The 1955 skipjack was returned to the
Chesapeake in a lovely ceremony at the
museum’s 2013 OysterFest that included
members of the Parks family
and Rosie’s original first mate.
The crowd of 4,500 joined in
singing “Just a Closer Walk
with Thee”—the same hymn
sung at her original launch—as
she entered the Miles River. It
was a beautiful November day
on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,
and Helen and I were happy to
be spending it in St. Michaels.
Just two weeks earlier, we had
made a 30-mile bike loop
around Talbot County. We
started at Easton Cycle and
Sport, where we were greeted
by two friendly labs Duff and
Godiva. Shop and dog owner
Ryan Hickey outfitted us with rental bikes,
helmets, and a map. As celery, onion, and
green peppers are the Trinity of Cajun
cooking; Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels
are the Trinity of Talbot County. Helen and
I set out to visit all three.
We peddled into town on Goldsborough
Street and took a left on Washington, giving
a nod to CBF’s new Easton office as we rode
past South Street. The town was already
bustling on this early Friday afternoon. But,
the scenery soon changed from historical hip
village to pastoral autumn landscape as we
made our way out of the downtown area.
Our first leg of the trip was south on Route
333 towards Oxford. Although it was not
the longest part of the loop, the mid-day
heat and flat scenery made it feel like it. I
would later be thankful that we did this
Oxford was well worth the trek. Helen and
I first saw water as 333 bent right onto
South Morris Street. We followed the shaded road lined with Victorian homes through
Oxford, a town with one bank, one market,
and three inns. This was our first visit here,
and we found the not-too-touristy atmosphere charming.
We scoped out the ferry landing where
South Morris Street dead ends at the Tred
Avon River and asked a local where we
should eat lunch. He recommended
Schooners, just a few blocks away.
It was the perfect place to recharge for the
rest of our ride. The weather was particularly beautiful and we took our time eating
lunch waterside on the patio. Near us, a
table of off-duty watermen discussed plans
for the upcoming weekend. I had a nice
crab cake sandwich and Helen enjoyed a
black angus burger. We could have sat there
for the entire afternoon, but we had twenty
more miles to go before dark.
We did find time, however, to enjoy a couple scoops from the Scottish Highland
Creamery, which is attached to Schooners
and makes 600 flavors of ice cream one gallon at a time. Our time in Oxford and the
great sandwiches and ice cream fueled us
for the remainder of our ride.
Our next stop was St. Michaels. That
involved a short hop crossing the Tred Avon
on the Bellevue-Oxford Ferry. The captain
and first mate had the docking and launching down as smooth as butter. Helen and I
boarded with only one couple on bikes, but
the ferry, established in 1683, also accommodates cars and motorcycles as well.
I imagined the conversations had on this
ferry route over the last 330 years. The first
vessel was built to carry “horse and men”
and the ferry keepers were paid with tobacco until 1737.
The day we crossed, a plane was flying over
some land on the Bellevue side of the river,
repeatedly dipping down below the tree
line. The ferry’s first mate explained that the
plane was planting “tillage radishes.” This
was a new concept for me, and Helen and I
listened intently to the first mate as he
explained the virtues of the radishes for
cover crop, aeration, and bringing nutrients
higher up in the soil. I have
since learned that CBF uses
this method on our own
Helen and I waved good bye
to the ferry and her crew as we
hopped back on our bikes,
heading north to St. Michaels.
St. Michaels is the oldest of the
three towns, having been
founded as a trading post for
tobacco farmers and trappers
in 1677. This afternoon, the
vintage port was full of visitors,
prowling the galleries, gift
shops, and eateries. Knowing
we’d be back in a couple of
weeks, we didn’t even dismount, but made
a u-turn at the St. Michaels Maritime
Museum and headed back out 33 to Easton.
Even at a relaxing pace, we made it back
with a little light to spare. Back on
Washington Street, Easton’s historic downtown area was alive with a big-city pulse.
We didn’t make it back to Easton Cycle
before it closed, but Ryan had given us
instructions for dropping the bikes after
hours. Shop employee Jeff passed us in his
truck earlier and knew we’d be pulling in
soon. To our surprise, he and his Australian
Blue Heeler Nyla were waiting for us when
we arrived. Jeff took care of our bikes while
we played fetch with Nyla.
We chatted for a while and talked about
coming back to do some more exploration
on the kayaks or stand-up paddle boards
that the shop rents or to ride in next year’s
Tour de Talbot—a 100-, 55-, or 20-mile
fundraiser for clean water—which the
There are many things to do, and places to
visit, here in Talbot County. And just like the
ice cream flavors at the Highland Creamery,
there is something for everyone.
Loren Anne Barnett—CBF’s
Director of Creative Services
and Editor of Save the Bay
magazine—learned to slurp
oysters from her Uncle Emmit.
Helen looks out over the Tred Avon River from Schooners Restaurant in Oxford
on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.