Washington, DC to Annapolis July 12-29, 2006

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

The Visit of Tove and Lars Helge...

Fortunately the airline strike in Spain did not impact the flight from Spain to Washington, DC of our good friends Tove and Lars Helge Brunborg.  They did miss a connection in Paris and were seven hours late, but arrived safely and with all of their luggage.  We spent three days in Washington, zipping through many of the Smithsonian Museums, looking past the barriers at the Capitol Building and the White House, and riding the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument, taking the metro to a shopping mall in Pentagon City, and eating lots of seafood from the great seafood market next to our marina (Capital Yacht Club).  As we left DC and proceeded down the Potomac, we anchored off and took the dinghy in for a high-speed look-see of George Washington's plantation at Mt. Vernon.  Then it was on to the Chesapeake!   (Text for which follows the first set of photos.)

Photos from Washington, DC

Chuck & Lars Helge in front of Smithsonian Castle

Lars Helge, Tove & Chuck sightseeing at one of the Smithsonian Museums in DC

Art at Hirshhorn Museum

The Wright Brothers' airplane in the Air & Space Museum

Hubble space telescope at Air & Space Museum

Friendship capsule from Mercury mission

Apollo module at Air & Space Museum

Chuck, Lars Helge & Tove in the American Indian Museum

Heading to the Capitol Building

Tove & Lars Helge at the Capitol

Capitol

View from Capitol

Monolith from Easter Islands in Museum of Natural History

Tyrannosaurus Rex in Natural History Museum

Hope Diamond on display there

Relaxing after a long day of sightseeing

Seafood market (next to our marina) where we bought dinner a number of times

Seafood heaven

Washington Monument

One of many awesome views from the top of Washington Monument

Whitehouse

Canopy in a performance hall of the Kennedy Center -- a gift from Austria

Bust of JFK at Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

Entertainment at Kennedy Center

Relaxing with the crowd at Kennedy Center (note Lars Helge really relaxing)

George Washington's house at Mt. Vernon

Chuck & Lars Helge at Mt. Vernon with Potomac and Tusen Takk II in background

George Washington's sixteen-sided thrashing barn

Entrance to barn where horses ran over wheat stalks to thrash grain

 

Our first night at anchor (7/15) was spent along the south shore of the Potomac just south of Port Tobacco.   We have used the spot before, although it is not to be found in the guide books.  Perfectly acceptable in light or southerly winds.   Departed early enough (7/16) to arrive at St. Mary's (near the mouth of the Potomac, on the Western Shore, for those interested in geography but having trouble keeping track) in time for a quick tour of the reconstruction of the Dove and the grounds of the historic settlement.   Note to prospective cruisers of the Chesapeake:  don't miss St. Mary's.   The anchorage is pretty, peaceful and protected.  The college has free concerts on weekend nights during the summer months.   Historic St. Mary's settlement is interesting and, as reconstruction proceeds, continuing to improve.

Early afternoon 7/17 found us on the Eastern Shore, berthed in a slip of Somers Cove Marina, in Crisfield.   Some of us enjoyed the pool there, and we all enjoyed a brief tour of Crisfield, during which we visited one of the few remaining seafood processing plants.  Oysters in the cool months and crabs in the summers.   Fascinating to  watch the ladies clean the meat out of the boiled crab.  As a long-time Savannah resident, I thought I already knew how to clean crab.   Nope.   (Catch me during crab season someplace and I'll give you a revised lesson.)  The ladies informed us that they were paid by the pound:  $20 for each ten-pound container of picked "backfin" crab.   "Backfin" refers to the meat obtained from the central body cavity.   The small feet are discarded.   The large claws are thrown into a bushel basket for later processing by a machine.   Obviously, no one has yet invented a machine for the backfin meat.   After our tour, we hopped aboard the ferry to the island of Tangier (no suitable marina or anchorage there), where we discovered a narrow "main street" plied by golf carts and lined with very modest gift shops.  The island was in former times quite isolated -- so much so that one can still discern a trace of the Elizabethan accent gracing the speech of the older shopkeepers.  Had lunch at Hilda Crockett's family style restaurant.  Worth the trip, just to eat there.   Similar in concept (but somewhat different in menu :-) ) to Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House in Savannah.   We have discovered to our joy that "crab cakes" in this part of the world actually are either entirely or mostly crab(!), and that they are always at least as large as a baseball, and sometimes approach the size of a softball, two characteristics sadly lacking in our experience in Florida and Georgia.

Meanwhile, back at Somers Cove, preparations were underway for the annual seafood festival, a prospect that initially thrilled and excited us, and caused us to consider extending our stay.   Fortunately, we spoke with a sufficient number of people about the event to change our mind, and to flee the area.   Temporary fences are erected to enclose a huge area immediately adjacent to the docks.  Many large tents are erected within the area, and large folding tables placed under the tents (and also in the sun in a large sub-area.)   The contents of the exact menu were never totally ascertained, but for one price, on an all-you-can-eat basis, such items as corn-on-the-cob, crab cakes, boiled crab, french fries, cole slaw, fried fish, and beer, were available.   Each item from its own delivery line within the fenced area, so that one could/would spend enormous amounts of time waiting in lines.   So much so, that the "big-wigs" each encamp under their respective tents and hire runners to fetch large amounts of each item.   "Thousands" of folks attend, and to a man every person describing the event used the word "political".   Apparently, the event has become a required stop for anyone running or planning to run for any political office at any level in the area -- and by area I mean on up to officials at the state level.   Descriptions of long lines, drunken attendees, big-wigs under tents while mere cruisers broiled under the sun in the forecasted near-one-hundred-degree temperatures dampened our initial enthusiasm -- and so 7/19 we departed around noon for the hop back to the Western Shore and the quiet anchorage far up Mill Creek at Solomons.  The next day we took the dinghy into Solomons, had lunch at Stoney's Kingfishers Seafood house, and visited the Calvert Maritime Museum, which we highly recommend.

But a moving vessel gathers no moss on its bottom, and so 7/21 found us exploring further up the Patuxent, where we first visited the Sotterly Plantation, and then put in at Vera's White Sands Restaurant and Marina.  The Marina and Restaurant are actually under new ownership, and are in the process of significant improvement, something long overdue, according to those with whom we spoke.  In any case, the Marina reconstruction is still a work in progress, and so the promised dual 30-amp connections turned out to be too far apart to work with our splitter, the T-head office was not completed, and there was no water.  But dockage was free for the duration of a dinner, and we hoped to see the "famous" Vera, and "Elvis" was scheduled for the evening entertainment.  Easy to believe that he had formerly entertained in Las Vegas; he had a good voice and even sounded mostly like the King.  Barb seemed to think he had the hip motion pretty well nailed also.   (We were unable to ascertain just exactly what Vera is famous for -- the guide books simply describe her as a "former starlet", and say that she is "not to be missed."  We think her fame largely obtains from the outrageous outfits she has always worn as a hostess at the restaurant.  But who knows?  When she passed through [read: tottered -- she is 98 years old!] as we were eating, there was a smattering of applause and the flashing of camera bulbs -- including that of Barb's camera, as the pictures below attest.)  It was well past dark-thirty when we finishing dancing and dining, but the frugal Norwegian in me could not countenance paying for a slip with neither power nor water, so we loosed the lines and anchored for the night.  The next day was again hot.   So we opted for a trip back to Solomons and shore power -- obtained this time at Spring Cove Marina.  Cindy Pickelmann from Morning Star joined us briefly for drinks aboard Tusen Takk II that evening.  Randy, bless his heart, was back in Florida making a living.  I can only dimly recall what that is like, but I do know that I'm glad I'm no longer doing it.  :-)

(See the text after the pictures below for the conclusion of this saga.)

Photos from Chesapeake

St. Mary's

Everyone prepared for flies at St. Mary's

Tour of crab picking facility in Crisfield

Crab pickers enjoying themselves

We took the ferry from Crisfield to Tangier

Crab shanties on Tangier

Info on Tangier

Great lunch at Hilda Crockett's on Tangier

Chuck in front of Hilda's - golf carts appear to be the primary mode of transportation on the island

American flag made of shells at Tangier

Relaxing on the ferry on the way back to Crisfield

At the Calvert Maritime Museum with old lighthouse in background

Exhibit at Calvert Maritime Museum about US Navy base on the Patuxent where Barb's father was stationed during WWII

Part two of exhibit

Part three

And four

Lars Helge's favorite dinner - scallop skewers

Tusen Takk II flying American and Nowegian flags

Chuck installing the new flag given to us by Tove & Lars Helge

Sotterly Plantation on the Patuxent River

Dining room at Sotterly

Candles at Sotterly show how hot it was that day

Slave hut at Sotterly

Info on slave hut

Scarecrow at Sotterly

Another "scarecrow"?

Tove & Lars Helge in gardens at Sotterly

Everyone says they look like sisters

Neat tree at Sotterly

Dinner at Vera's White Sands Restaurant -- where we saw 98 year old Vera

"Glamorous" Vera leaving the restaurant

Enjoying the evening

Elvis impersonator as entertainment after dinner

Dancing to Elvis

Elvis posing with Tove

If the last move was a "zig", then the next should be a "zag", and so 7/25 found us crossing the Bay to the Tred Avon River back on the Eastern Shore, and anchoring in Plaindealing Creek opposite of Oxford.  We visited Oxford by dinghy, of course, and had a delightful lunch at historic Robert Morris Inn.  The original 1710 structure, incorporated into the present Inn, was the home of Robert Morris, Sr., and his son Robert Morris, Jr., who helped finance the Revolutionary War, was a friend of George Washington, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.   If I have the details correct, the murals within were the models for similar/same murals installed in the White House by Jackie Kennedy.   The crab cakes served at the Inn were rated by James Michener, author of Chesapeake, as the best.   Period.   (Yup, but an order consisted of just one, and they were only somewhere between golf ball and baseball size and not the hoped-for softball variety.  Oops, is that the frugal Norwegian showing again?)

There is a Yacht Club just south of the Oxford-Bellevue ferry landing.  Lars Helge and Tove have two sons who spent their childhood sailing with the strong support of their parents, starting on Optimist boats and competing in national and international races.  So Lars Helge and Tove were drawn to the Optimist practices being conducted on the day of our visit.  Fun to listen to Lars Helge's many stories of those days of being a dedicated sailing parent.

While in Plaindealing Creek we took down the kayaks.  Lars Helge was game to give it a try, but was perhaps a little tall for the model we own.   He might have been able to squeeze his legs in, by inserting one leg at a time, but he felt uneasy about getting locked in should he capsize.   Unfortunately, leaving his legs un-inserted, although making exit easier, also made it inevitable.  Too unstable in that position.   We made it several hundred yards before I heard a ker-splash!   The water was bath-tub warm, and would have provided quite a pleasant swim had it not been for the stinging jelly fish that abounded.   Nevertheless, unschooled in the methods for reentering a capsized kayak, and unwilling to fully enter it in the first instance, he had little choice but to swim back to Tusen Takk II.  I recovered the kayak and accompanied the stoic swimmer, who only admitted to being stung after he was safely back aboard the mother ship.  His many sting sites treated with vinegar, he and Tove then took the dinghy up the creek for an extended exploration, while Barb and I did the same via kayak.

On 7/25 we made the short hop up the Choptank River to San Domingo Creek, where we anchored within easy dinghy distance of the crabbers' dock that affords access (from the backside) to St. Michaels.   What a tourist town.  The gift shops here, unlike those in Tangier, are definitely not "modest."  Tove bought a cap with a logo that said "Life is good", a sentiment with which we all agreed, and Lars Helge a pair of Crocs.   (If you don't know what Crocs are, and you are American, then you are not a boater.)

On 7/27 we crossed back over to the West Shore, obtaining a slip at Herrington Harbour South.   Said hello to Kathleen, but missed Larry, who was off taking his daughter to camp.  The next day we made the very short jaunt up to the South River, anchoring in Selby Bay.  The following day we proceeded up to Annapolis, where after a short delay a slip opened up in the infamous "Ego Alley".  After a day of being just four more tourists among the thousands that crowd the area, we used a rental car to take our guests back to Washington, DC, where they caught their flight back to Norway.  

About those guests, I must say a few words. We have not really had other extended visits since we moved aboard Tusen Takk II.  Potential guests be advised: Lars Helge and Tove have set extremely high standards.  Always willing to be helpful.  Anxious to be assigned tasks that they could "own" and for which they could be responsible.   Warm and humorous.   Comfortable and relaxed with living aboard; comfortable and relaxed in conversations and in our interactions.   Interested in the boat.  Interested in the various sights and sounds and environments we have experienced as we moved about.  In short, it was not only a pleasure to have them aboard, it was a privilege.   We thank them for their visit, and look forward eagerly to their next one.

And more photos from the Chesapeake

Lars Helge doesn't quite fit into our small kayaks but he gives it a try

Chuck & Lars Helge are off for a paddle in the kayaks

Oops! After tipping, Lars Helge swam thru the jellyfish back to the boat.

Barb & Chuck kayaking in Plaindealing Creek near Oxford

Lars Helge checking out the Optimist dinghies in Oxford

Ferry in Oxford

Unique "tree" in Oxford

Dinner on Tusen Takk II -- steak, mahi-mahi, & Bahamian Lobster

Tove earning her keep :-)

Lars Helge watching a sailboat race in Herring Bay

Captain Tove

Relaxing in the pilothouse

Sunset on the upper deck

Swans at St. Micheals

Clowning at St. Micheals

Lars Helge washing anchor chain as Barb weighs anchor (look at her right foot)

Guys hard at work

Posing along "Ego Alley"

A lazy evening

Tove at turn-around point of Ego Alley in Annapolis (TT II in background)

Maryland State House

Noisy jetski rally in Ego Alley