Thanks to social media, Solomons Island wrapped us up in warm and happy hospitality.
Days 18 – 20, November 1 – 3, 2018
If Rock Hall, MD put southern hospitality on the map, Annapolis gave it a gold star and Solomons Island knocked it out of the park.
We have embraced the whole social media thing with a wee bit of skepticism, but embraced it none-the-less. In spite of the well-deserved reputation that Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have for breaking down some of the essential fibers of true social interaction, this cruise has underscored what a wonderful accomplice social media can be in the world of friends and friendship.
We left Annapolis feeling warm and fuzzy about being in Maryland on our boat with our pups. Life was good. We motored out of the harbor on a warm and sunshiny morning, and waved goodbye to the good cheer that Ego Alley and the rest of the town had provided.
We expected (another theme of this cruise) a relatively calm and relaxing trip down the bay as we headed towards Solomons Island, but it wasn’t to be. It was a day of back-and-forth calm-to-bumpy. A forecast of 10 to 15 knots and one-foot seas nudged quickly to 15 to 20 with two-foot seas and an occasional three-foot sea. Oh, how we long for a flat, easy ride like we had from the C&D Canal to Rock Hall when the calm-before-the-storm settled in. Not today!
Fortunately it wasn’t a long run, just 40 miles. We left at 0930 and were in Solomons (thanks to a little extra throttle) by 1345. We contemplated anchoring (the marina thing is getting old) but on account of the 40-knot gale in the forecast we switched our focus to finding a secure slip for our visit. On a whim, we took the advice of a Facebook group contact and eased ourselves alongside a T-dock at the family-owned and family-friendly Spring Cove Marina.
Spring Cove reminded us of some of the campgrounds we have visited in our Airstream Bambi. The buildings were simple wooden structures, not new but well painted and tended to, with property sprawled back from the waterfront featuring tall pines, newly planted shrubbery and gardens, lush grassy cookout areas with picnic tables, a small pool, and a bar (!). It was a comfortable, welcoming spot. Well, the bar was closed for the season, but it was still a welcoming spot.
And the welcome was about to get even better.
That’s about when the KEY LIME PIE! showed up.
We were still settling in and thinking about dinner when our Facebook contact, Alex, marched up to the boat, a huge smile on his face, to welcome us to his town and his marina with a lovely bottle of wine. His charming daughter Alyssa followed with — wait for it — a fresh KEY LIME PIE! All this with no other connection than a few posts on Facebook.
We were so blown away by the thoughtfulness, generosity and hospitality that we kept forgetting Alyssa’s name and had to ask about half a dozen times.
We had a lovely visit with Alex and Alyssa and wished they had stayed longer, but Alyssa had homework to do so they left to go get that important task taken care of. Our visit to Solomons will forever be underscored by the welcome that Alex and Alyssa provided. We hope that when we return in the spring (and we will!) on our way back north, we will be able to re-connect and return the favor.
And the Facebook/social media story for Solomons isn’t over yet. Scroll down for more on that newsflash…
Meanwhile, we had a simple, happy dinner on board, featuring — wait for it — KEY LIME PIE! for dessert. What could be better. We slept well.
In the morning, thanks to KEY LIME PIE!, I got up early and went for a beautiful run down Solomons Island. Being a numbers geek while running, I was amused that it turned into exactly a 5K/3.1 miles. And it was flat, for which I was most grateful. These runs in new places are often about scoping out an area for further exploration. During the run I was able to locate most of the restaurants that Alex had typed out for us (each starred with the appropriate number of Alex-stars-of-approval), and notably, found the charming little cafe the KEY LIME PIE! had come from, Lotus Kitchen. That would come in handy before we left…
We had a busy day just doing STUFF. We were thrilled to find Solomons Veterinary Medical Center two blocks from the marina. A few phone calls, and we had an appointment set up at 1:30 to get the dogs their Canine Flu vaccine booster, something we had a one- or two-week window to do. Like every other veterinary clinic or hospital that we have visited during our travels around the country over the years, this one was staffed by wonderful techs and docs, and we and the pups were well cared for.
We also took advantage of the marina’s loaner car to do a bunch of errands. I can always use a few fresh veggies (the market was large and clean, the staff was really friendly, and although they weren’t especially familiar with tofu they did have some and were able locate it for me!), we needed to get some birthday cards packaged and to the post office, Bruce needed a prescription filled, and oh, we were out of beer. That list took a while, but before the day was over we were able to squeeze in a nice long walk back through town, largely along my running route, and also explored the other marina we had contemplated, Zanhisers.
By the time we were ready to scrounge for dinner it was late and dark. I had been eyeballing the Charles Street Brasserie which had been at the top of Alex’s list of recommendations, but like I said it was late and dark, and the concept of walking all they way down to the end of Solomons Island — and back again — wasn’t really in the cards so we took the easy route and went to the pub next door, Angler’s Seafood Bar & Grill. And you know what? We had a ball!
Angler’s was small, clean, and full of friendly faces. We we sat down at the bar and went through a minute or two of pleasantries with our bar-mates. The fellow next to me then looked at us and said, “Are you Bruce and Dorsey?” Huh? We had never been to the bar before and never even been to the town before. What the heck?
Remember that Facebook/social media thing? Well this was Mike, and he had been following our adventures on Facebook and our web site. And he recognized us when we sat down. Woah! We had a delightful evening talking trawlers, boats, sailing, people and stuff. Such fun! Thank you, Mike, for extending the whole Solomons hospitality theme for us! This place is great!
We were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to stay one more day (that’s another theme I’m detecting on this cruise). We woke up to rain, which quickly morphed into a crisp, clear, cool and very windy (uh, another theme) fall day. Gusting to 30, a good reason to stay in port. It was perfect for a long walk with the dogs.
As we passed the entrance to the Calvert Maritime Museum next door to our marina, I saw a gang of runners talking off. Oh no! A road race? And I didn’t know! One activity I have really enjoyed during our travels and cruises is taking part in local races when we stumble on them, and had I known, I would have done this one. It was a fund raiser for the Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse, and this year’s race was being run for a woman who had lost her husband to an impaired driver. So tragic.
We continue our walk, cheered on the runners when they passed us, and stopped in to Lotus Kitchen for an espresso. And a muffin. And — wait for it — a KEY LIME PIE! Yes, another pie. Fortunately we were able to get a frozen pie, which will extend it’s life on board. I do have to say the muffin was excellent. Big thumbs up.
After returning to the boat and dropping the pups off for a nap, Bruce and I headed out again to explore the Calvert Marine Museum. We highly recommend a visit. It is a relatively small facility that is pleasant and easy to explore, with a set of exhibits that really accomplishes quite a lot within a small footprint. Highlights include a fascinating look at an actual restored screw pile lighthouse, numerous Chesapeake watercraft, and exhibits on the maritime history of the region, military history, biological exhibits, otters, and a surprising and fascinating look at geologic history. Really, really well done, and only $7 per person admission. A hidden jewel.
Back at the boat, I threw a load of boat laundry into the marina’s machines. We were in the pilot house discussing options for our next stop on the cruise when two strangers stopped by. Only they weren’t strangers. They mentioned something about meeting us in the past with a Scottie, then they teased us a bit, making us try to figure out where we had met them.
It was almost twenty years ago, in Camden, when we were all sailors. We had Smartalec, they had Raggs. And we hadn’t seen them since! But they had found us — how? — on social media. Paul and Kathy also had gone to The Dark Side and their Selene trawler was just across the creek. We had a delightful visit, talking Scotties and boats. They had just lost their second Scottie, Duncan, a month earlier, which is heartbreaking. We were happy to share Pepper and Mattie with them for a bit before they headed off to their boat, to leave in the morning towards Norfolk. We hope to catch up with them again in North Carolina.
I found the photos from almost 20 years ago!
Bruce and I then set off on our second hike of the day (my Garmin watch is loving the step counts, which have averaged 25,000 – 30,000 almost every day for the last five days!), then another fun dinner with the locals at Angler’s (we wanted to keep it simple), and the rest of the evening on board. Oh, and another slice of — wait for it –KEY LIME PIE!
Time to move on. We still don’t know were to, but the wind has quieted down and forecast is favorable, so off we will go. Good night!