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Make no mistake, Maryland is beautiful in its own right.  Leaving Annapolis our next leg was to be Virginia Beach, Virginia via the eastern shore of Maryland.  Crossing the bridges to get out of Maryland on the way down to Virginia Beach it was amazing for us to see the bays and tributaries of the Chesapeake frozen…often, frozen solid.  One could only imagine how pretty it would be if not so cold and icy.  The area is mostly flat farm land.  Taking it slow, it took us the better part of the day to make it to Virginia Beach.

Leaving Maryland we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel just south of Cape Charles.  We arrived in Virginia Beach just before dark.  Once again, though one could see what might have been beauty in the warmer months (maybe) when we went were there it looked like a lower case frozen Miami in its heyday.  Actually, it was worse than that.  The streets were snow covered, pot holed, and hadn’t been snow plowed at all; to say it looked run down would be kind.  Virginia Beach had the general feel of sleaze to us.  Having no intention of staying we found the first motel that took pets and at daybreak the next morning left for the Outer Banks.

I really don’t know what I expected from the Outer Banks, but whatever it was I was disappointed.  There was really nothing to see, and most everything was closed for the winter.  We intended to drive all the way down them and then either spend the night in and around the Cape Hatteras light house or take a ferry back over to the mainland and spend the night there.  After hours of driving we came to realize that there was no place to stay on the Banks and we would arrive too late for the last ferry over.  At Rodanthe, we decided to turn around and drive back to Nag’s Head before heading west into North Carolina.

It was a very long day.  We finally held up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina which is worth of saying nothing about.  After breakfast the next day we continued south to Cocoa Beach, Florida.  That was another long day.

In Cocoa Beach we decided to take the time to tour the Kennedy Space Center .  The whole time we’d been in Clear Lake, though Chuck had been before, the two of us never toured the Johnson Space Center even though we lived maybe a couple of miles from it.  I’d been to Kennedy back in 1974 but figured it may have changed a bit since then, and as Chuck had never been, we decided to check it out.

It was a long day, and a long tour, but worth it.  It had changed quite a bit, but not necessarily for the better, if I remembered right.  Most of the actual space capsules and engines had been replaced with fiberglass replicas, though there was an actual Saturn Five and a real space shuttle on display.  There were other exhibits as well.  All in all, it was worth the trip.  We spent two nights in Cocoa Beach before making the trek back down to Ft. Lauderdale.  Cocoa Beach had one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at…Fat Kahunas.

Driving to South Florida from, I guess, anywhere is a real drag.  It goes pretty good on the east coast I-95 route until one gets to around Palm Beach and then  everything seems to just go to hell.  The traffic backs up, urban sprawl and general commercial congestion seems to just cave in on one.  We hate the area.  And, Ft. Lauderdale is the worst of it.  Why anyone would ever want to go to Lauderdale intentionally is beyond us.  It’s like a pestilent sore in every way.  It seems to have no redeeming values.  Crime is rampant, the people not particularly friendly, and getting from one place to the next is a nightmare.  Nonetheless, shortly after noon on the day that we left Cocoa Beach, we were back there…again.  By the end of the day we’d visited the boat and were checked in to a Day’s Inn hotel…complete with two off duty cops to guard the place.  Ugggg.

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