DAY 71 August 3, 2009

Are you forgetful? Go to Eastern Maryland. They will let you know each mile for four miles how far the next three towns are. Is there such a thing as oversignage? I have seen a mileage sign for the same three cities four times in the last five miles.

Easton has an amazing collection of different types of architecture. Some of the homes and churches are absolutely gorgeous! They are interestingly very close to the street, with front doors only 5-6 feet from the pavement.

The visitor center in Cambridge, MD is quite nice and staffed with knowledgeable, helpful people. It is located in the Sailwinds Park at the south end of the bridge coming into Cambridge. They had a very nice selection of literature and a wonderful exhibit about the local economy and environment of the region. Even more interesting was their exhibit on the Underground Railroad. Harriett Tubman was a resident of this area and a huge force in establishing/maintaining the assistance to those escaping the oppression of slavery. It was an exceptional experience.

The homes in Cambridge are beautiful, huge homes. The street I went down (High St) was paved with red bricks (very quaint). The marina was very nice and would be nice to take a nice stroll around the area enjoying all the beauty of the area. I would note that this is a very clean city. It appears to be well kept and well loved.

Driving into Vienna (the tiny little town that time and the highway passed by), right after the sign that said “wildlife corridor”, low and behold there were two white tail deer crossing the road. They ran to the far side of the field and stood there to observe me looking at them. They were a chestnut brown color, unlike our deer in the Rocky Mountains which tend to be a more grayish brown tone. After visiting the Salisbury Zoo and seeing black-tailed prairie dogs (indigenous to the Rocky Mountains) that also had a reddish hue to their fur (whereas ours are more of a blonde/light brown color), I am wondering what effect their diets and environment have on their coloring???

Back on the highway, I passed a roadside picnic area with about half a dozen tables. This made me think of how people used to travel. They would pack up the food they thought they would need for the trip and stop occasionally at these roadside rest areas and waysides to eat and “stretch their bones.” Oh how different it is today. These little areas are virtually deserted. While I travel with a “pantry” in my vehicle, most people rely on a six pack and some light snacks to get them between food joints on their trail.

Another interesting thing is the ability of people to understand the regional differences not only in food, but the type of establishments available. As you know, I have fallen in love with the Waffle House. I am still seeing them in Maryland, but they are no longer two locations to an interstate exit like further south. I remember talking to a young lady about just finding the Waffle House and how much I enjoyed it. She seemed incredulous that there were no Waffle Houses, or even Huddle Houses (very similar), back west. It always amazes me how little people realize our differences, even within this country, when they have not travelled outside of their local region. They assume that everything is basically the same as what they experience across the land. This is just not the case. While we share many commonalities, there are significant differences even within the United States.

As I work my way down the highway in Maryland, I am noticing tons of roadside produce stands. They are so frequent, that I would say don’t fret if you pass one-another one is surely coming up.

As mentioned above, the next stop was the free Salisbury Zoo (take Business 50 into town, right on Business 13, left on Main Street, right on Hwy 12, left onto Park-I give the directions because the signage is spotty).

I loved the pair of river otter that were very active. I asked two of the attendants about the feeding of the animals and if they scattered or hid the food around the enclosure (as the otters appeared to be searching the rocks for food). They call this enrichment and let me know that the USDA (which regulates animal treatment in zoos and research labs) now requires enrichment for some primates and that most zoos (even the smaller ones) are moving toward this with many of their charges.

The most exciting part of this stop was my interaction with the black jaguar. When I approached the enclosure he was napping. I did my purr call and he twitched, but would not pay any attention to me until the crowd finally subsided. He then granted my request to turn his head toward me. Beautiful does not begin to describe the magnificence of this being. I was in absolute awe, as I stood there under his amazing gaze. The young man that I had been talking to about the other animals asked me how I got him to move his head (because he knew I had asked the creature to do so). I told him that I did not understand exactly how it happens, but that I seem to have a gift that allows me to communicate with some animals (particularly felines). I am just very grateful that the large cat granted my request.

I drove the bypass around Ocean City and was thankful to avoid about half of the approximately 15 miles of high rises blocking the view of the beach. I did appreciate that the traffic patterns here make sense and keep the cars moving through the area, unlike that of Myrtle Beach. Just as I crossed into Delaware, the building heights dropped dramatically and the usage became more residential.

Just inside the border was a wonderful little visitor center that was well worth the stop. The attendant there claimed that the Southern Delaware beaches had been rated some of the best on the East coast. Well that is great, but you can’t see them unless you pay to enter one of the guarded beach areas. I finally got a glimpse of the wide beaches with a strong surf as I crossed the bridge back onto the mainland. I didn’t see anything obviously spectacular about the beach, but I did think it amazingly inane to place a public beach right next to the rock lined causeway under the bridge to the mainland. The surf was literally crashing against the rocks. Maybe that is why it is guarded?

I took a brief side trip into Lewes, the first town of the first state. Delaware was apparently the first state to sign the US Constitution. The area was replete with Victoria homes sporting glorious gingerbread. It looks like the area has been very adept a restoring these old beauties. The 4 block downtown area was nicely done, as was the marina area. Both were quite walkable and inviting.

My side trip to Milford was very disappointing. I found nothing to warrant the side trip. My suggestion, just stay on the highway.

Smyrna, Delaware has a 24 hour fully staffed visitor center on Highway 13 northbound side. The restrooms were clean. The staff was helpful and they even had a lot of information for the neighboring states.

I finally found my way to the Sleep Inn in Newark, DE. I have to say that I am growing increasing unsatisfied. I specifically asked if they had a good, fast internet connection before checking in because I had 2-3 hours worth of work to do. The clerk assured me that they did. Well it is running at an astounding 11 mbps (SLOW!). Then there is the crazy light over the desk area. Without rhyme or reason it comes on and goes off. Then let’s talk about the fact that there were no wash cloths in my room with the badly cracked vanity and the front desk said that I would have to come down and get them myself. To add to the irritation, the a/c unit is spastic and noisy, but not nearly noisy enough to cover up the very loud television in the neighboring room. I did appreciate how the desk clerk handled this within 15 minutes when I called a little after 1 am. The room seemed clean, but upon further inspection there is mold in the shower area and the floor is dirty. Finally, let’s hope, with over 75 channels there is no Travel Channel on the TV. What is this world coming to? Okay, so the last one is a joke. But you get the idea.

Breakfast was a pretty standard continental one-I guess waffles make it "deluxe". In retrospect, I will have to say that I really appreciate Jennifer's help last night (I was having problems with my choice privilege account). The room was clean enough, but this was not the 2.5-3 star type of accommodations I was expecting. I would stay again, but my expectations would be adjusted.

ROUTE: US 50 South> MD 90 West> MD 528 North> DE 1 North> US 13 North> DE 72 West

Lodging: Sleep Inn Newark, DE


$$$: $67 Motel $14 Fuel $2 Soda = $83