Paying Charon

After our $25 night spent at the imaginatively named Seaside Campground (for zero facilities - but it was by the seaside), we got going relatively quickly to make the earliest ferry. Paying Charon was not exactly cheap; $52 single. Nor was it the most exciting vista in the mist - but it was at least a shortcut of several hundred miles. On the other side of the River Styx was not eternal damnation amongst our forebears (sounds more like the traditional Christmas lunch?), but Lewes. By any standard, Lewes is old, settled as it was by Dutch whalers in the 17th Century (approx 1631). Unfortunately they were murdered two years later by a local tribe of Indians following their celebrations around Christmas, where the portrayal of Zwarte Piet was considered offensive. The city oscillated between English, Dutch and swamp ownership for several hundred years after that.

We drove around the town trying to find somewhere safe to stop - but the roads were European in style and size, so we gave up and continued south. Lewes is in Delaware, by the way (Delaware is 'The First State"), settled by Scandinavian whalers in the early 17th C. Strangely enough, and I am quite certain I am not doing Delaware much justice with one sentence, an hour south along the coastal barrier road, we entered Maryland. Home of Baltimore and The Wire. In complete contrast to the tribulations of that TV Series, we stopped for a while in Berlin, MD. Why? Because the guide books said it was an interesting place, and just because we wanted to say…

"First, we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin". Thank you Mr Cohen.

Berlin was okay - a bit overdressed for Christmas, but apparently that was the pull they were going for. Very Dickensian!

The gents' toilet room is a public toilet (open to the street) - honestly, you could eat your dinner off the floor in this place. I know; I tried -- I named my own personal menu 'pish and chips'. I was so overawed I almost couldn't use it for its intended purpose. In the end, I hedged my bets and restricted myself to a No.1 instead of the overdue No. 2 (I know - overshare).

We headed away from Berlin, once more in the darkness of early evening, heading towards the Assateague National Wildlife Refuge - or at least, one of the few vehicular access points to the Refuge, at Chincoteague, this time leaving Maryland behind and entering Virginia State. If you're wondering, that's Shink - o -teeg. I played Abba's


and after several hours on repeat that seemed to do the trick to wrap my tongue around the pronunciation. And give me nightmares.

After a somewhat disconcerting drive through tiny little villages, on very narrow and equally dark back roads, we found ourselves balanced upon a causeway, and on our way to the island of Chincoteague. The place was entirely desolate. We could imagine it was 'happening '  in the summer, but at this time of year it was cold, wet, rainy and exceptionally dull. We parked up on the water's edge, behind a bookshop in the centre of town, like you do, and nobody bothered us.

We're really enjoying the RV, by the way - far superior to the Type C we had before. And this night was a case in point; we were very comfortable, warm, and ate sumptuously from our little galley and our well-stocked fridge. The vehicle is high, so you tend to feel a bit better protected for wild camping. The bed is extremely comfortable too. The only thing we lack is good internet access; the mobile hotspot that we have is good, but eats data. Not really suitable for posting photos to blogs etc!

With Christmas Day approaching, we knew we had to find a suitable place to hole up for a few days - as well as ensure that we had sufficient supplies to survive the holidays, and even better perhaps find somewhere with decent internet to talk to the folks back home. So we prepared to head out early, aiming to cross the Chesapeake Bay by the evening - landfall targeted on Virginia Beach, where the first successful settlement at Jamestown (1607) was secured by the marriage of a Norfolk lad, John Rolfe, to Pocahontas, the local indian Chief's daughter in 1614. Thus the dominant American-Imperial tobacco industry began. By the way, just to reinforce the ignominy, Pocahontas had her name changed to "Rebecca" for the Christian wedding.

Perhaps equally ironically, it was the growth of the English tobacco business in Virginia, led by Rolfe to counter the Spanish tobacco monopoly, that eventually brought conflict with a tripartite alliance of Spain, France and Holland - resulting in the war that allowed the Colonies to secede in the American Revolution.

We drove down the spine of the Virginia peninsula, stopping occasionally for small breaks. I saw an advertising hoarding during one such break, sorry no picture, which was for a local doctor - Dr Martin Deafenbaugh - who was an ear, nose and throat specialist! Deafenbaugh, or Deafendumb? Made me laugh, anyway…

One sign I did get a photo of was this; which I also thought was amusing - so it's okay to be a trespasser on Church Business? Is that because God forgives us our trespasses?

Others had more of a sense of humour...

Early afternoon we arrived in Cape Charles (which we liked very much);

and on to the Chesapeake Bridge-Tunnel complex. No particular issues, but the lanes in the tunnels are a little narrow!

Once in Virginia Beach we struggled to find our way around the interstate spaghetti in search of decent shops. Finally we found a warehouse-membership-type-thing store, and we managed to buy Christmas supplies and a few little presents for each other. Having had enough of the complexities of the area, despite intending to camp locally, we set off again - back on the road towards the coast, aiming for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. What a glorious drive through the sunset and swamps, to this narrow ribbon of sand. The Outer Banks is, so far, astoundingly beautiful. Best of all we found this campsite, on the beach, with shower room open (haven't had a shower in 4 days!)….