My friend suggested Baltimore’s Waterfront Promenade as a day trip destination earlier this year, and we’d been waiting for a weekend which we both had some free time to explore it in its entirety — or almost in its entirety. I am still amazed that I can live within minutes of some of these day trip destinations and not have heard about them except by chance — how much of our neighborhoods go unexplored?
I should have been home working on our kitchen reno… instead my husband suggested we go up to NYC to show a friend of his, who’d never been, around the major tourist sites. Within seconds, I had a plan in mind: Staten Island Ferry (to see the Statue of Liberty, and also, just because), lunch in Chinatown, a Christmas Market or two or four, Times Square, followed by a carriage ride in Central Park. We could do it!
I’m always intrigued by different ways to tour the National Military Park at Gettysburg. I loved the segway tour of the battlefield my husband and I went on a couple years ago, but that was as much for the fun of riding a segway as for the battlefield tour itself. I’ve tried the static driving tour, where you read the information provided in a pamphlet by the Visitor’s Center (this was years ago). I also have a CD driving tour that I’ve tried a few times and have enjoyed. There are horse rides through the battlefield as well as a variety of other options I haven’t tried yet (but probably will if I continue writing this blog in the coming years).
Our friend Jody Arneson, the Mid-Atlantic Day Trips blogger, shares her picks for top haunted places she has visited in the region. Boo!
7. Fort Frederick
Historical reenactors in the fort have frequently reported a presence or hostile feelings coming from the front right bastion of Fort Frederick, or of being followed out of it. Interestingly people re-enacting Scottish regiments sense a presence in this same place but it is friendly and curious. Four Scottish regiments were among those surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. I’ve been there twice now, but have thankfully seen nothing. Still, not a place I’d like to be alone.
On the last weekend in September, my sister and I went on one of the few tours offered every year to the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. I mean, not just a victory lap around the outside like countless folks in their boats, but get off the boat and climb up through the hatches to the outside deck and go inside.
It was too cool an opportunity to pass up.
As I initially wrote the draft blog, Hurricane Joaquin was forecasted to grow into a Level 3 hurricane and head straight up the Chesapeake Bay. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Another hurricane season survived!
Built in 1875 and now a National Historic Landmark, Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse is the last of its kind left in its original location.
For those who follow the blog, you’ll recognize Captain Mike and his vessel, the Sharpes Island. We first met Captain Mike during the Passage to Five cruise offered by Chesapeake Lights to see five lighthouses in the north part of the bay. We so enjoyed that day trip that we immediately signed up for the 2-day excursion to see 11 lighthouses in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay, appropriately entitled Southern Expedition. The National Lighthouse Society hired Captain Mike to take us on the 30-minute ride between Annapolis and the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.
On the way out we enjoyed seeing the U.S. Naval Academy sailing school, as well as another group of sailboats. It’s part of the sights of the northern Chesapeake Bay. We also enjoyed seeing numerous other sail boats and yachts on the ride.
Waves were a little choppy that day, but we easily docked at the lighthouse and climbed the 7-step ladder to the first platform underneath the lighthouse. With the breezes and the shade, I was thinking it was the perfect place to hang a hammock and read a book, or go to sleep. I even day dreamed a little about a lovely vacation doing just that! But according to the docent, the lightkeepers stored fuel for the light and their stoves, as well as other supplies, on the platform. So much for my day dream! The platform also offered a close look at the screwpile construction of the lighthouse platform.
Detail of the screwpile base of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse is a work in progress. Currently local volunteers are in the process of restoring (and maintaining) the lighthouse. One room in the lighthouse was filled with all the equipment you’d need to finish any home construction project; paint (probably lead paint at that) peeled from the ceiling and walls. This is what the lighthouse used to look like inside. I appreciated being able to see it this way, and compare it to the rest of the rooms, most of which have been restored to either the late 1890s condition or to reflect the Coast Guard period of the 1950s.
The lighthouse is unique in that most screwpile lighthouse cottages only have 4 dormer windows, versus Thomas Shoal’s six. Whether you visit on boat or tour the building, you can appreciate Victorian touches such as the lovely outside railing.
The kitchen, restored to the 1890s period (although much work
still needs to be done, including finding a era-authentic stove.)
The second floor of the lighthouse cottage.
Getting there: The tours left from a dock is located at waters edge behind the Annapolis Maritime Museum located at 723 2nd St Annapolis, MD 21403. The vesselSharps Island will be moored at the closest pier to the Horn Point Marina.
Website: The tours were offered through the U.S. Lighthouse Society at www.uslhs.org
I’m fascinated by the civilian experience that I learned about at this house museum because I believe my ancestors, who lived on a farm not that far away, may have had similar experiences, although their farm didn’t border a battle field. Like the Shrivers, my ancestors were immigrants from Germany. Like the Shrivers, the man of the family went off to the war to fight, leaving his wife and children behind to maintain the farm.
George Washington Shriver was born on July 27, 1836 on his family’s farm located eight miles southeast of Gettysburg.
Mid-Atlantic Day Trips – Francis Scott Key was always sort of a hometown hero for me: I grew up in Frederick, Maryland where Key is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery as he desired, “in the shadows of the Catoctin Mountains.” Thus, Fort McHenry has always been a favorite destination for me. It’s a lovely place to walk along the water in the mornings, even if you can’t visit the fort with your dog — you can enjoy the outside at least.
Mid-Atlantic Day Trips – This is part one of a five-part series over the next two months focusing on Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There is so much to do there — from strolling around the quaint town to eating at the taverns or cafes to touring the battlefields.
Just over an hour away from Baltimore or D.C., Gettysburg is a great day trip destination!
“Suddenly we behold an explosion; it is that of a caisson. We see a man thrown
high in the air and come down in a wheat field close by. He is picked up and
carried into the house. As they pass by I see that his eyes are blown out and
his whole person is one black mass.”
–Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman
A good friend and I recently spent a Saturday strolling around Gettysburg and getting to know it. We learned some things. There are a lot of antique and boutique shops to browse. There are also a number of wineries in town. So much fun! And plenty of places to eat.
Mid-Atlantic Day Trips – My sister and I are determined to visit all the local presidential mansions: Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier, among them. Montpelier is the estate of our fourth president, James Madison, and one of America’s founding fathers. He is known for putting his lawyerly training to work by helping write the U.S. Constitution in the late 1700s (with National Constitution Day coming up on 17 September, it’s the right time to make a visit to Montpelier!!). He also created the foundation for the Bill of Rights, acted as President Thomas Jefferson’s secretary of state, and served two terms as president himself. He is one of our more cerebral presidents. He also shepherded our young nation through the War of 1812.
Mid-Atlantic Day Trips – All my previous blogs on wineries have focused on mostly Maryland wineries. (I’ve visited some 17 of them over the past two years, some multiple times — check out this list of places the blog has visited.) I’ve also visited a few wineries on the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail in Pennsylvania. All along, I’ve been hearing how good the wineries in Virginia are, so I decided it was high time to visit.