Last Tuesday, I read an article on 22 beautiful U.S. beaches and noticed that three of them happened to be on the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia, or Delmarva, Peninsula. With school starting, I decided what better time than to sneak in one little road-trip before all Hell broke loose. Hence, I decided to go see these beaches and make the determination on their beauty with my own eyes ... and do a few extra things.
I motored over to Washington, D.C., avoiding the dreaded beltway traffic, and made my way downtown to the National Gallery of Art. Earlier in the morning, I had printed out several of the self-guided tours because I knew I would be tight on time and I definitely wanted to hit the highlights of this amazing place, a place I hope to revisit many times. The first stop was the West Building which houses paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. I made my way through both the tours of the sculpture collection and the art collection. Particularly memorizing, was a gentleman painting a reproduction. It was pure poetry in motion ...
Next, I made my way over to the East Building, which houses modern and contemporary art, something I am slowly starting to develop a growing appreciation for. Personally, I really enjoyed the Jackson Pollock paintings, notably Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist).
What was the perfect topper was heading over to the Sculpture Garden to discover the Jazz in the Garden series was holding a concert. A '30s big band was performing, the musicianship was tight, so I stuck around to check them out. People were dancing around the huge, main fountain in the beautiful, sunny D.C. evening. Had I had my Gatsby get-up with me, I would have jumped in and busted a move myself (and I can barely dance).
I always end a D.C.visit with a meal up in Chinatown. Recently, I tried Wok and Roll and was sufficiently impressed that I decided to go back. I was not disappointed with a good shrimp avocado salad and a couple of California rolls (pseudo-sushi, I know).
I then had about a 90-minute drive across the impressive Chesapeake Bay Bridge to get to Centreville, Maryland. This part of the Delmarva Peninsula is prime road cycling country, as I became aware last year after coming over to watch my friend Sarah Quesen do the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. Specifically, Queen Anne's County has set up a system of road bike routes that offer something for everyone and I was eager to get my Trek Madone 5.2 out onto one of them this time. I holed up for the night at the Hillside Motel, a perfect staging point for those of you that might try a weekend of biking over here yourself, and perched myself out on the balcony with my guitar, singing songs about this-and-that to the passing cars on the road :-)
I hit the road, right from my hotel room as the sun was coming up, on my bike and had selected the Woods, Wildlife, and Water route with a few additional miles thrown in for good measure ... perhaps 33-miles total. The route was very flat, moving down quiet, country roads, wood lots, and a nice views of the bay and some horse farms. Truly, I so enjoyed the meditation that comes from a good bike ride and wished I could have stayed longer ... but alas, those beaches called to me ...
Saturday late morning
After a quick shower and meal, I headed due east to the first target. Beach #1 was Cape Henlopen State Park over in Lewes, Delaware and was roughly a 90-minute drive. The sun was out and it was getting hot. Off came my shirt and I proceeded to do an easy run of the Pinelands Trail. While I am not supposed to run, I have entered into this Faustian bargain recently -- run and risk further injury to my hip or don't run and risk further injury to my spirit. Most definitely, I choose the first option and if running 4 or 5 miles a week (note, that is not 40 or 50!) means an early date with a surgeon, then that is a risk I willfully take. It felt good to trot along the soft pine needles and feel the wind on my face. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back and smiled ... for a brief moment, I pretended I was out in Colorado, out on the windswept Hope Pass at the Leadville 100 two years ago and felt at peace ...
After the impromptu run, I headed back across the road to the beach and was really impressed. It was as good as advertised, better actually, as I sat and watched several clammers poking through the mud out in Delaware Bay.
Back into my Honda Fit I went and headed south for about an hour into Maryland to hit Beach #2: Assateague Island National Seashore. After a stop to browse around the visitor's center, I drove over the bridge to the island itself. This place was substantially more congested than the first beach so I frankly liked it less. The first trail I wanted to hike was wiped out courtesy of Superstorm Sandy, so on to the next trail I went, a short jaunt through the woods along the beach. Assateague's claim to fame is its population of free-ranging wild horses and I was fortunate enough to see some.
Saturday late afternoon
Time was now a factor if I was to be able to get to the third beach before the sun went down. It was a 2.5 hour drive to the southern tip of the peninsula to see Kiptopeke State Park, Virginia, and it appeared as if a storm was coming in. With a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, a leadfoot, and interminable will, I made it to the park at sunset where the kind ranger waved me in free of charge. The only people out and about were anglers trying their luck from the boardwalk. I had 10 minutes to spare before rain started to spit from the swirling, gray clouds above. It was time to find food and lodging.
5:00 AM. The rain was pouring steadily then. A chirping cricket in my room woke me up several times during the night ... I could never locate him but I was getting close :-) The wind was blowing hard in the dark as I headed south over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel into Virginia Beach to start the long 7.5 hour drive back to Morgantown.
Life is good ... the beaches were beautiful as advertised for I have seen them with my own eyes. School is starting and I am eager to teach and do research again with a renewed energy obtained from taking trips like this one.