The nearest beaches to DC are in Delaware and Maryland, on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay (called the Eastern Shore, I think, in local parlance). At the best of times, the trip takes a little over three hours; with traffic, more. As you might imagine on a sunny Saturday in July, there was traffic. Which meant that we spent an extra hour in a stop-and-go bottleneck leading into the toll booth for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is the only way to get across the bay without going all the way around the end of the bay, which would take forever.
|Chesapeake Bay Bridge|
Jimmy's Grille is a totally non-descript diner in the middle of nowhere on the side of the highway, the sort of place most people (including myself) would normally drive right by on my way to more attractive settings. The thing is, Jimmy's Grille is probably the best American diner I've been to. Amanda and I first discovered it back in 2005 when we were driving from DC to Chincoteague. We had taken a wrong turn in the middle of a torrential downpour and had spent hours trying to find our way back to the straight and narrow. We needed to eat and so, when we past Jimmy's Grille, we decided to stop, since we didn't know when we'd come across another place. We went in with some trepidation, fearing greasy vinyl booths and undelicous food. What we found, however, was a packed, bustling restaurant staffed by friendly middle-aged women and high school students, serving classic American fare (including to-die-for dinner rolls) that tasted like something you'd eat at your grandmother's house on Thanksgiving.
Since then, I've gone to Jimmy's Grille every time I've gone to the beach. On the way out, I stop for breakfast (their French toast is unbelievable); and on the way back, I stop for dinner. I'm usually so full from breakfast that I don't need to eat anything else until dinnertime (although I usually ask the waitress for a bag of dinner rolls for the road, just in case). To be quite honest, I'm not sure whether I go to the beach and stop at Jimmy's Grille, or if I go to Jimmy's Grille and stop at the beach. Either way, it's a great combination.
Today was no different. We got to Jimmy's Grille just before noon, which meant we were still in time for breakfast. I got the French toast, naturally, as well as a bag of rolls to take with us. Later in the day, on our way back home, we stopped for dinner and I got their famous fried chicken and a crab cake. So delicious!
|French toast with fried eggs and bacon|
|Fried chicken and crab cake|
with stuffing and new potatoes
|Pumpkin pie with whipped cream|
While Amanda played in the water, I stood in the shallows and let the waves pulverize my shins with tiny rocks, which was generally refreshing but sometimes a tad painful (the tiny rocks were not always so tiny). Then I went back to our pile of towels and read the latest issues of Elle Decor and The New Yorker, dosed off now and then, and generally relaxed and soaked up the sun. It was wonderful.
Another favorite part of trips to the beach is the drive home. The light of the setting sun is really gorgeous as it washes over the rich farmland of Delaware and Maryland. The softness and colors of the light as it filters through the humidity make me think of Europe and many of the great 19th century landscapes from both sides of the Atlantic. As the sunlight fades away, the colors linger and fireflies appear like little magic sparkles in the twilight. To me, it feels like the quintessence of summer.