Posts Tagged ‘MD’

Red Robin, California, MD

9 August 2016

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I haven’t been to a Red Robin in ages, having sworn them off for increasing cost while decreasing quality. However, in this case, when a small group needed to get lunch, but didn’t have time to drive, and the other option was Olive Garden, Red Robin was suddenly the answer.

I had a Whiskey River BBQ Burger, which wasn’t much in the way of BBQ. The burger was cooked well enough, and had decent beef flavor, but it just wasn’t that outstanding. The steak fries were OK.

Service was kind of slow, even though the place was largely empty from 1140-1245. My check was $15.35. The iced tea was pretty good. I will not be seeking out Red Robins, as I think that the cheeseburger was not worth $15, but if I was in the same situation where we needed to be near, I would still go.

The Lighthouse, Solomons Island, MD

9 August 2016

The Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had dinner here this evening with a group of work friends. It was pretty darn good.

The rest of the table had seafood of one form or another, including oysters, soups, and other stuff. I had a New York Strip, 14 oz and a perfect medium. The steak was very tender and had better than average flavor. I had a baked potato with cheese, butter, and lots of bacon, and applesauce. The baker was very good, but the applesauce had a not-entirely-pleasant sharp aftertaste. I ate all of it, regardless.

They have very good iced tea. Service was just right for allowing us to sit and talk, not rushed, and very friendly. My check was $41.35, which was not bad for a steak of that quality. The rest of the crew reported their food as excellent.

Hiking Patapsco River State Park, MD

19 April 2012

Summary: 5.3 miles, about 300 ft of altitude gain, nice out-and-back with a lollipop.

Monday I got into BWI around 1330, checked into the hotel, and got a late lunch. After doing some work, I decided it would be a good afternoon for a hike. I have wanted to hike Patapsco River SP for a while, so that was my target.

A word about planning. The state parks of Maryland are uniformly wonderful. The hike information provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) uniformly sucks. There are no maps online – they only want you to buy maps from their vendor. It makes planning difficult.

So I headed towards the PRSP HQ. I got there and paid my $4 fee, and asked the attendant about hiking trails. He handed me maps (why can’t these be online?) and told me that at that part of the park there was less than a mile of trails. The longest trail is at the Avalon area, he gave me directions, and told me that my $4 fee covered me there as well. I headed out.

I got on the trail around 1700. A sign warned that the park closed at 1945. I note that when I got off the trail and headed out, there was an MDNR ranger parked at the gate with his lights on, waiting at 1930 to close that gate at 1945.

As I drove to the trailhead through the park, I immediately saw several deer off the road in the woods. It’s a pretty drive. You go under I-95, which is on a bridge at least 200 ft over your head. There is no water at the trailhead, although I did find water at one of the shelters. Bring your water bottles full.

I headed out on a nice wooded trail. The trail is near the river, and winds around quite a bit. It also doesn’t go very far.

There is a lot of pretty neat stonework in the area; here is an example.

This heron was sitting by the river. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this bird is about four feet tall.

The nice hiking trail ends at a big pond. I went around the pond on the south, and picked up much smaller trails that continued along the river. Eventually, the trail veered back to the paved path due to a deep culvert. The culvert went all the way to the path, and turns out was sourced from a creek that came from Vineyard Spring. There was a VERY nice trail here that led up into the hills.

This trail went up at a fairly steady pace, and it was a very nice walk. The trail along here is shared between hikers and mountain bikers. About halfway up, the trail splits, with a hiker-only segment to the right. It goes up very steeply and then levels out (the shared trail continues up at a constant but shallower rise). At the top, you can lollipop back down, or take a trail to the NE or to the NNW (I note for the record that these trails are documented on a big map at the trailhead, but are not online).

At the bottom, I headed back towards the river. There were occasionally abandoned stuff along the way, like this gas/oil tanker.

At some point, you lose even the smaller trails. I ended up walking back to the paved road and finished my walk there heading back to the trailhead. This shelter was along the trail; it’s where I found the working water fountain.

Here are topo, terrain, and altitude maps.

The image above is courtesy of Garmin MapSource.

The image above is courtesy of Google Earth.

The image above is courtesy of Garmin Basecamp.

This was a nice hike. The emphasis along this part of PRSP is the paved jogging/biking trail. The rougher trails are up in the hills. It bugs me a little that the MDNR will not post maps to allow you to plan your hike. If I had known that the main emphasis here was the paved path I would have diverted somewhere else.

Longhorn Steakhouse, Columbia, MD

18 April 2012

Longhorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

I thought that the first Longhorn I ate at was in Topeka, KS. A couple years later, after a nice hike in a state forest near Waldorf, MD, I stopped at a Longhorn there and realized that I had eaten at that location (with my friend Harold) at least five years before the stop in Topeka. I have generally had very good experience at Longhorns.

So after a decent hike in Patapsco River State Park Monday, I ran across the Longhorn in Columbia and decided that I needed a decent steak. I got there around 1930 and left about 2045. The restaurant was about 50% full the entire time.

I started the meal with a bowl of potato soup; great stuff. I ordered one of my standard steaks, a medium ribeye. That was a fine steak. Tender, full of beef flavor, not super peppered like some places do. It was literally fork tender for about 3/4s of the steak. I didn’t leave a scrap. I also had a baked potato (it was on the small side).

The tea was excellent and kept refilled. Service was right on the money. My check was $26.15.

This Longhorn experience was very much consistent with other Longhorn locations I have been in. In a lot of ways, I prefer to eat at local places, instead of chains, which get boring. But even eating at local places all the time has its own kind of boredom. Sometimes I just want a known, good meal, and usually that means steak. There are a couple places, like Longhorn (another is the Saltgrass chainlet) that make a consistently great steak for a decent price.

Star Diner, Gaithersburg, MD

18 April 2012

Star Diner on Urbanspoon

I was cruising a back-roads path from Fort Meade, MD to Dulles, VA, and ran across Star Diner in a shopping area in Gaithersburg. I like diners, so I checked it out. I got there around 1730 and left about an hour later. It was moderately crowded.

I ordered a roasted half chicken. It was excellent! The skin was just a bit caramelized, and the meat was moist and flavorful. That was some good bird. It came with some skin-on red mashers, great. I asked for some poultry gravy for the mashers, and the taste of the gravy made me want to have ordered the turkey meal. It also came with steamed broccoli, which probably could have stood some more time in the steamer. The starter was some chicken soup; there wasn’t a lot of chicken, but the broth and the veg was very good.

Service was great, the iced tea was excellent. My check was $17.79. I’d be glad to go back.

Eggspectation, Columbia, MD

18 April 2012

Eggspectation on Urbanspoon

I’ve stayed a couple times at a Hilton Garden Inn across the street from Eggspectation, and after I arrived from the airport yesterday, I needed lunch, and Eggspectation was close, so I checked it out.

Since it was about 1400, I was more in a mood for lunch, so I ended up getting one of their Eggsecutive cheeseburgers. I got the bacon cheddar burger. It was pretty darn good. Cooked medium well, with a pile of decent fries. The iced tea was excellent.

I was in there about 45 minutes. Service was good, and the restaurant was pretty much empty. My check was $16.63. Kind of expensive for a cheeseburger, but it was a very good cheeseburger.

DuClaw, BWI, Baltimore, MD

14 February 2012

Duclaw on Urbanspoon

OK, so maybe I chose poorly. I was at BWI early a couple weeks ago trying to fly back home standby. I had a couple hours before the flight I was trying to get on, so I decided to get lunch at DuClaw. I chose to get a Cuban.

Now, as a result of this, I have decided that I will NOT try another Cuban until the next time I am in Florida.

The Cuban had a funny taste that wasn’t amusing. It just tasted, bad. I don’t think it was going “bad”, but the flavors just didn’t work. I got the sandwich with onion rings, they were of the pre-fab type that didn’t have a lot of flavor.

The iced tea wasn’t too bad. Service was decent. My check was $15.13. I might eat here again the next time I get to BWI (I do get there fairly often). I just wouldn’t get another Cuban.

I’m looking forward to getting to Florida soon…

Hiking Billy Goat Trails B and C, C&O Canal NHP, MD

3 February 2012

I really enjoy C & O Canal National Historic Park. It’s so close to a major metropolitan area, but so accessible. In May 2010, I was able to experience the Park for the first time, hiking the rugged and wonderful Billy Goat Trail “A” segment. Then last April 2011, I tried to hike the “B” and “C” segments, but the flooding Potomac prevented that. This week, I flew into BWI around noon Tuesday, and was able to complete my “B” and “C” hikes on a wonderful, spring-like day.

Summary: The rest of the Billy Goat Trail. 6.8 miles of fairly rugged trail next to a beautiful Potomac River.

The B and C trails are not quite as rugged as the A segment, but they can get very close! I have not been able to do much hiking in the past six months for a variety of reasons, so this was a pleasant challenge. I got to the parking area to find it gone, or rather, under repair. There is new construction there, some sort of building on the Park (I hope it will have water!). Visitors need to park on the road during this period.

I got changed into my shorts (it was mid-60s) and got started. It was about 1400. The towpath is washed out and being worked on between the “A” and “B” segments, but there is a bypass that uses a maintenance road.

I started out walking down a short path to the river. There was a lot of crud that had been washed up from the floods last Spring. The river was beautiful.

The trail along here starts out flat and wide.

It quickly gets more narrow and going up and down a bit.

This was a pretty neat little climb. You get to go up the rock at a 45deg incline, left to right.

The Potomac is almost always nearby. There are a couple islands as well, that help make some very scenic secondary channels.

At one point along the “C” trail, this heron was perched on a rock.

At one point on the “C” segment, the trail splits, with one going up and around some rocks, and one going right down to and along the river. It follows the bottom of some huge and beautiful rocks, and ends where the rocks jut out into the river. This is an excellent spot to sit, have some water, eat a snack, and relax. The rocks soar up about 100 ft behind you.

Towards the end of the “C” segment, you are right opposite a place where the Potomac has some gentle rapids.

These are images of my ground track, with terrain from Google Earth, and altitude.

So my basic path was to walk down to the towpath, go east until I found the first entrance to the “B” segment, walk it, take the towpath farther east to the entrance to the “C” segment, then walk all the way back on the towpath.

I saw no animals except for birds (and not many of them). No squirrels, even.

This was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. I have been on most of the trails in the NHP, but would not mind going back and rehiking some of them.

Don Pollo’s, Bethesda, MD

2 February 2012

Don Pollo on Urbanspoon

I was in Bethesda as there was a Trader’s Joe’s in the area, and I wanted to buy some tea. I saw Don Pollo’s up the block, and decided to check it out.

I ordered a half chicken, mashers, and rice and beans. The mashers were good. The rice and beans (black beans) were bland and had little flavor. The chicken was a major disappointment. It was dry and pretty tough. I ended up leaving quite a bit of chicken behind as it was just not worth the work to get it stripped from the bone. I ate all of the mashers and the rice and the beans, and so that was the majority of my meal.

Drinks are all canned/bottled and ala carte.

I got there around 1250 and left around 1320. My check was $11.60. I don’t think it was good value. I don’t get to Bethesda very often, and I can pretty much say that I will try any other restaurant first. There are a lot of other restaurants in the area.

The Trader Joe’s was nice, though.

Goddard Visitor Center and National Wildlife Visitor Center, MD

14 May 2011

Thursday, I had some time on my hands after meetings, and these two places were conveniently on the way to BWI, so I stopped at each to visit.

A place like Goddard really brings out the nerd in me!

This was my third try at visiting Goddard Space Flight Center. The first time, about a year ago, I got there at 1510, but they close at 1500. The second time was Monday when I arrived in the area; I got there at 1230, but they are closed Monday and Tuesday. I got there at 1245 Thursday. The neatest part was the Rocket Garden outside.

This one shows some of the buildings on the main Goddard campus, and the myriad of cool antennas.

Inside, there were some really cool exhibits. My favorite was a set of images of the Sun showing various activity, such as promenences and flares. I really liked this one also; it shows the Sun in X-Ray, and the activity difference between the solar minimum and maximum.

This is looking at the “business end” of a plasma generator.

They also have a mockup of a Gemini capsule. It’s the same basic shape as a Mercury capsule, but the dimensions are slightly larger. There are two seats in there, and if you sit in them, you can briefly imagine what it was like to sit in there for up to two weeks! I have always admired the courage of the men who volunteered to squeeze in a small space like that, on top several thousand tons of highly explosive material, and have it LIT.

There is a decent gift show. My favorite things there were license plate frames for the employees. One had “Yes, I AM A Rocket Scientist”, and another “186,000 MPS… It’s The Law!”. I think I would like working with those guys.

From Goddard, I went to the National Wildlife Visitor Center. I’ve passed the place a million times on the BW Parkway. Turns out the real name of the place is the Paxutent Research Refuge National Wildlife Visitor Center. There is a nice interpretive exhibit that looks like it was created in the 80s. That’s not a slam; there was interesting information in there.

There are also hiking trails in the refuge. Turns out that the Visitor Center is on the southern, smaller tract. The north, and much larger tract, buts right up against Fort George Meade. The north tract has many more miles of hiking, and I will walk some of those on a future trip (one note, a minor gripe, I haven’t found ANY information on the trails here anywhere on line. I wonder why).

I headed out on the trail on the Loop Trail, then vectored to the Cash Lake trail, taking several spurs to lookout points.

I saw this and thought it was a viewing tower. Turns out it is a nesting bird tower.

The trail is pretty.

I didn’t go fast on the trail. It was about 75F, no wind, and very pretty. The only downer is an almost constant low-frequency traffic noise from the east. There was also someone persistently shooting from the west. I crossed a floating bridge and had a flyby from two herons. Around the corner, I found one of them and snuck up on it just a bit.

You walk over the dam for the lake, and loop back the other side. Eventually, I came to the Valley Trail. This odd tree growth was on a tree there.

From the Valley Trail I came back to the Visitor Center via the Laurel Trail. I didn’t bring my GPS, but the mileage according to the map is around two miles.

I didn’t see all that much wildlife. There were some geese. One highlight – I saw a Baltimore Oriole! I have wanted to see one in the wild ever since I wrote a report on them for Mrs. Allen in my 4th grade class at Whittier Elementary in Muskogee. It was a beautiful bird that sat on a branch and looked at me from about 20 feet away for about 15 seconds (too short for me to get my camera out, on, and aimed). I also saw about 500 tadpoles in a pond, one toad on the trail, and a skink. There was also a freshly-killed black garter-type snake; I think it was on the road/trail between Cash and Redington Lakes, and was run over by an employee who drove down that road while I was on the road. The guy probably didn’t see the snake, it was only about 9″ long.

This is a map of the south tract trail system.

From here I headed to BWI. I got there about 3.5 hours early, and found out that my flight to MSP was already an hour late arriving, which meant I would have ended up spending the night somewhere there. I was early enough that I changed my flight to come home via ATL, which meant that I got to fly on a B737 and MD88 instead of a pair of RJs, and it got me in to OKC an hour before my original arrival time to boot. So that worked out OK.

Hiking Paxutent River Park, MD

14 May 2011

One of the things I really enjoy about the mid-Atlantic corridor is the plethora of parks and green spaces. Last Monday, I flew into BWI for a week of meetings in the DC area, and after I checked into the hotel, I went to Paxutent River Park. It is about 15 miles from where I was staying in Waldorf, MD.

Hike summary: 5.3 miles, from the shore of the Paxutent River to the forest and back to the river. Got there around 1545 and left around 1815.

I went to the Visitor Center to see if I needed to pay an entrance fee; the person at the desk didn’t ask for any. I picked up a trail map, and I was off!

Most of the trail is packed dirt, and is just a bit rough. That’s not a criticism, understand, I prefer my trails like that.

In general (refer to the trail map for this, I went the following route: Brown, Green, Red (very short time), Blue, Purple, and Red again. The last part of the Red trail seems to be along the road only.

The trees in the park are amazing. We have tall trees in Oklahoma, but not a lot like these, with their thin trunks and high canopies (the wind here is too much for that sort of tree).

This unusual set of roots was along the Brown trail.

At a couple points, you get a good view of the Paxutent River. There is a spur off the Green trail that leads you to an overlook, but there is an unofficial trail that leads from the overlook right down to the river bank. It was marshy down there, I don’t know if the river as a whole was down, or if there was a tide out effect.

There are a number of structures in the river. I realized that the structure to the left was a nest platform, for Ospreys. There were several along the river.

I could not figure out what the structure to the right was. When I got back to the main part of the park, there was one a little closer to shore, and it turned out that in each case it was a platform for a camera and a transmitter. They are Osprey-Cams. Very cool.

After I got off the trail, I wandered around the main area of the park. You can go right down to the water. There is a fishing dock, a boat ramp, and apparently canoes and kayaks can be rented.

Here are the usual maps of the hike, based on topography, the terrain as overlayed on Google Earth, and the altitude.

Once again, my GPS altitude is questionable. There were a couple decent climbs, but I do not think that almost 200 ft is justified. The topo map (max altitude indicated of only 80 ft) bears this out. I will investigate in my copious spare time to see what the GPS problem might be.

Here is the trail map. I could not find this online anywhere. The MD department of parks has a vague reference to hiking trails here, and some websites had hike reports, but I didn’t find a trail description anywhere.

This was a wonderful way to spend a couple hours not in a hotel room! I saw NO people on the trails, amazingly enough. There were people walking on the road into the park (why there, the forest is far prettier). As for wildlife, I saw a couple squirrels in the mammal category, and a fair number of birds, including the ospreys. One curious thing, I saw two dead voles, in both cases right in the middle of the trail. Neither had any sign of trauma, and hadn’t been there very long (no ants on them). Wonder why…

This is a basic walk in the trees. I liked it.

Lefty’s Bar B Que Unlimited, Waldorf, MD

12 May 2011

I had tried to eat at Lefty’s on a previous trip to Waldorf, but it was a Tuesday, and they are not open Monday and Tuesday. Left’s had a number of recommendations.

I got there last night around 1800, and left around 1900. Service was very good.

I started with iced tea. They have sweet tea only, and it *was sweet*! Classic southern sweet tea. I ordered chicken and ribs. This was a quarter chicken (I specified light) and three good-sized ribs. The chicken was smoked in a most wonderful way. Most of it was moist and tender, but towards the middle it was a little tougher. The flavor was great, a full hickory.

The ribs were also really good. A bit greasier than I prefer, but the flavor was full and the things were falling-off-the-bone tender. They could have used a bit more of the dark red crust I like, but there wasn’t any meat left on those bones.

The meal came with two sides. They were out of mac and cheese, so I got green beans and cole slaw. The green beans had good flavor, but were really mushy, like they were really overcooked. The cole slaw was creamy, and was good. Nuff said.

My check was $19.80. You could do far worse than to eat here.

Mama Stella’s Ristorante Italiano, Clinton, MD

11 May 2011

Mama Stella's Pasta House on Urbanspoon

This place was suggested by a work friend who ate at the restaurant last evening and enjoyed it. I went there for lunch today with a couple people who were at the same meeting I was attending at Andrews AFB. One was a very good friend from college who I have rarely seen since then, and her co-worker.

We got there at 1155 and left at noon.

The meal started with a small salad and some excellent ranch dressing. This was accompanied by some decent sliced white bread.

I got fettuccine and chicken al fredo. The chicken was an entire breast, which was beaten fairly flat. The al fredo was very good. It had a hint of nutmeg in it, which made an interesting taste.

The iced tea was good. My check was around $15.00. Service was good. I would recommend that this restaurant not be chosen if you are in a hurry.

Fatburger, Elkridge, MD

14 January 2011

Fatburger (Elkridge) on Urbanspoon

I like cheeseburgers! A lot. I have heard that Fatburger is good, and at dinner last night, noticed that there was a Fatburger in the same area, so four of us went there for lunch today.

We got there around 1210 and left at 1250. I checked out the menu and ordered a King Fatburger, which is a half pounder. I got it with cheese, mayo, and lettuce, and the combo came with fries (you can get thick or thin; I got thin) and a drink. Cost was about $9 (I left the receipt behind).

It wasn’t the best burger I’ve had, but it was pretty darn good! The meat was cooked perfectly, and had a nice crust on it. It looks like the patties are made right there are are not chunked out by machine. The meat had decent beef flavor, but one thing I noticed was that it didn’t have as much flavor as some (like In-And-Out).

They had Gold Coast tea, but it was not very good. The Coke was OK. I’d eat here again.

T-Bonz Steakhouse and Pub, Ellicott City, MD

13 January 2011

A couple of us were looking for dinner Tuesday evening, and Clark wanted crab cakes since we were in Maryland, so I found this place. It had well reviewed crab cakes, and was only two miles from the hotel, so off we went.

We got there about 1830, and left about 1930. The place was almost empty when we arrived, and about 50% occupied when we left.

I got iced tea, it was good. I ordered a couple appetizers, 10 BBQ wings and a huge plate of fries with chili and cheese. The chili was good, except it had beans in it (kidney and pinto). None of any of these were left.

I ordered a beef dinner. It is thin-sliced beef on white bread with fries, all covered with gravy. I had them keep the white bread. It was a huge amount of beef, tender and with a lot of flavor, it tasted like it had been marinated in au jus before cooking.

Clark said the crab cakes were really good. Everybody else liked their meals, including an order of ribs.

There was live music while we where there, it was OK. My check was $30.74. Good restaurant. Service was really good.

Mama Lucia, Elkridge, MD

13 January 2011

Mamma Lucia on Urbanspoon

I ate here for dinner tonight with two friends. We got there about 1830, and left about 2015. The restaurant was only 10% full the entire time.

The meal started with some excellent, crusty garlic bread with some oil with garlic to dip the bread in. I asked for some marinara as well. The marinara had a lot of (I think) basil. It was OK.

I got a ceasar salad, very good, the dressing was very creamy.

My main course was chicken marsala. The marsala was good, but there was fairly little of the sauce. It came with spaghetti (al dente!) and was covered with mushrooms. It was excellent! The whole meal was very tasty. And HUGE. It could have fed a family of three (if they had a normal appetite).

I tried Clarks chicken fettucine alfredo, and it was also very good, and similarly huge. I tried the lobster ravioli, and tasted fishy.

The tea was good and the service was OK. I would eat here again. My check was $21.15.

Billy Goat Trail A, C&O Canal NHP, MD

25 May 2010

After my day of meetings in the DC area last Thursday, I headed over to the hotel and changed, and headed east along the Dulles Tollway. I had a fast cruise right up to the point I was about a mile from the Capitol Beltway, I-495. My Facebook post while sitting still:

Bill Hensley: There are approximately 1 billion cars trying to get on the Capitol Beltway. There are *4* lanes for them to funnel into. In short, this sux.

It took an hour and a half to drive about 20 miles. Eventually I found the Anglers Inn and parked. The parking area was full of kayakers.

The Billy Goat Trail is located on the north (Maryland) bank of the Potomac River. Things like Google Maps show it to be part of the Great Falls of the Potomac National Park, but that’s on the other side of the river, in Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. I headed down to one of the canal towpaths that serve as a backbone trail, and immediately turned left towards the Billy Goat Trail – “B”. Not so good, since I was looking for segment “A”.

The towpath is a lot like a road, and it parallels what is left of the C&O Canal.

Eventually, I found the Billy Goat “A” segment. The trail starts out as a wide, hardpacked dirt trail.

I’m going to review the trail and then put up some pictures. 10% of this trail is relatively flat. The rest of it reminded me a hike through Robbers Cave State Park in eastern Oklahoma. There were a couple places where you needed to pull yourself up 3-4 ft (or let yourself down), there was some large rock scrambling, or walking along a knife or narrow edge.

It was warmish (85F) when I hiked, and fairly humid, and I got significantly sweaty quickly. I put on my Croakies glasses holder immediately.

There were a lot of people walking this trail in sneakers, but I was darn glad I had my boots.

This last photo shows the hardest part of the hike. It took some real balance to go down that far on the rock face.

Every once in a while you would see some really nice views of the water.

There were some dynamite views of the Potomac also.

Saw some birds, but no small mammals. Did run across this nice deer.

Eventually I ran across this trail marker.

Eventually I got to the end of the Billy Goat “A” trail, back on the towpath. I walked a hundred yards or so to find a bridge over the canal, and picked up an upper trail back to the Anglers Inn.

This was an amazing hike, to find this rough terrain so close to a major metropolitan area. I saw tons of people out, singles, doubles, threes, and fours. I got off the trail about 2000, for about a two-hour hike,. Fighting to get their through the traffic wasn’t fun, but it was worth it.

Here is my GPS trail superimposed on a Google Earth image of the area.

I am already looking forward to hiking the remaining “B” and “C” segments, and some of the rest of the trails in the Historical Park.

One thing I really wish were available – a bridge over the Potomac from the Great Falls NP side. That would allow a peaceful drive to the south side, and a quick walk over to the north side, avoiding the Traffic From Hell on I-495. Or maybe I could go NW and drive down the north side to the east. Hmmm….

Cedarville State Forest, Waldorf, MD

24 May 2010

On a trip to the DC area last week, I stayed overnight in Waldorf, MD, a very nice bedroom community. The hotels were at least $100/night less then the DC area, and it was only a 15 mile drive to my target, Andrews Air Force Base.

On the way to Waldorf, I drove past Andrews, and saw one of the VC-25 aircraft on approach. I checked the President’s Daily Schedule for Tuesday, and it turns out that it was Air Force 1! The President was returning from a meeting in Ohio. So, very, very cool!

This is a not-so-good photo I captured with my Blackberry camera.

After I got to Waldorf and checked into the hotel, I changed and filled my water bottle and headed towards the Cedarville State Forest. It’s about five miles east of Waldorf, and was easy to find.

I found the main visitor center just fine at 1615. Right after the center closed at 1600. There is the usual Maryland fee station – $3 for residents, $4 for non-residents, and $5 for Bill, who doesn’t usually go around with a lot of dollar bills.

There are a number of trails at Cedarville. The longest is the Orange Trail, which shares some trail with the White and Blue trails. The Orange trailhead is in the parking lot of the Visitor Center.

You walk a couple hundred yards down the trail to a T that forms the loop. I went right (east).

The majority of the trail is hard packed dirt, but there are places where it has sand or small river rock underfoot. It had been raining on and off for a couple days before I arrived, but thee were not any areas with extensive mud.

This is an example of the denseness of the forest.

There are a number of stream crossings. All but one of them had bridges built. The only one that didn’t have a bridge had big rocks in the shallow water.

Most of the streams were pretty cloudy due to runoff.

This was truly a beautiful forest, and a work in progress. I wonder if it was a replanted area since a lot of the trees seemed a bit young.

Cedarville has a big camping area that is spread out over a bit of the south-center part of the forest. It included a campfire area with benches.

I completed the hike about 1900 local. I saw one deer on the trail (and several others on the way out of the park), a couple squirrels, and a fair number of birds.

I didn’t see a single person on the trail the entire time I was there. I was pleasantly surprised that pretty much the only human sounds I heard were airplanes, and once a train.

I kept the GPS on while I was there, and downloaded the course to Google Earth. Here is the result:

There were a couple places where the GPS had a dropout of signal.

This was a really enjoyable hike. My total mileage was about 7 miles. The largest altitude change was about 30 ft. The trail was in good shape. Highly recommended.

Bayside Landing, BWI, MD

23 May 2010

Bayside Landing on Urbanspoon

I had the opportunity to eat here on the way back from a business trip last week. I generally do not find a lot of good airport restaurants, but this was OK.

I ordered iced tea to start. It was a concentrate, but not horrible.

I got the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich and fries. The sandwich was pulled pork that probably wasn’t smoked, rather slowish cooked. It had OK taste and was tender enough. It was post-drenched in a very mild BBQ-like sauce. The that came with the sandwich were very narrow and kind of crunchy, almost potato sticks.

Service was pretty good. My check was $10.06. I got in there around 1730 and out around 1810.

Texas Ribs and BBQ, Waldorf, MD

21 May 2010

Texas Ribs and BBQ on Urbanspoon

I was in the mood for some BBQ after a really nice hike, so I went here.

I started off with some chili. It was not very good. A LOT of beans, of different types, and little meat.

I got there about 1930. I ordered iced tea and a sampler that consisted of three meats. I chose pulled pork, ribs, and chicken. The ribs were tender, and were mostly smoked. I think they needed just a touch longer in the smoker. The pulled pork was outstanding – really nice flavor and tender. I really enjoyed the pulled pork best. The chicken was a total waste. It was dry and there was no amount of tea drinking would fix it. The BBQ sauce was no help either. That was some lousy chicken.

The BBQ sauce was odd. I tried both the mild and the hot, and really tasted no difference. The hot had a definate jalapeno flavor, but no heat. The mild… it was thin and had an odd taste to it. It did not really enhance the flavor of the meat. I stopped using the sauce.

The meal came with two sides. I asked about the cole slaw, and the server told me it was vinegar based. so I got baked beans and potato salad. The potato salad was OK. The baked beans were very boring. They were fairly undercooked to begin with, and the sauce they were in was very tomato-y.

One thing: this sampler platter was a LOT of food. I bet three people could have eaten this meal. I could not come close to finishing it. The check was $20.33.

Bare Bones, Ellicot, MD

20 May 2010

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

I was crusing for lunch after arriving at BWI, and Bare Bones looked pretty good. I got there around 1345.

I ordered iced tea to start. Not a good start, the stuff had such a strong coffee taste that no amount of sugar would eradicate it. I asked for another glass, and that one had a lot less coffee taste, even though it still had some.

I got a cup of white chicken chili for an appetizer. It was good, no spicy to it at all.

I ordered the lunch-sized Perdue chicken. This chicken had been roasted or rotisseried, then finished off with a bit of grilling with some BBQ sauce. The end result was pretty good. The chicken was tender and juicy. The BBQ made no difference to the basic taste since the chicken had already been cooked, but when chicken pieces were dipped in the sauce, that was pretty good!

The meal came with applesauce and corn fritters. The fritters were each 5-6 sweet corn kernals breaded and deep fried. Not bad.

The place did not have wifi. I left about 1445. Service was pretty good. My check was $16.41. I would go back again.

An Excellent Walk – St. Mary’s River Watershed Park

13 March 2010

Oh, this was nice!

I had intended to walk this trail when I flew in Wednesday, but a five-minute delay in pushing back from the gate at DFW turned into a 3.5 hour delay due to storms, then fuel, then more storms, then a weird routing that added 45 min of flight time. Supposed to get in at 1400, instead got in at 1630. So no hiking on Wednesday.

My meeting today finished early, so I had lunch (see post for Lexington Restaurant), and then headed over to the park.

There is a fee to walk here. It’s $3 for Marylanders, and $4 for the out of staters like me. I only had a fiver, so it was $5 for me. There was no water here, and the restrooms were closed. A portapotty was set up outside instead.

They have a nice, large map up in the parking lot.

I arrived around 1330. The trailhead is just in back of the restroom. You can see the brown sign for the trailhead to the left of my rental car.

The lake has one boat ramp, if that’s what floats you.

The trail is really nice. This is representative. There are places where the trail was covered in pine needles, which was really nice underfoot. There were a LOT of places where the trail was a muddy bog, due to a lot of rain lately, including today. My newly waterproofed boots were not a lot of good since I put my foot into a trail-based river more than once.

There are two places where a little point juts out into the lake. Notice that it’s starting to look a little gray?

Driving to get to the park, and then in park, I noticed a lot of these light or golden leaved trees. The leaves were dried and withered, but were quite stunning against the darker background.

There are a lot of streams flowing from the area around the park down into the lake. Some are very pretty. The trail has bridges at some of the stream crossings, but you have to jump over others, or walk on roots or rocks.

At one point about a mile into the hike, I walked through this boggy area. It was here the water started working its way through the boots and into the socks.

After this I walked across the top of the dam. It was a plain old road. On the other side, about 200 yards along, the road, I came up to a pond that was absolutely full of what I think were frogs, LOUDLY creaking. At this point, it also started to rain pretty heavily. I had the hood of my rain suit up, and was listening to the putative frogs, and just kept walking down the road. Not realizing that the road was no longer the trail… until I ran into a real road (as in highway), more than a mile away.

After I realized I was not on the trail anymore, I turned around and headed back. Several possible trails that branched off from the road just ended up as dead ends, in one case ending up in somebody’s back yard. I backtracked all the way to the frog pond, and there I saw:

I have to say at this point that the trail is really well marked, and that the marking works well when you use you eyes to look for the damn marker.

This part of the hike, on the east side of the lake, was just beautiful.

This is what the lake looks like from the north end.

This marker was planted in the ground around mileage marker 3. It has a “D” on the south side, and no other writing. I do not know why it is there next to the trail.

This was kind of cool. The runoff was not unexpectedly riling up the lake. The streams on the west side had a distinctive tan color. I saw this plume from one of the streams holding somewhat together as it flowed into the lake. It made a neat effect.

This is what it looked like from the other side.

We had what looked like a tree downed by a beaver near the water.

The trail was really wet and boggy and had active water flowing on it on the north and west sides. I was slogging through pure mud in many cases. This isn’t terribly unexpected given the near-constant rain over the past couple days. I experienced at least five steady, pouring rain during this hike. I ended up taking off my rainsuit pants and working them into a pack cover.

I got back to the parking lot around 1700. Given I walked an extra couple miles, a pretty good time.

There is cell coverage over most of the park. Some of the gullies didn’t have signal.

This was an excellent walk overall, really enjoyable in spite of the rain.

The hike clocked in at 9.23 miles per the GPS. The posted trail mileage is 7.8, but my detour by the dam added a bit.

Here is the GPS track overlaid on Google Earth. Note the detour off to the east…

Hmmm, note that you can see a couple areas where the GPS lock satellite lock – the points on the SW corner. I can guarantee I wasn’t walking on water in those places.

WMDM, Easy 97.7, Lexington Park, MD

13 March 2010

I ran across this station while in scan mode in Lexington Park. They play a lot of good stuff, like Barry Manilow, the Carpenters, The Lettermen, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and loads of other great voices. It’s a great station to sing along with while looping around the wavy roads of south central Maryland (I could get it over in Virginia, and DC also).

I’m listening to the station online:

Lexington Restaurant, Lexington Park, MD

13 March 2010

The Lexington Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

This was a good place to eat. After my meeting today was over, I drove past this restaurant, and decided to stop and give it a try.

I got there about 1130. There were not many people in. I got seated and got iced tea, that was very good. I ordered fried chicken.

It came as a breast and wing (so a 1/4 bird), and it was perfect! Not hugely greasy, but juicy and wonderful taste. The mashed potatoes and chicken gravy was tasty. I got apple sauce as the second side, it was a large cup.

The service was good. The place was just as occupied when I left at 1230. My check was $12.69. It was an enjoyable meal.

Wow, Lexington Park Has Grown

13 March 2010

I have been to the Lexington Park area several times, but not in several years. I was always struck by how isolated the area was. You drove down from the Waldorf area, and it was just trees until you hit the Pax River Naval Air Station. I was glad that the Hampton Inn had had a Damon’s Grill built next door, so there was a “full size” restaurant.

I drove in last evening, and was AMAZED at the growth north of town. Now there is about five miles of solid retail stuff, including hotels, a Wal Mart, an Outback, etc. It all looks new, just as one might expect, but the roads are also upgraded, and the signage, including points of interest.

I am really amazed this has happened so quickly. One of the guys at the meeting I was at today told me that the St. Mary’s County area were Lexington Park is located, is the fastest growing area on the eastern seaboard.

Smokey Joe’s Restaurant & Pit BBQ, Lexington Park, MD

12 March 2010

Smokey Joe’s BBQ on Urbanspoon

OK, so this was not exactly a visit to the restaurant. The meeting I was at today had lunch catered in. A couple of us went to Linda’s to talk. But, there was food left over when we got back, so I got to have some. Two lunches in one day, pretty neat!

It was surprisingly good. SJs had sent over big foil tubs with the meal.

The pulled pork was really good. It was tender and wasn’t stringy at all. The brisket was thin sliced and was decent. I’ve had better, but I’ve had lots worse. The sauce was a bit thick, but was rich and not very spicy.

There were two sides. The cole slaw was really fine, as in tiny pieces. It was not very creamy, and kind of boring. The beans were good, but were basic.

I’ve had worse BBQ.

Linda’s Cafe, Lexington Park, MD

12 March 2010

Linda's Cafe on Urbanspoon

A couple work friends and I ate here for lunch today. It’s right in downtown Lexington Park, across from Pax River NAS.

I ordered the double cheeseburger. It came on a Kaiser Roll. The beef was really good, but each of the patties were… tiny. I do not think that the total mass was more than 1/8 lb. They had good taste, but didn’t come close to filling the roll. The burger came with chips that were good, and the iced tea was excellent.

Service was a little slow. The place was about half full when we got there at 1120, and still about half full when we left at 1245. I do not remeber the exact bill (they take credit cards, but I paid with cash to get some change for the soda machine at the office we were working at), but it was around $8.25.

I might try them for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Cerro Grande, Lexington Park, MD

12 March 2010

Cerro Grande Llc on Urbanspoon

I picked this place out by pointing Google Maps at my hotel here, and searching for restaurants. This place popped up with a large number of positive reviews.

I looked “Cerro Grande” up on Babel Fish, and got back “Big Hill”.

I got there around 1800, and left around 1900. The place was almost empty the whole time.

I got mixed beef and chicken fajitas. It was all really good! The meat was tasty and tender. I ate every scrap. The salsa was smooth and good, but had little spice. The chips were good, and the iced tea was excellent.

I had only one small gripe; my server tended to disappear for lengthy periods. I looked around one time, and saw him sitting in a booth watching a TV on the wall. It took a bit to get his attention to get my tea refilled, and another bowl of salsa. He got the tea but not the salsa, and I had to wait until another family came in for him to get up and me get his attention again.

The place was well lit, enabling me to work the USA Today puzzles in good light.

My check was $13.93. No sales tax!