Sunday, October 11, 2009

Enjoying the Southern Maryland life...

So, today we headed to Southern Maryland to Solomon’s Island for Patuxent River Appreciation Days(or at least one of them).
It was a spectacularly beautiful day. The two hour drive went smoothly and we only missed one turn by a single block! (We’ve taken more than one round-about route to this destination in the past.)

Actually there was a second wrong turn but it actually turned out to be a shortcut. I should have been in one of the two left-turn lanes but found myself in the far right lane where I needed to exit unless I wanted to travel on across the river and have to make a u-turn and come back across the bridge. (Yep, been there, done that before.) Turns out the “wrong” turn dropped me within a block of the parking lot entrance with only one car ahead of me. Those who made the left, ended up merging into one lane and creeping for about a mile to the same driveway entrance. The sweet traffic policeman let us into the lot after only waiting for about 5 of those “left laners”! Saved us lots of time!
The first interesting sight we came across was this Colonial couple. Who knew our forefathers drove hybrids? I guess even then they were concerned about our natural resources!
This event is held on the property of the Calvert Marine Museum and includes maritime displays and hands-on exhibits by the museum, the Coast Guard, numerous state agencies that deal with the waterways and the marshland critters, etc. The museum is open and there is an actual, historic lighthouse (The Drum Point Lighthouse) that has been moved to this location for visitors to see up close and personal. There are a number of make-it take-it activities for children. About 30-35 artists and craftsmen display their work and a number of food vendors are present. There is live music throughout the festival and this year even featured wine tastings from a local winery. We arrived just as folks were starting to stake out their claims to seats along the parade route.
It has been a few years since we’ve been to this event. It has decreased in size, taking up a lot less acreage. There used to be about twice the number of craft booths and lots more food vendors. I also remember the food as being a bit more unique compared to other festivals. The food was somewhat limited today and definitely run-of-the-mill. (We only grabbed a nibble there and then picked up a pizza on the way home - definitely unusual for us.) We’ve always enjoyed watching some of the water contests and demos but they took place yesterday, replaced by the parade today.

The crafts were well juried, of excellent quality and originality. More on these in another post. Suffice it to say, it was the place to shop for anything featuring the Chesapeake blue crab, Great Blue Herons or any other local aquatic life.

One of the most popular activities was boat building. Little folk and Granddads, too, could make their own little wooden boats! There was a crowd at this work area!

In another tented area, kids (and a few adults) were given the opportunity to decorate pottery by painting terracotta flower pots with designs limited only by their own imaginations.
We left while the parade was still going on, scooting across the street just a block or so ahead of them before pedestrians were blocked from crossing. Our normal exit was blocked by the parade so we were forced to cross the bridge, make a u-turn and come back on the upper roadway. (As I stated earlier, we’ve been across that bridge before, but not intentionally!) That didn’t hurt our feelings in the least. The view from the bridge is spectacular. I simply pointed the camera out the open window and clicked repeatedly. It’s hard not to catch a beautiful scene there! The 1 1/2 mile long Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge crosses the lower portion of the Patuxent River and rises 135 feet in the air. It is both a beam bridge and an arch bridge.

On the way down there, we discussed the fact that we used to go to this event each year and wondered why we hadn’t been in a while. We spent two hours driving to the event, two hours coming home and only about an hour wandering the event. On the upside, admission was free, we only spent about $25 on food and beers for each of us and used about $10 in gas. I guess we may go back again - in 5 or 6 years.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that I ate something different at yesterday's Grilling Competition. The anything-on-a-stick category featured an entry of goat meat on a skewer! I liked the flavor but, unfortunately, it was overcooked to the point of toughness. (Another judge who was familiar with goat meat advised it is normally a tender meat with a pork-like texture. ) I also learned that goat is the most eaten red meat in the world!

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