Monday, April 24, 2017

Picking Up from Where We Left Off: From the Chesapeake to Annapolis

Captain Mike begins our narrative in this chapter:
When I was younger I loved to dance, and I would go to every dance I could. When I met Marian, It didn’t take long to understand that dancing, with your feet, wasn’t in her makeup. However, I will tell you that a life together is a dance together even if you are just walking or riding in a boat.  Looking at a sunset on the water is a dance of light and beauty. Marian and I have danced many dances together arm in arm in our adventures together - long dances of beauty, dances of wonder, and dances of love in the trips we have taken together. Listening to the sounds of the trains running along the banks of Hudson River valley, we dance again in our minds, a dance of majestic wonder. The Loop is just another dance together, just as the tango is another type of dance from the waltz.  Marian, dance with me.

Scientists believe that about 35 million years ago, a rare bolide – a comet or asteroid-like object from space, a large exceptionally bright meteor that often explodes – hit the area that is now the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, near Cape Charles, Virginia. It did not create the Chesapeake Bay, but it helped determine that a bay would eventually be located there. The Chesapeake Bay is still changing. There are islands, especially Tangier Island, in the middle of the Bay, and they have churches, graveyards, homes, schools, and people—a community of watermen, and it will all be gone, lost to changes in geology and rising water levels.  We wanted to see the Eastern Shore before some of its history disappears.  

Our route from Deltaville, out of the frame on the
western shore to Onancock, then to Tangier Island,
Cambridge, Oxford, and St. Michael's.
Approaching Tangier Island from Onancock
Getting closer - watermen's houses
on stilts


Add Mike, Midas &  Marian
with Milton Parks, a "national treasure"

Parks Marina - a bargain at $35/night
Crab traps are everywhere...

The island's grocery store
and crab traps need buoys

More golf carts than cars 
Swain Memorial United
Methodist Church

What will happen to these when
the island disappears?
The churchyard

Marian picks up the story:
On our first trip to the Chesapeake, we knew we were in an area of our country that was unique and deserved more of our attention.  On our 2014 trip, we spent most of our time on the Western Shore; on this Loop, we focused on the Eastern Shore. It has an entirely different mindset and worldview. We’ve mentioned this before: exploring the geography of our country by land is one thing, but exploring by water creates an entirely different perspective. Landlubbers may not understand this, but boaters, especially Loopers, do, instinctively.             
Tangier Island has its own ice cream. 
Sunset on Tangier Island after a summer storm
Cambridge, Maryland, on the south side of the Choptank River, was the third town we visited by water on the Eastern Shore.   If you have read James Michener’s book Chesapeake, you know about this river and others that are gateways to the eastern and western shores. We reached Cambridge on May 31 and stayed at the large city marina for two nights.  As we walked back to the boat from the marina office/restroom/shower building, we stopped to chat with a woman who was reading in the cool shade of a large tree while her husband worked on their sailboat. She suggested we have dinner at the Portside Seafood Restaurant, which featured $3 off hamburgers on Tuesday.  Since Midas was with us, we had to sit outside on the west facing deck, shaded by a large awning.  A few minutes after we arrived, an elderly lady walked out, telling the waitress she’d have her usual bourbon and water.  Her husband, now an Orphans Court judge and formerly the mayor, followed close behind, and we chatted with them, picking up ideas for places to visit in Cambridge, including the food market they had run for years.
Cambridge - view from Simmons
Center Market
There are all kinds of art 
in Cambridge
The next day, we made it a point to visit Simmons Center Market on Race Street, where Marian found the Vidalia onions she’d need for the Looper Dockup to be held in St. Michael’s the next week.  As we strolled the small downtown area of Cambridge, Mike found an old-fashioned barber shop, Marian found The Cutting Edge, and we both left Cambridge with great haircuts.  
We had breakfast the next morning at an Amish bakery, and the owner happily offered to let Midas wait in the adjacent gift shop since the restaurant door was blocked by several painters and was in direct sun. 
Amish Bakery - Yummy!
  One of the painters found a water bowl for Midas, and he was quite content in his private, cool space. In fact, when Marian went next door to check on him, he barked his usual "Somebody's entered my domain, and I must let them know I'm in charge" greeting. 
In Cambridge we talked to a waterman who was working on the back of his deadrise boat, baiting his long trotline.  I ask him how long it takes to bait the line, “Oh, 'bout 4 hours,” he replied. I asked how long he'd been a waterman, “Oh, bout 4 wives,” or all my life.  Earning a living off the water has been his life. (  We have met many watermen on this trip, and, knowing that Tangier Island is gradually washing into the Chesapeake, I find myself wondering if this lifestyle will be here in another 25 or 50 years.

From Cambridge, we moved the Midas Touch a short way north and west to the Tred Avon River, a tributary of the Choptank, and the town of Oxford, founded in 1683, and we fell in love with the town.  Oxford, population 634 in 2013, is actually a charming village, with beautifully landscaped homes along Morris Street, named after Robert Morris, a shipping agent.  We stayed four relaxing days at a small marina/boat sales office at the south end of the small harbor, enjoyed fresh out of the oven muffins and a Granny Smith apple tart from the Oxford Market, ice cream at Scottish Highlands Creamery, trundled our little red fold up wagon to do laundry at the Hinckley Boatyard, and took Midas to a nearby dog park. Exciting?  No, but one of our favorite stops so far, simply because of the beauty of the village and the warm welcome we received from its residents.  Check it out: (

We left Oxford on June 6 for the short cruise to St. Michael's, where we joined six other Looper couples for a four-day "Dock-up" that included a group dinner on Monday after wine and munchies at the beautiful, historic home of a local resident/art gallery owner, a walking tour of the town, Eat Around St. Michaels, a group trip by van back to Oxford for an information packed walking tour led by local historian Leo Nollmeyer and a visit to Cutts & Case Shipyard, builders of renowned wooden boats, lunch at the historic Robert Morris Inn, more ice cream, capped by a potluck when we returned to our Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum marina and music provided by one of the Loopers.  Assignment for the potluck: provide a dish that represents your local cuisine.  Marian's Vidalia Onion Casserole, a recipe she happened to find in a Georgia Farm Bureau newsletter, was a big hit.  

St. Michael's - one of
our favorite stops
Oxford - a great village
Dock in St. Michael's
Roses were everywhere
in Oxford

Typical home in Oxford

The Oxford Methodist
Church bells serenade the town
with a lovely concert every day
at noon and six pm.

Geese on the banks of the Tred Avon
Oxford is a great walking or biking town.
We walked all the streets.

Oxford Museum - much like those
found in most towns on the Chesapeake
Oxford Market - and Marian's on the
way to get Vidalia Onions for the
Looper Dockup Potluck.

Oxford Street scene

Flowers were everywhere
we turned in Oxford
The Loopers had lunch here after
a van ride from St. Michael's and
a fascinating walking tour.

Another Oxford view

Picket fences like this one echo the theme
of the town.

One of hundreds of roses
in Oxford

Midas poses to be admired with the
Tred Avon behind him.  The oldest
continuously operating ferry in the
country takes cars across to the
far shore.
More Oxford flowers.

Midas Touch - anchored in
Dividing Creek off the Wye River

Marian resting after our hike
while she watches the K-9
dogs search for human remains.

View from a shady path toward a
waterway off the Chesapeake
Cornfield on the island near
our anchorage

We watched this deer graze for at least five minutes
before she heard us and took off.  Lucky shot!
On Friday, it was time to find an anchorage, and we took the advice of several locals and fellow cruisers when we found a lovely anchorage off the Wye River.  When we took Midas ashore Saturday morning, planning to explore more of the state park adjacent to Dividing Creek, we found the Delmarva K-9 Search and Rescue group, conducting a training session for about a dozen dogs.  We continued our hike - about 5 miles round trip - to the south end of the park, and Midas had his first chance to swim. After retrieving a stick more times than we could count, then walking back to we'd left the dinghy, Midas was one pooped pooch, but not too tired to watch the search and rescue dogs practice.  Their lesson that day was to find human remains, and each dog performed perfectly.  The remains (placenta tissue obtained for the purpose) were placed near the top of a six-foot hollow tree, and when the dogs located the target, they sat at the base of the tree and barked once.  One of the trainers assured us that we were welcome to watch; in fact, having Midas there created an additional training opportunity because the dogs must be able to ignore distractions.  We eventually dinghied back to the boat for supper, and after a final get-busy trip ashore for Midas, it was early to bed.  Next stop, and the next installment:  Annapolis and points north.

No comments:

Post a Comment