Finding new outdoor adventures
This column is the last one of 2016. That’s 52 weeks, 104 columns, and at least 83,200 words in this space. It feels like one year has gone by as quick as a flash.
Back when I was just graduated from college and an ensign in the navy, I was “stashed” as a computer teacher for a couple of months in Rhode Island. There was an older, retired chief who was my mentor at the school, and he took me under his wing those first couple of weeks before classes started and taught me everything I needed to know about computers (remember, this was 1999, and technology wasn’t quite so complicated back then).
There was a phrase he was fond of saying that drove me crazy. He would preface every lesson with “You probably feel like you’re drinking through a fire hose” and then launch into whatever was that day’s topic. And, honestly, none of it ever felt like drinking through a fire hose. It was pretty basic stuff, and although I’m not a digital native like kids today, none of it ever felt overwhelming.
But writing this column can sometimes feel that way. While I still don’t know everything about the outdoors, thankfully I had a teacher who taught me a great deal and instilled in me a love for the natural world.
This column inspired a lot of outdoor adventures for my family this past year, many of which probably wouldn’t have happened without a deadline. We haven’t been to every notable place in Southern Maryland yet, but we crossed quite a few off our list of places we’d never been before. From fossil hunting at Purse State Park, to a midnight horseshoe crab beach walk at Flag Ponds, birdwatching at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp and fishing at Laurel Springs, we’ve traversed Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties to learn about wildlife, appreciate Mother Nature, and have fun together in the sunshine and fresh air.
There are many more things yet to be tried that are on our to-do list for 2017. I sincerely wish you and your family a Happy New Year and look forward to sharing more about our experiences right here and hopefully inspire a few of your own in the coming year.
The kids will be home from school for a few more days. Why not make the Christmas Spirit last a little longer by heading out to see one of the displays in our region that are only available this time of year?
One of our family’s favorites is the Garden in Lights at Ann Marie Garden in Calvert County. We like to head there in the summertime, to walk the path under the cool canopy of trees and play in the fairy lolly. But, at Christmastime, the kids’ faces light up when they see the woods transformed into a lighted wonderland.
A leisurely stroll down the path will take you under the sea, into outer space, and through a land of mythical creatures. Some of the lights even celebrate our heritage of harvesting food from the sea with “light sculptures” that include a waterman tonging for oysters, the Chesapeake Bay retriever, and, of course, some Old Bay.
There are only three more nights to enjoy the lights. The event is free for members and costs $6 per person for non-members. Children under 4 are free. There’s even a coupon for $1 off each admission on their website (http://www. annmariegarden.org/ annmarie2/content/garden-lights-magical-lightshow). And on January 1st, you can bring your well-behaved dog on a leash for $2 more. The Garden in Lights is open from 6-9 p.m.
The Holiday Café serves drinks and snacks nightly. It wasn’t quite cold enough on the night we went to drink hot cocoa afterwards, but we did enjoy some countr y and folk music by Pat Willis and Friends. A list of entertainers is also available on the website.
The Christmas Doll and Train exhibit at the St. Clement’s Island Museum is open Dec. 30 through Jan. 2 daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. While the display is indoors, there’s certainly a lot to look at in the museum related to the outdoors.
Kids can learn about the interaction between the Native Americans and settlers and touch artifacts that have been found in Southern Maryland. They can learn about the Potomac River region’s heritage of hunting, crabbing, fishing and oystering and the histor y of Blackistone Lighthouse. And right next door, they can marvel at the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” an actual one-room school that was once located in Charlotte Hall.
And the museum is located in a beautiful spot right on the Potomac Riv- er. If the weather holds up, bring some sandwiches and enjoy a lunch with a spectacular view on the picnic table outside. The cost is $3 for adults, $1.50 for children ages 6-18, and free for those under 6. There is a military and senior citizen discount as well.