Travel Stage: After Williamsburg – Before Assateague
Date Range: April 8 – 10, 2016
Summary: We brave the largest bridge we’ve ever been on to get to the Delmarva Peninsula. We explore the town of Cape Charles, and the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Delmarva peninsula stands for Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. All three state share this strip of land. It sits between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, coming down from the north. From the south, the only way to get to the peninsula is to cross the 22 mile stretch of water. This is the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the link, and an impressive link it is. The bridge is 22 miles long, with two mile-long sections that are tunnels that dive beneath the water. We were nervous about taking the fifthwheel across (and under), but also thought it would be really cool to be able to say our house had been under the ocean!
There are special requirements for some vehicles like turning off propane. Be sure to check their website before you cross if you are driving a vehicle other than a passenger car – http://www.cbbt.com/
The Welcome Center on the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula allows for 48 hour parking. We needed to wait two nights from our stay in Williamsburg Thousand Trails to our stay in the next Thousand Trails campground (the rules of our membership) so this worked out perfectly.
Or at least, it would have if it hadn’t been crazy cold and windy. It even sleeted on us one afternoon. But overall we had a nice time here. The trails around the Welcome Center went back into the Eastern Shore of Virginia Wildlife Refuge where we found some old WWII forts and a very large gun.
This bunker is called the Winslow Battery, one of a number of batteries that defended Ft. John Custis. It was built in 1942 and housed two 16-inch 50-caliber barrels. The entire battery was build with densely reinforced concrete to withstand direct hits from battleship projectiles or aerial bombs should WWII come to US shores. Although test fired, these guns were never fired at any enemy ship.
This 239,000-pound beast of a gun could hurl 2,100-pound armor-piercing projectiles 25 miles. Traveling at 1,834 mph, the projectiles met their target in less than a minute! That range meant that this gun could hit something all the way across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (the 22 mile bridge we had just crossed) plus some.
This site at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay was a natural choice for a military reservation to protect our naval bases and our nation’s capital. During the height of wartime, approximately 800 soldiers proudly walked these grounds. The installation closed in 1948 and all the weapons were dismantled having never seen battle. It was revived in 1950 as the Cape Charles Air Force station to serve as part of a national radar network until 1981. Originally mounted in the rear gun turret of the USS Missouri, site of the 1945 Japanese surrender ceremony, this gun saw extensive action during WWII and the Korean War. It “migrated” to this refuge in 2013 to represent the original gun that was mounted here. To honor the military history of this refuge, the 66.6-ft-long barrel was painted gray for the navy and green for the Army.
On the nicer of the two days, we ventured into Cape Charles. It is a small quaint little town on the western shore of the peninsula, with just over 1,000 residents as of the 2010 census. We walked along the beach, out on the pier, and down the main street. Virginia is for Lovers!
We stopped into a cute wine shop called Gull Hummock Gourmet Market for some wine tasting.
We strolled further and ventured into a spectacular aerial photo gallery called At Altitude. While we are “aerial photographers” ourselves with our drone, this guy takes his phenomenal aerial photography by light sport plane that can take him low and slow over the Eastern coastline.
Cape Charles used to be a big railroad and ferry hub, but now a large golf community has moved in. By local recommendation, we went into the Bay Creek Golf Community to their clubhouse restaurant called the Coach House for dinner that night.
While it was a little chilly, windy, and quite miserable when we were there, we imagine this little beach town is quite pleasant in the summer time! We may just have to come back and see one day
Check out the video of our travels to this area!
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