Showing posts with label Mid-Atlantic States Travel Contributor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mid-Atlantic States Travel Contributor. Show all posts

Monday, July 28, 2014

Maryland: A Festive Destination

With the recently passed Artscape Festival and the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim taking place now, I am reminded of the amazing cultural events and festivals that are held in this area. 

When I decided to move here, from rural Indiana, the decision to be near an urban area was in large part due to my desire to have easy access to large cultural events.  I have to tell you that I have not been disappointed. Late summer and autumn is my favorite time of year to attend these festivals.

Costume seen at Maryland's Renaissance Festival
Artscape has just passed. It is held annually and is advertised as “America’s largest free arts festival…”.  I have absolutely no reason to doubt that it is indeed the largest. It is an amazing festival. The food, music, shows, and tent after tent filled with artwork is a sight to see.    

While located in Virginia, not in Maryland, many Marylanders attend the Chincoteague Pony Swim – the annual event that was made famous by Marguerite Henry's book Misty of Chincoteague.  This year the pony round up occurred on July 26 and 27th and the Pony Swim will take place on Wednesday July 30th.  

Maryland’s Renaissance Festival is an amazing event. There is live jousting, a storyline each year that involves characters in costume, food, and entertainment.  So much of the entertainment, food, and crafts are based in that time period.  It is definitely a great way to spend a day or two.

SunFest is held in Ocean City September 18 thru 20th this year. It is the 40th anniversary of the event. I love SunFest since it occurs after the typical end of tourist season on Labor Day.  This festival stretches summer to it’s limit and yet the weather is typically still beautiful weather for the beach. There are crafts, kites, food, and the usual things to see and do while at the beach. 

Sept 6 and 7th 2014 are the dates for the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point. Sandy Point is a beach park that is located at the food of the Bay Bridge. This is a festival that features seafood in a state that boasts about it’s local crabs. Need I say any more?   

I think my very favorite festival is the National AppleHarvest Festival. Again, not located in Maryland but located not far across the Pennsylvania state line, the National Apple Harvest Festival is an event that I look forward to year after year.  I love wandering around the small county fairgrounds; eating, listening to music, and browsing all of the things there are to browse. The smells and the flavors are all things apple and smoked. The antique tractors and the car show is worth the price of admission alone. 

This is just a minute sample of festivals in this area.  There are music festivals, the Preakness, ethnic festivals, and so much more.  If you enjoy festivals, this is the place to be.

Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)










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Monday, July 14, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Beaches

It is July and we are in the height of the summer vacation season. Summer travel on the east coast typically means that folks are heading to the beaches. If you look for information on the “best” beaches in the mid-Atlantic, the lists will vary somewhat. But some of the same beaches pop up on every list.

  • New York – Rockaway Beach, Main Beach, and of course, Coney Island.
  • New Jersey – Cape May, Wildwood Beach, and Stone Harbor
  • Delaware – Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach
  • Maryland – Ocean City, Assateague Island, and Sandy Point
  • Virginia –Chincoteague Island
  • North Carolina –  the many beaches on the Outer Banks


Some of these beaches are quiet settings with the main attraction being the sand and waves while other beaches are more festive experiences complete with boardwalks, carnival rides, and food stands every few steps.

Beaches are wonderful places for family vacations.  Katiecolette, on Squidoo, gives us great suggestions for activities with children while visiting the Outer Banks area. In addition to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, she gives us a list of at least 10 other things to do or see with your children as well as things to bring and places to stay.

LensbyLisa takes us with her and her family to the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey.  I have never had a Polish Water Ice while on a boardwalk, but I want one now.

Last but not at all least, Angelatvs enchants us with the tale of horseshoe crab number 270130.  We learn both of his story and of crab life in general. Thank you Angelatvs for sharing this with us.

If you are looking for a beach vacation, turn your eyes east and see what we have to offer in the mid-Atlantic.

Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved 






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Monday, June 30, 2014

Full Circles in a Kayak

It is funny, isn’t it, how things tend to come full circle?  Rather, not quite full circle, but a spiral, gently sloped upwards, returning to almost the same spot but one step better. One step forward in the adventure of living.

I have often thought that the act of living is represented in this spiral. You are either moving forward or backward in this spiral, but you are moving.  There are still the ups and downs, but you are moving. At this point in my life, I am moving up with little bits of synchronicity happening along the way.

I experienced this in full effect yesterday.

I went on my second adventure with my new kayak.  While unloading at the launch area, a wonderfully knowledgeable gentleman gave me some very good tips about paddling and about equipment.  He recommended lessons and recommended that I check out Shank’s Mare, in Pennsylvania, along with a few local places.

“Shank’s Mare” is a phrase I haven’t heard since my childhood, growing up in Northern Indiana – when I had many Amish friends. When asked how they were getting somewhere, they often replied “Shank’s Mare”; which meant they were walking.

Imagine my surprise hearing this Indiana phrase here just a few minutes outside of the city of Baltimore. 

This gentleman was referring to Shank’s Mare Outfitters.  He highly recommended that I check it out.  You can bet that I found it on the internet as soon as I returned home, and will indeed go up there and see what it’s all about.  Turns out that it is a lovely 1890’s era general store turned meeting place for hikers, kayakers, and cross-country skiers.  It is located between York and Lancaster Pennsylvania, in Wrightsville, PA on the banks of the Susquehanna River.

As we stood talking, the gentleman gave me stern information about kayak safety; wear a floatation device, be lit at night, take care with the weather, and so on.  Very similar warnings that I had just read the night before in How to Kill Yourself in a Kayak by magicman007.

Upon our return home, after my hours spent paddling around the back side of Gun Powder falls park – the free section near Hammerman Beach area – a young lady approached us in the parking lot.

Her company is relocating her to the area, and she’s trying to find a suitable apartment near areas suitable for water sports, specifically kayaking. She wanted to know what we thought of this apartment complex and where did we go kayaking? Somewhere close? Yours truly went from someone who often explores the area solo to a personal tour guide to a young lady from Ohio.  I drove her past a few areas, including through the Hammerman Beach area.  Her excitement was palpable and she occasionally clapped her hands quietly, when turning corners and seeing the water views.  She took off her flip-flops and stood in the wet sand while we talked about the area in general.

If she teared up, like this Midwest girl did when deciding to live here, I didn’t see it. I was too much in awe of the coincidence of the Ohio girl driving past the Indiana-turned-mid-Atlantic girl at the exact moment we were unloading the kayak.  And how lucky I was to show one of these mid-Atlantic gems to someone in person.

I hope she enjoys the mid-Atlantic region as much as I do. 







Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Heat Safety

Saturday, June 21, 2014 was the first day of summer here in the U.S. Here in the Baltimore area, we have already had a couple of days of high heat and humidity with the accompanying heat and air quality warnings. This small heat wave has reminded me to be prepared for the summer weather, especially during my outdoor mid-Atlantic adventures. 

Harpers Ferry looking down on the Shenandoah
Approximately two summers ago, I wanted my son to see Harpers Ferry, WV. It was an extremely hot day, perhaps the hottest that year, but we still went.  He had been assigned to this area for a few years and I wanted him to see some of my favorite places before he moved away. 

Harpers Ferry is a historic town tucked in where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.  As we walked from the bottom area, near the train station parking lot, up the steep, old stone stairs, I began to feel weak.  My son and the Mister were still just marching along in their way. It is typical that I bring up the rear but this time was different.  I started to need extra rest breaks.  I started to feel light-headed and woozy.

My son took over.  He kept instructing me on things such as take a sip of water, sit down, take another sip of water, head down, drink more water, and all the while he was dribbling water on my head. At least I think that he was.  Maybe it was the Mister. Or maybe they were telling me to do it.  It’s all a little foggy.

Wow. I felt horrible. I felt cold and hot at the same time, my vision was funny, I felt nauseous, and I felt as though I would faint. At some point I felt hot and did not feel like I was sweating as much.  I was not familiar with these signs. My son was.  Thank goodness. I am familiar with the signs now and I take the heat seriously.

Please learn the signs of heat sickness, it may save your life. The CDC gives us great information about symptoms and treatment. 

With their close attention, time sitting in the shade, water on me and in me, I began to feel better enough to walk back to the bottom. We got into the Jeep and ran the air conditioner.  I quickly felt much improved.

Even if you are experienced with outdoor adventures, are aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, and typically are prepared you can still become overcome by the heat.  Off Grid Survival gives us a clear example of a seasoned hiker who could have had a tragic outcome when hiking on a hot day. Thank goodness he was found and successfully treated. 

I have considering purchasing a hydration pack (basically a water bottle that you carry on your back like a backpack) but I’m pretty fussy about my water tasting like rubber or plastic.  Squidoo writer nextyear reviews a camelbak pack that does not taste rubbery.

Ramkitten teaches us how to hike in the oven-hot heat of the GrandCanyon.  I am fairly certain if I follow her tips for Arizona in the summer, I should be fine in the Mid-Atlantic heat.

Finally, for those of us who take our furry family members with us on the trails or other outdoor activities in the summer heat, Ruthi reminds us how to keep our dogs safe in the summer heat. 


Summer is here.  Let’s be safe and have fun.


Image Credit: Image is mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved 





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Monday, June 9, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Region: Choosing an Ideal Place for a Brief Vacation

Snow and snow days were the topic of discussion during the entire mid-Atlantic 2013 - 2014 winter season.  It seemed the students were out of school more than they were in school.  Even though the snow and cold is long gone, it is difficult to stop thinking about the topic of inclement weather and snow days.

Our schools have been left scrambling to make-up all of these educational hours that were lost. Some schools have applied for waivers for make-up days, so that fewer days need to be squeezed into the calendar somewhere. All schools have adjusted their calendars.  The last day of school has been pushed later by several days to a week, or more, in almost all districts.

I am sharing this information because it impacts summer vacation and travel. Both time available and plans that had already been made. It is also heavy on my mind because special education schools that already have an “extended year” program (the equivalent of summer school as a part of the normal curriculum) seem to be taking a really heavy hit.

In other words, because I work in an extended year school setting, I am only having a long weekend as a break for our first summer break. You see, we typically have 7 - 14 days off in June and a slightly longer break in the late summer, before the public school year resumes.  
Overlook at Green Ridge State Forest


Like most humans, because I feel restricted, I suddenly want it all.  I can’t stop thinking about what I could be doing if I had the time.  We have so many highly rated places to see and things to do in this area.  I’ve only scratched the surface of things to see and I want to return to every one of the places I’ve already experienced.

Only one long weekend for break. Oh the decisions I need to make.

I could head to the mountains for a week of primitive camping and hiking at Green Ridge State Forest in western Maryland. A place so beautiful and diverse that I would live there if I could.

I could head to the beach, dig my toes into the warm sand, and hang out with the ponies at Assateague Island.  Of course, this time I would stop and sit a spell at the beautiful visitor center on my way in.

Maybe I will finally book my maiden visit at the Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campgound. I rarely want to stay at a campground that isn’t primitive tent camping, but I really want to stay here.

orchids at Longwood Gardens
Or I could finally visit the New River Gorge area in West Virginia via Adventures on the Gorge, which is a high priority place on my bucket list. My son went white water rafting there and had nothing but good things to say. I can't wait to go for myself. I may or may not be brave enough for white water rafting, luckily there are many things to do and see in that area.  

Maybe I’ll wander back up to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania for a picnic among the flowers and fountains with stop by at Brandywine Museum and to remind myself of the talent of Andrew Wyeth on the way home.

water sports at Hammerman
Fortunately, if all else fails, I will be able to use that long weekend (provided it doesn’t snow – just kidding!) at one of my favorite Baltimore county parks such as Hammerman or Pretty Boy Reservoir.  Maybe I will be able to get my new Kayak into the water. 

You see, I want to do it all. The fewer days I have, the more I want to do.  Whether it is a week long vacation a good distance from home, a staycation near home, or a quick day trip just around the corner, there are so many great places to see in the mid-Atlantic. These are only a few. 



Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)







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Monday, June 2, 2014

Assateague National Seashore Visitor Center

Last week I wrote a review about the fantastic book I bought at the Assateague National Seashore Visitor Center.  Wild Horse Scientists  by Kay Frydenborg turned out to be a great purchase and I have paged through it several times since I wrote the review.  I also find myself continuing to think about the Visitor Center.

During my travels I have stopped at many visitor centers.  I have grown to think of them as places to quickly pop into, look for helpful pamphlets, ask a quick question if I have one, and skedaddle as soon as I use the restroom.  Over the years, I have begun doing my information gathering on the internet prior to the trip and tend to skip the visitor center altogether.

Following my stop at the Assateague National Seashore -Barrier Islands Visitor Center, I have begun to rethink my blasé attitude about visitors centers.  Some of them have so much more to offer than I thought.

In the United States, summer and summer vacations are upon us. Safe and happy travels to you, one and all. And don't forget to check out the visitor centers. 




Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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Monday, May 26, 2014

5 Star Book Review: Wild Horse Scientists

Last weekend I made a day trip to Assateague Island, Maryland.  I met my oldest son and his girlfriend there for the day.  I have been there many, many times and it is one of my favorite places to be.

Luckily, during this trip, I was a bit ahead of schedule and I stopped at the “new” Visitors Center on the way.  I say new because it was built a few years ago but I just never bothered to stop. After all, I had visited the old Visitor’s Center, what more could I possibly be missing? But I stopped anyway and found a gem hiding inside.

Wild Horse Scientists  is a wonderful little book for children. However, I am quite certain that every adult who is a wild horse lover, barrier island lover, or who is interested in the process of wildlife preservation will love this book as much as I do.  This book gives an excellent explanation of how birth control is being used successfully on the ponies of Assateague Island.  I definitely would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars rating.

If you would like to see a list of more books related to that area, have a peek at my reading list.  I welcome you to help me read or review these books. Some of the books I have read and the remainder are on my to-read list. I’d love to know your thoughts about any or all of them. Angelatvs wrote a wonderful review of Assateague Island of the Wild Ponies  It was fantastic reading what she had to say about both the Island and the book I have on my to-read list.

During the times that I am not able to physically travel to the Island, I go there through the wonderful stories and photographs in books. And don’t forget that I’m your Mid-Atlantic States Travel Contributor onSquidoo.  If you want to travel this area from the comfort of your favorite chair, please come along with me.

Image Credit: Photograph ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved

  








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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Rolling Stone Occasionally Stops to Gather Moss and Other Vegetation

As much as I would like to explore each nook and cranny of the Mid-Atlantic region during my every waking moment, there are times that I need to remain home and get things done. I miss the adventures when I don't wander but the silver lining of staying close to home is that I get to work on some of my other hobbies.

Tomatoes grown indoors after frost
In addition to hiking, camping, and sight-seeing, I dream of living a sustainable and small lifestyle somewhere off-grid.  Currently, that dream feels as though it will always remain a distant and hazy vision. A fantasy.  Then when I spend time “gardening”,  it suddenly feels as though my dream of taking the middleman out of feeding myself is closer to being true than I had thought.

For the past two weekends, I have spent a bit of time preparing my balcony for this season’s vegetable garden.   I moved here in the heat of the summer last year but even so, I started a balcony vegetable garden almost immediately.  

Cold weather came quickly and I moved my tomatoes indoors. Luckily, I had great success with the inexpensive kitchen garden lighting I chose. 

I am so excited that another growing season has arrived and I am working hard to make more space for vegetables by going vertical.

If you are interested in gardening (either in the yard or in containers) I strongly recommend that you search out our gardening experts on Squidoo. I am only listing four links to Squidoo gardening experts here.  However, there are many, many more garden gurus in our writing community.  

  • AnnaMKB has excellent tips about balcony gardening. 
  • JaguarJulie is the backyard garden contributor.    
  • A list of 5 gardening lenses of various Squidoo contributors 
  • A fantastic garden planter idea from angelatvs 

I hope you enjoyed my brief break from wandering across the mid-Atlantic.  I would love to hear from you, how does your garden grow?




Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)


















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Monday, May 5, 2014

The 2013 Travelers' Choice Destination is Located in Adams County, Pennsylvania

Driving through town
Adams County, Pennsylvania is a highly rated tourist area.  However, Adams County probably does not sound at all familiar to you.  But I bet you have heard of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Gettysburg is listed as “Travelers’ Choice 2013 Winner – Destinations on the Rise” by Tripadvisor.  

Ghettysburg is a historic town, steeped in civil war history.  Military and architecture buffs love touring the area.  I have driven through historic Gettysburg more times than I can count.  I always think that I really should stop and enjoy the sights someday. Or perhaps, make arrangements to spend a night.  Somehow, I never do.

Perhaps, I have only a lukewarm interest in the Civil War era.  That could be the reason why I only drive through Gettysburg year after year on the way to the National AppleHarvest Festival, which is also located in Adams County.  Or maybe I feel like I’ve already seen Gettysburg as I drive through. I’m not sure why I don’t feel the need to stop. Today, however, I read a Squidoo lens by leahjsongs that gives me even more reason to stop and enjoy Adams County.  Leahjsongs tells us about the award winning wines at Adams County Winery.  If you enjoy wines, I hope you take a peek at her Adams County Winery review.

Are you surprised that there are award winning wineries in the mid-Atlantic states? Before moving to this area, I had never imagined that wineries existed here. Not only do they exist, but they produce wines that I like very much. Boordy Winery is a good example.  Boordy Winery is not located in Adams County, PA. It is located in Maryland. But since we were on the topic of good mid-Atlantic wines, I had to mention it.

Returning to the topic of Adams County attractions, you can learn more about Gettysburg at
Destination Gettysburg  which is the official Gettysburg website and see more of the National Apple Harvest Festival in my pictorial.  

If you are familiar with any more Adams County gems (or mid-Atlantic wineries) please let me know!

Monuments seen from the highway

  
Image Credit: Images are mine and were taken during drives through Gettysburg, Pa.  ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)




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Monday, April 28, 2014

Primitive Camping in the Mid-Atlantic: Green Ridge State Forest


Have you ever known about a place or a thing so special that you wanted to keep it all to yourself?  You were afraid to let others know about it?  Well, that’s how I’ve felt about Green Ridge State Forest in Flintstone, Maryland for several years. 

I’m now ready to share my special place with you.


As compared to all other places I’ve gone camping, and there have been many, I rate Green Ridge State Forest as a 10 out of 10. 

I am aware that anyone who goes camping will have their own criteria for rating campgrounds.  As a woman, I am aware that many of my female friends require parking spots large enough for their RV, electricity for their curling irons and blow dryers (their statements, not mine), and modern bathroom facilities complete with hot running water.  I do not share these sentiments with my friends. 

My top requirements for a campground include:

  • Privacy – I don’t want my site right on the road or in close quarters with others.
  • Natural setting – I want to see the plants, birds, and wildlife.  I don’t want the only four-legged thing I see to be a lawn chair.
  • Cooking over an open fire.
  • Low-cost. If I am spending just a few dollars less than a cheap hotel room (and I’m that close to the campers next door) I’d rather be in the hotel room.
  • Amenities that include only the great outdoors. Pinball machines and putt-putt golf are not reasons I go camping.

I’ve experienced primitive camping at Green Ridge as a lone woman and as part of small groups.  My favorite times were the times that included my son.

I have shared information and my photographs about Primitive Camping at Green Ridge State Forest and will soon share my last  personal adventure there that was a solo and minimalist overnight stay.

If you love camping, and are in the Mid-Atlantic states area, you must consider seeing Green Ridge State Forest.  And remember, whenever you are in an outdoor setting, especially natural settings, practice the art of “leave no trace”.  The earth is good to us, let’s keep it clean.





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Monday, April 21, 2014

Experience the Mid-Atlantic Region a Few Steps at a Time.

Driving through the mid-Atlantic, you can get a bit of a feel for the beauty of the area.  This is especially true if you stray from the Interstate 95 corridor.  However, I don’t think a person can know what an area is like without pulling over and getting out of the car.

For example, I can say I’ve been to St. Louis, Missouri.  I’ve seen the arch.  But I drove through, looking out of the windows at 65 miles an hour.  Even though the kids (they were young then) put Nelly’s CD in the player all of the way through Missouri, and we watched from the windows pointing out different things to each other, I didn’t leave the state knowing the area.

A rugged portion of a Baltimore County, MD trail.
Getting outdoors in an area is the best way to know an area more intimately. I think hiking is the best way to do this.  Understand that I use the word “hike” loosely.  I say I hike.  But what I do is walk along paths for a short period of time.  I participate in what are called day hikes.  All through the mid-Atlantic there are great places to take day hikes.  There are great places to take even shorter walks.  Best of all, the Appalachian Trail runs through part of the mid-Atlantic region.  That means the best of the best hikers do section or thru-hikes here. In terms of trails, there is something for every level of hiker (walker) here.

A lush portion of the same trail.
Whatever type of hiker you are, I encourage you to get out there and see the land. It is possible to hike here in all four seasons, in a variety of terrains, and I love them all. 

MysticTurtle shares her thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT). While thru-hiking the AT is a very serious adventure, there are many places to jump on the trail and do a short hike.  Beginning hikers, like myself, can still enjoy sections of the AT trail.

Hiking more difficult terrain in western Maryland.
In 2012, Clare Lochary wrote an article for the Baltimore Sun, listing the 10 best Mid-Atlantic hikes for fall foliage viewing.  I’ve been to many of the places on Ms. Lochary's list and the rest are on my too-see list.  I agree with her list and think she’s chosen some really great places for day hikes, no matter the time of year.  Be advised, if you use her list, do some research because some of the entry fees may have increased. But the information in the list itself is very helpful.

I hope you find a way to get out and really experience an area, whether it’s the mid-Atlantic region or your own. The following photographs are from a few of my experiences in this area.



Walking the islands and beaches in the mid-Atlantic.

Hike the tidal rivers in Maryland.



Sidling Hill, Maryland in the wintertime.

Tidal marsh areas.

Michaux State Forest, PA


Near the Western Maryland/Pennsylvania state line.





Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)













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Monday, April 7, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Authors

Just in case you have not noticed, I love the Mid-Atlantic region. I’d love for everyone to experience a part of this area, whichever part they would enjoy most. Whether that enjoyment would come from the beach or the mountains, quiet countryside or bustling city, hot summer nights or cold snowy days... I wish everyone could have a personal experience here.

I realize that traveling and vacations are sometimes difficult.  Luxuries like travel are becoming increasingly difficult as the economy has taken such a toll on so many people.

When I can’t travel, and I usually can’t beyond this region, I turn to books.  I can read about faraway lands and adventures that I may never take. I already feel as though I’ve done a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, even though I have only done a short walk on a couple of different portions of the trail in this immediate area. That is the magic of books.


I’d like for you to know about my three favorite Mid-Atlantic authors.

Suzanne McMinn writes about her life in rural West Virginia.

Tawni O’Dell tells us stories about coal mining areas, and the people who live there, in Pennsylvania.

Nora Roberts tells too many stories to list, but I want to point out that she tells us stories that take place in BoonsBoro, Maryland and on the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope you check out these authors and their stories.  And if you are interested, I’ve given you a place to help review these books and to browse more of their writing.

Until you can come to the Mid-Atlantic in person, pick up a book and travel here through the magic of words. Enjoy your adventure! 


Image Credit: Image is ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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Monday, March 31, 2014

Brandywine Valley

Where is Brandywine Valley?  I cannot say exactly as this is something I am learning as I explore the mid-Atlantic region.  The Brandywine Valley area is a watershed area and consists of at least Delaware and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania.

Why do I care about trying to define the location of the area?  Because I am learning that there is much to do and see in that area and I am trying to give clear directions and good references for more information.  Initially, I tried to divide the area and attractions into two counties: Chester and Delaware.  But I could not determine which county Longwood Gardens was located in.  On the internet, it almost seems as though both counties lay claim to this amazing botanical garden. 

So, I will from now on refer to this area as the Brandywine Valley.

We have taken many drives through this area.  We have made several stops at the Brandywine Art Museum. I highly recommend that you put it on your list of places to experience.  Andrew Wyeth was an amazing artist and if you aren’t familiar with him, I think that you should be.

I recently discovered Longwood Gardens and I have discussed it in an earlier blog entry. I won’t go into details again since you can read my original article for yourself. But I will say that this is an enchanted place and next time I go, I will plan to spend the entire day.

In addition to these two amazing points of interest, I have now added the following to my list of places to see in the Brandywine Valley area:




*The Chester County Covered Bridges Trail


*Local Wineries 

To compile your own list of attractions and event to see, these are two sites that will be of much help Brandywine Valley and The Brandywine. They have similar names but are two different sources of information.

Stay tuned in order to learn more about the Brandywine Valley area as I have opportunities for further adventures. Or you can follow me on my Mid-Atlantic Travel with Dawn Rae facebook page. 

If you have traveled this area, I would love to hear from you.



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Monday, March 17, 2014

A Few of the Best Mid-Atlantic Foods

Mid-Atlantic Regional Cuisine


Every region has their special foods and recipes.  When I think of shrimp, I immediately think of Louisiana. Cheese makes me think of Wisconsin.  Oranges come from Florida, of course.  I have known from early on that certain foods are special to certain areas. However, after moving to the mid-Atlantic region, I’ve realized just how passionate people are about their special foods.

One of my early Squidoo lenses was written as a result of strong craving for a regional food (Mary Sue's Pecan Nougat egg) and from the memory of seeing a thank you letter from a deployed person who had received Old Bay spice in their care package.  After seeing that letter, I had noticed others who bemoaned the difficulty of purchasing Old Boy, good crab meat, and other regional foods.  That prompted me to write an edible gifts lens consisting of Maryland treats.

When I move from Maryland someday, I can imagine myself begging friends and family (and perhaps strangers) to send me Mary Sue’s Pecan Nougat eggs every spring. My mouth waters every time I think of them.

Crabcakes and Crabbing


Image Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons
While I do not consider myself a foodie, I do love trying new foods and adding new favorites to my list. I’m not a good cook but I love eating good food.  Have you ever heard the saying, “champagne taste on a beer budget”?  That describes me to some extent about food.  I love the taste of good food.

Blue crab is one of those “champagne taste” foods, in my opinion.  A properly cooked jumbo lump crab cake is divine.  Clairissa also has a wonderful lens about crab cakerecipes.

Crabbing in this area is almost considered an event.  Family members young and old enjoy crabbing.  People look at me with wonder when I tell them that I’ve never been crabbing.  Around here, it’s a bit like learning to walk.  Everyone does it.

There's More Than Crabs to Eat in the Mid-Atlantic.


While I could talk about crab cakes forever, there are other foods in the Mid-Atlantic region. Another food staple of this area are cheesesteak sub sandwiches.  They originated in Philadelphia and Joyful Pamela introduces us to the wonderful world of cheesesteak among other wonderful Philadelphia foods.  People here are passionate about their favorite place to get a cheesesteak sub and will debate for long periods of time about what makes theirs the best.  The Mister and I clearly have our favorite and eat cheesesteaks weekly. I guarantee it is something that one you have found your favorite, you will crave it frequently. 
Image Credit:Photograph by Dawn Rae 2014

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go. Since I’m finished photographing the Mary Sue egg, I can finally eat it.  I have waited for months for egg season and I can’t wait any longer.

I will see you next Monday. If you would like to visit with me before then you can find my on my Mid-Atlantic Travel Facebook page.  



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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Squidoo Community Sharing Mid-Atlantic Tales

When I was an “aspiring writer” I imagined writing as a solitary endeavor.  That image in my mind has changed from pecking away at a clacking typewriter to the quiet whispering clicky-click of a laptop. But the image of the tousled-haired hermit bent over a desk has continued in my mind.

Since discovering the Squidoo community, I am learning that writing does not have to be a solitary thing.  Sure, I can’t chat away while doing the actual writing of a piece, but I know that my fellow Squidoo writers are only an instant message or email away.  It’s an amazing feeling to have all of this support while writing. I highly recommend that writers join the Squidoo community.

While I currently hold the title of Mid-Atlantic States Travel contributor on Squidoo, there are plenty of other writers who write amazing lenses about the area. While it’s hard to know exactly where to start, I’d like to share a few of these remarkable lenses with you today.

I’d like to introduce you to Ramkitten on Squidoo.  She is also known as Deb Kingsbury and is a hiking expert.  I have been interested about the Appalachian Trail and have read a variety of articles and books about the subject over the years. Some weren’t helpful and some were helpful but weren’t very entertaining.  Ramkitten gives information with a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud for real.  I especially like her descriptions and humor in her lens Hiking the Appalachian Trail: What You Really Need to Know.

While lighthouses are not limited to the mid-Atlantic region, you can find Chesapeake Lighthouses by mbgphoto on Squidoo.  I had a hard time choosing just one of her lenses to share because she is an accomplished writer and photographer. All of her lenses are beautiful..

Angelatvs on Squidoo made me feel like a very happy writer when she jumped on my Review Your Favorite Assateague and Chincoteague Island Items and did a wonderful book review of  Aassateague Island of the Wild Ponies. If you like wild ponies, you should definitely check out this book review.

Speaking of Chincoteague, I am hosting a Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry book giveaway at my blog to help celebrate the magic of the islands. You can enter by filing out the raffle form on my blog until March 14th.

Until next Monday, happy and safe travels to you all. 


Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)






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Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to You and Happy Reading to Me!

“I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be! If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”  ~Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. He passed away on September 24, 1991.  It is hard to believe he is gone since his writing and his art continues to touch people; adults and children alike. After all, Theodor Geisel was also known as Dr. Seuss, and whose life hasn’t been touched by Dr. Seuss in some way?

To celebrate Dr. Seuss this weekend, I wrote a book review of one of my favorite Seuss books. Even though today is a day past his birth date, you can join the fun and review your favorite Seuss book too.  Especially since March 3, 2014 is National Read Across America Day.  What a better way to introduce a child to the love of reading than with a Seuss book?

In addition to writing a review of McElligot's Pool, I also pulled a few lesser-known (is there really such a thing) Seuss titles from my shelf this weekend and read them again.  I love that Seuss brought us both entertainment and life lessons. One of those very important lessons is something I am still trying to learn from Marco and his adventures at McElligot’s Pool. You will have to either read my review or the book itself to know which life lesson I’m referring to.

Thank you Theodor Geisel for sharing your talent and vision with us. And for introducing us to the Cat in the Hat, green eggs and ham, Things 1 & 2, and so many other wonderful characters, places, and things. 




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Monday, February 24, 2014

Insight

“I wish I could paint without me existing – that just my hands were there.  When I’m alone in the woods, across the fields, I forget all about myself. I don’t exist… but if I’m suddenly reminded of myself, that I’m me – then everything falls to pieces”Andrew Wyeth

Over the years, I have read many writing how-to books and tutorials.  There are so many that I can’t keep all of the tips and rules straight in my head.  Some have taught me entirely new information and others have reminded me of the writing rules I should have remembered from school.  None of them were the magic cure for my writer’s block.

The trick for me has been shushing myself and allowing my art to exist.

Does this sound confusing, the artist trying to lose herself in order to create her art?  After all, the artist has to exist in order to create. Right?  Well, yes. It is my mind, my body, and my imagination that produces my work. However, I understand Wyeth’s comment completely.

If I try to remember the rules, or worry about the expectations of others, I am not able to write.  If I set my imagination free and let it roam on it’s own, I am able to write. I must squelch the thoughts of rules, of chores and of the never-ending lists of things I must do.  I cannot allow my mind to wander into the realm of bills to be paid, chores to be done, and upcoming appointments blocks.  I am a slow writer, but I know that I write better and more productively when my mind isn’t stuck in the “what-ifs” and trying to figure out the rules before I write.

I also write better after I have had an emotional experience of some kind.  I am fortunate that I have had such an experience this weekend when I visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  The conservatory was bustling, despite snow still covering the ground outside.  The Orchid Extravaganza was in full swing.  The sights, the sounds, and the heavenly scents rejuvenated my writing spirit. And like a child, I gazed with wide-eyed and open-mouthed wonder.  I lost myself and found plenty to write. 

I am excited that I am able to share this wonderful experience at Longwood Gardens with you. 


Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)










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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Story of How I Rubbed Elbows with King Henry VIII

Hear ye, Hear ye, I have met a King.

Yes, I am name-dropping and I am pretty proud of it. I met King Henry VIII. How, you ask?  Well, I was strolling along a path through the merry village of Revel Grove and suddenly, there he was. The King in all his glory.

Then he was gone.

We literally just rubbed elbows. But that’s fine with me. As a female, I’m not sure I would want to have a meaningful moment with the King Henry VIII.  I’m more than a little attached to my head. But enough chat about the King.  Let me tell you about the glorious village I visited.

In case you weren't aware, Revel Grove is a village that is populated for 9 weeks out of every year here in Maryland. It is the setting for a wildly successful Renaissance Festival.  If you like festivals, you must find a way to attend this one. The song, dance, food, jousting, crafts, and people worth watching make the entrance fee a bargain.  Plan to stay the entire day as there is so much to experience.

My writing renaissance.


I have found renewed motivation and energy with my craft due to certain recent events. There had been a period of time that I had all but given up any form of writing with the exception of a grocery list. But I have found a home on the Review This! blog and I am beyond delighted to be able to write about Maryland's Renaissance Festival.  I am eager to share the highlights of this region, as I see them.  Maryland alone has many must-see festivals and fairs.  The Renaissance Festival is one of the best.  

Successful businesses are similar to successful writing.


As I write this I am realizing the themes that make a successful business also make successful writing.  For example, the things that make the Renaissance Festival so successful are much like the very first lessons in learning how to write successfully. 

How so, you ask?  Here are five things that create successful businesses and are helping me to become a successful writer:



  • Love what you do --  Loving what you do will help you focus on your creations rather than on creating the fortune you imagine you will make.   The first person who held a “Renaissance Fair” was reportedly a teacher who was doing something for her class; not attempting to make a profit.
  • Keep the attention of the customer -- Bored festival attendees will not return. Bored readers close the book.  Your writing must be mesmerizing. Or at least interesting.
  • Practice, practice, and practice -– Practice makes closer to perfect.  Don’t expect perfection in the beginning.  But continue to work toward that goal.
  • Don’t hide; advertise –- As frightening as it is in the beginning, you must show your writing to others.  Blogs, social media, and word of mouth of your friends, if you don’t advertise your writing, no one will be able to read it.
  • Know your customer -- Renaissance festival fans expect horses, knights, Kings and Queens.  If your readers want fairy tales and unicorns, you can’t give them Norman Bates and Jason.
I have found my place on Review This! If you are a writer (or an "aspiring" writer, as I called myself for many years) I hope that you are already following the five tips listed above and are on your journey to successful writing.


Image Credit: These photographs are my personal photographs from my travels. Images are ©Dawn Rae - All Rights Reserved.







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Monday, February 10, 2014

Gunpowder In The Winter



“I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape---the loneliness of it---the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it---the whole story doesn't show.” 
 
Andrew Wyeth

There is a special beauty during wintertime in the mid-Atlantic region. The four seasons here provide that change, the death of winter followed by the birth of spring. Because much of the mid-Atlantic coastal region experiences relatively mild winters, the whole story is only barely hidden from our view.  We wait, knowing that it will be only a very short time until the spring story is revealed.

On a Saturday afternoon in early February, we walked the Gunpowder South Trail.  That the name that trail signs still proclaim and how it is referred to in older travel books. However, it is also a very well known section of trail in the fishing community and has since been dedicated as the Lefty Kreh Fishing Trail.

This area includes a handful of miles just under the Prettyboy Dam.  It doesn’t matter which name you use for the trail.  The important thing is that you should experience it if you have the opportunity.



We parked in the far lot, up the hill from Falls Road bridge.  We walked from the lot down the steep Highland Trail.  Despite having been whirled around in the Polar Vortex for much of the season, it was a glorious day. Warm and quiet. Just cool enough for the snow to remain solid and our feet dry.  No threat of bad weather approaching. The snow on the ground still lay undisturbed, marred only by infrequent footprints of man or wild beast.

We followed a feeder creek to the South/Lefty Kreh trail, along Gunpowder River.  We passed a pair of hikers as soon as we turned onto the main trail.  We didn't see humans again until we were exiting the trail at Falls Road bridge.


It was a glorious day, spent on a Maryland trail.  To keep updated about my adventures, please join me on my  mid-Atlantic travel page on Facebook.









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