Life Takes a Toll

Thursday, May 06, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Day 6:  Chesapeake, VA to Exmore, VA.  Leaving Chesapeake this morning, we pushed north, stopping in Virginia Beach for a few letterboxes before crossing the Chesapeake Bay. At Fort Story, a joint military base on the coast, we visited several historic sites. The Cape Henry Memorial Cross marks the approximate site where Jamestown settlers first landed in the New World in 1607. We found the letterbox there and were logging in when three ladies approached the area, taking their place on the opposite side of the cross from where we were working. We finished, closed up the letterbox and were getting ready to return it when we noticed the ladies still standing in the same place. It was then we realized they were praying. So we waited respectfully for them to finish so we could return the box to its hiding place(about three feet from one of the women) without being seen.
We waited. And they prayed. We waited some more, and they prayed some more. We continued waiting; they continued praying. Should we take a chance while their eyes were closed?  Finally we decided to leave, taking the box with us, and go search for another box on the beach. Fortunately, when we returned, the area was clear and we were able to return the box with the necessary stealth. In the spirit of the national day of prayer, the ladies were still praying. They had just moved to another location in the area. 

At last it was time to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Once named one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World, the 17.6-mile structure is comprised of 12 miles of low-level trestle, two one-mile tunnels, two bridges, causeway and four man-made islands. One of these islands even houses a restaurant and gift shop. The underwater tunnels allow for continued use of busy shipping channels.
Of course we assumed this was a government infrastructure project, but we were wrong.  A brochure proudly proclaimed, "Not your tax money at work." The total cost of the project was nearly half a billion dollars, but "not a dime of tax money was used."  We pondered how this had been accomplished until it was our turn in line to hand over our $12.00 toll. 
On the Eastern Shore we visited the site of Arlington Plantation, a great mansion built in 1670 by John Custis II in Northhampton County.  Custis left the plantation to his grandson John Custis IV, father-in-law of Martha Custis, who eventually married George Washington. The mansion was demolished in 1720, but the gravesites of John II and John IV are open to visitors.  

It is said that John IV's wife hated the isolation of Arlington and they had a miserable marriage. According to legend, he once drove their carriage into a river.  When his wife asked where he was going, he is said to have replied, "To hell, Madam."  "Drive on," she replied.  "Anywhere is better than living at Arlington with you."
Bitter to the bitter end
In his will, Custis instructed his son, on pain of being cut off with only one shilling, to place on his marble tomb the wording that Custis died at the age of 71 "Yet lived but Seven years which was the Space of time he kept a Bachelors House at Arlington on the Eastern Shore of Virginia." Then was added, perhaps at the son's initiative, "This Inscription put on this stone by his own positive orders."

Tomorrow we'll continue to push north, still looking for cooler temperatures. Maryland and Delaware, here we come!

Weather: sunny, high of 90°
Letterboxes found: 8

The amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Doing our part to save tax monies