Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stunt Zombie's Anniversary Adventure!

It's hard to believe, but it's been just over a year since my wife and I tied the knot. Originally, we had planned on going to Universal Studios for our anniversary. Here's the thing about Universal though, it's damn expensive. Since we didn't really want to spend so much on a trip that was only going to last a few days, Chelsea suggested we look closer to home. And that's how we ended up going to Tangier Island to celebrate a year post-nuptials.

If you're not familiar with Tangier, it's a small island located in the center of the Chesapeake Bay. The only way to get there is by boat or by plane, and the airstrip is only operational from dawn to dusk. The whole island is just over 1 square mile in size, and is home to about 700 or so people. Oh, did I mention it's also a "dry" island? That's right, if you want a drink, you've got to bring it with you. Apparently you have to be discreet about it too. Seeing alcohol touch someone's lips in public is apparently enough to give men cardiac infarctions, and make women faint. 

Since we don't have a boat of our own, and our friends with a plane were busy, we had to make the drive up to Crisfield, MD to catch a ferry over to the island. There's actually a ferry that goes out of one of the towns closer to us, but of course that stopped running for the season the week before our trip. We hopped on to the Steven Thomas, and a bit over an hour later, we were cruising into Tangier's harbor.

Even with the threat of a hurricane on the horizon, it was a pretty uneventful trip, something that mine and Chelsea's stomachs were very grateful for. There are 3 main industries on Tangier: crabbing, oystering, and tourism. Several of the small buildings you see here contain tanks and equipment that hold crabs during their molting process. This is one of the reasons why Tangier is known as the "soft crab capital of the world". This time of the year, tourism has pretty much dropped off to nothing, so we were the only two out of a dozen people on the ferry that were actually staying overnight. We kind of stuck out from the group, what with our bags full of clothes and alcohol. 

Chelsea had reserved us a cabin at the Bay View Inn Bed and Breakfast, which I highly recommend if you ever decide to make the trip over. Right off the boat, I couldn't help but notice how quiet it was. There are a handful of cars and trucks on the island, but most of the residents get around on bikes or scooters. The bridges that connect different areas of the island are actually too small to drive most cars over. I actually saw a few newer cars sitting in people's driveways, which raised the question, "Where do they drive these things?". Most folks are within walking distance of the grocery store and restaurants, so it wouldn't make sense to take their car there. The ferries that come over are only for people and goods, so if you wanted to take a vehicle off the island, you'd have to hire a barge to carry it over to the mainland. Our hosts suggested that some of the cars were status symbols, which I guess I could see.

Walking down the streets, I couldn't help but notice that there wasn't just a lack of tourists in the streets, but a lack of locals as well. We would see the occasional scooter fly by, but for the most part, it felt like we had the island to ourselves. We literally saw more "Trump" signs than we did people. It gave me a bit of a "Shadows Over Innsmouth" vibe. If you've read the story, you'll know what I mean. Since all but one of the restaurants was closed, as well as all the gift shops, we made our way to the Tangier History Museum. 

Stepping on to the porch of the museum, I was greeted by my new favorite patio furniture. The chairs looked like something straight out of Cobra-La, and I could almost see Nemesis Enforcer enjoying a pipe in his crab legged chair.  Sadly, they weren't willing to part with their crustacean thrones, so I went home empty handed.

The museum was surprisingly well put together. Tangier might be a small island, but there is a ton of history here, and a lot of care was taken to preserve it. There were exhibits covering everything from everyday life on the island, to the biology of the blue crab, one of the creatures essential for the watermen's survival. There were audio tapes where you could hear interviews of island residents, talking about growing up on a speck of sand in the middle of the Chesapeake. I could have spent our entire vacation here, and still not see everything. 

Space is at a premium on the island, but that doesn't keep people from wanting to be close to their dead. It used to be tradition to bury your loved ones in your yard, and it wasn't unusual to see houses with several graves in their front yards. It seems the practice has fallen out of favor, since most yards on Tangier are pretty small, and many are buried in church graveyards now. I guess it's kind of nice having one less tombstone to trim around.

After all the walking around, Chelsea and I were pretty beat. The weather was also getting pretty nasty, since Hurricane Matthew was making his way up the coast. We decided to go grab a bite to eat, and then enjoy a bottle of wine in our cabin. As I was dozing off, I could hear the wind and the rain picking up outside, heralding the storm's arrival. When I woke up the next morning, I opened the door and surveyed the storm damage. 

Most of the morning was windy and rainy, so we spent the majority of the day curled up in bed, watching cartoons, drinking wine, and eating junk food. I think we may have fit a game or two of Scrabble in there too. Later, once the storm moved on and the sky cleared up, we went for another hike.

Since we kept hearing how nice Tangier's beach was, Chelsea and I decided we should check it out. It probably wasn't the best time to hang out on the sand, as the tide was up pretty high, and we were getting blasted by the sand being blown around by the wind. Still, it looked like it could be a nice place when you weren't dealing with post hurricane conditions. Having lost our outer layer of skin from the all natural sand blasting, we made our way back to the inn to try and catch the sunset.

After dealing with the gale force winds and heavy downpours earlier in the day, I almost felt like we were being rewarded with an amazing sunset. Chelsea and I were pretty beat from all of our Scrabble-ing and hiking on the beach, so our second day ended pretty early. Our vacation would be ending the next day, so we wanted to get up bright and early, to try and fit in as much as we could before we had to catch the ferry home.

When you only have 700 people in one place, it shouldn't take much to keep the peace. Still, I was surprised to learn that Tangier only has one police officer. Talking to the folks that run the B&B, it sounded like most of the police work around there consisted of domestic calls, and breaking up bootleggers. Yeah, I said Tangier was a dry island earlier, but only in the official sense. It seems it's not unusual to see some of the boats come back loaded down with a year's supply of beer and liquor.  Where it ends up, nobody knows..

Chelsea and I still had some time to kill, so we dropped by Lorraine's for a bit of lunch. You can't go to a place famous for the crabs and not try the crabs, so that's what we did. Chelsea ordered the crab cake sandwich, and I went with the soft crabs. Her sandwich was good, but I do believe this is the best soft crab sandwich I've ever eaten. There were 6 or 7 crabs piled on there, and they were all fresh and fried perfectly. I know it looks like a plate full of spiders, but man, they were delicious. I wish I could have taken back a bag full, but who am I kidding. They wouldn't have made it home.

Once we finished eating lunch, it was time to start making our way to the boat home. It was still a bit blustery, and there weren't enough people for the regular ferry to run, so we had to catch a ride with one of the smaller boats. It wasn't nearly as smooth as the Stephen Thomas (and I discovered I had developed an allergy to Dramamine halfway through), but it was a heck of a lot faster. 45 minutes later, and the Tangier water tower was just a distant speck on the horizon. And that's the end of our 1st anniversary adventure. 365 days down with many, many, more to come.


  1. I wonder how many movie scenes,if any,have been filmed there.Seems like a nice place for an alien,ghost or zombie invasion.On a more serious note,pretty original anniversary!

    1. Paul Newman actually went to the island incognito, because he wanted to use it in the movie Message in a Bottle. However, the town council rejected the offer, because they didn't approve of the drinking, cursing, or sex in the script.

      Also, thanks! Leave it to my wife to come up with great trip ideas.

    2. Sheesh!Pretty staunch In their allegiance to the island.It's kind of admirable In a way.

    3. Eh, it was just a chance for them to feel high and mighty. The fact is that all that stuff and worse goes on there. It's a shame, because it would have been helpful to the island economically.

  2. What an interesting place! Looks like a lot of fun though. Drinking wine and falling asleep to the sound of rain makes me want a vacation so bad.

    1. It's definitely the type of place you want to go if you need some peace and quiet. If not for the wind and rain, I think it would have been silent.


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