Subject: Travelogue Ed and Edith Gray East Coast Trip
At the completion of this trip we will have been in all the states other than Hi as well as all the Canadian provinces and all the states of Mexico but 3 which we plan on going to this coming winter. I won't send many travelogues for this trip as many of you have been to these places. So far we have toured Washington, DC, been to the Delaware Seashore and NJ seashore and then south to VA using the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnels to Newport News, VA and then back Northwest to Shenandoah NP and Skyline Drive. From here we will go down the Blue Ridge Parkway 469 miles to the Smoky Mt. NP then over to the SC coast, south to GA and down to the FL Keys and then up the west coast, visit friends in Shelamar, FL and then head for SD through our last state we have not been in which will be AR.
Now about our DC visit. On the way we were surprised by the number of trees and hills in Eastern Ohio. The beltway traffic is bad but people do drive very reasonable. We found Cherry Hill RV park all OK just of the beltway We have been told they are very helpful and they were just that. We decided on Monday we would go early and learn the bus and subway (metro) and go to the Tanzania Embassy and try and get our VISA's for our Africa trip. We met a fellow who lives in the park. He said once you stay for a couple of months and them come back you can rent for $200 a week, so for Washington DC that is a good deal. One would have to do some winterization if you were to be there the coldest months. Some of their help are full time Rvers who stay there for the season. He gave us good info on the Metro, confirmed some things and warned us to be sure we got on the Metro going the way we were going. We got the fare ticket machine figured out. You look up the fare and get a ticket for that amount of money. I thought it would be a ticket from point A to point B but not so, all fares are based on money. We got our tickets, made a change from the Green line to the Red line and got to Dupont Circle and left the Metro and walked to the embassy. We were early but talked to a couple of people who worked there and found out we had a good chance of getting our VISA today yet rather than having to wait until tomorrow. The VISA desk did not open until about 9:30am We went to the Kenya office but found they opened at the same time so we went back and they let us into the office early into the reception room so we got our papers organized and watched a video on Tanzania they put in for us that was very good. The receptionist told us if we give her our papers she would get them ready for John who issued the VISA's. When he came about 9:45 am we talked to him and he said if we came back at 1 pm he would have the VISA's ready. Actually a VISA is stamped into your passport and is valid for a specified time. In this case we needed 6 month so it still would be effective vhen we get to Tanzania as the VISA starts as of today. We also got a good deal of literature on Tanzania. We went back to the Kenya Embassy and got some literature and found out they issued VISA's while you wait so we probably should of went there first but anyway they assured us we could get it at the airport in Nariobi 24 hours a day and they would take US dollars and that since we were going to Tanzania we would not need a multiple entry VISA. We also got some excellent literature and map on Kenya. We then headed for the Metro and went to the National Zoo and seen the Panda's and other things. We then went back to the Tanzania Embassy and the secretary called John on the telephone and he came down and had our passports with the VISA's in them so it was a done deal. While we were there they got a whole box full of VISA applications via a carrier. We then went to the downtown Capital Mall area and went the the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and seen the Mall. We then took the Metro back to Cherry Hill. We did have to wait for the bus for Cherry Hill quite a while at the Metro. The metro has four routes of different color codes, ie red, yellow, orange and green. If you study the map you can figure out where they cross and if you need to make a transfer. At stops where more than one line runs you can get on and off of each one at that stop but of course at a different level. If you read the signs, look at the map and pay attention to which way the Metro you get on is going you won't have any trouble. If you are early and can't use the all day pass yet for $6 and you end up short of fare you can buy "EXIT" fare for what you are short. Also if you are long you can put your ticket in a machine and it will refund the unused portion. If I lived here I sure would use the METRO rather than fighting the traffic when ever possible. It was clean and safe. They only stop about 30 seconds at a stop and get up to speed very quickly. I would say they go at least 50 mph. It sure does not take long to get across town anyway!
May 18, 2004 Tuesday we took the Grayline DC 9 hour tour and seen many of the federal buildings and went to Mount Vernon where George Washington lived and toured his home. We had a very reasonable dinner at the Country Buffet. We had a very informative bus driver. He never quit talking it seemed so we learned a lot. In the afternoon we seen embassy row, Lincoln Vietnam and Korean Memorial and Arlington Cemetary. Both going and coming from Cherry Hill they had a Grayline shuttle bus and the traffic was terrible both ways so certainly it is worth the money to take the tours out of CherryHill and made the higher CG fee worth it. Once you get your feet on the ground you can get an all day subway pass for $6 each that is good from 9:30 am on during week days and all day Sat and Sun but of course everything is pretty much closed on the week ends.
May 19, 2004 Wedneday We took the so called BC tour. Actually we had the two day G tour which is the best deal for the money at $80 each for the 2 days. If you did it oun your own you would have the fare to Union Station, admission to Mt. Vernon, Parking fees, have to walk much, much farther that you do from the bus so you really are paying about $20 a day for a 9 hour bus tour over doing it yourself. If you were to go to Mt. Vernon you would have to drive and driving is a real hassle to there. We got to tour the Capital, seen some duplication but not that much riding around in the bus, seen FDR and the WWII Memorial(just opened) On the Capital tour we found out if you asked you could also get a pass to see the Senate chambers so we did that. We were supposed to be back at the bus at 1 pm. We got there 10 minutes early but the bus was not there. It turned out the rest of our group did not figure out you could go to the Senate chambers so they left and got on the bus and he left about 15 minutes early not counting to see if everyone was there. Fortunately I remember him saying where they would eat dinner which was next; unfortunately it was about 1.5 miles away at the Museum of American History. Fortunately it was not hot and in fact raining a little. It was a long walk for Edith but we found some of our group there and found out where the bus would be and that it was leaving at 3 pm. I told the bus driver I did not appreciate him leaving early and not counting. He got all defensive and said he did not which was a LIE but I decided to just let it lie and chalk it up to things that happen. I guess the lesson to be learned is to carry a cellphone and have the bus drivers number or if he won't give it to you the bus drivers dispatcher so you can get them to come back and pick you up or at least know where to catch them. We needed to find them as our stuff was on the bus. Another good idea would be to buddy up with some one to watch out for each other so you buddy can have the driver wait if he tries to leave early and you are not there. I don't have a problem with being left when one is late but when you are 10 minutes early that is not right but we are now wiser as to some precautions to take. It makes no sense to always have to be back 15 minutes early just to safeguard something like this happening as it would rarely happen again. The better course of action is the cell phone and buddy system. We then got to see the White House, Ford Theater and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum so it was a full day. One other tip it would be a good idea to take along umbrellas as one could leave them in the bus if it were not raining. It is not like you would have to carry them around all day. We did not get by cheap for lunch today. About $15 for the two of us and we had a hamburger, small bag of chips and a candy bar so much more typical of Washington, DC. I have been able to get my e-mail in good shape The row houses with common walls are all over Washington, DC They certainly don't give you a lot of room. It is amazing what houses cost in the historical areas. They are small and crowed, I sure would not pay that kind of money if I had it.
May 20, 2004 Thursday We decided we had had enough of Washington DC as there we very little left that we wanted to see. If we would of stayed we would of went to the Mint where they print money and the Holocast Museum. By taking the tours we seen and did a lot in a very short time. Cherry Hill CG is great, they refunded our money in full for the extra day. They have swimming pools, big screen TV, sauna, laundry, store, big RV store, and other recreation things. They have WI-FI(wireless internet) or dial up data ports. As a side note I see Loves is getting WI-FI like Flying J. We left about 9:30 am and it was a pleasant surprise the beltway was moving right along so we were able to make good time and got on Highway 50 going east across the Chesapeake Bay bridge, $7.50 toll for us with the 5th and on over into eastern MD. We ran into a good deal of large scale farming and that continued into Delaware. We reached our campground at the Delaware Seashores State park south of Rahoboth, Delaware. We had reservations for Friday and Saturday night and found that same spot was open tonight so we got it. It is a cool, cloudy day, about 70 degrees and with the sea breeze nice and cool.
May 21, 2004 Friday We spent the day at the 5th relaxing, this certainly is a fishing spot with the Indian River Outlet into the ocean. The tide really gets the water churning. There is a highway #1 bridge across it. At this point the barrier island is only about 1/4 mile. The channel which has been rocked for the river is maybe an 1/8 of a mile wide. It was foggy and cloudy all day. We did walk to the east under the bridge and found there is beach across the river to the north for as far as the eye can see toward Rehoboth and also to the south. I walked about a mile to the south. Apparently you can fish in the ocean, surf fishing with no license. If you want to get your vehicle on the beach to fish you need a permit. Fishing had not been very good but to the south a fellow had caught quite a few small sharks. Toward evening the week end campers started arriving so where there was a lot of room we now have tents on both sides of us which is good as it would be really crowed if they were RV's. The spots are pretty tight for RV's but everyone seem polite and friendly and observe quite hours very well. It was quiet sleeping.
May 22, 2004 Saturday Today we are going back north to Lewis, DE and go over to NJ on the Lewis/Cape May ferry as foot passengers. For $20 each we get round trip ferry tickets, a shuttle bus to downtown and a trolley tour of downtown Cape May to see all the Victorian homes that were primarily built in the 1800's by families as summer homes from various places but especially Philadelphia. They are multi-story and very ornate! Some are very large and very unusual. There are of course lots of shops and a good beach that people have come to since the 1700's. The ferry ride is about 70 minutes each way but saves several hours driving time. It was a nice day, we seen some porpoises on the trip over and back. We had a seafood dinner back in Rehoboth, got diesel fuel for 1.70 which is the best we have seen since before Washington, DC. I got some good pictures of the beach, CG and fishing as it is nice and sunny today. We met a local who just could not figure out how in the world we ever found this place. We have met a lot of friendly people here and on the ferry. One soon gathers that it is very stressful driving and working in Washington, DC and northern NJ so people have to get away and relax as often as they can. This CG is a favorite place to do that and also get away from the heat and humidity. Many go south to the Outer Bank.
May 23, 2004 Sunday Today we traveled about 360 miles. We really did not want to back track the way we came to Washington, DC and over to Shenandoah NP. It would of saved about 100 miles or more but maybe not that much time with the traffic around Washington, DC so we decided to go where we had never been so we went south along the Delaware coast into MD and across the Chesapeake Bay which is a very long bridge with some tunnels. We think the tunnels were so big boats could get through. Once we got to the Newport News area we headed back to the NW on I-64 and eventually a bit more west than NW and ended up just east of Charlotsville, Virginia. We headed north and west and came into Shenandoah NP at Swift River Gap. It is a pretty good climb, had to go to low gear to pull the 5th. We then went back south about 15 miles to Loft Mountain CG which had all kinds of room. I thought it would be OK this early but one always wonders a bit as we have seen a lot of NP CG full. All but one in the park are first come, first serve. I am now optomistic we can get into parks all the way south and we have reservations in the Great Smoky Mt. NP for Memorial Day week end so we should be fine. We had trouble coming up with change for the CG so I hiked down to the store and was able to get change. We also got our $50 annual NP pass so we are set until the end of May 2005. After my birthday in 2006 I will be 62 so I can get the golden age passport for life for $10 and most CG such as this one will be half price so that will cheapen things up. The lesson to be learned here is to always carry some $10, $5 and $1 just for this purpose and not all $20 and $100. We have ran into this before but usually can scape enough together with change, but not today!
The Blue Ridge Mt. are the eastern rampart to the Appalacians and the Appalacian Trail goes along Skyline Drive here in the park and follows the 469 Blue Ridge Parkway which starts at the south end of the park. I hiked the section of the trail by the CG, it comes up from the south and then loops back around the south edge of the CG and then along the east side and on to the north. The trail here anyway has cement posts at trail intersections with a galvanized metal band around the top of the post with names and arrows and distance to things along the trail and lets you know which is south and north and how far to the next point or points along the trail. Here by the CG are arrows to the CG and CG store. Along the Appalacian Trail quite often a white mark is on a tree about 2" wide and 4" long, probably white latex paint which won't hurt the tree so with those and the occasional cement posts with the metal bands one should not get off the tail. I expected the trail to be more traveled, ie show more evidence of lots of traffic. In comparison to a lot of trail I have been on it seemed only moderately traveled; although possibly people omit the loop around the CG and cut across over to the CG store or stay in the CG and go out the northeast side. That would cut of about 3/4 of a mile and I am sure with the trail maps and guides that are available this is pretty obvious and likely mentioned.
It is worth noting that these CG are built for smaller RV's. We tried pulling into a spot and it turned out to be sharper through the trees than it appeared. I though I had clearance on the turn but could see I did not and I could not swing wider because of trees on the other side so I stopped. I had been checking the mirrors and it appeared I had good clearance yet but in bending down so I could see higher up toward the top of the 5th I noticed the tree was close so in getting out I found the 5th was into the tree that was leaning and I had bent the trim slightly. We backed out and found a better spot. I got up on the 5th and was able to bend the rain gutter out with a pliers so nothing much hurt other than if you look real close there are a few scratches but one will never notice them unless you know where to look. It certainly was a blessing that I stopped when I did. Another inch and the damage would of been significant. The lesson learned is I just have to always have Edith get out with the HT and help me watch and I can hear her on the radio in the F-350. We have seen several deer, some trees are in blossom and the smell is very nice. There are lots of birds singing. There are also bear here. The famous Shenandoah Valley and river are to the west. Actually there are two forks of the river that join north of the park as the Shenandoah. Apparently the river flows north in this area. Tomorrow we will backtrack the 15 miles and go on north I think about another 80 miles to the north end of the park, Mile Post ZERO and then return and stay here again tomorrow night before heading south. The highest point along the road is 3680 and the highest mountain is 4015 feet. We met a couple that are full timers next to us from NY originally and now HQ out of Myrtle Beach, SC. They said the CG to the south are tighter and even more hilly than this one so we will have to pay attention. It was hot and humid down on the flat land but up here it is 10 degrees cooler and definitely not as humid. It got into the low 80's at the peak about 4 pm but cooled down quickly so we just used the fans.