Obscura Day 2016 is Coming. Are You Ready to Explore?

Obscrua Day

Atlas Obscura (a media organization) plans events all over the world on “Obscura Day”. The events are adventures, excursions and tours. There are over 150 events planned in 35 states and 25 countries for 2016. The ideas is to get people out exploring the world near them on this one day. Find an adventure near you! The events planned for Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland are as follows:

  1. ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – Taverns & Women & Chocolate (Oh My!) – Come learn about what it took to live the tavern life while enjoying an 18th century chocolate drink!
  2. BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Hunt for the Mummified Mole Paw – Stop by Bazaar this Obscura Day to try your luck at finding the paw!
  3. FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA – Behind the Scenes at the National Firearms Museum – Join us for a special tour of the NRA National Firearms Museum, where thousands of historic and unusual firearms are waiting.
  4. MT VERNON, VIRGINIA – The Famous Fakes, Forgeries & Frauds of George Washington – Prepare to enter the world of deception where fake, forged and fraudulent George Washington artifacts can elude even the experts’ eyes.
  5. SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND – Save Our Seminary – Join us as we explore long-forgotten National Park Seminary with the non-profit that’s saving it.
  6. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Protecting the Capitol – From legendary stones to a hidden fort, join us as we discover what protected the Capitol.
  7. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twilight at Tudor Place – After a day full of exploring, join us at Georgetown’s Tudor Place for music, drinks, and merriment.
  8. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Get Your Bearings at Compass Coffee – Join us bright and early at Compass Coffee to get your Obscura Day 2016 started off in the right direction.
  9. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Houdini Escapes DC – Join us as we explore Houdini’s connection to Washington DC and create a little magic of our own.
  10. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cut It Off! An Amputation Demonstration – Watch as a skilled medical historian amputates a (model) leg using Civil War-era surgical tools.
  11. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legends of the Octagon House – Join us as we go behind-the-scenes after hours at the District’s most notorious house.

Don’t live in the DC metro area? Check the website for an adventure near you.

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

St. Michaels Winter Romance

St. Michaels, Maryland is one of my favorite small towns in Talbot County. My wife and I have been there several times.

The town posted a 30-second Valentine’s Day video (above) on it’s Youtube channel. Watch the video then go book a room or plan a day trip for you and your love!

Check out our two favorite places while you’re there. The first is Olivins Tasting Room – a retail store specializing in aged & infused olive oils & vinegars. The second is Mike & Eric’s Front Street Restaurant & Bar. The food is good and a very friendly staff. Please tell me how it was when you get back!

Thanks for reading Maryland Travel Stories.

Planning Family Vacations (The Labor of Love Podcast)

Labor of Love PodcastI listen to a fantastic episode of The Labor of Love Podcast! It covers the ups and downs of planning family vacations. Episode 18 – “Family Vacations”. The description is:

Wait, aren’t we supposed to be relaxing? Lori talks to travel expert Wendy Perrin and writer David Valdes Greenwood about how to survive — and even have fun! — on your family vacation.

Get great ideas to keep the stress down before, during and after your next trip. Go listen to this podcast right now!

What’s a podcast? / Real Simple Magazine / Panoply Podcasts

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

I wrote this post for my Wheel Life Thinking Blog in July 2014. It applies to traveling. While exploring, I’ll be taking the bathroom test when I visit restaurants.

Wheel Life Thinking

RestaurantI eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Spike TV. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was really bad. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash…

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Road Trip Tips

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it have not have it.”

Words of wisdom I like to keep in mind every time I take a day trip in my car. Here are some things you should have for your next day trip:

© Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com - Cute Cars Driving On A Road Trip Photo

1 – Visit the ATM before you leave – Cash is still king in many small towns and roadside stops. My wife and I tried to attend a community fair on a trip 2 months ago. There was a cash only entrance fee and no available ATM’s. Many stores, gas stations and food outlets have minimum amounts for credit or debit card charges. A few bucks in your pocket will be very helpful in times like this.

2 – Get an E-ZPass for your car – I know some people feel they don’t travel enough or go through toll booths enough to justify an E-ZPass. They forget that convenience has a value and stress has a cost. I love being able to zoom by the toll booth in the E-ZPass lane! Without the E-ZPass, I would go crazy if I had to wait behind a long line of cars at each toll booth. To me, a less stressful vacation is worth the small cost for the E-ZPass.

3 – Join the American Automobile Association (AAA) – The benefits are enormous; travel information, travel discounts and travel insurance. They’ve even added identity theft monitoring as an option. The main reason to join … roadside assistance! I locked my keys in my car on one trip and had my car breakdown on another. In both cases, all I had to do was make one call.

4 – Store a small first aid kit in your car – There are many first aid kits available for car use. Buy one! “Better safe than sorry!”

5 – Buy bug spray (or check the expiration date) before you leave – You never know when you will need this. I’ve been attacked while pumping gas! Flying critters are always on the lookout. Don’t be their next victim! I always have a can or some wipes in my trunk during road trips.

6 – Give your car a quick checkup – Read my post on this, “AAA’s Easy Maintenance Checks for Motorists“.

7 – If you need a partner for the road trip – Read my post on this, “Find Travel Buddies“.

I hope this helps! Vacations are about building memories. These tips will help make them good memories. What tips would you add?

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Brent Jackson

Maryland Day Trip Books

© Thinglass | Dreamstime.com - Amazon Kindle Photo
© Thinglass | Dreamstime.com – Amazon Kindle Photo

There’s tons of information out there to help a tourist find places to go in Maryland. The state government has a tourism website. Most counties in the state have a website. There are magazines and blogs covering the subject. Social media and mobile apps are in the mix as well. A bevy of resources are available to help you plan your next day trip. There’s one more place I want to check … books! I did a search on Amazon.com for “Maryland Day Trips” and found 7 books I thought were interesting. I plan to order them all for my Kindle:

  1. Explorer’s Guide 50 Hikes in Maryland: Walks, Hikes & Backpa​cks from the Allegheny Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean (Third Edition) (Explorer’s 50 Hikes)
  2. Maryland Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Oth​er Offbeat Stuff (Curiosities Series)
  3. Explorer’s Guide Maryland (Fourth Edition) (Explorer’s Complete)
  4. Backroads & Byw​ays of Chesapeake Bay: Drives, Day Trips & Weeken​d Excursions
  5. Maryland and Delaware Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)
  6. Explorer’s Guide Baltimore, Annapolis & Th​e Chesapeake Bay: A Great Destination (Explorer’s Great Destinations)
  7. Backroads & Byw​ays of Maryland: Drives, Day Trips & Weeken​d Excursions (Backroads & B​yways)

With phases like “offbeat stuff” and “unique places” … this should be fun!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

Find Travel Buddies

My wife and I travel together and we love it! A great trip for us is a long drive with a good audio-book and scenic views. We’re over the moon if we have a couple interesting places to visit and a good meal at the destination. I work most weekends but I have a free weekend every 6 weeks. When I have a weekend off, we’re in the car going somewhere! It’s about spending quality time together and building memories!

I have a lot of single friends who rarely travel because, well … they’re single. If you’re actively dating, this may not be a problem. Dating and travel go great together in the advanced stages. If you’re not dating and you hate to travel along, then it’s pizza time in front of the TV.

Not married. Not dating. Find travel buddies! I thought I would test my theory that it’s easy to find and make new friends. New friends who like to travel. Meetup.com is a site you can use to find people with the same interests. I set the location to a zip code in Baltimore, MD and did a search for 25 miles in any direction. I used the search term “day trips”. 98 meetup groups came up! 98 groups of people who sometimes travel together. You can also try a search for “travel”, “weekend getaways” or “weekend adventure”.

Pick a group. Join. Make new friends … and start traveling!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson