Check out Point Look­out this month

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­

I once heard a co­me­dian com­pare life to a bus ride.

It made quite an im­pres­sion on me, as I was much younger then, and couldn’t re­late yet.

In his view, dur­ing our youth we’re rid­ing the lo­cal bus, mo­sey­ing along each street and mak­ing lots of stops. We’re tak­ing our time and see­ing the sights. Time passes slowly and each oc­ca­sion leaves a dis­tinct im­pres­sion upon us.

By mid­dle age, how­ever, we’ve switched buses and are now rid­ing the ex­press bus. Each year comes and goes be­fore you know it. Time feels like it’s pass­ing in an in­stant.

I think I’ve finally reached the ex­press bus-stage of life, and I wish I could slow things down a bit. I’m not sure how to do that for ev­ery­one, but for me, get­ting out­side and in touch with na­ture seems to help.

It doesn’t much mat­ter what I’m do­ing: walk­ing, bik­ing, gar­den­ing, kayak­ing watch­ing the birds. Con­tem­plat­ing the lilies of the field. Stop­ping to smell the roses. Feel­ing the sun­shine on my face and breeze at my back. Get­ting in touch with na­ture is my way to feel more cen­tered, and when I get out­side with my fam­ily, I feel more con­nected to them, too.

I took my own advice this past week­end and drove down to Point Look­out with the fam­ily. We in­vited some friends who just moved into the area to join us and share with them what makes this part of Mary­land so spe­cial.

I visit the park fre­quently and of­ten talk to peo­ple who have lived in South­ern Mary­land for years, maybe even their whole lives, who have never vis­ited the park be­fore. They are al­ways glad they took the time to drive down and check it out.

As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of rain re­cently, so it was a treat to have a dry week­end with­out a cloud in the sky. The tem­per­a­ture was what I’d char­ac­ter­ize as per­fect at about 75 de­grees, and when there’s none of that South­ern Mary­land hu­mid­ity, the air can re­ally feel re­fresh­ing and clean.

The ticket stub from the at­ten­dant booth at the en­trance al­ways prints “An­other beau­ti­ful day in South­ern Mary­land” across the re­ceipt, but it was an ac­cu­rate state­ment for cer­tain that day.

Point Look­out is a top des­ti­na­tion if you like birds or but­ter­flies. One of the highlights of our trip was see­ing a bird I’d never seen be­fore, the blue-throated black war­bler.

We were eat­ing lunch on one of the pic­nic ta­bles in the beach area when my daugh­ter spied some small black birds ex­am­in­ing the bark on a tree trunk. They were about the size of a goldfinch or chick­adee and tra­versed the tree trunk like a nuthatch. I quickly used the Mer­lin Bird ID app on my phone to iden­tify it. It’s mi­gra­tion time for a lot of birds and other crea­tures, and Point Look­out is a place where you can see a lot of tran­sients come through.

We also spent a good amount of time ex­am­in­ing each tuft of gold­en­rod grow­ing along­side the park trails for but­ter­flies. This time of year is per­fect for see­ing mon­archs and cloud­less sul­phurs, but the kalei­descope of buck­eyes stole the show this visit.

The buck­eye is a medium-sized brown, orange and white but­ter­fly with eye­spots on each wing. They are com­mon but­ter­flies, and just like the pop­u­lar monarch, jour­ney south­ward as the weather cools to over­win­ter in warmer lo­cales. The clear bright sun­light of a low hu­mid­ity day painted quite a picture, with but­ter­flies of many col­ors danc­ing around the gold­en­rod and hon­ey­suckle patches in the park.

Oc­to­ber is the per­fect month to visit Point Look­out State Park. The beaches aren’t crowded, the weather is just right for spend­ing the day out­side, but the va­ri­ety of birds and but­ter­flies is the best rea­son of all.

A history les­son given at Point Look­out

An­other high­light of the visit was ob­serv­ing the his­tor­i­cal in­ter­preters on hand at the Civil War fort do­ing demon­stra­tions and an­swer­ing ques­tions, por­tray­ing ev­ery­day life at Point Look­out dur­ing the 1860s.

My daugh­ters and I set­tled quickly un­der a tent ded­i­cated to women’s roles at Point Look­out dur­ing the Civil War and got into a ro­bust con­ver­sa­tion about the women who ser ved in the hospi­tal.

We got a history les­son about the Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion and how it didn’t much help the slaves that braved the wide ex­panse of the Po­tomac River and swam from Vir­ginia to Mary­land in hopes of free­dom. Our con­ver­sa­tion was punc­tu­ated with sev­eral

loud booms as the can­non was fired.

Al­though I’ve vis­ited the park for a va­ri­ety of events at the fort, I’d never seen the can­non live fired. The story of how the park ac­quired the can­non is an in­ter­est­ing one, a true South­ern Mary­land le­gend.

Martha, as the can­non is known now, was built in the 1840s at an ar­se­nal in Ohio. That much can be as­cer­tained from the se­rial numbers en­graved on it. Around the time of the Civil War, 6-pounders were go­ing out of style, but this can­non wasn’t scrapped and melted down to be re­cy­cled.

Since it was a spe­cial walk­ing stick de­sign, meant for lon­grange fir­ing, it was still an ef­fec­tive weapon and was kept in ser­vice dur­ing the war.

Now you might won­der, what hap­pened af­ter the Union vic­tory? No one is sure how Martha found her way to New­burg, but one of the fel­lows who took part in reen­act­ments had of­ten no­ticed the twin can­nons dec­o­rat­ing the front en­trance of the White House Mo­tel that was once lo­cated at the in­ter­sec­tion of routes 301 and 234.

One day, he took a closer look at the two dec­o­ra­tions on the front lawn and re­al­ized they might be ac­tual can­nons

af­ter all and made the owner of the mo­tel a deal he couldn’t refuse. And that is how Martha came to re­side at Point Look­out.

If you’d like to learn more about Martha and other weaponry of the 19th cen­tury, you’ll have an­other op­por­tu­nity later this month.

Mark your cal­en­dars for Oct. 27 and 28. On both days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can visit the fort and find out about Point Look­out’s role in the War of 1812. And make sure to spend a lit­tle time en­joy­ing the views at the park, so bring along a pic­nic lunch and a pair of binoc­u­lars, for there might be some in­ter­est­ing birds and but­ter­flies still around.

Kids get into state parks free

All Mary­land fourth graders are in­vited to visit https:// ever ykid­i­na­ to print a pass that en­ti­tles them to free en­try to every Mary­land state park, 16 na­tional parks, six nat­u­ral land­marks, five na­tional wildlife refuges and two federal her­itage ar­eas in Mary­land.

Fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing all chil­dren up to age 16 and two adults, will re­ceive free ad­mis­sion, too. The passes are valid through Aug. 31, 2019.


Su­san Youhn of Hol­ly­wood is show­ing a young vis­i­tor to Point Look­out how women carded fiber for yarn. Youhn has been a his­tor­i­cal in­ter­preter for the past 28.5 years.

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