At 6:15 every workday morning, Harry Loughridge, a writer-editor with Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Washington, arrives here at a gravel parking lot near the interchange of Routes 270 and 80 for his daily car pool to work.
At that hour Loughridge meets Jim Hand, an ecologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, to share a 40-mile drive that will have both them at their office desks near the Capitol by 7:30 a.m.
Neither of them particularly likes the commute.
But it is the price each is willing to pay for the peace and quiet of a country life style far from the hurly-burly of the daily grind in the city.
"I grew up in a rural atmosphere and a rural atmosphere is what I want to live in," said Loughridge, who four years ago moved with his wife and two children from Kensington to his sparsely settled area just outside of the city of Frederick.
"The taxes are lower, living is cheaper and we like it a lot better. It's not like the suburbs," said Loughridge.
Hand, who lives 10 miles from here in Braddock Heights, said: "I don't think there is any such thing as a good commute. But I don't like cities at all, and out here my nearest neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away. I like peace and quiet when I get home from work, and here that's what I have."
Hand and Loughridge are among a rapidly increasing number of Frederick County residents who commute to work outside the county. Twenty years ago, 80 percent of the Frederick County work force had jobs in the county. Today, almost half -- exactly 43 percent -- works elsewhere.
Nearly half of those -- 19.7 percent -- work in neighboring Montgomery County. In what is almost a domino effect, Frederick County is becoming a bedroom community to Montgomery as Montgomery has been to Washington.
Kevin Dwyer, an electrician working in Rockville, eight months ago brought his wife and baby daughter to Ijamsville, about five miles from here.
"I moved out here because I couldn't afford to live in Rockville," said Dwyer, who arrives here at 6 a.m. to meet his supervisor, Jerry Moore, for the 30-minute drive to work.
"I figure I save about $150 a month in rent by living out here," said Dwyer. "It's a bit of traveling, but it's worth it."
Al Salzo, a data processing analyst with IBM in Rockville, had similar reasons for settling in nearby Mount Airy when he was transferred to the Washington area from Connecticut last October.
"The prices of the houses are more reasonable," said Salzo. "The area is not as congested and the people are very friendly."
Jim Bird, an administrator with IBM in the company's Bethesda office, settled in Monrovia when he was transferred from Roanoke in 1973.
"I'm just a country boy at heart," said Bird. "I don't like a lot of hustle and bustle so we moved out here and got a little more land and a little more house for a lot less money. I've been car-pooling out of Urbana since 1974."