Our London friends had a great March trip to the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, including Annapolis, St. Michaels and Easton, which has inspired us to visit the area sometime soon during our next visit to Washington DC. They stayed in a rustic airbnb cottage in Claiborne, on the water near St. Michaels. (And got very lucky with the weather, which cooperated!) They enjoyed the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Park in the area.
Here’s some suggestions from our friend Nell who lived in the area!
Cantlers Riverside Inn,South of Annapolis ( close to Bay Bridge on way to Eastern Shore)
Pier Street Marina in Oxford,
Crab Claw in St. Michaels next to Maritime Museum
Harris Crab House in Grasonville , near Kent Narrows ( after you cross Bay Bridge to Eastern Shore).
Harrison’s Chesapeake Restaurant – historical old place on on an narrow peninsula that sticks out into bay. Interesting views, Tilghman Island. (West of St. Michael’s)
Tidewater Inn in Easton- historical inn and restaurant
Also- Annapolis best for walking- harbor town on Bay.
Two important walking circles- Church Circle and State Circle.
Naval Academy is right off town, facing harbor.
Can get to Cantlers – the back way ( instead if Rte. 50) and then continue over Bay Bridge. Annapolis also has lots of old taverns . Check to see if Cantlers is open in March.
Bethlehem has two interesting and very different attractions – the lovely old campus of Moravian College, with fieldstone and red brick buildings and gravestones dating back to the mid 1700’s and Steel Stacks, the former Bethlehem Steel factory — a massive hulking pile of rusted steel stacks and crumbling brick buildings that has been transformed into a destination with a hotel/casino, movie theaters, event space, tours, a local PBS station headquarters. I’d love to return and take the steel tour.
The skies gradually cleared and we had a glorious drive through the Pennsylvania countryside, past PA Dutch stone houses and barns, small towns with row houses lining the street, Amish buggies pulled by trotting shiny horses, rolling fields of corn,and soybeans.
First stop was Grim’s Apple Orchard just south of Allentown in Breinigsville, PA where I just missed the Mutsu/crispin harvest (oct. 14) but got some excellent honeycrisps. On to Manheim , a small Lancaster County town where we visited my aunt’s college friend Mary, who lives in an old farm house where she grew up, now surrounded, oddly, by a used car dealership.
She and her daughter Beth took us to see the family cottage in nearby Mt. Gretna (Lebanon county) which turned out to be in the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, a summer colony of charming old cottages with wrap around porches tucked into the woods near a small lake, with a few educational/cultural buildings including a theater and a “hall of philosophy.”
It reminded me a bit of the Chautauqua we stayed at in Boulder. Mary’s cottage was lovely, very rustic and old-fashioned, sort of stuck in time. It has been in her family for 75 years and someone else’s before that. The whole community is 126 years old. My aunt used to hang out with Mary and other friends there in the 1950s and she was delighted to be back. We sat in old rocking chairs on the porch in the shade and enjoyed the peace, quiet and each other’s company. Isn’t that what porches are for?
Onto the small charming Lancaster County town of Lititz, where we sat in a small shady park by a river and watched the ducks and young Amish couples (some in surprisingly contemporary duds) strolling by. We had a delicious late lunch at the Tomato Pie Cafe. (We ate spinach and artichoke tomato pie – sort of akin to quiche, minus the egg custard but with baked cheese.) We didn’t get to see much of the town, but it looked lovely. I’d like to return. We also picked up some locally made Wilbur chocolates to give as gifts.
MAT and I took backroads all the way to Emmaus, where we had another lovely dinner with my cousin Ed, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Sarah plus two friends driving through in their enormous motorhome. We drove through towns with names including Brickerville, Reamstown, kutztown and East Texas. I’d love to come back and check out Lancaster, which has been likened to Brooklyn of late, and old PA Amish towns like Intercourse, Paradise and Blue Ball.
Last night I had the best hamburger at Bolete, in a lovely old stone house that used to be a stagecoach stop, outside Bethlehem. This has been such a great trip, in so many ways.
We drove through grey skies and drizzle north thru the Poconos to Scranton so my aunt could visit an old friend from college. The drive was pretty, weather notwithstanding, and the leaves are starting to change. (I am told they are late this year.)
I did a little exploring on my own, driving through downtown Scranton which I know little about except that it was the fictional location of the classic TV comedy, The Office. There are some great old hulking stone and brick buildings but didn’t see much reason to stop so I went to nearby Nay Aug (that’s not a typo) park, which has a waterfall and gorge. I met a nice young woman who was hiking around and she led me along the muddy trail to the falls, which were impressive, especially since there has been so much rain in the area. It wasn’t quite Ithaca quality but not bad. Ithaca was only 2 hours north (so near and yet so far….)
I also stopped at the lackawanna coal mine museum which has a rustic tour down into a mine that one website described as a good way to learn about how terrible coal miners lives were. No thank you. Too claustrophobia- inducing but did look like a cool attraction and is a biggie here.
Easton is looking pretty good. Always a little ragged around the edges even though I love it dearly, (this is, after all, my mother’s hometown and where I spent summers with my grandma at her red brick row house), Easton seems to be remaking itself as a funky arts and culinary destination. So much so that we won’t be going to the farmers market around the circle downtown tomorrow because the annual garlic fest is on tap and draws some 20,000 people. Too many for us.
Aunt MAT and I dropped by the family touchstones – 101 N. 8th Street (Grama Betty’s house which still isn’t looking so good), my Great-Grandfather Louis’s house (and later my Great Aunt Sylvia’s house) on 2nd Street, which still looks lovely.
We finally found my grandparents’ gravestones, along with many great aunts and uncles (Sylvia, Nathan, Jeanette, Libby…) in a remote corner of the Easton cemetery. We could see cars whizzing by on RT. 22). We spotted the new Easton Public Market on Northampton Street, which looks pretty cool, and some vintage clothing shops and boutiques. The Caramel Corn Shop is still on the circle.
We drove along the river road, RT 611, that curves along the Delaware, past the occasional lovely stone house and barn. Also drove along an interior country road trying to find remnants of the summer camp I went to as a kids — Camptown. I love the countryside here. Very rolling, winding and green, with the leaves starting to change.
Great grandpa Louis’s house/later great aunt Sylvia’s
We had a delicious lunch at an Italian import store run by one of my aunt’s former 3rd grade students, now age 68, called Pastaceria, which has a chef recently arrived from Rome who made delicious fresh pasta — Ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach, with a butter sage sauce.
Tonight we went to an old club, The Pomfret in downtown Easton with 5 of my aunts former students and some spouses. They came from Kansas , Oregon, Florida. Alabama and made a big fuss over my aunt, which was really sweet. My aunt was really touched. Special night for us all.
I walked along Main Street in Bethlehem, which has some interesting shops including The Steel Beam, with industrial chic artwork. The city is wisely marketing its faded industrial era, with lots of odes to Bethlehem Steel. Then there are the charming 18th. Century stone buildings, many part of Moravian College.
Amazing to be back in this corner of the world where my mom, my Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Tom grew up and where I spent many summers as a child visiting my beloved Grama Betty in Easton. Aunt Mary Ann and I haven’t been to Easton yet. We landed at ABE ((Allentown, Bethlehem Easton) airport in eastern Pennsylvania after a quick trip from Chicago (an hour 20 min.) and drove pretty winding backroads lined with tall trees and the occasional beautiful old Carmel-colored stone house to My cousin Ed’s House in Emmaus. We had a lovely dinner with his great family (wife Elizabeth, daughter Sarah, brothers Joseph and James) and then drove a very roundabout way to Bethlehem and this historic hotel Bethlehem which oozes character. I rarely stay at hotels anymore (no more business trips) so this a treat, with valet parking and bellhops and a friendly woman at the desk and chocolates on the pillow of the enormous bed, next to the waffle cotton robe. I think I am going to like it here. Can’t wait to explore Bethlehem and to visit Easton again, especially with my aunt who is full of old family stories that I am trying to jot down soon after she tells them.
At O’Hare, I should mention that we had excellent (if overpriced) poke at seafood sushi place in the terminal. I could get used to aunt MAT’s style of travel (if I had the budget…)
We had a very nautical day in Maine – on our drive back to Portland from Camden, starting with a visit to the Pemaquid Point Light House — the one that was noteworthy enough to land on Maine’s state quarter. We took the long, scenic road from Damariscotta, which went along the coast although you’d never know it. We were surrounded by trees. It was a tight squeeze climbing up the few steps inside the lighthouse with my broken arm but worth it for the view. We could see all the say to Monhegan Island, ten miles away, which we were told is unusual.
buying Treats in Wiscasset
In Wiscasset, we got some cheese and homemade bagels and pretzels at Treats, a bakery/food store in an old building on the main street (not far from where people were lined up outside Red’s) and had a picnic overlooking the water on the dock of the modest (by yacht club standards) Wiscassett Yacht Club.
We arrived in Portland in time to take the 2:45 Casco Bay Mail Ferry which goes to several islands and offers a great view back at the city of Portland. It was bit overcast and drizzled a little but a good ride, although we’re a bit spoiled after our Norway fjord ferry rides. On the way to stay with our friend Lisa from Wichita, we stopped near the ferry terminal at Standard Bakery to pick up some goodies for dinner. Lisa lives in Cousin’s Island, technically in Yarmouth, and we had a lovely reunion (after 30 plus years). She walked us over to her beach at sunset and then cooked us lobsters (plopped wriggling into hot water) with corn on the cob.