With the arrival of COVID-19 to cripple life as we knew it, I wasn’t going to let it slow me down. I worked hard for decades to earn my retirement lifestyle and I meant to enjoy it regardless. I listened to the scientists and medical experts and I concluded that life indeed could go on, just differently.
My travel buddy, Adele Richardson, is a retired nurse. Friends since middle school, Adele and I have been bopping up and down the east coast day tripping for years, so we weren’t about to allow an unexpected pandemic to dampen our fun! Observing all of the CDC guidelines for social distancing and travel, and with the added bonus of Adele’s medical expertise, we devised a plan that would allow us to continue our road trips and still be safe from the infection and spread of COVID-19, a tall order indeed.
We understood that it is safer to be outdoors rather than indoors where germs are more easily spread. We agreed that our first rule should be to avoid indoor public spaces like theaters, museums, etc. in favor of outside recreational spaces such as parks and monuments. And to avoid any crowds out of doors, we would do our daytripping on weekdays during nonpeak hours. For our first, post-Covid 19 excursion, Adele and I chose to visit Solomons Island, about a one-and-a-half-hour drive down Route 2, approximately 55 miles from Annapolis.
Our second travel rule is about public interaction. At the time of our trip, masks were still mandated in public spaces both inside and out. We chose to eliminate all unnecessary stops along the way, other than restroom breaks, starting each adventure with a full tank of gas, and a full cooler of food.
As it happens, packing a cooler containing beverages, snacks, lunch and more, is a blessing of many layers. It eliminates having to go inside a public space for food service where there is an increased risk of exposure to coronavirus from others in that environment. Additionally, an outdoor picnic lunch of delicious, homemade food eaten in a picturesque, relaxing landscape is by no means an unfair trade off to indoor dining!
And so it was on a sunny Monday morning that my travel buddy and I, equipped with face masks, hand sanitizer, food and gas, set off down Route 2, bound for a lovely day at the Bay on beautiful Solomons Island.
Solomons Island, Maryland, located in the southernmost tip of Calvert County, is peacefully nestled along the shore near where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay. The town, like others similarly situated along major waterways, is a haven for both commercial watermen and recreational boaters. Solomons Island is home to a multitude of boat marinas with waterfront shops full of curious, nautical trinkets and eateries offering a fresh “catch of the day” on the menu.
Originally known as Bourne’s Island in 1680, it was land to farm tobacco that brought the first settlers to the area. After the Civil War came a new demand for fresh oysters, which Maryland harvested in abundance, becoming a world leader in the supply chain and from which Solomons Island would also benefit. By the late 1800’s Solomons had earned a well-deserved reputation for seafood and shipbuilding. In fact, the town’s fishing fleet at the time had more than 500 vessels, most of them built locally. Eventually, it became the largest private fishing fleet in Maryland with more than 100 boats, and Solomons became one of the most important commercial boating centers in Calvert County, and it remains so.
You know when you’ve arrived on Solomons Island when you cross the bridge and get your first glimpse of boats dotting the waterway followed by assorted buildings lining clean streets, Victorian homes with spacious lawns, and a unique assortment of restaurants, lodging, shops and piers — something for everyone. Today, tourism is a very lucrative business in Solomons Island, ranking right up there with seafood and shipbuilding as major economic commodities.
Visitors to Solomons Island do not lack for activity or possibilities while in town. The interactive Calvert Marine Museum and iconic Drop Point Lighthouse top the list of popular landmarks to include on your tour of the area. Annmarie Garden is whimsical look at nature and art expressed in fanciful sculptures and garden settings, while Carmen’s Gallery showcases the namesake’s and other local artists’ creations in paintings, jewelry, ceramics, and clothing.
The Solomons Boat Ramp and Fishing Pier is the best spot to cast your line from dry land and it has the best scenic views too. If you really want to take home a hands-on experience to remember and treasure, there are numerous private charter boats in the marinas available for hire. You can rent tour boats with guides, fishing boats with captains, or self-serve — you drive!
With the full reopening of Maryland on July 1, it is expected that establishments on the island will fully reopen as well. However, erring on the side of caution, before you go, search “Solomons Island Maryland” on the web to see what is open and what is closed.
Sharon is a writer/photographer and a proud “Bay” Boomer from Anne Arundel County. Contact Sharon via email at [email protected].
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