Monday, October 15, 2018

Finally Heading home....

Yours truly, standing on a balcony at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA on the last day of sightseeing.   During this visit, a number of the soldiers addressed my wife and I as "ladies."  I did not hear "Sir" - but there were a few instances of "non-gendered forms of address."  A very nice touch, considering that I was not in full Mandy form!

Displays and dioramas were fabulous, everything was marked and well-explained in the documentation.  If you ever get the chance to visit, be sure to do it!

We took the long way back home, going south toward Richmond to beat the DC traffic, subsequently heading east on a country road, then north on US 301, crossing the Potomac River on the 1.7 mile long Harry W Nice Bridge.   It's a narrow, antiquated 2-lane structure, and connects Newburg,
MD with Dahlgren, VA.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt participated in its 1938 groundbreaking.   And it is definitely not a "nice" bridge. One has to be extremely careful to not stray over the center line and hit oncoming traffic, or hit the side guardrails.   But we survived!  Good news is: its 4-lane replacement is being discussed!  A two-lane bridge with 4 lane highways leading up to it tends to be a classic bottleneck!

Immediately after descending the north side, I turned in to a rather uninviting gas station and followed a driveway back south, to investigate the following curiosity:

At first glance, it appears to be some sort of elaborate advertising gimmick.  Look again, more closely at the two center towers.  Notice that "wall" between them does not look the same as walls on either side.   That's because it was added quite some time after the "castle" was built...   And notice the real windows in some of the openings on the end towers with the blue roofs.  Very curious.

Upon investigation on-line, it became clear that this was built as the "grand entrance" to now-defunct "Aqua-Land Amusement Park."  The road (which no longer exists but can be imagined - look at the tree gap above the center wall)  passed between the two center towers and led into the park. 

Following is a description of the park (and surrounding areas) from the Sept. 10, 1996 Baltimore Sun:

Vacation-style communities are part of a greater architecture and development trend called "themeing," in which communities are engineered to create a more enchanting atmosphere than typical suburbs, he said.

This vision of fun and fantasy was exactly what the Conner brothers, Dennis and Delbert, were after when they began carving Aqua-Land and Cliffton from the rural coast in Newburg in 1960.
Flights with free champagne brought Washington and Baltimore visitors to an airstrip at Cliffton for 24 unreal hours. Tigers and bears prowled in a petting zoo, a giant Humpty-Dumpty welcomed visitors to the children's theme park, Storyville U.S.A., and guests traversed the grounds via mini-trains.

The Conners dreamed of creating a "Las Vegas of the East" and building thousands of homes at their Cliffton on Potomac community alongside it. If visitors bought lots and stayed for good, the Conner brothers gave them free kitchen utensils.

"One fed the other," said Dennis "Dennie" Conner, 72, who now lives in Palm City, a retirement community in South Florida. "We did fly-ins and boat-ins and crab feasts that helped the whole development. We did a lot of promoting."

But the disappointments started coming early. First, they lost a choice spot on the shoreline to a PEPCO power plant. Then, they were denied a permit to dig a moat around the property for Jungle-Land. And after it was built, the biggest setback of all: Maryland began phasing out slot machines in 1963.

The community's "reason for being" withered and Aqua-Land died. It was just a bit too far from Washington or Baltimore to attract summertime crowds, too cold in the winter to attract retirees and too isolated for families searching for suburban conveniences.  The Conners sold the property in 1972. A series of owners went bankrupt throughout the next two decades in efforts to develop the land. Now, the county owns roughly 100 lots and scores more are scattered among different owners.

The land is all but deserted. Where a campground now sits, one dirty pet peacock scratches in a cage surrounded by RVs. Muskrats skitter across what used to be an airstrip. Honeysuckle grows over a cracked park pavilion. And brittle reeds fill the meadows where sky divers performed tricks in Aqua-Land's heyday. A marina built by the Conners is still open, but it does only a fraction of the business they had hoped.

At Cliffton on the Potomac, the neighborhood seems largely forgotten. The community's welcome sign on the riverbank reads "CLIFFTO." Nobody bothered to replace the N when it fell into the river.

From a mapping program, you can see that the airstrip has crumbled.  Views of the river are overgrown, and campsites/homesites sit empty.  Some nearby motels (which looked like they might have been decent "back in the day") are now abandoned and crumbling.  Only the modified and repurposed park entrance remains, mute testimony to a dream.  A dream which glowed brightly for a short time, and then was abruptly extinguished.

A rather melancholy end to an otherwise fabulous trip.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

More sightseeing in the Washington, DC area

No visit to Washington DC is complete without a visit to Mt. Vernon.  The traffic was awful, but the sightseeing was wonderful.

Following is a picture of the greenhouse on the Mt.Vernon estate property.  It looks nice enough to live in!  Don't you just love the plantings and fabulous gardens?

We took some time to explore downtown Fredericksburg, VA on foot.  There were many fascinating shops and lots of seasonal (fall) decorations.  During our exploration, we came across an old-time soda fountain and pharmacy.  Fascinating.  The sign inside proclaims it to be the nation's oldest soda fountain!  And they still make their yunmy milkshakes the old fashioned way, with those old "tall" blenders.  If you look carefully, you can see them against the wall under the "G" in Goolrick's.

Below is one of the dioramas at the Marine Corps museum in Quantico, VA....depicting typical Marine activity in a scene from the war in Vietnam.  One person mused that the latticework in the overhead windows was meant to symbolize rope ladders used on the sides of ships to get Marines down to the water when going ashore.  Could be....I can imagine that scenario.

More to follow...


Thursday, October 11, 2018

This time, on the road in Virginia.

This lighthouse (Point Lookout) marks the entrance to the Potomac River at the southernmost tip of Maryland's western shore of Chesapeake Bay. It is reputed to be the most haunted lighthouse in the US and the most haunted area in Maryland.

Point Lookout itself was once the site of a civil war era hospital, a prisoner of war camp, a refugee camp for runaway and freed slaves, the site of shipwrecks, and a hotel that burned to the ground. And it is often visited by investigators looking for paranormal (ghostly) activity.

Good thing it was not open for visitations...and fortunately, we did not bring any apparitions home with us.

In the same area was an old Civil War fort, with (as we later discovered) a re-enactment in progress.  Once that was made clear (docents in Civil War uniforms carrying muskets while standing on the surrounding earthenworks were a fine hint), wifey headed back toward the car at full speed, while I headed deeper into the fort.    

Just in time for the "Ka-Boom."  

Smoke seen above is the result of firing the "One O'clock Cannon."  Yes, it was loud, and yes, wifey heard it - but she was far enough away that it wasn't an issue. 

Located along Sunken Road in Fredericksburg, VA (essentially the old version of US Route 1), the Innis house was used as a firing position by Confederate sharpshooters in the Civil War battle for control of the town.

It was a private residence until the 1970's when it was sold to the park, and the exterior (as well as parts of the interior) were restored to their 1862 appearance.

Needless to say, they uncovered some amazing things on the interior, when taking down the newer inside walls.  Those dark spots are holes from stray Union projectiles which passed through the house during the Civil War.

In the early 19th century a stone wall was built along this three block section of the heights at Fredericksburg.  And the road behind it was dug in a bit, thus the moniker "sunken road".) 

During the first Battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862), the wall protected Confederate soldiers fortunate to crouch behind it. Behind the wall on the upper side, only around 300 Confederate soldiers were shot. 

By contrast, in front of the wall (on the downhill side), approximately 8,000 Union soldiers were hit. After the war, much of the wall was removed. A portion was rebuilt in the 1930's and in 2004.

So many simply amazing historic things to see...!



Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fun is where you find it...

The train my wife was riding home from her sister's place a while back, experienced significant delays in recent weeks.  Enduring that type of delay would undoubtedly cause her to miss the connection in DC, and make her return to Baltimore so late that we would have to deal with rush hour traffic - and rush hour at the Bay Bridge.  (Often not a good thing.)  I didn't want to drive in that mess, and neither did she.  We both wanted to be back home quickly...if at all possible.

Our plan to avoid this situation was for me to go to an intermediate station several mid-day hours from DC the day before, and have her get off the train "several stops early" the next morning.  This would let us hopefully get to, and across, the bridge before rush hour, even with a late train.  We agreed on a time by which we'd communicate by cell phone to confirm that I had arrived in town.   And that left me free for some errands and sightseeing.

Androgynous was my errand presentation the day of my recent excursion to pick up my wife at the top, gray shorts, pantyhose, flats and so on.  Makeup and lipstick but no other jewelry.   Dressed that way,, there were no instances of either "Sir" or "Ma'am."

Confusion can be a good thing!    After finishing my errands, I pulled on my red paisley skirt, and took off those in-car cornfield changes.  And off to the hinterlands...

First stop was Washington Monument State Park near Boonsboro, MD.    Located atop South Mountain, it's the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington.  A rugged stone tower, it was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827.

Interestingly,  it fell into disrepair , and was rebuilt at least twice, during its history - most recently by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.  It is currently maintained by the Maryland Park Service.  Unfortunately the gate was locked and no entry into the tower was possible.  But it's still magnificent!

Lunch was quick and easy, at fast food...

Next stop was at a small, privately-owned cavern.  There, I was able to escape the 95 degree outdoor heat by going on a tour of the cavern, about 50 feet underground.  Nice and cool...with interesting formations and lots of dampness...the proprietor calculated that he was pumping out 100,000 gallons of water a day to keep it from flooding...and even so, one low passage was flooded.

From there, I headed to a hotel in Western Maryland to await wifey's arrival by train the next morning...    And needless to say, I wore an "everyday outfit."  Mandy went back into the suitcase!

Mandy's day out was mostly successful, with only one known instances of being "clocked."   And since I'll never see that party again, who cares?

Fun is where you find it!


Sunday, September 23, 2018

It's opposite of what you think, after the awful damage from Florence...

Several entries ago, I posted this picture of a street in Oxford, MD (taken days before Hurricane Florence came ashore) which had been inundated by local recent heavy rain: 

Hurricane Florence was expected to make a southern andfall, but little did everyone know that the hurricane would decide to almost completely miss our area on its trip inland.  The picture below was taken at the same corner, just shortly after the remains blew out to sea.

Now, I hear on the telly that a piece of Florence may have survived.  It could be circling around in the Atlantic Ocean and intensifying...and might even send some more rain into the Carolinas....definitely not needed!  Let's pray that those folks aren't dealt further rain issues!


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nail issues...again

Remember from earlier this year, that I had issues with two nails on the same foot?   One discolored and another cracked from being bumped?  The good news is that the discolored one has resolved itself, but not so much the cracked one.

However, the cracked one broke again, and a significant piece of it came off in my hand.  I promptly trotted myself to the doctor,  who said there was no infection, and I could go to a podiatrist who would take off the broken third of the nail all the way down to the "root" (or perhaps the whole nail, the podiatrist's decision) and I can wait for it to "hopefully" grow back, perhaps smooth enough that it is even with the remaining two thirds of the nail.  Or he may decide to remove the whole nail in hopes that it will eventually grow back in one piece.  Or, a third option: just leave it and it eventually should grow back on its own, though perhaps somewhat lumpy and bumpy.

I inquired if there was a medical necessity for podiatrist intervention, or if perhaps continuing what I've done at the nail salon for the past year would be OK, as long as there is no infection.  That approach would maintain the appearance of an intact nail.  He was fine with the nail salon option, which may or may not result in a smooth natural nail underneath.  Since the nail may or may not grow out right, even with the podiatrist treating it, it's a gamble, and I decided go with the nail salon option.   My wife is OK with that, knowing I will be getting regular pedicures and wearing nail polish for some time to come.

So I trotted off to the nail salon.   And they took care of the issue...too bad insurance doesn't cover it!  But my wife is right: the thought of a missing nail (or part of one) just isn't very appetizing even if only for "a number of months." Especially if there is a satisfactory "cure."


Thursday, September 13, 2018

And Hurricane Florence hasn't even arrived yet...

This was taken Tuesday morning, in a small town on a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.  (No, NOT my town, and NOT my residence.)   In the first picture, you can see by the stop sign, that a road and yard are flooded.   This is the result of what my rain gauge says was about 3-1/2 inches of rain over the previous 3 nights.  (Note, the area is very close to sea level.  There are likely many areas prone to flooding like this.)


Following is someone's yard.  Really cute house...I hope it doesn't get flooded out during whatever they receive from Hurricane Florence.   

Interesting note, a building lot is for sale in the area, for a price in the mid-$80k range.  Any house I'd even consider building there would have to be on very tall stilts, which likely wouldn't be approved for a building permit...given the historic nature of the area.

More updates to follow...if the rain gets here, which recent forecasts show as less likely...

Saturday, September 8, 2018


Several weeks ago, I was waiting for my wife who was at the dentist in a distant town, and I needed to make a stop at the bank and pharmacy.  Dressed in capris, a women's polo top, pantyhose and flats, with my other "identifiers," in both places I was addressed as "Ma'am."  Neither clerk knew me.  So, that's always good to hear!  But a recent experience gets the "big award" for 2018.

Recently I visited a diagnostic center (where I am not known personally, but they have full access to my records) for some non-invasive testing which required two visits.   I wore my new bold pattern blouse pictured in previous posts, my 3" inseam white shorts, bare shaved legs, white slide sandals and most of my other traditional "identifiers."    For the day, I put on only light makeup, with lip balm instead of lipstick, and no earrings.  I was addressed by the receptionist who checked me in as "Ma'am."  And when done, she had me sit "over there" to wait my turn for the tech.

Though I wasn't seated closely enough to hear details, the girl who ushers people to exam rooms was talking with the receptionist.  I could make out a few words, such as "female," "she," "Ma'am," "first name" and so on.  I suspected I might have been the subject of that discussion, though couldn't hear enough to confirm it.    A few minutes later, the girl making the inquiry opened the door, and said "Step right this way, Mrs. Sherman."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  There's "very little chance" they were unaware of my gender, with records in front of them when I checked in.  When I took my blouse off for the obligatory stethoscope check, the hair on my chest (significantly less than most males due to laser treatment years ago) hadn't been shaved in several weeks.  Oops...I forgot to do bad.  Yet that nurse, and the rest of the staff, addressed me as female.  

My interpretation of this:  they were being "politically correct."  Addressing someone wearing what appears to be a female outfit as "Sir," could (at the very least) sound incongruous to innocent bystanders (who were seated nearby, paying no attention to me, and may not have noticed anything unusual).  It might even lead to a PR issue.  What if I were a somewhat masculine woman and staff hadn't checked, guessing "M" incorrectly?   Most likely, genetic women dislike being mis-gendered, too!!   The safe course apparently was chosen:  "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, call it a duck."   And I'm fine with that.

For my second visit, I wore the same top, with different 3" inseam shorts, and my flats instead of sandals.  Same drill again - exclusively female forms of address.

Regardless of the reason, I could learn to like this - a lot!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Hungry Heron...

I had a chance to stop by one of my favorite little inlets not far from the bay the other day.  When I got there, I noticed a pretty heron standing at attention in the water.  The bird looked hungry, and as I watched (from a close vantage point - closer than I figured it would let me get), a fish appeared and the heron had Sunday brunch.  (I got a couple of other pics, with the bird playing with its meal before swallowing the fish whole, but won't post them.)

Looking for brunch:


This is another picture of the new top I picked up for a song recently at the thrift shop. Since I was enroute to visit Mom, I couldn't wear a skirt.  But these white shorts with the 3" inseam often have the desired effect.  I stopped at the grocery store, and didn't arouse any suspicion, being addressed as "Ma'am" by the checkout clerk and the manager.

It's always a new adventure...


Monday, September 3, 2018

New blouse...

In life there are many fake things.  For instance, fake Rolex watches for a "mere fraction of the cost of the real ones", fake nails (yours truly has a set of those), fake money (to pay for that fake Rolex), and most recently, according to Washington, "fake news."  But there's one everybody has missed...

On my recent excursion into Pennsylvania on back roads, not far south of Harrisburg, I did a double take as I passed this sign, and went back for a second look.  Yes - it was a real road name sign, with a couple of houses down the street.  I'll never know the meaning of the name....whether it's a demonstration of someone's political philosophy, or maybe there's some other explanation.   But there WAS a real road under my wheels...and it wasn't fake, even if it was Fake Road!

Following is a picture of the new blouse I got for a song at a thrift shop, which still had the "new" tag.    I've worn it a couple times while the wife has been traveling,  mentioned it casually to her, and plan to just put it into circulation.  We'll see what happens from there...

This little outfit works very well...except for one minor problem: with my skirt:  as you can see below, whichever side my purse is carried on, the skirt tends to ride up more than it does with others.  Yet I love the has pockets!   Maybe a different purse would work better...but for now, maybe I'll wash it and put it away till I figure out how to fix that.   Or maybe I'll just decide to keep tugging the hem down...I see girls in short skirts doing that to the hems on their skirts quite often!

I like the overall appearance - especially with the feminine double V neckline on the blouse.

Or maybe it's time for a new purse instead???  I'll have to check the thrift shop for one of those...LOL!


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Finally...the rest of the story!

You got a sneak preview of the following with a previous's the rest of the story:

I had planned to take one of my typical week-long-plus trips in August, while my wife visited her sister in Chicago.  After she left, I got a mani and pedi.  My pedi was unremarkable...just "more of the same" because I hadn't planned to wear sandals on my trip.  But I wondered when the tech began removing all the acrylic from my fingernails.   At one point, another female tech helped by working on the other hand.  That's always fun...two techs, one working on each hand.  Such luxury!

They both told me that my nails were very strong, and my regular tech said she was going to give me a full set of gel nails.  I asked if they could make the nails very short, and make them look longer by painting white at the tips.  She liked that idea and ran with it, so here is what they created for me:

I love these nails!   My white tips and hand-painted designs are both gel, instead of polish.  It was a  surprise to  watch my tech embed them under a clear gel blue-light-cured top coat.   Then the girls reminded me that they will make any changes when I go back for a fill.  I've worn nail art before, but they were always applied at a different salon, with polish on top of my acrylic.  Thus, I "could" remove the color by myself if necessary.   "It's not do-it-yourself anymore,"  they said.  So, I guessed that my pretty nails would be on display till my next fill...

Yes, it was quite a lot of fun to watch her make flowers appear on my nails.  Those girls are so steady and talented!   And they make it look easy...  I guess I can be glad they chose blue, which is much less noticeable than the orange or red flowers they originally considered. 

The major difference I can see in wearing my new nails is that they're much thinner and more natural-looking than acrylics.  I can pick things up, and type, more easily.  Sliding that penny across the floor in order to pick it up was necessary with acrylics.  (Wearing them, you soon learn not to drop things so you don't have to pick them up.)  And acrylics were rigid, didn't "give".

As info, here are the color and design applied to my acrylics for my previous big trip:

One thing I've noticed so far is that if you bump gel nails the wrong way, you can feel the nail bend slightly - the gel (so far at least) hasn't cracked.  It's a different sensation than I'm used to.  With acrylics, either you feel the pain when you accidentally bump your nail the wrong way, or you feel and hear the acrylic crack.    Neither is a pleasant experience, but if I keep them short, I can tolerate it...

By the time you read this, I'll have had my next fill, with the pretty French manicure replaced by something else, minus nail art.  My wife would not be happy with these nails, so I'll ask for less austentatious decoration, and maybe end up with plain translucent pink.  We'll find out when it happens!  They tell me their curing lights are LED instead of UV, and that is one big relief...UV radiation can cause skin cancer, just like too much sun.   (But I probably will use sunscreen on my skin "just in case.")   In any event, it looks like I may be a "gel nails girl" now...

Unfortunately that trip west which I had long anticipated, "fell completely apart" at the last minute, due to (among many other issues) "smoke."  You may recall that the western US has been experiencing grass/forest fires lately.  They produce lots of smoke.   (One of those fires was along a road I had been planning to travel.)  Guess where a lot of that smoke (and from other fires as well) had drifted?   If one is going west to sightsee in the mountains, a smoky sky simply does nothing to enhance the experience.   So I cancelled at the last minute, and was fortunate to be able to do so without significant cost.

I've saved my maps and to-do list....and that trip will hopefully resurface next year!   Meanwhile, I'm still sporting pretty my home town...with no problems.  The first few days, I was somewhat self-conscious, constantly looking at my fingers and keeping them as hidden as possible.  Now, I just go about my business, talk with my hands as usual,  and don't worry about my nails.  The neighbors haven't seen them, but I've gotten a few compliments in daily travels. 

I had to point them out to my mother, who formerly was getting her nails done at the nursing home.  But she recently quit, for some reason.  I suggested she start again, since "you don't want your kid to be wearing prettier nails than you!"  We'll see what happens, but I think I already know....


Monday, August 27, 2018

Two choices:

Because my big excursion "died on the vine," I decided that Mandy should at least do a quickie one day trip to Delaware, to scope out the Amtrak station - which doesn't require a trip across the bridge to get there.  It could be very handy for reaching Washington DC if for some reason the bridge ties up...and it's possible that whatever train we were going to ride from the airport to DC, would be coming from Wilmington.

I decided on two eligible outfits for Mandy to wear...the first (below) was my gray skort:

It's a bit heavier in weight, more like an autumn-weight garment.  Thus it would probably be too warm, especially since I planned to wear pantyhose.   The second option was my red paisley skirt, which I've liked since adding it to my wardrobe.

Needless to say, my red paisley skirt won the contest - based on its breeziness and comfort!   And my low heels, of course...

After a good close shave and makeup application, I was off.   Through the entire day, in and out of stores, the car, and the Amtrak station, I did not notice attracting any attention at all.  My attire was not a concern for anyone.  Even sales clerks.  Though I was one of the few women in skirts.  But all in all, the day was very affirming...

And this now leaves the door open for another one-day adventure, before putting Mandy back in the suitcase once again...will let you know if and when I figure it out.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Miss Amanda?

The staff at Mom's nursing home, and many residents, have known my gender "forever."  It's in their paperwork, etcetera.  And I am almost always addressed correctly for my actual gender (name or greeting), regardless of my presentation.  The only fly in that oatmeal seems to be the "new help".   A while back, a new receptionist  addressed me as a female for several weeks.  I let it go, and carried on regardless... eventually someone got the problem solved, and we continue to chat a bit every day.  

Some new employees have appeared over the last few weeks.  And recently, while dressed in white capris, navy blue top and white slides, with my french nails and floral nail art, long hair and purse, one of them addressed me in passing as "Miss (enter my actual given name here.)  Once again, I greeted her appropriately and carried on regardless.  I don't mind at all!

Love these nails!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sightseeing...this time with visitors.

Recently we had an amazing visit with daughter-in-law and our granddaughter.  They came to our place for a visit, while our son ended up on an extended out-of-town assignment for work.   And since we had lots of time together, we did some basic sightseeing here on the Delmarva.

Cambridge is a picturesque town on the Choptank River, with lots of old houses and churches, a replica of the Choptank River Lighthouse near Sailwinds Park, close to the dock where Liberty Ship John W. Brown (one of two operable Liberty Ships from World War 2) was temporarily berthed for a local event.

We arrived in Cambridge at lunchtime, and everyone was hungry.  So we visited one of the local “non-chain” eateries, for some local fare.  (I was dressed in women’s shorts and a women’s polo, with purse, bare legs,  patent flats, and my usual long hair and nails.  No jewelry.)   Accordingly, we were all addressed as ladies at the eatery.   And no comment about that from wifey or D-I-L

Anyone familiar with Liberty Ships would be proud that a dedicated group of volunteers can keep this relic in good repair, and seaworthy.  It’s beautiful and extremely interesting to visit.  The 3 of us went on board for a while, to see as much as one can see in a short time, with the almost-3-year-old little girl (who by then was definitely needing her nap) in tow…making the total "3-1/2."

I’ve been on board the Brown several times previously, including while it was under steam, but took the opportunity to visit the engine room - alone.  Since my last visit, it hasn’t changed, but this time I was treated to a full description of the workings of the triple expansion steam engine by a friendly elderly male volunteer, who addressed me as “Ma’am” a number of times, as did the other on-board docents I had reason to converse with.    It’s probably a good thing that the rest of the time, my 3 companions mostly walked in front of me “taking in all the sights,” not particularly paying attention to what greetings docents had for me.

BTW, both wifey and D-I-L were wearing skorts, a good thing given the number of ship’s steps they had to climb.  I’m liking skorts more and more as time goes on…

Following that, we drove a short distance to Long Wharf in Cambridge, where a faithful replica of the Choptank River Lighthouse is located.   Built in the "screwpile" style of many Chesapeake Bay lighthouses (pilings have a spiral apparatus on the end and are "screwed" into the river bed), it’s a copy of the earlier beacon which guided sailing vessels on the river.   A very interesting structure, even though it’s not the refurbished original.

A marina along US-50 on the northern shore of the Choptank river was formerly home to the old carferry Hampton Roads, my visit to which which was covered here: 

From my archives, here is a picture of the remaining decks of the carferry, and yours truly, which appeared in that 2017 post:

And a picture of what was left of the interior  (not previously posted):

Note that autos drove into the covered area (eventually driving out the other end), and passengers went up the steps to decks above which were removed years ago.

I pointed out its former location to D-I-L as we passed by on our trip, but that portion of the marina was now empty.  Little did I realize in March of 2017 that only 3 months later, in June of 2017, the decrepit hulk would meet its Waterloo.   It was “scrapped in place” that month.  (I looked on-line when I got back to the house.)   My 2017 visit apparently came “just in the nick of time” to archive pictures of a piece of history.

So sad…

While our guests were here, I had an occasion to visit the doctor’s office - wearing womens’ shorts, a womens’ tank top, bare legs, and patent flats, with my purse, hair and nails.  When I arrived, a man was in line in front of me, waiting to sign in.  And shortly after I arrived, another woman came in and joined the line.  We waited a few minutes for the clerk to put out unused sign-in sheets, then he motioned to let us ladies go ahead, saying “Ladies First!”  

Not wanting to embarrass the man, the lady, or myself, I simply said “Thank you, Sir” in my best femme voice and went ahead, as did the other lady.  Once we all were seated, he was called in first, so there was no chance of him hearing any exclamation of “Mr. _________.”  A new aide eventually called me in, and I requested that in the future he call me by my given name, since “my dad,  Mr. ______ “ passed away years ago.” 

We’ll see if he remembers…

Till next time…


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Time to head home again…

There was nobody outside when I loaded the car to depart the motel the next morning, thus Mandy was able to climb back out of the suitcase for a while.  Wearing the same outfit as on Friday, I set out cross-country (avoiding freeways) to get to the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society yard in the woods, way south of Harrisburg, PA.  Unlike last time, when I arrived there was nobody around…so I didn’t stay long.   Nothing new was going on there.  

At that point I headed south and east to cross the Susquehanna River on US-1 (advantage - no toll).    From there I was going to head for the Eastern Shore via the north end, without crossing the Bay Bridge (which by that time the radio said had a 4-mile-plus backup of folks at the toll booth, all going to the beach.)

A short run south along the Susquehanna River brought me to a picturesque town I’d not visited previously, but had heard the name many times (Port Deposit.)  For railroaders, you will recall the “Port Road” branch northwest out of Perryville, MD – that formerly-electrified line runs right through Port Deposit, but there was no rail activity while I was there.

   PRR's  Port Road
After parking the car and starting the walk downtown, I noticed one of my earrings was missing, I retraced my steps and fortunately found it on the sidewalk not far from the car, right outside someone's front door and best of all, undamaged.  At that point, I removed the other earring as well as my finger ring, for safekeeping.  And while I was retracing my steps to find that earring, I found I was wobbling on the rather uneven block sidewalk.  So I switched to my patent flats before heading back toward town.  Nothing is worth ending up with a turned ankle.

I had to pass thru a rather lively Dock Bar to get to the river walk, with 30-plus bikers and their babes around, as well as lots of other visitors sitting (or standing) with drinks in their hands.  Fortunately I didn’t attract the wrong kind of attention.  Many women seemed to have a friendly smile for me as well as a cheery “hi.”   Definitely affirming.

 The Dock Bar entrance

The River Walk

My cell phone had been giving me problems the whole trip, and as I drove east after leaving Port Deposit to get to the Delmarva, I spotted a phone store.  Mandy (still wearing skirt, patent flats and light makeup, but no earrings or finger ring) headed for the front door.  One of the younger male clerks rushed to hold that door open for me.   And I was treated as female by all the male clerks, as they resolved the issue.  Gotta admit: an elderly male customer sitting at the counter checked me out.  Not sure if he clocked me, or he liked what he saw, but it doesn’t matter - he was no threat.

From there, I headed home, stopping at Mt. Harmon Plantation on the Delmarva.  A beautiful house and estate.  It’s someplace to take my wife on a day with nothing better to do.  And it doesn’t require dealing with the bay bridge…   

Once you turn off paved road, it's a two mile drive on a one lane dirt driveway with very few passing places.  (I only had to back up once!   But for someone without the ability to back up in a straight line for as much as a thousand feet, it would be a major problem.)

 Mt. Harmon Plantation

Then it was home again, back to a good home-cooked meal.   This really was a fun weekend…and I look forward to the next one!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Planes, Trains & Automobiles - oops, no planes.

Next day, I elected to drive north for some more exploring around the defunct East Broad Top Railroad.  Knowing in advance that this is a regular haunt of some folks I know from back in the DC area…I chose to dress somewhat androgynously.   Translation:  ankle boots for tromping around in ballast, capri jeans with pantyhose, very old rail-motif polo shirt, but “no skirt.”   Mandy stayed in the suitcase. 

There were some interesting spots near the old right-of-way.  One was this picturesque auto bridge over Aughwick Creek,.  The water was still running high and fast after days of rain in the area.  You could see by the matted grass how high the water had been…

On the way into town, I passed a used car dealer, with a drop-dead gorgeous 1961 Chevy Impala Super Sport with rare 409 cubic inch engine, 4 on the floor, and 41,000 miles (allegedly original) on the odometer.  Needless to say, the proprietor came out to say hi.  We talked cars for a while, and this one had just been sold. For an astonishingly high figure, like “5 figures to the left of the decimal point.”  Wow!

Then a friend of his in a hot Mustang drove by and stopped.  The 3 of us talked cars for a while, which took some more time….      Note to self:  If I ever try to sell my antique, I need to set my price sights a bit higher than what I originally thought…LOL!

Next, I decided to go into town and see the train station…I was able to walk around it, and also the railroad grounds.  It’s too bad trains don’t run any more.  Such a complete railroad, shuttered.  So sad…

Then I set my GPS for Robertsdale, where there is a fascinating museum (it was closed the last time I was in town.)   It’s the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Museum.  What a place! The basement, main floor and upper floor of an old church, full of information and exhibits about the area, its residents, and its former big industries:  coal mining and railroads.   (Note the wicker chair in the center foreground...a relic from the nearby Huntington & Broad Top Railroad's parlor car.)  n

If I had taken the time to read everything of interest, they’d have had to kick me out when the place closed.  (As it was, I left only an hour before the closing bell.) If you ever get a chance to visit, it’s definitely worth the effort.

On the way back, clouds gathered, so I stopped at a grocery store and picked up dinner to take back to the motel.  Staff at the store did not use any gender-related terms for me.  And not long after getting back, it started to rain.  Hard.  I laid down on the bed, and next thing I knew, it was morning!

As an aside, I’ve become somewhat envious of women wearing skorts (skirts with shorts attached underneath).   Skorts certainly offer the best of both worlds: the feminine  appearance of wearing a cute skirt, but with modesty, offered by attached shorts underneath.   A perfect combination. 

So, in preparation for Mandy’s next trip, whenever that may be, I already mentioned that I bought a gray skort for myself “on line.”   (I already have a denim one.)  

Finally, here’s a pic…

Once it arrived, there was only time to do that quick check to see about fit…and it should be fine.  (But when wearing heels, it will look better with pantyhose, rather than just bare legs.)

More later.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Conococheague Uprising? Never heard of it...

Recently, I took a brief sightseeing trip, back up into western Maryland and central PA.  (Yes, even in spite of the forecast of rain.) 

First stop was Hagerstown, MD…named for Jonathan Hager, a German immigrant who purchased 200 acres in 1739 and initially named it Hager’s Fancy.   It was a big railroad town back in the day (Western Maryland Railway), and now (under CSX Transportation) it remains as such, at least to some extent.  There is a big edifice along Burhans Blvd, which currently serves as Hagerstown’s  headquarters for the police department.  Trains still pass the building:

…which used to be Hagerstown’s Western Maryland Railway depot.   Fortunately, city fathers saw fit to re-purpose the building instead of demolishing it…and the restaurant across the street seemed to be getting a fair amount of walk-up business from staff at lunchtime!

Then it was off to the land of the Conococheague Uprising.   What's that you say?  You hadn’t heard of the Conococheague Uprising of 1765?  Don’t feel bad…I hadn’t, either.   (FYI the word itself is of Delaware Indian origin.) 

Here is a summary from Wikipedia:

The Black Boys, also known as the Brave Fellows and the Loyal Volunteers, were members of a white settler movement in the Conococheague Valley of colonial Pennsylvania sometimes known as the Black Boys Rebellion. The Black Boys (Important...not a reference to actual race of the members – M.),  so-called because they sometimes blackened their faces during their actions, were upset with British policy regarding American Indians following Pontiac’s War. When that war came to an end in 1765, the Pennsylvania government began to reopen trade with the Native Americans who had taken part in the uprising. Many settlers of the Conococheague Valley were outraged, having suffered greatly from Indian raids during the war. The 1764 Enoch Brown School Massacre, in which ten school children had been killed and scalped, was the most notorious example of these raids.

Led by James “Black Boy Jimmy” Smith, the Black Boys—faces blackened and dressed as Indians—confiscated and destroyed a number of supply wagons that were headed to Fort Pitt on March 6, 1765. Some of the items in the supply wagons were official diplomatic presents, necessary for making peace with Native Americans at Fort Pitt. Other items, however, were trade goods sent by Indian trader George Croghan who was seeking to recoup his losses from the French and Indian War.  Croghan had secretly (and illegally) included rum and gunpowder in the shipments in order to make a profit once trade with the Indians was legally resumed.

Despite the fact that the shipment contained illegal trade goods, British army officers at nearby Fort Loudoun sided with Croghan and the traders. Using American Indian raiding tactics, the Black Boys continued to prevent shipments from moving through the valley, and Fort Loudoun was surrounded and fired upon on several occasions.

Tensions dissipated after formal peace in Pontiac's War had been established, but in 1769, when another war with Native Americans seemed imminent, Black Boys again stopped another wagon train. After British troops arrested several of the Black Boys and imprisoned them in Fort Bedford. James Smith and the Black Boys surprised and captured the fort on September 12, 1769. No one was harmed, and the prisoners were set free. (This capture of Fort Bedford is documented only in Smith's autobiography, so it may be a tall tale, although historian Gregory Evans Dowd notes that there is some corroborating evidence, and some other historians believe the tale to be true.) Troops were sent to arrest Smith, and in a struggle a friend of Smith was shot and killed. Smith was arrested and charged with manslaughter, but was acquitted, as there were doubts that it was his weapon that had killed the man.

The above really is stuff you never heard about in school, wouldn’t care about if they told you, and promptly forgot about, after exams were over!  It's part of our history, so I wanted to cover some of the countryside affected by it, as well as see a few landmarks still standing.

First stop was the former Maxwell property in Mercersburg, PA.  This limestone two-story house was part of the 2,000 acre estate of Justice William Maxwell, who died in 1777.  It is now privately owned, and the picture was taken from a public road. 

On to Fort Loudon, near its namesake town in Pennsylvania.    It’s a little-known state monument from the era of Pontiac’s war, and the state must be having its perennial funding issues.  A large and well-kept sign on the main road advertises its existence, but when you drive to the fort (on its tar-and-chip country lane with pretty split-rail fencing on both sides), it’s closed.  

There are signs posted near the locked gate, advising trespassers that there is “Danger - walls are unstable.”  That may be an understatement.  From a distance, it appears that in places, some of the walls may be ready to fall down.   But the fort wasn’t the only sight to see in that location.  There is what appears to be a country farmhouse with log cabin style extension in the back.  No signage tells about its history, but it, too, was closed.

Then it was “Westward Ho”, over Tuscarora Mountain Summit on US Route 30, elevation 2123’, with its Mountain House restaurant at the peak, providing a fabulous view on a clear day. 

I was enroute to the little burg named after Daniel McConnell, who laid out the “borough” (a form of municipal government in Pennsylvania) of McConnellsburg on April 20, 1786.    There, the former McConnell’s Tavern still stands downtown, on Lincoln Way West. now serving as someone’s private residence.   It was a resting place for travelers prior to the March 1768 ambush at Sideling Hill.  I hope the owners appreciate the importance of their home to the area’s history…   And that town was my last stop before “heading for the barn” for the day.

You might be wondering: what did I wear for this excursion?  Neither the new gray skort I just received, nor my denim one.  Didn’t even take them along.  I needed to be able to do quick "cornfield changes" without fully disrobing.    Thus I wore shorts, and when the time was finally right, I pulled my red paisley skirt on over them, removing the shorts carefully and discreetly from underneath.   It worked like a charm!   I didn’t concern myself with wearing the same outfit all the time on the traveling portion of my journey, as it was unlikely I’d see the same folks twice.   

While walking around town, an opportunity presented itself to get a pic of my outfit.  By the way, I love my new heels…they’re perfect, and they are stretching a bit.  Heels nonetheless, but comfortable enough that I should be able to wear them all day long.   (As long as the pavement is decently smooth.)  It’s much easier to sprain an ankle in any height of heel than in flats, particularly till the wearer gets used to them!

Before arriving at the motel, there was another cornfield change and I put Mandy back in the suitcase.  I’ve stayed at the motel before and am sort-of-known by the proprietor.  However, at dinnertime in a restaurant in a nearby town, I was addressed as “Ma’am” even in my shorts and top.   Eventually, though, they dropped the “Ma’am” and went to “no gender specific form of address.”   Not sure why…maybe back-room discussion about me?  Didn’t matter – either was fine.

More later!