Chestertown 2016

Last updated June 2, 2016



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three

On May 28-30, 2016, Norma and I spent the weekend in Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland where we attended the Chestertown Tea Party. This is a huge festival that draws thousands of people to this eastern shore town.

The two of us were up bright and early, crossing the Bay Bridge around 0715, before the holiday weekend traffic.

We drove through the 'C' towns: Centreville, Church Hill, and then finally Chestertown.

Norma and I dropped my car off at Simply Bed and Bread, a very nice bed and breakfast where we stayed that I would highly recommend. There we met Cheryl and Dave. A lot of people came out for the festival so parking was tight but we had a reserved spot at the B&B.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that Chestertown is my first choice for places to retire. I list several reasons on my September 21, 2014 blog so I won't repeat them here.

The last time we were in Chestertown was November 1-2, 2014 for the tall ships festival.

Day One, Saturday, May 28, 2016

After chatting with Cheryl, Norma and I walked a short distance into town and then stopped at the weekly farmers market on High Street. See first photo. There were a good number of folks selling food grown locally. We also did some shopping at the various vendor stands. If everyone spent as much money at the festival as Norma, then they really made a good profit.

As more and more people gathered, we found a good place to stand in the shade and watch the parade. See second and third photos. Since the festival has a historic theme, many people were dressed in colonial attire.

At Cheryl's recommendation, we made time to hear the Chester River Chorale at the Garfield Center for the Arts. I was surprised how many members the chorale has. I was also pleased to see just how active the performing arts community is at the Garfield.

Around midday, Norma and I were pretty tired so we walked back to the B&B and took a nap, missing the re-enactment of the dumping of tea into the harbor. I assume there were plenty of folks from my kayak club there to witness this event.
In response to British Parliament's closing of the port of Boston, the citizens of Chestertown, Maryland met in May of 1774 and set forth "Resolves" forbidding importing, selling, or consuming tea in Chestertown. According to local legend, residents then gathered at the town center, marched down High Street to the brigantine Geddes, which was anchored in the Chester River, and tossed her cargo of tea overboard. The annual reenactment of that event is the centerpiece of the Chestertown Tea Party Festival.
- from "Chesa Del Grier - Chestertown Tea Party Festival Marks 40th Year in 2016" (link broken as of 2018)

Norma and I walked back into town, viewed the historic buildings, and the Schooner Sultana (fourth photo) and then ate a nice dinner at the Lemon Leaf Cafe.

We made our way to Washington College where we attended a bluegrass concert. They were playing for a Baltimore Bicycling Club event and we just happened to sneak in.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Day Two, May 29, 2016

We awoke to a fine breakfast at the B&B. Cheryl told us everything we wanted to know about the town. Both her and Dave grew up there.

With our bellies full, Norma and I biked a 25 mile loop between the B&B and Chesterville (a town to the east), where we crossed over the Chester River into Queen Anne's County. We saw lots of birds and farms, including a pesticide-free organic farm. Not much traffic on our route (first image, first column).

Next, we biked into town to attend the Wilmer Park Main Stage Concert and eat lunch.

Norma and I watched a race of rafts made of non-nautical materials. It seems the whole town showed up for this. I was impressed at how much enthusiasm the residents showed for such a silly and fun activity. I tried to think of something similar we could do in Savage but I drew a blank.
  • Second photo, first column: This was my favorite raft, called "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat" (a quote from the movie "Jaws").
  • Third photo, first column: Contestants lined up at the start. The stand up raft at the left sank shortly after.
  • First photo, second column: "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat" has a tail that moves from side to side as the shark swims. How clever!
  • Second photo, second column: This raft is called Optimus Prime. It is named after a Transformer.
  • Third photo, third column: Upon crossing the finish line, Optimus Prime showed its true colors. In the end, I don't think folks really cared about who won. It was more about the creativity and hard work people put into designing their rafts.

  • Taking our hosts' suggestion, we ate dinner at Luisa's Cucina Italiana. We were hoping to catch a bite at the Blue Heron Cafe but they always seem to be closed when we want to go there. Maybe next time.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Three, Memorial Day, May 30, 2016

    On Monday, Norma and I drove out to Morgan Creek, a tributary off the Chester River. We launched at Morgnec. It was near low tide so the launch area was a little muddy but not too bad.

    What is nice about this creek is it stays fairly narrow for the whole length of the trip, much to Norma's liking.

    After about 2.5 miles of paddling upstream, we took a short break at Rileys Mill. See first photo, first column. We spotted a small tributary (second photo, first column) that flowed into Morgan Creek from the west side and made a note to explore it on the way back.

    Continuing upstream, we saw some bald eagles. See third and fourth photos, first column. We did not find their nest.

    We made it pretty far upstream but not far enough to see route 213.

    Norma spotted a two foot long northern water snake. We followed it for awhile. Surprisingly, it never dove under. See fifth, sixth, and seventh photos, first column. A little further downstream, we saw another but this one was a much better swimmer and once we got close, it submerged itself and only came up for air briefly until we left the area.

    We stopped at a heron rookery at Google Maps coordinates 39.266741, -76.028274. The trees were lush with foliage so we couldn't see the nests very well from Morgan Creek but their sounds were very distinctive so I knew the rookery was close. I made a video from below one of the nests. Be sure you have your speakers turned up to hear the noises made by the young birds (eighth image, first column).

    The nests were hard to see but looking at satellite photos, they were quite visible as grey circles. See ninth image, first column.

    To get closer, we paddled up a very small creek that soon got narrower than our boat is long. Then we went ashore and got under the nests. There was a lot to see in that area.
  • First photo, second column: Broken heron egg shell. The color resembles the eggs laid by my Easter Egger chickens.
  • Second photo, second column: Toad.
  • Third photo, second column: Fallen nest.
  • Fourth photo, second column: Great blue heron.
  • Fifth photo, second column: Luna moth wing.
  • Sixth photo, second column: Looking up at some of the nests.

  • Next, Norma and I explored the small stream that flowed on the west side of Rileys Mill. We had to portage across at least one beaver dam.
  • Seventh photo, second column: This is as far we we got.
  • Eighth photo, second column: Norma amongst the spatterdock.

  • Kayaking back downstream, we saw another snake that looked very much like the first but they were nowhere near each other so it must have been different. See ninth photo, second column.

    A couple of deer were seen along the water along with a groundhog. We also saw a muskrat. See tenth photo, second column.

    By the time we finished, we had paddled about 10.5 miles.

    Just north of the main part of town, we picked strawberries at Lockbriar Farms. We also ate some of their berry ice cream made from their own berries. It was the best I've ever had.

    Norma and I drove back to the B&B and changed into dry clothes. We thanked our hosts then made our way home in heavy traffic.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Norma and I had an excellent weekend. It was a great way to celebrate 10 years since our first date on May 31, 2006.