Friday, January 30, 2009

Friends Bearing Gifts...

Because of a vast boat show and, presumably the Columbus Day holiday weekend, Annapolis was all booked up, so we called an audible and headed further south on the Chesapeake to Solomon's Island on the Western Shore.

After securing a slip at the Spring Cove Marina -- site of two earlier Gypsies visits -- we were able to contact some Clayton family friends who make their home in Crofton, Maryland.

John here, incidentally.

Thus, we had our second official set of visitors in Tom and Diane Lombardo and their daughter Lizzie. They made a 90-minute drive to visit us, and if the Lombardo name rings a bell, that means you've been paying attention, since Tom's brother Dan wrote and performed a song for us at our bon voyage party.

And the Lombardos came bearing gifts.

Having sheepishly warned Tom in advance that we actually had Keystone Light in the cooler, they put together a cruiser's care package for us that included bags and bags of fresh fruit -- to ward off scurvy, Tom explained -- plus yogurt and granola bars, dry roasted peanuts, jelly beans (that was Lizzie's idea) and best of all, a case of Corona. In cans, no less.

That earned the three of them a red carpet tour of the boat. Soon thereafter came drinks and chit-chat, after which we all piled into Tom's BMW station wagon -- Lizzie and Tammy were crammed into what we shall henceforth refer to as the aft cabin of the car -- to have dinner at the Solomon's Pier Restaurant.

It was a gorgeous evening with a red and pink sunset that silhouetted the graceful arch of the Governor Thomas Johnson Fixed Bridge that spans the Patuxent River. Once the sun had set, however, ordering our meals became something of an adventure. We were seated at an outdoor deck and the lighting was, well... there was no lighting. In fact, when our waitress came and asked if we'd like drinks, Tom whipped his head back and forth and whispered, "Who said that?" For Stevie Wonder, it would not have been an issue. The rest of us used small tea-light candles to read the menu, which was blissfully heavy on crab-related dishes.

We dined in splendor. There were nachos with pulled pork and guacamole, salads, crab cakes, crab cake sandwiches, fried oysters, shrimp scampi and fried seafood platters, plus the usual array of beverages, and when we couldn't eat another bite, Tom beat us to the draw and insisted on picking up the tab for us all.

And, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, Tom, but Doug and I both woke up with heartburn. Couldn't have been the fried oysters. Must have been the salad.

Anyway, things were so cozy at Spring Cove that we decided to splurge and stay tied up for a second day. That gave us time for laundry and bookkeeping and work -- for poor Doug, anyway -- and for Colleen and me, lunch by the pool in the 80-degree sunshine. We also made a photo record of a major milestone, that being the first palm tree of our voyage!

That afternoon, we set out in search of happy hours, and we found two. One was at a waterfront bar called Catamarans, where we drank $1.55 drafts on a second-story deck overlooking that same graceful bridge, and the other was at the Harbor Island Tiki Bar. We hiked the mile or so back to the boat for dinner, then we watched the Red Sox win the first game of the ALCS over Tampa Bay. Which reminds me, Jen and Nic, have I mentioned yet how much we love Sling Box?

So when we left Spring Cove Marina at sun-up Saturday morning, we were socially, culinarily and emotionally fulfilled. There would be a seven-hour cruise from Solomon's to the Magothy River which involved a hair-raising passage past Annapolis and the Bay Bridge in the midst of a thousand sailboats, but we weathered that storm and will soon drop anchor in Eagle Cove near Gibson Island.

Baltimore -- three hours by boat -- is in our future.

Tom, Diane and Lizzie are a treasured part of our past.

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