Thursday, February 7, 2019

Maryland - Day 4 - Lower Eastern Shore

Pocomoke River State Park
Monday, 4 February 2019

On our second walk this morning, we disturbed a large flock of robins.  A lot of them.  Must have been at least 3 dozen, possibly 4 dozen.  I've never seen so many and it took me a while to believe they were all robins - but they were.  I hated to bother them but Dexter was ready to chase them.  (Good luck with that.  He keeps thinking he can fly like they can.)

today's route
We didn't drive very far today but I still got a lot accomplished.  We went down to Crisfield, Maryland's most southern point.  Crisfield is clearly a town that relies on seafood as there were maybe a dozen businesses still open that sold crab, especially, and other seafood.

I say "still" open because several businesses had signs up saying closed until spring and the whole town had a winterized look about it.  But there were still plenty of locals there - I saw 3 batches of obviously local people who were intending to meet up for coffee at a restaurant and were telling each other about the "closed until spring" sign and moving their meeting to another place.  I saw other obviously local people meeting up at the ferry dock for fishing.

I knew it was going to be a small town miles before I got there because I saw a billboard saying for the ferry I should turn left after the fire department and go to the motel to buy the tickets.  Reminded me of Alaska.  And sure enough, when I got to town I found the motel at the first left after the fire department, and it had a big sign saying tickets here for the Smith Island ferry.  At Crisfield you can get a passenger ferry to Smith Island, MD, and one to Tangier Island, VA.
ferry dock

Crisfield is located in a protecting bay with Janes Island just off-shore.  The working dock for fishing boats is on the other side of the ferry dock.

a dock park next to old businesses next to new condos
Crisfield seems to be segueing into a future that includes a diminished dependence on seafood, but also includes a recognition of its scenic value.  New townhouses and condos are being built to take advantage of the sterling view of Chesapeake Bay.

I thought this was sweet; the ferryboats are named after his children 
Crisfield claims to be one of the safest cities in America.  "City" is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, since its population is under 3,000, but that's its claim (and it's sticking to it.)  Crisfield is also the location for Mud Bog Races which, as far as I can tell, are when monster truck owners bet on how long it will take them to traverse a mud bog.  And I'm sure a good clean time is had by all.

I took a back road back to the campground that I hoped would take me by a place called Furnace Town.  I knew it wasn't open (another seasonal attraction) but hoped it would have explanatory signs.  And it did have plenty of signs though none of them explained much about Furnace Town, but I saw online that it's the earliest surviving hot-blast furnace in the US.

this is how I knew it was there

the houses must have belonged to management

explains housing for the workers
I think, when it's open, this is one of those tourist sites where the staff wear period costumes and operate machinery - it has that look about it.  For some reason, I don't care much for that sort of thing so am just as glad to be missing it.  Still, I would have liked learning more about what was here.

What they did have was a large sign about the value of forest fires.  I remember seeing information about this in other places - about pine trees, for instance, that have cones that open only during a fire and are going extinct due to humans not allowing fires anymore.

Information about birds and plants that have adapted to fires.

It seems humans have finally evolved to recognize the sense of the original natural set-up and are starting to undo generations of mucking things up.  Hope it's in time.

All along the way I saw scenery much like Delaware: fields and chickens and orchards.

On the way back to the campground I stopped to get more propane at a place the campground host had recommended.  Actually, he wasn't too clear about how to get there and didn't remember the name, but said it was a hardware store and the owner was the most reliable and most honest and the nicest guy around.  So what could go wrong?  I looked up hardware stores in Snow Hill on the computer and found it, tucked way down a side road by a batch of grain elevators.  And sure enough, he had a propane tank.

Oddly, it took a really long time for him to fill me up because he said I had an air lock and there was a whole lot of unnecessary air in the tank and he had to get some of it out to put propane in.  So I listened to hiss and smelled the yucky propane smell for quite a while while he tended to other customers.  This was quite clearly a small-town hardware store.  Eventually he got me filled up, and then I found the inside of the RV smelled so strongly of propane I was afraid we'd all pass out, so I put the windows down for the drive back to the campground.  Weird experience, and a little unnerving - all that extra air.  How did it get there?

Back at the campground I dumped the waste tanks, dumped the trash and extended my reservation for 3 more days.  This place is comfortable and inexpensive and I haven't seen nearly enough of this area yet.  The park ranger sold me an annual pass for Maryland parks that gives me a 50% discount on weekday nights, and made it retroactive which saved me a bundle of money and made this place even more inexpensive.  Nice ranger. 

When I complimented her on the wonderful shower facilites, she said they're new.  She said every camper had commented on how nice the park is and how crummy the bathrooms were until finally the park service noticed and fixed it.  And I'm getting the benefit - great bathrooms and nobody else here and cheap space rent.  Can't be beat.

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