I'm probably only as dedicated a Penn fan as I am because of Route 301.
Game #9-454: Dartmouth Big Green at Pennsylvania QuakersMarch 1, 2013 7:00 pm
The option of driving that stretch of road to Wilmington instead of I-95 is one of the things that has contributed most to my willingness to continually make the 2-hour drive back and forth to Philadelphia for Penn games (especially on those back-to-back Friday/Saturday Ivy weekends). Driving along the northeast corridor between any of the cities from Washington, D.C. to Boston is usually pretty painful, as those of us who live here are quick to point out.
From my house east of Annapolis, though, I can skip most of the I-95 portion of the trip by following Route 301 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (above), up the Eastern Shore of Maryland, across the southern part of Delaware, and picking up the interstate only at Wilmington. There's usually no traffic until I cross the Pennsylvania state line.
The Route 301 part of this trip is largely along the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When Marylanders talk about the "Shore," they don't use it to mean just the coast (or a TV show). In the case of the Maryland Eastern Shore, it refers to the entire portion of the state on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, about a third of the state's geographic area that houses less than a tenth of its population. Most Marylanders probably do only see it on the way to their summer vacation in Ocean City or another beach town, and maybe see the name on restaurant menus as the source of the various local seafoods like crabs, rockfish and oysters. As close as I am, I usually only go over there for water-based events, too, like rowing. During the basketball season, though, I find myself a semi-regular even when all the water ice stands and roadside farmers' markets are deserted.
As I'm speeding along the four-lane divided highway, especially at night when it's far enough from any cities for it to seem truly dark, I sometimes think about Harriet Tubman. She was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, a bit south of Route 301, and made her first escape from slavery from there to Philadelphia (though the highway, of course, was still nearly a century away from being built). When she crossed into Pennsylvania, she'd later recall:
"When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven."
What's most remarkable to me is what she did next - she returned to Maryland, again and again, to help more and more of her family and other fellow slaves to escape. Despite how much has changed since then, when you drive along Route 301 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland today, you can look out into the wooded areas and the long uninterrupted roads and imagine small groups moving quietly to evade the attention not only of their owners but of local law enforcement, who had just been given a powerful incentive by the U.S. Congress in the form of a fugitive slave law to capture them. You can also see the isolated farm houses, and imagine the families, often Quakers, who were part of the Underground Railroad that provided stops along the way for Tubman and her groups.
On days like Friday, when Penn lost to Dartmouth for only the fourth time at home since the founding of the Ivy League (!) and faced the prospect of playing league-leading Harvard the very next day, it was nice to think about something other than basketball on the way home. Driving down the dark, cold, open road of Route 301 was the perfect meditation.
(Kids, don't take pictures while driving. Thanks to my husband for always being willing to take a turn at the wheel.)
DARTMOUTH 69, at PENNSYLVANIA 64
DARTMOUTH 7-18 (3-8) -- A. Mitola 5-11 5-5 17; J. Golden 3-10 2-2 8; T. Melville 2-6 5-6 9; C. Boehm 6-8 3-4 15; B. McDonnell 2-3 1-1 6; G. Maldunas 2-6 5-6 9; M. Gill 1-5 2-2 5; M. LaBove 0-1 0-0 0; K. Crescenzi 0-0 0-0 0; T. Carpenter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-50 23-26 69.
PENNSYLVANIA 7-20 (4-6) -- M. Cartwright 3-11 5-6 11; T. Hicks 7-14 6-6 23; P. Lucas-Perry 1-2 0-0 3; H. Brooks 4-6 2-2 10; D. Jok 4-4 2-2 14; D. Nelson-Henry 0-2 0-0 0; C. Crocker 1-4 0-0 2; G. Louis 0-1 0-0 0; C. Gunter 0-0 1-2 1; J. Lewis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 16-18 64.
Three-point goals: DART 4-15 (T. Melville 0-2; J. Golden 0-4; C. Boehm 0-1; A. Mitola 2-5; M. Gill 1-1; B. McDonnell 1-2), PENN 8-17 (M. Cartwright 0-4; D. Jok 4-4; C. Crocker 0-1; P. Lucas-Perry 1-2; T. Hicks 3-6); Rebounds: DART 24 (C. Boehm 6), PENN 23 (D. Jok 3); Assists: DART 12 (T. Melville 2), PENN 13 (M. Cartwright 5); Total Fouls -- DART 17, PENN 23; Fouled Out: DART-None; PENN-None.