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Onley, VA

From the congested and complex highways surrounding our nation’s capitol, the road has given way gradually to the smooth and quiet Route 13, which beelines down the Delmarva peninsula. Escaping the frantic and seemingly endless suburbia of the Baltimore-Washington corridor has also yielded other benefits: the road is more scenic, we are less tense about driving, and gas prices are lower. Yesterday we filled up for $1.98, the lowest price we’ve paid since we started our Tour in October 2005.

In short, while we’ve all loved the visiting we’ve done over the past weeks, it’s nice to be out in the more rural areas on our own again. Now the little things feel like adventures: the long toll bridge to the eastern shore of Maryland ($7.50 with our Airstream), passing through the small towns (every one of which has an “historic downtown”), even the indescribable stink of the Tyson and Perdue chicken processing plants further down the peninsula.

Last night we enjoyed one of those most sublime boondocking situations. We are parked behind a very old empty house in a rural part of town, bordering nothing except open fields and forests. It is wonderfully quiet here, with not a sound except the breeze in the trees and a few birds talking about the coming winter. Because the house and trees completely hide the Airstream, no one knows we are here except the owner, who lives in New Jersey, and a hunter who happened to be parked on the land when we arrived.

Onley VA.jpg

We are here to check out an Airstream, a rather old one that I am going to buy. It’s a 1953 Flying Cloud. The 80-year-old owner has had it stored here for 20 years, and it has not moved in at least seven or eight years. This means two things: it is still in remarkably original condition, and it is definitely going to be a challenge to get on the road again.

When we arrived I spent the last two hours of the daylight carefully photographing the trailer inside and out. It has been unfortunately modified with modern clearance lights on the outside, meaning a few holes will have to be filled with rivets later, and there is a partially crumpled rear dome, and some deep gouges along the curbside affecting the door. Other than that, the body is very nice.

Inside, it is amazingly original, including the floor, cabinetry, and kitchen. The ceiling has been repainted white (over the original Zolatone “splatter” paint), but that’s not unusual. The layout is a very unusual rear bedroom with a narrow side bath & shower arrangement that I’ve never seen before. The bath and shower are separate and only about 2 feet wide, placed longitudinally along the streetside, one in front of the other. They are separated from the bed only by curtains. The front is the typical Flying Cloud layout with a center table that folds down to create a wide-open living area.

The trailer has been used to store things, so the interior is cluttered to the point that I can barely stand inside to take photos. Every closet and cabinet is packed to the brim, making close inspection difficult. But from what I can see, the trailer is in good condition – for 53 years old! It will need considerable renovation to be useable, but I can see the potential.

Being the first night we haven’t been able to plug into house power in many weeks, we are now testing our solar electric system under Fall/Winter conditions. Last night we were flagrant with the power use, watching three movies (Emma watched Disney’s “Return of Jafar” and Eleanor & I used a laptop to watch “Double Indemnity,” the classic film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, then after Emma was in bed we stayed up late to watch “The Fifth Element”), using lights and water pump extensively, and running the furnace to chase off the 50-degree temperatures outside.

As a result, at 8:30 a.m. the Tri-Metric shows we have consumed an incredible 83.7 amp-hours! That’s about 1/3 of our total capacity with four batteries, and about half of our maximum useful capacity. I doubt we will be able to recover that amount of power in one day. This time of year, in the east, there are more clouds than sun. I will be satisfied with regaining about 40 amp-hours today, and even that will be a challenge.

Part of the reason is that I expect to be underground part of the day. We are only about 30 miles from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, one of the most fascinating pieces of engineering in the world. We’ll drive through that, and then come down through Virginia along a scenic parkway, and stop for a seafood dinner or lunch. With luck, we’ll end up tonight on the Outer Banks of North Carolina near Kitty Hawk. Today will be a really fun driving day.


VA clamshack.jpg

This blog entry is posted courtesy of The Great Machipongo Clam Shack, right along Rt 13 in Nassawadox VA (26 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel). Colin Hyde tipped me off to this place. Free wi-fi in the parking lot, plenty of RV parking, and great food! I had the "lump crab cake sandwich," Emma had steamed shrimp with apple sauce and a granola bar, and Eleanor had flounder stuffed with shrimp and crab on a sandwich roll. We also got a corn and shrimp chowder with roasted red peppers and spicy seasoning, to share. Mmmmmmm.... we're planning to order some seafood frozen for later, too.


Catching up on your blog following a two week trip thru the S/W I noted your water heater's mysterious problem. A while back ours wouldn't light following an extra heavy rain. On a hunch, I blow dried all the workings with Cherie's hair dryer and Presto, it lit right off.

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