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October 18, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

St Michaels and the Eastern Shore

A friend (thanks, Jessica) rented an AirBnB just outside of St Michaels for a mid-week bicycling get-away. Five other bicyclists from the DC area were there — a congenial group who shared wonderful bike rides, dinners in local restaurants, and hanging out at the gorgeous house for four days. (Here’s the view from the backyard, which faced the Miles River.)

Sunday

I was already on the Eastern Shore, having spent the weekend in Lewes DE. On Sunday, I drove from Lewes to Cambridge MD. My plan was to get in a ride around Cambridge and the Harriet Tubman Historic National Park, looking for the sites given on the Harriet Tubman Driving Tour. Because of iffy weather (and laziness), I never did get to Tubman’s birthplace. Instead, I just explored Tubman-related sites closer to Cambridge, as well as checking out the historic downtown. I was particularly impressed with the Choptank River mural.

Monday

Since I was already on the Eastern Shore, I didn’t ride with the group on Monday They met and rode on Kent Island, which was on their way out of the DC metro area. Instead, I hung around my hotel room and had a lovely (late) breakfast at the Bay Country Bakery and Cafe just down to road. (Best sticky bun I’ve ever had and I still regret not buying a loaf of bread.)

Finally I loaded up the car and had a leisurely drive to St Michaels. I got there in time to have a short exploratory ride into and in St Michaels. My first discovery was the Classic Motor Museum, which includes both cars and motorcycles. Gorgeous vehicles, magnificently preserved. The owner (who, I later discovered, is a DuPont descendent, so had sufficient seed money to start the museum) said that many of the vehicles are also in top driving condition. An absolute must-see if you like classic cars and/or motorcycles.

I kept riding around town, zigging between the harbor and Talbot St, the main street downtown. There was not one, but two, bike tours in town today — Discovery Bicycle Tours and VBT (Vermont Bicycle Tours). The owner of Discovery is originally from the DC area, and I had met him before he took over the tour business and moved to Vermont. So, I conveyed my regards to the trip leader who was at the van, cleaning bikes, while the group explored St Michaels on foot.

I did some shopping in St Michaels. Not at the fancy shops in the center of town, but at the triathlon shop on the south side of town. I needed to replace gloves that had finally worn out in Lewes and (sigh) picked up a few other things. It was a very nicely stocked shop with a friendly sales clerk. There is also a bike shop in town (Shore Pedal and Paddle), but they specialize in renting bicycles and boats. The owner also has a house in DC (!!). I wish both these local stores success and am glad they are still in business.

I got back to the house just as the rest of the group was arriving and our reservation started (4 PM). We got acquainted, moved in, and went out to a lovely dinner at Awful Arthur’s.

Tuesday

The house rules were to bring food so we could prepare breakfast and an on-the-road lunch, but we’ll have dinner out. Great rules! People filtered down to breakfast and discovered how to operate the appliances in the kitchen. We then got dressed for a day of bicycling with rain possible in the forecast. And prepared our bicycles for the ride.

I had planned today’s ride — It was an out-and-back trip down to Tilghman Island, with little detours along the way. Of course, I made last minute changes to the route, based on some of the attractions I had discovered yesterday — both in St Michael’s and in picking up some bicycling and tourist guides at the bike and triathlon shops.

Everyone liked the out-and-back to Claiborne Point (around mile 10 above), location of the Wades Point Inn. But the main attraction was Tilghman Island, even though we couldn’t get to the tip of the island since it was a resort that was “closed for a private function.” On the way back, we stopped at the Tilghman Island General Store for lunch, and were sheltered from the teeny bit of rain that started and stopped.

On out way back, we avoided the main street through St Michael’s by riding on the St Michael’s Nature Trail, a 2.5 mile paved rail-trail conversion. Some of us stopped at the conveniently located Graul’s supermarket to pick up some additional food. I stopped to pick up dinner, since I had a Zoom session to attend while the rest of the group was having dinner out at Limoncello.

Wednesday

Today we did Jessica’s ride around Talbot county. She had wanted to take us over the Bellevue-Oxford ferry, but it was closed for repairs. (It usually closes for the season at the end of October.) It turns out that part of the ride covered the same territory as the “Cemetery Quest Tour”, one of six rides mapped out in the map of Talbot county I had picked up at the triathlon store on Monday. I remember at least four cemeteries. The ones we stopped at had graves going back to the 19th century. Most of the cemeteries were well maintained. One, however, was not well maintained, even though it contained a modern-ish marker for Nace Hopkins, a local freed slave and community leader.

The ride was all on roads, except for a rail-trail in Easton. It turns out that a new mural, of Frederick Douglass, was just dedicated there! The rail-trail has many street intersections, since it goes through an old commercial-industrial neighborhood. The mural is magnificent!

Shortly after we passed the mural, I split off from the group. They wanted to see the remaining attraction, the Little Red Schoolhouse. I was content with fewer miles, exploring the historic district on Easton, and then headed back to the house. On the one road leading to-and-from St Michael’s, I stopped to take photos of some wonderful sculptures we had passed on the way out. I did a double take, but, yes, they’re sculptures.

The group called me when they got back. We rode together into St Michael’s for ice cream at Justine’s. Consensus was that this was first-class ice cream. I’d say it’s the best I’ve had!

Dinner tonight also ranked right up there — it was at T at the General Store in Royal Oak, a mile from the house. I drove — very strange to drive in a place where there are no street lights and much less ambient light than the suburbs I’m used to. Worth the drive! The chef came out to greet us and help serve; we could not compliment him enough — on everything. A first for me — My first chicken pot pie that wasn’t a Swanson’s frozen dinner. Good to the last forkful.

Thursday

We had to check out of the house by 10 AM. I had to get back to town, so I packed up and got out early (ok, early-ish). Waze helped me avoid the worst traffic on I-695 and I-295 by taking me through NE and SE DC on some of my bicycling routes. (Good software.) Back to daily life …

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