MECCA TO MARYLAND
Our annual pilgrimage from Michigan to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival has become a finely tuned orchestration. With six years of experience under our belts (or in our case fanny packs) we have become highly focused machines as far as getting ready and on the road. The real surprise is that we keep doing it. Our travel journal `The Ewe-Hauls’ has become a bible for where to — or not to — stop for gas, food, and lodging, as well as travel times and mileage.
We learned much that first trip east, which seems so very long ago. We figured to drive about 8 hours and stop for the night, thinking that would be best for the sheep. Well, it isn’t easy finding a place that welcomes a trailer full of sheep in western Maryland. In fact never ask where you can get water for your sheep until you have the key in hand. By the time we found a place we were all the way to Frederick, about 25 miles from our final destination. The next morning found us at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, unloading a trailer full of very dirty and grumpy sheep.
Normally our route between Michigan and Maryland is pretty straight forward, I-69 south to the Indiana Turnpike, then due east on the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, to Breezewood, where we turn south on I-70 into Maryland and all the way to West Friendship. Someplace along the way we ritualistically try to figure the tonnage of sheep that we have on board. The scenery the first of May is always beautiful and refreshing, especially after one of Michigan’s long dreary winters. The trees and hillsides seem a little greener the farther east we travel. The Redbud and Dogwood are usually beginning to bloom in Maryland. We never fail to marvel at the huge old Sycamore trees that line the roadsides between Mt. Airy and Ellicott City.
The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival itself is a busy place, hectic in fact. The serious buyers and inquiries come by on Friday. Saturday and Sunday bring crowds of people, all sizes and types, most walking but some in wheelchairs or strollers. And the questions, questions, questions, there’s never enough time or space to work on your sheep. While we never even have time to shop or so much as look at the booths, we always take time to plan our eating strategy, you know, what type of lamb we’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
How well our sheep place in the shows or how many sheep we sell, really doesn’t matter. What makes the trip worthwhile and brings us back every year is the people. We have made so many good friends, many who correspond throughout the year, and always stop by our sheep pens at the Festival to say `Hi’. Every year there seems to be more familiar faces, that’s nice.
When the Festival is over late Sunday afternoon and we’re all loaded, tired and dirty we head for Breezewood, PA. There the Comfort Inn gets our praise for courteous and efficient service and has become our standard stay on the way home. They don’t seem to mind an occasional baaing sheep or some accidental straw in their huge parking lot. They even have a convenient outside spigot for water and will order you a pizza.
The luxury of having a car phone has become a necessity for traveling across the country, but especially on the way home. With only a few miles left to go we can call our husbands and ask them to open the gate and pour the wine!Tags: MECCA TO MARYLAND