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Day 1: Fog, rain, Route 13, and an enormous bridge

rain 60 °F

After briefly showing Tony around the house that he was going to look after for the next month, we took to the road under gray skies that promised our first day would not be without rain. We took quickly drove through Delaware and Maryland via routes 95 and 13. I took the first shift driving - our GPS said that if we continued at pace, we would be in Hatteras by 6pm, although we didn't really have any intention of getting there quite so early. For one, the fog along the Maryland/Delaware peninsula was incredibly dense, even well past noon.

Usually, during long drives, the drive itself takes a back seat to the destination - top priority on day 1 is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, without attracting attention from law enforcement along the way. A great way to reinforce the less rushed schedule we're on has been to pay attention to our fuel consumption gauge, and actually go the speed limit.

Our car is rated at something like 23mpg, but according to our Scangauge, I was able to push it up past 25. When Melissa took the wheel in Virginia, she was able to eek out 27mpg. Compared to the fuel economy that vans or RVs afford you, and given that we're driving some 15,000 miles in a month, this is a big reason why we chose a station wagon for the trip.

After going a fair way into Virginia, a little bit past the "Isn't Rte 13 boring? We're not. Ahead 5mi" sign (didn't catch the name of the business behind the observant sign) it was time for us to pull off the road for a bite to eat. As we were talking about this, we saw a banner at the edge of a strip mall parking lot, "THAI FOOD". I'll admit, if you asked me what kind of food I might find on the eastern shore of Virginia, Thai wouldn't be my first guess, but it sounded like a great lunch, so we pulled in to what turned out to be one of the sadder strip malls I've been to. That Thai restaurant that had invited us off the highway? "Coming soon." There were folks building the counter inside where residents of this area would soon be eating delicious Thai food, but the only other place in this strip that had food was a standard fare strip-mall Chinese buffet. Outside another store front was structural damage, evidence of an unfortunate high-speed joining of road vehicle and immovable structure. There was a Mexican restaurant - but it was closed. Even the Chinese buffet looked closed. We got back on the road, and followed signs to a cafe - also closed. We were close enough to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that we decided to just snack at this point, stopping at a local grocery store to pick up some bread to tide us over.

Before long, we had made the bridge-tunnel - a 20 mile engineering expanse featuring a series of bridges and tunnels, with a restaurant in the middle of it all. At a scenic viewpoint just before the bridge, we got out to have a good look at it, curving off into a hazy vanishing point on the horizon. The drive across the bridge reminded me of driving across Lake Ponchatrain a decade ago, when Melissa and I drove to New Orleans. Happily, by this point the clouds had broken off, and as we emerged from one of the tunnels, doing the requisite hairpin turn to get into the restaurant, the sun was beaming down unhindered by clouds, without a drop of rain in our sight. I found the view from this island in the bay stunning - you emerge right alongside what I can only guess is a major shipping route, given the number of enormous vessels we saw cruise past the restaurant in the time we were there.

After a late lunch, we were back on the road south to North Carolina.

FLICKR SET: Roadtrop: Setting out
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Posted by leviathant 14:53 Archived in USA Tagged mpg cbbt fuel_economy

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I love the view from Bay Bridge-Tunnel; I went out on that pier in a fairly heavy gale once and was stunned. You are correct about the shipping lanes. Norfolk and Baltimore serve a lot commercial and Navy traffic. Those channels left by the tunnels are the only way in.

by jms

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