Hagmen - Andy and Dan before the Address to a Haggis

Hagmen - Andy and Dan before the Address to a Haggis

The Travel Hag Campout at Elk Neck State Park was great fun despite the downpour over our pot-luck dinner. Eleven hags and hagmen participated, camping in tents, trailers and cabins at Elk Neck State Park– a 2100 acre, bay-side campground at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Though the hags hiked, cooked, attended the Chestertown Book Festival, shared and excellent lunch at the waterfront restaurant, Fish Whistle and came together for a pot-luck dinner, the highlight was certainly Andy Mackel’s performance of “Address to a Haggis”complete with Scottish accent and attire (not to mention authentic Scottish whiskey for toasting the Haggis after Andy addressed it). — drunk in enclosed area as mandated by Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  =D

What is Haggis?  It’s a traditional Scottish dish comprised of delectable organ meat from a sheep – heart, lung, liver – mixed with oats and spices, all stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and cooked up like a meatloaf.  Healthy!

Our haggis at this Travel Hag campout was prepared by Andy’s wife, Kathy who couldn’t lay her hands on the sheep guts, so she threw together a kind of mock-haggis made of ground veal, beef and pork with spices imported from Iceland.  Then she poured everyone a wee dram of Scottish Whiskey —>actually we had Whisky which is the Irish version of the distilled wonder.  In the absence of the Glenfiddich, the Jamison will do.

mock haggis

Our haggis prepared (and served) by Kathy Mackel - photo by Leslie Davis

 

Haggis was part of our pot luck supper which included roasted sausages, baked ziti, Ratatouille, crudite, garlic bread, fresh watermelon and blackberry cobbler cooked over an open fire.  Our potluck supper was also visited by some of the most torrential downpours I’ve seen since Hurricane Irene blew through.  If Tommy Lukacsina hadn’t had a canopy in his truck, the dinner would have been rained out.  Tommy saved the day!

This rain over dinner is getting to be a tradition with the Travel Hag campouts.  Hopefully we can break this before the next time we camp together.

Just before dinner, Andy delivered the Address to a Haggis, a poem by Robert Burns.  The video below shows his oration with competition from the deluge hitting the canopy.  This was some SERIOUS rain.  The rain clouds also dimmed the light  – another video challenge –  but you can get a sense of the remarkable entertainment we hags enjoyed just before dining- and drinking.

On Saturday, some of us went to the Chestertown Book Festival and had a wonderful lunch at the Fish Whistle, a sunny restaurant overlooking the Chester River.  I bored everyone with ghost stories on the way there and back as we passed by Old Bohemia, Kitty Knight House, Whitehouse Farm and Holly Hall.  Then if they hadn’t heard enough in the car I encouraged them to attend my author reading at the Festival where I retold all the same stories.  A highlight of the book festival was being able to meet John Barth, legendary Eastern Shore author.  He came up to my table (while I was telling a ghost story) and flipped through a copy of my book.  Wow!

Hags lunch at the Fish Whistle

Hags lunch at the Fish Whistle in Chestertown

Elk Neck State Park is one of Maryland’s finest State Parks. Camping opportunities are abundant with full hook up for campers and RVs, keeping the rustic setting intact.  Wooded areas with trails surround the tent and cabin sites.  The beach is peaceful, and Turkey Point light house provides super opportunities for great photography. The camp store also provided a great breakfast, and shopping and entertainment is nearby in the towns of Northeast, Elkton, and Chestertown.

One of our hags, Leslie Davis pointed out that she’d read the park area was named Elk Neck because of the peninsula’s appearance being similar to the head of an elk – the five surrounding rivers and bay appear to be the elk’s antlers. We’ll return here.  It’s a great park and good camping experience.

Two hags from DC and Poolesville in front of a rustic cabin

Two hags from DC and Poolesville - Pat and Leslie - in front of a rustic cabin

View the photos of this Travel Hag Adventure – including the Chestertown Book Festival, John Barth, the campsites, the food, and more of the Travel Hags – on our Travel Hag Flickr Site.

 

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