Day 19 – Of the Potomac and Chesapeake

Sean’s Journal: Interstate 95 going south just clipped the northern tip of Delaware. Before I knew it, I was in the Baltimore, Maryland, metro area. I drove around the Baltimore waterfront, so historic and colorful. Then, I became a typical tourist, and gratefully so. Vince had advised me to not pass through the Baltimore area on the way to DC without stopping to have a genuine Maryland blue crab meal. These crabs are the legendary products of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Hand-to-Claw. It was an early lunch, but I was anxious to get to DC—to the National Mall. So, I found an authentic local café with knotty-pine decor, tables covered with brown paper, and trophy fish mounted on the walls. The seating was family style, so I asked a group of three people sitting at a large table if I could join them. They were most inviting and quite jovial. Then came the crabs in a galvanized bucket and poured in two piles on our table. There were implements for dissecting the crabs, but mostly it was hand-to-claw combat. There was plenty of drawn butter and other accompaniments to our crab. Wow and double wow! Those sweet crabs are lip-smacking good. I’ll never forget this lunch. I now know why EVERYBODY does it.

District of Columbia. I took the famous I-495 beltway most of the way around the District of Columbia. The traffic was crazy-busy. I crossed the beautiful Potomac River a couple of times.  Before I headed to the National Mall, I wanted to see the Latter-day Saints temple that sits on a hill and looms above the trees at just the right bend in the freeway. Whatever your religious persuasion might be, this beautiful, gleaming-white building is a must-see, at least from the beltway if not up-close. I eventually found my way to a parking lot not too far from the National Mall.

The classicized image of the Washington Monument shown below is a perfect way to convey the spirit of this place. There is no way I can do justice to the National Mall experience by simply sharing photos, Internet links, or my own narrative. I am so glad I came here. I spent the afternoon going from one memorial to another, from one historic building to another, and enjoying occasional park bench conversations with other tourists from everywhere in the world. To the readers of our blog, I strongly suggest that you put a pilgrimage to our nation’s capital on your galvanized bucket list along with the blue crab from Chesapeake Bay. Here is a link to get started: https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm

Tomorrow morning, I plan to return to the mall at sunrise, catch a flag-raising ceremony, have breakfast, and then begin my long journey westward.

Vince’s Response: I totally agree, Sean. A visit to our nation’s capital is a pilgrimage. Marie and I took our three youngest sons there. Our four older children were already grown, married, and on their ways through life. In fact, we had gone to visit our eldest daughter and her family who lived near DC in Manassas, Virginia. And, yes, our sons loved the same sights and patriotic spirit that you experienced. As you might expect, they especially enjoyed the Air & Space Museum. On one business trip, I visited DC alone and discovered my favorite building: The Old Post Office Pavilion. You are so right, the list of Internet links would be half-a-page long, if you and I attempted to describe our nation’s capital in this blog. Finally, I agree that the Latter-day Saints temple is so beautiful and serene. Marie and I have special memories of visiting there when we lived on the East Coast.

Of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. It is worthy of mention that our readers may want to Google and study the fascinating history of the Potomac River that accentuates the beauty of our nation’s capital. Also, one of the most fascinating geographical features of the east coast is the Chesapeake Bay. It is the largest estuary in the U.S. and the third largest in the world–200 miles long and as much as 35 miles wide. It covers 64,000 square miles with 11,684 miles of shoreline bordering six states and the District of Columbia. It is a source of livelihood and recreation for the 17 million people who live, work, and play within this watershed and its maze of rivers and harbors. It is a natural/ecological wonder of the world.         

Homeward Bound. Enjoy your trip westward to Utah. Your family and mine can now begin to count the days until you return. We’ll have a celebratory, outdoor barbecue dinner as Utahn’s do. No steamed crabs, but we’ll grill whatever you like at our Owl’s Nest and dine upon our now-famous, hand-built White Fir picnic table to which you contributed. We’ll look forward to meeting your dad and sisters.

Bookends: (1) Capture the local culture when you can—whether steamed crabs or patriotic memorials. (2) Homeward bound is good. (3) Enjoy the ride and stop to smell the roses often.