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Thu, June 20

Middle-aged Musings: Going on a memory, food tour of home

It seems like just last year I was attending my daughter’s high school graduation. Now, I’m heading back to Maryland in May for her college graduation.

A lot has changed in four years. Her parents now live 2,277 miles away, for one thing. This trip will require a flight, of course. I despise flying.

To offset the pain of travel, I’ve planned out a week of Maryland-girl activities. Just a year and a half here and I’ve been craving all my girlhood haunts, friends and food. For Marylanders this includes crabs. Liberally sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, naturally, and downed with lots of real sweet tea.

My sister has a luncheon planned for one day of my visit. She’s got aunts, uncles, cousins and more coming up to her mountain house. Lunch will involve slippery ham pot pie, homemade bread, her amazing mac and cheese and more. I’ve placed a special order for a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, too! There’s a time for working out and watching your caloric intake, but this visit will not be one of those.

Being a Marylander also means frequent trips to Ocean City. My parents always rented a little house near the beach, back when that was more affordable than it is now. We stayed a week, sometimes two. I cherish those memories ... spending every morning on the beach with my mom. We’d sunbathe, collect shells, jump the waves. The first night on the boardwalk, my dad would take me to a surf shop and buy me a raft to ride the waves. He’d pump it up the next morning and I can still remember struggling to walk the few blocks to the beach carrying it, plus our other stuff. My mom had the lawn chairs and lunch. We’d eat baloney sandwiches, chips and pop on our blankets. She’d buy us ice cream sandwiches from the guy who walked up and down the beach with them. I miss our vacation times together. She was fun to hang out with. Even when I pestered her that I was bored and wanted to see the boardwalk shops or do anything but get a tan!

My daughter and I plan on heading there after her ceremony. Her college is pretty close to the beach. We’ll spend two days walking the boardwalk, eating fudge, Thrasher’s fries and Doughroller pizza. Of course, we’ll visit the Haunted House, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Coast Guard museum. A drive up the ocean highway to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, will also be happening.

Sadly, the row of little homes that offered family rentals was razed for modern hotels years ago. I did find a small hotel a block off the beach for us that is in a 100-year-old house. I can’t wait for that experience.

You aren’t a true Marylander unless you take a day to drive out to Assateague Island and see the wild horses roaming the nature preserve and hanging out at the beach campgrounds, hoping to find some unattended picnic baskets.

Driving home will be a treat since we must cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I remember waiting for two hours on our car rides to the beach to reach that bridge. It was the highlight of our trip. It’s 4.3 miles of beauty and I knew we were only another hour-and-a-half from Ocean City once we crossed it. Watching the bay from my perch over the truck cab in our camper was always especially exciting. I could see barges coming in from the ocean and I felt suspended above the water.

When we get back to my childhood home of Hagerstown, we’ll see more relatives and friends and stuff our faces with more Maryland fare.

I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a landlocked state or what, but sushi isn’t the same in Arizona. Neither is Chinese food. The House of Kobe and the Imperial Chinese restaurant are on the menu that week.

The most famous food in Hagerstown has to be Krumpe’s Do-nuts. A family-run business for 75 years, the shop is tucked away in an alley. It’s open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. and you can smell the doughnutty-goodness from a block away. It’s tradition to cruise up the alley, find a tight spot to park in and join the line threading out the door. Marylanders go there after dinner, a movie, a party or to pick up a few dozen to take to the office the next morning.

I’d be remiss in visiting home and not taking a day at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore … with lunch at a Fells Point pub. One of my first trips as a newly-minted driver was to take my girlfriend with me to the harbor place. We spent an adult-free Saturday learning about the beltway, big city parking garages and the wonders of shopping while strolling past the Patapsco River.

I’m sure I’ll get up the nerve to drive past my childhood home in Hagerstown, too. I lived in it again as an adult to take care of my dad in his last years. After we sold it, I couldn’t bring myself to drive past it. I used the streets around it.

The old house has been turned into apartments, but my friends tell me my mom’s purple, pink and white peonies and her yellow rose bushes still bloom in the backyard.

Going home brings back so many memories, both emotional and sensory-based. I can’t wait to walk the beach and pretend my mom is beside me. She’d totally understand that I also can’t wait for that first sniff of fresh Maryland doughnuts!

Until next time, Robin

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