Memorial Day 2022

This page is my blog about my visit to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware where Norma, Daphne, and I did a plethora of outdoor activities.

The photo above is from our May 29, 2022 visit to Still Pond Creek.

 Saturday, May 28, 2022

Paddle to see the DoveOpen accordion icon
Norma, Daphne, and I were up at 0430. We left the house at 0540 and then drove out to Saint Michaels, Maryland to see the Maryland Dove, a reproduction of the vessel that accompanied the first European settlers to Maryland in 1634. This tall ship will be moved at the end of August to replace the existing Dove reproduction in Historic Saint Mary's City. For more information, see CBMM - Maryland Dove launched into Miles River.

Norma wasn't feeling great so upon arrival, she stayed in the car and took a nap while Daphne and I launched from Saint Michaels City Dock and paddled only about a quarter of a mile out to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) to see the Dove, which was moored on the south side.
Daphne and I on the SUP in Saint Michaels

By far the best views of the Dove were from the water in the morning sun. It was overcast on the drive up but as soon as we arrived, the sun came out. I got a very up-close and personal view of the ship.
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The upper part of the rudder
Upper part of rudder.
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A view from under the bow
Under the bow.
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Looking at the well-lit starboard side
Starboard side.
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Half starboard and half bow view
My favorite view.
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A furled sail
Furled sail.

At the museum, I saw the smallest boat with the biggest motor. Greg W. informed me it is a pusher boat. The rules for oystering from a skipjack are that they cannot use motors to dredge. however, they can use pusher boats to get them to the oyster beds. I guess it is like a personal tug boat.
Pusher boat

A water snake swam along my SUP. Daphne was rather curious about it.
Water snake next to my SUP

I don't think I paddled more than 0.75 mile. I got all the pictures I wanted and was back to the launch site in an hour.
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Saint MichaelsOpen accordion icon
The three of us walked through town and made our way to the Saint Michaels farmers market where we purchased some baked goods. They had live music.
Saint Michaels farmers market

We walked on some of the quieter back roads and then had brunch at Crepes by the Bay, a place Norma really likes.

Next, we visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and got a slightly different view of the Dove.
Saint Michaels farmers market

Here's Norma and Daphne at the museum, next to the capstan from the America, a 450-horsepower steam tug boat that operated in Baltimore from 1920 to 1960.
A capstan is a vertical-axled rotating machine developed for use on sailing ships to multiply the pulling force of seamen when hauling ropes, cables, and hawsers.
- from Wikipedia - Capstan (nautical)
Norma and Daphne next to the capstan from the America

I found a couple soft kayak landing sites at the museum boat landing. I hesitate to call them real launch sites because it would be so inconvenient to have to cart your boat from the parking lot. But if you wanted to paddle from a different location and them enjoy the museum for a few hours, this is a good spot to land.
Soft boat landing

In the Steamboat Building, we attended their Dove Tails exhibit which examines the sources that reveal the history, construction, and cultural significance of the various Dove ships. Dogs weren't allowed in this building so Norma and I took turns while the other stayed outside with Daphne.

I briefly checked out their dock party, just to see what was going on. Dogs were not allowed at the dock party so we didn't stick around.
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Chestertown Tea PartyOpen accordion icon
We drove north to Chestertown to attend the Chestertown Tea Party, which had been on a two year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. Unfortunately, dogs were not permitted so the plan was for us to watch things from the water.

The Chestertown Tea Party was a protest against British excise duties which, according to local legend, took place in May 1774 in Chestertown, Maryland as a response to the British Tea Act. Chestertown tradition holds that, following the example of the more famous Boston Tea Party, colonial patriots boarded the brigantine Geddes in broad daylight and threw its cargo of tea into the Chester River. The event is celebrated each Memorial Day weekend with a festival and historic reenactment called the Chestertown Tea Party Festival.
- from Wikipedia - Chestertown Tea Party

At the Truslow/Hodson Boat House, we found parking for the tea party and launched. Norma chose to stay on land so she walked, while Daphne and I were on the SUP. We paddled out amongst the crowd and then picked a good vantage point.

The event commenced but it took awhile for the reenactors to get to the water. There was lots of gunfire as the British fired at the patriots who marched east on High Street and then launched rowboats. On the water, they made their way to the schooner Sultana, which filled in for the brigantine Geddes.
Launched in 2001, the Sultana Education Foundation's namesake schooner SULTANA is a reproduction of a Boston-built merchant vessel that served for four years as the smallest schooner ever commissioned in the British Royal Navy. The modern SULTANA sails as a school ship, taking more than 4,500 students out onto the Chesapeake Bay each year for hands-on programs in environmental science and history. SULTANA sails with school systems around the Chesapeake, regularly sailing from ports including Chestertown, Annapolis, Baltimore, St. Michaels, Cambridge, Oxford, Solomons, and Crisfield.
- from Sultana Education Foundation - Schooner Sultana
Port side of the Sultana

On May 23, 1774, a group of Chestertown citizens, undisguised and in broad daylight, boarded the brigantine Geddes and threw its cargo of tea into the Chester River.
- from The Historical Markers Database - Chestertown
Tea being thrown overboard

Daphne was not pleased with all the gunfire, which came from both muskets and cannons on the ship. I wonder if that is part of the reason why dogs are not permitted at the tea party. I held her tightly and covered her ears while the cannons shot.

We got a mix of sun and rain during the event, which was packed with a multitude of attendees. But that didn't lessen their enthusiasm. Everyone cheered when the tea was thrown overboard.

Each year in May since 1968, Chestertown, Maryland, has celebrated its historic role in our nation’s fight for independence from Britain.
- from Nabb Research Center Online Exhibits - Chestertown Tea Party: Fact or Fiction?
Patriots claiming victory

Some historians point out that [while] the Geddes did dock at Chestertown in May of 1774, no historical records of a tea-based revolt have been found. "The earliest mention of the Chestertown Tea Party occurs in an 1899 booklet Gem City on the Chester. The author, local newspaper editor Frederick G. Usilton, was known to exaggerate facts for a good story," according to the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture.
- from Bay to Bay News - Local legends brew into Chestertown tradition
Patiots rowing off

Still, this event draws between 5,000 and 15,000 visitors annually, depending on the weather.

It is partly because of events like the Tea Party that I love Chestertown so much. It is a small town with a lot of spirit.
Starboard side of the Sultana

Founded in 1706, Chestertown rose in stature when it was named one of the colony's six Royal Ports of Entry. The shipping boom that followed this designation made the town, at the navigable head of the Chester River, wealthy. In the mid-18th century, Chestertown trailed only Annapolis as Maryland's leading port.
- from The Baltimore Sun - Chestertown

The Sultana wasn't the only boat out for the festival. The P-520 crashboat was on display.
The P-520 is the last of the 85 foot US Army Air Corps Crash boats that rescued downed pilots during WW2 and Korea.
- from P-520: WWII & Korean War Crashboat

I saw someone on shore wave to me. It was Jessica, a woman that I met during a work-sponsored volunteer event at the Howard County Conservancy. She and Norma struck up a conversation and then she ended up joining us for a snack in town.

I was a little hesitant to be seen with Daphne at a "no dogs allowed" event but there were other dogs and nobody seemed to care. I'm guessing it is like the Maryland State Park "no alcohol" rule where they will ask you to leave if there is a problem but otherwise, they will look the other way.

Norma, Daphne, and I checked out the various street vendors and bought a meal at one of the food trucks.

We drove north to Still Pond where we checked in at our AirBnB Civil War era house. Our hostess was with Nancy, who we stayed with on November 2-3, 2019. She was pleased to have us back.

That night, we watched a very good Netflix movie called Metal Lords.
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 Sunday, May 29, 2022

Chesapeake CityOpen accordion icon
Norma, Daphne, and I drove north to Chesapeake City for breakfast at Cafe on the Bay. This is a great little place with outdoor seating that opens early.
Business houses in Chesapeake City

The three of us walked around town. It seems like a great place and Norma thought it would be good for her to plan an outing with her friends here sometime. I want to return and explore Back Creek, which flows into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
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Bohemia River State ParkOpen accordion icon
The three of us drove out to Bohemia River State Park. This park opened April 22, 2022. I wasn't expecting to see many people but apparently, a lot of people got the memo about there being a new state park. I was surprised how many horses were there.

The trails were very nice. Lots of shade except for a few sections along the open fields which are or were farmland.
It currently features approximately five miles of natural-surface, multi-use trails that offer the visitor a wealth of opportunities for recreation and nature exploration. The trails traverse a variety of habitats such as hardwood bottomland forests, meadows, seeps and tidal marshes and offer numerous views of the Bohemia River. A further five miles of trail are currently under development.
- from Maryland DNR - Bohemia River State Park

We saw a couple of interesting insects, including a soldier beetle.
Chauliognathus is a genus of soldier beetles in the family Cantharidae. Adults have almost rectangular bodies. Some are red and black, similar to the military uniforms that were common before the usage of camouflage, hence the name of soldier beetles. Others are orange and black.
- from iNaturalist - Genus Chauliognathus
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Soldier beetle
Soldier beetle.
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Zebra swallowtail butterfly
Zebra swallowtail butterfly.

Some of the former farmland areas are now home to hundreds of saplings.
Saplings in open field

The three of us walked to Oak Point, where the park plans to build a kayak launch. This is probably the nicest part of the park. But it is pretty far from the main parking lot so they still have a good bit of road work to complete before it is ready.

We found a tree with a lot of character that I got Norma and Daphne to pose in front of.
Norma and Daphne in front of tree

Near a field, we saw the ruins where it looks like there was a farmhouse and a windmill.
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Stone ruins
Stone ruins.
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Foundation of a house
Foundation of house.
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Locust tree seed pods
Locust seed pods.
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We saw several Refracto bricks
Refracto brick.
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Perhaps a device for heating?
Heating device?

I was really hoping to find snakes, lizards, a dobsonfly, or a luna moth but we had no such luck. We did, however, see quite a bit of interesting vegetation.
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Sycamore seed pod
Sycamore sed pod.
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Wineberry flower
Wineberry flower.
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Tulip poplar flower
Tulip poplar.
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Princess tree seed pods
Princess tree seed pods.
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Princess tree flower
Princess tree flower.

Here is our route. We walked 6.5 miles.
Satellite view of our route
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Snakehead fish lunchOpen accordion icon
After working up an appetite hiking, we drove out to Deep Blue at Kitty Knight where we had a lovely view from their balcony of the Sassafras River.
View of Sassafras River from restaurant

I had their local blackened snakehead fish lunch. It was very good but I would have preferred a larger serving of snakehead. While it was tasty, my expectations were inflated because I had heard such great things about this fish. I didn't think it was as unique as some folks claimed. But I would definitely order it again.
Snakehead fish lunch
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Still Pond CreekOpen accordion icon
Norma, Daphne, and I got out for a sunset paddle on Still Pond Creek, lauching from Still Pond Landing. This location is less than three miles from the AirBnB place we stayed.

We paddled under the Still Pond Creek bridge and explored the upstream section of the creek which was narrow and scenic.
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Norma kayaking with green background
Lots of greenery.
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Norma on kayak, upstream on the creek
Upstream on creek.

We saw another princess tree.

In Jacks Cove, I saw a snake swimming.
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Snake swimming
Snake swimming.
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Close-up of snake head with tongue sticking out
Tongue shot.

As the sun began to set, the lighting cast a nice glow.
Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset and sunrise than during the day, when the sun is higher in the sky. More atmosphere means more molecules to scatter the violet and blue light away from your eyes. If the path is long enough, all of the blue and violet light scatters out of your line of sight. The other colors continue on their way to your eyes. This is why sunsets are often yellow, orange, and red.
And because red has the longest wavelength of any visible light, the sun is red when it's on the horizon, where its extremely long path through the atmosphere blocks all other colors.

- from University of Wisconsin-Madison - Curiosities: What determines the colors of the sky at sunrise and sunset?
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Daphne and me on SUP with Daphne watching Norma take her picture
Daphne watching Norma.
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Daphne and me on SUP with Daphne looking tired
Daphne feeling tired.

At the top of this page, you can see a silhouette of Daphne and me on the SUP on Still Pond Creek.

We did an easy 4.6 miles and then picked up food at Marzella's By The Bay in Betterton. There aren't many restaurants out there...there's not much of anything. But sometimes, that can be good.
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 Monday, May 30, 2022 - Memorial Day

Clouds of insectsOpen accordion icon
Norma, Daphne, and I packed up, left our AirBnb, picked up breakfast at Molly's Place, and then drove to Delaware. Along the way, we passed slow-moving ghost-like clouds that hovered over the ground. Each was comprised of thousands of flying insects. I've seen these before but Norma had not. She thought they might be mayflies but after talking to people, we think that is not the case because they were too far from the water.
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Clouds of insects on road
Clouds of insects on road.
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Insect cloud on left
Insect cloud.
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Insect cloud on right
Insect cloud.

Since I don't know what they are, I am just calling them gnats for now. They were very small and didn't seem interested in bothering me. A co-worker told me that he sees them in pockets of warm air.
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Horseshoe crabsOpen accordion icon
Norma, Daphne, and I arrived in Delaware to see the horseshoe crabs spawn. On May 18, 2019, we found them at Little Creek Wildlife Area Logan Tract, also known as Logan Lane Tract of the Ted Harvey Conservation Area. Thinking we might look there again, I purchased a conservation access pass a few days prior. But the wind was pretty calm so I decided to paddle to a different area and look.

The three of us launched from Bowers Beach where the town showed some patriotism on that Memorial Day.
American flag hanging from crane

We then paddled on the Murderkill River to the Delaware Bay. Then we turned south and paddled about a mile and a half south, almost to Sandy Point.
Daphne and me on the SUP

I timed our visit with the 1047 high tide on the new moon. The evening high tide tends to have more horseshoe crabs coming ashore but of course one can't see them very well if it is nighttime.

Part of the reason we paddled is because I wasn't sure about beach access. But I found there was indeed public access at the northwest end of Webbs Cut-Off (39.051603, -75.390533) just off South Bowers Road (road 121) in Bowers.

We saw a few dead horseshoe crabs on the shore but as the high tide approached, there were very few. There were, however, quite a few birds. We saw ruddy turnstones, and sanderlings, dunlins and/or semi-palmated sandpipers. For the latter three, they look very much alike and I can't tell them apart. What these birds all have in common is that they are known to feast on horseshoe crab eggs. I was hoping to see red knots but I don't think there were any present.
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Ruddy turnstones in flight
Ruddy turnstones.
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Sanderlings, dunlins and/or semi-palmated sandpipers
Sanderlings, dunlins, or sandpipers.

I think the biggest reason we saw so few horseshoe crabs is because vegetation in the water made it difficult for them to get to the beach. If the tide were higher, like the evening tide tends to be, then they might have been able to get to the beach.
Spiky vegetation in water

We landed and then walked on the shore, heading north. On the beach, I found a bryozoan.

There were a few horseshoe crabs here and there on the beach, but nothing like we saw in 2019. What did Daphne think of them? I'm guessing she was a little confused as to whether or not they were an animal because they move so slowly and are so unlike the critters she normally encounters.
Daphne looking at horseshoe crab

What do they do when they come ashore?
The female digs a nest in the sand and deposits between 4,000 and 30,000 eggs that the male will fertilize with sperm. A single crab may lay 100,000 eggs or more during a season.
- from Bay Journal - Migratory birds shore up appetites on horseshoe crab eggs
Clump of horseshoe crab eggs

Continuing to walk north, we finally hit the jackpot. The best place to see the horseshoe crabs was at 39.058139, -75.396778, which was about 100 meters from where we launched. This is where the southeastern mouth of where the Murderkill River drains into the Delaware Bay.
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Overhead view of numerous horseshoe crabs
Plethora of horseshoe crabs.
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Norma and Daphne with horseshoe crabs
Looking east.
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Horseshoe crabs with Norma and Daphne in the distance
Norma and Daphne afar.
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Hundreds of horseshoe crabs on the beach
Hundreds of horseshoe crabs.
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Westward view of horseshoe crabs with Bowers Beach just across the water
Looking west.
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Norma and Daphne sitting on the beach watching the horseshoe crabs
Watching the spawn.
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Shot of horseshoe crabs just above their level
Low view.

For 350 million years, the May and June full and new moons have fostered a giant migration of horseshoe crabs. Coming from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, millions of these prehistoric arthropods clumsily invade [Delaware's] beaches for this ritualistic spawn, laying their eggs on shore.
- from Maryland DNR - Annual Horseshoe Crab Migration Begins

I am always amazed at how many people live in the mid-Atlantic area and have never seen the horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn. In my opinion, it is something worth seeing at least once.
The Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of the American horseshoe crab. Horseshoe crabs are, in fact, Delaware's official state marine animal.
- from Visit Delaware Villages - Watch Thousands of Horseshoe Crabs Descend on the Delaware Bay

The Delaware Bay is a really big place. Many people see dolphin. We were looking but did not find any. But I did see a few rays. Here's Norma and Daphne kayaking.
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Side view of Norma kayaking with Daphne on board
Norma and Daphne kayaking.
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Front view of Norma kayaking with Daphne on board
In for the landing.

We paddled 3.5 miles, saw a lot of horseshoe crabs, and found a few interesting things on the beach that we took home. Not sure what they are. Unfortunately, no fossils.
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Things we found on the beach that we took home
Finds from the beach.
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Opposite side
Flip side.

We stopped for lunch at the Green Stinger in Dover after paddling.

We had a fantastic and memorable weekend!
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Horseshoe crabs in Delaware on May 30, 2022
Horseshoe crabs in Delaware