2013 Bike Adventure: Historic Southern Maryland

The courtyard of the B&B was the perfect place for morning coffee and for mapping out the day’s route.   Yep, I am old fashioned enough to still use a paper map.  I like to see the “big picture”, rather than focus on one small position on a screen.  Today’s destination:  Southern Maryland.

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First, a little background:  The region of Southern Maryland is a peninsula bordered by the Potomac River to the west and the Chesapeake Bay to the east, and is made up of the counties of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s.

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Southern Maryland has a strong Catholic presence, as it was the site of the first Roman Catholic colonization in the America’s.  I passed many historic and architecturally beautiful Catholic churches along my route.

The peninsula also played an important role in the Civil War.  Maryland was deeply divided.  The areas of Southern and Eastern Maryland, especially those on the Chesapeake Bay, which had prospered on the tobacco trade and slave labor, were more sympathetic to the South,  while the northern and western areas of the state had closer economic ties to the North.  Historical markers and designations relating to the Civil War, in particular the Confederacy, are common.

The journey began with a ride down Route 2, and a plan to stop at Calvert Cliffs State Park.  The cliffs dominate the shoreline of the Chesapeak Bay in Calvert County and a 1.8 mile hike is required to get to the cliffs.  I walked the trail through wooded areas and on a boardwalk through a swampy, wetland area.  Butterflies and birds were my companions, as were families headed to the beach to picnic and hunt for fossils.   “Over 600 species of fossils from the Miocene era (10 to 20 million years ago) have been identified in the Calvert Cliffs, many of which can be found at Calvert Cliffs State Park. Chesapectens, Ecphora, Miocene era oyster shells, and sharks teeth are common finds” (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/calvertcliffs.asp).

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I loved this chair made from a tree that had fallen across the trail.

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The reward at the end of the hike:  The Calvert Cliffs!

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The cliffs were formed over 10 to 20 million years ago when all of Southern Maryland was covered by a warm, shallow sea. When the sea receded the cliffs were exposed and began eroding.  Today these cliffs reveal the remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds that were the size of small airplanes (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/calvertcliffs.asp)

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This next photo was taken with my cell phone and shows the recent cliff slide that had caused that portion of the beach to be roped off (of course, I just had to duck inside it to get a closer peek).

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As you can tell by the clouds, the rain was threatening.  Blisters on my feet were also threatening as I didn’t anticipate this 3.6 mile hike in my beloved boots.  Actually, the boots were not the problem … the thin socks were!  I made it to the bike without seeing rain, but the outsides of both feet felt rubbed raw.  As would any good Nurse Practitioner, I carry a first aid kit on the bike, and I was patched up and on my way in no time.

The second part of today’s journey will come in the next post:  Point Lookout and Historic St. Mary’s City.

Calvert Cliffs

This is the view at the end of a 1.8 mile hike: Calvert Cliffs, located in a Maryland state park with the same name. Gorgeous! (This is yet another cell phone shot. I’m anxious to view and edit the photos from my camera).

What a day! Total mileage was just 100, but I rode through historic communities, visited Point Lookout, waded in the waters of St Mary’s River, enjoyed a much needed cold beer at a local biker bar, and had dinner with old friends.

Today I’m off to explore a bit more of Southern Maryland before crossing over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge into the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.