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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BACK TO THE BLUE RIDGE


We continue heading south along scenic side roads through English countryside and on into Mennonite territory. The farms are lush & flourishing.   As we reach Amish territory we see lots of buggies & Amish farms. Then at Bird-in-Hand we stop to buy goodies – especially some famous Shoofly pie (very like my banofee pie without bananas & cream – which in my opinion improve it no end!) We round out our Amish drive in Lancaster, deciding then to pop back on the motorway. We fly past Gettysburg, as we had visited it years ago with the kids, and head on to Maryland. Fruit & vege stalls are everywhere.  We can’t resist stopping to restock on luscious peaches, plump blackberries & blue berries. I pick up a brochure about local covered bridges – drag John to the first one – only it is under renovation and looks just as John says “A shed over the river!”

Before we know it we are in Virginia and see signs to Harpers Ferry, so pop in to look. No parking in town and as most of it is National Park there is a carpark out of town with a bus service. We decide our drive through is adequate & head on after lunch.

Before we know it we are in Shenandoah National Park (the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway that we started driving over 2 weeks ago) Again it is all overhanging trees & mountain vistas. It is getting late, but we decide to walk to Dark Hollow Falls before checking in to the Mt Lewis Campground.

Just as well we did the walk last night as we wake in heavy fog. We head off, but it doesn’t clear. Finally we decide this is crazy. We find the nearest exit & head to Washington DC. We drive right in to the city in the hope that we can wing a carpark. There are plenty available, but you need a special permit. Eventually we give up and head to Greenbelt National Park camping area. An amazing spot in the bush (with $16 sites) - right in the suburbs.

Armed with all the info on how to commute to DC, and our spot booked for another night, we head to the Metro to park. Train right in to the centre & head off to explore. We wander to the Capitol Building & head in to join 1,000’s of others in the Visitor Centre. We get an abbreviated tour because the dome is under renovation. Time to escape the crowds and walk the streets - stopping to explore the Airspace Museum (which by the way is very crowded too! School holidays!) After fortifying ourselves with hotdogs we get on to a hop-on hop-off bus. Pretty hot up top. Tour until they finish – back to the Metro & GR2. Phew back to the Greenbelt campground.

Decide to attack DC again today as our ticket on the bus is still valid. We plan to drive in & take advantage of the free parking we spied yesterday. It all goes to plan – the drive & parking that is. The bus isn’t so helpful. We eventually get on the Pentagon tour, but finally give up on the last loop and walk back to GR2. As a bonus we stop for views of the Capitol and spire mirrored in the lake. Somehow we had previously bypassed them! Time to leave - the plan is to head to New York. A fellow camper at Greenbelt told us about a place to camp near the City, so we will head there, eventually.

Needless to say there is heaps of traffic, but before long we are in Maryland. Then we get to cross the amazing 6.2 mile long bridge across Chesapeake Bay. It is not long before we reach Delaware. Phew, we are racing through these tiny states. We have decided to catch the ferry from Lewes in Delaware to Cape May in New Jersey, rather than use the motorways. But perhaps we need to check the ferry timetable as it is Friday night and could be busy. And we really don’t want to cross in the dark. We stop to go online – hmmmm. There is one left tonight, and tomorrow is fully booked until 4pm. As we continue our very pretty drive through fabulous cropping land we realize that we won’t make it. Decide to stop at the ever faithful Hotel Walmart at Georgetown & go out for dinner. Then tomorrow we will get to the ferry terminal really early in the hope that we can get on.

As a result of our early start we are first in the weight list queue and amazingly we get on. A lovely 80 min ride to New Jersey. Cape May is gorgeous. Victorian houses, lovely sandy beaches & of course more lighthouses. As we continue up the coast the reality of vacation time hits us. The beaches are heaving with people (not that we really want to pay to get on to them as well as paying for a carpark) and the traffic is crazy. Finally we leave the coast. But not before we collect a no plate from a guy John meets at the beach. He had just replaced the ones on his Maserati.

Because of our rush through Delaware we have missed going to a scrap yard – we decide to alter our route a tad and head north, backtracking a little, so that we can pop back in to Delaware at Wilmington. The other bonus is that diesel is much cheaper here too. With a few helpful directions we find rows of yards with cars strewn everywhere. Only one plate – but that’s all we need. The other surprise in Wilmington is the amazing contrast between housing areas. One minute we are in slums, the next amongst affluent houses.

Finally New York here we come. Lots of motorway driving, followed by a night at Walmart. Up early to tackle the drive on Sunday morning – making it very easy. We find our camp area at Camp Gateway – The Floyd Bennett Airfield out near the waterfront. It was one of the original airfields built here, but rarely used. Then used by the military.  From here we can catch a bus, then the Metro right in to Times Square. We board a hop-on hop-off bus straight away to have a good look around. You get a much better view of all the amazing buildings like this When our bums are numb we get off to walk.  We head up to the top of the Rockefeller Centre for a birds eye view. Finally back on our bus to do the uptown tour, and then the evening tour finishing around 10.30pm. Phew I am really getting pooped by now and we still have to catch the metro (1 hour) and a bus (30 mins). Finding our bus stop at 11.40pm is interesting to say the least. We probably popped out of the station via different stairs & couldn’t remember where it was. Crazy wandering around that late in Brooklyn. Finally arrive back at GR2 well after midnight. Lulled to sleep by the planes roaring overhead – we are right on the flight path.

Again we commute in to the city. It is quite different on a Monday. For one thing the Metro is jam packed. Thank goodness we got on at the first stop. We head first to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk over it before it gets too hot. Then on to pick up our cruise that comes with our bus tour. Annoyingly we end up in a massive group of Chinese tourists – they take the cake with getting in your space (see I am a poet!) Actually a glorious day on the harbor. A bit more exploring, but we have had enough. Hit the metro & bus. Back to GR2. Can’t face those planes roaring overhead another night, so head out of the city at 5pm. Actually a relatively easy drive – especially for me in the passenger seat!

See y’all soon

Coming next – the last few States – New England.

 

 

3 comments:

  1. Hello !! This Is Don. I saw you yesterday morning rolling down Geneva street in St. Catharines ! I could't believe my eyes ! lol. Never thought I'd see an Aussie vehicle around here ! Will you be in the area for a couple of days ? My girl friend & I would love to take you out for a beer or coffee and hear your story. Pleas ring if you are interested. Thanks ; Don Kish . 289 783 1184

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,
    It's Kevin, from Renfrew. I met you this morning. Your blog is great, with lots of info if we decide to follow in your path. I would love for you to post a few photos showing your very cool truck, with the map, licenses, and moose antlers if you can so my wife can see it. It was fun talking to you. I wish you continued safe travels!
    Kevin from Renfrew

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi,
    It's Kevin, from Renfrew. I met you this morning. Your blog is great, with lots of info if we decide to follow in your path. I would love for you to post a few photos showing your very cool truck, with the map, licenses, and moose antlers if you can so my wife can see it. It was fun talking to you. I wish you continued safe travels!
    Kevin from Renfrew

    ReplyDelete