The Star-News


Getting crabby with the family

Sat, Jun 09 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

As we noted last week there are so many things to see and places to go in the Washington, D.C. area that one hardly knows where to start. In deference to my limited walking abilities, my guides took me to places where I could easily maneuver the landscape and that was OK with me.

Memorial Day, like in other parts of the country was well observed in most of the local communities.  Regardless of their size, large or small, each town or village had wide displays of flags and other decorations in their central parts. Some had parades and others had observances in the town squares, areas that were liberally festooned for the occasion.

Son David and daughter-in-law Terri, having the day free from work, decided to take me out on an exploratory trip to many of those smaller towns that dot the Maryland countryside.

We started our journey with a ride over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, an architectural marvel in itself. The bridge spans the bay at one of its narrowest parts and it starts on the west side a few miles north of Annapolis, the state capital. It enters at the other side in what the locals call the East Shore.

In one of my earlier visits to this locale, some 20 years ago, I was introduced to some of the communities dotting the East Shore, of which there are many.  In each community there are a plethora of restaurants.  And where there are restaurants in a region rich with fish one is very apt to find crab cakes.

I mention crab cakes because there is a bit of a tale concerning my introduction to this delectable morsel. Like many Southern Californians I am not too familiar with shell fish. In our early days the one that we loved and often ate was abalone. Unfortunately so many other folks loved and ate them until they became as rare as Padre Pennant flags. So our shell fish dinners have become as rare as those abalones.

I think I owe my introductions to crab cakes to my daughter Coni, who also lives in Maryland.  Some years ago I visited with her and one of our side trips was a visit with her mother-in-law, Phyllis Johnson, who lives in Annapolis.

She took us to a sea shore restaurant and insisted we try the crab cakes. From that meal on I was hooked. On each visit to this area I have to have at least one meal of them.  This trip was no exception. On our journey home we stopped in Annapolis and had a crab cake dinner.

On another day we took another jaunt, this one in the opposite direction. We crossed the historic Potomac River but not over a bridge.  We used a 20-car ferry boat.  This was a ferry that goes back in history to those days before power. They tell us that in its start the ferry was pulled across by man power and maybe with a couple of mules thrown in. The ferry today is propelled across the river by electric power.

As we mentioned last week the entire eastern portion of the country has been inundated with rain storms. Hardly a day has passed without one rain storm, at least, pouring in.  As a result the countryside farms and ranches are exhibiting a lushness and richness in the fields not seen by these Southern California eyes in some time.

The trees, the oaks and elms are high and lush with bright green foliage in those areas between the villages. The crops in the fields, mostly corn, show the beginning of summer growth that will fill many a larder in the months to come.

On another day I went to work with David. His office is in the District right next to Union Station. Union Station is, to my way of thinking one, if not, the classiest building in Washington.  It is massive of a Gothic design that, in its heyday, was the hub of any kind of transportation in the Nation’s capital.

David’s office, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a restively new building occupying nearly as much space as Union Station. He is on the ninth floor with a window that looks out at all of Washington, including the capitol building. Very impressive and a great place to work. I imagined myself in such a place and wondered how I would have functioned.  Maybe not too well.  I’d probably be too busy looking for that one restaurant that featured a good crab cake.


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