Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 2

Well, the night was not a nightmare, but it was painful. Was in the tent for the night about 8:30pm. It got pretty cool, both inside and outside the tent, but I kept warm. The problem was my hips. I was sleeping on the Thermorest, and as had been the case sometimes before, I woke up multiple times during the night (about every hour) with the hip on which I was laying hurting like a toothache. And I can't sleep on my back. So, the sleep was fitful. I finally balled up the Roadcrafter and placed it under the sleeping bag under my knees to relieve some pressures and slept a little better.

At 6:30am, I had had enough tossing and turning and decided to get up. It was light outside, but the sun wasn't up until about 7:00. Tearing down the camp was not bad; all in all, it took about an hour to pack everything up and get it in and on the bike.

Since I had not explored the park the day before, I decided to see what else was there before hitting the road. I quickly discovered that I had already seen everything at this access. I had noted a sign pointing to another access off another road the day before, so I rode to the intersection and saw the signs pointing to a picnic area and a canoe rental area.

About a mile down that road I came to the picnic area access. Rode into it, and turned around at the dead end and rode out again. Not much to see. Continuing down the road, I finally could see some of Merchant's Millpond and the canoe rental area.

Rode to the parking lot, got off the bike, took a few pictures, talked to the young lady operating the rental facility, and headed out. It was now about 8:00am and I was hungry; the beenie weenies and cheese and crackers were getting pretty thin.

I had asked the park ranger who collected my money where I could find a good breakfast. He paused and told me that the service station just up the road had good biscuits, but that was all. He then said there was a barbecue place at Tar Heel, about 9 miles back to the west, and another barbecue place about 5 miles to the east. However, he wasn't sure if the one to the east served breakfast.

Since I wanted more than a biscuit, I decided to go to the barbecue place in Tar Heel. I had passed through Tar Heel the day before and had not seen a place to eat; it's a very small community. But I guessed that I had overlooked it and headed in that direction.

Got to Tar Heel, and could find nothing that resembled a place to eat. There were only 3 or 4 buildings that weren't homes, and none of them were open. I rode on past the area to make sure it wasn't a little further down the road. No barbecue to be seen!

Turned around to make sure I hadn't simply overlooked it, but alas, I couldn't find the place he had mentioned.

Getting low on fuel for the bike and my stomach, I decided to head north towards Suffolk, VA. There would be food and gas there.

The ride to Suffolk was easy; did back roads northeast to Hwy 13. Just in the edge of town, found a Red Apple restaurant with a gas station beside it. Filled the bike's tank and then filled my own with a cheese and bacon omelet. It was very good.

Headed north into the edge of Norfolk and then Virginia Beach, taking the Interstates to the toll plaza to do the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Paid the $12 to enter, and headed north towards the DelMarVa penninsula.

Rode slow; about 50-52mph intentionally, to safely see as much as possible. In truth, nothing was spectacular about the ride, but it is a great experience to ride the bike with nothing but road and water all around you. There was a pretty stiff wind out of the west, and the bike wanted to move as the gusts hit. Not as bad as a ride in South Dakota several years ago, but nonetheless a bit unsettling with nowhere to go but guardrail and water!

Route 13 is the main artery through the Delmarva Penninsula. Several places along the way, Old Hwy 13 would veer off to the left or right of current 13, taking you to old communities that founded the area many years ago. I took several of the Old Hwy 13 routes, just to ride through the old towns.

Nearing where Hwy 175 would take me to Chincoteague, I decided to do some back roads and told the GPS to go the shortest route. It directed me to VA 692, a delightful, narrow road through farming areas. Actually, much of what I had ridden through was used for farming operations. Looked like wheat, but I'm no farmer, but it was green and pretty!

VA 692 changed to VA 679, now north, and more of the same. Narrow, lots of heaves in the road, working the suspension pretty hard. It changed again to VA 798, continuing north to it's juncture with Hwy 175.

Along the way, I had decided to go to Chincateague, an interesting-looking community on Chincateague Island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. I wanted to see what was there and decided en-route to camp there if possible.

Chincateague is reached via Hwy 175, which winds around to a 3+ mile causeway/bridge complex that ends on the island. As I rode the causeway, the wind had changed directions more from the northwest, blowing even harder than earlier. A cold wind, at that. And blowing pretty hard, pushing the bike all over my lane.

Once on the island, I looked for a campground and found Pine Grove Campground. Went to the office, learned that it had opened just the day before, and rented a space for the night for $16.50, including tax. Found the site that seemed best and set up the camp. Easier this time; I had left the ropes for the fly stays attached, so that saved time. Setting up was quicker by probably 30% this time.

Since I did not take a shower at Merchant's Millpond, I felt grungy and decided to take a shower and change clothes. While the shower/restrooms was old, everything worked and it had plenty of hot water, which helped stave off the chill in the air. A good shower! I did forget to bring soap, so I had to make a run to the office/store before going to the shower to buy some soap and a lighter to light a fire.

After the shower, I was beginning to feel hungry, so I asked at the office where was a good place to eat. The operator said that Bills Seafood on Main street was very good, so I went there. I agree! I had a small bowl of Clam chowder that was excellent, a small basket of popcorn shrimp, french fries, cole slaw and a good beer. Reasonable prices, too! Very good.

After lunch/dinner, I went riding around the community to see what was there. It appears to be a fishing community and a tourist attraction primarily. Reminded me of Beaufort, NC, in that there's no “beach”, but lots of water and water-related activities. Lots of police with radar, so I watched the posted speed limit very carefully. No problems.

Found a “Beach” road, and decided to see the beach. After a few miles, it turned into the Assateague National Seashore (I think that's the name), operated by the National Park Service. Since there was a fee to ride further, and I had not brought my National Park Service Annual Pass with me, I turned around. Didn't want to spend $5 just to ride a couple of miles to see beaches on Assateague Island.

Rode to the south end of the island, then to the north end, seeing what was there (not much!), and decided to go back to the campground for the evening. It was about 5:00pm.

Got to my site and gathered some twigs and branches for a fire. Used some newspaper for starter, and got it lit fairly easy. Then spent the next almost an hour picking up twigs and limbs to feed the fire. It felt good because it was getting colder and the wind was still blowing pretty hard. Actually, I had to stomp out the fire twice when it blew out of the fire ring and ignited pine straw nearby. I was actually surprised that they were allowing fires, but I had asked and they said it was ok. So, I watched it pretty closely.

When I had a small stock of things to burn, I went to the computer to start this entry, only to find the battery dead. I managed to see that somehow when the computer shut down the day before, it didn't completely shut down, draining the battery. Damn! So, I couldn't write if I wanted to! So much for that idea.

After a short while sitting at the fire, I felt a drop of rain, looked around, only to see black clouds nearby. So, I put up the computer, covered the bike, and battened down the hatches (whatever that is??). Got in the tent around 7:30pm. Much too early, but it was black outside, the wind was blowing hard,it was intermittently showering, and it was getting cold. So, I read a magazine until the light got too dim.

When it got too dim to read, I changed into sleeping stuff and got in the sleeping bag.

Mileage for Day 2 was 196, another short day.

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