Maryland, My Maryland

Betcha didn’t know that’s the name of the song they play at the Preakness! And that the tune is “O Tannebaum”!

See! This blog can be educational.

Also? I’ve been to all three races of the Triple Crown and Kentucky is the only one where people cry during the song they play before the race. Just sayin’.

I live in Maryland and, if I do say so myself, it pretty much rocks. There’s a lot to do in this state: beaches, farm country, horse country, it abuts DC, it has great cultural amenities like opera companies, theatre companies, art museums, a sensational aquarium, and all sorts of other things that the Maryland Tourism bureau is not paying me to tell you about. I’d keep talking if they were but since they’re not, I’ll move on.

We all had a week off recently and hit several Maryland hot spots, in the toddler-friendly sense of the word. Here’s the skinny. (Note: For those of you who do not live in or near Maryland, this post is filled with funny stories about C so keep reading.)

St. Michael’s: The original settlement of this town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay dates back to the 1600’s and there’s a whole lot of Revolutionary war history going on there. When the Great Guy I Married and I went there in our pre-parent days, we spent many happy hours strolling up and down the main street and going into quaint little shops that sell objects d’art by local craftspeople. There’s a cute little pub on the main street that we went into once that served a really good crab soup, if I recall correctly. The place is just begging for couples to walk down the streets holding hands. Naturally, that’s not part of the agenda when we go there with C.  St. Michael’s is also home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum which is a sprawling outdoor facility with lots of dry-docked boats, a lighthouse, and ducks that waddle around hoping for a handout. It is 100% kid friendly because small children can climb on a few of the boats and pretend like they’re driving them. They can also climb all the way to the top of the lighthouse with Daddy while Mommy tries to read all the placards in the living quarters to satisfy her curiosity about colonial life that dates back to her middle school obsession with Little House on the Prairie. The museum conveniently shares a parking lot with the Crab Claw, a fantastic paper-on-the-table seafood joint where the staff doesn’t blink if you bring your un-napped child in for a 4pm dinner. Your child will not eat his cheeseburger and will have to be taken outside before you finish your dinner so that he can beg to board one of the fishing boats that pulls into the slips beside the Crab Claw but that is unrelated to the food or the service. Which are both great.

Wheaton Regional Park: This park is literally up the street from where I live and I loooovvveeee it. It’s got all kinds of nature trails and giant playground equipment including large wooden jeeps with steering wheels at every seat, something that cuts way down on arguments in the “I wanna drive” vein. There are dozens of picnic pavilions and it appears to be a popular site for birthday parties for kids lucky enough to be born in warmer months. But the best parts are the carousel and the miniature train. When C and I got there he immediately beelined toward the “ferses” as he calls horses and was only too delighted to ride the carousel. I staved off a melt-down when the ride was over by convincing him that we were headed down to ride the train. If only it were that easy. The train runs every 30 minutes. The train ride last only about 15 minutes. We got in line, watched the train pull in and the passengers disembark then sat there for 10 more minutes while the heavily tattooed, disaffected teen-ager who drove the train disappeared to get high or something. (I have no actual evidence that he was getting high but he looked like he wanted to). When Stoner-Boy returned he let the horde of anxious kids and their parents board…and they filled the train right as we got to the entrance. Fabulous. I settled in for a 30 minute wait for the next ride, complete with 15 minutes of staring at the empty train while Stoner-Boy re-packed his pipe or something, all the while comforting a small boy who kept plaintively saying “I wanna get on da train!”. Once we finally got our train ride, it was lovely, winding through woods and low rolling hills and you can play Spot the Garden Gnome along the way.

Lake Artemsia: This little park in PG County is a great place to get close to nature. Well, the bug part of nature mostly. There is a birding trail there for people who like to watch birds. That’s one of those activities that struck me as weird when I was younger but now seems sort of appealing, if only because it requires sitting absolutely still and not talking. There’s just not enough of that in my life. What we’ve mainly explored there is the paved walking/biking trail that goes around the lake. It has pretty gazebos at intervals around it so you can sit, relax, and have your small child pretend it’s a house where he is cooking you pancakes. You can also keep trying to direct his attention to the many gorgeous butterflies that go past and then deal with his disappointment when he looks away from his pretend pancakes too late to see the butterflies. Such is the life of a toddler.

I’ll be continuing to highlight my home state here as part of my effort to find things to do in my new ‘hood rather than constantly allowing myself to be drawn back to my old haunts in DC. So stick around for more Maryland!

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4 comments for “Maryland, My Maryland

  1. September 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I love Wheaton Park. It’s a heck of a drive for us, but we had a blast the time we made it up that way.

  2. D
    September 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

    As a Kentuckian, singing “My Old Kentucky Home” before the Derby always brings tears to my eyes… I think we are programmed to be this way, we can’t help it 🙂

  3. September 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Cool things to do. Wish I lived closer!

  4. Jenny
    September 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Brookside gardens (part of Wheaton park) has a pretty cool kids area, and has a totally amazing holiday drive-thru light show that you should check out when the time comes. They apparently do something cool at Halloween but we haven’t made it to that yet.

    Watkins park in PG county also has a train and carousel, as well as a farm. The train goes past the cows and horses. The carousel there is very cool and has animals like ostriches and lions to ride rather then horses. It’s not to far, just down in Upper Marlboro.

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