US-50 East 2022:
Day 5 - Virginia


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US-50 East 2022: [Day 1 - Pennsylvania] [Day 2 - Home] [Day 3 - Pennsylvania Again] [Day 4 - Delaware] [Day 5 - Virginia] [Day 6 - Ohio] [Day 7 - Heading Home]

Tuesday, September 20, 2022: We awoke early to a sliver of moon still visible through the top of the tent.
Sunrise was as beautiful as the sunset had been the previous evening.
We made our way south along the Delaware seashore, past the marina homes near Bethany Beach, ...
... before heading on to Fenwick Island. There were many shops advertising lobster rolls and crabcakes, and if any of them had been open for breakfast, we probably would have stopped. Instead, we made a quick stop at a McDonald's and kept heading south.
Just before 8 AM, we arrived in Ocean City, Maryland, with the heavy advertising on the front of each store announcing that we had entered a major tourist area.
An Ocean City water tower at the north end of the strip looked like it had been painted the day before.
There were highrise apartments and hotels lining the ocean side of the road. We could imagine how horrible traffic would be during the summer and were very happy we were here in the off-season.
This water tower had an advertisment for the Art League of Ocean City, Center for the Arts, ...
... and this one had a cell tower built onto the top. What a great idea!
There was kid-bait everywhere, with candy shops and dinosaurs and miniature golf almost every block.
Whoever is responsible for this water tower is just phoning it in. Hopefully, they are waiting for their design competition to end so that they can do something spectacular. Hopefully.
This water tower was at the southern end of the strip and was painted to look like it was being splashed by the waves.
Are you ready to do this? We made one last note of the mileage on Septimus, ...
... turned right at the Scenic Byway sign, ...
... took a deep breath, ...
... and drove onto US-50 under the sign that marks the distance to Sacramento, California: 3,073 miles. Sixteen days later, we'd be looking at the Sacramento version.
We crossed the bridge that connects Fenwick Island to the mainland, ...
... confirmed that we were on US-50 headed west, ...
... and immediately took a detour south, ...
... headed to Assateague Island National Seashore.
We had been to Assateague Island back in 2018, but we didn't know about the Mather plaque here and wanted to see it while we were nearby.
We parked the van and walked out toward the Verrazano Bridge, ...
... to the Mather plaque mounted on the railing on the north end of the bridge.
Placed here in 1991 at the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Seashore, this particular plaque is from the Colorado National Monument casting made in 1991.
We drove the eight miles back to US-50 and rejoined our regularly scheduled tour.
What's this? We like this. This mile marker indicates that there are 113.5 miles remaining of US-50 in Maryland. Oh, if only every state did this.
After seeing this Sponsor-A-Highway sign, we had a very solemn discussion in the van about our Krispy Kreme policy. It is important that everyone on the trip knows that you may not pass a Krispy Kreme facility when the "Hot Now" light is on. It is optional, but still recommended, to stop even if the light is not on.
This section of road was part of the Harriet Tubman Byway, wihch runs 144 miles through Maryland from Cambridge to Greensboro, following the route of the original Underground Railroad. We were near the Cambridge end of the byway.
We drove across the Frederick C. Malkus Jr. Bridge over the Choptank River, which is part of Chesapeake Bay.
Almost an hour later, we were crossing the bridge over the Chester River near Kent Narrows, ...
... when we saw four large white tower structures up ahead. What could they be?
They were tthe massive William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bay Bridge, which spans more than four miles over Chesapeake Bay.
At the western end is Sandy Point State Park, which looks like it has a wonderful beach.
This is eastern Maryland, so there is another bridge to cross. This one is the Severn River Bridge over, you guessed it, the Severn River.
At 11:15 AM, we arrived at the Westfield Annapolis Mall, ...
... where they have one of the cutest LEGO play areas we've seen.
The table tops were covered with a LEGO design, with each table having a basket of crayons. No LEGOs though, which was disappointing.
You know the drill.
Debbie scanned the Pick & Build wall, ...
... taking note of the "Fill a cup with car bricks" section. We hadn't seen that before even though we had picked each of the different types of bricks at other stores, nor had it occurred to us to use these to make a car.
There were various items on the counter made with bricks from the Pick & Build wall, including these cute pumpkins made with orange car bodies.
We filled a cup with about a million white one-by-eight tiles and a handful of other pieces, including more neon yellow bricks.
Near Bowie, MD, we went through the drive-through at Slim Chickens for lunch.
We'd never heard of the chain before, which made it perfect road trip food.
Tom got chicken tenders, and Debbie got wings with honey barbeque sauce. Both were amazingly delicious. We hope to run into this chain again along the road.
We crossed the Anacostia River, ...
... and a few minutes later we were in Washington, D.C.
The sculpture on the bridge over the railroad tracks in Brentwood was beautiful, as was the fa├žade on the apartment building just over the bridge.
Check out the round corner on this Big Ben Liquor Store.
Thank you, Washington, D.C. You make it very easy to stay on the route with your US-50 signs painted onto the road.
When US-50 merged with I-395, we stayed on surface streets and drove by the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, ...
... and then headed northwest on a side trip toward Bethesda, MD.
We drove through Dupont Circle, a very large roundabout, on to Connecticut Avenue NW.
We crossed the William Howard Taft Bridge and entered the Woodley Park suburb.
These giant lion sculptures were on both sides of the road at both ends of the bridge.
Debbie's quick eyes spotted this statue on the other side of the street, but unfortunately she couldn't get a picture of it. Nor could she get a picture of the black-and-white striped one she saw a minute later. From the ears, they look like they were part of the PandaMania exhibit from 2004 that placed 150 of the statues around the city.
This giant lion statue marks the entrance to the National Zoo.
The Kennedy-Warren apartment building is really big and overlooks the National Zoo. Why did we include a picture of it?
Because it has really cool detail that you can see in this close-up shot. So cool, in fact, that it is considered the largest and best example of an Art Deco building in Washington.
Debbie's a sucker for neon signs. This sign used to belong to the defunct Comet Liquor store in the nearby Adams Morgan neighborhood. It was bought by two people who wanted to open a pizzeria, and once they had the sign, they named their restaurant Comet Ping Pong. It opened in 2006.
We were in Bethesda to see Maryland's Madonna of the Trail statue, which sits at the corner of Maryland Highway 410 and Wisconsin Avenue.
This statue was installed facing east, making it the only one of the twelve that didn't face west, the direction that the pioneers were traveling. In 2004, the statue was removed to repair a problem with its foundation. When it was moved, it was temporarily facing west, and for a brief time, all twelve faced the same direction. When the repairs were finished, it was returned to its original location, again facing east. In 2011, the statue in Ohio was relocated and now faces south, so this one is no longer unique in its non-west alignment.
At the base of the statue are two signs. This one says that it is an historic site according to the Montgomery County master plan for historic preservation, ...
... and this one says that the statue is the property of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and is permanently installed here according to the Bethesda Metro Center site plan.
We headed back to the southeast, passing the US Naval Observatory's master clock, which told us that our camera's time was off by only ten seconds.
The giant anchor outside the entrance to the observatory reminds you that this is a naval installation.
We passed the Watergate Hotel as we made our way south, ...
... and crossed the Arlington Memorial Bridge, ...
... with the Arts of War sculptures at the eastern entrance to the bridge.
We were briefly back on US-50, ...
... before heading south past the Air Force Memorial, ...
... through the Pentagon's parking lot, which is apparently a road that Google uses to route traffic, ...
... and on to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
We made our way through the huge mall to the LEGO Store, ...
... where we skipped the Pick & Build wall and instead decided to focus on ...
... the Series 23 minifig packs. There are twelve minifigs in the series, and each one comes in its own packaging. Here's the trick: by looking at the packaging, you cannot tell which minifig it contains. A very helpful store employee brought over a "feel guide" to help us try to identify which minifig was in each package by feeling for a piece that is a unique shape to that minifig.
With the guide, we felt our way through five or ten packages until we were confident that we had two that we wanted.
Once we got back to the van, Debbie opened the packages and was very happy to discover that we had guessed correctly. The shapes that we had used to identify these two were the boat body of the minifig on the left and the wings of the minifig on the right.
We headed back through the Pentagon, hoping to be able to stop at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Unfortunately, there is no parking near the memorial, ...
... so we had to settle for driving past it and taking a photo. The memorial is that grove of trees past the second concrete wall.
Our detours in Bethesda and Arlington complete, we rejoined US-50 headed west, ...
... looking back at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial as we made our way into Virginia.
When we reached I-495, we made another quick detour directly north to Tyson's Corners mall, ...
... where we parked in the nearly empty parking garage, ...
... and proceeded directly to the LEGO Store.
Did you know that this display contains 18,437 bricks?
Debbie would like to direct your attention to this bin filled with Halloween pieces, ...
... but looking at the finished cup, we didn't apparently get any of them. We did, however, correctly identify another minifig from Series 23.
Back in the parking garage, we took a minute to analyze the sensors and lights that let you know how many empty spaces are on a given floor. We'd seen those displays in countless parking garages, but had never taken the time to really figure out how they worked. In addition to the light at the back of the parking space to indicate that the space was either empty or occupied, there was a round sensor that was mounted directly over the center of the parking spot. You can just see the gray bar that runs above the cars on the right side of this picture. There's a white puck that looks like a smoke detector above each spot.
Back on I-495 headed south, we saw our first ever Rivian R1T electric truck. It was gorgeous.
We got back on US-50 and drove to Chantilly, Virginia, where we made the last detour of the day to Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, our campground for the night.
We drove past the the Water Mine, a large water park near the entrance that was temporarily closed, ...
... and made our way to site 44 on the inside of the campground loop. We hadn't realized from looking at the satellite view of the campground that the inside spots were on a steep incline. We decided to set up our tent with our heads uphill and make the best of it.
You can see the incline by how much our drinks are slanting.
This guy seems friendly; what do you say to letting him stay here tonight?
We boiled water in the hot pot and made Pad Thai for dinner. After an evening of working on our laptops, surfing, and generally relaxing, we headed off to sleep without any problem caused by the sloped site.

Day 6 >


US-50 East 2022: [Day 1 - Pennsylvania] [Day 2 - Home] [Day 3 - Pennsylvania Again] [Day 4 - Delaware] [Day 5 - Virginia] [Day 6 - Ohio] [Day 7 - Heading Home]

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