Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 10 - more Maryland

After I braved the 4-mile-long bridge over the Chesapeake Bay, I arrived in the small town of Chester, Maryland. Jeremiah Junior fit perfectly in Ellen’s driveway of their 3-story townhouse, making it easy for me to join in with home activities while “living” in the motor home. I really enjoyed their two Shih Tzu dogs.

Pretending to be a socialite! This past week I’ve been rubbing shoulders with interesting people and feeling like a socialite during my visit with Ellen and Paul. They live in this small town on Kent Island (in between the east and west parts of Maryland). I met them when I was living on Palomar Mountain. They had a large lavender farm in nearby Valley Center. I went to their farm to learn how to weave a fresh lavender basket; enjoyed Ellen’s lavender tea and cookies – and we became friends and stayed in touch after they moved east. 

Ellen works part time as the office manager for KIFA – Kent Island Federation of Arts. She had a busy plan for my time there. The first event was a reception at a local winery for artists and their spouses. Others events included a backyard cookout at a member’s water-front home, and a visit to a small lavender farm,
We enjoyed happy hours and various meals out. On Fathers Day, we were invited to join her daughter’s family for a crab feast! People think I’m crazy, but I just don’t like crabs and instead enjoyed some delicious grilled chicken. It was fun watching folks tackle the crabs; shells and non-edibles mounding up in piles as hands required frequent toweling off.
Paul at crab feast
Crab Feast
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Most of one day was spent at the amazing Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. This is an 18-acre waterfront area with at least a dozen buildings and features where I learned how people – called watermen – worked on the bay.

Museum features included a working boatyard, an 1879 lighthouse with the spiral steps that invited me to climb to the top, hands-on waterman’s wharf where we could pull up an eel pot, check a trap for crabs, and tong for oysters. There was a real skipjack oystering boat that I walked through while enjoying life-size models of workers, enjoyed a walk through a mockup of a crab-packing plant and toured the tugboat/towboat displays. This is a place that takes more than one trip to see all of it. The displays and signage are super and I left being glad I didn’t have to be a waterman.

Crab "worker"
Crab "worker"
View from the lighthouse
1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse

Old lighthouse light
Ellen with tow boat "rope"
Tuckahoe State Park
I’m at my last stop in Maryland camped at a state park, giving me two no-driving, no-visiting days to catch my breath, read and write. Jeremiah Junior is parked in the tall, deep – and dark woods. Shortly after I arrived at the camping site and hooked up, the downpour of rain started and didn't let up for several hours. Cloud cover the next day hid the sun and today the sun finally came out but gave only brief patches of sun between the trees. I realize what a desert rat I am on chilly and rainy days and no sun. And I sure do miss sunrises and sunsets!

This afternoon was devoted to getting travel routes figured out – from here to New Hope, Pennsylvania, for a few days and then from New Hope to Middlebury, Connecticut. Since I prefer the beauty and variety of state and county highways (instead of Interstates) planning takes more time. The reward is the drive pleases me more.

At times this trip does seem overwhelming and I could probably come up with many objections. And if I had tried to plan it out in detail before leaving home, I might have given up. But after 10 weeks on the road and 4,000 miles, I’m still excited to drive the next miles. I know I’m missing many interesting places, but visiting friends is more important to me than being a sight-seeing tourist. I cherish time with friends and enjoy being with them again.

Thanks for “traveling” with me and thanks for staying in touch with email messages!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I’m Back! Hip Hip Hooray!

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere

This encouraging comment caught my attention one year and I recall thinking of it when I started dreaming up the trip I am on and I sure have gone through a lot of pencils – and maps – and camping directories, etc. And here I am in my 11th state and eager for more.

Trying to plan this adventure in any detail was driving me crazy – so now, with my basic goal of driving most of the perimeter of our country, I simply plan as go. And I’m loving it!

Computer woes
On May 24, my computer’s hard drive crashed! As I debated what to do, nephew Tim Slater came to my rescue with the offer of a loaner computer to use until I get mine fixed later this year or buy a new one. It arrived last week and now I’m getting you caught up. Since the last time I posted to my blog – about three weeks ago – I have been in Virginia and North Carolina and now I’m in Maryland.

 Adventures in Virginia
Well, actually, only in a small part of Virginia – Abingdon a town in the southwest corner of the state. That’s where a friend, Mary Anne, lives. After 12 years living in her small 21-foot Winnebago, she chose this town because she was interested in joining ElderSpirit, “an intentional community” that is there.

The ElderSpirit website has this to say: "Imagine a Center that would provide a spiritual setting for older ElderSpirit Center, resonating with traditional associations of "elder" with wisdom, leadership, dignity, and ritual."

My friend lives near the community in a lovely apartment. Jeremiah was easily parked in her driveway and I enjoyed three days learning about the community and the town.

Les Miserables was “the musical play of the year” at the historic Barter Theatre. The theatre is 80 years old and was named because attendees in the early years brought things to barter for admittance. The interior of the building is elegant, seats are comfortable.

Another special event was the annual Pearl Alley street fair/yard sale. For 31 years, this multi-block event has been a fundraiser for the local Kiwanis group. It was an enjoyable afternoon with lots of walking.

I was there on Memorial Day and attended the town’s celebration which was focused on the town’s involvement with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Adventures in North Carolina
After leaving Abingdon and driving back through a small corner of Tennessee, I stopped for the night at Green Mountain RV Resort outside of Lenoir, NC. Thanks to my membership in the Passport America RV organization, I only had to pay $29 for the night instead of the regular price of $51! As with many “resort” parks, the RVs were parked shoulder-to-shoulder.

Not willing to spend more than one day in such crowded conditions, I headed east following Highway 64. Seemed like a no-brainer route to go west to east across the state – how difficult could that be?

Silly lady! There were numerous detours and of course I missed some of the signs and fumbled my way east – “losing” the road and then finding it again.

I could not help recalling some travel advice I once read:

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

I had no definite destination except to get close to the Raleigh-Durham area where I would wait several days until friends Nancy and Ed are back from Italy.

With the “gift” of four non-traveling days, I settled into the Parker Creek section of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. I had a spacious campsite and the senior price was only $19 a night. What a great time of reading, loafing, and enjoying the squirrels and birds. I met the campground hosts and enjoyed visiting with them. Below you can see Jeremiah enjoying time off the road and my feet are happy, too - lazy days!

Six Days in Raleigh, North Carolina: Nancy and Ed
And such busy and interesting days. Nancy and I have been friends since April, 15, 1991 when they lived in Oceanside. Jeremiah was parked at the curb in front of their home while I moved into the house with my friends and their three cats. (Sure do miss my Cat!)

My adventures here started with a Durham Bulls baseball game (Triple A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) baseball game, complete with hot dogs and lots of cheering for the home team as they hit home run after home run and beat the Scranton RailRiders.

Another outing was to attend the play “Daddy’s Dying…who has the will?” A super comedy set in the south. Acting was super, dialogue was hilarious, and actors were a perfect fit for the roles.

Nancy and Ed, both tennis players, are members of the Raleigh Racquet Club where we twice had dinner. I met the racquet stringer in the pro shop and met the chef in the dining room. I could see the tennis courts as we had dinner and fond memories of my tennis playing days floated through my head.

Several afternoons we walked around the nearby lake – about three miles counting walking to and from the lake – enjoying the waterfowl. Each day we saw a lone, strange white goose-looking bird, but could not identify it in my bird books. I emailed a photo to Ranger Amy. She told me that it is a Chinese goose that has been brought into our country.

Adventures in Maryland
Two of my San Diego area friends had moved to Maryland – one to the western side of Chesapeake Bay and one to the eastern side. My first stop would be the western one. Before I got there, Jeremiah, Bucky and I had to bravely drive across the tall, tall bridge over the huge Potomac River – a white-knuckle drive for this desert dweller.

Brenda and Ron live in Leonardtown. (my Garmin GPS pronounced it Lee On Ard town!).

Before my time there ended, I had seen miles and miles of water, both from shore and from my ride on Ron’s motorboat that took us throughout several bays and the river. I learned about fish traps, crabbing, nesting ospreys and such. What the locals called creeks look like large rivers and Chesapeake Bay looks like an ocean!

And it rained! Thankfully Jeremiah was happily parked in the driveway and connected to electricity on the stormy days. A most interesting dinner was at an Irish pub – complete with guitar and accordion music and Irish food. I chose to have a vegetable Boxtie – pretty much a stuffed potato ‘pancake’; heavy on the garlic and delicious.

On the day Brenda had to work, I tagged along with Ron (a private pilot) when he drove to the Annapolis area; specifically to the private plane area of BWI airport. He was there to make sure the airplane – A Falcon 50, 9-passenger jet – was ready for its FAA inspection. I was in the hangar and watched it get pushed outside and then I got to be in the plane while Ron went through his checking process.

From the airport we had lunch at a small “Mexican” café – I had a pretty tasty burrito! Didn’t think easterners could cook “Mexican”. Next stop was a boat yard so Ron could check out a sailboat that he might buy.

We spent a day driving around their part of the world. Brenda was born and raised there and Ron has lived in the area a lot – in short, they were walking history books! I met some of her family members (Brenda’s dad had 11 siblings, who still live there) I also met Brenda’s mother, Gladys. She is a most charming person who I’ve added as one of my “adopted mothers”.

On one of our drives, we stopped to walk out a fishing pier – noticed three law enforcement vehicles and saw their occupants about halfway out the pier. Turns out one fisherman did not want the other to use “his” end of the pier. We also stopped at a memorial to the civil war prisoners-of-war camps. Besides the statue in the photo, there are flag poles and state flags from each of the Confederate states.
Loaner computer
One highlight for me was getting my loaner computer and now I’m busy learning Windows 7 and retrieving the “work” from my old computer via my subscription to Carbonite (best $5 a month bargain!).

Chester, Maryland – on Kent Island between the west and east parts of the state, just off the 4-mile-long toll bridge

That’s where friends Ellen and Paul live. I met them when I lived on Palomar Mountain and they had a lavender farm in Valley Center. Now they live in a lovely condo complex in Chester. First evening was Happy Hour at The Bridge restaurant/bar overlooking the bay. Since then, we have been house-bound due to more rain! Tonight is a shindig at a winery. I’ll write more about this adventure stop in my next posting.