Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tombstone Tourists at Loudon Park Cemetery

So much of our lives is dictated by chance. By chance, my mother suggested I take the ghost tour through Mount Olivet Cemetery, in Frederick, last summer. By chance, my husband couldn't come, so I invited my friend Barb, a.k.a., Day Trip Pal, instead. Now the two of us have taken up "cemetery photography" -- not in the ghost hunting way, but in the "oh my, that's a pretty statue" way. We've become tombstone tourists. (Although if I ever do see a ghost in a photograph, you can be sure I'll blog about it!)

By chance, I happened to hear something about Loudon Park Cemetery, in Baltimore. So one Sunday morning -- a brilliant autumn day in early November -- when I happened to have nothing better to do, I called Day Trip Pal and suggested we grab our cameras and check out this historic cemetery.

Once we got there and started exploring, we realized we would be going back, several times, and we have, including on a foggy morning that was eerie and quiet and last weekend, in the snow, to photograph the sunrise. It's huge -- 350 acres -- and evidently is where many of Baltimore's rich and famous are buried. There was too much to absorb in one visit -- so many intriguing grave markers and statues to photograph. And that was before we even drove into the older, and really interesting section.

Visiting historic cemeteries isn't for everyone*, but it's not as morbid as one might immediately assume. Cemeteries are surprisingly alive and busy -- at any given time, you'll encounter several joggers or cyclists taking advantage of the well-maintained and peaceful drives. In the newer section, you may encounter funerals (please be respectful). Birds and small wildlife abound in cemeteries. And the historic ones are really quite scenic -- in keeping with the Victorian era's attitude that cemeteries were meant to be -- and were used as -- beautiful parks in which it was quite normal to stroll about and picnic in.

(*Dr Who fans will be weirded out by all the angels!)

Since the ghost walk through Mount Olivet Cemetery (for more about that, go to, Day Trip Pal and I have now visited nine different cemeteries between us. This has prompted us to start learning some of the iconography and meanings of what we're seeing on the gravestones and statuary. Now, in addition to cool places like Eastern State Penitentiary and Fort Delaware, I've suddenly added historic cemeteries in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston to my list of places I hope to visit.

Loudon Park is an old and historic cemetery -- established in 1853 on the grounds of the former Loudon estate. A corner of the cemetery is the Loudon Park National Cemetery, where 2300 Union soldiers are buried. Some distance away, not in the National Cemetery portion, lay about 650 Confederate soldiers, readily identified by the identical stones and the statue of a Confederate soldier.

Loudon Park was designed in the tradition of the Victorian-era "park cemeteries," as a place for families to go stroll about for an afternoon, enjoying nature and the outdoors. They seemed so much more comfortable with death than we do in modern times, I think. As tombstone tourists, Day Trip Pal and I are carrying on that Victorian tradition.

I feel as if we've made a complete circle -- we started our cemetery visits with Mount Olivet Cemetery, where Frances Scott Key, author of the "Star Spangled Banner," is buried with his wife. Now we're here where Mary Pickersgill, seamstress of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during its bombardment by the British in 1814, is interred. This famous flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (When the main exhibit opens up again next month, the blog will be visiting Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner House.)

Also of note at Loudon Park is the Weiskittel mausoleum—
constructed of cast iron and painted silver—which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mausoleum is the final resting place of the Weiskittel family, who were manufacturers of cast-iron stoves.

While we were there in November, we met a cyclist who rides the 15- miles of cemetery lanes regularly for exercise (and given how hilly it is, it is, indeed, exercise!). He noted that he often rides through the cemetery at night. "It's spooky, but that's because it's a cemetery," he said, "I've never seen anything -- it's not haunted," except by local area kids who come in to vandalize the headstones and topple them over. He noted that he often encounters local police, who drive through the cemetery regularly.

A friend of mine, upon learning of our visit to Loudon Park, disputes the cyclist's assurances that the cemetery isn't haunted. James said his grandparents lived for many years in a row house near the cemetery on Walrad Street and that most of his family had had "experiences" there.

James recalled a story about hearing horses going through the area where the Confederate soldiers are buried. James also said that when he was little, he used to play in the cemetery when he went over to his grandparents house, although he himself doesn't recall any strange events. Now his grandparents are buried in the cemetery they used to live next to.

Apparently most of the area hauntings occur not in the cemetery -- so perhaps the cyclist was correct -- but in the homes nearby. James' father told him that many of the houses there had instances of things happening. In fact, pretty much everyone in James' family had an experience in his grandparents old house. He and his brothers would visit his grandparents weekly, often spending a night with them.

He recounted seeing a ghost in middle of the night hovering over a chair in the living room. He and one of his brothers could not sleep one night and thought they heard the TV on downstairs, so they went down and the room was dark except a little bit of light from a street light outside. Hovering over a rocker type chair was a misty greyish white ball (no real form to it), but the chair was rocking back and forth.

His "favorite" ghost, and this one was witnessed multiple times, was a ghost that would come out of his grandparents bedroom closet, go out the door and walk down the hallway. There was only one bathroom in the house and it was upstairs at the end of the hallway. "I was always petrified to go up there by myself. Seriously, I always had the feeling that something was watching me!" he said.

Getting there: The National Cemetery is accessed off of Frederick Avenue. To get into the other part of the cemetery, go to 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229.

Hours: Daylight, although it's open all the time. Still, I prefer daylight, for obvious reasons.

Dogs: Not really appropriate, but if you do bring Fido, bring along baggies to clean up after him. There are several waste baskets located throughout the cemetery for doggie bags.

Explore other interesting cemeteries in the mid-Atlantic region:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Elk Run and Red Heifer Wineries: Bicycles, Dogs and Wine, Oh My!

Last weekend we braved the frigid temperatures and headed out for some bike shopping and to visit two wineries -- return visits for the blog to two favorite Maryland wineries.

Our first primary destination (we stopped at a bike shop first) was Elk Run Vineyards, nestled in the rolling hills of Frederick County, MD. Although I didn't go to one of its Yoga in the Vines events (see the link below for more about that), Day Trip Pal did. She liked it so much she suggested we return so I could experience the winery for myself.

Elk Run Vineyard was established in 1979, and named for a stream that runs through the property. The site itself was selected for soil composition, orientation of the land for sun exposure, altitude, and its proximity to both Baltimore and D.C. A bonus was the fact that it sat on a historic property.

The history of the property is pretty cool. The winery site and the original vineyard is the old Liberty Tavern (the property sits on Liberty Road, near Libertytown, which was named for the Sons of Liberty who met there prior to the Revolutionary War, which is in itself so very neat, because I'd never thought of Maryland as a hotbed of revolutionary fervor).

In 1995, Elk Run expanded to land across the road, but that merely reunited the original farm. The original deed to the land on both sides of Liberty Road is registered as "The Resurvey of Cold Friday," a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore in the early 1700s. The new vineyard is called Cold Friday to honor the legacy.

If you're a "House of Cards" fan then take note: Elk Run wine will make an appearance in an episode in the new season of the Netflix' series, which will be made available in mid-February.

Elk Run's wines can stand their own with other excellent wines. Look for Elk Run's wines in well respected restaurants in Maryland, including on the wine menu of a local "destination" restaurant, Comus Inn (see for more about that); what was so startling about seeing Elk Run wines being offered at Comus Inn was that wines from the neighboring winery, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, were noticeably absent. 

Having never been to Elk Run before, I tried the standard sampling of six wines, which included a Chardonnay, a Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cold Friday Vineyard, as well as a Riesling and a sweet blush called Annapolis Sunset that brings to mind tropical fruit and probably would do best on its own, i.e., drink it on a summer evening as a stand-alone desert. The sampling ended with Sweet Katherine, a sweet after-dinner red made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Day Trip Pal, for $3 more, selected six from the overall wine list, mostly because she wanted to try the winery's champagne.

At this time of year, many of the wineries will offer tastings of their mulled wine, and Elk Run was no different. They recommend using Sweet Katherine for the mulled wine, heating a bottle of it with a half stick of cinnamon and a few pieces of orange peel. And I learned something -- several somethings, in fact, about mulled wine. The first, mulled wine can be reheated, so if you don't finish it all in one seating, then re-bottle it, refrigerate it, and give it a short nuke in the microwave when you're ready for another glass. In fact, just make your mulled wine in the microwave. It's a bit easier to avoid boiling. And you can make it "by the glass" by adjusting the amount of cinnamon and orange peel (use a tea strainer to hold the spices). 

Ladybird getting a cuddle from Day Trip Pal 
Our next stop was back to Red Heifer Winery, in
Smithsburg (near Hagerstown), to collect our free wine tasting (which we won through a Facebook raffle). There was quite a bit more snow up at that winery, so we were grateful to have a four-wheel drive SUV. As soon as we parked we were greeted by a chorus of wooofs from the winery's hound dogs, including new coon hound addition, Beau. These are friendly hound dogs, so be sure to say hello to them!

I'd really liked Red Heifer the first time we visited, last October (see below for the link to that blog), when the winery offered a Furlough Freebie -- a free wine tasting to all furloughed Federal employees. I found the winery unpretentious and very down to earth, and having just been furloughed, I appreciated the kind gesture.

But there are other reasons for liking Red Heifer as well. First of all, it's one of Maryland's newest wineries, having just celebrated its first anniversary last November, and it's run by an energetic and charming young couple -- worth keeping an eye on them and the winery, because their energy is immense. Second, they love their dogs, including Beau, their latest acquisition, who was acquired to keep the deer away from the vines (last fall they lost a substantial amount of grapes to the deer). Third, Yvonne, one of the owners, served the wine and was very pleasant to chat with (reconfirmed when we visited this past weekend and she remembered us!). Fourth, their web site suggests additional, nearby places to go, to make more of a day of it, which makes my daytripping soul sing with joy. Finally, I found wines I enjoyed as well. (You can tell that I go to the wineries more for the experience and to talk to people than for the wine!)

Red Heifer's mulled wine was based off of its Red Heifer White (a dryish vidal blanc) (yes, white wines can be used for mulled wines)! I ended up walking out of the winery with a bottle of the Red Heifer White and a packet of mulling spices. I've been enjoying the mulled wine this past week, during the snowstorm and the cold temperatures!

We wrapped up our outing with a "linner" (late lunch/dinner) at 28 South, recommended by Yvonne as a very nice restaurant in downtown Hagerstown. Parking is easily available, the food was tasty, and atmosphere very pleasant. For future reference, Knob Hall Winery is not too far away from Red Heifer. Or, alternately, the nearby outlets at Hagerstown are enticing as well. Day Trip Pal and I are planning a return visit this summer to visit Knob Hall, and most likely, we'll return to Red Heifer as well.

Day Trip Gal's 15 Tips for a Day of Wine Tasting
  1. Choose a designated driver for the day. Along the way, you may want to select a bottle of wine for your friend to enjoy later.
  2. Don't wear strong perfumes and aftershaves, which can overpower your and your companion's ability to appreciate a wine’s bouquet and aroma.
  3. Eat a substantial breakfast or lunch, so you won’t be drinking wine on an empty stomach. 
  4. Make a day of it and bring a picnic. Most wineries allow you to "picnic" in their wine tasting rooms, but one or two don't (although all provide outdoor space for picnics), so call ahead to ask. 
  5. Leave the candy at home, so you can truly taste the wine. Do bring along a few pieces of chocolate -- I stick with Hersey's kisses. Desert wines in particular often lend themselves to a chocolate pairing.
  6. Bring along bland snacks, such as pretzels and crackers. Or some slices of good bread. Also bring some cheese, perhaps some gouda and cheddar. I like to bring along some garlic flavored cheddar or smoked gouda as well -- you'll often find some wines that these would pair with most excellently! And usually I bring along a small summer sausage -- again, there are wines that will bring the sausage to life, and vice versa. 
  7. Dress comfortably, with shoes that can take you through the fields and vineyards. That will allow you to go on winery tours.
  8. If you think you look younger than 30, be sure to take your ID with you (although frankly, I've yet to see anyone be carded, at any of the wineries I've visited).
  9. Take notes on the wines you taste, so you can remember your favorites. Most wineries hand out lists -- so use those lists to star the wines that strike you most.
  10. Ask the wine server questions. Learn about the winery, and learn the stories behind why the owners started the wineries -- there's been an interesting story at every winery I've been to so far! Take a tour if offered.
  11. Wine tastings are virtually risk free -- so try wines that may be new to you or outside of your usual preferences. Ask the server what his/her preference is, and try that wine, if it's available. If you see a wine on the list, more likely than not, the winery will offer you a sample, especially if you seem as if you're likely to purchase a bottle.
  12. Sip the wines and compare your impressions with those of your companions. Go ahead and sniff it too -- and then swirl it in your glass and sniff it again. It smells a bit different, right?! Do you like it? Compare one wine to another. Think of the foods that you would pair with each wine. Ask the server about suggested pairings (and then make notes on the hand out list). 
  13. Ignore the wine snobs. Taste is a very personal experience. Wine is good if you enjoy it. It doesn't matter how expensive a wine is -- if it's not appealing to you, it's a waste of money.
  14. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere as well as the wine. Most of the wineries have gone to great lengths to provide a pleasant setting for you to enjoy sampling their wines.
  15. Don't rush through the tasting -- ask questions, chat with your companions, look around the wine tasting room. Savor the experience!
Now, about the bicycles: After 20 years, I decided to return to a youthful hobby, in part because I want to start including some day trip bike rides in the blog. We visited Mount Airy Bicycles because I'd heard good things about them and their willingness to really figure out which bike suits a rider the best. Although it was too snowy to test ride any of the models, I will return to take the bikes out for a mile ride each in a few weeks, so I can figure out what makes the most sense for me.

Also, I want to ride all 185 miles of the C&O Towpath, from Cumberland down to Georgetown (this trip is on my bucket list). Although I may not be ready for that this year, I'd like to do it in the next year or two. Getting fit and getting a bike I enjoy riding is a necessary first step. 

(For what it's worth, the bike contenders are the Trek Pure Lowstep (pictured above), the Trek Verve 1, or the Electra (now Trek) Townie. If you have any experience with these bikes, or recommendations or suggestions, I welcome your input!)
Beau is wondering why I'm taking his picture
and not scritching behind his ears!

Tip #1: (Back to the wineries.) Enjoy the drive. Most wineries are in beautiful countryside.
We eschewed the main roads and programmed in "scenic" in our GPS between the two wineries. Even in the dead of winter, the countryside was lovely, and the drive very enjoyable between Elk Run and Red Heifer.

Tip #2: If you avoid purchasing wine and pack your own picnic, this is a budget-friendly day trip!

Getting there: GPS it! Elk Run is located at 15113 Liberty Rd, Mt Airy, MD 21771. And Red Heifer is located at 24606 Raven Rock Rd, 7, Smithsburg, MD 21780. 28 South is located at 28 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown.

Hours: Elk Run is open Wednesday-Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-5; Red Heifer is open Wednesday, Thursday & Friday – 1 pm-7 pm (by appointment during Jan, Feb. & Mar.) Saturday & Sunday – 11 am-7 pm.

Dogs: Red Heifer Winery already has dogs you can borrow for the visit. Elk Run offers cats in a barrel. Although some wineries do allow dogs on the grounds (for outside picnics), call ahead to ensure Fido is welcome.

Websites: Elk Run Vineyards; Red Heifer Winery.

Check out previous posts on Red Heifer Winery and Elk Run Vineyards at and

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

C&O Canal at Great Falls

Certainly when the canal was first envisioned, the planners, engineers and builders never imagined that 180 years after its creation, it would serve as a popular recreational attraction. In the 19th and early 20th century the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley, from the tidal basin in Washington D.C. to the mountains of Western Maryland.

The canal operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about 184.5 miles and has 74 locks.

One of the most popular sections is at Great Falls Park, accessed on the Maryland side at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. The Billy Goat Trail on Bear Island, accessible from the Maryland side, offers scenic views of the Great Falls, as do vantage points on Olmsted Island. It's worth noting that dogs are prohibited from Olmsted Island, so plan on foregoing the views if you've go the pooch along, or get someone in your group to hold the leashes while you see the views. It's quite spectacular when the river is running high, as it was during our visit.

Tourists have, of course, been coming to see the Great Falls of the Potomac long before there was a canal. The Great Falls Tavern carries on a long tradition of hospitality for visitors to the C&O Canal. Soon after the canal's ground breaking in 1828 construction began on the original lockhouse. In response to travelers' requests for shelter and a meal, the locktender at Great Falls, W.W. Fenlon, asked the Canal Company to build the three-story north wing for a hotel.

Along our stroll down the tow path, we noticed a great blue heron fishing in a shallow part of the canal. He posed for photographs for several avid photographers, and steadfastly continued fishing as we strolled on.

You don't come to this stretch of the towpath for a quiet walk in the woods. It is crowded. There are cyclists (generally considerate); serious hikers; joggers; families strolling, three abreast; little children running helter skelter and hugging your dogs (beagles!) without warning; and dog walkers. You approach this section girding your loins to call upon deep wells of patience and a sense of humor as you rub shoulders with humanity, many of whom seem completely oblivious of anyone else. The views of the river, and even the canal itself, is worth it. If you want solitude, seek out another stretch of the tow path, or go as the sun rises, when there are only a few hardy souls out along the path.

Tip: Get there early. On a lovely winter day, the parking lot at Great Falls Visitor Center was full by 2 pm, and a waiting line of cars looking for the next spot to open up. Smaller parking lots along other access points were also full up.

Getting there: The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD 20854. But check out the maps at the websites below for access points to other sections of the C&O Canal.

Hours: The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is open year round, Wednesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Dogs: Welcomed in the park and along the tow path, but not welcome along the Billy Goat Trail (it's a rock scramble in places) and on the boardwalk over to Olmsted Island.

Web sites: For trail maps and lock numbers and distances, check out For a map of the C&O Canal, The C&O Canal National Park's website is

For other parts of the C&O Canal, check out the below articles:
Brunswick to Dargan Bend
Canal Pride Days 
Edwards Ferry
Fort Frederick to Hancock
Locks 33 and 34
Lander Lockhouse
Maryland Heights (Harpers Ferry),Monocacy & Catoctin Aqueducts
Paw Paw Tunnel to Lock 56
Swain's Lock to Seneca Aqueduct
Kayaking at Swain's Lock

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Updated June 2020

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hampton National Historic Site

Hampton National Historic Site is an historic house whose owners witnessed and formed the history of Maryland and the young United States as it unfolded; a grand old home that was much loved by its owners, who eventually made the decision to save it (because of declining financial fortunes) by opening it up to the public; and a mansion and estate in which countless individuals, both black and white, were enslaved or served.

It really is an amazing place.

Hampton Mansion is the ancestral summer home of the Ridgelys, including an early Maryland Governor, Charles Carnan Ridgely, and remained in the family for over 150 years. All the major names of Maryland history seem to have a connection to the estate and Ridgely family: Howards, Dorseys, Carrolls, among others.

Captain Charles Ridgely, the first owner.
The family's fortune began with the founding of ironworks
on a tributary of the Gunpowder River in the 1760s. Throughout the Revolutionary War, the Ridgely ironworks supplied arms and implements to the patriot cause. They became so wealthy that Captain Ridgely, who also owned a merchant fleet, began constructing the mansion in 1783. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get to enjoy the mansion for very long, dying shortly after it was completed in 1790. During his lifetime, he expanded his estate from 1500 acres to 24,000 (almost the size of Baltimore city).

Although his nephew, Charles Ridgely Carnan, inherits the mansion, there's a catch -- he must take Ridgely as a surname, which he happily does. He also inherits 12,000 acres, which he in turn, expands to 25,000, with ironworks, grain crops, beef cattle, thoroughbred horses, coal mining, marble quarries, mills, and mercantile interests. This is the Ridgely that becomes a governor of Maryland, and this is the Ridgely that made Hampton Mansion into the showplace that it was in its heyday.

His son, John, inherits the mansion in 1828, along with the largest portion of the business concerns and 4500 acres. His father's will freed most of his 300-plus slaves. During this time, he and his wife, Eliza, focused on the gardens. John and Eliza's son Charles, was a Southern sympathizer (makes sense, given the estate's slave-based economy), and was elected Captain of the Baltimore County Horse Guard, which was sent to burn bridges between Pennsylvania and Maryland at the start of the Civil War. The Horse Guard was soon disbanded and Charles was threatened with arrest for actions against the Union Army. Maryland, although a state divided, was part of the Union. He sat out the rest of the Civil War. After the Civil War, Hampton Mansion began its slow decline, and by 1948, the sixth and last Ridgely owner sold the estate to a Mellon Family Trust, which in turn eventually turned it over to the National Park Service.

Slavery and Servitude

Hampton National Historic Site offers an exceptional, perhaps unmatched, look at an 18th and 19th century slave estate. At its height, the Hampton holdings enslaved some 300 individuals, including white indentured servants. Judging by the bars and locks on the doors and the pocket shutters, which locked as well, the family feared those they enslaved. Although slavery may have been a system that made for a prosperous estate, it didn't make for a good night's sleep.

The rare surviving quarters for enslaved individuals represent the core of the home farm, across the lane from Hampton Mansion, that housed the work force for the estate, and have recently been restored and opened to the public. The National Park Service honors the lives of those who labored on the estate and in the house -- both black slaves and white indentured servants -- by holding regular tours and educational sessions, aptly titled "Servitude at Hampton: In Black and White," which will explore the "peculiar institution" that fueled the slave-based economy and made vast plantations such as Hampton possible, through an enslaved woman's eyes, and "On the Hampton Plantation: The Overseer's House, Slave Quarters, and Farm Tour," a guided tour through authentic slave quarters, dairy, and the overseer's home.

Find out about upcoming tours at or call 410-823-1309, ext 208.

The Master Bedroom

A National Treasure

Overshadowed by some of the relatively nearby famous homes of U.S. presidents (Montecello, Mt. Vernon, etc.) Hampton National Historic Site truly is a national treasure, both for the magnificence of the mansion itself as well as for the story it tells about enslavement and indentured servitude in the early 1800s. Hampton Mansion, the centerpiece of this National Historic Site, is considered by many to be one of the finest and largest Georgian mansions in the United States. It now operates under the National Park Service in conjunction with Historic Hampton, Inc.

The Dining Room

What makes touring Hampton Mansion unusual is the large number of furnishings that were originally owned by the Ridgelys, providing a look at changing trends, technology (what passed for indoor toilets in the early 1800s), fashions, and society -- there're the rather ugly Victorian chairs, last remnants of a bedroom suite that were burned by the boys of the family; soaring ceilings over 13' high; enormous gilded mirrors, oil paintings by leading American masters; brilliant silver and ceramics from America, Europe, and China; and the finest American and imported furnishings from numerous styles. If you believe in ghosts, perhaps you will sense one in the White Bedroom (or White Room), which is supposedly haunted by a young girl.

The Music Room, decorated for Christmas
Unlike many historic homes in the area, Hampton National Historic Site still retains many of its original outbuildings and landscape features that made the estate a showplace since its construction in 1790. There's a rare ice house dating from 1790 that, when filled in the winter, kept the family supplied with ice through August; a reconstruction of the decorative Orangery, built in 1825, that kept the family supplied with citrus fruit; and two 2-story stone stables, dating from 1805 and 1852, which once housed some of the finest thoroughbred horses in Maryland. Across Hampton Lane, other historic buildings on the property reflect the agricultural nature of the estate, including the dairy, mule barn, and granary, which were crucial to supplying produce and dairy products. Altogether, much to see beyond "just" the house tour (which is all we got to see last weekend).

Getting there: Hampton National Historic Site is just minutes off of the Baltimore Beltway. GPS it at 535 Hampton Lane, Towson, MD 21286.

Hours: Hampton's grounds are open daily. Buildings are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for major holidays.

Dogs: No, not for this site!


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The Farmhouse

Updated December 2018

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions: Daytrips for 2014

I always make New Year's resolutions. Some I keep, some I don't, some I try diligently to keep but peter out about June or July... This year I'm making some day trip-related New Year's resolutions -- and I'm betting I'll keep all these!

Here are some day trips and places I haven't been to yet, but which I resolve to do in 2014!

I've cheated on this blog -- the photos are from the web sites of the various places I'm mentioning, as I've not actually been there yet to take the photos!

1. Take a guided kayaking trip around Assateague Island. The website promises that it'll take us to " the best areas for pony watching, bird watching and dolphin watching... Join our kayaking adventures to discover a hidden treasure perfect for your family. Discover pristine places only accessible by boat. This is your chance to experience awesome areas where wild ponies live along Assateague." Okay. I'm hooked -- when do we go??!!!

Photo from

2. Explore Winterthur house and gardens:
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is an American estate and museum in Winterthur, Delaware. As of 2011 it houses one of the most important collections of Americana in the United States of America. Bonus: there's an upcoming exhibit on Downton Abbey.

3. Hike to see the falls in Swallow Falls State Park (MD). I've been wanting to do this for several years now -- maybe 2014 will be the year I actually do this!

4. Leaf peeping along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, followed by lunch in Skyland Resort. I love leaf-peepping. I love eating... why not look at lovely fall foliage while eating at Skyland?? Sounds like a deal to me!

5.Visit Fort McHenry in Baltimore, followed by brunch in downtown Baltimore, and a visit to the Star Spangled Banner House. The two historic sites seem to naturally fall together.

6. Take a segway tour around Washington DC. Last year my husband and I took a segway tour around the National Military Park in Gettysburg -- and loved the experience. Since then, we've learned there are segway tours in many cities, Washington DC included. This sounds like a neat way to re-experience a city we've explored before.
Photo from Cheasapeake
 Lights Boat Tours

Photo from
7. Go fossil hunting and hiking in Calvert Cliffs State Park (MD). Known for shark tooth fossils on its beaches, the park offers some pleasant short hikes. I have fossils from here already when the boys and I went 7 years ago. It's time to revisit.

8. Take a boat tour around lighthouses in the Chesapeake Bay. There are a number of tours available to see various lighthouses by boat, from 2 hours to 2 days long. This just sounds like fun! There's a day-long trip that sounds most interesting to me, although the overnighter is intriguing -- but two days on a boat looking at lighthouses... not sure I'm up for that.

Autumn, or the Grape Harvest, by Francisco Goya
9. Volunteer to help with the grape-harvest at a Maryland winery. Many of Maryland's wineries seek volunteers to help out with the harvest. I am hoping "no experience necessary"! Despite the beautiful and romantic painting shown here, I'm guessing it'll be hard, gritty work -- but fun for all that.

10. Bike along the C&O Towpath and here. I've always loved walking along the tow path, and a few years ago I put walking the entire tow path on my bucket list. I've amended that to biking OR walking it. I'm okay if it's not consecutive -- I'm happy doing one segment here, another there....7 miles down, 177 to go!

11. Explore Longwood Garden's Christmas and Holiday decorations, gardens, and lights! The more I read about Longwood's holiday decorations, the more intrigued I became. It's on my list for next year!

Photo from Longwood Gardens
Happy New Year! I wish all of you safe and interesting travels!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!