NAPTOWN CELEBRATION

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

A girlfriend getaway is like five birthdays at once

STORY BY Martha Thomas

September/October 2017

Wisps of morning mist still hovered around the masts in the harbor as we made our way toward breakfast. Beyond the bright still-shuttered shops, past the boats parked along the canal known as Ego Alley we could see out to the glistening Chesapeake.

Later, as we dug into our Iron Rooster eggs Benedict, crab hash and berry pop-tart, the restaurant’s owner, Kyle Algaze, marveled, “Every time I walk down Main Street, I think to myself, this is practically the same view I might have seen 100 years ago.”

Sure, if you overlook the shops selling Vineyard Vines, Helly Hansen and Hobo bags, not to mention hats and T-shirts with irreverent U.S. Navy slogans. Annapolis, which was for the blink of an eye the nation’s capital as our nascent country signed the Treaty of Paris, wears its history well. These days, it combines modern day practicality as the seat of state government with plenty of activities for the curious visitor.

As a resident of Maryland, I don’t often think of Annapolis as a vacation getaway, but an overnight in this old town, with a concerted I’m-from-away attitude gave me an entirely new perspective.

Coming off a busy spring, each with our own work headaches and social highs and lows, my friend Beth and I took a quick gal pal trip to the state capital, just for fun. I wish I could say we were celebrating a milestone—a birthday, for instance. In fact, reviewing our itinerary as we hit Route 97 north some 30 hours after we’d first pulled in to Ceremony Coffee (try the Fog on the Harbor, espresso with blueberry mint and a squeeze of lemon), I had this thought: Any one of the half-dozen stops we’d made on this jaunt would be a great splurge for a Big-Oh (choose your decade, ladies). Or you could go really big and cram them all into one trip, as we did.

The best part? Most of these businesses are owned and operated by women.

SAILOR’S DELIGHT
The first order of business on this clear, sunny day (after caffeine of course) was experiencing the Chesapeake Bay under sail. Last year, Captain Jen Kaye’s parents purchased an RV (“a land schooner,” she laughs) to tour the U.S., leaving her to operate the family sailing business, Schooner Woodwind, on her own.

Woodwind and Woodwind II are 74-foot vessels named for Kaye’s father’s previous occupation as a high school music teacher. We took a two-hour harbor cruise from the mouth of Spa Creek along the Severn River out toward the Chesapeake Bay. We saw children taking lessons in a fleet of sailing dinghies and the massive stone Naval Academy built along the point. We saw the Bay Bridge off in the distance. Along the way, Jen and her crew handed off the wheel to anyone who wanted to take a turn. The handful of kids on board couldn’t have been more thrilled to steer the graceful ship. Beth and I succumbed to the temptation of day drinking by ordering a couple of cans of local beer, sold on board (water and sodas are free).

In addition to the daytime harbor trips, Schooner Woodwind has sunset excursions, wine dinner cruises and even “Boat and Breakfast”—with an overnight in a state¬room. Kaye says she sees at least 20 onboard proposals each year—and also hosts about a half-dozen weddings annually.

After the cruise, we walked across the 6th Street bridge to Eastport for lunch at Blackwall Hitch, a nautically themed res¬taurant with a locally driven menu and an upper level deck. The restaurant has a tempting cocktail list (cherry basil smash or grapefruit wine crush anyone?) but we abstained, knowing that we’d be well served at our next stop.

VINEYARD RAMBLE
The Vineyards at Dodon in Davidsonville (about a 20-minute drive from downtown Annapolis) isn’t open for drop-ins, but welcomes those who sign up in advance for a tour and tasting ($25, or $50 to try the premium wines). Most of these visitors, says Regina Mc Carthy, director of client services, end up joining the wine club— receiving first dibs on the winery’s semi-annual releases. Yes, the wine is that good.

Polly Pittman, who owns Dodon with her husband, Tom Croghin, grew up on the 550- acre farm (which has been in her family since 1725). Pittman, who works in health policy, and Croghin, a physician, planted vines in 2007, bottling their first wine in 2011. We sampled the rosé, a blend of mostly merlot, along with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and the winery’s South Slope, a red blend.

Croghin, who is also the chief winemaker, joined us for the tasting and shared some history of the place. Once a tobacco plantation, the farm was also the home of Maryland’s first champion racehorse, Dungannon, who was imported from Scotland by Polly’s ancestor, George Hume Steuart in 1745. The winery’s premier red blend, 60 percent merlot aged in oak, is named after that horse.

By the time you read this, I too will be a member of the Dodon Wine Club.

NAPTIME
After sampling four wines and walking the vineyards under a hot sun, we were ready for a rest. Returning to Annapolis, we checked into the Loew’s Annapolis Hotel on West Street. Lately, reasonably priced chains are beefing up decor and amenities to appeal to a more savvy clientele. The Loews Annapolis, with its pouffy duvet and crisp white bed linens, its plush robes and clean, contemporary décor, feels like a designer hotel—though its rooms are more affordable than boutique counterparts.

We somehow lucked into a suite with a king bed, a comfy foldout sofa, and a private patio with a view of the city. A parking spot came with the room, so we could leave the car and easily stroll to Main Street for both dinner and breakfast the next morning. If you don’t feel like leaving the hotel, the onsite restaurant, Baroak, is a Belgian-influenced spot that specializes in mussels.

DINNER PRESERVATION
Jeremy and Michelle Hoffman, both Culinary Institute of America grads, worked at some of New York’s most noteworthy eateries (Michelle worked front-of-house at Tribeca Grill and Union Square Café; Jeremy in the kitchens at Nobu 57 and Per Se). The couple opened Preserve in Annapolis in 2015, not long after Jeremy had been named a Young Gun by Eater.com. Their rustic space on Main Street uses its own bounty for décor: shelves with jars of pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables line the walls. Specials are chalked on blackboards, tables are rough wood. But the food is refined and beautifully plated. We had a sampler of pickled veggies that showcased the chef’s talents (seriously, the smoked carrots would satisfy any carnivore). The highlight of the meal was the crispy kale salad, which thumbs its nose at the health clichés you might associate with this ubiquitous green. Batter dipped leaves fried tempura-style are topped with dollops of cumin yogurt. We also had Maryland Blue Catfish (a local invasive species) dressed in a five-spice blend with the sweet scent of anise. Dessert was the Tandy cake, a dense vanilla cake with a layer of peanut butter and chocolate ganache. Perfect for a candle if you happen to be dining on an actual birthday. Though the cocktail offerings were tantalizing, we took it easy and sipped rosé from another local vineyard, Great Frog’s (which is open to the public for drop-in tastings; see box).

MY MY MY SADONA
The following morning, we walked down Main Street to the Iron Rooster for a hearty breakfast before checking out of the hotel. But before heading out of town, we stopped at the Sadona Salon & Spa, where we’d booked a few treats. The elegant space is a converted bank building with high ceilings and gracious features, impeccably transformed by owner Donna Brown and interior designer Sharyn Corry. The soft color palette of ocean-inspired greys, ivories and pale seafoam, accented by glittery chandeliers, distressed furniture and luxuriant seating, creates an ideal atmosphere for soothing indulgence. I was treated to a body scrub, which left me feeling baby soft. Kelly McDonald, the spa director and massage therapist, proved her intuition by identifying stress spots on my back and shoulders and kneading deeply. I also had a shampoo and blow-out, a perfect way to perk up from post-rub down jelly mode (and to get stray bits of scrub goop out of your hair). With my hair a perfect swoop held lightly in place with earth-friendly products thanks to stylist Jennifer Sibona, I was ready for the trip home.

JUICING UP
Our final stop as we headed out of town was a tiny juice bar called Rutabaga, highly recommended by Regina McCarthy at Dodon (who clearly knows her beverages). The tiny store is owned by Stacey and Jim Heywood, who met in London and worked in Australia before returning to Annapolis, Stacey’s hometown. The drinks are blends of fruits, vegetables and nuts—a nice choice for a quick and healthy meal. Beth chose the Lush, a sweet milkshake-like blend of almond milk, raspberry and banana, along with some raw cacao for a hint of chocolate. I went the juice route with a tangy Zest—spinach, pineapple, mint and turmeric.

Thus fortified, we hit the road and, beating rush hour traffic, were home in under an hour. *
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SEEING CECIL COUNTY

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

A hop to the north feels like a world away.

STORY BY Martha Thomas

June/July 2017

Most Marylanders I know take the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore, winging nearly 200 feet above the frothy blue water dotted with sails—or more likely, inching along in traffic with a view only of the Thule pod on the car in front.

Last spring I made the trip from the north, driving across a high arched span–that looked for all the world like Cape Cod’s Sagamore Bridge–into Chesapeake City. And when my daughter and I landed in the village, I couldn’t get the Cape Cod thing out of my head. The shops selling scented candles, luxurious yarn, local art, pretty summer frocks and the like that line Bohemia Street in the town center, the waterside seafood restaurant with its outdoor deck overlooking private slips, the pretty Inn at the Canal with its welcoming front porch. It all felt so, well, New England.

On our way to our lodgings, the Fairwinds Farm B&B in the town of North East, we actually saw a covered bridge. The red circa 1861 Gilpin’s Falls bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge isn’t on the main road—and is closed to traffic—but to me, it seemed a nod to New Hampshire.

As a New Englander, I sometimes pine for New Hampshire forests, Maine lighthouses, Vermont meadows. An hour and change north of Howard County, we found all that—and more. Cecil County, with one foot in the Eastern Shore, has seaside towns, cycling and kayaking, a massive state park with hiking trails, wineries and tigers.

Yes, tigers. One of the most memorable moments of our trip was a staring contest with Alexis, a white Bengal- Siberian mix with intense, unblinking steel colored eyes. I didn’t harbor any illusions that should the two spans of sturdy fencing that separated us fall away, we’d become friends. And in spite of the reinforced cage, I stepped back and pulled my daughter (who is 17 and taller than I) in close.

Alexis and her tawny sister Miracle were taken in by the Plumpton Park Zoo after their previous home, a zoo in Wisconsin, closed down. Plumpton Park, owned by Cheryl and Nick Lacovara, is home to about 160 mostly exotic animals—some from other zoos, some ill-considered pets that have found sanctuary here. The big news this season is a new home for Jimmy the giraffe, a building that opens to an outside grazing area via a sliding door. Inside, a kind of catwalk along the upper perimeter allows visitors to face Jimmy nose to nose.

The zoo provides plenty of opportunities for eye contact with animals. A camel ambled its way over to look at us across the fence, and members of a wolf pack made sure we were aware of its hierarchy by pawing and prodding the poor omega. A salmon-crested cockatoo squawked and squawked, determined to keep us from leaving.

But there was more to do and see during our short visit to Cecil County, so we reluctantly told Ozzie goodbye, waving through the plexiglass window as he clung to his little tree watching us depart.

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WINE AND FOOD
We had started our Cecil sojourn the day before in Chesapeake City with lunch at the Chesapeake Inn and Marina (which serves, incidentally, sushi and fancy maki rolls along with the more traditional offerings like crab cakes and lobster mac n’ cheese). After a bit of gift shop browsing, we headed down Route 213 to the Chateau Bu De Winery. The winemaker, Jacques Van Der Vyver, is a native of Capetown, South Africa, and shared some of the winery’s recent releases. Chateau Bu De is opening a new tasting room in July, just in time for the release of its first bottles made with grapes grown exclusively on-site.

After the winery stop, we headed to the Fairwinds, the small B&B owned by JoAnn and Ted Dawson, who keep about 26 horses in their stables. The B&B welcomes horses along with their humans, but you needn’t bring your own mount to enjoy getting in the saddle; a trail ride is included in the cost of the room (as is a filling breakfast).

We stayed in a comfortable room, with classic B&B touches—like an antique wooden wash¬stand with porcelain bowl and pitcher (We opted for the clawfoot tub with shower.). The Dawsons also operate a riding school and camp, and Joanne, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, has appeared in many films, including “Beloved,” “The Sixth Sense,” “12 Monkeys” and “For Richer or Poorer.” She’s also the author of a series of young adult novels–the Lucky Foot Stable Series–about two girls and their adventures with their horses.

While we would have enjoyed chatting with Joanne all evening, we had booked a table at the Fair Hill Inn so headed out to dinner.

The Fair Hill, in the shadow of the Fair Hill race course is owned by a team that includes Chef Frederik Lewis. The restau¬rant recently added a casual option along with its more refined farm-to-table fare. The Greenhaus Biergarten, adjacent to the 18th-century granite inn, serves a casual menu of burgers, wings, flatbreads and salad, along with a selection of beer, wine and “bon vivant” cocktails. The Greenhaus doubles as an actual greenhouse, a home for herbs, and lemon and lime trees, all used for cocktails and cooking.

LIGHTHOUSES AND ICE CREAM
Because of soggy ground at the farm, we decided to move the trail ride to the after¬noon and started day two in Cecil County with an easy walk through Elk Neck State Park to the Turkey Point Lighthouse. The 35-foot tower, built in 1833, sits on a rocky bluff above the upper tip of the Chesapeake Bay. The lighthouse has the distinction of being tended by women, beginning with Elizabeth Lusby in 1844, and ending with Fannie Mae Salter, who petitioned Presdent Coolidge to let her resume the duties after her husband died in 1925. She eventually retired in 1947, when the lighthouse was automated.

The rest of the day was filled with our visit to the zoo, where we met those edgy cats, lunch at a local wine bar called UnWined, and visit to the Kilby Farm for ice cream. This, by the way, is a must. The family-operated farm has a small storefront set well off the road, proffering 23 flavors of ice cream, plus coffee, wraps and milk from the farm.

BACK IN THE SADDLE
We finally made our way back to the farm for our promised trail ride. The Dawsons offer both English and Western style rides on horses from mellow to more energetic. I opted to go with the more forgiving western saddle as it has been many years since I’ve ridden—and the trail was still a bit muddy. My daughter, who hasn’t been on a horse since birthday party pony rides, was happy with her quiet mount.

We rode alongside the fences that line Fairwind’s pastures and then turned into the woods. The horses splashed across a stream and cantered up a small hill as the sun began to set behind the farmhouse.

As the ride wound down, I began to think about the trip home and decided we should get packed and hit the road. We have a long drive ahead of us, I told my daughter.

I was wrong, of course. We weren’t in New England, we were in Cecil County, Maryland, and would be home in a little over an hour.


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.A TRIP TO MARYLAND’S OWN NORTH EAST

EAT
Chesapeake Inn and Marina 605 Second Street, Chesapeake City chesapeakeinn.com
Fair Hill Inn and Greenhaus 3370 Singerly Road, Elkton thefairhillinn.com
UnWined 472 Mauldin Avenue, North East UnWinedmd.com
Wellwood Club 523 Water Street, Charlestown wellwoodclub.com

STAY
Fairwinds Farm B&B 41 Tailwinds Lane, North East
Inn at the Canal 104 Bohemia Avenue, Chesapeake City innatthecanal.com

LOVE
Chateau Bu De winery 237 Bohemia Manor Farm Lane, Chesapeake City chateaubude.com
Turkey Point Light Station Elk Neck State Park tpls.org
Plumpton Park Zoo, 1416 Telegraph Road, Rising Sun plumptonparkzoo.org
Kilby Cream 129 Strohmaier Lane, Rising Sun kilbycream.com *

 

 

 

 


Click here to view Cecil County’s Special Advertising Section

 CAR TIPS

Written by admin on . Posted in Family, Travel, Uncategorized

TIRES
If you have a front wheel drive car, you always want the better tires up front. In an all-wheel drive, if the tread varies, it could potentially damage the all-wheel drive in the car. It’s important to make sure that not only tire treads are in good shape, but that tires are properly inflated. If your tires are underinflated, they can get cupped. If you run your hand along the tire, you’ll feel little worn spots. It’s caused when you drive on underinflated tires. Tires should be rotated and balanced every 6,000 miles.

FLUIDS
Fluids, including antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluid are all vital to your car’s health – like blood pumping through a body. We all know how important it is to change the oil. The industry says to change it every 3,000 miles. If you use synthetic oil, you can do it at 6,000. Oil lubricates and travels through the engine. You don’t want dirty oil. It can start to thicken and stick to the valves and the pistons. It’ll gunk up and your car will start burning oil. It can create engine sludge; lack of oil maintenance can ruin your entire engine.

BELTS
When we work on a car, we look at what service is due at that time. Whether it’s timing belts, drive belts, spark plugs or fluid changes. The one thing that people overlook is the belts – timing belt, alternator, power steering belts. If the timing belt breaks, the engine will stall and you’re stuck. If you’re driving down the road and your power steering belt breaks, you will lose your power steering, making the wheel very difficult to turn.

Maintenance intervals should be determined by age as well as mileage. Say your timing belt is due to be replaced at 90 thousand miles, and the car only has 60 thousand on it. But the car is eight years old. Eight years of living in Maryland through summers and winters can do a number on the belts. Sometimes these components get worn by age, not by mileage.

OTHER
It’s important to check little things: your wiper blades, the lights. We don’t always realize when the brake lights go out. Also, check your spare tire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from someone who got a flat and went for the spare and found that it was flat. Or it wasn’t even there.
While you’re at it, take a look at your car insurance. You might have roadside assistance, or you can add it to your policy for very little money. This can help a lot if you get into trouble.

In the winter, I keep a survival kit: jumper cables, fix-it flat, a pair of gloves and a flashlight. If I’m by myself and something happens to my car, I’m prepared.*

 

Original post from November/December 2015  |  STORY / REVIEWS BY Martha Thomas

TALBOT TALES

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

A JAUNT ACROSS THE BAY BRIDGE CAN FEEL LIKE A WORLD AWAY

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016

By Martha Thomas

When all is said and done, what seemed most amazing about Talbot County is how close it is. I’ve been to the Eastern Shore talbot3-parkseveral times since moving to Maryland more than a decade ago, but on this trip, the world seemed to magically transform as we crossed the Bay Bridge. A rainy spring melted into blue sky summer with vivid green waves of corn rippling in the sun, farm stands promising succulent peaches along the way. Every so often I reminded myself that we were, incredibly, less than two hours by car from home.

Early European settlers, of course, had traveled much farther from the familiar, and coming up the Chesapeake by boat, they found rich soil for planting tobacco and waters crammed with oysters. Nearly four centuries later, bivalves are a precious commodity, and soybeans, corn and poultry make up the agricultural economy. But history still lives here, beneath the layers. Wood frame Colonial and stately Federal houses share the streetscape with stone churches; there are cobblestone streets, vivid perennial gardens behind picket fences, cluttered book and antique shops with proprietors who know their stuff. Local eateries count on food harvested or foraged from the land and sea, and you can even sip local wine, beer and spirits. It all adds up to an idyllic, attainable getaway – and it’s all just a short drive from Howard County.

EASTON
We started our morning in Easton, Talbot County’s center of commerce and government. We stopped at the bakery owned by the Bartlett Pear Inn across the street, whose chef, Jordan Lloyd, had just returned from cooking at New York’s James Beard House. (If the chef was exhausted from his trip, it wasn’t apparent in our meal that evening; see sidebar.) After coffee (cappuccino for me, iced for my companion, Craig), and a shared scone (crumbly and buttery outside, dense with crunchy pecans inside), we set out to explore. Use your imagination to peel back the layers of history by going on The Hill walk, in Easton’s talbot4-walking-toureast end, site of an ongoing archaeological project by University of Maryland and Morgan State University students. Markers along the way tell the story of 18th and 19th century residents of what is thought to be the oldest African- American neighborhood in the U.S. Nearby, find the Academy Art Museum, whose dual purpose of exhibition and enlightenment ranges from showing the work of local plein air artists to organizing art classes and bus trips to museums in D.C. We saw works by Paulette Tavormina, whose photographs of insects, flowers and fruit, rich with symbolism against black backdrops, are reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still life paintings. (The museum’s senior curator penned an essay for Tavormina’s lush book, “Seizing Beauty,” published in April.) Just across the street is the Waterfowl Building. Yes, Easton has such a place, and it hosts the annual Waterfowl Festival in November. We saw an exhibition of works by Ruth Starr Rose, a Wisconsin native whose family moved to the Eastern Shore when she was young. After studying art at Vassar, the artist began to use her African-American neighbors as subjects. Her paintings and prints show crab pickers at work, children at play, portraits in vivid color and even biblical allegories. Though both the Tavormina and Rose exhibitions have since closed, what’s important is that yes, you can see amazing art in Easton – at the Academy Art Museum, during the town’s annual Plein Air painting festival, or at any number of local galleries.

TILGHMAN ISLAND
talbot9-maritimeNext stop was Tilghman Island for lunch at the classic Harrison House. There is no better spot to enjoy crab cakes or fried oysters than this family-operated waterfront inn with the motto, No apologies, lots of butter. The restaurant’s back porch faces a working marina, so we watched pleasure and fishing boats come and go, the tide softly lapping at the grassy shore. From here, you can see Dogwood Harbor, home to two skipjacks, the low, single-masted boats once exclusively used for oyster dredging. The Rebecca T. Ruark, built in 1886 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003, lives here, and from late May until early November, owner Wade Murphy takes paying guests out twice daily (11 a.m. and 6 p.m.). Come November, Murphy returns her to the real job of harvesting oysters.

ST. MICHAEL’S
Heading back to Oxford, where we planned to spend the night, we stopped in St. Michael’s. The town has the soothing hum of a New England village by the sea, with its gift and craft shops and art galleries, where a neighbor’s screen door gives a creaky thwap as it falls shut, a yellow lab slurps water from a dish proffered by a local shopkeeper. And if watching that dog makes you thirsty, St. Michael’s has you covered. The town has its own winery, brewery and distillery, and all offer tastings (see box). St. Michael’s is also home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, 12 buildings and a 1879 lighthouse rich with stories of the Chesapeake Bay.

OXFORD
We had booked a room at the Sandaway Waterfront Lodging Bed and Breakfast. Another family-operated business, the Sandaway is adjacent to where the town’s main thoroughfare, Morris Street, winds up at the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry. The inn has a range of different rooms; try to get one facing the water, with a porch where you can enjoy morning coffee and the satisfying breakfast treats delivered in a basket to your door. A wide lawn slopes down to a sandy beach with pairs of Adirondack chairs strategically placed in sunlight and in the shade of the property’s grand trees. On a sunny day, you might want to just plop yourself in a chair and pretend that you are far, far from home.


EATtalbot6-inn

Harrison House

21551 Chesapeake House

Drive, Tilghman Island

chesapeakehouse.com

Bartlett Pear Inn

28 South Harrison

Street, Easton

bartlettpearinn.com

Robert Morris Inn

314 North Morris Street,

Oxford robertmorrisinn.com

—————–
STAY

Sandaway

Waterfront Lodging

103 West Strand Road,

Oxford sandaway.com

Tidewater Inn

101 East Dover Street, Easton

thetidewatereaston.com


LOVE

Academy Art Museum

106 South Street, Easton

academyartmuseum.org

Mystery Loves Company

202 S Morris Street, Oxford

mysterylovescompany.com

Rebecca Ruark Skipjack

21671 Dogwood Harbor

Road, Tilghman Island

skipjack.org

Chesapeake Bay

Maritime Museum

213 North Talbot Street,

St. Michaels

cbmm.org


SIP         talbot7-drinks

Beer Tasting Eastern

Shore Brewing Co.

605 South Talbot Street,

St. Michaels

410-745-8010

Wine Tasting

St. Michaels Winery

609 South Talbot Street,

#6, St. Michaels

410-745-0808

st-michaels-winery.com

Rum Tasting

Lyon Distilling Co.

605 South Talbot Street,

#6, St. Michaels

443-333-9181

lyondistilling.com

talbot8-oyster

 


HOW TO WORK UP AN APPETITE – AND THEN SATISFY IT – IN TALBOT COUNTY

talbot10-cycleCYCLE

With its straight, flat roads, Talbot County is perfect for both hardcore and placid cyclists. You can set your own pace through shady tree-lined roads, along open fields, beside the water and into picturesque villages. You’ll want to incorporate the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry (pictured at right) into your bike ride. For a leisurely expedition with plenty of rewards along the way, ride from Easton to Bellevue, crossing the Tred Avon by ferry to Oxford for lunch at the Robert Morris Inn. Next, browse in the Mystery Loves Company bookshop and Americana Antiques across the street (if you catch the shop when it’s open). While it specializes in mysteries, the bookshop has plenty of contemporary literary fiction, history and Eastern Shore titles. Take your book to the Oxford Town Park and recharge on a bench facing the water before pedaling back to Easton. The round-trip ride is just 22 miles. If you don’t have your own bike, try Easton Cycle and Sport or Shore Pedal and Paddle in St. Michaels.

BARTLETT PEAR EASTON
Choosing the tasting menu over the a la carte offerings at the Bartlett Pear Inn must be the consensus of the entire table. For us, the only discussion was whether to go with the five or seven courses (We chose five), or whether or not to opt for the wine pairings (I went solo; Craig is a beer drinker). Each dish was inspired and satisfying, the chef clearly using Eastern Shore bounty as a starting point for his creations. We started with a creamy radish soup the color of a coy bridesmaid’s nail polish, with a garnish of pickled red onion. A wedge salad with braised pork belly, dressed with bleu cheese from Chapel Country Creamery, was paired with a lovely, crisp, Chateau Vignal Sauvignon Blanc. We had fines herbes roasted shrimp with English peas (paired with a Loire Valley Chardonnay) and tender rack of lamb with crispy goat cheese fritters. Desserts were poached pear bread pudding with crème anglaise and a tangy lemon curd tart. It was a slow night, midweek and offseason at the restaurant, so we stopped in the kitchen after our meal to congratulate Chef Jordan Lloyd on his appearance at the James Beard House. He greeted us with flushed cheeks and a beaming smile. We visited in the spring, when the produce was just beginning. I have no doubt that in the fall, his dishes will be even more dazzling.

ROBERT MORRIS OXFORD
We were so happy when Mark Salter marched out of the kitchen at the Robert Morris Inn. I’d last seen him nearly a decade ago when he put on a wine dinner at his previous gig, The Inn at Perry Cabin. Now he and innkeeper Ian Fleming (no, not the author of the James Bond novels), own and operate the Robert Morris – named for its original owner, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and financier of the American Revolution. Lunch was being served on the sun-dappled patio, but we opted for the cool tavern, snuggling into a booth with glasses of chilled wine and beer. We started with a pairing of seasonal soups: fresh pea laced with mint and sweet crab, and the restaurant’s signature cream of crab. We nibbled on a basket of fried avocado wedges with a ramekin of chipotle aioli for dipping. Salter came by to refill our glasses so we’d hang around for the piece de resistance. He was awaiting a delivery of soft crabs, and they were on our plates shortly after they arrived squirming at the kitchen door. Oh, glorious spring! The crab cake was also delicious. For dessert, why not go for a multilayered Smith Island cake, this one in red velvet?*

 


 

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NORTHERN EXPOSURE

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

There’s plenty to see on a trip north – all the way to Harford County

Story By Libby Zay

JUNE/JULY 2016

With nearby day trip competitors like Annapolis, Frederick and Washington, D.C., it could be easy to overlook Harford County. The area northern_exposure1might not be on everyone’s travel list, but it is well trodden by horses, historians and hikers. Take a drive through Baltimore County’s northeastern neighbor and you’ll pass wineries set on expansive horse farms, historic harbor towns and woodlands worth wandering into.

One of the most well-known stops in the area is Rocks State Park, where a short hike takes you to the King and Queens Seat, a cliff that was once a ceremonial gathering place for Native Americans and now offers spectacular views of the rolling hills and farmland of Harford County. Deer Creek, which cuts through the park, is a popular place for fishing and tubing.

If your idea of getting back to nature is more like a stroll, try Ladew Topiary Gardens, where 100 whimsical sculpted bushes and 15 manicured gardens are set on 22 acres. Naturalists can show you around the butterfly house, and the former stable has been turned into a cafe. The gardens also host a summer concert season called Groovin’ in the Grass from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

For more fun in the sun, baseball fans can catch the Aberdeen IronBirds, a minor league team owned by retired Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr., who grew up in Harford County. The team plays at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, just off of I-95.

northern_exposure6_icecreamTo cool down, stop for ice cream at one of the old-fashioned dairy farms
in the area. Broom’s Bloom Dairy and Keyes Creamery are two on-farm ice cream shops that are also featured on Maryland’s newly created Ice Cream Trail. Adults can also relax with a drink from one of the independent breweries or vineyards in the area.

With its iconic lighthouse, fresh-plucked seafood and cozy B&Bs, Havre de Grace is perhaps the most well-known town in the area. The historic charm is evident as soon as you drive into the neatly laid out downtown, where window shopping is plentiful. Tibetan prayer flags flutter outside of Doodads, which is stocked with carefully curated fair trade treasures. Nearby, JoRetro Vintage Market has an impressive amount of vintage Pyrex, fashions and more from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

The postcard-perfect Concord Point Lighthouse is undoubtedly the most photographed spot in Havre de Grace – and perhaps all of Harford County. Climb the stairs (April through October only) for a birds-eye view of the town and the water that surrounds it. From here, you can clearly see the Susquehanna River feed into the Chesapeake Bay and understand the geography that makes the lighthouse the northernmost structure of its kind on the bay. Built in 1827, the lighthouse is also the oldest still standing in Maryland.

From the lighthouse, you can take a half-mile walk along a promenade that passes the Decoy Museum, where 1,200 decoys and decorative carvings are on display, and at the Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the region’s maritime heritage. The promenade ends at Tydings Memorial Park, a nice green space to spend some time watching the boats go by.

Of course, Havre de Grace isn’t the only place to stay awhile in Harford County. Picturesque Bel Air is perhaps most well-known for hosting the Maryland State Barbeque Bnorthern_exposure7_gardenash each August. More than 50 teams from the mid-Atlantic area compete for top honors, drawing more than 30,000 attendees over a single weekend to the streets of the small town. If you like street festivals, you’ll enjoy the vibe of Bel Air’s First Fridays, when the downtown area turns into a giant block party – complete with live music. A free, family friendly outdoor summer movie series also takes place on Fridays in the summer.

From downtown, the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail is a walking, running and bicycling trail that follows the former Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad corridor. It ends at the Harford County Equestrian Center, where antique car shows, flea markets and dog shows take place, as well as the Annual Harford County Farm Fair each summer.

Bel Air was incorporated as a town in the 18th century. Today, there are more than 20 buildings within the city limits that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This includes Tudor Hall, the childhood home of John Wilkes Booth, and Hays House, where visitors can find out what daily life was like during the Federal Period of American history.

History lovers will enjoy Jerusalem Mill Village, a former revolutionary war-era village that is now a living history museum in Kingsville. On weekends, volunteers in period attire give blacksmith demonstrations and re-enact the life of soldiers. The village also serves as the headquarters for Gunpowder Falls State Park, where a half-mile trail leads you to one of the few covered bridges left in Maryland. The park has more than 100 miles of trails that span both Harford and Baltimore counties.*

 

Click here to see our Harford County, Northern Exposure special advertising section

 


 

EAT

northern_exposure2_restaurant

Broom’s Bloom Dairy 1700 S. Fountain Green Road Bel Air bbdairy.com

Coakley’s Pub 406 St. John Street Havre de Grace coakleyspub.com

Concord Point Coffee 217 N. Washington Street Havre de Grace concordpointcoffee.com

Laurrapin Grille 209 N. Washington Street Havre de Grace laurrapin.com

Keyes Creamery 3712 Aldino Road Aberdeen keyescreamery.com

Tidewater Grille 300 Franklin Street Havre de Grace thetidewatergrille.com

 

 

STAY

northern_exposure3_mill

 

 

Spencer Silver Mansion 200 S. Union Avenue Havre de Grace spencersilvermansion.com

Vandiver Inn 301 S. Union Avenue Havre de Grace vandiverinn.com

 

 

 

SHOP

northern_exposure4_shop

 

 

Bahoukas Antique Mall and Beer MuZeum 408 N. Union Avenue Havre de Grace bahoukas.com

Doodads 308 St. John Street Havre de Grace doodads.us

JoRetro Vintage Market 467 Franklin Street Havre de Grace joretro.com

Seneca Cannery Antiques 201 St. John St # 2 Havre de Grace

 

 

 

SIP

northern_exposure5_sip

Falling Branch Brewery 825 Highland Road Street fallingbranchbeer.com

Fiore Winery 3026 Whiteford Road Pylesville 410-879-4007 fiorewinery.com

Harford Vineyard & Winery 1311 West Jarretsville Road Forest Hill 410-495-1699 harfordvineyard.com

Independent Brewing Co. 418 North Main Street Bel Air 410-836-8313 independentbrew.com

Legends Vineyard 521 Asbury Road Bel Air 410-914-5122

Mount Felix Vineyard and Winery 2000 Level Road Havre de Grace 410-939-0913 mountfelix.com

Ocean City Brewing Company 3414 Merchant Boulevard Abingdon 410-569-0426 ocbrewingcompany.com

 

 

LOVE

2northern_exposure1Concord Point Lighthouse 700 Concord Street Havre de Grace concordpointlighthouse.org

Decoy Museum 215 Giles Street Havre de Grace decoymuseum.com

Harford County Equestrian Center 608 N. Tollgate Road Bel Air

Hayes House 324 Kenmore Avenue Bel Air harfordhistory.net

Jerusalem Mill Village 2813 Jerusalem Road Kingsville jerusalemmill.org

Ladew Topiary Gardens 3535 Jarrettsville Pike Monkton ladewgardens.com

Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium 873 Long Drive Aberdeen ripkenbaseball.com

Maritime Museum 100 Lafayette Street Havre de Grace hdgmaritimemuseum.org

Rocks State Park 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road Jarrettsville

Tudor Hall 17 Tudor Lane Bel Air

Take A Hike

Written by admin on . Posted in Health and Wellness, Travel

STORY BY ANNE HADDAD

MARCH/APRIL 2016

Experienced hikers in Maryland know how easy it is to reach one of the country’s most iconic take_hike1trails – whether they carry all of their gear and camp on the trail, or just pack a lunch and pull on sneakers for a leisurely day hike. For me, a casual hiker, the revelation came with my first Appalachian Trail hike near the Mason-Dixon Line. I realized I could come back on any weekend, pick up where I left off and hike another five or seven miles and call it a day – or camp for one night and be back at work on Monday. It is even possible to hike by day and find a nearby hotel by nightfall.

The point is, the trail is practically in our backyard, and the options for taking advantage of that are endless. From Howard County, the entire Maryland stretch of the Appalachian Trail can be reached easily by car for a day hike, entering through any of the 38 trail heads between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I can’t check out of my regular life for months to take a hike. But I can take a weekend now and then.

The Appalachian Trail starts in Maine and ends in Georgia, snaking along the Appalachian Mountains for approximately 2,190 miles, about 41 of which are in Maryland. The trail enters the
state from Pennsylvania at the Mason-Dixon Line (a sign post marks the spot) and proceeds in a mostly southwest direction through woods and mountain paths to the Potomac River, then winds along the Potomac until crossing the Winchester and Potomac Railroad Bridge into West Virginia near Harper’s Ferry.

take_hike3Entering the trail at any point puts you into a quiet stream of life that runs parallel to the modern world, but isn’t completely cut off. Most of the trail is under a tree canopy. You’ll probably take off your sunglasses, the better to see the intricate pattern of ferns, the subtle shades of foliage, the brushes of wildflowers like dots on a painting, and the sweet, juicy raspberries that grow on brambles and are free for the picking.

Vast stretches of open space buffer the trail from roads, yet there are frequent points where hikers must cross a main road – even the Baltimore National Pike and Interstate 70 (via bridge, no need
to dodge highway traffic). More often, it’s a quiet road that’s as idyllic as the trail itself. Blazes are painted onto trees to mark the path at any point where it isn’t clear, and at most road crossings, there are clear signs to direct you to the next trail head.

I take some comfort in knowing that if someone in my party were to need help, we could get to a road and flag down a car. It’s possible to know ahead of time which sections of the trail are challenging and which are easy, but even on the easy parts, there are rocks and roots to trip on. There are streams, but always bridges over any deep ones.

You will pass a few other groups and exchange a polite hello or more, if you each feel like it. If you have your phone with you, it might ring. For better or worse, I’ve never lost cell phone reception
on my limited forays into the trail, but I’m sure it will happen at some take_hike2point.

Hikers come from all over the world, but locals who live near the trail seem to take advantage of it, too. A large network of volunteers and club members maintain the trail and offer advice to hikers, whether online or on the trail itself.
The “2,000-milers” are thru-hikers who have gone the full length of the trail, and between 15,000 and 16,000 people have accomplished that, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Some hikers try to set speed records, but rushing along the trail doesn’t appeal to me or any other hiker I know. I’m there to escape and explore, to have conversations with the friends and family in my group.

I would not rule out hiking a stretch twice before going on to a new one. In fact, I have repeated the same five-mile stretch from my first hike on the trail because it’s close to a Jesuit retreat center that I visit about once a year. This doesn’t allow me to boast that I’ve done more of the trail, but there is something nice about getting to know a piece of the trail, to remember certain spots and feel at home on a path that belongs to all of us.

take_hike4The last time I went hiking in July, it was with a cross-generational group from St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore, as part of a weekend parish picnic the church has each year at the Jesuit-owned Bellarmine Retreat Center just over the state line in Waynesboro, Pa. Our party had one woman in her 80s and a few in their 70s and 60s, as well as young adults, teens and elementary-
age children. Those in the group who were feeling tired or light-headed went back earlier, while the rest of us forged on for another mile or so, stopped for a water and restroom break at Pen Mar Park and headed back to the picnic for a welcome jump into the swimming pool.

I convinced one of the women in my group, Sherri Currie of Catonsville, to join my relay team in the Baltimore Running Festival. She had never run more than three miles, but I was huffing and puffing to keep up with her, even though at the time I was training for a half marathon. I asked her what she did for exercise, because she was killing all the uphill portions of the trail.

“I have four kids and a tall skinny house,” she said. “I go up and down stairs all day.”

She did join my team, and when we looked at our pace splits later, she had the fastest pace of all.

HIKING THE TRAIL RESOURCES

Your best bet is to work from the official Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, appalachiantrail.org. Some links will take you to websites hosted by volunteers and others, but if take_hike5you get there directly from the conservancy’s site, you can trust it.

HOW TO GET THERE AND BACK TO YOUR CAR, TOO

From the conservancy site, go to the Explore the Trail menu, which includes transportation options – where to park and how to take advantage of hiker shuttle services. Many hikers simply have one person in the group park at the end, and then all drive to the starting point.

A hiker in reasonable shape could walk the whole Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail and either mark that as an accomplishment, or just the beginning. Trail heads are near such landmarks as High Rock and the Washington Monument (near Boonsboro) and state roads such as Maryland 77 (Foxville Road). One that includes several parking spots is in Myersville, Md., along Baltimore National Pike.

WHERE TO START

MapMyRun.com is a great way to plot the miles on the trail.
You can start anywhere in the middle of Maryland, but if you like to start at one border and work your way to the other, you can start at either:
The North End, and go south and west: Pen Mar County Park, near Highfield and Cascade, Md., two-tenths of a mile from the Mason- Dixon Line. Go south on the trail, which has a side trail that dead ends at High Rock after about three miles, and will put you at the top of a tremendous scenic lookout point. From there, even if it’s on your next trip, start at High Rock and go back to the main trail, and down as far as Maryland 491, Raven Rock Road, in Smithsburg, another 3 miles, for a total hike of 6 miles, much of which will be rocky, so do some homework and read what other hikers have to say about it.

The South End, and go east and north: Just across the bridge from Harper’s Ferry, start at the C&O Canal Towpath (on the Maryland side of the bridge) and proceed eastward on the path along the Potomac River, and eventually north toward Weverton Cliff. It’s a 10-mile stretch, most of it along the river. Here’s one description on everytrail.com:everytrail.com/guide/ harpers-ferry-to-weverton-cliff.

And if you want to do all 40.5 miles in one long weekend or a week, backpacker.com features the trail with a few tips for where to stay.  backpacker.com/trips/ maryland/appalachian-trail-harpers-ferry-to-pen-mar-road.

PLOTTING AND MAPPING

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has an online interactive map, but it’s best to do some cross-map-plotting between Google Maps, Map My Run and the trail maps. The trail is visible on these larger maps, but you have to zoom in pretty close before it shows up as a faint gray or white trail. appalachiantrail. org/home/explore-the-trail.

You can purchase printed maps from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club store and explore other resources there, as well. patc.net/PATC/Store/PATC.

Thousands of people have hiked the trails and blogged or contributed to trail and hiking websites by posting their review of a trail.

summitpost. org/appalachian-trail-mileage-chart/593282#chapter_8

SHOES

Don’t let the lack of hiking shoes keep you from starting small. Running or other athletic shoes will be fine for moderate and dry terrain.
If you know you want to do more hiking, get fitted at a store that has a good reputation and will give you a guarantee.

I hated traditional hiking boots, which I found stiff and heavy. They gave me a bruise on my shin after one day of hiking. I finally found the minimalist hiking boots made by Merrell, and they are much more comfortable, while still giving me ankle support.
Whatever hiking shoe you get, make sure it’s waterproof. *

– Anne Haddad

Creature Feature

Written by admin on . Posted in Shopping, Travel

WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?

STORY / REVIEWS BY Martha Thomas

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

I just barely remember my first cup holder. It was probably in a Volvo I was test-driving for the New York Daily News back when I wrote for the car_comforts-1-fiat
paper’s automotive supplements. Enthusiasts – the type whose criteria for a good drive involved horsepower and four-on-the-floor – poo-pooed the innovation, while most women I know saw it as the best invention since the wheel itself.

While a really good place to stow a purse continues to evade automotive designers, in the last two decades, many of the features to gain traction have been influenced – if not designed – by women. Security features like automatic locks and lights that stay on for a few beats so you can get into the house, storage bins and cargo netting to hold the groceries in place, minivans with convertible seats, heated windshields, hands-free communication and my personal favorite, no gas cap to unscrew, are now so ubiquitous, most of us can’t remember the days before these features existed.

Though women (who represent the majority of new car buyers and generally have the last word when a family heads out to the dealership), appreciate a good drive, we also like our creature comforts. “Her Mind” was recently treated to a trio of test drives. Every car had a cup holder, of course. Here’s what else we found.

 

CUTE AS AN ADOLESCENT
I was so excited about the Fiat 500X. A sucker for a cute car, I’ve long coveted those zippy little Italian hatchbacks that remind me of my childhood car_comforts-2-fiatMatchbox collection. Sadly Fiat has decided, like Mini Cooper and Major League Baseball, that a dose of steroids never hurt anybody. The 500X is as cute as an awkward 13-year-old (meaning, not). Sure, it’s diminutive for an SUV – in fact, it’s smaller than the Mercedes (opposite page) – but it doesn’t have any of the flair of Il bel paese. The Blanco Gelato (white) Lounge version I tested had some spiffy trim features – contrast piping and a classy 500 logo on the black leather seats, for example – a blind spot warning system and, like all the cars I drove, an easy Bluetooth interface. While the Fiat picked up some nice speed on the highway and was a nimble lane-changer, on shorter trips it lacked pep. Here I’ll quote a fellow driver: “You put your foot on the accelerator and it just looks at you.” Sounds like asking a teenager to empty the dishwasher.

 

 

NOT YOUR MOTHER’S MERCEDES
car_comforts-3The Mercedes GLA250 is a small, sporty crossover, an entry-level hatchback that looks more like a Nissan Rogue than the sedan your best friend’s dentist dad once drove. It’s fun knowing you’re behind the wheel of a Benz, but unfortunately, you might not be turning heads. Even with its signature star front and back, the sloping silhouette with its bug-like headlamps doesn’t necessarily scream Mercedes. It’s got a solid, beefy stance with standard 18-inch wheels and roof rails. Inside, the GLA-class is cozy, with adjustable lumbar support in the heated seats and reasonable, but not generous storage space (plus a power liftgate that lowers with the touch of a button). The back-up camera, part of the multi-media package in the Mercedes I tested, isn’t standard. But this beloved feature – for anyone who has experienced it – will soon come in all car models (as it did in all models included on these pages). The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration has mandated a phase-in beginning in 2016. As for the drive, the GLA has an automatic stop-start system, powering down at stop lights and then starting up again – often without warning. It’s also slow to respond to acceleration, so isn’t recommended for those who like a little pep.


 CAR TIPS

Sarah Warfield, left, general manager of Neubauer’s Auto Repair, has been working for the company since 2000. She received her AMI accredited car_comforts-4_sarahautomotive manager degree in 2005 and has encouraged the Neubauer team to become more female friendly by going through Ask Patty certification – a process on how to communicate more effectively with women and ensure they feel safe, respected and empowered. This enables the shop and its mechanics to build lasting relationships with women customers.

We asked Warfield for tips on car readiness as we move into what is predicted to be another tough winter season.

TIRES
If you have a front wheel drive car, you always want the better tires up front. In an all-wheel drive, if the tread varies, it could potentially damage the all-wheel drive in the car. It’s important to make sure that not only tire treads are in good shape, but that tires are properly inflated. If your tires are underinflated, they can get cupped. If you run your hand along the tire, you’ll feel little worn spots. It’s caused when you drive on underinflated tires. Tires should be rotated and balanced every 6,000 miles.

FLUIDS
Fluids, including antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluid are all vital to your car’s health – like blood pumping through a body. We all know how important it is to change the oil. The industry says to change it every 3,000 miles. If you use synthetic oil, you can do it at 6,000. Oil lubricates and travels through the engine. You don’t want dirty oil. It can start to thicken and stick to the valves and the pistons. It’ll gunk up and your car will start burning oil. It can create engine sludge; lack of oil maintenance can ruin your entire engine.

BELTS
When we work on a car, we look at what service is due at that time. Whether it’s timing belts, drive belts, spark plugs or fluid changes. The one thing that people overlook is the belts – timing belt, alternator, power steering belts. If the timing belt breaks, the engine will stall and you’re stuck. If you’re driving down the road and your power steering belt breaks, you will lose your power steering, making the wheel very difficult to turn.

Maintenance intervals should be determined by age as well as mileage. Say your timing belt is due to be replaced at 90 thousand miles, and the car only has 60 thousand on it. But the car is eight years old. Eight years of living in Maryland through summers and winters can do a number on the belts. Sometimes these components get worn by age, not by mileage.

OTHER
It’s important to check little things: your wiper blades, the lights. We don’t always realize when the brake lights go out. Also, check your spare tire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from someone who got a flat and went for the spare and found that it was flat. Or it wasn’t even there.
While you’re at it, take a look at your car insurance. You might have roadside assistance, or you can add it to your policy for very little money. This can help a lot if you get into trouble.

In the winter, I keep a survival kit: jumper cables, fix-it flat, a pair of gloves and a flashlight. If I’m by myself and something happens to my car, I’m prepared.*

Serenity On the Shore

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

An art-filled weekend in Chestertown

is a mix of relaxation and activity

STORY BY Halima Aziza

SEPTEMBER /OCTOBER 2015

My trips over the long and narrow Chesapeake Bay Bridge come far and few between, not serenity-shore1uncommon for one whose center of gravity lies somewhere inside the Baltimore-Washington corridor. I’ve called the Free State home my entire life, but Maryland’s Eastern Shore is as distant to me as the coasts of Oregon.

As I travel on the other side of the bay, views of the golden fields, sprawling farms and romantically quaint vineyards lure my eyes from the road. The blue horizon replaces the concrete and steel skylines I’m used to. Little do I realize the scope of delights that await me when I first set foot inside Kent County’s Chestertown.

Established in the early 1700s, this small port town and home to historic Washington College was a colonial Royal Port of Entry that once rivaled Annapolis. Although the historic riverfront houses remain, Chestertown, situated midway between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, now bustles with a mix of retirees, college students, snowbirds and weekenders who flow in from the area’s nearby metropolises.

Despite the town’s diminutive size (population just over 5,000), the number of activities on any given weekend can dizzy even the most fast-paced adventurist, as I learn during my weekend stay. I arrive on a Saturday morning and bring with me my appetite. In addition to the brick-and-mortar haunts where you can grab a meal or wet your whistle, the weekly farmers’ market boasts treats for the tummy and eyes alike: sweet and savory baked goods, fresh picked produce and flowers, and an explosion of art.

I’ve grown accustomed to seeing jewelry or other small handmade crafts at farmers’ markets, but when I stop by vendor Stephen Green’s stall, I can’t help but linger.

serenity-shore2“You’re a chainsaw artist,” I blurt out. His collection of rustic, bark-laden furniture and animal-inspired wood sculptures somehow make perfect sense against the backdrop of the town’s Fountain Park lawn. It reflects Chestertown’s place at the center of where art, history and nature converge.

Just behind him, the same spirit is reflected by Wanda’s Wonders, a tent decorated with colorful gourds transformed into bird houses.

“It’s a family-run business,” says Wanda Gorman, as she painstakingly carves and hollows one right in front of me. Her brother Victor grows them on his farm on the Eastern Shore. Gorman and her husband, Jimmy, and their kids then transform the vine vegetables into functional, interactive works of art.

In fact, much in this town marries art and community.

Carla Massoni, owner of the Massoni Art Gallery located at 203 High Street, moved to Chestertown from inside the D.C. beltway when her now grown children were young.

“We see the arts – writing, painting, photography, sculpting as a vibrant part of our community,” explains Massoni.

Because there are so many living-working artists in town, you never know who you’ll bump into, she says. “You can go around the corner and have coffee with an author.” And the RiverArts Studio Tour in October offers a behind-the-scenes look at how art comes together.

There’s also plenty of performing arts, Massoni points out. The Garfield Center for the Arts on High Street hosts musical groups, live theater and even open mic nights. Massoni is looking forward to September’s jazz festival for its “incredibly cool, young singers.”

For all these reasons, Maryland recently designated Chestertown as an Arts and Entertainment District – one of only two dozen in the state.serenity-shore3
“Designation of the Town’s A&E District is a major step in the planned revitalization of Chestertown’s downtown and waterfront,” says Mayor Chris Cerino. “The downtown arts scene in Chestertown has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade,” he says. Cerino credits local institutions like RiverArts (a nonprofit community arts center) and the Garfield Center. “The state’s designation validates what many of us already know,” he says. “That Chestertown is fast becoming a regional arts destination.”

The blossoming community that exists today is a far cry from the segregated, southern municipality that saw Freedom Riders and civil rights demonstrations just 50 years ago. The African-American Walking Tour of Chestertown chronicles the areas rich African-American history and features structures such as Janes United Methodist Church, whose congregation dates back to 1831, and the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), explains Larry Samuels, a member of the Diversity Dialog Group.

Chestertown native Airlee Johnson recently returned after having spent 40 years away. “Since I’ve been back, I’ve seen all the new people, new energy. There are always activities,” she continues. “I don’t miss the Chestertown of my youth, but I love this new one.”

Massoni and Johnson are not the only Chestertown residents seduced by the lure of harmonious, small-town, coastal living.

Tom Martin left behind a career on Capitol Hill to pursue his dream of being a bookseller in the town where he and his wife had vacationed for years. He now owns The Bookplate, one of Chestertown’s two independent bookstores.

“It’s a college town and a retiree town. It’s a comfortable place with high energy – an artistic scene, a literary scene and outdoors scene,” says Martin.

serenity-shore4All of those scenes manage to converge in late October during Downrigging Weekend, a festival devoted to tall ships, wood boats and the river. The events feature musicians, authors, filmmakers and history buffs.

Chestertown has proven to be more than I imagined; there’s serenity in the unusual blend of relaxation and busyness.

At the heart of Chestertown, says Martin, “There are great people.” It’s a down-to-earth community, he says, “where everyone is trying to make it a special place and include everyone.”

 

Visit Kent County

Chestertown Events

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

September and October Events

SEPTEMBER /OCTOBER 2015

Chestertown Farmers’ and Artists’ Marketchestertown1_fountain-park
Every Saturday , 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Fountain Park in the center of town

KidSPOT Children’s Creativity Center
Every Saturday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.chestertown2_downrigging_weekend
Open every Saturday free of charge to kids accompanied by an adult, KidSPOT provides an opportunity for children ages 2-12 to expand creative expression and creative problem solving.

Schooner Sultana Public Sail
Saturdays in September
Departing and returning from Sultana’s home port of historic Chestertown, two-hour public sails are a great way to sail the Chester River onboard a traditional schooner.

Chestertown Jazz Festival
September 12, 12 p.m.
Featuring national and regional jazz, playing something for everyone: straight ahead, Latin, smooth jazz, instrumentalists and vocalists. Local beer, wine and food available at the park.

Chestertown First Friday
The first Friday of every month, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Visit Historic Chestertown, while enjoying extended shop hours and arts and entertainment throughout downtown.

chestertown4_silent maidChestertown Riverfest
September 26, 12 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The community event features the unveiling of a large, floating, solar-powered sculpture on the river, the 9th annual cardboard boat regatta, kayak and canoe races, a poker run, as well as live music, food and kids activities.

RiverArts 16th Annual Studio Tour
October 24-25 and October 31-November 1, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
This fascinating, free, self-guided journey will lead you to discover amazing work by artists, many of whom are known and recognized for their achievements throughout the art world.

Downrigging Weekend
October 30, 8 a.m.- November 1, 5 p.m.
Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend is one of the largest annual tall ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast. See more at sultanaeducation.org/ public-programs/sultana-public-sails/downrigging-weekend- 2/#sthash.SXjmGocJ.dpuf. *

FANTASTIC Voyage

Written by admin on . Posted in Travel

WHY YOUR NEXT JOURNEY SHOULD BE TO SOUTHERN MARYLAND

STORY BY Holly Smith

Take a trip to another world – one rich in history, natural beauty, culture and inventive cuisine – all without leaving the state. In fact, you won’t even have to cross fantastic-voyage-beach2the Bay Bridge. Your destination: Southern Maryland. If you’ve never made the journey down, you don’t know what you’re missing.

“Our region is very laid-back,” says Joyce A. Stinnett Baki, a tourism specialist at the Calvert County Department of Economic Development. “It is a great place to unwind, enjoy a day, a weekend or a week.”

And whether it’s for romance or recharging, couldn’t we all use a little unwinding right about now?

THE PAST IS PRESENT
Witness to many pivotal happenings in our state’s past, Southern Maryland – fantastic-voyage-antiquescomprised of Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties – boasts one especially important first: It’s home to Historic St. Mary’s City, site of the first English Roman Catholic settlement in the New World, as well as the state’s original capital. Today the outdoor living history museum is a mecca for olden-days buffs.

“With 40 acres of exhibits on the banks of the beautiful St. Mary’s River, the museum is a chance to step away from the usual hectic pace and enjoy a trip back in history with friends and family,” says Regina Faden, executive director of the museum. “[It’s also] one of the finest 17th-century archaeology sites in the United States.”

Not quite as old, yet no less powerful, is the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum in Waldorf. In 1865, a wounded John Wilkes Booth sought treatment at the Charles County physician’s farm. By tending to Lincoln’s assassin, Mudd forever cast a shadow over his own legacy. The home looks much as it did during the Civil War, but offers no easy answers; visitors must decide for themselves whether Mudd was a doctor doing his duty or an abettor to the assassination.

Other facilities – among them the Calvert Marine Museum, the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, and the Piscataway Indian Museum – provide more ways to immerse yourself in the area, and some include interactive exhibits for visitors who can’t keep their hands to themselves. You know who you are.

BEACHFRONT BEAUTY, UNSPOILED ENVIRONS
A still largely rural region where tobacco once reigned supreme, Southern Maryland should find its way onto any outdoors lover’s bucket list. Miles of creeks, rivers andfantastic-voyage-beach Chesapeake Bay waterfront mean there’s no shortage of places to put in and paddle out; acres of pristine parkland mean landlubbers can take in the scenery without getting their feet wet.

Of course, it’d be a shame to go to Southern Maryland and not at least dip your toes in the water. Landmark locales like Chesapeake Beach and North Beach are as much fun today as when they hosted droves of 19th-century city dwellers eager for salt air, while the waves around Calvert Cliffs State Park hark back to guests from even further back.

“You can find lots of fossils and [prehistoric] shark teeth on the beach” at Calvert Cliffs, says Joyce Baki. “Visit after a storm, when wonderful treasures are pushed up from the bottom of the bay.” But wear comfy shoes: Reaching the surf requires an almost two-mile walk through the woods. It’s a stunning trek, though. Naturally.

Magnificent lighthouses – such as Piney Point, Drum Point, Point Lookout and Point No Point – illuminate the region’s shores and have a way of making even landlocked visitors feel nautically nostalgic. There’s just something about those towering beacons, isn’t there?

CULTURE AND CUISINE
If your idea of a perfect escape involves less R.E.I. and more T.L.C., Southern fantastic-voyage-cordeas-hopeMaryland has you covered. Spend a night or two with your sweetie in Solomons Island’s gracious Blue Heron Inn, Brictoria Cottage in Charlotte Hall, or another luxe B&B – or book a stay at the fabulous Cove Point Lighthouse keeper’s quarters in Lusby – and cuddle your cares away. But grab a little culture before lights-out. Take in a live production!

“We’ve been around for over 65 years,” says Keith Linville, public affairs chair for the Port Tobacco Players. “We produce six main-stage shows a season: comedies, dramas and musicals.” The Charles County theater group may be small, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in ambition. To wit: Upcoming offerings include both “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Spamalot.” Not exactly rookie material.

The Newtowne Players in Lexington Park is another terrific option for theatergoers and wannabe thespians seeking an Albee or Mamet fix, while countless venues large and small host musicians and other performers.

Alas, playbills aren’t edible, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for dinner. Not far, though. The region boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good eats, from fresh-from-the-bay seafood at Captain Billy’s Crab House in Newburg, to more elegant comestibles at places like Café des Artistes in Leonardtown and the brand-new Elements Eatery & Mixology, St. Mary’s County’s latest buzz-worthy bistro.

“We buy local whenever we can,” says Rob Plant, chef/owner of Elements. “The region is really embracing the idea of knowing where their food is coming from.” In addition, he says, locals and visitors are concerned about the environmental impact food and farms are having on the Chesapeake Bay.

“Southern Maryland has so much to offer,” says Plant. “Everything from agritourism, fishing, riverfront concerts and wineries to breweries, markets and museums. And now it has farm-to-table cooking.”

Is that why Southern Maryland should be next on your getaway list – the great food? Or is it the bucolic, untouched landscape? The omnipresent footprints of history? The lighthouses and luxurious accommodations?
Yes.*

 

SPOTLIGHT ON SLACK WINERYfantastic-voyage-slack-winery
To find the perfect pour for your next party, don’t think Sonoma. Think Slack. This award-winning winery in Ridge is one of many such outstanding operations in Southern Maryland, which itself is becoming a go-to spot for East Coast oenophiles.

Visit Slack’s Jubilee Farm vineyard, which was first planted in 2002, for a true grapes-to-grappa experience; pull up a stool and start sipping at its Woodlawn Farm tasting room; or make a weekend of it by booking a cottage at Woodlawn.

Slack’s Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, or Barbera will inspire you to begin plotting your return. 16040 Woodlawn Lane, 301-872-5175. slackwine.com


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