ROAD TRIP: MARYLAND'S EASTERN SHORE
Crabbing Along Maryland's Eastern Shore
On Maryland's Eastern Shore, the fun doesn't stop when the road ends—there's usually a ferry bound for more crab shacks and woodsy landscapes.
A brochure we pick up at the wildlife refuge directs us next to Cambridge, a waterfront town about 12 miles to the north. We park on Race Street, the main drag, to explore the antique and curio shops.
Back on 50 North, we drive toThe Oxford Inn, a yellow-clapboard 1890s general-store-turned-B&B. When we arrive, the staff is busy preparing for dinner in Pope's Tavern, the fine-dining restaurant downstairs, so we go ahead and check ourselves in.
Predinner, we have a glass of wine at the inn's restaurant. Co-owner Dan Zimbelman mans the bar and chats with guests about the best way to pour and serve wine while his wife, Lisa, seats diners. "We're definitely winos," jokes Dan. "My wife always says wine is her water."
AtThe Masthead at Pier Street, a three-minute walk away, I get a salad and Kathie goes for crab cakes, which arrive plump and golden brown. Our table, on a large covered porch, overlooks the Tred Avon River. We drink beer and watch yet another downpour before making a wet dash back to the inn.
- The Oxford Inn504 S. Morris St., Oxford, 410/226-5220, oxfordinn.net, from $100
- The Masthead104 W. Pier St., Oxford, 410/226-5171, themastheadatpierstreetmarina.com, crab cakes from $15
- Teackle Mansion11736 Mansion St., Princess Anne, 410/651-2238, teacklemansion.org, $4
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge2145 Key Wallace Dr., Cambridge, 410/228-2677, fws.gov/blackwater, $3
Our final day is a washout--literally. At 7 A.M., Lisa knocks on our door with the news: The parking lot, and much of town, is flooded. Our rental car is parked in a foot and a half of standing water. Dan backs the car onto higher ground, and we spend an hour bailing out the interior. Surreally, a kid kayaks down the road, past two other guests who've waded to their van to retrieve some luggage.
With the seats soaking wet, we drive our soggy bottoms back to Baltimore, bypassing our planned itinerary--which included Tilghman Island and St. Michaels, home of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and also The Inn at Perry Cabin, which was featured memorably in the movieWedding Crashers.
As I get out of the car at the rental lot, there's still a bit of the Chesapeake sloshing around on the floorboard. While I hoped Mother Nature would play a big role during our trip, this is a tad much. We became one with the bay after all.
Finding Your Way
While U.S. 50 is the main route in Maryland's Eastern Shore, the area's natural beauty and historic charm are best experienced by sidetracking on the three scenic byways that crisscross the region. Expect to drive past chicken coops, small creeks and inlets, tons of fishermen, and acres upon acres of verdant marshland and forest. These roads are often narrow and windy, so take it slowly or at some point you're bound to miss the turnoffs--indicated by signs with the state flag (part of it is yellow-and-black checkerboard) and the state flower (the black-eyed Susan). Maps showing all 19 of Maryland's scenic byways can be downloaded from the State Highway Administration at sha.state.md.us.