As I noted before, we love Five in a Row (FiaR), but we decided to stretch our curriculum over two weeks instead of the traditional one. This meant that we had an extra week to finish our unit on Jane Yolen’s All the Secrets of the World, by visiting Downs Park and having M1 make crab cakes for dinner. Downs Park affords great views of Chesapeake Bay, to include the shipping lanes featured in All the Secrets of the World. We even got to play with perspective, just like Janie. Any lesson on the Chesapeake though would not be complete without making crab cakes.
For the crab cakes, we used FiaR’s own Cook Book, which we altered a bit to include smoked paprika and a touch of garlic. Aside for the sticker shock of paying for a pound of lump crab meat, they turned out pretty good.
Downs Park sits on Chesapeake Bay between Bodkin Creek and the Magothy River. Given the park’s strategic location, it was considered a potential location for fortifications to guard the entrance to Baltimore. Instead, a series of families occupied Bodkin Neck, to include the Thoms, who purchased the land in 1913. The park was later transferred to Anne Arundel County.
The park has five miles of walking trails, a fishing pier, and playground. There are two beaches at Down’s Park, but swimming or wading is not allowed. The real highlights of the park are the Victorian-styled Mother’s Garden and the park’s visitor’s center. The Mother’s Garden was originally built by the Thom family who owned a farm on Bodkin Neck. The Friends of Down Park have recreated the garden and returned it to its original glory. The visitor center is also a fun place to beat the summer heat, with interpretive displays of flora and fauna found in the Chesapeake and the forests of the park. There are also hands-on displays of animal skulls, a small children’s play area and a fun animal matching board.
Know Before You Go: The park is well maintained and many of the trails are paved. Their are two boat launch points, one of which is designated for canoes and kayaks. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Location: The park is located at 8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122
Hours: Downs Park is open from 7:00am to dusk. Park is closed on Tuesdays. Check the websites below for special events, including the Summer Concert Series.
Admission: Entrance to the park is $6 per vehicle. Residents of Anne Arundel County can pay $30 for a year pass, non residents will pay $40 for an annual pass. The annual pass is also good at Ft. Smallwood, Kinder Farm and Quiet Waters parks.