Wednesday, February 5, 2014

US50 Phase 1: Ocean City Maryland and the start of the highway

Sep 21

Back on the road pushing through more of the thick population.

Even if I were driving this stretch in the dead of night with no traffic around I would still know a lot of people live around here because there are freeways everywhere! (Makes you wonder if there’s any room left on the ground for other things!)

I passed one city right after another, Highpoint, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Raleigh, as I moved on into Virgina and pushed across to Norfolk. The cities came so fast there wasn't time to breath between them!
My nephew used to be stationed in Norfolk when he was in the navy but he's long out and moved on so I didn’t stop in town, instead I went on around to the east side where I paid my $12 to take the Chesapeake Bay bridge across the mouth of the bay (Chesapeake of course!) to the ‘East Shore’. This ‘bridge’ consists of some 20 miles of two parallel 2-lane bridges interrupted twice by tunnels that allow ship traffic in and out of the bay unhindered. These tunnels are only two lanes wide, one in each direction. Traffic was light when I was on it but I had to wonder what it's like trying to get across this thing in heavy traffic all trying to cram into those two tunnels. I also noticed that almost every light pole along the way had a single seagull sitting on top of it. I wonder how they decide who gets to sit where! Maybe they have a reservation system. . .

The southern end of the peninsula on the east side of the Chesapeake seemed like it was either farms or tourism. There was a cool little railroad track running right alongside the highway most of the way up the southern part of the peninsula. Short-line railroading at it's best. Light weight rails, tight clearances, a few small customers, in other words, human scale railroading. Just my luck though, no train today.

Maybe I lived on the coast in Mississippi a little too long, but over the past decade or so this kind of country gives me the hebejebes as I keep envisioning all these people trying to get out of the way of a hurricane. But out here is where US50 starts, right there on a barrier island, (In other words a sand bar!) off the Atlantic coast at Ocean City MD so here I am.

I arrived at Ocean City only to discover that this is Sunfest weekend. I don't know what Sunfest is, but clearly a lot of other people do!  Great timing on my part!

I saw no warning signs as I went over the causeway to Ocean City proper but I sure am glad I wasn’t driving anything larger than I was! There are two main north/south streets in town one block apart, each of them one-way traffic. One goes north up the narrow barrier island and the other goes south and they are connected by little more than alleys going east/west, and every square foot not already covered by high priced parking lots was supporting a building or amusement park, or a pier. Even if the place wasn’t crawling with people and cars because of the festival it would have been a challenge to get wrapped around and back on the causeway out of this place if I was driving anything larger than what I was. Even if I had found a parking spot that didn’t cost as much as a decent restaurant meal, I doubt I would have stopped to take a closer look. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, crowds are just not my kind of thing. . .

Not my photo but couldn't find who to attribute it to.
So I just made a loop through town and escaped back across the causeway, having achieving my goal of touching the eastern most point of US50 which, by the time it ends in Sacramento is the longest continuous US highway in the country.

About 15 miles to the west along US50 I found a campground with spaces available. I guess there are so many people living around here within easy day trip distance of the festival the pressure on overnight accommodation isn’t as high as it might be say around Big Bend Texas during spring break. Then again this is a big campground with over 100 sites, pavilions and ball-fields and outdoor kitchens and they even offer a scheduled shuttle bus into the ‘festivities’ at Ocean City. Though I had no trouble getting a site for the night despite no reservation, clearly this place sees a lot of campers.

I wandered the campground, as is my habit; curiosity and all that; and ran into a couple full-timing in a pickup camper as well as another couple weekending in a very large rig with a gnome garden and full sized Tiki-bar set up on their site. Kind of fun seeing the diversity.

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