Last we left you on our journey north we had just completed a delightful stay at Little Pee Dee State Park in South Carolina. Egads, that seems like eons ago, even though it’s been less then 3 weeks.
As we’re approaching the northeast, we were hesitant about the usual low clearance spots, tight roads and of course toll costs.
Toll roads are much more prevalent in this part of the country than we’re used to – and if you’re not careful, a motorhome pulling a toad can sometimes rack up some ridiculously expensive fares.
Both allow us to input the number of axles (we have a total of four – two for the bus, two for the MINI). The apps then show us what the tolls will be up ahead on different routes.
Super handy, and we’ll share more later after we’ve successfully navigated the northeast as to which is working better (but at only a couple bucks each, don’t wait on us.. download away!).
At any rate, we plugged in our next destination of Vineland, NJ (for our bus maintenance stop) and routing via the Delmarva Peninsula via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was more miles but a bit cheaper in tolls.
Since we love tunnels and bridges and have enjoyed the route before, we rather whimsically selected that route. And score, less city traffic too!
Sleeping on a Bridge Tunnel
As temperatures were increasing, we were really on a mission to get to open window weather as soon as possible. Which meant we wouldn’t have time to spend in North Carolina, despite having Charlotte & Asheville on our list of cities we’d like to explore.
We left the morning of the Orlando shootings, a community near and dear to our hearts (my old stomping grounds). It was an easy decision to just bypass North Carolina this time around and aim to get to Virginia (figuring we’d just Walmart overnight it.)
By the time we made it that far, we still had a couple hours of daylight left, Chris was feeling good to continue driving and I started scouting ahead for overnight options.
His ears perked when I asked: ‘Hey, want to sleep on the Bridge-Tunnel??’
I use several resources to find overnight parking & camping options (all detailed in our ‘Finding RV Camping’ Guide).
When I logged onto OvernightRVParking.com, they had a green dot in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay – noting that the fishing pier on South Timble Island allows 18 hour parking.
How cool would that be?
(The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is a network of 20 miles of long bridges crossing the bay. However, due to fear that a collapsed bridge could shut down the shipping lanes, two sections of the bridge were constructed as tunnels to allow ships to pass over it.)
Some quick calculations, and we could make it out there just in time for sunset. Perfect! And if it didn’t work out for whatever reason, there was a Welcome Center just on the other end of the bridge tunnel that allows 48-hour parking too as a back-up option.
We turned off all our propane (as required to go through tunnels), paid our $31 toll and drove to the South Thimble Island bridge to tunnel transition. Which is a man made island about 3 miles out. Sure enough, signs showing 18-hour parking and RV spots provided.
On this little island, there is a fishing pier, gift shop and restaurant if you wanted to grab a bite.
But the island is small, and not exactly big rig friendly as a stopping point. Had it been busy, we could have been in quite the pickle. Here’s some tips if you want to try this:
The RV pull up spots are on the edge of the parking lot, and terribly unlevel. Not ideal for overnighting. But if it’s not busy, there is plenty of regular parking spaces next to the tunnel that are level. We opted to go down pretty far to the end so we wouldn’t be taking up needed parking space in the morning.
- To continue on in the same direction, you’ll have to re-enter the bridge tunnel on the same side you exited. And there is not a large enough turn around provided. We had to unhitch our toad and do a 3-point turn. Again, had the lot been busy, this would have been extra challenging – thankfully, it was pretty deserted for our entire stay. (Thanks to readers, we just learned if you call traffic control for the bridge-tunnel, they’ll stop traffic to make the otherwise illegal left turn back onto the tunnel.)
- The re-entry turn into the tunnel is pretty tight. We opted to just remain unhitched so Chris could back up if he needed to (and he did). And bonus, I got to take pictures of the bus going into a tunnel.
I can’t say it was the most restful night we’ve ever had. Sleeping next to a tunnel entry/exit is pretty loud.
But it was pretty awesome to sleep on a little tiny island in the middle of the bay. And since I was up anyway, I enjoyed a spectacular sunrise in the wee hours of the morning!
Mid-morning, we made the final dozen or so miles north to the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula (Delmarva = Delaware, Maryland & Virginia). We pulled into the welcome center, figuring we’d catch a nap, maybe some lunch and get some work done before deciding where to next.
When we walked into the welcome center, we were given permission to park in the back corner of the lot – away from the truck parking where we’d have a grassy lawn. We decided it was so nice, we’d just stay the night there!
The welcome center backs up to a wildlife refuge, with hiking trails, visitor center, dune overlook and historical sites. Pretty amazing for a rest stop. They do officially allow 48 hours of parking and welcome overnight RVers with open arms.
We ventured out for dinner in Cape Charles to Little Shanty on the water, and serendipitously arrived when the historical replica tall ship Kalmar Nyckel had just pulled in for the evening too. We had an amazing time talking with the volunteer crew (and quite tempted ourselves!) about this lovely vessel.
So, for our $31 toll – we got two free nights of camping, a few amazing experiences, entertainment, less traffic than routing through Baltimore and gorgeous views.
Yeah, we’ll take it!
What’s Up Next?
I started out intending this post to also cover our next stop at Pocomoke River State Park, but this one got long enough as is. So I’ll save that story for the next post.
We’re currently in northern Pennsylvania and will head later this week up into New York. We’re eyeing some HarvestHosts stays and then driveway surfing with some kind blog readers in the Utica area over 4th of July.
From there? We haven’t a clue. We’re really making this up as we go.