New Castle DE – Upper Marlboro MD (via Fredericksburg VA)
Sat October 9, 2021
The plan was to get up early enough to enjoy a hot sit-down local breakfast before the short mileage to VA, so we were outside packing the bikes with Gerry by 06:45. The sun was about to put in an appearance and the sky was painted in shades of fire.
We were rolling out by 07:04 – destination the Whereabouts Cafe just down the road a few miles in Newark DE. It seemed a likely spot based on some online reviews, but when we arrived at the waypoint in a big empty shopping plaza, we had a hard time spotting the place. After cruising around the various lots, we came back to the waypoint…and there it was, with a faded sign almost beyond legibility and no activity within nor without. Char dismounted to read a small sign in the doorway which told us a staffer had tested positive for Covid and the place was shut down for at least a week. Figures.
Yelp to the rescue, and we quickly found an alternative around the corner on US 40 at a place called Guildays. This turned out to be a perfect local breakfast joint – clean, spacious, and fresh diner-style breakfast fare, apparently known for their homemade sausage gravy biscuits. I went for an omelet (very good, not too fluffy) with one of the biscuits on the side (delicious!).
After a nice relaxing meal, we headed south, the weather a bit cloudy and very comfortable in the mid 60s. US 301 is a great alternative to using the I-95 corridor through the DC/Baltimore region. I’ve taken it several times and you can generally make good time with nicer scenery than on the urban interstates. There are sections of it that test a rider’s patience with serial stoplights and heavy local traffic, through, so I’d planned this leg of the trip with some extra time to explore alternatives to the alternative.
Thus, after crossing the upper Chesapeake and skirting Annapolis, we left 301 behind near Davidsonville, embarking on a really nice series of local roads and minor state routes. The route I’d mapped out parallels the course of the Patuxent River and, aside from a short stretch to cross the river near Upper Marlboro, avoids large towns and busy roads. It was nice and wooded, through residential sections and farmlands, with enough curves here and there to make it fun and interesting.
As we neared the southern portion of the route near Charlotte Hall, we were surprised to see some signs for horse and buggies on the roadway, like in Pennsylvania Dutch areas. Thus reminded, we started noticing more unpaved driveways and houses without cables and wires connecting them to the grid. Never knew there was an Amish community in these parts!
We spotted an Amish farmer on a wagon piled high with harvested crops, waiting to cross the road. I stopped to let him cross right in front of us so we could watch the big draft horses pull their load. Char was late getting the camera out, but was able to snap one after they’d crossed out of our way.
All told I think the scenic route added about 45 minutes versus staying on US 301, time well spent. Gerry seemed to agree, and gave us the thumbs up when we stopped to turn back on 301 in Newburg, so we could cross the Potomac River.
There was some bridge construction underway, with traffic merging down to just one lane in each direction. Our side was flowing fine, and once on the western shore in Virginia, we again left the main highway behind to enjoy the wooded and curvy VA 218 directly west towards Fredericksburg, avoiding the busier route 3 just to the south.
We stopped for fuel upon reaching F-burg, and were soon cruising along pleasant tree-lined neighborhood avenues to find our hosts’ domicile. All the parked bikes and fluttering rally flag were a dead giveaway.
Jim Abbott had the rear end of his Honda ST all apart by the curb, to do a wheel swap after some bearing trouble. Andy, another familiar face and rider, had caged it here a few hundred miles with his spare wheel to meet Jim here for the swap. Typical LD gathering!
The next four hours, were spent in the warm welcoming company of our hosts Kirsten and Jennifer, their four chihuahua dogs, (Frederick of the amazing EARS!) and many other rider friends from the eastern LD rally community. You could almost forget that we hadn’t just finished a rally and were celebrating everyone’s safe return.
The backyard venue was cozy and perfect, and the food, catered by a fancy local German restaurant, was absolutely to-die-for. Jannec Hornig, owner of Alpine Chef, is a Berlin-trained chef and the quality showed. From the freshly baked warm soft pretzels, to sausages, sauerkraut sliders, and braised short ribs, everything was delicious. Our hosts had even made up some black bean pasta for the gastronomic cripples among us (vegetarians), that was a big hit as well. The huge slabs of German chocolate cake were decadent and squashed everything else down in our bellies. BURP!
When it was time to go, we swiped a couple pretzels for the road and thanked our hosts for their amazing hospitality. It was so wonderful to get out on the road for the holiday weekend, despite the lack of bonus POINTS to hunt down. We missed many of our other friends and fellow competitors who couldn’t make it due to conflicting plans, but are hoping (like everyone else) that things start getting a bit more back to normal next year. They have to…right?
Note: I’ll paste a link including several more people photos in the final post for this trip.
Another gathering was planned the following day for breakfast in Annapolis. Our friends, the Rufos, had generously invited a bunch of us riders to their house in Maryland for hang-out time tonight, so we’d booked a Comfort Inn in Upper Marlboro, relatively close-by. Affordable hotel rooms (hell ANY hotel rooms) were scarce across the state of Maryland this weekend, due to a confluence of events ranging from the holiday weekend, a big boat show in Annapolis, and a big football game.
We took VA 218 back east to US 301 to cross back over the Potomac and this time stayed on 301 to make quicker time to the hotel. After cleaning up, we Uber’ed over to Casa de Rufo and enjoyed a few more hours of beer, delicious local pizza, and socializing with our rally friends.