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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13

Stage 2 - Day 30
By Dick and Pip Smith
Sep 14, 2006, 11:43

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It had rained all night and water had actually leaked into the front of the Earthroamer onto our mattress.  We had no idea where it had come from or whether it had possibly come in during the previous driving.  We had been going for 30 days, and the last few days had been the first real wet weather we had ever experienced in the vehicle.


As we were parked in the Wal Mart car park Dick shot into the store and bought a litre of engine oil which he put into the Earthroamer.  This brought the level up to normal so it looks as if we had only used about 1 litre from the departure point at Denver.


We got going at 10.30 am after downloading photos and working on the website.  By going to the menu page in the GPS we changed the function from 'quickest route' to 'shortest distance'.  This took us along 3 West and onto the quieter streets. We ended up on a scenic byway which went very close to the Potomac River towards Owen.


We were once again trying to follow the route of Dick’s helicopter flight 24 years before.  He had actually crossed the Potomac River in this vicinity in such bad weather that he had been forced down on a dirt road and spoken to the son of a local cabin owner.  He wanted to see if he could find that location.


We crossed the Potomac River on a toll bridge and then headed to the north towards the town of Nanjemoy.  Dick had written all this information into his diary in Washington on the night of the flight and he had brought a photocopy of the diary with him in the Earthroamer.


We have to confess that just before leaving the highway to Nanjemoy we stopped and had some KFC.  Of course it used to be called Kentucky Fried Chicken but they removed the word "fried" as it is no longer politically correct.  We used to have Kentucky Fried Chicken with our kids every week when coming back from the farm at Ross Glen.  This was probably the first Kentucky Fried Chicken we had eaten for 10 years.  It was great but you wouldn't want to eat it all the time!


We called in at Nanjemoy's post office to see if they had heard of a person called Robert Wayne Shelton - the young boy Dick had met when he landed in his helicopter.  Unfortunately no one working there had heard of him.  However we found a Robert Wayne Shelton in the phone book and tried to call the number but no one answered. 


We then drove to the south and tried to follow the shoreline of the Potomac River.  We stopped and talked to people but had no luck finding the property where Dick had landed.  No one knew where Shelton's place was.  We showed a number of people the photograph - which showed the helicopter on the ground near a house - but once again, no one could identify the location. What a pity.


Near Mattawoman Creek we found 20 school buses that suddenly appeared from the forest.  There must have been a major school nearby.  We turned off at the Maryland Airport and Dick spoke to the local helicopter pilots about Robert Shelton, and showed the photograph of where he had landed but no one recognised it.


We then tracked north past Indian Head on the Highway 210, and then drove around the beltway towards the Dallas Airport in Virginia. This is the main international airport for Washington DC.


We'd been travelling for 30 days (this was our 14th night of stage 2) and we’d spent every night in the Earthroamer.  Our original plan was to spend every second night in a motel but we found the Earthroamer so comfortable.  However there didn’t seem to be any campgrounds or Wal Mart car parks around so we keyed the nearest hotel into the GPS and it directed us to the Westfields Marriott.   Wow, what a magnificent hotel with beautiful gardens.  We stayed there for the night and we enjoyed a lovely dinner with Jeff Griffith from the FAA.  Jeff had helped Dick with some of the aviation reforms in the years gone by in Australia.


266kms Today  12228kms Total

We spent the night in the Fredericksburg Wal Mart car park
Raining and very wet conditions on highway 3 West
Our GPS directed us onto the quieter scenic by way
On to the bridge crossing the Potomac River in the rain and fog
Driving on the opening part of the bridge over the Potomac River
Power station on the bank of the Potomac River in Maryland
Each state had a welcome sign
All the homes seemed to be constructed in timber, some with real or artificial stone or brick cladding
Another neat home in La Plata
Nanjemoy's Post Office
"Fireman Sam" sign for Finn and Jude, Jesse and Beau
We drove down many roads to the edge of the Potomac River, looking for Dick's helicopter landing spot
Dick's helicopter, taken in 1982, just after he was forced to land due to bad weather, after crossing the Potomac River
We passed many road side letter boxes, these at Chicamuxen Creek
A stream of school buses appeared from a side road in front of us at Mallawoinan Creek
Banners for the elections due in November
Traffic got heavier in the other direction heading into Alexandria
We crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia
Heavy traffic going into Westfields
We booked into the Westfields Marriott Hotel
We enjoyed having space around us in the hotel room after the confined space in the back of the Earthroamer

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