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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Calvert Cliffs State Park, MD

Today we decided to take a 5 mile hike around Calvert Cliffs State Park, along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  The terrain was varied, and we saw fresh water bogs, salt water marshes, forests, streams and, of course, the Bay.  One of the streams was dammed by beavers and had become something between a pond and a bog.  As we looked at it, Kathy noticed that turtles were sunning themselves on nearly every log floating in the pond.  There must have been dozens of logs populated with sunning turtles, and each log had a half dozen or more.  Here's a photo of one turtle family (I know, I know, there are only 5 turtles on this log, but a second, large turtle just jumped off before I snapped the photo):

Once we reached the shore of the Bay, we were treated to a beautiful view of the Calvert Cliffs, which stretch each direction from the park.  This view is northward:

Coincidentally, as we arrived, the park ranger and a scientist associate of his arrived on an ATV.  They were tacking up new signs, but as soon as they saw us, they took us out to the beach for a fossil hunt.  Sixteen million years ago, the entire area was deep under ocean, with the result that, especially after storms, the water stirs up a variety of fossils from the bed of the Bay.  Most notable are sharks' teeth and scallop shells.  Here are the fossils the park ranger found for us in the space of about 15 minutes:

On our way back from the beach, we encountered a huge tree that had fallen due to rotting at its base.  The park crews had cut it into sections to clear it from the trail, exposing beautiful sections of trunk with very clearly marked rings:

After hiking, we poked around Solomons Island, at the southern tip of Calvert County on the western shore.  The community is beachy, reminding us somewhat of Cape May, but not nearly as congested, and with more of the flavor of a fishing village.  At the local marine museum, in addition to exhibits of the area's history, geology, ecology, archaeology, fishing and boatmaking industries, there were river otters in a naturalized habitat (very playful!) and the renovated Drum Point lighthouse, known as a "screw-pile lighthouse," consisting of an hexagonal, 3 story cottage standing on six pilings, each hand-screwn into the bed of the Bay, with a fixed  red/white light.  More information on the lighthouse is at, but here is a photo:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Sold the House!

We completed settlement today on the sale of our house. Not the highest price but acceptable. And we read in the news that house prices have still been falling. Amazing (and fortunate) we sold it so quickly!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rosaryville State Park, MD - March 26, 2012

Today dawned sunny and brisk (55F - 60F) with a bit of a wind, so we decided to take a 10 miles dayhike in nearby Rosaryville State Park.  Probably laid out as a bike trail, it is described as "lightly undulating" with no long steep hills - and that is accurate.  There were many ups and downs, and many serpentine cutbacks as the trail attempted to keep a fairly level grade for the bikers.

The highlight of the hike, according to the guide, was a collection of artifacts from a farm that had once been on the property.  We came across this early in the hike, and it was rather novel to see a toaster, some coffee pots, etc., posed on logs by the trail.  However, probably the true highlight of the hike was an old tobacco barn.  As we approached, we saw a handmade sign reading:  "Occupy Upper Marlboro"!  (Upper Marlboro is the local municipality.)  Poking inside, we found a couple tents and some other signs of habitation.  No one was there, so we surmised that it is, perhaps, more of an occasional party sort of occupation rather than primarily a political one.

Shortly past the barn, we found an old, rusted rotary farm tiller or the like, which was interesting.  There were a couple of old abandoned cabins as well.

Over the course of the 4.5 hour hike, we encountered several groups of trail bikers, and four different horses with riders.  One fellow on a large white horse was out with his hunting dog.  We caught a photo of them as they high-tailed it back up the hill across an electric power line easement from us.

We enjoyed crossing some open green fields - first a couple crossings of an electric power line easement, and then some open fields that looked as if someone had constructed some jumps for horses on them.

Finally, as we headed back around the loop trail from lunch, we started seeing lots of trail signs warning bikers of blind curves.  Kathy captured one photo of a "Slow Blind Curve."

Photos of these hike highlights can be found on our Flickr photo site at

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy March Birthdays!

Today we trekked up to Philadelphia from the DC area.  Kathy and David arose at 5:30, got to Matt and Weina's at 7am, and all of us piled into M&W's car to make a very rainy drive to Philadelphia.  On arrival, Matt, Weina and little William paid a visit to William's great-grandmother Irene, and then had lunch with M&W's friends Steve and Ann.  Meanwhile, D&K borrowed Tom's car to head over to the house on Salisbury Road to pick up the remaining furniture and take it to the dump.  All converged on Kathy's sister Barb's house to celebrate the March birthdays:  Tom, Aunt Jane, Barb and Sue.  A wonderful time was had by all, keynoted by Barb's exquisite baking and wokkery.  Little William made an auspicious - if cranky - appearance.  Here's a photo of Drew getting some QBT ("quality baby time"), with Jen, Eileen, Matt - and a partial Sue - looking on:

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Hi Blog! It's Kathy again. We were suppose to babysit this morning, but Matt called at 6:30 a.m. to let us know that he and Weina took William to the hospital. He was running a fever of 104. By they time they called us, William's fever was down and he was getting released. Since they had been up since 4:00 and William was still recovering, Weina decided to cancel her driving lessons for today. So, at 7:00 a.m. Dave and I found we had a day off. We immediatly went back to bed! After we got up the second time, we decided to go into DC. This way, if Weina needed us, we were only a Metro ride away. Being tourists for the day, we picked the Newseum. A very cool (but expensive) museum on the history of news in America. It is over six floors of interactive exhibits. We started at the top floor. The picture is of us standing on the patio. That's the US Capital behind us. All of the exhibits were really well done. The 9-11 and the Berlin Wall exhibits were standouts. It is really a place you could spend the whole day. We finished the day with a local beer from Duclaw Brewery, while roasting pork shops with apples, onion and fennel over a camp fire. William is doing much better. Tomorrow, we are scheduled to babysit again. That's all the news that's fit to print. :) Chat at you later Blog buddies!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Brunch with Mary Lee

Kathy's friend Mary Lee, who lives near D.C., invited Matt, Weina and William to brunch today, and Kathy and David were invited to tag along.  We all had a wonderful time over omelettes, pancakes, bacon, grits and other scrumptious dishes, and Mary Lee and William had a chance to bond.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

DC in Blossom

The cherry blossoms came early to Washington, DC - so early that the annual Cherry Blossom Festival may not even start before the blossoms are gone.  Today we took the Metro into the city and became tourists.  We toured the U.S. Capitol Building, caught the National Geographic Museum, soaked up the sun and cherry blossoms alongside the Tidal Basin across from the Jefferson Memorial, and encountered the MLK Memorial.  Oh, yes, and we also lunched and dined at a notable brewpub and a great beer bar.  See a few photos from the trip on our Flicker site at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day Hike in Jug Bay Natural Area - Chesapeake Bay, MD

On Wednesday morning, March 14, we decided to stretch our legs and do a 5-6 miles day hike in the Jug Bay Natural Area, which is not far from our campground.  The trail covers a wide variety of topography, from marshes and wetlands along Jug Bay and the Patuxent River, to hills and ridges with mountain laurel, birch, maple and other vegetation.

Here's Kathy, examining cypress knees in the swampy area:

The natural area also has a village of reconstructed cabins and other buildings from 18th, 19th and early 20th Century, including, most curiously, an original Sears Simplex Cottage and outhouse, which were prefabricated by Sears, ordered through its catalog, and the pieces delivered by train to the nearest train station.  Then a carpenter could construct the entire structure in a day or two.

Here's a photo of the exterior:

The cottage consists of three rooms:  a kitchen, a parlor and a bedroom.  Here's a photo of the interior:

By and large, the trees haven't begun to leaf out or bud, so we're hoping to get back to the area in April and see how it all looks in full bloom!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baxter's First Day Out

The weather is warmer and Baxter finally screwed up the courage to go beyond the RV steps and reach the ground. He lasted 5 minutes outside, poking around the front of the RV and over by the picnic table. Flip and Lucky had to keep their eyes on him. We think they were hoping Baxter would run away.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bikes and Rugby in DC

The last few days passed with a calm rhythm.

Thursday, March 8, we visited Weina to help babysit William while she took her driving lessons.  Then, after lunch, we all went shopping.  We wound up the day sharing a nice dinner with them and Matt.

We spent Friday, March 9, being domestic, and actually took a full 5 hours to plan and make reservations for our campground itinerary from mid-April through Memorial Day.

Saturday, March 10, was a beautiful, sunny day, though chilly.  We decided to try a trip into DC with our bicycles.  We drove the truck to the nearby metro station, parked for free (on weekends), and rolled our bicycles onto the metro for a ride to L'Enfant Plaza, where, after a yummy lunch of pizza, we cycled through DC streets over to the Jefferson Memorial and down to the bottom of Hains Point, a peninsula of land that juts out into the Potomac River due East from Reagan International Airport.  The day was brilliant and the air clear, and we had spectacular views of Alexandria down the river, as well as Fort McNair to the East of us.

The occasion was a rugby match between Matt's team and another DC area team.  We haven't seen a full rugby match in a couple years, so we enjoyed watching the competition.

After the match, we talked a while with Matt and some fellow teammates, then hopped on our bikes for the trip home.  We found it easy enough that it encouraged us to plan more trips into DC to bicycle around and view the upcoming cherry blossoms.

That evening, we drove into Annapolis to participate in a Craft Beer Pub Crawl.  It was an adventure finding a parking spot for the big diesel truck, but we found one.  After a light dinner, we hopped around to four local historic pubs with our tour leader and five other participants.  Two were a mother and daughter from Annapolis, who had suggestions for future visits we make there.  The other three were young people originally from Pennsylvania.  One woman is starting her medical residency.  Another, an occupational therapist, had spent some years in Portland, Oregon, where David grew up, and even had lived near and knew all of his childhood haunts, including his elementary school, his childhood home, and some parks in the area.

Today, March 11, we did some Spring cleaning, Skyped with Katie, and cooked steak and Brussels sprouts over a campfire, enjoying warm (60F), sunny, clear spring weather!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Additional Thoughts on Mount Vernon

I recently had the chance to read, "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow, which I found quite moving because, while it traced his whole public life and the intertwined history of the Revolutionary War, the book actually gave more attention to what his correspondence - and that of others - reveal about his personality and personal life.  The book makes vividly clear how central a role Mount Vernon played in Washington's life, and demonstrates in many ways the truth of a famous quote of Washington:

"I can truly say I had rather be at home at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the seat of government by the officers of State and the representatives of every power of Europe."

This quotation is displayed on the wall of the Visitors Center at Mount Vernon, and when I saw it as Kathy and I arrived, I felt that the Ladies Association that owns and preserves Mount Vernon clearly has worked hard at trying to bring us closer to Washington, the person, by showing us his home.  As Kathy and I toured the mansion and walked the grounds, I recalled echoes of his biography and remembered what Chernow discovered in Washington's own feelings and experiences regarding various parts of the estate.

Here are three other photos of Mount Vernon that capture something of what we experienced:  The first is a view of the mansion itself, then a view of the Potomac and the famous old oak tree from the mansion, and finally, a view of the Mount Vernon wharf on the Potomac, with a small fishing boat to the left of the dock.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mount Vernon

Hi Blog.  It's Kathy.  I know, Dave usually posts, but I'm taking a turn. Today we visited Mount Vernon.  We wanted to start early so we had time after our tour to bicycle from Mount Vernon into Alexandria for lunch.  There is a bike trail that runs along the Potomac River all the way from Mount Vernon, through Alexandria, to DC.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Little did we know that Wednesday, March 7, 2012, was the day all the school field trips were scheduled.  When we arrived at 8:45 a.m., there was already a line to get in.  We later learned they were expecting 700 school children. The buses just kept coming.  Once we entered, a very nice docent advised us to skip the intro video the kids were lining up for and go right to the Mansion for the tour.  Best advice we ever received.  It was great. We were the first folks to go through - just to the two of us. Each room has its own docent that goes over the contents.  About halfway through the Mansion, you could hear the kids coming. Dave and I just finish the last room, when the kids caught up to us.  The grounds are large and Washington's tomb is not far from the Mansion.  We ran into another really nice docent, who ask if we wanted to participate in the wreath laying ceremony, which they only do on special occasions like for visiting foreign dignitaries and Washington's Birthday and the invasion of 700 school children. They open the gate around the tomb and place a wreath between George and Martha's tombs.  Here is the prayer that I was asked to read aloud to the group watching.

It was very cool.  We had to sign a register and everything.  We felt like visiting dignitaries!  Dave took this picture just after the ceremony.
After the tour, we met up with a fellow AMC member, David and his two college age kids, Zach and Gabby.  They rode with us into Alexandria pointing out all the landmarks and giving us great ideas for lunch. They continued onto DC, while we stopped for lunch. Gabby spoke highly of the restaurant where she works, Virtue Feed & Grain - 20 beers on tap and twice as many bottles.  That's all we needed to hear.  It was a very cool place, an old converted warehouse that use to store, you guessed it, feed and grain. The beers were great and the food even better.  We had no problem burning off the beer on the ride back.  They don't call it "Mount" Vernon for nothing.  Got to go.  We have to get up really early to babysit our grandson while his Mom takes driving lessons.

Chat at you later,


Monday, March 5, 2012

Ladies and Baby

Today was a doctor's appointment for little William.  Here are two photos of him at the clinic with Weina and Kathy.  If he doesn't look like he's upset, it's because he's not.  He enjoyed himself and laughed and played the whole time.  When do we learn to hate the doctor's office?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)

Today we joined fellow Appalachian Mountain Club members for a tour of SERC and a hike around its large grounds in Maryland south of Annapolis.  The ecology of their grounds is quite diverse.  A former tobacco plantation, the grounds sit on the Rhode River, an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay, in southern Anne Arundel County.

It was fun to meet up with some other hikers, and the work of SERC is fascinating.  We had great weather and our 5-mile hike was quite pleasant, in and out of woods, up and down hills, and along the water.

Here are some photos from our outing.  The ruins you see are the remains of the plantation house, which was built in the 1700's.

You can learn more about SERC by visiting its website at

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bicycling Around Annapolis

Today was a gorgeous day in the DC area:  65F or so, and sunny, with a light breeze.  We decided to bicycle around Annapolis, and Kathy found a bicycle tour guide on  We drove into Annapolis, parked the truck, and hopped on our bikes.  Here's Kathy at the gateway to this pretty city:
We bicycled all over historic Annapolis, but were turned away at the gate to the Naval Academy (presumably for general security reasons, not because we were being disruptive).  We stopped for a latte at The Annapolis Bookstore, a comfy, quaint used book shop and cafe near State Circle.  After biking around the marinas and down Dock Street and over the Compromise Street Bridge, we lunched at the Carroll's Creek Cafe, having our first taste of Pepe Nero, a dark Belgian style farmhouse ale brewed with peppercorns by Goose Island.  Then it was off and about through all the neighborhoods, cruising past mansions and modest houses along the water, and finally to Quiet Waters Park, which is a beautiful large swatch of ground South of the main historic district and marinas.  The high point of the park is the South River Overlook:
Then back we pedaled, through town, to our truck and home.

By popular demand, we post photos of our campfire cookout out backa the RV.  Kathy caught David lounging by the fire --

-- and David caught a photo of the beginnings of dinner:  Brussels Sprouts grilling over a campfire at sundown (chicken tenders to be added before serving):

Quiet Waters Park is Not So Quiet

If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 1 million. More on our Annapolis bike ride later, but this is a scene we encountered at a beautiful park on the South River.