For a long time I’ve been wanting a vacation just so I can de-stress myself from what happened to me over the last few years starting with my mother-in-law’s sudden death in 2010 segueing over to my two falls that injured my hip replacement, hip surgery, my husband’s walkout, divorce, and his sudden remarriage just two months after our divorce was final. For now I have to make do with taking the occasional one-day trip to nearby places. This recent trip to Southern Maryland is the furthest I’ve been away from home in a while.

A few months ago I did some traveling along the Star-Spangled Banner Trail through Prince George’s County until the sun started to go down. I wanted to go along the same route again but, this time, I would take it from where it started in Southern Maryland and try driving north.

So I did it on a Saturday and I faced initial traffic snarl because of all of the beach-goers clogging the Capital Beltway so they could go on Route 50 to the beaches along the Delmarva region (which is typical for this time of year). After that it was smooth sailing, even though it turned out to be an hour-and-a-half commute all the way to the point where the trail is supposed to begin.

At some point I felt hungry so I stopped at this restaurant in California (the small town located in Southern Maryland, not the big state that’s located on the West Coast of the U.S.) where I came across this awesomely kitsch restaurant called Cheeseburger in Paradise (just like the name of the Jimmy Buffett song).

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The inside is just as delightfully kitschy as the outside.

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The walls of the women’s restroom looked like something out of the movie Finding Nemo.

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I ordered the cheeseburger because 1) it’s the name of the restaurant and 2) there was a lunch special on the cheeseburger with fries. The food tasted good and the service was excellent.

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After lunch I travelled to the nearby Southern Maryland town of Hollywood (yes, the town of Hollywood is located right next to the town of California in Southern Maryland) where I stopped at the Bruster’s Ice Cream stand. I ordered this Oreo ice cream cone that I found to be totally excellent.

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With lunch and dessert out of the way, it was time for me to begin the Star-Spangeled Banner Trail. Since the trail began near Sotterley Plantation, I decided to stop there first.

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Sotterley Plantation was once an actual working plantation that began in the late 1600’s-early 1700’s. Today it’s a historic landmark and is opened to the general public. By the time I arrived late in the afternoon the last guided tour of the main home had just started so I missed out on it. But I was able to walk the grounds while taking tons of pictures. This place is literally a photographer’s dream given the hilltop location featuring breathtaking views of the Patuxent River. And it’s also a history buff’s dream as well since it’s a plantation that has most of its original buildings still intact.

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There was this incredibly cute birdhouse that I found very charming.

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This building has the year it was built (1757) etched among the bricks.

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The last few photos shows the only slave cabin that’s still intact. While one couldn’t go inside, one could poke a head inside to get a glimpse of what it was like to live as a plantation slave. I know some people probably won’t like it but it’s a fact that Maryland was a slave state and one can’t talk about plantations without talking about slavery.

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It would be easy to stay there all day but the temperature was in the low 90’s with high humidity (which is typical August weather in the Mid-Atlantic region) so I basically walked around until I felt too overheated to continue. I returned to my air conditioned car and started to ride the beginning of the Star-Spangled Banner Trail.

I have to admit that, compared to what I found on my last trip, starting the trail from the very beginning was a major letdown. Sotterley Plantation was excellent but the trail between there and Solomon’s Island didn’t have much compared to Prince George’s County. It was all farms and there weren’t as many parks or historical sites. While Sotterley Plantation is well worth the drive, it’s not worth starting the Star-Spangled Banner Trail from the very beginning. In fact, I would advise people to start the trail from Croom and go northwards because there are more interesting War of 1812-related things to see and do.

While I made it to Solomon’s Island, I couldn’t find parking so I ended up not visiting there. It’s too bad because I haven’t been there since I was a teenager, when I went on a camping trip with the Catholic Youth Organization at the Roman Catholic church I was attending at the time. I attempted to check out the Annemarie Garden there only to find that the place was closed for a private party.

I now have an idea of where I want to visit in the future. I would have to make an effort to leave home very early in the morning in order to ensure that I get a parking space.

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