Tripping without a plan, summer 2010


Chincoteague, VA

I know what you mean Jim, driving off on a sandy beach is like exiting the world. Between the end of the asphalt and the hard sand by the water is 50 yards of soft sand. This is where cars and trucks get stuck, but once past that, you have more miles of sand to play on, and maybe even see the Corolla wild horses. I definitely want to get back, and do Cape Lookout again someday.

I drove up the eastern shore of VA, and got to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, an engineering marvel.

As many years as I lived in VA, I never knew this:

Driving into Chincoteague, I got a little worried cause I saw a million billboards advertising stuff. Thought we were going to have a repeat of Rapid City, SD. Then I got onto the island itself and saw this, and knew everything was going to be ok. They've kept it small and wild, and strictly regulate development. Yay.

Right by my campsite is a dilapidated old pier. Within an hour of arriving, about 6 people must've pulled out 30 lbs of fish. Flounder, shark, rockfish, and lots of crab - other stuff too, that's all I remember.

I learned it IS possible to have a campsite too close to the water. They've been having record tides this year in Chincoteague. At high high tide, Tiger's front wheels were half under water and the road disappeared. I could've fished from it, there were crabs scuttling around the coach door in 4” of water. Fun, but tricky getting Pepper out.

From the bridge over to Assateague:

South end of the beach, Assateague Island. My campsite is at the end of that point in the background.

Closed for piping plover nesting most of the summer, not sure who made these tracks.

Tiger at sunset, we can't go any further on this road

Took a boat eco-tour of the area. Picture of our guide’s pic, he owns 7.5 acres of farming area and told us all about how it's done. Fascinating. At low tide, he gathers the oysters that have grown in beds like this one. Now I know why I keep seeing mountains of oyster shells around - they use them to "seed" the next crop.

Oysters grow an inch a year, which makes this a granddaddy of oysters.

Horsehoe crabs abound in this area, they are harvested for their blood - used in medical research - and then put back in the water.

On September 5, 1750 the Spanish warship La Galga sank near Assateague Island. These ponies swam ashore and have lived wild here ever since, they still have the run of Assateague Island. Kayaking is usually the only way to get up close and personal with the ponies.

The local fire department "owns" them now and every year they have a roundup (Pony Pen Day ) and culling of the herd. At one time they were overunning the island. There are about 150 who live here and about 50/yr are gathered and swum over to Chincoteague for the annual auction. It's a great honor for those horsemen chosen to run the herd.

After the annual pony run, the ones that are sold but not yet picked up wait in this pen on Chincoteague for their new homes. The horseflies around here are HUGE, I had to pluck one off Pep's nose that was a couple inches long and at least an inch across.

Giant egret, I thought it was a heron it was so big.

Cormorants and seagulls taking a break, Assateague lighthouse and ponies in the background.


Expedition Portal Team, Overland Certified OC0003
Fond memories of the Teagues. It was a joy to witness the round-up many years ago.

Linda do you know when they first started the round-up?



Al, the current version of the roundup with the "saltwater cowboys" started in 1925. Before that, when private parties "owned" them there were other techniques being used to keep the herd population under control.

The "ship sinking" origin of the ponies is a legend of sorts, but most natives of this area believe that. Other theories say that they've been around much longer - since the 1600s, and were released by settlers in the area. I'm not sure what's real, I just think its cool that they're still here today.


Loving all of this report especially the Chesapeake Bay stuff. As a life long resident of Maryland it is truly one of our states treasures. We dont have any overland routes but if you choose to go by boat it is truly a special place.


Expedition Leader
Please don't stop posting. Your trip has been most enjoyable. It is interesting to see how similar the Virginia beach is to parts of Pensacola and Corpus. Feels like I have been there. Nice job.

Tucan viajero

My god, I think I made my previous comment too early into the thread.

Congratulations on a really great, fantastic trip.

Thank you very much for making us a part of it!


Thanks everyone, much appreciated. Chesapeake Bay IS amazing, you could spend a couple lifetimes checking it all out.

It’s hard to know what to include for this leg of the trip. No overlanding, but plenty of new culture for me. I’ll get back to the woods soon though.

I went to Chester Springs, PA visiting folk and before leaving the area tripped around a bit looking for covered bridges – they’ve always interested me. This is Bartram Bridge in Newtown Square, built in 1860:

Why go to the trouble of building a covered bridge? When bridges were made of wood, not only could they use shorter pieces for the infrastructure (cheaper), but engineers say that a housed timber truss span has a life expectancy at least 3x longer than an unhoused one. Lots more theories and info here.

I was headed to Leola, in PA Dutch country and found more bridges. All these bridges all seem to have a story that goes with them. Traditional colors in Lancaster are red sides and white portals:

The Burr arch truss design is used in most all of Lancaster County's covered bridges:

The farmland around here is some of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s because they’re such small farms – typically around 40 acres.

Working fields with draft horses instead of machine powered equipment:

Tobacco being harvested:

And in vented drying sheds:

Amish and English alike buy their fresh produce from their neighbors. Chatting with the Amish and Mennonites at their homes is eye opening - friendly people who are successfully maintaining an 18th century lifestyle in modern times. This area is becoming unaffordable for new families though, and young families are spreading the culture to other areas of the US.

There are varying degrees of acceptable mechanization depending on the Ordnung adopted by a particular sect. So it’s not unusual to see a family in a carriage going to fill up gas cans for farm equipment:

Next door to my friend’s house is a Mennonite dairy farm. Pepper is an Australian cattle dog, and she’d never been this close to cows. I’d taken her sheep herding before, but my guess is that she’s been cow-deprived since birth. Every time the cows were out of the milking shed, she’d race to the fence and call her cows over – and they’d come running.

Then explain how things were going to be while she was around …

The buggies in Lancaster area are all grey/black but come in different varieties. They’re required now to have electric lights on them, it’s dangerous sharing the road with a 1- or 2-horsepower vehicle. The carriages themselves are tiny, and very top heavy when loaded with 4-6 people. So hmm, how to categorize?

The coupe version:

The SUV version:

The pickup version:

The flatbed version:

Guess this would be the motorcycle version:

And bank parking for all:

Town names around here: Virginville, Bird-In-Hand, Blue Ball, Intercourse, and more …. Won them 3 of the top 10 spots for worst named cities.

Amish woodwork is well known, but all the crafts are high quality - hand dipped tapers:

World famous quilts, all hand stitched:

Railroads and RR museums are everywhere:

Another beautiful sunset:


Harpers Ferry, WV

Stopped by Harpers Ferry, WV on the way back to DC – a lot of history in this area. This is the view from the MD side, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet. MD/VA/WV all meet here.

The path down to the overlook:


It was still really hot out so a couple of us went tubing for a bit on the Shenandoah, Pep stayed on shore. The Potomac side is a bit rougher.

Saw this guy cooling off in the river too:


Wow, great pictures and captions, thanks for sharing, love it!:bike_rider:


Shenandoah mountains, VA

Played tourist for a bit in my hometown of Alexandria:

Ate a bunch of sweet blue crab at the MD crabfest:

I left early for a concert at Wolf Trap to visit my favorite DC escape – Great Falls VA:

I scored on awesome seats for the show, Rodrigo y Gabriela are amazing! They don’t play the US too often and I’d never seen them live before, was even more blown away than before:

Back on the road, I head down Skyline Drive, which follows the Appalachian trail through the Shenandoah Mountains. Almost every mile there’s a scenic overlook – these are the mountains I first fell in love with. I live at 6000 ft now, and we call these peaks (around 3000 ft) the flatlands now - guess it all depends on your perspective. These hills are really old.

Skyline Drive:

Glen Falls:

Cardinal in a dogwood tree, the state bird and flower/tree of both VA and NC. I’ve planted several dogwoods at my house, but I’ll never see a cardinal in mine.

I camped in the mountains, so nice to be out of the heat, and started down the Blue Ridge Parkway in the GWNF. But it’s 470 miles long, and I had to get back west.

So I popped out onto 501 and went by the Natural Bridge in VA. To borrow Mr Jefferson’s description – “The most sublime of Nature’s works”.

The initials in that little rectangle are graffiti courtesy of a young George Washington when he was surveying the area. In 1774, just before writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson bought 157 acres including the bridge from King George III for 20 shillings. Lee Highway (route 11) runs right over the top of the arch:

Then I found this bizarre roadside attraction, Foamhenge:

Yep, a fullsize foam replica of Stonehenge – mui strange.


south New River Gorge, WV

I take off west across GWNF to WV, and found route 3 again near Pickaway, WV – the same road I wanted to keep driving on the way out. I can’t figure out what attracts me so much to WV. Maybe it’s all the mountainous terrain and forest access roads, the relative isolation of towns, or delving into forests where the world suddenly disappears and nature kicks in with interesting geological formations and streams everywhere. I dunno, but I know I’ll be back.

A shale slide:

I’ve been to the northern parts of the New River Gorge before, but hadn’t explored the south end. The Gorge is huge, and home to some pretty epic whitewater sports. This is the Sandstone Falls overlook, looking down from 600 ft above the largest waterfall on the New River. I spot a road down there and set out to get a closer look.

Passing through Hinton, a town born of railroads:

Driving several miles down the small road paralleling the river brings me to Sandstone Falls SP. There’s a series of boardwalks which takes you to an up close and personal view of the falls. There was a local couple down there to catch the sunset, listen to the crashing water and watch the trains run by. He was ex-military, and told me about all the places he’d lived. He said he never considered living anywhere but here. I can see why.

It’s getting late so I pull in to Bluestone SP, along the Bluestone river. The campground is empty and I get a spot on the water, the sun is dropping behind the mountains.

The first sounds I hear are the croaking of frogs and the electric singing of crickets. A breeze suddenly comes up and the leaves of the trees start roaring. After barely a moment of silence, the crickets and the frogs start up again, and scores of Canadian geese join the choir. Egrets and herons are fishing at the shore right by my campsite. Ducks are hiding in the cattails …

We go for a walk along the riverfront, it’s a narrow trail and trees are growing overhead, fish are jumping in the river. Then I hear bluegrass music … and Pepper spots these taciturn guys with their fingers flying, fishing poles propped in the water.

I push away thoughts of “Deliverance”, they don’t require nuthin' of me :coffeedrink:

A view of “bird island” up the river from my campsite:

When I get back to camp, I’m trying to catch the reflections in the water in the changing light. I never even noticed the deer on the left until I started going through pics at home.

A near full moon rises behind the hills, reflecting on the water ... cue the crickets, time for a fire.


heading west

I'm awakened by hundreds of Canadian geese flying overhead – honk honk honk! Groups of dozens of them were flying overhead and landing nearby. I saw herons and egrets fishing, and fish jumping. Busy morning on the river.

After the fog burned off, these fisherman floated by – the first people I've seen.

Fast forwarding, I head back to OH where Chris and Anne make me a little bracket because my stupid refrigerator door keeps opening unexpectedly. Pep had picked up several deerticks in the mountains and I was concerned about Lyme disease so we stopped and got her checked out and vaccinated.

Visiting Chicago, the beautiful “bean”:

Lincoln Highway – which isn't as well known now as Route 66, but is longer – going all the way from NYC to San Francisco.

At the end of the day I spot this no-nonsense sign in the distance and turn in.

Wasn't expecting much, just needed to crash and get out of a bad rainstorm, but met some nice folks and treated to sunbeams and soybeans after the drenching:

And sunrise over corn:
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New member
Loving this. Stayed up too late tonight looking at pictures and was rewarded with some views of NC, where I grew up. Remembering childhood beach trips to the outer banks, Ocracoke Island, Kitty Hawk, and after-church Sunday drives on the BRP.

thanks for the walk (drive?) down memory lane...