There is that time in a father’s life when a son is about to become independent, either heading for college, the military or marriage. (We’ll talk about daughters in a separate article) Often it’s a last chance for extended time together. It’s an opportunity to pass on a bit of wisdom based on life experiences and adventures or just pass some time, listening to maturing ambitions and reflections on life to date. Many fathers and sons, over the years have shared a getaway to kindle memories that last a lifetime. They can be near or far, but they’ll never be dull. Here are some ideas for yours.
FOLLOW THE PHILS
My friend Jack McCue was about to see his son, Matt venture into marriage. They spent Matt’s youth golfing and going to ball games together. Life was about to change. Time for a Dad and Son baseball road trip. It might not be the last, but they would be fewer and farther between. Matt was now working in New York and so, it would start there, watching the favorite Phils take on the Mets. Then on the road to Washington to see the town and see the Phillies beat the Nationals. On the way, they fit in a day of sailing and cracking crabs on the Chesapeake Bay. Back on the highway to Pittsburgh for a Pirates game and finally ending the Dad and son getaway in Philadelphia for a home stand. If a baseball getaway is up your alley, you can buy tickets for away games from the Phillies web site schedule page at: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/schedule/index.jsp?c_id=phi&m=4&y=2011
Or consider a packaged “Road Trip ”.
A PLACE OF HISTORY AND HEROES
For dads and sons who are into American history, heroes and the salty yarns that bring it all to life, a visit to the nation’s one-time capitol at Annapolis, Maryland is a rousing experience. From the Marine guarded crypt that holds the body of John Paul Jones, America’s first Naval hero to the pubs that have hosted America’s Cup sailors, this city on the Chesapeake Bay is chock full of activities, vibrant restaurants and dockside taverns. It’s a throwback to the days when waterfronts were the heart of commerce and social life. Visit the legendary U.S. Naval Academy with a museum that traces the rich history of our Navy and Marine Corps. Tours are free and encompass the John Paul Jones Crypt, Preble Hall and amazing displays of artifacts from the Revolution to the present. For information, check out: http://www.usna.edu/visit.htm
For a bonding experience, sign up for a sailboat cruise, then relive the day in a traditional Annapolis pub, visit the Ram’s Head Tavern on West Street or Middleton’s near City Dock. Pussers Rum Bar is a spot to sip a brew and watch the boats parade up and down “Ego Alley”, the town’s gathering spot. For lodging with a view of the harbor right on City Dock, check into the Annapolis Marriott: http://www.annapolismarriott.com/
Getting there: Fastest: Take I-95 south to 895 south outside of Baltimore. Then go south on route 2 into Annapolis. Most scenic drive: Follow I-95 to route 896 south. Follow 896 to 301 south. Follow 301 to route 50 west and cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge into Annapolis.
FISHING THE DEEP
Cape May, New Jersey
One of the most riveting father and son adventures captured on paper was the deep sea fishing scene in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. It was a fictional account, to be sure, but real deep sea fishing is less than a tank of gas away at the Cape May, New Jersey docks. Some of my most relaxing and yet dynamic days were spent running out of the Cape May jetty, heading for a day of hooking blues and stripers. I was never disappointed. In and around Cape May over a dozen charter boat operators are sending out fishing parties every day. You can book a private charter (more expensive) or sign up for reasonably price “party boats”. Charters can be arranged for full or half days. Boat operators provide fishing gear and bait and crews on many private charters will even clean your catch and pack it for traveling. Most charter docks offer a place to scale, clean and filet your own. Just a few tips: If you might be prone to seasickness, take over-the-counter Draminine an hour before leaving the dock. Don’t wait until you’re on the water. Then it’s too late. And remember, it’s customary to tip the first mate.
Getting there: Take the Atlantic City Expressway to the Garden State Parkway. Follow the Parkway south. When the road ends and your tires get wet, you’re there.
Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge
Eastern Neck Island Rd.
Rock Hall, MD 21661
If you’re thinking about a father and son getaway that takes in a water experience, but is a bit more laid back, try a crabbing weekend, going after those fabled “Maryland Blues.” You’ll find some of the sweetest and largest blue crabs around the waters of the Chester River near the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge just a few hours from Philadelphia. From Fridays through Sundays during the crab season, rowboats are available from Eastern Neck Boat Rentals. They have no web page but you can call at: 1-410-639-7100. Then just sit back, bait a locally bought crab pot or line with a chicken neck, enjoy a dad and son conversation and wait for dinner to come knocking. A license may be required and you can get all the info on Maryland crabbing at: http://dnr.maryland.gov/service/fishing_license.asp
Getting there: Take I-95 south to Route 1 South or Route 896 South to Middletown, DE and on to Route 301 South. Take the Chestertown/Galena exit onto Route 290 South. Go straight thru the stop light in Galena where the road becomes Route 213 South. Turn right onto Route 298. Remain on Route 298 until it merges into Route 20 South. Travel seven more miles to Rock Hall. Turn left at the blinking yellow light and follow Main Street and Eastern Neck Rd. to Eastern Neck Island.
CABIN IN THE WOODS
As a youngster, the Pocono Mountains became our getaway spot. Dad and I could walk a mile, talk about everything under the sun, but mostly baseball and then find a waterfall with a freezing pool of water to just jump in. Dad was better at the tolerance thing than me. With my own son, the mountains still had the magic. But our getaways were on skis and staying in wooded condominiums. But for dads and sons who want to rough it in a more climate friendly time of year, you can find the same mountain magic across the entire state of Pennsylvania including the Poconos in a rustic cabin. The Bureau of State Parks offers reasonably priced cabins and yurts for single days or entire weeks. During the peak summer season, they’re only available by the week. But the availability of cabins opens up the opportunity for a “back to nature” experience with hiking, biking, fishing, swimming and cooking up your own grub over an open fire. To find locations and prices, just go to: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/recreation/cabins.aspx
You can also enjoy mountain getaways in rental condominiums, less rugged and more luxury. When ski area switch over to spring and summer mode, they continue to rent their homes. Try Jack Frost and Big Boulder at www.jfbb.com or Camelback Mountain at http://www.skicamelback.com/SkiCamelback/Camelback-Mountain/Lodging-and-Dining/Area-Lodging.aspx.
To the father and son activities list, you can add nearby golf courses, horseback riding and white water rafting.
Reported by Jay Lloyd