Maryland, the western shore…

Maryland, the western shore…

my blog this week will more likely be a travel log sort of thing (as if it has some usual tract), if I happen to be inspired to write, I will, much like my annual Cape May trip I like to find some places a bit out of the way and hopefully distill the experience for you as I perceive it…

so today, being my first official day of vacation, I made sure not to sleep the day away, which I love to do as work has been exhausting lately, but I managed to drag myself out of bed at the early hour of 10am (early for me… ok?), from there I basically I walked the beach, listening to the surf talking behind my back, trying to take it all in, getting closer to that grey heron I see every year, closer than I have ever been, he made a complaining squawk as he flew away, I guess 10 feet is his dancing space, dully noted,  I started at the jetty on the south beach, as it is known here, the sun was strong, I learned my lesson last time out, and not wanting a screaming neck I broke out my coppertone, careful not forget my satellite dish ears, too often I forget these outliers and they wind up like strips of bacon, and not half as tasty,  maybe I enjoy the monotony, the symphony of sameness  that is waves, sure, this is a bay, so it is not quite the ocean, but you can not see past the horizon either way, I ran across a total of four people, one couple, two individuals, mostly everyone here are happy warriors, happy to live in such a magical place, and almost everyone has dogs, so I am sold, but one guy today, not a smile, a curmudgeon hiding behind his wilford brimley mustache with a puppy no less who wanted to pounce all over me, which would have bothered me none, I think it was some sort of spaniel/retriever, I could not tell, and since sourpuss would not even acknowledge my hello I will never know, I walked farther than I recall, this is low tide and provides greater range, so I go as far as I can, I come upon familiar mental triggers, I remember the landscape well, the willow tree where I found my first mako, various boat houses I saw destroyed by storms in the past, places on the cliffs with caged stone like you see on some highways to try and keep the bay erosion at bay, for now, walking down the line, my crocs in hand, like a lost traveler on some lost beach, but this is the northeast, this seems more like a scene in the caribbean, but that is just it… this is the northeast I know, and these parts have been inhabited for long now, I mind my time by the tide, getting back will not be as easy when the tide comes in, and I am not in my swimming trunks or swimming mood, and certainly not with all the jellies in the water today, I should have started a study on the amount of jellyfish I saw, pulsing hearts, tiny discs, brilliant flowers inside glass, some red and brown like fall colors, I try to avoid them but must admit I stepped on a couple of them, this is a wild place, there is no places to sit, after a while I realize I need to sit, the lactic acid has built up, it seems like I have been walking for days, lost in the wilderness but strict north to south, listening to that surf, an easy surf today, clear water, I could see the blue crabs scurry away from my hulking frame, so I wandered like a fish in his water, until I could get no further, and turned back, wondering if I had the energy to do so…  and the realization I had walked off my stress, I am indeed decompressed, I breathe in as deeply as I can, to feel the emptiness, the lack of having a burden for at least this moment, to let go of everything, take off my sweaty hat, sweep my brow, sit on a log, look out at those tiny ripple waves, and breathe, and breathe again, regardless of my failures, or my accomplishments, I am here right now, soak it all in… and so I will… for now…

Experience the (this) sunrise in a different place. close your eyes (momentarily) and transport yourself.

Experience the (this) sunrise in a different place. close your eyes (momentarily) and transport yourself.

beach dawn dusk ocean
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Experience first light in scientist cliffs, maryland… as I saw it a few days ago… I was staying up on the cliffs about 200 feet above the beach… the sun rises up over the bay, slowly, calmly, the waves are beneath, waiting… put it full screen and breath… and then click to look…

Dawn over the Chesapeake Bay from the vantage point of Scientist Cliffs gate E

I am by no means a morning person, heck, look at my post times, but that said I made a point to wake up and crawl out into the cold (OK, only 40s), but it was an effort, this just shows me everything, it encompasses everything, it is the why I return to this spot every year, if only for a week, I do consider myself lucky to be able to do so, sure there are tropical paradises all over the world, but this is a mere 4 hour drive from me… and besides that I firmly believe in finding beauty wherever you may go

If you like my posts, let me know, engage and enrage… or post something nice, maybe you don’t blog, or maybe you do ?   I would love to hear from you.  thanks … in advance and if you don’t react, well… I forgive you (just this once ya know)…

And so I tried oysters the way they said…

And so I tried oysters the way they said…

adventure beach boat coast
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Part of being on the eastern coastal region of the US is the abundance of oysters, they were so populous back in the early days of our country that they were the street food of the day (check out this article about oysters and new york city), so I happen to love raw seafood, top necks (clams), oysters etc etc, I have been known to house a few dozen no problem (just ask Awful Arthurs, I think they got sick of me while I was in town), but in all my travels (OK, limited I have basically just gone up and down the east coast of the US) I have not seen the ritual of eating them with crackers (saltine type)… so, the bartender was rather amused with the idea of me trying oysters the southern maryland way, there is some disagreement though, there are two methods (so I was told – maybe they were messing with me which would be hilarious).

a) make a sandwich of sorts, oyster on cracker topped with raw horseradish and cocktail sauce

b) cracker crumbled on top of said oyster and horseradish/cocktail sauce

Both are anathema to how I enjoy my bivalves.. but heck, I’m game, so I ordered a 1/2 dozen (I was @ Stoney’s in Prince Frederick if you ever are here – GO, or order online, the crab cakes are divine), so…

a) made the sandwich, while being ogled by the bartender and her endless amusement at my proclaimed predicament, I guess I had to do this in one bite?  so I did.  artful ? probably not, graceful ? surely not.  the cracker kind of soaked up the liqueur (which I want to taste) but also too much, it made my mouth a desert and kind of robbed the oyster of it’s full natural flavor, it kind of was like really good paper towels had sapped away all the moisture and I was only getting everything BUT the oyster, thumbs down, well, at least the bartender was amused by all my expressive facial expressions…

b) the crumble method… so I carefully selected one of the remaining oysters (I had cleansed my palette in between with a combination of oysters the way I like and some Goose IPA), I popped some raw horseradish on there, a quick squeeze of lemon, and a dollop of cocktail sauce… on that (blasphemy) I crumbled a full cracker’s worth of cracker on top…  and popped it in the ole blow hole in the front of my face, OK, not bad, did not totally sap the oyster of what makes them great (IMO), it added a little texture to the mix, I could live with this version (IF I didn’t know any better)

Verdict? I still like to just scoop the suckers up, put a little cocktail sauce/horseradish on and chew ’em… I like to taste where they are from, word is that there was a good deal of rain this year in the bay (that might actually hurt the harvest) but that also decreases the salinity… I definitely noticed, these were super mild (and sweet).  So, that is what my blog is today, no poetry, just a dissertation on local oysters and customs.  Tomorrow I venture back to home, the murderer of dozens upon dozens of bivalves over the course of the week… if the mollusks ever take over, I am surely in trouble…

And the weather broke…

And the weather broke…

I am on vacation in a non vacation location (say that 10 times fast), but for me this is perfect, the stars are really wonderful tonight, none of my cameras can capture the low light shots though (it is great to see all the constellations so bright – even if the light that I see is beyond the age of all civilization).  But anyway the rain stopped about 3pm so I was able to get out onto the beach, I wandered about in awe like I usually do, this place floors me, it grounds me, I hope it allows me bring this feeling to the world, I mean, isn’t that what it is all about ?  I was able to find some cool fossils but also just these views, I am thankful for just that, and I need to remember that… and then there is the great food (sushi tonight: baltimore roll: lump crab, avocado, reverse roll (rice on the outside), rolled in old bay seasoning… oh man, total food buzz. (I also got baby octopuses as an app  – they were way bigger than other times I have had them, very chewy, but damn delicious)

please pepper me with questions about this area.  I love it here and have been coming here for years now.  I think this is an absolute hidden gem of the east coast of the US. Plus if you think there is somewhere like this I should know about .. I want to know!!! (Virginia, Delaware etc etc !!!)

Tonight’s lesson in eastern US geography (southwest Maryland)

Tonight’s lesson in eastern US geography (southwest Maryland)

mountain covered by trees
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

I am off for the week, thrilled to be in one of my favorite places on the east coast, Scientist Cliffs, MD…  Sure, the weather is not being cooperative (rainy) and driving down I got stuck behind an accident on 95 that had the highway shut down to one lane, but there is something about this place that speaks to me, this is not some resort/tourist area (unlike Solomons just south of here, plus this is not far from Washington DC), in fact all the locals think I am nuts when I tell them I am on vacation, some even recognize me as that guy who they see every year around this time (if you read any of my blog you can tell I am a different bird so no news there), I am not near any major city which for someone who lives in the shadow of NYC is a treat (to actually see the stars and even cosmic dust/galaxies @ night).

This area is known for Miocene era fossils, you literally just walk the beach and find shark teeth half the size of your hand (see some I have found here), man, in Jersey I have to dig and sift for hours to get teeth half as impressive, also this is a completely private area populated originally by scientists (um, hence the name) and one of their requirements was that the homes are log cabins (literally), now these days that requirement has relaxed a bit (the people I rent from call the house next door a McMansion – it is more modern and they only come here on the weekends), but for the most part 80% of the homes are log cabins or at least very rustic, the particular place I rent (the only rental actually, everyone else lives here) is about 100 years old and was built by hand by the patriarch of the family I rent from… they left the cabin as is (they raised their kids here), so it is like renting from family, all the old photos, kid’s art etc are all here on the walls including a deer head mounted on the wall, which creeps me out late at night honestly, there are these gnarly paths down to the beach as well (I am 100ft plus feet above the bay – which makes for amazing sunrises – my photos here), so last night was my first night here and I just had to go greet the bay, to hear the sound of the waves crashing up against the cliffs, I love the sound, it really just calms me, as violent as it actually is, such a natural rhythm plus the wind, it doesn’t need to be a summer or warm, just the tide is alright by me, so as I was saying earlier there are these totally crazy paths down to the beach carved out of the ravines hiding in the spaces of the cliffs, so last night I filmed my walk back and posted it on Youtube… someone should film a horror flick here, all I need is some creepy breathing or music.

I usually do not write creatively when I am here, although I have been reborn as of last april (I don’t mean religiously, I just felt different after an event in my life, that’s all).  I keep journals on me all the time, my car, my backpack etc. So I kind of expect I will write some stuff, but I am not going to force it, well… that is my goal, all we can do is go forward ya know ?

So anyway, I had a rockfish gyro tonight, I don’t especially like Feta cheese, this had Feta, which, to be honest I could have asked before I ordered it (the dish turned out to be very good), but I wanted to get something different than I usually order @ Stoney’s (seriously the crab cakes are just heavenly), but I will go back and order what I usually do, the neptune platter (an assortment of broiled seafood), of course I racked out first with a 6 pack of raw oysters, and I learned something, they serve raw oysters with:

cocktail sauce

horseradish (diced up separate)

lemon

lots of crackers

So… I love raw oysters (actually I prefer clams) but the crackers threw me… what the hell are they for in this application ? So I asked the bar maiden who told me people eat the oysters on the crackers (I thought maybe they crumbled the crackers over them?)!  So strange to me, I have had oysters up and down the east coast from New Hampshire to the Carolinas… I have not seen this particular application, ever, I guess I never paid attention here as I have been coming for years but kind of cast off the crackers… did I try it their way?  no… I like to taste the oysters, the brine, the grit, I chew them, I like to know the flavor of the water in which they grew, and in this case they are so mild growing in a bay, I was just recently in Cape May and of course the best oyster there is the Cape May Salts, and they taste of the ocean, which I dig, but these were also great, so clean and light, a little smaller than some but a little Tabasco, lemon, and cocktail sauce on the quick dip, and let them melt in your mouth, that is where it is at… well, at least for me, and well, this is my blog after all… will I try the oysters “their” way.. hmmm maybe, I have to be open but I know what I like, maybe just one out of a dozen I might sacrifice to these heathens…