We left Colonial Beach, Virginia, on Thursday about 11:30 in the morning. It was already hot and I was drenched with sweat. Well, lets just say that I was drenched. Flushing the outboard engine and washing down the boat is enough to get one wet by itself. Add some additional clean up, a bit of oil and grease, a hot sun beating down from the almost high noon position and you had the smelly wet mess that was me. It was great, too. Just the way I like it.
We spent three days and two nights on the water, finding new places to explore both on land and at sea. We ate good food and shared each other’s amazing company. All this from the solitude of a small boat in a small marina in a small town during mid-week. Some folks like to use (or have to use) weekends for their excursions. We are partial to the week-mid. I know, it’s not really a word and I just made it up. But if you want to avoid the crowds, the kids (at least most of the nasty ones), the sightseers and the hustle and bustle of a tourist town, week-mid is the only way to go!
I’m not sure what the best part of the week-mid was, either. We did eat some great food. We slept well, on our two-inch thick vinyl covered boat cushions in the cramped cuddy cabin, with the usual wonderful, smelly and wet dog. We saw blue heron, osprey and bald eagles. We watched the sun rise and the sun set. We had front row seats for an amazing thunderstorm complete with billowing, towering clouds and lightning that stretched for miles. What more could a guy ask for?
Well, for starters, how about shark’s teeth. Our excursion to Shark Tooth Island (one of many islands in the Chesapeake Bay called “Shark Tooth”, I’m sure) provided a treasure trove of those little, fossilized teeth (picture above) that only a child, an elementary school teacher, or Marie and I could love. We have them everywhere at home and they are pretty cool. We even found a new beach that is considered to be public property (rare in these waters and on these shores) where we can anchor the boat, swim ashore, hunt for fossils, and give the dog a break. The name of that beach is, of course, “Fossil Beach”. On our next trip I have no doubt we will stop there and perhaps even anchor and spend the night. How cool is that?
And then there were the crabs. Not dozens and dozens of them, and certainly not Dungeness crabs, but enough Chesapeake blue crabs to bring home and eat. Yep, we caught them with fish heads that came all the way from Alaska, if you can believe that, in crab pots given as a Mother’s Day gift. Some moms get flowers, or jewelry, or china. My bride got two crab pots and she was as excited as she could be. Tuesday night we baited the traps and tossed them off the edge of the dock with mixed results. Eight crabs certainly isn’t a bushel, but they were great eating once we got home. Soft, tender, and sweet. We picked them clean and they were delicious. Can’t wait to go back and catch some more.
On the way home, however, Marie found the real treasure. Sitting on a picnic table in a park she looked over and said “Do you see what I see?” And I did! There was an old log, an ancient log, that had the most beautiful chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms on it. They stretched from one end to another. It was amazing! Yes, our good friend Laetiporus sulphureus was there in all her glory, just waiting to be taken home. And take her home we did, too! By the cooler full. A total of 13.8 pounds of wonderful chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms, from nature’s table to our table (and freezer and food dryer and to Marie’s sister’s table, refrigerator and food dryer as well). What a delicious treat when sauteed with scallions, tomatoes, Thai basil, garlic and a little olive oil. Topped with Parmesan cheese and you have a meal fit for a king and queen (or perhaps two middle-aged youngsters like ourselves).
So there you have it. Shark’s teeth for saving, blue crabs for eating, and Laetiporus sulphureus for savoring. A beautiful bride and a wonderful dog. All in all, a most successful week-mid!
Now for the stuff you already know but should be reminded of… Not all mushrooms are edible. Please don’t eat wild mushrooms unless you have positively identified them via a reliable source. Even then, in the case of Laetiporus sulphureus, about 10% of the folks that do consume them get an upset stomach. If in doubt, buy your mushrooms from the grocery store!