RSS Feed

Category Archives: Day Trips

The Best Of

Posted on

Those lists. The best this. The best that. I take them all with a grain of salt. So when I saw a Facebook feed from Black Ankle about the “101 Best Wineries in the USA” I thought, OK, another popularity contest.

Seems this list is a bit more than that. They use chefs, wine writers, sommeliers, wine experts and more to pick wineries of good value, consistency and great taste.

We have enjoyed wines from at least half the wineries on this list. They really did a good job of picking places that make wines of distinction, and their write ups are spot on. Yes, Black Ankle makes one awesome Syrah.

csa and eat local 006

It made us open one for our final night of the Buy Local Challenge. Served with a lamb loaf and local veggies.

csa and eat local 013

Sunday night dinner.

The wine is simply elegant. If you haven’t had the chance to head out to Mt. Airy and visit Black Ankle, you should. Besides the syrah, they make some interesting whites, like Albarino and Gruner Veltliner.

A perfect place for a Friday night picnic while listening to the music. Take a basket with you, or buy from the winery. Buy a bottle to compliment your meal. Enjoy!

Words of Wisdom

Posted on

Sometimes it’s the simplest advice that means the most. Like how gardening can be the trial run for someone who wants to open a winery.

IMG_1860

We were sitting on the deck at our favorite winery, Linden, looking at the incredibly scenic view while enjoying a glass, some cheese and a baguette. When we first arrived, we watched the owner/winemaker Jim Law head off on his zero turn to cut some of the paths through the vineyards. He has always maintained that he is a farmer first and foremost. Growing grapes.

Of course, from those grapes comes great wine. He is a master. One we have known for 25 years now. He always stops by to talk if we are visiting. We like to talk about his old wines. Like the 2005 Cabernet Franc we opened for dinner last week.

He and I like to talk about growing stuff. Me, my garden. Him, his grapes.

He made a comment Saturday about what he tells those who think it would be great to start a vineyard. He asks if they garden. For those of us who do, we understand. Gardening is hard. We have pests. The weather drives us nuts. The weeds. The bugs. The heat and humidity. Lack of rain. Too much rain.

If you have gardened, you get it.

Growing things isn’t always easy. Making great wine, like Jim does, takes that extra effort of understanding your climate and living with it.

His vineyards look awesome right now.

linden and random shots 038

He gave me great advice once for my gardening. I grow heirloom tomatoes. He told me. If it rains too much, don’t weed. Let the weeds soak up all that extra moisture that would otherwise water down your tomatoes.

If there’s a drought, definitely weed like mad. The secret to a great heirloom tomato is very similar to the secret to great wine. Concentrated flavors, not watered down, make the taste.

Here’s to making the best we can. And to great friends. And great wine.

Weekend Event Overload

Posted on

The third weekend in May. Here in Maryland you can drown in events this weekend.

Some of my personal favorites this weekend. I’m not doing any of the traditional ones like the Preakness or Wine in the Woods or the Hot Air Balloon Festival, but I certainly don’t lack for places to go.

For me, a highlight I am doing. Sunday. In Ellicott City.

Rocks, Rivers and Railroads

hiking main streets and belmont 037

Led by my good friend Ned Tillman, author of Saving the Places We Love.

hiking main streets and belmont 072

Tomorrow I am torn between heading over to Belmont to see what the surveyors found under the ground on the site, at the regularly scheduled third Saturday at Belmont free event, 10 am. Howard County Conservancy web site has details. While you are on the web site, you can take advantage of the last weekend for discounted tickets to Wine in the Garden/Beer in the Barn, the annual fundraiser for the Conservancy. We’ll be there too, but that event is a few weeks away.

The other thing I want to do tomorrow? Check out the newly improved Glenwood Community Farmers Market. I missed opening day last weekend while I was working a Conservancy event, but I really want to get the herbs and flowers for my garden from Greenway Farms.

I also intend to head over to Mt. Ida for the Howard County Historical Society’s “Deja Vu and Nearly New” Sale. This is held Saturday and Sunday.

A new event, out by me. Over at the Living Farm Heritage Museum, across from the Fairgrounds. They have a Car Show Sunday.

The Howard County Tourism site has a good calendar, and so does TotallyHoCo. You can always find something to do using these two resources. Have a great weekend.

Brighton Dam Azaleas 2015 — Behind Schedule

Posted on

Yes, the azalea gardens out at Brighton Dam are far behind schedule this spring. Not to say they aren’t lovely but they won’t have peaked even at Mother’s Day, the traditional visit weekend.

They look like this.

brighton dam picnic 027

And not like this from a few years back.

brighton dam and glenelg 245

This picture from 2012 was in April. A much warmer winter and early spring.

Those white azaleas. Looked like this yesterday.

brighton dam picnic 032

They need a few more warm days to open.

Still, not a bad place to have a picnic lunch. The south side of the property has a picnic area, with a playground and tables and grills.

You can’t picnic in the azalea gardens, but you can enjoy these bright spring days just west of the center of Howard County. Right over the county line.

My suggestion. If you can, hit the gardens early next week. Avoid the crowds and take a picnic lunch.

brighton dam picnic 034

To The River

Posted on

The annual trek. A favorite hike. Done almost every year at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. This year’s hike is Saturday April 11th. At 10 am, the volunteers will lead groups eastward from the Conservancy parking lot, head up to the fields and then down to the river.

DSC_0008

This picture is from one of the fall hikes. We now do the hikes only in springtime to avoid picking up wavyleaf basket grass seeds on clothing and spreading this annoying invasive plant.

We now take the hike before the trails become covered and impossible to easily navigate. Once we crest the hill behind the buildings and start through the fields, we generally stop to admire the view out towards Woodstock.

DSC_0010
We’ll also stop to check out the second largest yellow poplar in Howard County.

Poplar, Yellow
Liriodendron tulipifera
20 feet 3 inches-circumference
98 feet-height
87 feet-spread, 362.8 points
Howard County Conservancy
Woodstock

DSC_0017

Crossing a few more fields, we then move into the woods and follow the stream down to the Patapsco River. Carefully investigating around some old foundations, and looking at the signs of spring along the river. Maybe a train will pass when we are down there. The railroad that follows the Howard County side of the river here continues down through Ellicott City.

This hike is free. There will be many volunteers to keep groups of similar pace together. If you want to enjoy the change in weather and enjoy being outdoors, come join us.

Details here, on the Conservancy web site.

Totally HoCo

Posted on

Continuing my discovery of places to take friends and relatives in Howard County, I want to highlight a fairly new asset to those of us connected to the internet as a source of things to do, places to visit, and people to see.

TOTALLY HOCO.

An online calendar chock full of activities for fun, learning, arts, and so much more. For example, this week. Did you know you could meet the (in)famous COLONEL GATEWAY at a Meet and Greet this Wednesday. One of the whimsical aspects of living here. Finding those characters that bring the personality of an area to life.

You can find lots of inspiration in this calendar.

But, that’s not all you can use to find ongoing events most weekends. If you do have guests, and even if you don’t, you can count on having some unique experiences in the area.

How about a Yappy Hour? Or, maybe an outdoor movie in Old Town Ellicott City? Both are standard spring, summer and fall events at the Wine Bin.

grilling and EC market 010

Yappy Hour starts this weekend. Movie schedule should be coming soon. We discovered the Wine Bin at one of the Saturday morning markets last spring. Some of the nicest people there. Also, a great selection of wines and beer.

The markets on Saturday morning are also one really great way to start the day. They open the first weekend in May. Breakfast pizza anyone? Music. Barbecue. Strolling Old Town and taking in the atmosphere.

grilling and EC market 003

Other options for things to do that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Second Saturdays at Mt. Pleasant site of Howard County Conservancy and third Saturdays at the Belmont site. Free events.

conservancy monday meeting 032

Visitors in May. If they are here the first weekend in May, you must take them to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. There is no easy way to explain how popular this festival has become. It is now huge. The largest and longest running festival of its kind in the United States.

Just keep Totally Hoco in your bookmarks to see so many options for getting out of the house without leaving Howard County.

Spring Visitors

Posted on

Just a while back, the local online papers, Columbia, Ellicott City and Elkridge Patch asked readers to recommend places to take out of town visitors to Howard County.

Want a locavore take on this? I thought of so many great places not included on their list. After all, how could you not recommend Clark’s farm? Or Larriland? Or Brighton Dam? Or Oella? Or, the other dozen I will cover in some future posts.

Let’s start with Clark’s Farm. Adjacent to Centennial Park. The walk through the Enchanted Forest Tree Maze is worth the price of admission. As well as the petting zoo, the wagon rides, the “Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe” and much more. Nora and Martha have made this place special for children, and adults who carry that sense of whimsy found in those old fairy tales.

eat local venison loin, clarks elioak and spring pics 207

I did a post the day I visited the farm in April 2013. The farm is open April through October.

My second favorite springtime place to take friends is Brighton Dam. On the county line. The azalea gardens are legendary. Part of the Triadelphia Reservoir land, the 5 acre gardens are the place to go in late April and early May. The water authority, WSSC will publish a news release on their home page that documents status of the azaleas. You can picnic below the parking lot on the downstream side of the dam. The gardens have trails that work well for strollers, but a little tricky for wheelchairs. Still, this place is full of couples, families, individuals, bird watchers, photographers, and those just wanting to take a stroll on the beautiful spring days.

brighton dam and glenelg 182

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Moving on to May, strawberry picking at Larriland. A trip to this family owned farm is a real treat. Weekends there will be wagon rides, food, things for the families to do. We go out to Larriland at least six times a year. We do strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, tomatoes and apples. Sometimes more. Like flowers. Or beets. After picking fruit, we head up to the Town Grill to sit outside and eat their wonderful messy barbecued pork.

Berry picking. We love to do. Bring them home. Clean them. Freeze whole berries to add to a glass of white wine, and it feels like spring no matter when you have them.

larriland blueberries and my garden 009

Finally, in this post, head over to Oella. Walk the Trolley Trail. Visit the Banneker Museum. Have lunch at BricknFire Pizza, at the Breadery.

Pick up Angus beef steaks at JW Treuth, a traditional butcher shop just down the road from the Breadery. Wander the tiny roads that lead down to the Patapsco. Just across the river from Old Town Eliicott City. Which will be the subject of my next post later this week.

Oh, and if you want cherry blossoms? Howard County has those too. Check out Blossoms of Hope events. And, we haven’t even made it to summer yet. You have lots of exploring to do.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 523 other followers