Tag Archives: Baltimore

July 17: Farmers’ market, Fort McHenry, the Inner Harbor, and the drive-in

Today was a four-part day.

We got up early and went to a farmers’ market under a freeway in downtown Baltimore, where Teri picked up her weekly CSA allotment of veggies, then, after we dropped them back off at the house and ate a breakfast of big, gooey cinnamon rolls also purchased there, we headed to Fort McHenry, a national historic site on a point of land in Baltimore’s harbor, where the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem took place. It’s a classic star fort (the shape of the embankments and buildings), with re-enactors marching around wearing wool in this ungodly heat, and playing the fife and drums. In a way, it kind of reminded me of Fort Larned in Kansas, only instead of being surrounded by prairie, it was surrounded by water.

This is the commander of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, which is the battle the national anthem was written about. You can't see the expression on his face, but he looks *bored.*
This is the commander of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, which is the battle the national anthem was written about. You can’t see the expression on his face, but he looks *bored.*
This was a neat map of Chesapeake Bay in concrete behind the visitor center.
This was a neat map of Chesapeake Bay in concrete behind the visitor center.
Soldiers doing the fife and drum thing in wool uniforms in the hot sun in 90+dF temperatures and humidity at Fort McHenry. They were good at it, though.
Soldiers doing the fife and drum thing in wool uniforms in the hot sun in 90+dF temperatures and humidity at Fort McHenry. They were good at it, though.
A view of the inside of Fort McHenry. That's the powder magazine in the barn-like building.
A view of the inside of Fort McHenry. That’s the powder magazine in the barn-like building.
Looking out over Chesapeake Bay from the embankment trail at Fort McHenry.
Looking out over Chesapeake Bay from the embankment trail at Fort McHenry.
And another statue (I think this one is of Armistead, too, but I wouldn't swear to it). Anyway, he was startling when I came around the corner.
And another statue (I think this one is of Armistead, too, but I wouldn’t swear to it). Anyway, he was startling, staring so intently, when I came around the corner.

I learned a lot about the battle, and the War of 1812, and that Key was actually in the custody of the British when he wrote the lyrics, and lots of good bits of information to fit into my mind as steel trap for useless trivia (well, not useless, but you know what I mean).

The Enoch Pratt Free (public) library, which is famous in certain circles (I remember it being written up in Library Journal years ago). It happened to be near where we ate lunch.
The Enoch Pratt Free (public) library, which is famous in certain circles (I remember it being written up in Library Journal years ago). It happened to be near where we ate lunch.
Baltimore has a Washington Monument, too.
Baltimore has a Washington Monument, too.

We were going to take the water taxi over to the Inner Harbor area to eat lunch, but it turns out you can only buy tickets on the Inner Harbor side, so we got back in the car and Teri drove us through downtown Baltimore again [wry g] to a place to eat lunch, and then parked near the Inner Harbor where we explored around. This was the place that reminded me of Victoria, although it’s more just the geography (the harbor surrounded by the city thing) than anything else.

"Chessie" paddle boats on the Inner Harbor. Apparently Chesapeake Bay is supposed to have a Loch Ness type monster the way Lake Champlain is supposed to.
“Chessie” paddle boats on the Inner Harbor. Apparently Chesapeake Bay is supposed to have a Loch Ness type monster the way Lake Champlain is supposed to.
The USS Constellation, on Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
The USS Constellation, on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. It's a screwpile lighthouse, which was common on Chesapeake Bay. In the 80s it was relocated to the Inner Harbor and renovated into a museum. I'd never seen a screwpile lighthouse before, so I found it fascinating.
The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. It’s a screwpile lighthouse, which was common on Chesapeake Bay. In the 80s it was relocated to the Inner Harbor and renovated into a museum. I’d never seen a screwpile lighthouse before, so I found it fascinating.
An interesting old building near the waterfront. I'm told it was a museum, but it's no longer open.
An interesting old building near the waterfront. I’m told it was a museum, but it’s no longer open.

The highlights were McCormick Spices’ flagship store, the USS Constellation, and one of the more unusual lighthouses I’ve ever seen. But it was ungodly hot again, and we were all fading fast by the time we got back to the car. I really enjoyed it, though.

Then, that evening, we drove to the other side of Baltimore, to a drive-in theater which claims to have the biggest screen in the United States. It’s gigantic, I’ll give you that. The whole place, though, is a serious throwback to the 1950s, including some of the most un-PC concession advertisements I’ve ever seen in my life. They’ve also got rules out the ying-yang and are apparently control freaks about them. But it was fun. Oh, and I enjoyed Finding Dory, and, to a lesser extent, The BFG (double feature and a short to begin with – the short was a Pixar thing about sandpipers). But we didn’t get back to Teri’s house until almost two a.m. It was worth it, though.

Today we’re just sitting around – we were going to go to the Great Falls of the Potomac and hike around a bit, but it was 95dF when I went outside this morning, so that got nixed. After three days of pretty much solid sightseeing in this heat, we’re taking it easy (and I’m doing laundry) until this evening when we’ll be driving down towards DC for the listee dinner. I’m really looking forward to that. Then tomorrow I shall be picking Loralee up at the airport!

Which reminds me, I really need to clear off Merlin’s passenger seat and make space in the back for her suitcase before then.

July 16: Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Lebanese food, and way too much traffic, alas

I’m so glad I wasn’t doing the driving today. Downtown Baltimore is a nightmare to drive in, and they were doing construction on top of that. Teri was amazing to get us all through that and still manage to take us where we were going.

That said, I really liked the Inner Harbor area. We walked along the waterfront for a bit, and saw some interesting sights including a very odd piece of sculpture with a wonderful fountain at its base, and the weirdest trash collector I’ve ever seen. We ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant (I’d never had Lebanese before, but it was close enough to Greek that I kind of knew what I was doing, and it was pretty tasty).

This, believe it or not, is a contraption that scoops garbage out of the Inner Harbor.
This, believe it or not, is a contraption that scoops garbage out of the Inner Harbor.
This is a sculpture celebrating Polish history.  It had a wonderful fountain as its base, too.
This is a sculpture celebrating Polish history. It had a wonderful fountain as its base, too.
This, I'm told, is the Bromo-Seltzer tower.  Apparently the guy who invented it lived in Baltimore.
This, I’m told, is the Bromo-Seltzer tower. Apparently the guy who invented it lived in Baltimore.

Then we drove around in the traffic for a bit more until we arrived at a park called Federal Hill (at first I thought Teri had said Federal Hell, and wasn’t that in DC, not Baltimore?), which gave us lovely views of the Inner Harbor area, and had a cute playground with a pirate ship and a screwpile lighthouse jungle gym.

An extremely bizarre sculpture, viewed from Federal Hill.
An extremely bizarre sculpture, viewed from Federal Hill.
Another view from Federal Hill.  That tan area is a beach volleyball venue.
Another view from Federal Hill. That tan area is a beach volleyball venue.

The playground at Federal Hill.  That's a screwpile lighthouse (a common lighthouse construction in Chesapeake Bay), and a pirate ship [g].
The playground at Federal Hill. That’s a screwpile lighthouse (a common lighthouse construction in Chesapeake Bay), and a pirate ship [g].
Then we went to the Museum of Industry, which was fascinating. Sort of like MOHAI in Seattle, oddly enough. We went on a tour of the museum with a guide who was knowledgeable and entertaining, and who even operated some of the machinery on display for us. We saw stuff about canning oysters (and vegetables in the off-season), and a working machine shop from the turn of the last century, and a tailor shop, and a pharmacy (Noxema was invented in Baltimore [g]). And we saw a print shop with a linotype machine that made me feel very old.

The linotype machine at the Museum of Industry.
The linotype machine at the Museum of Industry, and our tour guide.

My first full-time “permanent” job was as a display ad proofreader at a chain of newspapers in the Bay Area, and we worked in the same room as the folks who set the type for the articles and the ads. This was in the days before computers were widespread in that industry (I worked there from 1980-1983, and they were just moving to computers for part of the process when I left), and I remember the linotype machines.

Oh, well. It was a lovely museum, and I had a very good time. We were going to go to one of the last drive-in movie theaters in the country tonight, but there’s another thunderstorm booming and crashing (and, for a few hours at least, dropping the temperature to something resembling human) out there, so no movie for us, at least not tonight.

July 14: Up and over and up and over and on a ferry, too

I didn’t end up taking too many photos today. I did pop up into Delaware for a few miles, then came back west across the Eastern Shore to the highway. I didn’t stay on it for long, though, turning west at a sign for the Oxford-Bellevue ferry. It was not free (it cost $12 for Merlin and me), but it was scenic, and nice out on the water. I’ve never had my car be the only one on the ferry before (the capacity was nine vehicles).

The view from the Oxford/Bellevue ferry.
The view from the Oxford/Bellevue ferry.
Merlin all by himself on the ferry.
Merlin all by himself on the ferry.
Arriving at Bellevue.
Arriving at Bellevue.

After I reached the other side of the Choptank River (which was more an inlet into the bay than a river), I drove west to the tiny tourist town of St. Michaels, and then on to the point at the end of Tilghman Island, or almost to the end. The very end of the point is a private inn, and unless you’re staying there you can’t go all the way. I kind of wish I’d known that before I drove out there, but c’est la vie.

A pretty little church on Tilghman Island.
A pretty little church on Tilghman Island.

It was still a pretty drive. When I got back to St. Michaels, I ate a flounder sandwich at a local café, and then banana ice cream across the street at a little place called Justine’s. I haven’t had banana ice cream in I can’t remember how long, and it was delicious.

Then it was back to the highway. I turned off before I got there onto a back road the map insisted did intersect the highway a few miles further on, and it did, but a bit further than I expected, which was a nice thing.

I stopped at a produce stand and bought cantaloupe and big beefsteak tomatoes to take to Teri’s house, and then went up – and up, and up – and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (as opposed to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel). It’s almost as tall and long as the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, but it felt longer. I think it might have been the traffic, which got pretty intense, and did not let up through Annapolis and up into Baltimore. But Katrina’s directions were very good, and I had no problem finding Teri’s house, so that was a relief.

Up and over the Bay Bridge.
Up and over the Bay Bridge.

Nobody was home when I got there, but Teri had told me where to find a key, so I let myself in, and she arrived soon afterwards. Katrina was a bit later because she’d had to have her car worked on before she left Pennsylvania to come down, but by the time it was dark we were all together, so that was good.