Thursday, June 22, 2017

6/19-6/22 To Chincoteague and Cape Charles by car

6/19 The winds were still keeping the Chesapeake very choppy.  We rented a car for the next few days.  First, we did a large provisioning trip to Walmart.  We got heavy items like Gatorade, etc.

6/20 We headed to Chincoteague, VA.  On the way we passed NASA Wallops.  Christine has to go there periiodically.  But the big draw of Chincoteague is Misty, the pony.  Two herds of feral ponies live out on Asseteague Island.  The caretakers of the herd keep the herd to about 150 ponies.  Each July, the herd is rounded up.  Each pony is given a physical.  Only the ones strong enough are guided to swim to Chincoteague where they are sold at auction.  The book, Misty of Chincoteague, was written in the late 1940's about the pony, Misty, and the family who bought her, the Beebe's.  There was a movie but I don't remember it.  I do remember the book though.  The story of Misty was one of my favorites.  My mother kept the book and my children read it too.  In the 1960's when Misty died, she was preserved.  Today, she is in the Chincoteague Museum.  John got this picture of me and the story of Misty. 

We took a bus tour about the history and development of the island.  It was interesting to see how much everyone cares for the ponies.

We drove out to Asseteague Island which is now a nature preserve and National Park.  I used my National Park senior pass and the entrance was free.  We drove around the trails but we only say the herds way in the distance.  While walking out on one of the viewing areas, I did see this bunny though. 
We stay on bays and rivers so much, it was nice to see the open ocean there. 

6/21 We had planned to visit Cape Charles by boat but the winds and waves were not cooperating.  So we drove south on the Delmarva to Cape Charles.  This quaint little town is at the end of the Delmarva.  It is a sandy shore on the Chesapeake.  At the beach is this LOVE sculpture and sculpture of Poseidon.

The town water tower is decorated as a lighthouse.
We strolled the shops.  John was fascinated in the old hardware store.  They sold everything.  Yes, they had all the regular tools, etc.  They had huge pots to cook your crabs, a full sized skeleton, swimming and beach toys, brass knuckles, lawn products, and thermometers.  We bought a thermometer.  It was hard to get John to leave.  After a really good lunch at the Shanty Restaurant in Cape Charles, we headed north and turned in the rental car. 

The best lesson of the day came from the Enterprise driver, who drove us back to the marina.  He told us that most people worked for either the Tyson or Purdue plants, both of which are huge.  He used to work there and explained the process from bringing the chickens until the chicken breasts, wings, etc. leave frozen from the plant.  The process is very manual and physically demanding. 

For dinner, we ate at Mallards, which is on the Onancock Marina Wharf.  We knew they had Smith Island Cake there.  Smith Island Cakes are made on Smith Island and sold around the area.  They are very dense multilayer cakes that were made for the watermen to take on the water with them.  The cakes are very flavorful.  Last night, they had a lime cake.  We were able to polish it off.  Yum.

6/22 We saw a weather window and sadly left Onancock.  The Chesapeake was choppy for the first few hours but finally calmed down as we headed for the York River.  The weather is hot and humid.  The next few days promise some winds and lots of rain.  We will hole up here before heading back to Norfolk.  We are in no rush.  The Great Bridge, south of Norfolk, was hit by lightning over a week ago.  A piece had to be flown in.  It is only opening twice a day and causing back ups in both directions.  So we will take our time heading south.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

6/15-6/18 To Solomons, Onancock and Tangier Island

6/15 We headed back down the Choptank and across the bay back to Solomons, MD.  We docked at Calverts Marina again after fueling up.  For all loopers, we have sad news to report.  The iconic, well worn Mercedes is no more.  As it turns out, we were one of the last to drive it.  It was a diesel with a glow plug.  The odometer showed over 222,000 miles but the odometer had been broken for some time.  Someone, not me, drove it over the speed hump at high speed and after that the Mercedes would only go in reverse.  As of our visit, they had purchased another old Mercedes.  This one is gasoline powered.  It was in the shop so we didn't get to drive it. 

In the afternoon, I explored the Calvert Marina property.  Calvert Marina is on the former Naval Amphibian Training Base from WWII.  At the point on the end of the property is this statue in tribute to Naval Watchmen.  There was a wonderful warm breeze and I laid out my beach towel and read under the trees. 

6/16 We headed south and back across the bay to Onancock, VA.  We had visited there last year on our loop and had enjoyed this little town so much, we planned to go back.  It was a beautiful cruising day.  The water was so flat on the bay that we could see crabs swimming along on the top of the water.  We also saw many fish splashing and some rays.  This is a beautiful sculpture on the waterfront in Onancock.

We felt welcomed back to this little artsy town.  On Saturday morning, I walked up to the farmers market.  I came back to the boat with homemade bagels and fermented sauerkraut with caraway seeds.   I love unusual items at these local markets.

Leaving from just 7 dock spaces down from us was the Tangier Island Ferry.  We opted to take the ferry out to visit Tangier Island.  Tangier Island is an island in the Chesapeake Bay.  It is a watermen community with about 500 year round residents.
The island was part of the travels of John Smith in the 1600's.  Almost everyone on the island is involved in crabbing or oystering.  The island is very low lying and has been eroding since the 1800's.  The island has a school for grades K-12 and this past year had 70 students.  The residents mostly use golf carts and bicycles to get around the island.  It has one grocery store, that has one brand of everything you can think you need.  For instance, they had Suave shampoo and conditioner.  The ferries bring special items from the mainland and our ferry captain brought a big cake for a celebration from the bakery in Onancock. 

As you approach Tangier Island, there are crab shanties surrounding the harbor.  Each watermen has a shanty where they keep their boat, crab traps, and crabs who will become soft shell crabs.  These shanties are very scenic.  In some of the pictures below, you can see that they have electricity and phone lines running out to the shanties.

Summer tourism supplements the crabbing industry.  Several ferries run from Maryland and Virginia shuttling mostly day tourists to the island; although there are two bed and breakfasts to accommodate overnight guests.  As we disembarked, there were several women waiting with elongated golf carts to take us on a 15 minute tour of the island.  It is a small island.  The one church and the school are the center of the activities for the islanders.  The shops and restaurants were being run by the women on the island and the men were on the water.  There was a group of teachers involving the children at the church with activities, like a parachute game.  Electricity and phone lines come underground to the island and some have satellite TV.  It seems that everyone works very hard but everyone we met seemed very content. 

We visited one of the restaurants for lunch.  I had a soft shell crab sandwich.  The crab was so fresh, I felt like it must have been caught just a few hours before.  It really was tasty. 
After lunch, we walked up to the ice cream store for dessert.  The small museum was very detailed.  It outlined the history of the island and the erosion.  It showed pictures of the island during Hurricane Sandy with all of the streets flooded.  There was a very good film about the people of the island and how they live as watermen.  It was a fine take in.   

I enjoyed this view from the marsh of the church steeple over the homes.
Here was a set of birdhouses that depicted the town. 
The afternoon thunderstorms threatened but the ferry picked us up just in time.  Fortunately, the rain had hit Onancock before we arrived back there.

Last year, Jay Davenport one of the Onancock Transient Hosts took us to church on Sunday.  We called him again and he had remembered us and followed our blog while we looped.   He was so nice to pick us up again this year and take us to Mass.  After Mass, he joined us for lunch at Janet's, a great breakfast and lunch spot in town.  Jay shared his sailing trips around the Chesapeake.  He was right when he said it was like spending time with an old friend.  What a nice man!

On the dock today, there was this unusual butterfly. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

6/9-6/14 Up the Choptank, St. Michaels and Georgetown

6/9 We cruised out of Rock Hall back into the Chesapeake and down to the Choptank River.  As one heads into the Choptaank, there is a lighthouse that is their own leaning tower of Pisa.  In 1977, it was tilted due the ice and snow that year, and remains tilted to this day.
We had been told of an excellent anchorage on the north side of the Choptank, San Domingo Creek.  It is called the back door to St. Michaels.  From this pleasant anchorage, it is only a short dinghy ride to a free town dock, where the locals put in their kayaks, and paddle boards, and a few watermen keep their boats.  After we dropped the anchor, we took the dinghy to investigate and plan the next day.  After dinner, the full moon hung over the anchorage.  We knew we had made a good choice.

St. Michaels is known as a very upscale town and is well known for the Chesapeake Maritime Museum.  So Saturday 6/10, we dinghied in to begin exploring.  We hadn't gone far up the street from the dock, when I saw two homes with a beautiful connecting garden.  The sign on the gate beckoned me to enter.
There were paths around the houses with nooks and crannies filled with flowers, greens, and items that added to the enjoyment.
A sign towards the street said one word, "calm".  An engraved piece of granite offered the observation, "One never crosses a canyon in two small leaps". 

We hadn't gone 100 yards and I was already in love with St. Michaels.  We meandered up Taylor St. which was lined with unique shops and eateries.  A farmers market was being held.  John thought the Amish lemonade was terrific.  I bought fresh radishes that I enjoyed the next several days.

The Maritime Museum was the best of all the ones that I have toured.  In addition to being a museum, it is a working boatyard where they are restoring examples of all sorts of boats that have worked the Chesapeake.  A former screwpile lighthouse was moved to the site for display when it was going to be dismantled.  I thought it was neat that a troop of Girl Scouts were able to sleep in the lighthouse the night before.
The view from the top of the lighthouse was neat.  In one direction, one could see all the boats entering the channel.  Saturdays are busy in St. Michaels.
Looking in other directions, one could see the docks and the boats that were being worked on. 

The exhibits included being able to catch crab.  I learned about a crab catching technique I have seen here many times now, a trot line.  The watermen drop long lines, usually a mile or two long, to the bottom.  On the line, they have periodically tied in chicken necks and cow lips.  Once they complete putting out the line, they go back and forth collecting the crab.  There were buildings that used to belong to the Navy that are now part of the museum.
On the porch of one is this huge figurehead that was removed from a Navy ship because it was so heavy.

We strolled back to the dinghy but not before stopping at Awful Arthurs for some lobster mac 'n cheese.  It was even better than it looked.  The waitress told me their secret. They use lobster bisque to make the cheese sauce instead of milk.  Oh, yum!
We stopped at a Village Grocer and got wonderful sandwiches for supper.  The sunset that night was spectacular too.  Sleeping on the hook is always so restful.

Sunday morning we headed up to church.  The sun was strong and it had gotten really hot.  The google map directions took us along a short cut using the St. Michaels Nature and Art Trail.  There was this heron piece, Seeking Refuge.
This piece entitled Fisher King was made from recycled steel. 
The church was very nice, welcoming and air conditioned.  After church, we were walking towards town.  A lovely couple stopped.  They had seen us at church and would be happy to give us a ride uptown.  We welcomed their kindness and were thankful for them.  We ate a late lunch uptown and headed back to the boat.

The forecast for the next few days actually said, "VERY HOT".  We were headed to Georgetown, Maryland further up the Choptank River.  John did some research and found the Hyatt Golf and River Marsh Marina.  On our way up the Choptank, we saw this very famous boat, Redhead.  It is owned by Jeffery Seigel, who founded and just sold Active Captain.  We called on the radio and congratulated him on the sale.

We arrived at River Marsh Marina.  The floating docks are very nice and wide.  The staff were terrific.  We are living the life of the rich and famous.  The Hyatt has 3 pools, a hot tub, mini golf, lifesize chess, in room service delivers to the pool and so much more.  Our favorite pool was the adult infinity pool.   Look at the view across the Choptank River!!  John found an infinity monster in the pool too.

We sat under umbrellas to stay out of the sun.  I managed to get 4 loads of laundry too.  I had crab bisque for dinner last night that was chock full of crab.  Tomorrow, we will be leaving but have had a great three days here.  We liked it so much that we sent the information to AGLCA for them to consider having a rendezvous here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

6/4 to 6/8 Red Sox, Havre de Grace, and Rock Hall

Sunday 6/4, Alicia picked up John and me and we went to St. Leo's in the Italian district for Mass.  It was so fabulous.  Parts of the Mass were said in Italian, too.  We met another couple there who were from Connecticut and in town for the Red Sox game too.  After Mass, we prepared for the game.  I wanted to be dressed appropriately in my throwback Yastrzemski shirt.

Catherine, Stephen, Madeline, Sarah and John Backmeyer joined with Alicia and us at the game.
It was a good game and the Sox won.  Our grandson, John sat between John and I.  He kept hoping they would feature us on the Kiss Cam so he would be in the middle of our kiss.  After the game, children 4-14 are invited to run the bases.  What a great idea!   I wished that they let Grandmas run the bases too.  I missed a picture of John but got one of Madeline and Sarah. 

We all went out to dinner on the inner harbor.  After dinner, we said our good byes, it was a great day to be with family.

On Monday 6/5, we departed Baltimore.  We passed Fort McHenry on the way out of the harbor. 
Further along just before the Francis Scott Key Bridge, there is a buoy that is red, white and blue.
It is placed where the ship was that Key was on when he saw "that our flag was still there".  He had been on a British ship in negotiations with the British during the battle.  It is the only buoy colored like that and is maintained by the Coast Guard since 1914.

We headed north to Havre de Grace and its lighthouse.
This is as far north as we will go on this trip.  Havre de Grace is at the mouth of the Susquehanna River.  The Susquehanna flows 444 miles to arrive in the Chesapeake.   This is a picture looking across the mouth of the river. 
This area became known for duck hunting, oystering and crabbing.  It became the duck decoy capital.  Havre de Grace has a large decoy museum.  There are more types of decoys than I ever imagined.   The area is full of wildlife though.  I saw this huge raven, this butterfly,  and this Canada goose.

On our dock was this large heron that didn't even flinch when I went to take its picture. 

Havre de Grace is a very nice little town with lovely shops and excellent restaurants.  We found John on St. John Street.
La Cucina Restaurant had amazing Italian food.  It is not often that one sees osso buco on a menu and it was so good.  So was the cannoli for dessert.  One of the nights, I got ice cream for dessert.

On 6/7, we headed to Rock Hall on the eastern shore of Maryland.  This is a waterman town with more boats than people.   There are several murals in town and this one is dedicated to the work of the watermen.
  There is a tiny self-guided watermen museum with this figure of a waterman. 
Walking around this town, I saw this osprey on a telephone pole.
I was so startled that I missed the picture of the two deer that crossed the street right in front of me.  Rock Hall has two trams that circle town from 11 am to 8 pm.  The trams go down to the beach, up town, and to all the marinas for $1.  The price is right.  This has been a very pleasant stop too. 

Tomorrow, we plan to head further south to St. Michaels.