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  1. #11
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    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    I love your observations of the places you're seeing. Great commentary.

    "I've giv'n her all she's got captain, an' I canna give her no more." In memory of Scotty.

  2. #12
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    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Field Report – Part 3

    Day 6: Started the day by taking the first of what would turn out to be 4 ferry rides on this trip, and the only one that actually cost anything. This is a 2 and a half hour cruise from Cedar Island to Ocracoke across Pamlico Sound, and even this is only $15. It’s a very relaxing way to begin a morning, but then we arrive at Ocracoke. I was expecting this town to be a bit of a sleepy backwater. Far from it. It is instead a resort community that is wall to wall people, lots of condos, and more traffic than you can shake a stick at. We did tour the local lighthouse and try to find the graveyard of some British sailors whose ship was sunk by a German U-Boat offshore during WWII. But it soon became clear that if we wanted to see anything besides other tourists, we’d have to move on.

    We didn’t have to go far. Just a couple of miles up the road, we pulled off into a nearly deserted parking lot along the ocean side of the island and took a walk along the shore. There were a few people right by the parking area, but other than that we had the beach to ourselves as we walked. After an hour or so of walking, wading, and shell collecting, we headed north again and took the next ferry ride, this one taking us from Ocracoke to Hatteras. Not only was it free, but we happened to drive up just at the tail end of the loading and without any wait started across Hatteras Inlet. Stopped at Hatteras Lighthouse and toured the little museum, but they wanted $6 to climb the 268 steps to the top. From the comments of others I later heard discussing this, I was not alone in thinking that was a bit much for a self-induced heart attack. We then settled in to working our way north, window shopping in some of the small towns and looking for a good place to eat. Oddly enough, many of the restaurants close at 2:00 pm, but we finally found the Froggy Dog in Avon, and were fortunate enough to arrive just after 3:00 when they start serving dinner, whose menu includes some of the best King Crab legs we’ve ever had.

    Last stop of the day was at the Fort Raleigh Historic Site in Manteo, where English settlers tried to colonize in 1583-1585. This is the “Lost Colony” of Virginia Dare fame. They have unearthed the remains of the fort built by the colony and have a good exhibit and film. I just enjoyed being around stuff that old (It amazes me that my own forbearers came over just 50 years later.) and thinking about how little stuff those people came with. We then headed up to the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, but it closed about 10 minutes before we arrived. Ah well, it gives me an excuse to go back. As we then headed up to Norfolk for that nights stop, the rain which had been off and on all day finally cleared out, and just after we were crossed into Virginia, my sister started yelling at me to stop and pull over. It turned out that what had caught her eye was a complete (horizon to horizon – 180 degrees) double rainbow. I had once seen an incredibly rare triple rainbow (all three were partial), but this was just incredible. As I was trying to get photos of this, we were joined by two state troopers in separate cruisers. I found it interesting that the first trooper didn’t turn to see what I was talking about until the second had arrived. Anyway, that was pretty much the end of that day. Far more sightseeing than driving (and of course, the ferries put nothing on the odometer) so just 190.6 miles today.

    Day 7: We started the day by crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake on the Bay Bridge Tunnel. This is a really unique water crossing. There were some ships heading into port as we crossed and we could see as we drove along the initial causeway that we’d eventually be heading into the first tunnel to dive underneath them. At the north end, we stopped by the side of the road to look back over what we had crossed, and couldn’t see the other end. We then came north on some back roads which paralleled the main highway, US-13). This is a really sleepy backwater, but I enjoyed just poking around. We then spent some time at the wildlife refuge at Chincoteague Island. Very nice visitor’s center, one of the best I’ve ever seen at a refuge, and, of course, the ponies. One word to any of the wise who plan to visit, if you’re going to spend any time in Chincoteague, plan on getting around by bicycle. Traffic in town can be a bear, and the refuge itself is ideally set up for un-motorized two wheel travel. As we were leaving town, I could see the road curving to the left, below and in front of a small ‘hill’ that I knew to be the end of the runway at NASA’s Wallops Island facility. What I couldn’t see was the P3 headed at us until it roared off the runway right over our heads.

    We then wandered up through the eastern shore of Maryland and Delaware, stopping at some of the great small towns like Federalsburg, Easton and Cambridge so my sister could check the real estate listings – she’s thinking about retiring in the area. We also caught a ride on this tiny 2 car ferry in Delaware, across the Nanticoke River in Woodland. It was free and only took about 5 minutes – and only took that long because it was on the ‘wrong’ side of the river when we pulled up. As we crossed the Bay Bridge at Annapolis on our way into Washington, I noticed that they were warning motorists to expect significant delays eastbound the next day (Friday of the July 4th weekend), and so I gave up my plan to use this as an alternate route for the first part of the Washington to Boston leg. But I had more immediate concerns. I was trying to get to the far side of DC at rush hour. I knew enough not to take the beltway and so just headed right through the city, and with some experience at driving the city, some creative navigation (I think most of my U-turns were legal), and a ‘short’ wait to cross the Potomac, we actually did pretty well, and got to another sister’s house in the early evening and called it a day, having covered 315.4 miles.

    In the next installment, I describe my drive from Washington to Boston on the Friday of a major holiday weekend. Oh joy.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-01-2005 at 12:07 AM. Reason: Housekeeping

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Another terrific report! Thanks.

    Interesting about the ferries. We have lots of ferries here in Washington but I don't believe we have any 2-car ones. Now THAT would be fun! It seems it would be cheaper in the long-run to build a bridge than it would be to run a free ferry but who needs another boring bridge?

    I'm intrigued about your family history. Your family has been here since almost the beginning! Would you mind sharing where they settled? Were they in Plymouth Colony, by chance? I studied quite a bit about that settlement when in college. Fascinating stuff.

    As usual....I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Family History

    Not quite, my great-great-... (anyway, 9 greats) grandfather came over in 1636. The group he came with did stop initially in Plymouth, but in what would become a recurring theme in my family, found it too crowded and stuffy, so they continued on around the coast and founded New Haven, CT.

    In what we all find our most fascinating bit of family history, his son, my 8-great-grandfather, moved to western Massachusetts and was caught in the Pascommuck Massacre (1703 in what would become Northampton, MA). He and his wife were captured and all of their children murdered. He escaped, and in retribution my grandmother was scalped and left to die on Pomeroy Mountain. Fortunately for me, he raised the alarm, got the local militia on the heals of the raiders, found grandma, nursed her back to health, and had a whole new flock of kids.

    I lived in New England for many years and got to look into our history a bit, and when much of the family was in the area for a wedding a few years ago, we had a librarian and historian from Northampton give us all a lecture on the raid and tour of the sites. It turned out that the librarian was descended from the Indian tribe that had done the raid!

    AZBuck

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Very cool, AZBuck! Are you the geneologist in the family? Or were you one of those lucky families where familiy histories were well-recorded?

    My mom has made some attempts at doing some geneology for my family but we weren't in the US until 1905 on my mom's side, and 1951 on my dad's side. She's having difficulty getting records from foreign countries that she can understand.

    On my husband's side, they've traced back to the 1700s. My MIL is in the Daughters of the American Revolution based on some relatives back then being involved in that.

    What fascinating stories you have about your family. I just think this is so cool. (Now, don't take belated revenge out on that tour guide....how ironic, right?)

    Take care!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Part 4: Up the Corridor

    Day 8: We spent last night and this morning visiting with family, and don’t get away until after 10:00. I’m not looking forward to today’s drive. We’ve got to get from DC to Boston on the Friday of the July 4th weekend. What I’ve got going for me is that I’ve driven this corridor many, many times and know what my options are. In general, it seems to me that when setting out on a major drive, one should have:

    A: a plan
    B: a backup to A
    C: an alternative to B
    D: the willingness to drop A, B, and C, and wing it.

    I’ll need all four before I get to my final destination in New Hampshire. The trek starts out pretty well. It’s actually to our advantage to get a late start as Washington’s morning rush hour (probably light today, anyway) is over, and we get around the beltway and up I‑95 to Baltimore in relatively good shape. It’s at Baltimore that knowledge of the options first comes in handy. There are two tunnels under Baltimore harbor. The older one, called the Harbor Tunnel , carries I‑895, the newer one, the Fort McHenry Tunnel, carries I‑95. The traffic signs along I‑95 leading into Baltimore clearly favor the I‑95 tunnel, but I first drove this section when the Harbor Tunnel was new and it’s my preferred route. I’ve driven the McHenry Tunnel several times and I’ve always been struck by how busy it is. Conversely, since the McHenry Tunnel opened, the Harbor Tunnel has been practically deserted. Today proves no different, and as we leave the moderately busy I‑95 for I‑895 the traffic thins out immediately, and we have clear sailing to the far side of Baltimore.

    It’s as we head on up I‑95 through northeastern Maryland that traffic really starts to build up. Just before coming to the Susquehanna River, my sister comments that she occasionally gets of at Havre de Grace and takes the local bridge. Just then, we rounded a curve and saw the traffic backed up from the toll booth on I‑95 and the sign for the ‘last exit before toll’. We managed to get to the exit and took the US‑40 bridge that had very little traffic, but a word of warning. I used to pull this maneuver all the time back in my shun-piking days, and the US‑40 bridge was pretty cheap. No more. In what is apparently an effort to keep all of I‑95’s traffic off the local streets, they’ve raised the toll to $5. If you’re going to use this route more often, they also sell a 1 year pass which costs - $5! We continue up US‑40 to Wilmington where we stop for lunch with my sister’s daughter. We then do a short stretch on I‑295 up to Princeton, NJ for a visit with her son.

    From Princeton, the plan is to get around New York City with as much clearance as possible. To this end we head up US‑206 to join I‑287, which is crowded and subject to occasional light stop and go. But at Suffern, NY, where the traffic for New England heads for the Tappan Zee Bridge, we took NY‑17 north to begin the most relaxing, scenic and enjoyable parts of today’s drive. At Sloatsburg, we connect to Seven Lakes Drive through Harriman State Park to Bear Mountain Bridge and US‑6 (a scenic, curving road high above the Hudson), Bear Mountain Parkway, US‑202, and finally connecting via NY‑116 and NY-22 to I‑684 and I‑84. This was my favorite way around NYC when I was living in New England and I was glad to see that it hadn’t changed much over the years. I still heartily recommend it to anyone who, like me, dreads getting through the New York City area.

    As we continued up I‑84 towards Hartford, traffic picks up again, and shortly after Waterbury, it all comes to a crawl. After inching our way forward for about 15 minutes, we come to an exit for an un-numbered local road, and take it, turn generally north and enjoy just moving again. After a stop at a local convenience store for coffee and directions to the nearest numbered highway, we continue cross-country to Hartford via CT‑69 and CT‑72, rejoin I‑84 and without further incident make it to Boston around midnight. We had covered 505.7 miles in 14 hours for an average speed of 36.1 mph! I’m not sure that any of my ‘alternative routes’ saved me any time or money, but they all did wonders for my mental health.

    Day 9: Today, Saturday, I just need to make the short run up to northern New Hampshire to join more family in the White Mountains for the holiday weekend. As I head up US‑3 and I‑93 through Lowell, Nashua and Manchester, traffic moves along but is heavy and continues to build until we come to Concord, where it backs up at a toll booth. Knowing that most of this traffic is headed for the NH lakes and mountains and will probably back up again at Franconia Notch, I opt out and take I‑89 and I‑91 instead. Again this was just a case of seeing the exit for I‑89 at an opportune moment and knowing that I could take it to White River Junction, VT and pick up I‑91. Miles today: 206.0

    For the next two and a half days, I’m just going to enjoy hanging out with my brother, yet a third sister, and assorted nieces and nephews in small town New England, go to a little amusement park, hang out at the ol’ swimming hole, go to a firemen’s pancake breakfast, watch a parade, and generally relax before starting back to Arizona.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-29-2005 at 10:19 PM. Reason: Housekeeping

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    In general, it seems to me that when setting out on a major drive, one should have:

    A: a plan
    B: a backup to A
    C: an alternative to B
    D: the willingness to drop A, B, and C, and wing it.
    I love it! This is probably the best, most concise advice for roadtrippers yet!

    Your post is a wealth of good information for anybody traveling through that congested area.

  8. Default

    If you want quirk try to fit in Roswell, NM. I went there a couple years back and had the best time. It's close to Carlsbad Caverns and you can get tons of amazingly inexpensive UFO souvineers. One place I remember in particular, right on the main street, had sets with aliens in different situations that you could walk into and take pictures in. i.e. a few I have include operation on an alien, drinking a beer at a bar with one, flying a spaceship with one, etc. Unless you have a particular interest in seeing Western, TX I'd skip that monotonous Red State as much as possible.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
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    Default Field Report: Part 5 - Heading Home

    Day 11: On the first day of the return trip, I get an early start and even though I’ll be driving in east coast states, I will be working my way down what used to be western frontier back in the 1750’s, so I plan to stop at a number of old forts along the way including, today, Crown Point and Forts Ticonderoga and William Henry in New York. I love just wandering around these places whether there are ruins with just a few signs or fully restored buildings with costumed interpreters, and there are plenty of both here. My favorite, actually, was Crown Point just because of the setting. It’s on the shores of Lake Champlain with great views, and its military importance is immediately obvious as the lake narrows here and one can clearly see how the fields of fire of its cannons could choke off any ships trying to pass. I also made a stop at Lackawanna State Park north of Scranton, PA. This turns out to be another hidden gem of a ‘rest area’ with a lake and some very nice trails. There had also been signs warning of construction and delays on I-81 in Scranton, and so I decide to use the PA Tpk down to I-80 and then rejoin I-81 south of town. I’ve used I-81 so often in the past that I just cruise from this point on into Harrisburg where I call it a day after making good 617.9 miles.

    Day 12: I start the day with a stop at yet another frontier outpost, Fort Frederick in Big Pool, MD. This one is just off I‑70 and besides the fort, there’s access to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the bike/hiking trail that now follows it. There’s also a very nice little camping area down on the banks of the Potomac. The only other ‘big’ stop today is in Carter Caves State Park in Olive Hill, KY. While this park is obviously about the caves, I’ve got another, bigger cave tour on tap for tomorrow, and so check in at the park headquarters, get some suggestions, and hike the trails that lead to a number of natural bridges. From here I continue west, but as I near Lexington I again find myself ahead of schedule and since I haven’t seen that much of Kentucky in the past, I leave the Interstates and just backroad it for the rest of the day, finishing up with 650.6 miles on the odometer for the day.

    Day 13: The joy of going westward is that now the time zone changes work in my favor. This lets me show up at Mammoth Caves early enough to make the first tours of the day when the crowds are smaller and the rangers are fresher. The tour that works best for me as far as starting time, duration, and interest is the “Frozen Niagra” tour which takes about two hours, which turns out to be a very general type cave tour and a good chance to stretch your legs. The rangers are both entertaining and informative, which is the best you can ask for. When the group returns to park headquarters, the parking lot has completely filled up and the lines for tickets are getting long – time to move on. Rather than heading out to I‑65, I instead head north through the park and take the 4th and last of my ferry rides, another 2-3 car (and free!) ferry across the Green River. I then head down the Western Kentucky Parkway and after a short stint in Tennessee cross the Mississippi into the bootheel region of Missouri. After crossing the river, I try to find a way to get to its shoreline, but after running up against fences and levees for about half an hour, I give up and hit the road again. I also stop for a walk Big Lake State Wildlife Management Area outside Blytheville, AR. This is one the few disappointments on the trip as it seems to be the site of local late night parties. It’s pretty trashed so I just push on to Little Rock and call it a day. Total miles today: 583.9

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-29-2005 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Housekeeping

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Gosh, how many of those teeny, tiny little 1, 2, 3 car ferries for free are there? I really didn't know these existed. I'm anxious to find one and check it out. I wonder if there are any out here on the west coast somewhere?

    Another cool report. thanks!

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