Saturday, June 25, 1988
Up at 7:00 for a waffle breakfast prepared by Sue. Heated syrup: wonderful service! Kyle also had cereal.
We packed the car and took off just after 8:00. A bit hazy, but it quickly became sunny; another beautiful day. We headed down US-422 towards Harrisburg to get on I-83 towards Baltimore. Passed many army convoys. We took I-83 to its end on a winding curvy highway right into the city that appeared to be larger than Boston! (Yes, 92 over 90 square miles…)
Found our way to the Inner Harbor. We saw a sign for Fort McHenry, and remembered that was where Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner while a prisoner on a British war ship, which was unsuccessfully bombarding the city of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Baltimore was known for its shipyards producing the Baltimore Clippers, and for the country’s first railroad freight and passenger station, the start of the first railroad in the US, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The first telegraph was received here in 1844, “What hath God wrought.” Now it is a big university town. The Inner Harbor was once warehouses and factories, but is now a showplace with office buildings and tourist attractions, and is the site of many festivals. The harbor is still important for grain, coal, and spices, but is also home to the USS Constellation, the nation’s oldest frigate war ship, the original was launched in 1797. (This version was built in 1854.) It fought pirates in Tripoli in 1802, fought in the War of 1812, and even saw some action during the Civil War. It was an auxiliary flagship of the Atlantic Fleet in World War II. Presently it was under renovation, so we could not board.
|USS Constellation at Inner Harbor|
We parked near Pier 5, and walked over a couple bridges to the National Aquarium where we were to meet Terry and Jim at 10:00 near the seal pool. Terry and Jim elected to catch some rays (sun) while I, Kyle and Erich went to the aquarium.
First we had to get tickets to join a line to wait to be allowed up the escalator to the entrance. Then we purchased tickets for the aquarium. We had to give our zip code, and I tried using AAA to get a discount to pay for the three of us. (Paid the regular prices of $7.25/adult and $4.25/child!)
|National Aquarium receipt|
The aquarium was similar to, but better than, the aquarium in Boston. By the entrance were huge floor to ceiling tubes filled with bubbling water. We started up the ramps around the perimeter of the building to view the displays, passing the empty Beluga whale tank as it was closed to repair a leak. The aquarium is home to 5,000 creatures. Kyle and Erich seemed interested in the cross-sections of Maryland aquatic environments and life, and the illustrations of such things as camouflage, eating habits, and body shapes. Big graphics, colorful fish, sleepy electric eels, tiny deep-sea fish with “lanterns,” and a hands-on area with both Atlantic and Pacific tide pools. Unusual was a weedy-looking sea dragon, resembling a twig that looked like a Chinese dragon! Lots of colorful shrimp. At the top we entered the Tropical Rain Forest with some fish tanks, including an open tank with piranha (Do not put hands in tank! Right!). The jungle was full of birds, and the boys liked the scarlet ibis. Also parrots and a sloth, and we heard lots of chirping. Throughout the aquarium were loudspeakers issuing marine sounds. Next was an area of amphibians, with little display areas stock full of a variety of frogs, so that you could always see a half-dozen or so at a time. We next spiraled down inside the ring tanks with the coral reef. A huge tortoise swam by. We saw a diver feeding fish, as well as one scrubbing the “coral.”
We left about 11:30 and met Terry and Jim outside. They passed again as we bought tickets for the Maritime Museum, $2.50 for me, and $1 each for the kids.
|USS Torsk guide|
We went through the submarine, the USS Torsk, named after a fish as was the custom. It was a WWII sub built in 1944, and saw duty in the Pacific, making a record 11,884 dives in its career until retirement in 1972.
|Kyle and Erich in the USS Torsk|
|Kyle and Erich|
We went down in the rear and came out up the front. Kyle and Erich found enough hand-on things to keep them interested. Outside we admired the teeth painted around the front of the sub.
|USS Torsk teeth|
|USS Torsk propeller|
Then Terry, Jim, and Erich watched things at the seal pool, while Kyle and I boarded the Lightship Chesapeake, a floating lighthouse anchored to a spot for a year at a time with crews alternating three weeks on and three weeks off.
|Lightship Chesapeake guide|
Built in 1930, and retired in 1971. There are no more lightships since they have found a way to build towers in the deepest seas (thanks to oil tower technology!). Went through it quickly, as Kyle found it boring.
We all walked past an office building that had an observation floor, the USS Constellation, and a mini-amphitheater to the Harbor Place area of shops and restaurants. Went to the market with many fast food counters and a wide choice of foods. Terry and Jim went to an Italian deli to get a calzone and a sausage sandwich. Kyle and Erich opted for Subway ham ‘n’ cheese and meatball subs respectively. Erich needed a knife and fork to eat his sub. I had a combo platter of stir-fried vegetables of zucchini, onions, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Then the boys had Italian ices; Kyle had cherry and Erich had grape. Sat in the amphitheater as they ate them.
We walked down to the Maryland Science Center, and I treated as Terry and Jim joined us. $6.50/adult and $5/50/child, including the 14:00 IMAX theater show in a 5-story theater and a bowed screen giving you the sensation of being in the action.
|Maryland Science Center ticket|
Downstairs were some communication displays, science, and Chesapeake geography and local animals in glass display cages. We went upstairs to the extensive hands-on science arcade, and the boys went wild. We had to drag them out to go to the IMAX show, which was “A History and Study of the Grand Canyon,” with us flying over and around, then joining the explorers as they rafted down the Colorado River. What fools, we thought! From prehistoric times, to Indians, a look at animals and nature, up to present day pleasure rapids rafting! A half-hour movie. Kyle and Erich wanted to stay at the museum, so we went to the computer area. Each of the boys paid a quarter to get a computerized digital self-portrait.
We finally had to leave about 15:30, and the boys went in Terry and Jim’s air-conditioned car, and I drove alone in the sweltering heat! (Paid $6 to park.) We followed the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, then joined the Beltway (I-95/I-495) around Washington, DC. We stopped at the Huntington end of the Metro Yellow Line. I was following Jim down Telegraph Road and Jim signaled left, but went straight to take the next left, but I took the first left. I turned around and went down the street I last saw them turn on, and saw the Metro station. Went in the Kiss ‘n’ Ride loop and found Kent waiting in the shelter! Apparently Jim went to the Park ‘n’ Ride lot and went deep into the bowels of the earth to look for Kent. Kent went looking for them, and they soon found each other. Kent and Kyle got in my car as we followed Terry and Jim with Erich to Springfield, VA and their new townhouse. We got on Franconia Road, went under I-95, and took a left on Backlick Road. Right on Hooes Road and curved around a very hilly suburban section with trees! Left on Rolling Road and left on Donegal Lane to its end. We parked, unloaded, and were given a house tour of the very nice and spacious house, with nice air-conditioning, and had drinks. We all piled in Terry and Jim’s Mazda 626, and Terry drove us to Alexandria, with Jim directing her across five lanes of highway to stay on I-95!
Alexandria has a wonderfully restored old town.
|109 King Street, Alexandria, VA|
It was established in 1794 by a group of Scottish merchants and named for John Alexander who bought the land in 1669. It was a colonial port. George Washington kept a town house in Alexandria, and organized the Friendship Fire Company. He was a vestryman of the Christ Church parish and a member of the Masonic Lodge. Alexandria was home to “Light Horse” Harry Lee, a Revolutionary War general, and was the boyhood home of his son, Robert E Lee. Governors met in Alexandria to discuss action that became the French and Indian War. From the highway you can see the spire of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, a 333-foot tall landmark modeled after the ancient lighthouse at Alexandria in Egypt. We found a parking space by waiting for another car to pull out. Walked a few blocks to King Street and down to Armand’s Chicago Pizzeria. After a minute’s wait, we got a table by the salad bar. Kyle had a steak ‘n’ cheese sandwich with chips, and Erich had a piece of pepperoni pizza and the salad bar. The rest of us shared two small deep dish pizzas, one pepperoni and one spinach. The guys had beers, the boys had milk, Terry had Sprite, and I had iced tea. Kent treated.
We walked down past the old torpedo factory, now an art center with a bull’s eye logo, to a small marina to admire some impressive yachts, and look up the Potomac River to the DC skyline. Stopped at an ice cream shop where Kent got a cup, Kyle a cone, and Erich had an upside down cone in a cup!
Back at Terry and Jim’s place, we showed our wedding video and album. We received our wedding gifts, a Scherenschnitte of birds of happiness in a fan shape with a matte, and a series of handmade ceramic: two bowls (medium and large sizes) and a bowl attached to a plate for snacks with a dip. We had brought Jim a 6-pack of Hope Beer from RI, and Terry a Nantucket covered box with stationery in it, as well as a napkin-folding book and an address book with a lacquered cover. The boys slept on a futon on a neat folding oak base, and Kent and I had the living room sleeper sofa, queen-size!