Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baltimore: Our Day Out and About

Setting aside boxes to unpack, systems to be hooked-up and other paraphernalia associated with moving and resettling, we decided to take the day off and just have fun. Thursday, June 19th we had to take Kotch to BWI to fly down to Fickle Creek Farm (my bil's farm) for10 days of working for her uncles. We opted to all head out at 0-dark-thirty (as my military brother says) to Baltimore.

We finally found a time of day when I-95 is NOT chock-a-block with traffic – at 4:00 a.m. – although the traffic was starting to build.

Once we got Kotch to BWI, we headed into Baltimore for the day … parking is EASY to find and you can get a great deal on “early bird” parking, especially at 6:00 a.m. We stopped into Panera for a quick breakfast and we spent the rest of our time strolling the Inner Harbor. What a great place to walk and walk and walk. Most sites open at 10:00, so we were quite early; but we could get our bearings, check out all the cool boats in the harbor and just enjoy an absolutely gorgeous day in Baltimore.

Our first official “site” was to visit the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, the oldest surviving screw-pile lighthouse which used to sit 12.2 nautical miles from the inner harbor. Built in 1856, this lighthouse helped ships find their way to the harbor. But it was a fairly lonely existence, sitting 5 miles from any land. At one point, a lighthouse keeper, his wife and 4 children tried living out there, but only lasted five years. The daughter remembered (in a 1937 article) that during the early-Spring thaw, chunks of ice would hit the lighthouse and all the furniture and dishes would be “tossed around”. I think I'd want to move too!

I was particularly fascinated by the simplicity of the living arrangements – two quarters of the lighthouse base were given to a “parlor” and a “sitting room”; another quarter to a kitchen/larder area; and the final quarter to two bedrooms. Livestock lived on a platform just below the “house” (where the privy was also available). VERY COOL use of space.

Our next site was to board the US Submarine Torsk – a beautifully renovated sub from 1944 which has the distinction of being the last American naval vessel to sink a warship in WW2. This sub saw service in the Pacific during the end of WW2, alternated between use as a training boat at the Navy’s Sub School in Connecticut and active duty tours in the Med and the Atlantic. Walking from the tail end to the front of the sub gave the kids a great idea of life on a sub – and they all decided being an officer would be way better than being an enlisted. They could also touch real torpedos and see all the myriad gauges, buttons and cranks necessary for keeping a sub afloat.

Last, but certainly NOT least, was a tour of the Constellation -- a sloop-of-war built in 1854. She saw duty in the anti-slavery work, in the Civil War, in WW2 as a training vessel and on active duty as the relief flagship of the Atlantic Fleet and was finally "mothballed" in 1955 when she was sent to Baltimore. This is a beautiful ship and the kids thought it was soooooo cool to be on board a ship that was built 100 years before Mom and Dad!

Overall, we had a spectacular day in Baltimore and can't wait to go back again. We'll wait till we can figure out public transport so we don't have the long "commute" from the south-side of Northern Virginia to Baltimore -- I-95 is no fun to be on even when heading through DC at 2:30 in the afternoon!

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