Heceta Light House, Oregon 2018

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the East Shore, VA

Sometimes I choose which blogs to read by their titles. My last post was titled "Into Virginia" and it was indeed about the things we did at Virginia Beach, but I think the end part of the post might be of some interest to RVers who are planning to visit the East Coast and might wonder about driving the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels in their RV. I hope the little I did write there, might  reassure anyone who has misgivings. 

The southern end of Delmarva Peninsula is known as Virginia's East Shore. We stayed at a Thousand Trails / Passport America park called Virginia Landing in Quinby VA. We do not have a Thousand Trails membership, and honestly, so far the few parks in their system we have stayed at have been less than impressive. Our Passport America only applied to two of our four nights there, but that discount balanced the very high, Thousand Trails non-member rate for the other two.

 Note: I have researched Thousand Trails and do not feel it would work well for us. Some claim to save a lot, but for me the up front cost and annual fees are prohibitive. It is rare that one of their parks is the only option in a place we want to be. This was one of those times.

Virginia Landing was an older, open grass RV parking area. There were numerous dry camping spots, and many of the power pedestals were marked with big red Xs. I wonder if that meant they were out of order. No one was using such a pedestal. The majority of the 50 amp sites were a bit muddy due to the rain, which may be why the several RVs that were there were all in the same area. 

Our time there was not particularly peaceful, but that was not the fault of the park management. They were nowhere to be seen after hours. There was no camp host on site.

The first night we were there, the three young people who were in the trailer next to us were up drinking, laughing and talking very loudly, just outside our bedroom window, past midnight.  We didn't want to be grumpy old people, so we said nothing. Craig fell asleep, but they kept me awake. On our second night, just as I was getting ready for bed, I looked out and noticed they had built a huge fire using scavenged logs that were at least three times the width of the fire ring. As I watched, one of the guys started pounding on the middle of a burning log trying to break it. This caused a big "fountain" of sparks that were caught by a rather brisk wind.  Since it was right next to our rig, I was concerned about our canvas slide toppers catching the flying embers. Craig went out and asked them to be careful, which they did by pulling the two longest logs off the fire and dousing them with water. I don't think they meant any harm. I doubt they realized the sparks could do damage since it was a wet night. But as long as the situation persisted I could not go to bed. On the third night it was pouring rain so they stayed inside and so did we. I guess it's all part of the experience.

It did not rain constantly while we were there. On one of the drier days we went up to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of two areas where there are herds of wild ponies living on the coastal islands. We found the refuge on Trip Advisor. We learned about the ponies by watching the park movie and reading the posters in the Visitor Center. 

A ranger told us where to go to look for them, and we did see a few very far off across a large marshy area. This picture was taken with our lens fully zoomed in: 300 mm. With our naked eyes we could barely tell they were horses.

A better part of the day was a pleasant two mile forest walk. 

Yes! My broken foot has finally healed enough to really start enjoying a walk.

Part of the trail led us to the waterway that separates the peninsula from the sandy barrier islands that protect it.
The water here was very still, unlike the breaking waves on the beaches, but it is connected to the ocean and still salt (or at least brackish) water.  The rusty color you can see in the trees is from the bark beetle infestation. 

We walked through areas of trees killed by the beetles and then stripped of their branches by recent winter storms. It is all part of the ever-changing landscape. 

Back at the Virginia Landing RV Park we checked out the waters edge at low tide.
There were large marshy mudflats between the tall grasses edging the RV park and the water. Scattered among the grasses were clam shells left there by some creatures, probably raccoons.

This pair kept their little ones close to the bushes

There were a number of Canadian Geese at the park pond. We noticed that most of them were hanging out in distinct pairs. Two by two... We delighted in seeing some of the results of this canoodling.

On Monday we went over to the Barrier Island Center, a small museum of artifacts from the last community that lived on Hog Island. It is housed in a former County Almshouse from the early 1900's. 

It seems every park or small museum has a movie. We enjoy seeing these because they give us a starting place to understand what we see. 

This time, the movie was narrated by
several of the last people born and raised on the island. The making of the movie was spearheaded by one of them when she realized many of her peers were passing, and soon there would be no voices left. I find this type of oral history keeping very special.

The items in the collection were varied from simple household goods, handwritten recipes, personal treasures and tools and items from the ships in the area. This case of navigational equipment made me want to call it "before GPS."

The free, Barrier Island Center is well worth a stop. It is located in Machipongo VA, on Highway 13. 

I close this post with a couple of pictures of this most amazing Azalea display.

One of the things I had hoped to see on this Spring trip up the East Coast were the Spring flowers. We have been to parks and to gardens, but I think the best single mass of flowers we have seen was this grouping of Azaleas along a side road near Quinby VA. It seemed bigger than the house it was in front of! I am sure it has been cultivated with a great deal of love from the people living in that quite modest home.

There are so many interesting and beautiful things to see in this wonderful country of ours. We are so lucky to be able to travel the way we are. Interstate Highways are great for getting from area to area, but it is the side roads that reveal our simple treasures.

What have you seen on your travels that was extra special?


  1. So many things to see on travels throughout the U.S, that we can't even begin to list our favorites, or the extra special ones...there are too many to list! Love your blog, Merikay...love the way you express things and keep things simple... Keep on writing on.... :-) Thanks for sharing...

  2. I think Jeannie said it best: "love your blog...". We haven't travelled in any of the areas that you have been, but your eloquent prose may get us out of our armchairs yet!

    1. For such a worthwhile cause, we will work hard to write the most eloquent prose we can!

  3. Too bad about the noisy neighbors they can be quite annoying.
    Membership parks are wonderful and worthwhile (at least for us) as long as you use them exclusively. We have been doing that for over 10 years now.
    You are seeing some wonderful country, enjoying your dream.

    1. yes, that is the impression I get from some who move from TT to TT. We tend to like the more rustic nature of state parks. We make good use of our Passport America when traveling, but many of those are a bit shabby too. Everyone needs to find their own way. I only mentioned our slight dissatisfaction with TT so that new people will take a good look before they buy in. I think it was a much better deal 10 years ago.

    2. I recognize that TT is great for some but for our travel style it simply wouldn't work to be held "hostage" to staying at only TT parks to make it worthwhile

  4. Eastern Shore NWR is closeby... there are some trails and an old Bunker site there. Nice visitor center and a nice place to visit.


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