Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heading out of Ridgley

As we leave Ridgley, I have to mention Chowder's favorite feature of this little rural town - the historic fountain in the park. Back in 1915, a group of young ladies in the town decided they wanted to do something to benefit their community. They called themselves the Forget-Me-Not Band of Mercy, and raised funds to put up a fountain in the town park. It was intended not only for people but the also the local dog population and the horses and mules that pulled wagons through the dusty streets. The fountain remains in the park today; it was repaired in 2000 and thirsty dogs, humans, and I suppose horses and mules, can still get a drink there. It will be about 8 miles before Chowder and I hit another town so that drink is much appreciated. I love the sentiment on the original plaque:


Ridgley, MD

Ridgely, MD, population 1352, was conceived as a planned city in 1867 by a company from Philadelphia called the Maryland and Baltimore Land Association, during a land speculation boom that followed the Civil War. They funded a 200 acre survey and produced an elaborate map of the future city to attract settlers. Unfortunately, the infrastructure was not there to support their plans. The company went bankrupt within the year, and Ridgely was left with 4 buildings: a railroad station for the railroad which would not arrive for another year, a hotel, one house and one combination house/general store. That last building, the Ridgely house, is still standing and is shown above. The green house above is also one of the very early buildings of Ridgely. The town did start to grow once the railroad arrived, and in the second half of the 19th century little Ridgely became the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” home to the Armour Strawberry Preserving Plant. This was at the time the largest strawberry canning factory in the world and employed about1000 people during strawberry season. Strawberries are still a major crop of the region, and Ridgely has a strawberry festival every May.

Miles to date, 61.99

Monday, September 28, 2009

Crossing the Choptank River

Miles to date: 58.56

The current bridge for cars over the Choptank river was built in 1986; the older bridge which it replaced is now a popular fishing pier. It was recently renamed the Bill Burton State Park Fishing Pier, after a local outdoorsman and journalist who convinced the state to keep it open for fishing. For over 30 years, Burton wrote columns about the outdoors for the Baltimore Sun, the Annapolis Evening Capital and the Bay Weekly. He also did a weekly fishing report on local channel 2: dressed in fishing gear, he would stand in front of a map which had little magnetic fish to show where the fishing was good that week. He is credited with educating Marylanders about the outdoors, promoting conservation, and fostering an appreciation of our natural resources. He died in August at the age of 82. His daughter reports that he was fishing up til the end.

Since Bill's not here to do it, here is this week's fishing report for the area, courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources: channel catfish have been very active in the Choptank and other local rivers, due to recent rains that have cooled many of the Eastern Shore’s rivers and also flushed them out, leaving clearer water.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Martinak State Park

Only had time for a short walk today since I'm off to start a 30 hr shift at work. So we'll just hang out right outside Denton in Martinak State Park. According to two online reviews, Martinak park gets 5 stars. It has campgrounds, a playground, a boat ramp and a beatiful river, perfect for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and jet skiing. Chowder was also happy to hear that it's dog friendly. The land was deeded to the state by George Martinak in 1961. Thanks, Mr. Martinak!

Total miles to date, 56.06

Friday, September 25, 2009

Denton, Maryland

Fri, 9/25: walked 2.2 miles; total miles to date, 55.58

Today our walk takes us through Denton, Md, population about 4000, located on the Choptank River. It’s the county seat of Caroline County, MD. Highlights include the Tuckahoe Neck Meetinghouse, built in the 1700s by a tiny and short-lived Christian sect called the Nicolites. It was eventually taken over by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), who absorbed most of the sect’s followers after the death of their founder Joseph Nicol in 1770. Like the Quakers the Nicolites were fiercely opposed to slavery, and the Tuckahoe Neck meetinghouse was a center of Underground Railroad activity.
This week’s news in Denton: the town council is going to slash the town budget by $280,000 for 2010, however they have approved a project to renovate Fifth Avenue, from the Royal Farms store at Market St, to the Food Lion Shopping Center along state route 404. They voted down a proposal to renovate the town hall or to build a new one.

Made it to Maryland! Drive Gently, Everyone

Milestone #1: Maryland State Line. I estimate that I reached this milestone around 9/21/09, having walked 44.6 miles. In addition to being the boundary between Maryland and Delaware, this is the famous Mason-Dixon line. Generally thought of as the border between the North and the South, it was surveyed in the 1760s by Mr. Charles Mason and Mr. Jeremiah Dixon to settle a border dispute and determine once and for all the boundaries between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Not sure exactly where Delaware fits into this, but basically the Calverts of Maryland and the Penns of Pennsylvania both claimed to have been given parts of the land by the king of England, and apparently there was actually armed violence over this issue. Recent GPS data shows that Mason and Dixon, while accurate to within an inch in some places, were off by as much as 800 feet in others. Hopefully we can all live with this without breaking out our muskets.
The part of the line that runs North-South and separates Maryland and Delaware is 83 miles long. The part that separates Md and Pa is 233 miles long. The line is marked with 300-600 pound stones placed at one mile intervals. Every fifth mile is marked with a “crown stone” which has the Calvert coat of arms on one side and the Penn coat of arms on the other.
The Maryland State welcome signs used to say "Drive Gently" back in the old days. Apparently they don't anymore if that picture above is representative. But let's all drive gently anyway, so as not to scare any virtual walkers and their dogs.

Delaware: A Very Flat Place

From here, we go on, virtually walking across Delaware. It’s a small, flat state which I personally have never seen the point of. It has always seemed to me that either the entire Eastern Shore peninsula should be Delaware, or the whole thing should just be part of Maryland. I'm sure it made sense to someone at the time. Anyway. Along the way we pass lots of farms, and pass through Redden State Forest, which has 11,000 acres and is popular for hiking, hunting and birdwatching.

Our starting point: Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware

This lovely park is one of the few spots along my virtual walk that I’ve actually been to in real life. It’s located near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and happens to be the location of the local gay and lesbian beach there. Ladies to the north end of the beach, gentlemen to the south. Another interesting feature of the beach is the concrete observation towers, built in WWII to guard the shore from Nazi U-boats. They used to be back behind the dunes but thanks to erosion they’re right by the water’s edge now.

Walking Across America

Thursday, 9/24/09: This will be possibly the nerdiest blog ever. I doubt anyone will read it besides my family (hi Mom!) but I decided it would be a fun way to stay motivated in my walking for exercise. I started walking for exercise August 10. Since then I’ve walked 53.38 miles. With the help of this nifty website: http://walking.about.com/cs/measure/a/webwalkingusa.htm I’m taking a virtual walk across America. For the general interest of possibly no one but myself, I will ramble about the various locations along the route as I go.
Once I get done with this walk, I may try walking across some other countries, like Canada (http://maps.tctrail.ca/) and various parts of Australia. (http://www.human-race.org/community_new/wt_virtual.html)
All the pictures I put up will be of the actual places or people being described. Coming soon: a picture of my walking partner, Chowder. Or as I call him, my short, hairy, highly motivated walking coach. He does not let me miss a day. If I try to start skipping walks, there is a good possibility he might poop on the floor. Try finding that kind of motivation from a human coach.