Our fourth day of vacation was a travel day. It was a three hour drive from Washington, DC, to Ocean Pines, Maryland, but after walking over 50,000 steps the past three days, three hours in the car was a breeze.
The only issue was that, in order to get from DC to Ocean Pines, we needed to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which several travel websites list as one of the scariest bridges in the world. It's apparently so scary that there's a thriving local business that charges drivers $25 to have someone else drive their own car across the bridge. Part of what makes it scary is that it sways in bad weather. There's also little to no shoulder, the railing looks flimsy, and you can see the bay through the railing. And it's actually two separate bridges - you can see one bridge from the other, which for some reason makes it scarier.
On the way from DC to Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has two lanes. But on the way back, there are three lanes, but one lane goes the opposite way in peak traffic hours. But the scariest thing of all: there's a toll right before you hop on the bridge on the DC side.
I used to never have panic attacks on bridges, but we drove over the condemned bridge in Lake Charles once during a really bad thunder storm, and since then I've hated bridges. Betty made sure to tell me about the bridge well in advance so that I could get all of my panic attacks out of the way up front.
And you know what? After weeks of fretting about it, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was a piece of cake. I kept telling myself that it was just another road. In fact, the Lake Charles bridge as well as the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville, LA, near where we live are way, way worse.
Once we drove past the anti-climactic bridge, it was smooth sailing to Ocean Pines, MD. There we got to spend some time with Betty's aunts, Charlotte and Jerry, which was the entire point of our trip.
Ocean Pines is on the eastern edge of Maryland. Aunt Charlotte's beach house overlooked the Buck Island Pond and Isle of Wight Bay, and across the bay was Ocean City. Ocean City has a three mile long boardwalk filled with arcades, pizza shops, salt water taffy shops, and souvenir shirt stores. And right off the boardwalk is a beach that touches the Atlantic Ocean. Basically, Ocean City was my favorite place ever.
We were still in uber-tourist mode after being in DC for a few days, so hit up the boardwalk in Ocean City. There we experienced Thrasher's Fries, which are served with vinegar. We had hot dogs - Betty got a corndog from a place called Boog's, and you know the food has to be good at a place called Boog's - and then the kids rode some fair rides at Trimper's Rides. It had been so hot in DC, but out near the ocean it was windy and cold, and we weren't dressed appropriately. So Betty and the kids got Ocean City sweatshirts.
We went out to the beach for a bit and just got our feet wet. It started to rain so we headed back to the boardwalk and protected ourselves from the rain by huddling in a candy shop, where we bought tubs of caramel corn, salt water taffy and chocolate. I mean, we had no choice, right?! It was either that or get rained on! Then we made our way to one of the many arcades.
The arcades there are kind of like the video game areas of a Chuck E. Cheese, complete with a shop to trade in tickets for prizes. But whereas you may win one or two tickets at Chuck E. Cheese per play, at the Sportland arcade, you'd win 30 tickets at a time. Each game cost $1, so we weren't planning on staying long - until my kids found the Pirate's Hook game. This is the game where your character is in a boat at the top of the screen and throws his fishing hook down into the sea, and depending on how deep you catch your fish determines how many tickets you win. Well, that game only cost a quarter to play, and the kids could easily score twice as many tickets per game as the more expensive games. So they played this game like kids possessed. I still see visions of my son slapping the button to throw his fishing hook down, while reeling in the line with other hand, laughing maniacally while the tickets churned out. Between the two oldest kids, they won over a thousand tickets easily. They won so many tickets that the game actually ran out of tickets, and I had to tell one of the workers (who promptly fixed it).
Finally, after a long but fun day, we headed back to Ocean Pines and settled in for the night. The remake of Footloose was on TV, and the kids enjoyed watching it. I learned that Footloose takes place in Beaumont, TX, which is one of my least favorite places in the entire world. We hate Beaumont so much that we call it Blowmont. Seriously, the only good thing about Beaumont is that we found a way to drive around it. Footloose will just never be the same for me anymore.
Long story short, Maryland is my new favorite state, and Beaumont sucks.
Stay tuned for more notes from our trip!