The RBS Antidote
If there was a body malady called “restless body syndrome” (RBS) I think I could be the poster child for it. After sitting too long in one place I’ve got to start moving. It seems I’ve always been like this. If I’ve been sitting around home too long I want to go to the boat, if I’m on the boat too long… well I don’t really want to leave the boat I just want to move the boat to a new location. After sitting in Solomons, Maryland, for six weeks it was time to be on the move!
With my RBS in overdrive, it was way past time to get out of Dodge or in our case Solomons, for at least a week. We’ve always wanted to go up the Potomac River to visit our nation’s capitol by boat and the time had come. From Solomons we headed out the Patuxent River, south 20 miles on the Chesapeake Bay to start the 107-mile trip up the historic Potomac River.
The vastness of the Potomac is most evident at its mouth, where it measures 11 miles from Lookout Point to Smith Point. We found ourselves in luck on our maiden voyage up the great river, lucky because the waters were calmer than expected as we rounded Lookout Point and made our way 20 miles up to our first night’s anchorage. Because the Potomac is relatively shallow it can turn into an ugly and rough body of water when high winds and opposing currents are added to the mix. This day it was a glassy pond.
|The clouds at our Canoe Neck Creek anchorage appear more menacing than in actuality. Note the calm water.|
As we travel by boat I continue to learn about places, events, and the people who make up our country’s history. Today we passed by the St. Mary’s River, only six miles up the Potomac, which was the fourth permanent, British North American settlement and the original state capital of Maryland (today the capitol is Annapolis). Three hours after entering the Potomac we arrived at St. Clements Bay, where Maryland’s first colonists landed in 1634. We proceeded up into Canoe Neck Creek to a well-protected cove to anchor. Around us were farms and cornfields along with about 15 deer helping themselves to the tender kernels of corn. It’s extremely peaceful to be able to anchor by farmland where we can enjoy solitude along with the sounds of nature. We were treated to a dramatic stormy sky at sunset and a short rainfall.
After the rain and windstorm had past, we spent a peaceful night at anchor, then arose early to depart for the final 80-mile run into Washington, DC. The Potomac River continued to narrow the further we traveled up it, and by the time we passed Mt. Vernon, it was down to about a mile wide. Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home, sits majestically on a high bluff overlooking the river and is best appreciated by going ashore for a tour. Although we didn’t dock this trip at Mt Vernon you can visit by boat by making prior arrangements to do so.
Lisa and I had made a road trip by car to tour the estate of the Father of our country, on Father’s Day, so this time we just enjoyed the view of the plantation by the water. When we were there in June, we toured the grounds and saw the gardens, but the highlight was the tour of the house. We actually were able to hold onto the same handrail that George did as we climbed the stairs to the second floor to see their master bed chambers and visit the study from where George ran the estate. It’s hard to believe that this treasure was almost lost to commercialization before the decaying structure was purchased by the Mt. Vernon’s Ladies’ Association back in 1858. Thanks to those ladies, who had the foresight to restore this important piece of our history.
As we negotiated our last curve in the river, with the capitol in our sights, the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials were plainly visible as we made our final approach to the Capitol Yacht Club. We were surprised when we passed the old presidential yacht Sequoia.
|A $5.00 spaghetti dinner at the Capitol Yacht Club, now that’s what I call a good deal!|
It had been a long day on the water so, after we got settled at the dock, we were happy to be invited to the Club’s weekly spaghetti dinner. Upon our return to the boat we noticed a continuous flow of helicopters flying by, several with official U.S. Government markings on them. We think it could be the President! Apparently the marina area is in the direct flight path for all helicopters flying into and out of Washington, DC.
We were up and off the boat as early as I could get Lisa to agree to; remember, I’ve got RBS and have to be on the move. With so much to see and a full day planned, we headed straight to the Metro, a few blocks away from the marina, to catch the Green line along with all the early-morning commuters. A short while later we emerged from the underground tunnels to the sight of the U.S. Capitol Building and the day’s first scheduled visit. We’d actually toured the Capitol Building during a road trip a few weeks before so today’s agenda was to pick up passes and visit the Senate and House Chambers to witness democracy at work. As luck would have it today they were both in session.
After passing through three levels of security screening we finally made it to the gallery seating area of the U.S. Senate Chamber. There was a sense of excitement in the air when we visited because all members of the Senate were to be in attendance because of a rare impeachment of a U.S District Judge from Texas. I had heard someone say that there have only been 14 in our country’s 233-year history. So Lisa and I not only saw the complete Senate in session for a rare process but we heard Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and McCain speak. In contrast the House Chamber was sparsely attended, with Congressmen speaking to what seemed to be no one in particular.
|Another one of my ugly mug shots taken on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, just off the Potomac River.||Our visit to D.C. would not have been complete without a visit to the Lincoln Memorial.|
|We feel honored to have Lincoln looking over us, even if we’re kind of funny looking.||The Vietnam Memorial honors each person who gave the ultimate sacrifice.|
One could stay in Washington, DC, for a month and still not see all there is and this is especially true for the Smithsonian Museums. Because of this, Lisa and I each picked one Smithsonian Museum to visit. My choice was the American History Museum and Lisa’s was the Art Museum, there are 14 total. Both museums we visited were packed with a seemingly endless supply of artifacts that beg to stimulate the mind but there were three that stood out for me. In the History Museum hangs the remains of the large American flag that was flown in Baltimore after a decisive victory by the U.S. Army over the British in 1814. It is said that the sight of the “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that eventually became our country’s national anthem. The display honoring Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday as well as the Presidential Portrait gallery were my two favorites and each is a must see for history buffs.
We also made visits to the Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials, all delivering a powerful statement about our country’s history and all of them were within a short walk of the Potomac River. It was on our second day, while we were walking from the memorials to the Holocaust Museum that something surprising happened. Suddenly, we noticed that traffic was blocked off at all intersections by motorcycle police, then all traffic movement stopped. As Lisa and I were standing next to the curb, with hardly anyone else around, we got our own personal viewing of the Presidential motorcade as the approximately 18-vehicle entourage sped by. We found ourselves less then 10 feet from the President’s limo and I’m almost sure I saw the him wave to us as they disappeared from sight along the final two blocks to the White House. Guess we were in the right spot at the right time, all by chance.
|This photo of the President Limo was taken just before it passed 10 feet from us. The front license plate reads USA 1 and the Presidential flag flies from the port fender.|
The Holocaust Museum means different things to different people. However the underlining message portrayed here is the same for all: How could this atrocity happen, and let’s not forget it, so we never let it happen again. Lisa and I spent three hours viewing the very moving graphic displays, artifacts, and film clips. Most of the time the museum is quiet out of respect and awe. We left having a newfound admiration for the freedoms we all share in the United States.
After our three-night’s stay in the nation’s capitol, when Friday morning came it was time to leave and head back down the Potomac River. We gave ourselves three days to enjoy a relaxing trip back to the Solomons, 45 leisurely miles per day. Our return mission was to explore new anchorages along the Potomac River. We dropped anchor early when we arrived at Port Tobacco River. The wind was forecasted to be from the northwest so being on the leeward side of the peninsula gave us plenty of protection. At just about dusk the skies turned black, it began to thunder and then the lightening began. The ensuing electrical display had lightening dancing in every possible direction and at times the sky was so illuminated with fractured electric charges it felt like we were part of a scientific experiment. Our new Buegel anchor held us in place without any problems as the show continued up until bedtime.
After a pleasant day traveling with the tide we ducked into the Yeocomico River on the Virginia side of the Potomac. We found a well protected anchorage in Long Cove, dropped our dinghy down into the water and went exploring. Because it was a weekend with great boating weather there was plenty of water activity including the pirate party at a nearby beach.
Sunday, we were back in the Solomons and that’s all it took, five days of total water time and a whirlwind of sightseeing excursions throughout Washington, D.C., and my RBS was finally in remission. So I guess for Lisa and me to be able to see the beauty and learn the history of our wonderful country from the vantage point of our moving home, two of my desires are satisfied – to be always on the go, and to live my passion of exploring by water.