is not so well known as some of the other Chesapeake towns like Yorktown and Annapolis, but it’s got its own kind of charm. It’s where you get the ferry to Smith Island if you ever want to visit that really out-of-the-way-perfectly wonderful little piece of a century or more ago but with modern facilities and a great clam museum. The Independence docked right up in the heart of town, and guests had the opportunity to either stroll the streets on their own or take a walking exploration with a guide. Since I’ve been there before, I opted to go it alone and stopped in a few of the gift shops and antique stores simply to pass the time of day with shopkeepers who were happy to see visitors. With fewer than 3,000 people, Crisfield in not really on Chesapeake Bay itself, but rather on Tangier Sound, an arm of the Bay. And it’s located in Maryland’s Somerset County. Rachel was one of several speakers American Cruise Lines invites on the ship to give information and historic stories about the different towns and areas the ship is visiting, as well as some ideas on the variety of shops, monuments, or restaurants in the towns where the ship is docking. On Tangier Bay, she gave a talk on the bay itself, pointed out Smith Island, which she said, is slowing disappearing since it’s an island that sits low in the water, and is challenged by rising waters. Founded in the 1600s, the island was founded by the English and kept to itself for centuries, so today’s inhabitants often can still be heard speaking in old English. An environmentalist, Rhode Islander, graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and a captivating speaker who invites the public to join in, ask questions, and give some facts on their own, Rachel is a wealth of knowledge about the western shore of the Chesapeake, and all the little rivers that are fed with the drainage from the mountains, leaving the water brackish before heading into the large bay and more mixture with salt water. Because of Covid, and though it was a Monday, only three stores, in addition to a couple of eating establishments, within walking distance of the Independence were open, but all three were fun to visit. In the first place, Marylanders are folksy, friendly people and they like to brag about their own little piece of heaven and tell you stories from their points of view. There’s always a fisherman or a boater on the dock, so that’s more friendly conversation about what’s going in and how Covid has affected them. And simply watching the boaters or fishermen is relaxing and always an opportunity to learn. Back on the ship in time for cocktails and conversation before the evening meal. Like all meals on most cruise ships, American Cruise Lines provides top of the line menus, and takes advantage of its cruises on the Chesapeake to ensure lots of seafood, predominately crabs, oysters and lobster from local waters. With only 56 seaboard the 100 passenger ship, there were generally only three entrees for each night’s dinner, generally a chicken, beef and always seafood, but also always a variety of soups, salads, and vegetables to supplement any entrée. And this after a broad array of tantalizing hors d’oeuvres served in the lounge during cocktail hour. ACL proves it simply isn’t possible to go hungry on a cruise. A great chef was aboard the Chesapeake cruise with an ability to think out of the box and try something new. His pan seared salmon, for instance, was served with a tomato jam, aside broccoli rabe served in a lemon butter sauce. The mixed salad included grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumber, and the brisket was braised in beer and served with Texas toast and kettle chips. Another night, there was grilled swordfish with a crab salsa, served with a vegetable pilaf, or a Dijon crusted leg of lamb with a red wine and min demi-glaze. The lobster tail was stuffed with shrimp and crab and served, would you believe, with a beef tenderloin. Cambridge was the next docking address for the Independence fourth day into the cruise, one of the large cities along the Chesapeake with its more than 12,000 residents that also makes it the fourth most populous cities on the eastern shore of Maryland, While the Harriet Tubman museum is the main attraction in this town, and the ACL offered a trip and tour of the museum, I opted instead the Choptank River Lighthouse, once again to talk with local residents about why they love their town so much. It was an education in lighthouses so different from our Twin Lights and Sandy Hook historic sites. Chesapeake lighthouses, because of the nature of the area, are “screwpile” types, neither high nor lofty like our New Jersey beacons, but rather shorter since height is not a necessity y in this area. More unusual, its legs are screwed into the riverbed to keep it steady. The Chop Tank River Lighthouse displayed by an enthusiastic volunteer from the organization that maintains it, isn’t the real thing. It’s a replica of the only lighthouse that was in the bay and served the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s small, only 42 feet wide at its broadest, and replicates the one built in 1921 to replace the 1870 wooden schooner that had served as a lightship. The lighthouse sat in the Choptank River for only three years; it had been moved by barge from Virginia to replace another lighthouse that had been destroyed by an ice storm a few years earlier. Like many others, the Choptank light was dismantled and replaced by a Coast Guard buoy in the 20th century. The volunteer told of the loneliness of life on a lighthouse accessible only by water, two miles from land and where the term “white glove test” came from. (in his lonely splendor, the keeper nonetheless had to keep everything spic and span, dust free and spotless, always ready for the inspector who might show up for his white glove test for cleanliness.) The light was fueled by kerosene with a Fresnel lens to shine the light, but the keeper also had a fog bell for the times when even that light could not be seen by mariners. That had a mechanical striker the keeper used to hammer the help, warning vessels of nearby hazards, and enabling them to navigate by sound. Authentic and accurate in its replicated beauty, the lighthouse does have modern additions including a fire sprinkling system and a chair lift so even handicapper visitors can get up to view the area from the windows of the lighthouse. Next; St Michael’s and the Maritime Museum

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