Chesapeake travel notes

Now is an ideal time to visit Maryland’s Eastern Shore, if only for a few days.  There are open vistas, water birds, charming old homes, and plenty of signs of Revolutionary and 19th century history.  (At that time the Chesapeake was a focal area with important water access, now it is a literal “backwater.”)  None of those features are diminished by opening restrictions or social distancing.  Most of the restaurants you want to eat in were serving outside anyway.  Mask observance I would describe as “not below average.”  On Tilghman island, you can see one of the old Navy research stations where they worked to make radar operational, plus there is a nice 19th century church.  The whole “white guys with boats” thing I find boring, however.

St. Michael’s is one of the nicest small towns in all of America.  It is also where Frederick Douglass spent some of his early life as a slave and downtown you can see the above plaque.


I was reminded of this brief blog post by a professor of religion and politics at Northwestern. Simple pleasures and strangely moving. Too bad it wasn't longer.

Harper's Ferry is always interesting, and you can enjoy the ambience of where an American attempted to create an insurrection to free people, not keep them enslaved.

I found it quite charming for the couple hours I was there. It was cool to stand at the juncture of three states. But I'm surprised that you could enjoy the ambiance of a town that's 94% white.

BTW, not being familiar with the area, can anyone elaborate on what "white guys with boats" signifies? T.C. does not care for sailing?

Harper's Ferry has around 300 residents, and at 94% white is certainly less diverse than Ocoquan, another pretty town of 900 people. Who knows whether it would be surprising if you could enjoy the ambiance of a town that is just 85% white.

I was in a car accident and the ambiance got me to the hospital right quick.

Where, according to the 2010 Census, 93.2% of the population was non-Hispanic White. Whether anyone enjoys the wild and wonderful ambiance of West Virginia is up to them.

I'm touched you gallantly went with my mis-spelling of ambience.

>I'm surprised that you could enjoy the ambiance of a town that's 94% white.

Overt racism: so hot right now.

Harper's Ferry is definitely under-rated, or really, under-publicized. It has several features to appeal to different sensibilities: natural scenery and hiking trails in the hills that surround the town, a cute/kitschy historical sector at the key junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and actual history with not just the John Brown insurrection stuff but the town's key role in the Civil War.

That last bit is the real eye-opener. It's easy enough to read history books and figure that being both at the entrance/exit to the Shenandoah Valley and at the confluence of two important rivers made its location important, and the town changed hands countless times during the war as one side would capture it and then a few months later the other side would re-capture it. The Shenandoah Valley was the natural route for any army that wanted to cross the Potomac to invade the other side's territory, and Harper's Ferry was right there at the natural border.

But it's by visiting the town that you see another important reason why the town changed hands so often: its practically indefensible. Those scenic hills on the other side of the Shenandoah River and the other side of the Potomac River are natural high ground that dominate the town. An attacker occupying that high ground could lob artillery rounds onto the defender at leisure. So whoever was trying to hold onto Harper's Ferry had to defend not just the town, but the two sets of hills that overlooked the town, hills whose defenders could easily be isolated and cut off from the rest of the defenders thanks to the rivers .

So the battles for Harper's Ferry weren't very famous. AFAICT, invaders came and captured the town, end of story. It did play an indirect role in some major battles though, most famously at the Battle of Antietam. Robert E. Lee's army invaded Maryland; as usual capturing Harper's Ferry was a necessary part of the plan and Lee sent A. P. Hills' division to do the job.

A couple of days later Lee's army was facing strong Union attacks and on the verge of losing the battle but A.P. Hill's division, racing from Harper's Ferry in obedience to Lee's desperate orders, arrived just in time to stymie the final big Union attack of the day.

That likely saved Lee's army, but he still had to retreat back to Virginia with his battered outnumbered army. That was close enough to being a Union victory that Lincoln felt strong enough to issue the Emancipation Proclamation a few days afterward.

Why are your handlers forcing you to take random potshots at white people? Gross. just makes you look stupid. Even if you're not.

I'd guess it's a more nuanced issue and it's not a random potshot. I agree the use of "white" is unnecessary, "guys with boats" is enough to convey the idea.

The guys with nothing else but money that buy a boat to impress younger women. In the are there may be a boat to women ratio of 100:1, so the guys cannot do much beyond talk to each other about how has the bigger boat. Nice weather days make this situation insufferable for any casual tourist. I could watch a nature documentary of the mating ritual of this tribe, but it's awkward to be there while it happens.

Do a google image search for Tilghman Island. No rich guys in gold chains with trophy girlfriends lounging on their megayachts. Instead there a bunch of rather modest fishing boats and sailboats and scenes of white people doing boring things like this:

Tyler's fascinated by the nexus of wealth, status, and beauty, but in this case there don't seem to be any megayachts, super-models, or dockside clubs with bottle-service. No girls determining club hierarchies. Ashley Mears couldn't have anything interesting to say about them or their inscrutably dull, non-mercenary mating rituals. So, yeah, pretty boring I guess.

Is it controversial to speak our minds these days? Boring old white guys can be best described as "boring old white guys"! We could do without speech police thank you very much.

He's at his Straussian worst when he tries to ingratiate himself to the cool (to him) kids at vox

„[...] where Frederick Douglass spent some of his early life as a slave [...]“

Something about that phrasing seems off.


then thought about being an indentured servant before opting for a career as an orator, abolitionist rabble rouser.

Will we in 2020 find a single thing that white people do that we like? Or it's only okay to complain and insult?

I chuckled at this line "The whole “white guys with boats” thing I find boring, however."

I too dislike bucolic scenes with boats and fishy smells, but the phrasing is uniquely American liberal. Especially since it is phrased in such a way as to not be acceptable if you switch races.

White boys can't dance. White boys are involuntary virgins. White men are rude, privileged, and occupy too much space.

White men *only* send a rocket to the space, dock it in the ISS last weekend.
Over the last months, while TC was shitting his pants because of COVID, the overwhelming majority of articles, papers, projects he posted were made by white men.
While democrats and blacks have been out burning cities, white republicans remained calm and kept cool. Had they wanted to, there wouldn't be much protesters left in the street.

I am not too confident about that last assertion. I doubt the boots on the ground from state institutions which can utilize force would be on their side and I doubt that those citizen groups have the mentality required for group warfare. Sure, they will defend themselves if attacked one on one, but systematic urban warfare? You can have all the guns in the world, you can do nothing without will. The boogaloo and RaHoWa people are a slim minority, mostly larping.

"White men *only* send a rocket to the space"

Take a look at this picture of the Space X Rocket Team and tell me what you see:

Hint: They look like the people from California.

The president and COO is a woman noted for her expertise in rocketry, Gwynne Shotwell, She has a great last name for the job.

"While democrats and blacks have been out burning cities, white republicans remained calm and kept cool."

What were black Republicans doing?

Chairing the sessions of the Republican get-togethers :P

I'll go fishing, I'll go sailing, but I don't like the very loud things that only go semi fast.

Mountain biking is actually more fun than a jet ski.

lotta people thought this old white guy/boat movie was boring but it
was actually under-rated

The time Douglass spent in St. Michaels was probably the lowest point of his life:

That Apple iPhone SE took a nice picture using the back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 lens at 2:29pm on May 31st at 38 deg 47' 14.40" N, 76 deg 13' 28.70" W. The precision of this image direction measurement seems a bit much though - True North 71.35320285. It takes American tech companies milliseconds to collect such data, and months to make a public contact app able to use it.

Stop laughing.

I find the whole "white guys with blogs" thing boring.

I find salty comments by triggered, offended snowflakes f*cking hilarious.

Also a chance to re-read John Barth's interesting novel, "The Sot-Weed Factor" where a fare amount of it is set on Maryland's Eastern Shore in the late 1600s.

Barth also wrote Sabbatical, and Tidewater Tales which, if memory serves, also feature white guys (and gals) in boats on the Eastern Shore. But now Barth is a really superannuated boring white guy who's probably too old for boats (I confess I didn't realize he was still alive until I checked).

Come to think of it, just think of how much shelf-space we could reclaim if we got rid of all the white-guys-and-boats stuff (Conrad and Melville just for starters)

The whole “white guys with boats” thing I find boring, however.

Are these phrases mandatory now? Like, if you find yourself enjoying a white area too much, you have to spout off about how bored you are? "Honey, are you sure you want to buy a house here? This school district is kind of 'boring.'"

I mean, there are plenty of places you can go that are 94% non-white and you won't be bored. Whole countries.

Another one just entered the salty snowflake olympics!! Lol! Keep it coming, blog! You make my day!

Is your IQ even 80?

Well done. I urge readers to open the link to the "19th century church", St. John's Chapel, and the section on the Chapel's history. What does that history reveal? Division among the congregation, division as the result of slavery. I have long attended a church that was established by Charles and John Wesley in 1736, although the church building wasn't erected until 1820 due to division (the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812). The building was badly damaged during the division between the states (the Civil War) and rebuilt in 1885. Attending services there is like stepping back in time. The grounds include a cemetery with grave markers going back to the 18th century. I attend the early Eucharist service Sunday mornings because we use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It was replaced in 1979 with a version with much more contemporary language, an action that caused much division in the Episcopal Church. Even greater division occurred 1974 when an Episcopal bishop in Philadelphia ordained 11 women (the "Philadelphia Eleven"); the Church didn't officially permit the ordination of women until 1976. Then came the division that created the schism that resulted in the split of many congregations and the formation of Anglican Churches: the ordination of openly gay priests. Division in America seems, well, like American history. We are a divided bunch.

Lots of white dudes with boats on the Eastern shore, but they're not particularly wealthy. Spend time in a bar in a town like Cambridge (natives are friendly!) rather than tourist-focused St. Michels and you'll quickly figure that out. And you're that much closer the to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge which is a special place. Also, it's Harriet Tubman who is the African American that the region likes to celebrate.

I don't have a boat (though I am a white guy), but really...please just stay away.

Using the phrase "white guy" is totally unnecessary. I find that offensive. You are taking potshots at white people using language like that.

There were 220 new positive test to day in fair fax county And maybe 10 as many who are contagious so now is a good time to stay home home. And not spread the virus.

This is also where Harriet Tubman was doing most of her work and also came from.

OTOH, stay out of Salisbury, MD, which has one of the highest rates of new covid-19 infections of any municipality in the nation.

The Harriet Tubman museum is in Cambridge, MD.

We used to visit in the 1980s. One of the charms of a real backwater is that it doesn't change all that much over the decades. Sure, the bait shack has WiFi, but it's still a bait shack. The Chesapeake is a beautiful area. We feasted on oysters. We wandered around Chincoteague looking for wild ponies. We saw lots of quail. Now I'm wondering, do little girls still get pony fever or do they just want REAL iPhones?

"The whole “white guys with boats” thing I find boring, however"

It seems ironic that one of outcome of the great intellectual movement to purge our society of racism has been to make explicitly negative racial stereotyping not only commonplace, but a more or less expected indicator of educated status.

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