Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chesapeake Beach

Maryland is a vastly diverse State. We have the mountains, we have the ocean, and we have the Chesapeake Bay. For those who do not know, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the world. It effects a number of things in our State from politics to the weather. For about half the State, it drastically effects our culture. All over the world they serve Maryland crab cakes. 
The water of the Chesapeake comes from 5 different States besides Maryland. For many Marylanders, 'going down the shore' has been a tradition for generations. My in-laws were kind enough to take us down the shore for a weekend vacation in Chesapeake Beach.

Sailing is a huge deal here. There are many races on the weekends but the biggie is the Annapolis to Oxford Race. My father in law took 1st place in his class when he used to own a sailboat in the 80's. We did not realize it was going on, but the race came right through our fishing spot. It was a blast to have them coming by us. We caught a mess of spot that day. We caught so many we were giving them away to other fisherman.

We spent a good part of the day on Solomons Island seeing the Calvert Marine Museum. I put a lot of links which I suspect many do not check out. This however,  is one you should check out.  I love small museums and seek them out. This one has been on my list for years and I regret not going sooner. It was stellar. The image above is from the lower deck of the Cove Point light house that was moved to the museum and restored. Why I did not take a photo of it's entirety is beyond me. This form of screw pile light house is unique to the waters of the Chesapeake.

I will rely on the image I snagged off the internet instead.

Built during a time when people took great pride in what they did, the craftsmanship put into this structure is phenomenal.

It sports a Fresnel lens. Unfortunately the lighthouse no longer keeps boats off of the shoals.

I guess if it was still at work, I would never get to see it up close and personal like this.

The museum has an excellent representation of many boats developed to work the various fisheries of the Chesapeake. 

I love seeing a Skipjack up close. These sleek powerful boats were used for many years on the Bay. There were thousands of them once upon a time. A handful still operate today dragging the bottom for oysters using nothing but the wind for power. This is a very traditional and unfortunately dying fishery. The skipjack are allowed one day a week to dredge using a push boat. This is basically a row boat with a huge motor in it that pushes the skipjack to increase it's power. 

I once again lifted this image as an example.

If you know anything about how a hull works, you will instantly recognize the hydrodynamics of this little sail boat. It would scream across the water even in a light breeze.

This type of boat is called a beaver tail, ducktail, or more commonly; a Hoopers Island drake tail. There are two in the collection. If I were to own a boat, this would be my boat of choice. Not fast, not fancy, but able to go out under any condition. These boats were also very common on the Bay but now just a handful remain.

I want to highly recommend that if you can, come visit the Calvert Marine Museum. It is a fascinating place. You will learn all about the geology, ecology, and the history of this region of America. I wish I had not waited all these years to stop in.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I thrive on "paying it forward". Some of my friends really get this concept. Today a bag of New Mexico chiles came from Hatch, via El Paso. I was so moved to say the least, since this year we were not able to make it to the Land of Enchantment to resupply on green chiles. I was astounded to find an entire sack showed up at the shop today.

I got right onto roasting. 3 hour of it...

Pure vitamin C there. Pure heaven. Thank you Mike. I owe you big time! I might have to send some crab cakes your way...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Eng i Land 3 of...

For some reason, this musical selection seemed fitting for this much delayed post. Enjoy if you want to. 

On our Grand Maine tour we took a boat ride. One morning we all got up early and made a bee line for the town of Boothbay Harbor. I lived in Boothbay Harbor in 1987 and apprenticed for a potter there. Every so often I feel the need to return. The return however was to catch a boat to Monhegan Island

Monhegan is a Mecca of sorts for painters and writers. They go way out to sea to take in inspiration and soak in the solitude. The solitude is broken daily by three ferry services that dock and discharge a few artists and writers along with a few hundred tourists like us. Tourists wander the island foot paths and take in the charm of old Monhegan. Many just shop since shopping is relaxation to some. Most get back on the boat three hours after they get off.

The place is very picturesque. There are no cars here. There are however many 4x4 pick up trucks owned by the various guest houses and inns. They use them to ferry the guests to and from the ferry. I visited Monhegan in 1987 and thought very little would have changed. It seemed very different this time. When here then, the island seemed very disconnected from both modern society and the main land. Now both seem ever present. When here last, I felt I had stepped off the boat into the 19th century. The harbor used to full of lobster boats, now there are just a few mixed in with the power boats and sail boats.

The cell coverage was excellent much to my disappointment since right behind me is a giant verizon cell tower. Monhegan was where people went to disconnect from modern life. It was where you went to slow down and take the natural world in. Now many commercial establishments have signs  announcing they offer WiFi. There is espresso and wood fired pizza if you want it. I also could not help notice every building had electric now. To my left is a big building hidden from view. It houses the oil fired generator that has brought the island into the 21st century. There is a major debate over two wind mills they want to build to generate electric instead of using oil.

The light house does still flash it's warning to ships at sea. At least the light house remains the same. The Keeper may not have to fill the lamp with whale oil, but it still sends out it warning that a big hunk of rock sits 50 miles out at sea.