Imagine Harriet Tubman quietly finding her way through deep green forests and marshy trails. Add beautiful birds and wilderness landscape and you have the image of hope renewed.
Today, the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland is still home to waterfowl, fish, turtles, and mammals of all sorts. Their ancestors might have observed Harriet and her Underground Railroad charges head toward freedom.. The lands and waters have hardly changed since then.
You can drive along the marshes and inlets which lead to the ocean, or hike , bike or kayak on any number of trails.
And now, right next door to the refuge, one can visit the newly-opened Harriet Tubman Visitor's Center that ties all of this region together! My plan is to visit there in June and post a separate entry, but I would like to share some pictures of the refuge here today.
Lis and I had a fantastic time with our guide, Tom! He showed us the proper way to hold the paddle and maneuver through the thick mangrove trees. Posting a link here, and would highly recommend you inquire if you are ever in the area. Tom is a highly qualified paddler and instructor as well as biologist. The whole experience was a perfect way to learn more about the ecosystem in this area of Florida and how fragile it continues to be. The mangrove trees have been decimated over time by construction and environmental pollution. Even if you can't book a tour, it is worth your while to investigate the severity of what has happened in this part of the state and seek ways to help. Thanks to Tom and company, I know so much more about this important work and how I can make similar contributions in my own estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. On side note: when you go into their retail store to book a tour or shop for fun stuff, you will see a very pleasant young man who might be Jack Sparrow's brother. Frankly, everyone in the company was fun, helpful, and world-class.
Going home for Ken is a bittersweet thing... his mom and dad, Yvonne and Charlie, are still there and doing well. Ken is part of a multigenerational Montana family, and Yvonne has lived there since the late '40s. She came over from France as a young girl and I would love to tell her story. Ken makes a special trip to his boyhood town every fall for family hunting camp, and we both try and visit in the summer if possible. Montana is a beautiful place.
In the last few decades, however, Libby has been marred by the vermiculite tragedy. Read An Air That Kills for more information on the Superfund scandal. Briefly, hundreds of residents have died because of cancer caused by mining. Ken's dad had a scare a few years back but the X-ray showed smoking damage. Look for more on Libby in future posts, but this documentary is a place to start.
One of our favorite places, Colonial Williamsburg gives us a chance to walk back in time and enjoy amazing country cooking. We had some of the best pecan pie ever at The King's Arms Tavern https://www.colonialwilliamsburghotels.com/dining/kings-arms-tavern/
I took Katelyn here 20 years ago to an American Doll event with Felicity. Not sure if they still do those, but this is a fun trip for any family group. Very hot on streets, however. Bring water!
For more information on the whole experience, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com
If you have some extra time, the Jamestown Settlement area is exceptional!