No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Washington DC

July 14, 2006

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Since Kathy & I have both visited Washington many times, we decided to try and see mostly places that we had not been to previously on our one day visit. We had spent the previous night at a hotel in Silver Spring after the short drive over from Baltimore and we took the red line train into the heart of DC to begin our exploration.

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Our first stop was Ford’s Theatre, which was the site of the assassination of President Lincoln. Though the theatre is still actively putting on plays, it has been preserved in much the same layout as it was back in 1865, and the Lincoln box is almost exactly as it was. In the basement, there is a remarkable collection of relevant memorabilia and artifacts from the assassination as well including the weapons used, clothing that Lincoln was wearing, leg irons they held the conspirators in and so on. Across the street, the actual house where Lincoln died has been preserved as well.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFord's Theatre

After a quick bite to eat, it was onto the National Mall via the Museum of Natural History which is part of the myriad of Museums that make up the Smithsonian Institute. The museums are situated around the mall which stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. We visited the National Air & Space Museum, which houses an impressive array of famous aircraft, from the Wright Brothers first plane to the “Spirit of St. Louis” to the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWright Brothers Plane

Next we cruised through the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden and on to the newest addition, The National Museum of the American Indian. This beautiful structure displays Native-American artifacts and history in an entirely new light, one that has been assembled from the point of view of the Indians themselves. It is a wonderful collection which is presented in a fresh and exciting perspective; we were there for hours and could not take it all in. Our walk back to the subway included a walk through the National Botanical Gardens and a walk past the heavily guarded Capitol building to Union Station where we caught the train back to Silver Spring to get back on the road.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNational Museum of the American Indian

Thursday, July 13, 2006


July 13, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The National Aquarium
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Guster

It’s truly amazing what you can pack into a day, especially when you are in a city as cool as Baltimore where there is so much to see and do. We spent just about 30 hours in the city and it feels like we did enough for a week’s visit.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Tobin Family
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Kathy & Christina

Of course before we could even get to Baltimore, we spent a final afternoon with the Tobin family boating on the Magothy River, located a mere 45 seconds from their house. They treated us to a wonderful trip to this cool deserted island, with its own private beach and cliffs that jutted upward from the river and commanded an amazing view of the entire area. We had a great time lounging on the beach and playing in the water. It was tough to say goodbye, but we had somehow managed to get 10th row center seats to see Guster and Ray LaMontagne at the Pier 5 Pavilion in Baltimore, so we had to make the short drive in the late afternoon.

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We stayed at a nice hotel, the Brookshire Suites, just 2 blocks from the Inner Harbor and an easy walk to the concert. It was the opening night of their summer tour, though you would not have known it from their amazing show. If Guster is coming to a town near you, I suggest you get tickets asap. If you are not familiar with them, I will post a link to their website so you can check them out.

The next day we did the tourist thing, first enjoying lunch at a restaurant overlooking the harbor, then catching the water taxi for a trip to Fort McHenry. The fort, which sits at the entrance to Baltimore harbor, is an excellent historic site. It was the site of the American victory over the British fleet in 1814 (during the war of 1812), that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner”. It is easy to get a sense of what it must have been like because the National Park Service has done an excellent job of recreating the original fort and its content.

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Next it was back on the water taxi to the National Aquarium. This massive, well designed, exceedingly impressive aquarium must rank among the very best in the nation. It is simply huge and has a plethora of interesting creatures, all displayed with a bent towards conservation, which is very important to us. If you are anywhere near Baltimore, this place is worth a visit, in fact it is worth being the reason for a visit.

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Our final stop in Baltimore was a dinner engagement with another of Kathy’s college friends, Dave Reamer & his lovely wife Deneb. We met them at this wonderfully funky little diner called the Paper Moon Diner. Thankfully it wasn’t too busy because we were there for about 3 hours catching up with them. It was far too short a time and we are hopeful we can get them down for a Key West visit sometime soon.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Kathy, Dave & Daneb

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Eastern Shore and Annapolis

July 11, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMaryland State Capitol

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After getting used to driving pretty long hours to arrive wherever we ended up, it is strange getting used to the short trips we are making in this area, it’s incredible how many different places you can see in a relatively short drive. This was certainly the case when we drove from Philadelphia to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where we visited Washington College in Chestertown.

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Once upon a time, Kathy attended Washington College and she wanted me to see the place so we spent a night in Chestertown which is a very cool little town on the banks of the Chester River. We toured the college and the town by bicycle before driving over to nearby Rock Hall to have a crab lunch at Waterman’s Crab House, on a deck overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Crabs are one of Kathy’s true joys and she has been hankering for a true Maryland Crab experience. Well Waterman’s was ok, but the real crab experience happened by sheer dumb luck last night in Annapolis.

After lunch, we drove, a very short distance, across the Bay Bridge to Annapolis where we surprised friends who relocated here from Key West, Dan & Deanna Tobin and their children, Nicholas (7), Dylan (4) and Christina (3). We called them from the visitor center announcing that we were here and they were kind enough to invite us not only to stay but to attend a wonderful, traditional Maryland Crab Feast at the home of their friends, Dave & Kristin Draper & their kids A.J. & Danielle. The party was in honor of their son A.J.’s 8th birthday, and featured the biggest Jumbo Maryland Crabs I have ever seen. Kathy was in heaven, though I must say as far as devouring Crabs goes, she had stiff competition from Deanna.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMelanie, Barbara, Kathy & Kristin

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Deanna stealing crabs from children.

We met some wonderful people in addition to the Draper’s including Barbara who has 2 of her 3 sons currently at the nearby Naval Academy. One a First Year (Senior in military parlance) and one a plebe (Freshman). You may be able to spot Barbara if you visit the Naval Academy. She will the woman walking a heat exhausted dog, as she stalks the plebes being put through their training, with a long lens camera. We also met Roger and Melanie Goodes & their kids Rigsby & Marina who were visiting from of all places, Indianapolis, so we were able to trade stories of Broad Ripple and I told them to drop my name if they head to Brugge. Hopefully they won’t get thrown out of the place if they do that.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Rigsby & AJ

Monday, July 10, 2006


July 10, 2006
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A sign at the National Park visitor center in downtown Philadelphia proclaims that it is, “The most historic square mile in America” and while Boston and Washington DC may argue the point, there is ample evidence to support the claim in the wonderful historic district. We explored the area as part of our visit with Ann Holmes & Michael Pfeiffer who live in the cool little town of Narberth, just outside of Philly.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Independance Hall

We drove the short distance from Barto to Narbeth on Saturday after our winery excursion and arrived mid-afternoon. Ann gave us a wonderful walking tour of Narbeth which has a delightful small town feel for its close proximity to such a large city. We made a stop and met Sohelia Sobhani who runs The Cheese Company, a delightful little gourmet cheese and food store downtown.We had dinner at a great little Cajon/Creole place called Carmine’s which was notable for its excellent food and service as well. We have experienced some of the worst restaurant service imaginable on this trip and it was shocking how well good service stands out.

In the morning, I discovered the strangest thing on the car windshield, it was a bird dropping that resembled a human face. I figure if pilgrims journey thousands of miles to see the face of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich, I should at least show Kathy, Michael & Ann and see if they felt it worth a pilgrimage. Judge for yourself, I include a photo below.
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Ann took us into Philly and we did the tourist thing. It is truly amazing how much history happened here. We saw Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, The first and second banks in the United States, the place where the Constitution was written and so on. We also walked down to Penns Landing where a Latin-American festival was occurring before having lunch at Rotten Ralph’s where I had the obligatory Philly Cheese Steak and we returned to our streak of bad service. Perhaps they should change the name of the place to Rotten Service if all their waitstaff was like ours. We returned to Narberth and said our goodbyes, using our standard line, “(Insert Host’s name here) This was the BEST visit we have had on our trip.”

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMichael & Ann

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Barto, Barto, Barto!!

July 8, 2006
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTara, Rory, Eli, Jason, Michael & Kathy

If you ever get the urge to visit Barto, Pennsylvania, I wish you the best of luck. The tiny town an hour and a half outside of Philly isn’t even listed on the official state map, but as fate would have it, our travels from the Jersey shore led us to the tiny hamlet to visit our friends Elizabeth & Jason Pezzuti. If you do visit Barto, you couldn’t find better hosts than them. I know Eli from our shared love of the Counting Crows website and we have spent way too much time on-line on the message boards known until recently as Cloudkookooland. Kathy refers to us as kookoobirds.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMrsReefy & Eli

We drove from Jersey, stopping briefly in Philadelphia at the wonderful Wilma Theatre where another of Kathy’s good friends, Ann Holmes works as the Education Director. We will be staying with them Saturday night and we wanted to touch base and see the Theatre, then it was on to Barto where we met Eli & Jason and got a tour of their beautiful farmhouse, massive barn, and their awesome petting zoo full of animals, including their adorable goat Daisy May, their dog Trio, cats, ducks and their beautiful horses, Mo & Angel, which they rescued from the slaughter house.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnn & Kathy

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Soon we were off to meet two more kookoos, Tara & Rory at this amazing restaurant & pub, Union Jack’s Inn on the Manatawny. This incredible pub serves literally hundreds of varieties of beer from around the world, both on tap and in bottles. It was amazing…and somewhat dangerous, but we had a great time.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTara, Amber & Rory

This morning after a visit to the GolfPort (combination golf course & airport) for breakfast, we visited the Manatawny Creek Winery where Tara works for some delicious wine tasting. Located in Douglasville, PA, the winery offers a wonderful selection of wines and Tara was way too kind to treat us to a fantastic collection of wine. This area of Pennsylvania is really nice, rolling hills, beautiful farms and quaint little towns and is worth a visit, especially if you have the sort of wonderful local insight that Eli, Jason, Rory & Tara provided. Thanks guys, we hope to return.

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