Monday, March 20, 2017

The Hampton Roads Part 2 - History

As I mentioned in my earlier post about the "Hampton Roads", it was built at the Pusey and Jones shipyard in Wilmington, DE and delivered to the Chesapeake Ferry Company in July of 1925.

From Wikipedia:  "Pusey and Jones Corporation was a major shipbuilder and industrial-equipment manufacturer from 1848 to 1959.   Shipbuilding was the primary focus from 1853 until the end of World War II, when the company converted the shipyard to production of machinery for paper manufacturing. The yard built more than 500 ships, from large cargo vessels to small warships and yachts, including "Volunteer" - the winner of the 1887 America's Cup race."

Wikipedia also adds that on Liberty Fleet Day — September 27, 1941 — the yard launched one of the first US Liberty Ships, SS Adabelle Lykes.   After World War II, Pusey and Jones converted the shipyard's facilities to manufacture papermaking machinery.  The company closed in 1959.

Back in 2007 (April 22 to be exact) the Baltimore Sun ran an article by Chris Guy about the Hampton Roads.  It reads (in part):  "For nearly 40 years, beach-bound Marylanders have sped past the old ferry that sits, squat and square, ever-changing yet seemingly indestructible, at the western end of the Choptank River bridge.

The Hampton Roads' nine-lives kind of history has been limited only by the whimsy, vision and money of a procession of entrepreneurs. Among its incarnations: an upscale restaurant with white tablecloths, some lesser eateries, two or three different bars. There were a couple of antiques businesses -- including one set off by a red-white-and-blue paint job to mark the 1976 Bicentennial -- and an indoor flea market.

Throughout the changes, the ferry remained a part of U.S. 50 lore, a fixture in stark contrast to flat farm fields, a halfway-to-the-beach milestone more distinctive than anything between the Bay Bridge and the Ocean City skyline. It even achieved a bit of pop culture status in 2002, when the Maryland Transportation Authority made it Site No. 7 in the Bay Game, the coloring books that bridge toll collectors hand out to keep kids occupied on the way to the beach."

It's an excellent article, by the way.  Look it up in your browser if you're into things nautical...

There were many fabulous watercraft at the marina, from big to small.  But the name of one caught my eye on the way out:

In case the print is too small and you can't read the boat's name on your screen, I'll pass it along.   "It's Only Money."  How appropriate!

Till next time...


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Hampton Roads

In the afternoon of my annual spring shakedown drive in the antique, I visited the marina where I'd previously spotted what appeared to be an old and dilapidated vessel in a riverside marina.

Being ever so curious as to antiquities, I dropped in to the office and spoke with the clerk there.  It was indeed the former car ferry "Hampton Roads" which ran out of Norfolk and Hampton Roads, VA.  I asked if I might get some pictures, and the response was "Yes ma'am, I don't see any reason why you can't.  Just walk to it, don't drive or take your car up on it."  Darn, that would been an interesting picture...

Upon getting close, I could see that it was backed into its slip, and permanently beached with rocks and rubble dumped against the hull.   The old girl isn't going anywhere, except perhaps someday to the scrapyard (in pieces, via truck.) 

The first view, from the side.

From the rear (presumably) apron,  a look up into the former car storage area, now being used as winter shelter for equipment.  I've seen some pictures of the Hampton Roads as delivered, and the steps you see appear to be original, well, except for the canopy.   The steps on the right side of the deck were gone.  (More about the history of the HR later.)  And yes, it was tempting to drive up on this deck...but I resisted.   Didn't want to end up like the ice fishermen who lost their trucks in the lake due to thin ice...

Drive on, then drive off the other end...

Below is a picture inside the car storage area...

Inside the main deck...

The above looks fairly the mighty have fallen.  Notice the glass doors on the other end of the open car bay...a reminder of its days as a restaurant  Below is a picture of the steps, which appear to be originals, but the canopy supports are clearly not.   The bridge on each end, smokestack, and enclosed top deck (where back-in-the-day ferry passengers could sit, and eat breakfast enroute) have all been removed due to deterioration and unsightliness, not to mention rot...thus the stairs are chained off to discourage access. 

A close-up of the steps...

There was an opening in the hull (not sure if it was original or a recent addition), exposing the deck just below the main one...probably where the 1400 HP reciprocating steam engine is - or was.  I had intended to go back to the office and inquire about a behind-the-scenes tour of any other accessible decks, but seeing the amount of water in the hull eliminated that option.  Yuck.

No, it's not's beached.

Mandy had a wonderful time out and about...hopefully it's a sign of good things to come this summer!

Mandy standing by the bow of the car ferry Hampton Roads

By the way, if you're interested in seeing pictures of the Hampton Roads from back when she was launched -  they exist on-line.  (Doesn't everything?)   Go to the Hagley Archives website:   There you will look for the Pusey and Jones Corporation (Wiilmington, DE) builder's photos, for hull #393 on page 7.  They have many pictures from its construction, launch and final delivery to the Chesapeake Ferry Company on July 25, 1927.  Including a pic of the reciprocating steam engine used to power it.

This ship has changed a lot over the years....too bad those changes have not been for the better.  This once-mighty and useful vessel has fallen on hard times. There's a mixture of emotions, I guess - melancholy and happy.  The way I prefer to look at it is "happiness that it even still exists" about 90 years after its birth.

The Hampton Roads could have already become razor blades and automobiles - but she escaped that fate thus far.  For how much longer?  Nobody knows.

That's all for now...


Friday, March 10, 2017

A fun day in the sun....

I finally took the antique car out for its 2017 shakedown run, after its recent visit to the shop - which turned out to be over 200 miles and 6-1/2 hours plus.  The weather was beautiful (sunny, low 60's), and perfect for traveling.  Plus, Mandy was able to get out and about for a while, in her newest skirt...

First stop was the former PRR station in Laurel, DE - on the ex-PRR line to Cape Charles.  It's a beautiful little station, and the Laurel Heritage Museum is located inside.   Unfortunately, it wasn't open...but that was a plus, which gave me some extra time to spend at the last stop...more on that later.

Laurel Heritage Museum

Has anyone heard of the Transpeninsular Line (a cousin of the Mason-Dixon Line)?  It's a surveyed line (at approximately 38 degrees 27 minutes north) across the entire Delmarva peninsula, dating back to the mid 1700's as a result of a land dispute between the Penns (of DE) and the Calverts (of MD.).

The eastern half of this line forms the north-south border between Delaware and Maryland.  That border turns roughly north from the mid-point of the line, following the official southern extension of the Mason-Dixon line , north toward the Twelve-Mile-Circle, both of which together form much of the remainder of Delaware's perimeter.  That intersection is marked by several stones (inside the iron cage to protect from vandalism) and it also serves as the southern end of the Mason-Dixon Line.  You can see the cage beyond the car's hood and over my shoulder.   I knew the Transpeninsular Line existed, but not the "mid point" intersection.  Interesting!

Time to move on...   Enroute to my next stop, I passed through the town of Delmar, which is right on the border between Maryland and Delaware.  Literally.  The border (Transpeninsular line) is basically Route 54 (State St.) - right down the middle of town.  If you're on the Maryland side of the street, it's only a short trip across the street, to get to Delaware (where there is no sales tax.)  But it's a small town, with not too many stores to choose from.

Sorry about the moving shadow on the subject in the following was windy, and I only had the self timer to "take the picture."   Once you push the button, there's no way to know where the shadows will be when the shutter clicks.

At the mid point of the Transpeninsular Line.

From there it was a wonderful drive on varying types of country roads, out toward Ragged Point.  The scenery there was gorgeous, as were some of the mansions.  In places, the road was hugging the shoreline, and marshy shoreline scenery such as this appeared in other places:

Marsh scenery...

The end of the road was blocked by a gate, but even so, the scenery in the area was outstanding and well worth the drive.  The picture below was taken at a nearby public marina, where I ate a quick lunch from my cooler...

A picture after lunch...

Now it was time to return to "androgynous mode" - via another cornfield change, not at the marina - for the drive to my next stop on this journey.  That stop will be the subject of my next post.

More later...


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Quickie...

Initially I wasn't sure about the topic of my next post, but when the opportunity came to try on a couple of my older blouses with capris and a skirt, I gave it a whirl.  Thus, it became my next post!  Here are the results...

In both cases, the blouses are shorter,  and allow more of my skirt to show.  Plus, they are more feminine in appearance than the turtlenecks.   From that standpoint, it's all good.   And these should work OK for a casual day shopping, or a run to the store. (And yes, I'm checking the thrift shops for black skirts...a better color combination.

For my trial run in the old car, I'm likely to opt for a long skirt and a top commensurate with the weather.  If it's cool, which is likely, a turtleneck.  For warmer weather, a blouse...most likely the blue floral one - if I can hide it under a turtleneck for leaving the house! Or a blue tee-type blouse that is part of my daily wardrobe.

In reality, it's too soon to tell!  But who knows what the weather next weekend will bring?

Be safe...


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Classic cars get attention...

I recently stopped at the car parts store where there on occasion has been a male clerk wearing skirts and women's flats. I wanted to buy some things for the antique, since I was bringing it back home from a quick run to the shop for some adjustments.  And in the parking lot, three guys were working on their cars, with two female clerks from the store taking a smoke break.

My attire was the usual androgynous fare...with pantyhose!  But the car attracted all the attention, without any issues regarding me.  There were questions, and I had the answers.  I was simply "the lady with the antique car."  Even the girls liked it.  Nice...   Unfortunately, the clerk in a skirt wasn't there...on a Thursday.  Darn...I was hoping to have him help me!

My wife and I stopped for lunch one day, at a restaurant along US-50 just east of the Bay Bridge.  From the beginning to the end, we were addressed as "ladies."  By the hostess, our server, the busboys, and the hostess again on the way out.  No issue, no questions. "Ladies" the entire time...  Server (female) asked if we wanted separate checks...we didn't...and she put the check between us, just like every other time we're addressed as ladies.   Both on the way in, and out, men held the door for us...again. Very affirming...

At a church book sale in one of the small shore towns, an elderly man held the door for my wife and I - "go ahead, ladies", then continued to hold it for his wife.   We both said "Thank you, Sir."  And both got the same response...."You're welcome, ladies."  As she checked out the treasures we found, the  elderly female clerk said "Did you ladies find everything you need?"  My response for both of us:  "Sure did, Ma'am - thanks."   I wonder what would happen if I showed up for one of their church services dressed like this??  Actually, based on the way the other older women were dressed there, I'd probably need to wear a skirt...and 2" heels...LOL!

But I really wish I were able to fully dress during this dry spell and let Mandy be herself.   So I hope to have a trip ready to take, one of these days soon!



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Day in Delaware...

As previously stated, February, March and April can be quite sparse as far as Mandy's opportunities to be out and about.  The best I can usually do is to explore things in my everyday androgynous attire.

I've been contemplating a solo shakedown run of the antique car,  during which I'd be able to pull on something more feminine than my normal everyday stuff.   As luck would have it,  the destinations I chose attracted my wife's attention and she wanted to go with me.  Especially since the weather has been so nice...    Unfortunately, the 67 hasn't been put into service for the summer yet.  It's still winter. So we decided to get out of town for a day and make the run in our daily driver, to take advantage of the good weather -  i.e. temperatures in the 70's.   (I have some destinations in mind which will be less attractive for my wife, and more conducive - i.e. less traffic - to the antique.)

Off we went.   You can see my outfit in one of the following pictures  (light colored capris, long dark turtleneck blouse, purse, sweater tied around my waist, and flats.)  Our first stop was to be the Dupont Nature Center, at the mouth of the Mispillion River (in Delaware.)

When we arrived, the nature center was closed.  There used to be a lighthouse at the same general spot, due to its location at the mouth of a river.  We also knew the "lighthouse" in the traditional sense was gone, from the internet.  But there had been a steel tower with a light on it...and it, too, was now gone.  All that remained at the spot was a small pile of twisted metal....   Oops.

Like they say in the movies: "Nothing to see here, folks...time to move on."   And we did.

Next stop was to a place called Ship Carpenter Square, in Lewes.  Lewes is the location of the Cape May (NJ) to Lewes (DE) ferry.

The original Mispillion lighthouse had burned, because of a lightning strike.  When the carcass came up on a government property disposal list, it was purchased by a family in Lewes, dismantled, and made into a part of their residence.  We located the home, and though we couldn't get inside as it was a private residence in Ship Carpenter Square, at least I got a picture of "where the lighthouse remains live now."  It's wonderful that they've been preserved, and turned into something useful.

There's a story about the development itself - it was started around 1980 and is comprised of old (1800's) historic homes from the area, which were moved in and updated to be contemporary, while retaining as much historic charm as possible.

We'd say they did a great job!!  It's a lovely neighborhood of beautifully restored homes.  For what it's worth, a house a couple doors down the street is on the market now for $899,000.  Needless to say, we won't be relocating...LOL!

After finishing up in Lewes, we headed for Cape Henlopen State Park, a short drive away.   The park was actually getting crowded, so parking became an instant issue.   We got lucky, and found a place.  Not close to anything, mind you, meaning we were on foot for our sightseeing.   (Up to this point, my wife and I hadn't spent any time out of the car, so my attire was immaterial.  But no more.)

First stop was Fort Miles, an old WW2 fort which was built with watchtowers, searchlights, and huge guns to protect Delaware Bay against German attacks.  (Those guns were never fired in anger...)   The guns at the fort now are not the originals...but are indeed US military armament.  One of them (the one in the pic below) is reportedly a spare from the battleship USS Missouri, which could lob a shell for about 27 miles.   

We strolled around the fort, enjoying the warm weather.  Clouds were expected to clear out, and they did...along with that came a 7 or 8 degree increase in temperature, up to about 73 degrees (it hit 76 later in the afternoon.  Everyone was peeling off layers of clothing.  My wife and I both ended up with our sweaters tied around our waists.   I noticed (and my wife said nothing about it) that the women were friendly, most smiling and some even saying hi to us. Both of us said "Hi" back (yes, I softened my voice a bit.)  Men were using "ladies" to refer to both of us.  "Excuse me, ladies." Fabulous!  I didn't hear any "dreaded S words."

Eventually we came to a trail that was supposed to take us to the beach.  It was a long walk - over 1/2 mile, but paved, and we persevered.  And it did indeed lead to the beach.   We found a sandy trail (off the paved beaten path and away from the direction others were going.)  So, my flats came off and I enjoyed walking barefoot in the sand, particularly notable because it was the middle of February and about 73 degrees.  (No, I didn't wear pantyhose that day...I figured I might end up on the beach, and having spent time with sand in my pantyhose before - it's not fun.)    The folks you see in the distance had come in by car, found a parking place, and used a different entrance to the beach.   We had "where we were" to ourselves.  Nice...

Eventually, after the above photo op, we hiked back to the car.  For some reason, the hike "from" a destination always seems to go quicker than the hike "to".  Even without walking faster.  And my wife was done with hiking.  She chose to stay in the car, while I hiked to the watch tower near our car...fortunately the one which was open.

The following picture was taken from the top of it..looking over at another "not open" tower.   On the way both up and down (both using the same set of narrow steps) netted me a lot of "excuse me, Ma'am," and smiles/small talk about the sights, from folks young and old alike...including kids, which was surprising.

After I reached the car, we set off for downtown Rehoboth Beach (and the boardwalk), as neither of us had been there previously.  That excursion turned into a failure, due to very heavy inbound traffic.  Everyone was headed for the beach on such a beautiful day!  And I have a very low tolerance for waiting through three stoplight cycles to get through every intersection,  There's almost nothing I want to see badly enough to deal with that.  So we turned around, and stopped at the outlet mall for my wife (it was just as crowded), but I found a parking place near the shop my wife desired.  This time, I waited in the car.  She wasn't gone long, as the item she wanted was not on sale.

So, we headed for home, and plan to return when we can stay overnight at one of the hotels on the  boardwalk, so we can enjoy the beachy evening and morning sights...and leave before the outbound traffic gets crazy bad.  

Till next time,


Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Quiet Period...

With another "quiet period" upon me, it's really tough to find ways to get out as Mandy...

I dress androgynously full time, so even when not presenting fully femme, I'm frequently addressed as female.   That happened again yesterday at Mom's nursing home.  As I was leaving, I held the door open for an old woman....who may only have been 55 but looked more like 75.  And she said "thank you, Ma'am."  I responded "you're welcome, Ma'am."  No strange looks or double takes.  The way it should be!   (And is, unless someone has issues with transgenders...)  There are a few of those...and that's when I hear "Sir".

I'm thinking about planning a solo shakedown day trip in my old car - this month or next, weather permitting.  And that brings to mind "wardrobe."  I need something unmistakeably feminine, but which can be put on/taken off easily without a dressing room. 

What I'm contemplating right now is a pair of black "pedal pusher" capris and a turtleneck (gray, brown or black), with pantyhose and flats. That's my everyday attire, and with some light makeup, I can wear it directly from home.  I have a lightweight blue knee-length skirt, which I could take along, and slip into it "over the capris" in a cornfield after leaving home.  Leaving the capris on underneath, of course - that helps the outfit look like a fancy skirted capri.  Women wear skirted leggings all the time (and I love the look!).

I've seen ads for skirted capris (look them up on the internet!  Many sites have them - following is one of the many:  The outfit would look better with a black skirt, but the one I have really doesn't fit that well.  I'm watching the thrift shop for a new black skirt which fits better.

What do you think?  Will this look OK, with the turtleneck or as the weather warms, a women's short sleecve tunic-top?   Or I could wear one of the long skirts I have, over a pair of capris or shorts,  as I've done before. You've seen me wearing those in some of my other blog posts - picture below.

For the ferroequinologists out there, I've pulled a picture from my archives which may be of interest.  A date is not specified, but memory says this was one of the first Spanish Talgo (tilting) trainsets to be imported for service in this country, circa 1994.

 Taken at the BWI Airport Rail Station on the Northeast Corridor

To the best of my knowledge, the last of the EMD/ASEA AEM-7 locomotives (1978-2016) on the Amtrak roster (#914 is shown above) have now been retired from daily service, and one has reportedly been donated to a railroad museum in PA for preservation.   So the picture is notable for both reasons.

I'll leave you with a beautiful scene, taken from the shore of Lake McDonald, reportedly the largest lake in Glacier National Park.  It's more than a mile wide and ten miles long, and is a giant bowl surrounded by thickly forested, towering mountains.  It was formed by glaciers during the last ice age, ten thousand years ago.

The picture, while pretty, doesn't do it justice.  The entire area was absolutely breathtaking.  If the opportunity to visit Glacier ever comes your way...just do it!  (Before all the ice melts...)

Till nest time,