Day 22 Havre de Grace, MD to Timonium 49 miles 2,343 feet
Autumn was most definitely in the air as I pushed off this morning, prompting me to don a light windbreaker for the first time on a dry day. One of my buddies assured me that we would have a tailwind today as the cold front had pushed through, unfortunately his prediction would not pan out. Rather than heading straight out, the ECG took us on a short circuitous route through the historic section of Havre de Grace and it’s waterfront. We wound past the Concord Point Lighthouse, circa 1827, the second oldest lighthouse in Maryland. Located where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, it served as a beacon for sailors in the Upper Chesapeake Bay. It apparently sits near the spot that John O’Neill and his company fought to the last man in an attempt to block British forces from sacking the town on May 3, 1813. Just a stones throw away sits the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum.
I finally left town and began climbing through a modern subdivision of boring, reproduction, attached Colonial style townhouses. The next 22 miles or so was on rural highways which, for the most part, had shoulders as wide as the traffic lanes. The terrain was rolling farm land with an occasional diary farm. There was corn spread out for miles interspersed with fields of clover. To quote Oscar Hammerstein, “The corn is as high as an elephants eye.”
We lost our shoulder for a bit heading into Jarrettsvile, where my cue sheet advised me there would be “food options.” All I saw was a Subway, which my fellow riders will tell you, I occasionally will avail myself of, but not today. I was just about to write off the town completely, till I rode by acres of planted sunflowers followed by a roadside stand making apple butter. I was curious so I stopped in to find out what apple butter actually is. Although it is called butter, as you can spread it on bread, it is actually a jam. Members of the Salem Lutheran Church were hard at work to raise funds for their congregation. The apples are pealed, sliced, then tossed with apple cider, sugar, ground cinnamon, cinnamon imperial candies, and cinnamon oil, into a copper caldron, and stirred with a large wooden rake, over a crackling wood fire until the “butter” is thick enough to clog the 1 inch holes in the wooden rake. It is a very labor intensive process that can take an entire day to make a few gallons of finished product.
I rode by some massive commercial farms before entering dense forests. Every now and then a few trees would be showing off their fall colors, way ahead of their neighbors.
Just past mile 37, I turned off the paved road, onto a succession of rail trails which followed the banks of the Gunpowder Falls River. Much of the trails lie on the right of way from the Northern Central Railway (NCRY) which connected Baltimore, MD with Sunbury, PA. During the Civil War the NCRY was used as a primary route for the Union Army to transport troops and supplies to the south. During the Battle of Gettysburg the NCRY was extensively destroyed by Confederate Troops but rapidly repaired and used to transport thousands of wounded Union soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg to northern hospitals. Abraham Lincoln himself traveled on the NCRY twice, once to deliver his Gettysburg Address, and a second time in a casket on his funeral train from Washington, DC home to Springfield, Il.
As I entered the trail the sun was finally high in the sky and the shade from the dense tree canopy was much welcomed along with the absence of vehicles. I must say however that I found the drivers in Maryland to be quite attentive and respectful to cyclists.
After about 8 miles of gravel we were back on surface roads for the last 4 miles to our hotel. As I rode past the world headquarters for McCormick Spices, the scents of pepper and cinnamon filled the air.
Two of my fellow travelers grew up in the area and have been suggesting for at least 2 weeks that we visit the Friendly Farm Family Style Restaurant, 17434 Foreston Rd, Upperco, MD for their world famous crab cakes. It was a 20 minute drive from our hotel and I’m glad we went. The restaurant is located on a large family farm and looks like a large Bingo House or Elk’s Lodge. You preorder your main courses and are escorted through rows of tables. Once seated, they begin to bombard you with appetizers, including sugary fried dough, coleslaw, cottage cheese, stewed beets, stewed peaches, and fresh apple butter. I opted for a single crab cake and a sirloin steak. The steak was very good but the crab cake was the show stopper. It was not your typical breaded crab cake that looks like a fish burger and is as dry as cardboard. Their crab cakes are made only from the tail fin of the crab and require 8 crabs to make a single cake. The crab cakes looked like a mound of hash browns and broke into bits as you ate them, they were so moist and flavorful that they did not require any sauce or topping. I am not typically a huge fan of crab cakes, but these were out of this world. Our friends said that on a Sunday afternoon after church, you need to wait up to 2 hours to get in.
Nine states down, 6 more to go.
Miles 1,186 Feet Climbed 47,166
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland
For more details on my route, see my Strava link