We arrived in St. Michael’s at about 9:30 in the evening. We found Aida’s Victoriana Inn, where the family is all staying, and Fiance turned to me excitedly and said, “I don’t have to drive for at least two days!!”
The fam was gathered on the verandah. I introduced Fiance to my aunt, who immediately started planning our wedding. “So we know when the next family reunion is going to be,” she said. Fiance introduced himself to the “support group” (the spouses of my dad’s family) and confided that the fam did not seem as bad as he was led to believe they would be.
We were led up to our room, and the first thing I noticed was what quickly got dubbed, “the creepy doll” right outside our door. We found out from the owner the next morning that “she just moves around on her own. She’ll be in one place, and the next morning, she turns up in another. She usually ends up in someone’s room.” Apparently, Doll Tag is a popular sport in the Victoriana Inn, and we soon joined in the fun, though we certainly put our own twist on it.
The house itself is absolutely beautiful. Old furniture, more homey than a traditional hotel. There’s a full kitchen, if we feel like cooking dinner (though there are plenty of recommended eats around here), there’s a porch where many of us gather in the morning and the evening, and a large dining table that has a… well… Victorian feel. The whole house feels more like going to visit friends than staying in a hotel, though when everyone staying there is family, it may help a bit.
The owner is a lovely woman. She’s friendly and kind and makes a fabulous breakfast. The first day, we had the lightest quiche I’ve ever eaten, and it kept us full just about until dinner time. The second day, we had French toast. And along with that, there’s coffee, tea, fresh fruit, etc. What’s been particularly interesting for me is that in the mornings, our family tends to gather on the porch before breakfast. As a result, even though breakfast is serves 8-10, we have gathered at the table and eaten family meals together, with our host serving us on these fancy dishes. It makes me feel just a tad like I’m in a Jane Austen novel.
After breakfast our first morning, we walked the area in St. Michael’s. Our bed and breakfast is right in the heart of the little shops, and across the bridge from the Maritime Museum, which is perfect for us because Fiance and I like to walk. We found the walking trail behind the shops and walked until I felt like I was getting crispy, and headed back. There was a nice little covered bridge along the trail, where we stopped and watched the river. It was so lovely to see the little ecosystem below us. There were turtles poking their heads above the water, a whole nest of snakes, and several crabs crawling in and out of the rocks. I told Fiance this was the first time I had seen crabs in real life… well… alive crabs that is.
The first shop we hit up was Olivinni’s–olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Since first discovering the olive oil and vinegar store near us, we’ve become spoiled by fancy oils and vinegars. It turns out we are not the only ones. I’ve met tourists in our town stopping by Fresh Harvest because they’re used to what they have at home. And Olivvini’s delivered. After investigating several infusions we couldn’t get at home, we finally walked away with six bottles. The question is whether or not we’re going to fight over them when we get home.
We wandered further and found a glass store where we investigated stemless wine glasses to go with those we bought on vacation last year (we always look for matching orange and blue glasses. These are our colors, and seems our whole kitchen will be done up in them.)
There were lots of things–everything from knick-knacky magnets and keychains (though nothing that speicfically said St. Michael’s on it) to wooden clocks with the Chesapeake Bay carved into them. There were clothes and jewelry and lots of antiques. There was also an ice cream parlor near our bed and breakfast. Friance said it may have been the best ice cream he’s ever had. If you end up at Jojo’s, we both recommend the Maryland Madness. Because lemon ice cream is hard to beat.
For the rehearsal dinner, we got to cruise on the Patriot. The bay was beautiful, and some of the houses out there were stunning. After a while, the whole experience started to remind us of being out on the lake back home–this big body of water with distant land on all sides (and yes, I know the Chesapeake does not have land on all sides, but there is an illusion of this when you are out in the right spot.) But the best part was, obviously, getting to see Cousin. I was down on the lower deck when he walked in. And I waved. He turned to me and immediately hugged me, and all the, “I’m so happy to see yous.” And sure, this is always what happens when you see family after a long while, but truth be told, I had a crush on this Cousin since I was a little kid, and while that’s changed, he and his brother have always been pretty important people to me. I guess it’s because there are eight of us–eight cousins on my dad’s side–and the two oldest are so much older than me that they’re almost a generation ahead, but the next two down, and the two after my brother and I, are much more akin to peers. So I feel a particular attachment to them. So honestly? What I remember best of the cruise (and what was most important) was just getting to talk to family. Even Bride remembered me from eight years ago, which was not long after they started dating. And maybe she should have, I don’t know, but it was nice to feel so familiar with her. Hopefully Fiance wasn’t too freaked out by the family. There are lots of jokes about how overwhelming we can be (especially to my mother, who had no siblings.)
The next day, we mostly hung around the bed and breakfast. We went into town for lunch, but we had a lazy morning. Then we went to the wedding, which was absolutely lovely. It was a nice outdoor wedding (though everyone got a tad sunburned) and simple–from Bride’s simple (but very pretty) gown to the vows they wrote to each other (though there was a mockingbird who wanted to steal the spotlight from Bride.) Even the priest, Bride’s uncle, was simple and informal, making jokes and ensuring that the occasion shouldn’t be that serious. They also had their dogs walk down the aisle with the groomsmen and bridesmaids.
We made a joke at the reception that we were at the kids’ table. It was a smaller table, sort of in the back. And I guess, in a sense, it was the kids’ table because it was the young folks in the family–Fiance and I and the North Carolina contingent–Cousin’s brother and good friends from growing up. I’d say they’re maybe… 10 years older than us? The same age as some of our friends back home. We got to know them pretty well over the course of the trip, which is nice because we’ve already got lots of friends in North Carolina. So its another vacation already planning itself. I bonded with one of them over my favorite tabletop game (Pandemic) and one of my favorite novels (Good Omens, which is getting a screen adaptation on Amazon Prime on May 31!!) And even though we seems like we were the smaller table in the back, we had the best seats. We were right next to the dance floor, so we got front row seats to all the toasts, as well as film of Cousin and Bride’s first dance together. And we were some of the of the first people they came to talk to. I think this is a combination of being right there, and sitting with all of Cousins childhood friends. The food was delicious, and the band was even better. We danced all night long (especially Bride) and by the time we got in for the night, we were worn out.
We got to see Cousin one more time the next day–a short parting chit-chat about life and work and presents. I told Fiance that I feel like even though I didn’t seem that much of him on this trip, I got to know him better than any previous times I’ve seen him. I really hope that one day, we get to meet and just… talk. After a long family goodbye (in my family goodbye is said in the hall, then at the door, then at the gate, then at the car, etc.) we departed for the next leg of our journey… Washington DC.