Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lazy L at Willow Creek -- A Relaxing, Dog-Friendly Retreat

Options are limited when you travel with your pooch, but one incredible bed and breakfast inn in Lewes, DE, provides both a relaxing retreat and a hearty welcome for your four-legged best friend.

Many bed and breakfasts will welcome well-behaved dogs to just one room of theirs. The Lazy L at Willow Creek welcomes dogs to all their rooms as well as a private cottage that opens up into the fenced-in dog run.

All around the bed and breakfast are reminders of how welcome dogs are. We didn't travel with our dog this time, so I missed him, but that was okay, since I got to greet several other pooches.

The Lazy L at Willow Creek abuts the Great Marsh Preserve, so kayaking right off the property was our goal. Don't have your own kayak? No worries -- you can use the kayaks on the property, available for a minor rental fee from Quest Kayaks (arranged through the bed and breakfast inn).

Being able to go kayaking at sunrise was a spectacular treat!

While you're there, you're likely to see heron, egrets, and eagles. In fact, we noticed two eagles on trees right at the edge of the property along the Great Marsh Preserve.

I'll never stop getting a thrill from seeing bald eagles!

Most of the rooms offer queen size beds, and all offer private bathrooms.

What I found most pleasant about the inn were the several sitting areas available, including an "eagle's nest" loft room with a gorgeous view of the marsh, a second floor hallway sitting area, and a basement game room (with a pool table and pinball machine) and a sitting area, that opens up onto the lawn and patio areas.

On the lawn itself is a fireplace / patio area that in warmer weather might have lured me out for the evening; instead we opted for the hot tub.

Breakfast, a mix of pancakes or waffles, egg dishes, and fruit and yogurt, is served buffet style in the dining room, with private tables set up on a porch overlooking the front lawn and gardens.

Although not in Lewes proper, it's just outside of town and close to a variety of things to do -- from biking in Cape Henlopen State Park (or sunbathing on the beach), bird-watching in nearby Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, enjoying the quaint shops of historic Lewes, or taking a boat tours to see dolphins or up the Broadkill River to Milton.

Teriyaki wings are a specialty at Matt's Fish Camp.

There are also a number of nearby restaurants to consider visiting, including Matt's Fish Camp, which offers contemporary American seafood cuisine, and Gilligans Waterfront Restaurant, in historic Lewes overlooking the canal, which features an upscale American menu with creative seafood options.

For more about things to see and do, including other restaurants, in Lewes, click here.

Getting there: 16061 Willow Creek Rd, Lewes, DE 19958

Website: https://www.lazylbandb.com/

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Scotchtown: An Exploration of Patrick Henry's Revolutionary Values

There aren't many places you can go that are so closely associated with Patrick Henry, patriot, revolutionary, first governor of Virginia, and noted orator, but Scotchtown is one of them. He lived there with his wife Sarah, and their children.

He trod these floors. (I'm always fascinated by such proximity to historical legends.)

Although he only lived there a few years -- 1771 to 1778 -- it was there he developed and acted upon his most influential revolutionary ideas, including his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.

Located in rural Hanover County, VA, Scotchtown was built around 1720 by Charlies Chiswell, and is considered to be unique, architecturally. A center hall colonial mansion, it features eight large rooms below a single, undivided attic.

Scotchtown stayed in Chiswell's possession until the 1760s, when Chiswell experienced financial difficulty, forcing him to sell the plantation. The place went through a series of owners, including Henry, until finally John Mosby Shepherd purchased it in 1801. It stayed within the Shepherd family until 1958.

Unfortunately, the house ultimately was a sad one for Henry -- Sarah, most likely due to untreated and misunderstood post-partum depression, went insane, attempting to kill one of her children. Henry seemed to genuinely love Sarah and considered various options for her care (treatment not being a thing in the late 1700s).

He ruled out an insane asylum before building her comfortable apartments in Scotchtown's basement -- a sitting room and a bedroom. The English basement stood partially above ground level and he enlarged the windows to provide her more natural light. She was attended by an enslaved individual and was well cared for.

Scotchtown was acquired by Preservation Virginia in 1958 and restored to its appearance during Patrick Henry’s life. The various out buildings and gardens on the site have been recreated.

While touring the house and having the original flooring pointed out to you (always pointed out when it exists), you’ll learn about the life and legacy of Patrick Henry. Like many of the house museums I've recently toured lately, this one also is more interactive, asking visitors to engage with the other visitors on the tour to discuss Henry’s ideals of liberty, human rights and revolution, and the ways those ideas influence us today.

Kudos to the docents who took us on the tour. He gave Henry's Liberty or Death Speech and raised goosebumps on my arms -- I imagine it was much like hearing Henry himself give the speech!

He also discussed the plight of those the Henry's enslaved on the property, noting that actually not much is known about them, a combination of a lack of authentic records and the fact that the property was in Henry's possession for a relatively short time (often the only records of enslaved individuals are in wills).

The original construction is still in place -- and easily observed -- in the attic.

Getting there: 16120 Chiswell Ln, Beaverdam, VA 23015

Hours: March 1 through December 29, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Website: https://preservationvirginia.org/historic-sites/patrick-henrys-scotchtown/

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Travel the World with Live Cams -- When You Can't Go Yourself

Daytripping in a time of social distancing might be best done virtually.

That doesn't mean you can't explore this great world. It just means that for a few weeks (or months), you should consider exploring it through your computer.

Technology allows us to visit museums, see performances online, and peak into the private world of animals or enjoy views of public spaces without leaving our homes. And I'll be exploring these options over the next few weeks.

But I have to admit, live cams are my favorite! Below are some of my go-to live cams. It's oddly satisfying.

There is nothing more relaxing than watching fish swim in the Pacific Coastal Reef. Seek inner peace with this mesmerizing live cam of jellyfish from the National Aquarium in Baltimore. 

Want a little more edge? Try the live cam of Blacktip Reef to see the aquarium's blacktip sharks in their element, but keep an eye out for a graceful sea turtle that occasionally swims into view. Points for all the fish you can name!

For most of us, it's difficult to see native wildlife -- in the wild. But a growing number of wildlife cameras allow us to peek into the lives of birds native to the mid-Atlantic region, such as eagles, osprey, falcons, and great blue heron. 

Eagles, eagles eagles! So many live cams of eagles! Check out this live webcam which gives you the unique opportunity to peek inside an eagle's nest in Hanover PA.

For eagles on Maryland's Eastern Shore, check out the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) eagle cam.

For the record, the eagle-cam for the U.S. National Arboretum pair of eagles is not functioning this year, unfortunately.

For other birds, check out the waterfowl cam, also at the Blackwater NWR. This one can be really noisy, and made my coonhound barooooo.

Osprey are a popular bird for live cams, and there are several well known osprey live cams in the mid-Atlantic. These migratory birds begin to arrive in early March and remain through the spring and summer.

Since 2009, the Chesapeake Conservancy streams live video of the nesting platform, where two well known osprey nest on Kent Island. Although “Tom” and “Audrey” haven't arrived yet (as of 17 March), they're expected by the end of March.

There's also the Chesapeake Bay osprey live cam, which will go live again once those osprey return, probably also within the next few weeks. You can check it out at .

But the heron are in their nesting colonies -- called rookeries -- already, and there's a live cam in the lob lollie pine trees. Heron are my favorite birds, and I've enjoyed watching this in the early evenings.

You can also watch peregrine falcons nesting in a skyscraper in Baltimore.

April 1 UPDATE: Looking for bigger animals? The Elk Country Visitors Center offers two live cams of the meadows surrounding the visitors center, where elk often gather.

Zoo cams are some of the best, especially for non-native animals. Two zoo standouts are the National Zoo in Washington DC, and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, of course. But there's also the San Diego Zoo.

The naked mole rats can be fascinating but so can the pandas on the panda cam, and you can't beat them for cuteness. On the fiercer side, you can also watch the lions on the aptly named lion cam.

The Maryland Zoo offers live cams for penguins (note that feeding times are 1030 and 1530), giraffes, flamingos and, uh... goats. I'm kinda fascinated with the goats.

Further afield, the San Diego Zoo offers not one, not two, but eleven different live cams. Want to check out the elephants

Or for diversity, take a peek at the really adorable burrowing owls (and who knew there is such a thing as a borrowing owl?). Now you do, and now you can watch them

There are also koalas, tigers, and condors, oh my! And many others!

If you risk overdosing on cute animals, then check out Baltimore's Inner Harbor live cam and enjoy birds-eye views of the Baltimore Inner Harbor including Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards, Ravens Stadium, Maryland Science Center, Federal Hill Park, and Rash Field.

Want to enjoy the waves? The live cam at Cape Hatteras Light House puts you right on the surf. If actually seeing the light house is more your thing, here's the New Dungeness Lighthouse in Washington State. It doesn't change much, other than the weather.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Discovering an American Hero at the Clara Barton National Historic Site

So many ways to consider Clara Barton: a teacher, a nurse, a daughter, a sister, a patent clerk, an average woman whose vision of care and compassion led her to became a great humanitarian and hero, who founded the American Red Cross, but only after she spent years caring for Americans on both sides of the Civil War. Afterward she spent years of her life finding missing soldiers, alive and dead, to bring peace and closure to their families. Because of her, first aid kits are a thing. Likewise, emergency preparedness plans -- that too she gave us. She also was a pioneer in natural disaster relief.

The America she was born in on December 25, 1821 was rapidly changing, going through the Civil War and then the Industrial Revolution. This incredible woman lived until 1912.

The dining room, in preparation of a impending restoration that is likely to last 3 years.

The house was not furnished when we toured it, and this is a photo
of a photo of how it would have appeared when Barton lived there. 

After the Civil War, Barton founded and ran the Missing Soldiers Office, locating more than 20,000 missing Union soldiers (or their remains), providing comfort or closure to their families. Barton is noteworthy for her humanitarian work and civil rights advocacy -- accomplished in a society where women had few rights, including the right to vote.

The Clara Barton National Historic Site introduces visitors to -- and helps interpret the life of  -- Clara Barton, an iconic American hero and woman. And it's fitting to write about her during March -- National Women's History Month.

A photo of a photo of Barton's American Red Cross Headquarters Office.

Now her 38-room mansion and estate in Glen Echo, MD is a National Historic Site and preserves both the early history of the American Red Cross and introduces visitors to Clara Barton. Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in this home; it also served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross.

The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Clara Barton's bedroom. Visitors gain a sense of how Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work while touring the two levels of her unusual home.

As you tour the home, you are able to understand the spaces through the tour
guide's interpretation as well as the photos showing how the space was used.

Designed by Dr. Julian B. Hubbell, the first field agent of the American Red Cross, the large frame house was partially constructed from lumber salvaged from emergency buildings built by the Red Cross at Johnstown, PA in the wake of the Johnstown Flood of 1889.

A photo of a photo of one of the bedrooms. For a long time after Barton died, the mansion became apartments.

Originally, the mansion included a massive stone front, but in 1897, when Barton moved into the house permanently, the central part of the stone facade was dismantled, creating flanking stone towers. The addition of pointed roofs accentuated the effect on the deep, narrow house.

In spite of its massive size, the house is sparely detailed and furnished for utility. The interior is designed as if it were a Mississippi River steamboat. The house has three tiers of rooms facing a central gallery lighted by clerestory windows of colored glass.

Barton's private sitting room.

Know before you go: This is an amazing house, which is undergoing renovations and restoration by the National Park Service, estimated to take two or three years. Although open, the house is currently unfurnished. There is ample parking on the site.

Barton's bedroom as it would have looked before the furnture was removed for the restoration.

Getting there: 5801 Oxford Rd, Glen Echo, MD 20812

Hours: The Clara Barton National Historic Site offers tours of the house. Guided interpretive tours of the unfurnished house occur at the top of every hour, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 - 4 p.m.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/clba/index.htm

Despite years as separate apartments, many of the original features,
such as the iconic red cross stained glass windows, remain.

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A side view of the house really illustrates the unusual floor plan.