Monday, August 24, 2015

Annapolis April 29

I think we could have stayed in the Tidewater area of VA for another week and never run out of things to do or have bad weather but we had a schedule to keep (our niece was graduating on May 20th from the US Coast Guard Academy and we had to be in New London by then.) So, we left Williamsburg and headed for Annapolis, MD. 

 Our campground was in College Park and once again, had we the time, there was a lot we could have done, but didn't. I happen to love visiting Washington, DC but we would not this time. We would have time only for Annapolis. The first day was for laundry since, when you live on the road, you still have chores that do not magically do themselves, and since we'd spent two days with the pets pretty much locked up we figured we'd give them some free time. But, our first stop would be an RV supply place because when we stopped at a rest area as we entered MD, we happened to notice that our blue electric cord had become detached, dragged on the road and the entire aluminum end was worn off. I immediately Googled to see if there were any places around and lo and behold there was one, a 3 minute drive from the campground. This cord is important because it takes the power from the rig battery and uses it to power the car which is on Acc (and in neutral) to power the braking system. Not having the cord has the same affect as my leaving it ON on our way to Winter Park the first day...dead battery. Not good AND we have no brake lights on the car.

Although we had walked-a LOT- at the sites we'd been to in VA, we wanted to go for a bike ride and found a nice little park near Annapolis called Quiet Waters. It's a county park and was about 10 minutes drive from where we were going to go next-the old part of town. We packed a lunch and ate it in a nice and clean pavilion and then got on our bikes and on the trail. It started out with several gently down sloping hills and I started to worry that the return would be one long uphill climb. Note: I like riding a bike...on f-l-a-t surfaces-like in the Netherlands or FL. I am not a mountain biker and think hills are for looking at and hiking up. Don has been doing daily rides since FL and can go for miles, hills or flat, and enjoy it.  So, we rode and rode and although there was one long gentle up slope we never had a hill. I don't know how they did it but I was pretty pumped because we'd had a good hour's ride and I only felt energized.  The cherry trees were in full bloom and I did not regret missing DC as much.

There is nothing quite so lovely
as cherry trees in bloom

The pavilion where we ate lunch and Don getting started on the ride

 So, back to the car and on to our first destination-the Duke of Gloucester Street- known to Don's sister as a young child as the Duck of Gloucester St. Our GPS led us to the security gate at the Naval Academy so we circumnavigated the campus and finally found a parking garage. From there it was to the visitor's center,  the obligatory photo of the street and then a nice walk through town and down to the Annapolis Harbor on the Severn River and the stores and houses along it.


flower stalls on corners
simple but elegant centerpiece

As it should be...female mallard leading 3 males
We stopped at this memorial to Alex Haley and watched children throwing food (sold there) for the mallard ducks that flocked to any site a piece landed.

"To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in ROOTS and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States”

From there it was into the ice cream shop and then down to the harbor to look at the boats, especially the topsail schooner and former privateer, Tall Ship Lynx.  Then it was back to the street, trying to figure out if a building really is off kilter or not, up Pinkney Street with nicely painted houses and creative doorways and finally up to State Circle where the Maryland State House is located.  There is also a very wonderful memorial to Thurgood Marshall where we saw Chinese, Thai and Indian families all taking group photos.

Tall Ship Lynx

I am always ready to eat ice cream

Is this building tilted or not?

Street Art


State House Circle and US Post Office
Maryland State House
Thurgood Marshall Memorial

Donald Murray
Brown v. BOE Topeka


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Revisiting History Part II continued Yorktown Victory Center April 27

We'd seen a lot of hype about the Victory Center and were hoping it would compare to the Jamestown Settlement so we clicked on the "Directions" link and started to drive-to right where we already were! We double and triple checked and I finally decided to look for the actual address which I then punched in to the GPS and we were finally on our way.

The place is impressive but wasn't open. In fact, we found they were only just getting ready to open in the following weeks and allowed us to walk down the hall past exhibits in progress, to the outside where there were several interesting interactive exhibits which were available. It was nice to see school children touring and seeming excited and just because we are weird we had Phoenix pose with George Washington. She looks about as thrilled as if she was a teenage human!

According to the schedule a demonstration of farming in colonial days was coming up and since I am a gardener, especially of herbs and vegetables, that's where we went. The interpreter was very good and explained the various uses, both medical and gastronomical of the plants being grown. The common - parlsey, sage, rosemary and thyme, and potatoes and carrots, grew along with clary sage (used as an eye wash), soapwort (its name reveals its use-it lathers up and makes a gentle soap) and costmary (used as a laxative.) He had a few "tableaux" of 18th century cooking and eating utensils as well and if the "Wows" and the "Hmmms" were any clue the entire group felt it worthwhile.

From there we passed the end of a "Putting up food" demonstration

and down to a demonstration of the various codes and techniques used by spies.

But, it was closing time and I had found out about a microbrewery I wanted to visit. Having discovered I like beer, at least the ones that come from small breweries AND because this place was "just down the road" from the campground I prevailed upon Don and we stopped by the Alewerks Brewing Company. I did not know they had a tour, and the bartender did not know we had not done it until we paid, BUT the samples were all good and I left with a six pack of their Redmarker Ale. And in my world that is about 6 weeks of beer since I might have one a week.

It was back to the campground where we would gawp at a 45 ft motorhome with marble floors and all sorts of bells and whistles but it wasn't our taste and we retired to what had already become home...and Cadbury who was very eager to go outside and "investigate."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Revisiting History Part II Yorktown Historic Site April 27

(Apologies in advance for the way the photos are displaying.  I messed up the coding.  There are wide empty spaces between the photos and text so please just keep scrolling.  Moore House is the last photo.)

Infused as we were with the thrill of learning history we got up early the next day to go to Yorktown. It would be a longer drive and we knew we wanted to see both the NPS site (the battlefield) as well as the new learning center so off we went, Phoenix ensconced in the back of the car.

Note: we travel most places with Phoenix in the car because we cannot leave her for longer than 4 hours.  At this point in our travels she was not at all comfortable being left alone in the RV and would bark and go a bit crazy.  In the car she lies down on the back seat and goes to sleep. The other half of the seat is folded down so she has an area where she can stretch her legs and a huge water bowl.  We have shades on the windows which we leave way down and park in the shade.  We also take breaks and take her for walks if we are not allowed to have her with us.  However, she is allowed in most parks and is often with us, lying quietly at our feet and enjoying the attention she gets.  She is a very sweet and calm dog and has several times been the first dog a child has ever petted.

Our first stop was at the NPS site, the site of what was the deciding battle for the American revolutionaries in their battle for independence from Britain, Yorktown Battlefield, part of the Colonial National Historical Park. Since we are over 62, we have what is called a Senior Pass which is a $10 lifetime pass to all federal recreation sites. It also gives us a 50% discount on many places within the federal recreation system for camping. To be honest, most of the Visitors' Centers at National Parks are so well done that I feel as though I am cheating when I get in for free. This one, once again, was excellent. It is located behind what were the British defensive earthworks, or redoubts. The Lafayette Gun (a 12 ft gun Gen. Lafayette personally took from British troops after storming their redoubt,) and Gen. Washington's campaign tent from the war are both on display.
The Lafayette Gun with the "dent" from a shot he fired at the British
There is also an excellent film, The Siege of Yorktown, which is worth taking the approximately 15 min to watch.(While the Yorktown Victory Center -see below-was not open when we were there we saw that they will show 3 different films on a rotating basis. We have found that these films give a very good overview of the site and the events so we watch them when we can.)

There is a ranger led tour of the area immediately outside and the ranger we had was as excellent as everything else. She was enthusiastic and knew what I believe must be every minute fact about the battle, armaments and site. There is a map of the battle site here for those who are interested. From there you can take a 7 mile self-guided tour around the site, reading about and visiting the redoubts, troop encampment sites, and the Moore house (site of the surrender negotiations.)

The British redoubts
American redoubts and the field where the British surrendered

Looking out to the York River where the French arrived in ships

Our Ranger

After a few more sites on the ranger led tour we got in our car to do the 7 mile self guided tour. Once again the signage is very good, which is helpful close to 240 years later and with all but a few landmarks and all the evidence of the suffering that war brings, gone.

The Deposit

18th century siege warfare took weeks of preparation and engineers and sappers needed a ready supply of the gabion (wickerwork like baskets); fascines and saucissons (bundles of stout wood sticks) and fraises (heavy pointed poles).  They used this ravine to store them until the American troops were ready for them.

Wormley Pond where the troops...

would march along this dam to get to the battlefield...

but where only turtles reside now.

Moore House
the site of the surrender negotiations