE-1 south. DE-1 south is another toll road that will take you down through the center of the state, alternating with US-13.

    Some further notes, from somebody who's driven this section of road a few times. You will have a choice of I-81 or I-476 (the Turnpike) north of Scranton at Clark's Summit. I strongly suggest you take the Turnpike. The section around Scranton will cost you an extra $1.00 but will be well worth it in traffic avoided. The main section of the Turnpike down to Philadelphia will cost you $5.25, but is a relatively straight and level, 4-lane controlled access road. You will probably run into the worst traffic from when you exit the Turnpike (but stay on I-476) until you leave I-95 south of Wilmington. You can avoid a bit of this traffic by using I-495 instead of I-95 through Wilmington. The two roads split just after you enter Delaware (I-495 will split to the right) and rejoin south of Wilmington. DE-1 will hit you up for $1.00 tolls at least a couple of times. Other than a short section on I-95 south of Wilmington , this is not a route frequented by traffic out of NYC.

    And, finally, about your destination. Are you sure it's Assateague Island you want to see? The wild ponies are on Chincoteague Island.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Innisfil, Ontario one hour north of Toronto
    Posts
    11

    Default

    AZBuck,

    Thanks for your advice and warm welcome. Regarding the ponies, I've heard that they are on both the Maryland and Virginia side of the island, with Chincoteague being the Virginia access and Ocean City being the Maryland access. But I do believe the ponies are found in concentration in Chincoteague. We've been warned that the Virginia side does not allow pets, even in the car. We will have our family dog with us. I've found pictures of ponies trashing camping sites on the Maryland side, which allows camping and pets. If it is true that we will have a hard time finding ponies on the Maryland side, then please let me know... I will stay with the dog in town and send the kids on with their dad.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Both places, sorta...

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    And, finally, about your destination. Are you sure it's Assateague Island you want to see? The wild ponies are on Chincoteague Island
    This could be a first... AZBuck may not be technically correct about this. The "Chincoteague Ponies" are the descendants of domesticated horses orginally brought to Assateague Island in the l7th century. Some of those formerly domesticated horses are now considered to be "wild" horses on Assateague Island.

    But most folks think the ponies can only be found on Chincoteague.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Yep, they stop you at the gate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Airkarat
    We will have our family dog with us. I will stay with the dog in town and send the kids on with their dad.
    Probably the best plan. We tried to get in with Marvin the Road Dog one time and they stopped us at the entry gate.

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Probably Not a First

    Yes it is true that there are ponies on both islands and both herds are about the same size. But when I was looking to make my own first visit to see them this summer, I started by looking at the Chincoteague herd and found a stop there fit well with my other plans. The Assateague herd is freer to roam over a fairly wide range while the Chincoteague herd is a bit more constrained and one can be pretty assured of getting to see them. Also, I was approaching from the south during the summer and wanted to avoid Ocean City, and I did not have to worry about the pet restriction in the Chincoteague NWR. So, as Mark has pointed out elsewhere, every trip is different and you may be better served to try Assateague first and only if you're disappointed in your experience there try Chincoteague. One other thing your kids may enjoy if you get to the Chincoteague area is a quick stop at the NASA launch facility at Wallops Island. While not nearly as big or famous as Cape Canaveral in Florida, they do have a nice little museum on the road into Chincoteague.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Innisfil, Ontario one hour north of Toronto
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Thanks all for the information... we're heading out in the morning. Will let you know where the ponies roam ;)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Ponies Roam!

    Quote Originally Posted by Airkarat
    Thanks all for the information... we're heading out in the morning. Will let you know where the ponies roam ;)
    That will be a cool field report -- have a great trip!

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Innisfil, Ontario one hour north of Toronto
    Posts
    11

    Default We found ponies!

    We found the ponies - we chose to try the southern part of Assateague Island, the Virginia side.

    And here's the answer to the confusion about which island is which. From the mainland you go through a marshy area crossing over a small channel to Chincoteague Island, passing the NASA Wallops Island station that AZBuck had mentioned. This was impressive! But Chincoteague Island is just a town with lots of motels, restaurants, shops and camp sites.

    We then crossed over another small channel via a bridge and came immediately to the gate of the nature preserve. This is on Assateague Island, the outermost barrier island.

    Though the map seems to indicate a road that extends the length of Assateague, the preserve was self-contained and the road made a circular loop back to the gate with the only way in / out being that bridge to Chincoteague.

    Therefore, it seems that if someone wanted to camp on the Maryland northern side of Assateague (which is permitted) and then drive to the southern Virginia side, it would mean crossing back to Ocean City and driving down the mainland and crossing again at Chincoteague. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I drove the loop three times.

    It was Christmas Eve afternoon and no one was manning the post, so no entry fee. We even took the dog but kept her in the car, and I don't think that would have worked on a regular day as the park is well posted regarding no pets allowed. Near the gate at the entrance to the trail to the lighthouse, was a big metal sign of a map of the preserve and the two suggested 'pony viewing' sites. The ponies weren't near the road and it was a fifteen minute walk along a well marked pine-needle trail to a lookout structure. The herd was small - about eight females and one memorable stallion. They were in a swampy area about 100 feet from the lookout. Maybe not as tame as the ponies that run through campsites on the Maryland side.

    I would post pictures to my website, well I will, but must first Photoshop out the interesting anatomy lesson as the stallion was...um... 'in season'. Or maybe I'm wrong because I don't know anything about horses, and they're always that way?? *grin*

    I think my kids would have liked to be closer to the ponies, but here's a tip... when you return to Chincoteague Island, stop at the McDonalds. Across the parking lot is a motel with two tame paint ponies in a pen, and a food pellet machine so you can have them eat out of your hand for 25 cents.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Not the only one!

    Quote Originally Posted by Airkarat
    Therefore, it seems that if someone wanted to camp on the Maryland northern side of Assateague (which is permitted) and then drive to the southern Virginia side, it would mean crossing back to Ocean City and driving down the mainland and crossing again at Chincoteague. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I drove the loop three times.
    That is what I remembered, but I thought my memory of the place was faulty -- so thanks for setting the record straight!
    It was Christmas Eve afternoon and no one was manning the post, so no entry fee. We even took the dog but kept her in the car, and I don't think that would have worked on a regular day as the park is well posted regarding no pets allowed
    . I know for sure they would normally stop you. They stopped us!
    I would post pictures to my website, well I will, but must first Photoshop out the interesting anatomy lesson as the stallion was...um... 'in season'. Or maybe I'm wrong because I don't know anything about horses, and they're always that way?? *grin*
    I don't really see the need for the photoshop!
    I think my kids would have liked to be closer to the ponies, but here's a tip... when you return to Chincoteague Island, stop at the McDonalds. Across the parking lot is a motel with two tame paint ponies in a pen, and a food pellet machine so you can have them eat out of your hand for 25 cents.
    Good tip -- but seeing them more-or-less free is pretty cool too. Thanks for the field report!

    Mark

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