Back on the Road

After spending three weeks with Don and Debbie and enjoying a much-needed break from driving, I left their house on a sunny, Sunday morning.  I really appreciated their hospitality and hope to return the favor someday.  I got on I-95 and headed south, bound for Florida, figuring it would take me about a week to get there – with a few stops thrown in to visit cousins in Charlotte and Atlanta on opposite sides of my family.  

I purposely left Don and Debbie’s house on a Sunday because that's my favorite day to embark on a road-trip.  Back in the days of wooden ships and iron men, sailors were superstitious about never leaving port on a Friday.  Well, I'm equally superstitious about always trying to hit the road on a Sunday because it allows me five days of traveling and camping in State Parks before the weekend crowds on Friday evening make it hard to find a campsite.  If you're taking a road-trip and are camping along the way, you're constantly having to think about where you're going to stay each evening, because decent State Park campgrounds are few and far between in certain parts of the country. 

Above:  After spending three weeks at my brother's house near New London, Connecticut, I resumed my trip.  I headed down I-95 through New York City, through New Jersey and into Maryland, camping that night at Gambrill State Park, near Frederick.

First though, I had to get through New York City.  I’ve driven through almost every major city in the U.S., except for New York which is, of course, the largest city in America with over 8 million people.  In fact, of the 25 largest cities in America, the only ones I'd never driven through are New York (#1) and Memphis (#25).  That's another reason I left on a Sunday, because I figured the traffic going through New York City would be relatively light.

Well, I wouldn’t call it “light” exactly, but driving through New York City on this early Sunday afternoon wasn’t too bad:  tons of traffic but no major delays.  I took I-95 across Manhattan, which is not only the smallest county (well, actually it’s a borough) in size in the U.S. but, with 1.6 million people, it’s also the most densely populated county in the U.S.  Earlier in my trip, back in May, I’d visited San Bernardino County in California, which is the largest county in the U.S. in size, about twice as large as Massachusetts.  And now I’ve driven through the smallest and most densely-populated county, Manhattan.  Yep, it was another entry on my “extreme geography” list.

After crossing over the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River, I passed by the toll booth where New Jersey governor Chris Christie had his little “bridgegate” scandal a while back, then I entered New Jersey, which was state #35 on this trip.  I continued south on I-95, better known as the New Jersey turnpike, made famous in countless songs by Bruce Springsteen.  Then I skirted around Philadelphia, crossed the Delaware Bay and, around 4 p.m., I drove into Wilmington, Delaware, in search of yet another geographic extreme point:  the highest point in the lowest state. 

Back in early September, if you recall, I visited the lowest point in the highest state, which is on the Arikaree River in northeastern Colorado, on the Colorado border with Kansas.  Colorado’s average elevation is 6,800’, highest in the nation, while the state with the lowest elevation is Delaware, with an average height of a mere 60 feet.  Since I’d been to the lowest point in the highest state six weeks earlier, I just had to visit the highest point in the lowest state, which is in northern Delaware at an elevation of 447’.   And who knows?  Maybe I’d become the first person to visit both extreme sites!

After crossing the Delaware Bay bridge on I-95, I headed north through Wilmington and found the highest point in Delaware, which is in a suburban area on Elbright Road and just a few feet from the Pennsylvania border.  Standing there at the highest point in the lowest state was the highlight of my entire day (which tells you something about my day).  No, seriously, I'd wanted to visit this site for several months, ever since I started planning this whole trip when I was in Qatar.

With that extreme geographic site marked off my list, I got back on I-95 and continued south, reaching Maryland (state #36) a short while later, then I skirted Baltimore and got on I-70 heading eastbound, stopping in Frederick, Maryland, at dusk for groceries.  Shortly after sunset, I pulled into sleepy Gambrill State Park outside of Frederick and drove around the mostly-empty campground until I found a good campsite.  It was a pretty decent campground, I figured: not great, but not too bad – and the ranger who stopped by my site that night to collect the fee was very outgoing and friendly; we had a nice conversation.  Another day was done with a few more extreme geographic sites under my belt.

Connecticut to Maryland



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