One of the things Dana looks for in a town is a cool bookstore. Preferably one that’s full of mysteries. She popped in to the punny and possibly world-famous “Mystery Loves Company” Saturday morning.
Not only was this place Dana’s kind of quirky, but the owner hooked her up with a book not readily available elsewhere. That’s like turning on your TV and watching the final season of Yellowstone even though it doesn’t come out until November 7. We already liked Oxford, but bumped it up few notches on the list before heading off down the Tred Avon for Cambridge.
Cambridge actually required about eleven miles of going in exactly the wrong direction for our intended arrival in New York, but we couldn’t very well let some waterspouts control our destiny. Plus the weather was decent so we were in good moods.
Shortly before reaching the point where boats hail the marina for docking instructions, we passed a giant yellow ball with a West Marine ad on it. Very weird, but we saw it too late to get the camera out. The West Marine ball wasn’t the only weird thing we encountered though. As we pulled into the marina, we had to dodge weird looking skinny boats being hip-towed out.
Turns out they’re called “log canoes,” and they have sails despite sounding like something Pocahontas might’ve paddled out to meet John Smith before she was was turned into a white woman. Log canoes are big on the Chesapeake Bay, and we bumbled into one of the several races held in these parts.
The freeboard on these suckers approaches zero, so they can’t be dry. Which means they can’t be fun, although the folks aboard seemed in good spirits. Doug rushed around to get the drone up but was foiled by pesky FAA geofencing. Anyway, most of these boats are a hundred years old, plus or minus a few years, and pass down through the generations like granny’s silverware and china. Later on—after applying our powers of deduction to the circumstances—we figured out that those West Marine balls might possibly have been race markers.
Geography-wise, Cambridge is on the Choptank River. Which explains the Choptank River Lighthouse. Since we came up it, the river somewhat obviously feeds into Chesapeake Bay. Which explains all the Chesapeake deadrise crabbing boats.
History-wise, Cambridge is famous for slavery-related stuff, good and bad. The marina, for example, is hard by the place where slaves were off-loaded and traded. The Dorchester County Courthouse still stands, although not-surprisingly the slave auction pens that once were in front of it are long-gone.
Harriet Tubman was born just down the road, did much of her railroading through the area, and rescued several family members from auctions at this very courthouse. Which is why the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center with the cool mural on the back wall is located in Cambridge.
But of course we were there on a Sunday. The Harriet Tubman Museum is closed on Sundays.
The one of us who enjoys Indian food is the one of us who walked to the delicious-sounding Bombay Tadka for lunch. Bombay Tadka is closed on Sundays. Lots of other options in town, but none with shrimp vindaloo.
Fortunately the one of us who enjoys poking around in the little shops is the one of us who found some little shops open, so things worked out. For one of us. But Cambridge is very cool. We’ll stop again next time through Chesapeake Bay.
Although Oxford and Cambridge were awesome, time for the trifecta. Back down the Choptank yesterday morning, heading for St. Michaels. No yellow balls to dodge, and although at the start we encountered unexpected waves, we cranked up John Denver on Pandora and ignored the spray that reached the flybridge. It’s a long way from this place to Denver, but we’re happy to be in this part of the Bay, especially after the waves started cooperating.
Because we have great memories from our family trips to St. Michaels, rounding the corner at the harbor entrance felt like going home.
St. Michaels was the first place Doug flew the first drone—which some readers may recall was murdered by dirty, rotten, drone-killing-tree-planters, in Rogersville, Alabama—so it seemed fitting to send up its replacement as the sun was setting. Where’s Waldo?
Anyone who can spot Tumbleweed might notice the Prestige and the Azimut right behind her. The former is She Said Yes. The latter is Knot Divorce. We find it noteworthy when two adjacent boats both are somewhere on the continuum between marital bliss and an episode of Forensic Files.
As town mottos go, St. Michaels’ motto is high on the list. Not only is it unique, it’s also more factually accurate than, say, Grafton’s claim to be “The Key West of the Midwest.”
During the War of 1812, those pushy Limeys pushed a barge of cannons into the harbor under cover of darkness. The St. Michaelsers were tipped off, however, and put out every light source in the town. The cannoneers then wasted all their artillery shooting at lanterns hanging in trees well behind any valuable targets, and the next morning left empty-handed. Only one cannonball hit a house, which not-surprisingly now is known to history as “Cannonball House.” “And to think that we saw it on Mulberry Street.”
A town that has a “Cannonball House” is cool and all, but an Old Bay store and a place that sells Christmas what-nots all year-round would make it incredible. Yup, St. Michaels.
Anyway, Oxford, Cambridge, and St. Michaels, are a great threesome. From here, we’re now planning just one new stop before Long Island Sound. Penn’s Landing basically said if we came to Philadelphia we’d have to sit on mud in four feet of water, so we declared our independence by deciding to give it a skip. That leaves only Georgetown and a bunch of familiar places that can’t be avoided on the run to New York, although we do like Delaware City and Cape May.