As I have noted previously, there are so many places to stop on the Chesapeake that it is difficult to decide which ones to choose, especially with a limited amount of time in the area, and our time has been shortened even more by 2 lengthy weather delays. Oxford, MD was one town mentioned frequently as a got-to-see stop. We needed to get over to the eastern side of the bay anyway, so Oxford it is - called the "Most Picturesque Town On The Chesapeake." I'll tell you right up front that it fits that description for sure, and if it didn't get cold here it would go direct to the top of our "I Could Live Here List." But before we talk in depth about Oxford, let me mention a couple of interesting shots on the way from Solomons to Oxford.
The bay is about 15 miles across when you leave Solomons. We could see this ship way across the bay and if you look closely in the picture, you can get a slight sense of the curvature of the earth. You can normally see 11 miles across the horizon and as you can see, the hull of the ship is slightly below the horizon and the land behind it even more. The water in the foreground almost looks like a huge wave headed toward us. I remember once running up Land Between The Lakes in Kentucky where there is a straight run distance of probably 35 miles or more. There was a huge tall bridge in the distance that we could not yet see and the closer we got it began to "rise up" out of the water. Really cool - that picture is on this blog somewhere from about 5 years ago.
Then we passed the Cove Point Dominion Liquified Natural Gas facility on the western shore. The loading docks are pictured below. The storage tanks are on land and can store 7.8 billion cubic feet and release about 1 billion cubic feet per day to its customers. The Coast Guard shares the site and traveling guide remarks say not to get too close - they are pretty strict in enforcing the security of the location. Yeh, I bet! We gave it a wide berth for sure.
Don't remember where this was but a nice shot of a home and a lighthouse on shore.
The run from Solomons to Oxford was about 35 miles and put us in the Choptank River on the east side of Chesapeake Bay, then the Tred Avon River into Oxford. You could tell arriving Oxford that it would be a quaint little town. Here's one of the streets along the waterfront - called "The Strand."
There is a ferry that seems to run constantly in/out of Oxford to/from Bellevue. Somehow we missed a picture of that. It's the oldest privately operated ferry in the country, in existence since 1683, with a brief interruption in service after the American Revolution. There are marinas everywhere and there's no doubt in my mind that there are more boats in town than people.
"Help Me Rhonda" has a good spot at Mears Yacht Haven (also called Mears Yacht Heaven).
Most of the boats here have what I call a "Cape Dory" look. I don't know if that is a proper characterization or not but here is the look.
There is even a wooden boat builder still in business here, even though one of the owners conceded business is a little slow right now for new boats with the market flooded with so many for sale due to the bad economy. Business is mostly repairs and service for now. The company is called "Cutts and Case." Surprisingly, the Cutts allow you to wander throughout all of their complex all by yourself.
Now this is a serious workshop.
I loved the paint and varnish wall.
Here's a small boat in progress.
Here are some of their older building projects.
Their varnish work puts mine to shame but a friend of mine at Harborwalk in Galveston once told me that "the beauty of doing your own work is that you only have to please yourself!" Wise counsel I would say.
Here are some of the stages of work in progress. I know I'm wearing this topic out, but folks, this is a lost art. We had a 1972 wooden Grand Banks 2 boats ago and it was definitely one of our favorites.
OK, other topics now. The Scottish Highland Creamery has quite a reputation for home-made ice cream, made fresh daily, one gallon at a time.
We sat on a bench next to the Oxford Boatyard and Marina to enjoy our ice cream. There was an elderly man working on a watercolor picture of the boats. I watched over his shoulder for a long time and it looked pretty impressive to me. I finally asked questions an inquiring mind would want to know. He said he paints professionally and is from Vienna. I said, "Really? You came all the way from Austria just to paint here in Oxford?" He said "Not Vienna - Virginia!" Oh well, I thought I was on to someone famous. I have the same problem hearing and understanding sometimes when Rhonda is communicating with me! The guy on the right in the distance is fishing for white perch with his wife, so you get the idea - ice cream, painting, fishing, that's Oxford - a quaint, quiet, laid-back kind of town.
According to the locals, the city has aggressively resisted "development" over the years and it's working. They like it just the way it is. There are only about 15 streets and honestly, you could take a picture of any of the homes here and put it on the cover of Southern Living magazine. Every home is meticulously maintained and every yard is landscaped and manicured to perfection. White picket fences are more the norm than the exception. As we rode around the entire town on our bikes, there was very little noise and you could always hear the birds chirping in the trees. You can just about always see boats and the water, either on the bay/river or in the cove a few blocks away. You can remember it by "picture-perfect picket fence town."
And at the end of any street that approached the water, there was a right-of-way and designated property for a park bench. These are the little things that make towns special and unique.
A little history.
This home is called The Grapevine House. The grapevine has been growing since 1810. Rhonda says it looks like ivy to her.
The Academy House is difficult to photograph but was the officers' residence for the Maryland Military Academy from 1848-1855.
The original 1710 structure of the Robert Morris Inn was the home of Robert Morris SR and JR. Junior helped finance the Revolutionary War, counted George W (the first one) a personal friend, and was a signer of the Declaration Of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
The Oxford Inn is not listed as an historical location, but check out the antique vehicle parked out front, I assume to move guests to and fro.
We found a small log house in one yard. Pretty cool. Check out the rabbit in the background. You know they believe we can't see them if they don't move, right?
And we end the Oxford tour with a beautiful church, stained glass, and flowers.
We are going to try and stop in Annapolis tomorrow but slips are difficult to get sometime. If no luck, there are several other small towns that look good north of there. We had considered stopping here on the east side at St. Michaels and Cambridge but got to keep moving.