Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Last two days

Okay, let's try this one more time. Lat night (Tuesday) we were at a great state park campground, the best yet. Unfortunately we couldn't get enough cell signal to run the hot spot (I use my smart phone). Tonight we are at another state park and we couldn't get signal when we parked. Now it is after dark and it seems to be working, so here goes.

Yesterday I ran the usual pre-departure check of the tires and found that the right rear was over 30 pounds low. I carry an electric tire pump, and so pumped it back up again --- but it is a very slow process. So our first order of business was to get the tire taken care of.

Off we went, and stopped briefly for some donuts for breakfast. I checked the tire again and found it had gained 2. 1/2 pounds. Then we drove toward Salisbury to an RV dealer we had spotted on the way out. I didn't expect them to fix the tire, but I figured they could recommend a tire place that was familiar with light truck tires. They were and did. That took us into the heart of Salisbury, a place we wanted to avoid. However, Mr.Tire took us right in and found that we had picked up a screw. $25 and change and we were on our way.

Heading south, our first stop was Princess Ann. We were determined we were going to see it, and it was pretty much on our way anyway. It turned out to be as advertised. We parked downtown (not much happening) and walked around a little. There were the old buildings, some of them impressive, many just old.

Oldest house in Princess Ann, 1744

Even the police station is old.
We made it a point to see the old Presbyterian church, since Jean was raised Presbyterian.

The sign says that it was one of five churches started by Francis Makemie, (founder of Presbyterianism in America).
This guy keeps showing up on the Easteran Shore.

After Princess Ann, we headed to Deal Island, one of the three island in Chesapeake Bay that are the heart of crabbing and oystering. It is the only one you can drive to. We drove all the way to Wenona, the town at the farthest end of the island. There we saw lots of deadrise boats, and a couple of skipjacks.

 Skipjacks are the iconic image of Maryland. They are the last working sail in America. During the fall and winter season they dredge for oysters, a hard and sometimes dangerous life. They exist because Maryland enacted a law, meant to help conserve oysters, that they could only be dredged under sail. All the skipjacks are old, there haven't been any new ones constructed in decades.

Deadrise boats are the most common waterman's working boats in both Maryland and Virginia. They are usually built by the owner and so there is some variation, but the basic working design is the same. They use these boats for all the Chesapeake fishing: crabs, oysters, and netting fin fish.

This is a picture of  the most common equipment used on the Bay: crab pots, oyster dredges, and patent tongs (used in Maryland for both oysters and clams). On the way out we spotted this skipjack, prettied up for taking tourists out sailing.

Our next stop was Crisfield, which bills itself as "the seafood capital." Thanks to the delay caused by the tire problem, we ran out of time and instead checked in to Janes Island State Park right near Crisfield.  We'll pick up the story at Crisfield tomorrow.

So it's now tomorrow (Wednesday).

Janes Island turned out to be the best campground of the trip. Here's the view from our campsite:

All this and first-class facilities too (no water). As you can see, the marshes are already turning brown for the winter.

Anyway, it's on to Crisfield. We drove right down the main street to the pier at the end. This is where the mail boats and the ferry boats to Smith and Tangier Islands (the other two watermen islands) leave. The boats run out into the Bay all year round, so they need to be able to handle tough weather.

Crisfield, which was developed when a rail spur was built that allowed fresh crabs and oysters to be marketed beyond the local area, is a town all about crabs.

The town seems to have passed its best days, however. The rail line is gone and several of the buildings on the main street are empty.

After walking around a little, we headed out again. We had found another old Presyterian church on the map and it was right on the way to our next place. To get there we had to take a back road, which is our favorite kind. We found it with not too much trouble.

Rehoboth church, 1706

  Surprise, surprise! Another Makemie connection. This is a guy we had only the vaguest idea of and we keep running into him all over the Eastern Shore. Who says travel isn't educational?

Our final stop was the NASA Information Center for Wallops Island. We had to suffer through a big traffic jam that broke up just as we got there. Wallops Island, Virginia, is a major launch facility for both NASA flights and now also commercial space ventures. The information center has a nice museum, along with some rockets displayed on the grounds.

The museum has an interesting theater in which a picture is projected onto a sphere, so it has 360-degree seating. We could have stayed longer but we wanted to try to get to our campground (Kiptopeke) 50 miles away before closing.

We didn't make it. But we parked in the same spot we had last time, and we will pay up in the morning as we leave.

Tomorrow is just a travel day back to the farm, so this is the last post for this trip. See you next February for our annual Florida trip.

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