When I registered for the Coastal Delaware marathon a few months ago, I knew nothing about Delaware… including where exactly to find it on the map! Which is why when my best friend since kindergarten informed me that she lived only an hour from the Delaware border near Baltimore, I was psyched. I decided to make a long weekend of it, and to explore the mid-Atlantic states while I was there.
After landing in Philadelphia at an ungodly hour on Friday morning (I had to leave my house in Massachusetts at 3:15 am), I picked up the rental car and drove down to Washington DC for some quick sight-seeing. My friend was getting out of work at 1 pm, so I had some time to self-entertain in the morning. Totally winging it, I parked near the Capitol building and followed the signs to the National Mall. I had visions of a leisurely walk by the monuments… until I realized that I was embarking on a 5-mile adventure. Who knew all those famous sights were so far apart?! Oops… planning fail!
|Exactly as far away as it looks!|
So my leisurely walk turned into a bit of a power walk around the National Mall… from the Capitol building, past the Smithsonian, over to the Washington Memorial, past the White House, along the Reflecting Pool and to the Lincoln Memorial. Several miles later, I was sweating profusely in the humid 70-degree DC sun. So much for taking it easy before the marathon! I can’t complain though… it was beautiful and inspiring and totally cool for a spur-of-the-moment adventure.
|Not bad for a one-hour sprint around the city!|
Finally back to the Capitol building area (after forgetting where I had parked my rental car, and what my rental car looked like), I headed west to the small town in Maryland where my best friend had moved after attending veterinary school. We’ve known each other since kindergarten, and although we don’t have the opportunity to see each other much anymore, every time we meet up, it is like we were never apart. Along the drive, I was mesmerized by the green, lush rolling hills of farmland and fields of horses and cows grazing near red-painted barns. It was beautiful.
|This field makes me want to frolic!|
My friend could tell I was easily entertained by the farms and cows (which incidentally, as a vet, she saw every day) so offered to take me on a scenic drive of the area. We drove up into the mountains of western Maryland to the nearby national parks, and then across the border to Pennsylvania, which was only about ten miles north. Who knew all these mid-Atlantic states were actually so close together?! Apparently my geography is not so good!
|Barns, fields and cows are my favorite!|
We ended up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and by accident happened along the Gettysburg Memorial self-guided auto tour, which sounded like a fun adventure. It ends up there is quite a bit to see in Gettysburg, throughout 20+ miles of beautiful countryside and various memorials where battles were fought. The auto tour took us through the Gettysburg national park, using an online visitors’ guide to point out the historical significance of the battlefields and memorials we passed.
|Field and mountains - sensing a theme?!|
We got out several times to climb observation towers, where you could see the rolling farmland below for miles around. It was pretty incredible to think about the scene of 93,000 soldiers covering that same terrain during the battle. It was also pretty fascinating to see the memorials dedicated to the different battalions from all over the United States that fought in Gettysburg – as far north as Maine and as south as Florida. I couldn’t imagine riding on horseback from Florida to Pennsylvania! I also loved the miles of rolling country roads through the park - so much so that I am thinking the Gettysburg Marathon may be the latest addition to my race wish-list!
That evening, my friend took me to Frederick, Maryland – a small nearby city with a cute downtown area of restaurants and shopping. It was quite a contrast to the totally rural farmland just a few miles away, and I loved the quaint storefronts and outdoor seating at each restaurant. After dinner, we took a walk along the canal in Frederick, where they have live bands and activities in the summer. I have to say, I fell in love with Maryland on this trip… both the gorgeous, peaceful rural scenery and the charm of the small southern towns. I could totally see myself there one day!
|And a covered bridge... my day was complete!|