Sunday, February 6, 2011

A day on the Delmarva

"Delmarva" is a contraction of Delaware-Maryland-Virginia.  If you look at a map of the Mid-Atlantic region you will see that the eastern shore of the Chesapeake bay is defined by a peninsula which is split between three states: Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  Today after crossing the bay bridge I passed through two out of three of those states on my way to Bill Boyle's house.  Such is life if one lives in the smaller states of or Union.

The Delmarva is flat.  Think Holland.  This is one of the main roads to the Delaware beaches.  In summer there's a back-up, guaranteed.  Coming home, driving into the sun, drivers glaze over after a hard weekend of drinking at the beach.  Mix that with slow moving farm equipment, which stacks up a long line of impatient DC and northern Virginia drivers, along with on-coming logging trucks and you've got one of the reasons why headlight use is required on these long straight stretches of road.  The local emergency crews are kept quite busy...

If you can't think of any other reason, maybe your state can be famous for tax-free shopping.  Lots of people cross the state lines from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to purchase big ticket items like kitchen appliances.  You can easily save the cost of the fuel.

The Delmarva is also famous for chickens.  Frank Perdue got his start in this region.  Local farmers contract with large producer firms like Purdue to raise chickens factory-style in houses like these.

If it wasn't for the presence of a large local demand for scratch-corn (chicken industry), there would be no way Delaware would be able to complete with big corn states like Iowa in terms of corn production.  Without center-pivot irrigation most of these farms simply could not grow corn.  The soil is sandy-loam which is very droughty.  Every third year on average there is a drought and farms without irrigation don't give back the seed which the farmer puts in the ground.  Soybeans are the other major row crop here and frankly are better adapted to local conditions.  But chickens don't like soybeans...
This is also the main eastern shore route to the Cape May-Lewis Ferry which crosses Delaware bay to southern New Jersey.  Sorry about the annoying date stamp on today's photos.  I've managed to push a button and will need to find the camera owner's manual in order to remember how to turn that off.

Coming into the outskirts of Harrington, DE.  Harrington is the site of the Delaware State Fair.  Bill's house is not far from here.  Time to get my game face on for an afternoon of boat building.

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