Tag Archives: Maryland

July 25: Back to the country, and a “Henry Ford Museum lightbulb machine moment”

I took Loralee to the Baltimore airport this morning. I have to say that a) I’m going to miss her, but I’m seriously glad to be out of that motel, and b) it’s so good to be out of the city!

I drove around Baltimore on its beltway, then headed northeast on the same highway Katrina and Teri and I took to get to Longwood the other day. I turned off before I passed it, though, and headed up into Pennsylvania.

Is it just me or does this look like Kansas?  Along the road in Pennsylvania.
Is it just me or does this look like Kansas? Along the road in Pennsylvania.

I’m generally headed for New England now, but while I was looking at the map last night, I noticed a place on the map marked Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Curious about why a furnace would be historical [g], I headed in that direction. As it turned out, Hopewell Furnace was what I think of as a Henry Ford Museum lightbulb machine.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Sometimes you (or I, at any rate) take things for granted, without thinking about how they’ve come to be, until you see something that jolts you and makes you realize that, no, these things do not spring full blown from the head of Zeus. My primary example is the lightbulb machine in the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, which I saw on my last Long Trip 17 years ago. Now tell me. Have you ever thought about how light bulbs are manufactured? I didn’t think so.

Well, yesterday I learned how cast iron was made back in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was something I’d never considered before. It was made by hand, by skilled craftsmen, each one supported by an infrastructure and a cadre of workers, then the results were hauled off by horse and wagon to the cities where they were sold. I had no idea that iron was originally smelted using charcoal, and that places like Hopewell Furnace went through hundreds of cords of wood every year.

Butterflies on purple coneflowers at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Butterflies on purple coneflowers at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Stoves cast at Hopewell Furnace in the 1800s.
Stoves cast at Hopewell Furnace in the 1800s.
Part of the CCC-restored (of course) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.  The house is the home of the owner of the furnace.
Part of the CCC-restored (of course) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. The house is the home of the owner of the furnace.
A charcoal pit, where so much wood was burned so iron could be smelted.
A charcoal pit, where so much wood was burned so iron could be smelted.
Looking back towards the cooling sheds, where the charcoal was cooled before being used in the furnace.
Looking back towards the cooling sheds, where the charcoal was cooled before being used in the furnace.

Hopewell provided iron for cannons at Yorktown and in the Civil War, as well as cookstoves that were prized for decades, and many kinds of smaller pieces.

Anyway, the site was fascinating, although the heat and humidity made walking around the actual reconstructed town problematic, of course. The visitor center had a terrific little movie about the place, too.

A very strange sign along the roadside in Pennsylvania.
A very strange sign along the roadside in Pennsylvania.
I absolutely love the old stone houses in this part of the world.
I absolutely love the old stone houses in this part of the world.

After I left Hopewell Furnace, I headed towards somewhere I’d stayed at on my last Long Trip, a hostel in a state park about an hour northwest of Philadelphia. It’s in an old stone house that was the landowner’s before he gave the land to the state, and it’s a peaceful, quiet spot, which I much appreciated.

With the proprietor’s help, I also found a laundromat, so I’m set for clean clothes again for a while. And I managed to keep from getting drowned when the skies opened again, too.

July 15: An overwhelmingly enormous and gorgeous garden

Today was the day I finally got to go see Longwood. Katrina’s been posting photos of the huge estate garden originally owned and developed by Pierre DuPont back around the turn of the last century for a long, long time, and I have been drooling over same about that long. At any rate, I’ve been wanting to see Longwood for years, and it was the one thing I wanted to be sure and do while I was visiting here.

It’s a two-hour drive up across the Pennsylvania border to Longwood, and on the way we stopped at a place where Katrina knew of eagles. We saw several, and this is the best photo I got (cropped and enlarged to a faretheewell) of a baby eagle.

See the immature eagle? Although he does seem to be behaving himself.
See the immature eagle? Although he does seem to be behaving himself.

Then it was on to Longwood, where we spent the rest of the day walking around in the 90dF humidity looking at everything. We ate lunch there, and got ice cream, and stayed until almost dark. I was absolutely exhausted by the time we left (according to Teri’s phone, we walked over five miles), but it was so worth it. What a gorgeous, gorgeous place. I think I’ll let some of the almost 300 photos I took speak for themselves.

The rainbow border. It runs from blue flowers on one end to red ones on the other. It's *amazing* and long, and there were so many flowers that I don't normally see because the climate's so different.
The rainbow border. It runs from blue flowers on one end to red ones on the other. It’s *amazing* and long, and there were so many flowers that I don’t normally see because the climate’s so different.
I don't remember exactly where this little dude was, but he was adorable.
I don’t remember exactly where this little dude was, but he was adorable.
The other end of the rainbow borders.
The other end of the rainbow borders.
And one of a bed of gorgeous red cockscomb blossoms.
And one of a bed of gorgeous red cockscomb blossoms.
This little fellow is an anglewing butterfly. He was along one of the walkways.
This little fellow is an anglewing butterfly. He was along one of the walkways.
A variegated hydrangea.
A variegated hydrangea.
The Italian water garden.
The Italian water garden.
One of many, many in full bloom waterlilies in the conservatory courtyard.
One of many, many in full bloom waterlilies in the conservatory courtyard.
A lotus growing with the waterlilies. I don't think I've *ever* seen a lotus in blossom before.
A lotus growing with the waterlilies. I don’t think I’ve *ever* seen a lotus in blossom before.
One of the many, many tropical plants in The Conservatory That Ate New York. Seriously, you could have fit twenty little Tacoma Seymour conservatories in it and still have room left over.
One of the many, many tropical plants in The Conservatory That Ate New York. Seriously, you could have fit twenty little Tacoma Seymour conservatories in it and still have room left over.
A rainbow sherbet hibiscus flower in the conservatory (there were a dozen different kinds of hibiscuses there.
A rainbow sherbet hibiscus flower in the conservatory (there were a dozen different kinds of hibiscuses there).
The meadows. Which were also full of flowers.
The meadows. Which were also full of flowers.
A whole bunch of liatris in the meadows.
A whole bunch of liatris in the meadows.
This is the atrium of Mr. DuPont's house, and the biggest split-leaf philodendron I've ever seen.
This is the atrium of Mr. DuPont’s house, and the biggest split-leaf philodendron I’ve ever seen.
Purple martin houses fully occupied in the idea gardens.
Purple martin houses fully occupied in the idea gardens.
Flower beds in the idea garden.
Flower beds in the idea garden.

And on the way back to Teri’s house we drove over the Susquehanna River at sunset. It was a great ending for the day.

The Susquehanna River at sunset.
The Susquehanna River at sunset.

July 14: Up and over and up and over and on a ferry, too

I didn’t end up taking too many photos today. I did pop up into Delaware for a few miles, then came back west across the Eastern Shore to the highway. I didn’t stay on it for long, though, turning west at a sign for the Oxford-Bellevue ferry. It was not free (it cost $12 for Merlin and me), but it was scenic, and nice out on the water. I’ve never had my car be the only one on the ferry before (the capacity was nine vehicles).

The view from the Oxford/Bellevue ferry.
The view from the Oxford/Bellevue ferry.
Merlin all by himself on the ferry.
Merlin all by himself on the ferry.
Arriving at Bellevue.
Arriving at Bellevue.

After I reached the other side of the Choptank River (which was more an inlet into the bay than a river), I drove west to the tiny tourist town of St. Michaels, and then on to the point at the end of Tilghman Island, or almost to the end. The very end of the point is a private inn, and unless you’re staying there you can’t go all the way. I kind of wish I’d known that before I drove out there, but c’est la vie.

A pretty little church on Tilghman Island.
A pretty little church on Tilghman Island.

It was still a pretty drive. When I got back to St. Michaels, I ate a flounder sandwich at a local café, and then banana ice cream across the street at a little place called Justine’s. I haven’t had banana ice cream in I can’t remember how long, and it was delicious.

Then it was back to the highway. I turned off before I got there onto a back road the map insisted did intersect the highway a few miles further on, and it did, but a bit further than I expected, which was a nice thing.

I stopped at a produce stand and bought cantaloupe and big beefsteak tomatoes to take to Teri’s house, and then went up – and up, and up – and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (as opposed to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel). It’s almost as tall and long as the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, but it felt longer. I think it might have been the traffic, which got pretty intense, and did not let up through Annapolis and up into Baltimore. But Katrina’s directions were very good, and I had no problem finding Teri’s house, so that was a relief.

Up and over the Bay Bridge.
Up and over the Bay Bridge.

Nobody was home when I got there, but Teri had told me where to find a key, so I let myself in, and she arrived soon afterwards. Katrina was a bit later because she’d had to have her car worked on before she left Pennsylvania to come down, but by the time it was dark we were all together, so that was good.

July 13: I made it to the other ocean!

But first I crossed a bridge. Although calling this thing a bridge is like calling what Crocodile Dundee had a knife [wry g]. Twenty-three miles long, with two, count ‘em two tunnels. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is an amazing feat of engineering, IMHO. It was so cool.

That ship's going to hit the bridge!  Well, no.  See that building way up there?  That's a restaurant.  On the bridge, at the southern entrance of the first tunnel.  Bizarre.
That ship’s going to hit the bridge! Well, no. See that building way up there? That’s a restaurant. On the bridge, at the southern entrance of the first tunnel. Bizarre.
Taken from the restaurant parking lot with *lots* of zoom.  Pretty cool, huh?
Taken from the restaurant parking lot with *lots* of zoom. Pretty cool, huh?
More bridge.  The water was so calm, but I couldn't help but think that it's a good thing they get lots of warning about hurricanes to get people off that thing before it hits.
More bridge. The water was so calm, but I couldn’t help but think that it’s a good thing they get lots of warning about hurricanes to get people off that thing before it hits.
This is an extremely disconcerting picture.  That's the second tunnel in that gap.
This is an extremely disconcerting picture. That’s the second tunnel in that gap.
The entrance to the second tunnel.
The entrance to the second tunnel.
And the exit.  The tunnel is two lanes, but the bridge (actually a pair of bridges) is four lanes.
And the exit. The tunnel is two lanes, but the bridge (actually a pair of bridges) is four lanes.
Looking back at the northern end of the bridge from a viewpoint on the Eastern Shore.
Looking back at the northern end of the bridge from a viewpoint on the Eastern Shore.

I liked Virginia’s Eastern Shore, too, although it was more bucolic than photogenic. I did make a “that looks interesting” stop at a place called Almshouse Farm, just off U.S. 13, which runs up the backbone of the Eastern Shore. Turns out it was a museum in an old poorhouse, first built in 1804 (although the existing building is newer than that). Part of the exhibits were about the almshouse, but most of them were about the people who lived along the shore of the bay and the islands. It was definitely worth a stop.

The Almshouse Farm museum.
The Almshouse Farm museum.
The Almshouse Farm Museum had some really wonderful bird carvings.
The Almshouse Farm Museum had some really wonderful bird carvings.

The main reason I’d wanted to come to the Eastern Shore (besides an excuse to drive the bridge-tunnel) was Chincoteague Island. Like every kid of my generation, I’d read the books about Misty of Chincoteague, and I’ve always sorta wanted to see it ever since. Plus it looked like a good place to find a beach. And it has a lighthouse.

I didn’t see any ponies, alas, but I did get to walk on the beach (with a few hundred of my new best friends – there were a lot of people out sunbathing and swimming, but I’ve never been a big fan of swimming in the ocean), and to visit the lighthouse. Assateague Lighthouse was built just before the Civil War, and it’s taller than Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse, which is the tallest one in Washington. Anyway, it was about 100 degrees inside (it was in the 80sF outside and incredibly humid) and there were a lot of stairs and I didn’t make it all the way to the top. I was getting dizzy from the circular staircase, and my bifocals didn’t like it at all, but I think I’d have persisted if it weren’t for the stifling heat. I did get a picture from one of the windows that was at the highest level I reached.

The only photo I have of the ocean at Assateague National Seashore that isn't full of people [g].
The only photo I have of the ocean at Assateague National Seashore that isn’t full of people [g].
Assateague Lighthouse.
Assateague Lighthouse.
A view from near the top of Assateague Lighthouse, taken through a 150-year-old window.
A view from near the top of Assateague Lighthouse, taken through a 150-year-old window.
If this was on the west coast, I'd say it was salal, but apparently salal doesn't grow on the east coast.  The lady at the visitor center didn't know what it was, either, and I can't find anything online.  Anyone know?
If this was on the west coast, I’d say it was salal, but apparently salal doesn’t grow on the east coast. The lady at the visitor center didn’t know what it was, either, and I can’t find anything online. Anyone know?

On the way back from Chincoteague Island (which is divided into three parts – a Seaside-like tourist town (Seaside’s on the Oregon coast), Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and Assateague National Seashore), I drove over a causeway to get back to the mainland, and watched the really ominous clouds come closer and closer.

Some seriously ominous clouds on the causeway leaving Chincoteague Island.
Some seriously ominous clouds on the causeway leaving Chincoteague Island.

It rained on me once I got back on the highway, but fortunately the thunderstorm didn’t start until after I found a motel here in Salisbury, Maryland. Which was a real trick because they’re having some sort of national sporting event here in town this week. If it hadn’t been for the nice couple at the tourist center, I’m not sure what I’d have done. It’s still booming and crashing and flashing out there. Fortunately, so far there’s been at least seven alligators between flash and boom.

Tomorrow I’m going to duck up into Delaware briefly (so that I can knock it off of my states-I-haven’t-been-to-yet list), then back over to Chesapeake Bay, where I will make my way up to the Bay Bridge and across to Annapolis and Baltimore, where I will be spending a few days with my friend Katrina and her sister Teri, then picking my best friend Loralee up at the Baltimore airport. She and I are going to explore DC together for a few days before I head north again.

So if my blogging is a bit thin on the ground for the next week or so, that’s why. I will catch it all up once I’m on my own again – or I may have time to blog after all. Who knows?