St Michael's Moments
16 October 2007 | St. Michaels, MD
I just sent a birthday card off to Jim's sister - an early Happy Birthday Mary Jean! The verse inside talked about treasuring moments, and our visit to this wonderful little town has been chock-a-block with MOMENTS.
We arrived on a hot and sunny afternoon, pulled into St Michaels Marina for diesel, water and a pump out. It's a small harbour but there is lots of room at the fuel dock and the folks are helpful. We then chugged over to the little harbour in front of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the Inn at Perry Cabin, dropped our anchor in about 10 feet of water, and hopped in the dinghy for a quick trip to Big Al's - home of fabulous seafood. That was the first of the MOMENTS because not only did we purchase seafood, but we met Thursby Cooper. This wonderful man took us out back to show us a basketful of the famous Maryland Blue Crabs - and they are blue as you can see from the picture. He told us how they steam them on demand in fresh water every time, in big pots. (pour a few inches of water in the bottom; put in the rack; put the crabs on top with the seasoning spice; put the lid on - presto - steamed crabs.) He also gave us his recipe for oyster fritters, and his buddy John told us how to open and eat the crabs. Dinner on Sunday evening was a half dozen extra large crabs - oh so very good, and like lobster, best eaten outdoors with fingers.
On Monday, I tried making the fritters for brunch and they were delicious too. So of course we had to go back to Big Al's for another supply of food from the Bay. This time we got a tub of crabmeat - less work - a couple of ready-made crab cakes, some breaded oysters, and a soft shell crab to try. It was all so fresh and delicious, there were many mmmm's and ah's coming from Madcap's cockpit!
We met other friendly cruisers: Bill from Pennsylvania, Karen from Montreal, PQ, and Deb and Paul from Barrie, ON. We're all on the journey south and we look forward to meeting up with them again.
Jim and I toured the Museum with its wonderful displays of historic Chesapeake Bay boats. The skipjacks and log canoes, shallops and bugeyes, and the Baltimore Clipper are all represented and all so interesting to learn about. I climbed the screwpile lighthouse - so named because the piles holding it up are screwed down into the mud. It is representative of other such lighthouses and is very different from the ones we knew from home.
We had seen a sign that the Carpenter Street saloon had live music so we decided to stay up late and check it out. Unfortunately the sign was gone and there was no live music but we had a beer among the locals anyway.
Tuesday morning was a day for roaming. I got my fix of talking with people everyplace we went. We strolled first through the grounds and the lobby of the Inn at Perry Cabin - that has been the view from our cockpit for much of the past two days. It is a lovely white building that looks like three or four buildings all very tastefully melded together. It is owned by the Orient Express chain and looks extremely elegant and expensive. Madcap looked quite elegant herself sitting just off their front garden!
I spent the better part of a wonderful hour with Mary and her husband John in their fascinating two-in-one store on Talbot Street - Artistes Locales/Frivolous Fibers. I was drawn in by the yarns, but was also impressed by the quality of the artwork, and was totally captivated by these two wonderful people. I bought some sock yarn and needles because I have been missing having some kind of handwork to do while we travel. Mary was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and generous with websites and patterns. She laughed when she heard I am traveling on a sailboat and said many of her customers are boaters. They spread the word from one boat to another, and people keep coming in. So here I am - spreading the word some more - check out the website at www.frivolousfibers.com. I've promised to send her a picture when I get my socks done. Whether your interest is art or fibres - this is a Must See stop in St. Michaels. John's photos are brilliant (www.johnrobinsonphotos.com) and he also gave me some tips on buying a new zoom lens. Jim eventually came looking for me and we moved on to check out Phil Heim Designs where the friendly lady showed me how to fix the back of my earring so it wouldn't fall off, and sold us a fine blue crab - an art piece of course!
Next stop was Sugar Buns where we munched on wickedly good cinnamon buns and fresh coffee, bought roasted garlic bread, and learned from Susan that we should rent bikes next time and take the little ferry over to Oxford. We'll probably visit there by boat anyway, but the bike trip is a really good idea for our exploration on the return trip. We picked up thick, marbled steaks and Howard's Pepper Relish (suggested by Thursby as the best accompaniment to oyster fritters) at the deli, and finally stopped in at Acme grocery for the rest of our supplies. The bells of the Episcopal Church were ringing out familiar melodies as we walked on down the street and back to our boat, savouring the MOMENTS all the while.
St Michaels has been a perfect place to spend a few days, and now we are off to anchor in Leeds Creek - just across the Miles River - where we'll swim and BBQ and look at the stars - and do a little work too!