• Story by Katie Willis | Photos by Caroline J.

Spots of Solitude: Lesser-known locations across the Mid-shore to spend some quiet time


It’s hard to find a quiet spot almost no one knows of these days. With social media and communication technology, those spots we thought we’d been lucky enough to discover, we quickly find have been common knowledge to everyone but us.

And maybe that’s what we’ll find here. These hidden gems throughout the Mid-Shore are, for all intents and purposes, right under your very nose. And maybe we’ve shot ourselves in the foot by divulging these secret-to-us locations. Nevertheless, we hope you find solace in these sometimes secluded, sometimes clandestine, sometimes right out in the open places we like to go to for some time to ourselves. Enjoy!

Caroline County: James T. Wright Memorial Park

So, here’s my guilty secret: I hate going to the gym. It’s not about working out. I actually love to work out. I just hate gyms.

There’s hardly a moment where I’m alone in a gym, and frankly, sometimes it is downright overcrowded. I hate the TVs running full-time in the background and the sound of the equipment. I hate working out in front of what can feel like a million eyes watching you. Then, there’s the cost. It can feel like a burden when there are so many things you dislike about going to the gym, especially if you can’t get there everyday or have child care needs that go beyond your local gym’s availability.

So, when I found the James T. Wright Memorial Park in Preston, it felt like finding gold. First of all, it’s the furthest thing from a gym — it’s outside. On a beautiful day, throw on some sunscreen and your ready to go. You can also bring your dog.

There’s a large playground in the center, within view of most of the eight stations along the park’s paved walking path. So, your kids will be well occupied, and you can still watch them while you’re working out. Additionally, as of this past September, there are three new pieces of equipment on the playground; challenge rings, a space loop, and a rockscape arch.

Or, you can send the kids to the covered pavilion if it’s too hot, too sunny, or raining. There, they’ll find a Little Library they can either borrow from or donate to. Either way, they can sit under shelter, be in full view of you, have a snack and read a new book. There’s another covered pavilion closer to the playground, as well.

Some equipment installed at the park includes a cardio walker, shoulder rotator, elliptical hand cycle, recumbent cycle, chest press, leg press, and captain’s chair, with printed instructions for use on each.

Times Record writer Abby Andrews contributed to this feature.

Dorchester County: Hoopers Island

When it comes to travel, the journey is just as interesting as the destination for me. That’s what made the 40-mile trek from Cambridge to the village of Hoopers Island so fun. There is so much to see on the way to this working watermen’s community — wildlife on all sides, stunning horizons, and even some places where the water seems to come right up to the road.

From U.S. Route 50 in Cambridge, turn right onto Woods Road, and take the first exit onto state Route 16. From Route 16 you’ll want to turn left onto Golden Hill Road, which is state Route 335. You’ll eventually turn right onto Hoopers Island Road, which still is state Route 335, and you’ll follow it through Fishing Creek.

When you get into Hoopers, make sure to stop at the historic marker and take in a little of the island’s history.

Or, you could turn left on state Route 336, also called Golden Hill Road, to tour the Hoopers Island Oyster Co. in Crocheron (about a 38-minute drive from Fishing Creek) and taste the hatchery’s many varieties, including the popular Chesapeake Gold, Chesapeake Smokes, Whitewood Cove, Poseidon, and Mermaid.

You also can join a fishing cruise through Hoopers Island Expeditions or Sawyer Charters (you’ll want to schedule this ahead of time). According to hoopersisland.com, these expeditions will hook you into the “‘unexpected places’ — back creeks and marshes” where you can enjoy a new fishing adventure.

After fishing, touring and tasting at Hoopers Island Oyster Co., and driving the length of the island (driving over the “Bridge to Nowhere,” the unofficial name of the bridge connecting middle and lower Hoopers Island, with the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Honga River on the other, is a must. You can find it by continuing to travel state Route 335.), have dinner at Old Salty’s, 2560 Hoopers Island Road, Fishing Creek, and watch the sun go down over a beer and any one of its fresh seafood dishes.

If you’re really feeling like you need a vacation from the mainstream, check out Airbnb.com for vacation rentals on Hoopers Island. Either way, plan to spend the day getting there and being there. Anything less is rushing it.

To learn more about joining one of the fishing charters on Hoopers, call Sawyer Charters at 410-397-3743 or Hoopers Island Expeditions at 410-330-1242.

Kent County: Washington College

Here’s a gem that falls into the “right under your nose” category: Washington College. While, yes, the college is designed for its students and faculty, the college generously offers the use of its library to its neighbors. There also are a number of discussions, author visits, poetry readings, environmental programs, lectures, and other literary engagements the public is invited to and can attend on campus, and the public is invited to Washington College sports events, as well.

By visiting www.washcoll.edu/community, you can find out what’s going on on campus and plan accordingly.

The Clifton M. Miller Memorial Library is open to the local community and visitors, who may use the library’s online catalog, browse and read print and microform collections, and borrow library books for education or research needs. Community members from Queen Anne’s and Kent counties can check out two books for three weeks at a time for a $10 annual fee. Or, you can become a Friend of the Miller Library and borrow four books for three weeks, with annual fees ranging from $30 to $300 depending on contribution and research levels. Alumni can borrow two books for three weeks with no annual fee. Kent County High School students in 11th and 12th grades also can request to use to the Miller Library for research needs for no annual fee by providing a letter from their school librarian.

You also can browse the library’s magazines and journals right in the library. Let a librarian know you’re there, and you can use the library’s internet access as a guest, as well.

Community members are invited to use the college’s library from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Children younger than 17 must be accompanied by an adult and have college or high school identification.

Queen Anne’s County: Terrapin Beach Park

Want to feel like you’re on your own private beach? Visit Terrapin Beach Park, 191 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville.

This 276-acre park includes a three-and-a-quarter mile walking trail that meanders through meadows, marshland and woodlands; two observation blinds; phenomenal views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; 4000 feet of shoreline; 73 acres of wetlands; a wheelchair accessible boardwalk; and it connects to the six-and-a-half mile Cross Island Trail.

The park is open from dawn to dusk, and pets are allowed on a leash. Meet up with friends to walk the trails or walk solo along the beach, watch osprey and heron in the tidal ponds bordering the observation blinds, or plan a home-away-from-home getaway with your family.

To get to Terrapin Beach, take U.S. Route 50/301 North to Exit 37, which is state Route 8. Follow the road to Log Canoe Circle and turn left to find the free parking area on the left.

Talbot County: Talbot County Historical Society Gardens

So maybe you don’t have time for a day trip or time to spend a day in the library (we should all be so lucky). Maybe you simply have time to take your lunch outside.

Enjoy a spur-of-the-moment lunch or take a walk through the Talbot County Historical Society’s gardens — a magnificent partnership between the society and the Talbot County Garden Club.

The gardens are located behind the James Neall House, on the corner of Glenwood Avenue and S. Washington Street in Easton. According to the Talbot County Garden Club’s 100th-anniversary book (available at the society’s Washington Street museum), the garden’s history begins in 1956, when the garden club contributed toward the purchase of the property.

The garden club funds the garden, designs the look of the garden, and contributes the hands-on work necessary to keep the garden in shape.

A certified Bay-Wise garden through the Maryland Bay-Wise Program, a program of the University of Maryland Extension’s Master Gardeners, the gardens include a terraced shade garden, an herb garden, perennial beds, and fruit and flowering trees. Bay-Wise gardens do not use fertilizers or chemicals for maintenance, and help enhance the water quality of local rivers, tributaries, and the Chesapeake Bay.

During Plein Air Easton each July, artists can be found having set up camp in any number of nooks in the garden.

Want to share the beauty of the gardens with your closest friends and family? The gardens are available for rent for weddings, receptions, and other social parties and events. You can visit www.hstc.org to learn more about the gardens or call 410-822-0773 to request a date for rental.

Otherwise, the gardens are open daily and free of charge for visitors to browse during daylight hours.

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