Oyster Shucking Fest Keeps History Alive Print E-mail

Delaware County Times
October 7, 2012
When the air turns crisp and cool there is no a better spot for oyster lovers than St. Mary’s County.  

Fried, stewed, scalded and "nude", oysters are tinged with the aroma of fresh herbs and roasted garlic.  More than 150,000 oysters (and 70 kegs of beer) are consumed by more than 20,000 folks that turn up October 16-17 to welcome oyster season.StMarys4

St. Mary’s County is largely bordered by water: the Patuxent River to the northeast), the Chesapeake Bay to the east, the Potomac River to the southwest, and the Wicomico River to the west. Celebrating its 44th year, the southern Maryland festival was launched as a fundraiser for the Lexington Park Rotary Club, but it has evolved into an annual tradition that is now home to the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship.   The event has become one of the Eastern Seaboard’s leading folk festivals attracting visitors from across the country.

The oyster shucking rivals are battling a stopwatch as they thrash through two dozen oysters. Presentation of the shucked oysters is as important as speed. A panel of judges evaluates the shucked oysters for “restaurant condition” qualities.  Seconds are added to a competitor’s time if the presentation doesn’t shine. After the judging is finished each contestant shares his or her oysters with the spectators in the stands.

The winner earns the right to represent the United States in the International Oyster Shucking Competition held in Galway, Ireland each year.

Avalon: Cooler by a Mile Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World
October 2012

In the mythology of King Arthur Avalon was an island, an earthly paradise in the western seas, where Arthur and other heroes were carried at death. Also known as "The Island of the Blest," Avalon was said to be the abode of Oberon, King of the Fairies, who was endowed with magical powers.

Avalon 10Its namesake is the island jewel of Avalon, N. J. Set between The Wildwoods and Ocean City, Avalon and Stone Harbor share a barrier island that was originally dubbed “Seven Mile Beach.” Traveling south Dune Drive, the main drag, connects Avalon and Stone Harbor.

They say Avalon is “cooler by a mile.” And, it really is. It juts out into the Atlantic Ocean about a mile farther than its neighboring Jersey shore towns. That’s one mile further than any other New Jersey beach town. The Intracoastal Waterway lies to the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.  Avalon’s newly protected pristine beaches are habitats for both surfers and terrapin turtles.  You’ll also find the beaches far less crowded.

While boardwalks, amusement parks, and commercial development have overpowered most of the Jersey Shore, Avalon and Stone Harbor have stayed relatively sprawl-free. Seven Mile Beach has preserved a large portion of the natural vegetation-covered dunes that protect its wide beaches. Its dunes are one of the few remaining high dune systems on the East Coast--the highest on the Jersey Shore. It creates the perfect home for plants and small animals indigenous to the area.

Richmond: Rising Star of the New South Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World
September 2012

They ain’t whistling Dixie so much anymore.

Long revered as the heart of the Old Confederacy, Richmond stubbornly has earned its reputation as being mired in the past. No more. Today, it’s a robust destination, one of the cultural pillars of the “New South.”  Century-old tobacco warehouses have been transformed into lofts and art studios and the city’s buttoned-up downtown (it’s the state capital) now has life after dusk. Moving beyond its obsession with the Civil War, Richmond has emerged as a new player on the Southern arts and culinary scene. It’s also attracted its share of Hollywood film crews.Richmond7

Lying on the fall line of the James River in central Virginia, the waterway flows through the heart of downtown. It’s the only urban setting with Class III and IV rapids, rafting trips can range from mild to wild. Float along the river, and keep an eye peeled for native deer, blue herons, ospreys and bald eagles or pack your rod and reel for the best smallmouth bass fishing.

Celebrating its 275th birthday this year, the city has largely preserved its historic neighborhoods, including the architecturally stunning Fan, one of the largest clusters of turn of the 20th century row houses in America. Although Carytown is only one street long, visitors marvel at the variety of funky boutiques and eateries in this nine block district, home to the classic Boyd Theatre that spotlights second run movies. On Saturday nights the $1.99 film is preceded by a rousing sing-along accompanied by its mighty Wurlitzer organ.

Charlottesville: Life in a Garden of Eden Print E-mail

 Delaware County Times            
July 22, 2012

George Washington may be the father of our country, but surely Thomas Jefferson was the smartest guy in the room. Travel to Charlottesville, Virginia and you will see why.

Tucked into the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is best known as the home of the University of Virginia which Jefferson founded and was the principal architect.  Sit on the northern end of the emerald green front lawn and you can marvel at the perfect symmetry of the Rotunda that is based on the Pantheon in Rome.  

Celebrated for its charm and the beauty of the surrounding countryside, this small town (pop. 45,000) possesses a distinctive cutting edge.   Its bricked bustling pedestrian mall is lined with oak trees and is packed with shops, galleries, restaurants and bookstores galore.Cville 1  

“C’ville” also boasts an extraordinary number of good restaurants where ambitious local chefs update traditional Southern food by uniting it with French, Asian and other influences. Just beyond downtown is The Boars Head Inn, a classic country resort that offers a sophisticated dining twist on local favorites like their zesty peanut soup concocted with coconut milk.

Travel: Star Spangled 200 Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World
June 2012

The “perilous fight” lasted 25 hours.  Through the darkened night British ships bombarded Fort McHenry lobbing more than 133 tons of shells, raining bombs and rockets on the bastion at the rate of one projectile per minute. The thunder they created shook Baltimore to its foundations and was reportedly heard as far away as Philadelphia.

Sailabration Flag1The only light given off that evening was from those exploding shells which lit up a super-sized American flag that was still flying over Fort McHenry when dawn emerged. On the morning of September 14 the British withdrew in defeat, turning the tide of the War of 1812. Aboard a truce ship on the Patapsco River that night, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key wrote a poem originally titled ”Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Today, we know it as the Star Spangled Banner.  

This summer from June 13-19, Maryland tourism officials hope to draw more than one million people to the birthplace of our national anthem. An international parade of ships will sail into Baltimore on June 13 for “Star-Spangled Sailabration.” It’s the kick-off of a three year bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812 featuring a blockbuster international maritime festival.

Baltimore's iconic Inner Harbor and its historic waterfront neighborhoods are the ideal setting for the Star-Spangled Sailabration.  A dozen attractions in Baltimore have a direct tie to the War of 1812, allowing visitors to explore some of our nation's most historical artifacts and cultural sites both during the June festivities and throughout the three-year commemoration.

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