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Did you know that while the Chesapeake Bay is cleaner now than it was a few decades ago, it still suffers from dead zones, sea grass depletion, and low oxygen levels that harm fish and other wildlife? Oysters are perhaps the most obvious example — oyster levels in the Bay are only 2% of what they were 200 years ago.

For more information on research being done in the Bay, check out the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory on Solomons Island.

Calvert Cliffs State Park

Being a place that the state of Maryland describes as “one of the most unusual natural curiosities in the state”, and first mapped by John Smith, of Jamestown fame, in 1612, the Calvert Cliffs were a necessary stop on my way down from Canada to Richmond.

It was a 2 mile walk through woods and swamp to get to the sandy beach at the bottom of the cliffs. Before I embarked, unprepared in my Mexican, handmade leather sandals (note to self: keep a pair of Chocos in the back of the car from now on!), I of course had to put the hike into NY terms for me: about as far as a walk from our old apartment in Astoria to the Brazilian grocery on Northern Boulevard. Totally doable!

Arriving on the crowded beach, we learned that the cliffs are famous not so much for their beauty, as for the prolific abundance of fossils held in their white clay.  I only found a herd of domesticated and soaking wet black labs, but there were quite a few serious fossil searchers on the beach and most appeared to be making interesting discoveries. The 7-year-old crammed onto the 5 foot wide beach next to us, informed us that sharks’ teeth are the most common find.