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Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Left The I-95 And Found An Adventure

When I left Hardeeville this morning at 7am, it was in daylight. I found my way back to the everlasting I-95 and proceeded north. Like the days before, it was a grey day, mostly heavily overcast. Poor people who have to stand that.
Virginia map
Now, that the heat was gone, I hoped for a clearing sky later. I think it was around 2pm when I got to a place called Rocky Mount. I have no idea as to what that means, maybe a little hill with a rock on top. There was no mountain around. The landscape had been flatter than flat all day as it had been the previous day. Mostly high-density forests, some big rivers, large swamps, and what I had noticed all the way from Florida was that most of the forest was overgrown with KUDZU. Kudzu is a weed which was imported from Asia and later got out of control. It grows everywhere and kills every tree. I Florida it had overgrown palm trees while farther north it had attacked the usual forest all the way into the ditches of the highway.
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At Rocky Mount I left the I-95 and had myself a ride through the country side. Oh how I love the quiet little villages, the beautiful houses with blooming rhododendrons all around. People look very friendly even though they might be suspicious of  strangers going through their town. When I entered a little food mart even the customer standing with the cashier is greeting me. Where ever I go I get a friendly nod.
While I had been mastering curvy back roads, the sky had cleared and a fine blue colour had spread out.

Suddenly a sign popped up along the road. WELCOME TO VIRGINIA. I had reached another state.
This road I was following would ultimately lead me to the coast. To Norfolk, VA.
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After another good hour I got into the vortex of traffic. It’s a back-up of dimensions. I see a sign to the GREAT BRIDGE and follow it. Must be the bridge I was thinking of. But I end up in complete gridlock. Something is wrong. I am on the wrong road. I can feel it. In order to check on the GPS I get out of the line and turn off into a parking lot. Sure enough, this is the wrong direction altogether. So I drive 2 miles back, take another turn. I still have doubts, but I keep on going. There is gridlock here as well. This city has a severe traffic problem. There are actually three cities which have grown into each other. Their street net is like the Kudzu. It has grown out of control. There is Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Suffolk.

I keep going and suddenly see the sign I have been hoping for. I am heading out to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.  You think that sounds strange?  Me too. But it is true. In order to cross the extreme wide expanses of the Chesapeake Bay they have build a combination of bridges and tunnels. Actually it looks a lot like the causeway along the Florida Keys.
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I am running along the highway and I am looking down into the waters of the bay.  Signs announce the entrance to a tunnel and the highway narrows to one lane. Here ends the first part of the bridge. A tunnel hole opens up in front me, swallows me and I am going way down under the bottom of the sea. The tunnel is very long and as I am coming up again there is no land – but another part of the bridge continuing for miles and miles across the foamy waters. The entire stretch of bridge and tunnel is 23 miles (37kms) long. That’s a lot of water to cross.
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On my right side I see several tankers anchored up in the bay. My guess is they have nothing to do, no load for them to take home. I have seen the same thing happen in Norway way back in the early eighties. They have a minimum crew onboard to maintain the ship, that’s all.
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While I am cruising along the causeway another tunnel hole comes up. behind the tunnel entrance and out on the side they have built a sightseeing platform. I park there and look around. It’s a windy place, and it is sure strange to think that one is standing in the middle of a huge bay. What happens out here in a major storm? Surly they must close the road, for after I have gone through the 2. tunnel I see a high bridge coming up – well that is two high bridges. One for every driving direction.
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And here I have dug up some facts about it:

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel (CBBT) is a 23-mile (37 km) long fixed link crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and connecting the Delmarva Peninsula's Eastern Shore of Virginia with Virginia Beach and the metropolitan area of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The bridge–tunnel originally combined 12 miles (19 km) of trestle, two 1-mile (1.6 km) long tunnels, four artificial islands, two high-level bridges, approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) of causeway, and 5.5 miles (8.9 km) of approach roads—crossing the Chesapeake Bay and preserving traffic on the Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake shipping channels. It replaced vehicle ferry services which operated from South Hampton Roads and from the Virginia Peninsula from the 1930s until completion of the bridge–tunnel in 1964. The system remains one of only ten bridge–tunnel systems in the world, three of which are located in Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

Since it opened, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel has been crossed by more than 100 million vehicles.  The CBBT complex carries U.S. Route 13, the main north–south highway on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and, as part of the East Coast's longstanding Ocean Highway, provides the only direct link between Virginia's Eastern Shore and South Hampton Roads regions, as well as an alternate route to link the Northeast and points in between with Norfolk and the Carolinas. The bridge–tunnel saves motorists 95 miles (153 km) and 1½ hours on a trip between Virginia Beach/Norfolk and points north and east of the Delaware Valley without going through the traffic congestion in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area. The $12 toll is partially offset by some savings of tolls in Maryland and Delaware on I-95.

Financed by toll revenue bonds, the bridge–tunnel was opened on April 15, 1964. It was officially named the Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge–Tunnel in August 1987 after one of the civic leaders who had long worked for its development and operation. However, it continues to be best known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel. From 1995 to 1999, at a cost of almost $200 million, the capacity of the above-water portion was increased to four lanes. An upgrade of the two-lane tunnels was proposed but has not been carried out.

The CBBT was built by and is operated by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia governed by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission. The CBBT's costs are recovered through toll collections. In 2002, a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study commissioned by the Virginia General Assembly concluded that "given the inability of the state to fund future capital requirements of the CBBT, the District and Commission should be retained to operate and maintain the Bridge–Tunnel as a toll facility in perpetuity."

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So as you see I had to cough up a few bucks. But I must say it was worth it.

Unfortunately by now the sun was going down and I was wondering about a place to put my head this coming night. So I stopped and asked the GPS Lady about it. She came up with a Days Inn at Cape Charles just a few miles ahead.

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Bingo I thought and went down the road. When the GPS announced arriving at destination I thought the thing was broken. To my left I saw a decrepit mass of buildings which once upon a time could have been a Motel, but it sure as heck wasn’t now. So I continue down the road and that GPS thingy wants me to turn around. No way Jose, I think and stop at a little gas station. First guy knows nothing as he is a Marylander. The guy behind the counter looks at me like I have just emerged from a space ship. After a couple of ping-pong games I realize that his English left things to be desired. When I said “DAYS INN” he understood “Daisy”. He might have had an aunt by the name of Daisy but I wasn’t looking for her. So after a while and only because a customer intervenes in this and explains the difference between a hotel and aunt Daisy, he gets the idea and tells me that the “Days Inn Hotel” had folded. 

Now why has Garmin not managed to update their stupid little device when I just tried to do that at home???

“ There is a Motel next door neighbour he volunteers to me. So with many thanks and a grin I leave and go over to see the neighbouring property, which is still a quarter of a mile away.

The place looks almost boarded up. One car there. That’s it. Weeds all over the place. No lights on. They would be closed this time of the year wouldn’t they?  I approach the “office” door, knock, turn the handle, push hard.

A scream of the hinges and the thing opens. Inside the air is thick of old smoke, like smoke from 30 years ago. I holler. A young woman comes out from the rear. Turns out she is open for business and starts to grab some paper. I stop her from doing that, ask whether I could see a room. Sure, no problem. So she just shows me the one next door to her office. She has to push hard on the door. Screech….it opens. Inside I get the same old smoking smell. Geez….

But it seems clean enough, that is if one isn’t scared of a little bit of rust in the shower stall.  :-))

I imagine the nightly rate would be around….say 35 Bucks.  She says 62 Bucks and is quick to add that that is WITH the tax. OMG what a deal!

I don’t really want to, but I agree to take the room. It’s just another reason to keep traveling with my own RV. I can park it in all kind of crappy places, but at least I know where I’m gonna sleep.

Next question: Would there be a place where a hungry guy could eat something?  Oh YEAH there is. It’s called Sting Ray’s Restaurant and it’s just up the road – well another mile or so. After getting my stuff inside I take off again in search for that restaurant.

Yep, there it is, an appendix to a gas station. Outside, the smell tells a fish story. After all I am at the coast.

I walk trough a sort of gift store before I get to the rear into the eating place. It is set up as most fast food joints are set up. You stand at a counter, glaring up at the menu, order your stuff and pay. At this time they have made room on the receipt for a tip. Now, that is something else isn’t it? Tips should be given upon having received a performance. I do not like to give a tip before I have found out whether the service is appreciable. In this case I do, as I have a hunch it won’t be too bad, especially because another customer is raving about his food.

Now I know that fish has become a delicatessen for the rich and mighty, but studying the prices on their menu I am mildly surprised to see that a fish dish in this kind of ambiente behind a gas station (!) would range from 20-30Bucks a person. I find one (1) fish dish for about $12.00. It is Tilapia in Citrus. It is good. I mean it better had to.

But actually, I would have preferred our fish restaurant on Campobello. We are a lot more “down to earth” with everything.

So, it was over 700kms today and I am, as usual, very tired. I guess I wouldn’t even want to switch on that TV up above me as it hangs precariously at an angle over my laptop and could come crashing down at any moment.

Thanks for spending time with me here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments:

  1. I think I might have kept going or slept in the van somewhere. The place sounds creepy. That tunnel-bridge is so incredible.

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  2. There is a nice state park campground on that side of the bridge. I'm not sure of the spelling but it's something like Kitopeake. If you are continuing to travel up 13, you will be near one of my favorite campgrounds soon. It is Jane's Island State Park in Maryland, not far from Crisfield.

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  3. It sounds like you had quite a day. I bet it will feel good to get back on the island and off the road. Doesn't it feel like you just did this?

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  4. I remember the bridge and tunnel....felt like it would take FOREVER to get there. Norfolk is a pain in the tush. The lodging prices north or south of DC are crazy! I feel your pain!

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  5. It's too bad you didn't drive another hour or so north - you would of been at Chincoteague VA - one of our favorite places - rv parks, motels, great seafood restaurants - home of the wild ponies!

    As you head north tomorrow - you will pass near by beach towns - Ocean City MD, Bethany Beach DE, Dewey Beach DE, Rehoboth Beach DE (where we spend our summers), and the first town in the first state, Lewes DE.

    Are you taking the Lewes Ferry over to Cape May NJ by any chance? Or are you staying on Route 13 to 1? If so, there is construction around the Christiana DE area but it's doable. We were just down that way last week. Safe travels!
    Connie in PA

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  6. Sounds like you are having a pretty interesting journey.
    Thanks for the vivid description of your travels.

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  7. The Eastern Shore of VA is wonderful and barren at the same time. Like others said, but how would you know,another 30 to 45 minutes and you'd see all kinds of nice places to sleep and eat etc. Also, as soon as you cross the Bridge Tunnel, there is a rest area on the right hand side for overnight where you can boondock. But you'd still have to drive for food. Did you notice the railroad track that parallels the road as you continue up 13? It's a track for the Eastern Shore and takes train cars by barge on each end to the mainland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_Coast_Railroad

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