Exploring the Annapolis Waterfront

Exploring the Annapolis Waterfront

We recently met up with friends to explore a little bit of Annapolis, Maryland. It’s only about an hour away from us, but we just hadn’t gotten around to making the trek {I blame the wretched D.C. traffic}. And yet, even though it’s only an hour away, it might as well be a whole other world away from our house in the woods, from the hustle of D.C., and from our day to day.

It amazes me from time to time just how distinct and different the cities of the East Coast, and especially the Chesapeake region, can be. Maybe it’s a function of their age, growing and developing their personalities when the only way to get back and forth between them was either by horse or by ship. So even though Annapolis is only 25 miles from Baltimore and 30 miles from D.C., it’s definitely its own town.

Starting off as a settlement in 1649, it was the seat of the first Continental Congress, and now it’s the capital of Maryland, the home of the U.S. Naval Academy. Only about 40,000 people actually live there, giving it the perfect mixed feel of seaside city meets small town.

But the part that amazes me the most is that it’s something I might not have taken the time to stop, explore, and appreciate during more travel-filled parts of my life.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

~ Marcel Proust


I first heard that quote when I started following Local Adventurer, as it’s been one of their long-time mottos for exploring. Since our move from Hawaii to Virginia, though, it has really resonated with both Scott and me. Because even though, since leaving Hawaii last year, my passport has only been pulled out once, I’ve felt like we’ve had no shortage at all of adventure and discovery.

My metrics for adventure lately have changed. I used to look at the number of countries we’d visited, the number of stamps in the passport, the number of miles traveled and flights taken. These days, I measure success a lot more qualitatively.

These days, our travel is not about jumping from point to point but getting a good understanding of the area in between, of learning the backroads as well as the highway and investigating the flyover country instead of airport lounges. It’s about using every trick we use to peer into everyday life, tradition, and culture in the far away cities we visit to get a view of the same thing at home.

And so we explored. We delved deep. We enjoyed amazing crab cakes and fries with our friends in a place they’d enjoyed since they were Mids at the Academy. We laughed and joked with people sitting on amazing yachts, waiting to head out for sunset, as we walked by on the waterfront. We watched – and tasted – fudge getting mixed and folded from scratch in a place that just recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. We visited souvenir shops and talked to shop keepers about how long they’d been in the area, what drew them to Annapolis and what kept them there.

The waterfront is a wonderful mix of historic buildings, family owned businesses, and local institutions that have been cheerfully serving for 30 years or 300. As you walk along the old brick streets, you get the feeling that the vibe on the waterfront hasn’t changed a whole lot over time, nor would anyone want it to.

And the best part is that it’s only an hour away, so we can travel there pretty much anytime we want to continue our explorations and to learn more.

Or perhaps to pick out a wonderful carved nautical map for our bar upstairs. That we haven’t built yet, or even really designed. I’m getting ahead of myself. But I will find a place for a map from Nautical North. We’re thinking of getting the Hawaiian islands, as a little reminder of the good times we had there. Which can be told when gathered around the bar, naturally.

The mixture of traveling and home-building that’s happened in my life has definitely changed my perspective, and given me, so to speak, new eyes. Maybe in my twenties, I would have gone on an exploration like this one and consider a place “visited.” Now, I know I’m not even close to done. There’s just so much more to see, and so much more to get to know. And to me, that’s just as exciting as discovering far off places.

So how about you guys? How has your mixture of traveling and home time changed your perspective?