I had no idea of what a town in the middle of Maryland’s Eastern Shore would be like. I was just following the formula of choosing a place about 60 to 80 miles from my last destination on this bike trip and came upon Snow Hill, Maryland. I guess I also have not been hanging in bars recently and forgot what a unique experience it is.
Snow Hill is about 30 miles west of Ocean City, MD. Ocean City is a popular vacation place on the Atlantic, especially for the DC and Maryland crowd. But Snow Hill seems to be a forgotten place or perhaps one that would prefer to be that way. On their website, they describe the town as
“Nestled on the south banks of the Pocomoke River Snow Hill is a place where people know each other.”
I rambled though much farm country and few towns on my bike before I got to Snow Hill. its an old town, maybe one of the oldest dating back to the mid-1600’s. The name “Snow Hill” was name for a town in England where the founders came from. Roaming the streets and looking at the houses, you know this is a special place.
My gracious airbnb hosts, Margaret and Tony, originally from Connecticut, relocated here years ago to retire as some of their children came to the area. Since then the children have migrated to areas as far-flung as Alaska. They still like it here and it’s easy to see why.
Tony and Maggie suggested walking a few blocks into town for dinner and drinks., That would be my normal end of day routine after a tough day on the bike. They suggested the Harvest Moon, a local pub but with good food and the right vibe.
LIke any bar these days there’s at least five TVs and conversations going at once. I look around and find a seat in the middle of the bar. Today is Kentucky Derby day and we are witnessing the parading of horses before the race. Bets and conversations are flowing. Charlie, down the end of the bar, wins the Kentucky Derby picking Justify and buys us all a round of drinks.
Dennis and his girlfriend step up to the bar and ask me if its okay for me to move over a seat. We get into a conversation about the food here, and I find out that its all good and fresh, especially the sea food (no surprise there). Dennis is from Salisbury MD and has had an interesting career fishing and in disaster recovery.
He’s a nominally retired guy, probably a little younger than me, but gets called up whenever there’s a major catastrophe to evaluate the situation and figure out how to clean it up. He was instrumental in disasters in Haiti and hurricanes Sandy and Irma. This way he works only when he wants to. He was a fisherman way back when and still considers it his sport and maybe the passion in his life. Dennis likes his current lifestyle, semi-retired.
On my right side is a young guy, Brian, probably early 30s, that looks like and is a fisherman in a crew that takes wealthy people out wherever they want to go fishing. He talks about days held up outside the Florida Keys and being in the ports of Mexico and South America. Brian is chasing a dream for some satisfying job. He used to install alarm systems for some small family business that got succesful. Then they stopped caring about the customers and the quality of work and went corporate. He headed up the sales and told them to screw it. He went fishing.
I’ve seen this before but not in the middle of a place I know little about. I look around and everyone seems to know each other or at least know who each one is. That doesn’t stop Dennis or Brian from talking, along with Mike and Kathy next to him. Everyone at the Bar is wrapped in a flowing conversation. We barely remember the Kentucky Derby.
Interestingly, the conversation changes to “pain management.” Mike (a nurse) and Brian (fisherman) have had spinal fusions and have repeated pain even after the operations. The subject veers to the new perscription pain medicine of marijuana and THC in its other forms. Others in the bar join in. Our waitress Tammy chimes in. Brian elected to sample someone’s medicine to see if it could work for him. This is a new set of topics I expect we will hear more about in the near future. The world has changed since the 60’s and yet maybe it hasn’t.
Dennis asks Tammy for a piece of paper and he gives me his phone number. “If you’re ever in this area again let’s to go out eating, drinking or fishing”. Later, Brian does the same thing and says he admires the bike tour idea and just let him know if I need anything. I’m about three sheets (3 pints of local IPA) into the wind and decide its time to stroll back to my safe and secure home for the night.
Anyway, we are replaying the old beauty, nostalgia and comfort of an old bar, many hundreds of miles away from the original Cheers bar. For tonight, we are all one big happy family telling our story. Some things don’t change. Or perhaps the characters and the things they talk about do over time. It still a bar where at the end of the night…everybody knows your name.