Saturday, July 18, 2015

O Say Can You See?

When a thunderstorm over Phoenix caused us to miss our previously scheduled Baltimore plans, we decided to adjust the itinerary again to fit in what was missed.  Caleb had really been looking forward to seeing Babe Ruth's home and Camden Yards.  I'd had my heart set on Fort McHenry.  So we backtracked about 30 miles to see those sites in a slightly more abbreviated fashion.

We parked near Babe's home, then walked the old cobblestone streets of Baltimore to Camden Yards.

Camden Yards was so cool!  We weren't able to squeeze in a game, but we got a very up-close and personal view of the field.  We're such sports fans that we appreciate these sorts of things, even when they are not our team.

On this walkway, which runs along the back of the diamond, home run balls are commemorated with baseball-shaped plaques, placed exactly where the ball landed, showing when and by whom the ball was hit.

We found Ken Griffey Jr. in a couple of places.  All but one of the plaques are found imbedded in the sidewalk shown above.  But Griffey hit one that hit the wall on the other side of the walkway. Awesome!

I was standing as close to the fence of the ball field as possible so you can see just how far away Caleb is from me in this next picture.  That ball was hit a long way!

Caleb really loves visiting sports venues.

The Orioles have done a really great job paying tribute to their star players.  Lots and lots of statues of players and retired numbers and such.

The kids and Cal 

Next we made our way to the Inner Harbor.  I wish we'd had a little more time to spend here, but we just looked around briefly and got to catch a glimpse of the USS Constellation--a 1797 frigate.  I had learned from my John Adams reading, that he was a strong proponent of establishing a US Navy. Not everyone agreed, however, and this was a cause of debate in Congress.  Eventually, the Naval Act was passed and the USS Constellation was one of the first three warships of the US Navy.  Having read about this history, I really wanted to see this ship.  

From the Inner Harbor, we drove a short 10 minutes to Fort McHenry.  I'm a patriotic person with a real affinity for our nation's anthem.  I know all three verses and have been known to grumble on occasion about the fact that other countries seem to sing their songs with gusto, but Americans often don't even bother to mouth the words.  Such a shame!

The broad stripes and bright stars waving o'er the ramparts:

An aerial view I borrowed from the internet:

Caleb spent some time in the prison cells of Fort McHenry just for fun:

There were several short films shown in the old barracks, which helped bring the history to life and demonstrate just how important this fort is in our country's history.

We walked on the ramparts and admired the giant cannons.

The feature film in the orientation center really brought home just how close our infant country had come to falling back into British power.  I could feel the terror of those families who watched from their rooftops in Baltimore as they waited to learn of the United States' fate.  And when Francis Scott Key looked through this telescope, saw the flag and knew the underdog had defeated the Empire, I felt a tiny bit verklempt.

"Does not a country and such defenders of their country deserve a song?" --Francis Scott Key

"'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Next on our list was the Washington D.C. temple.  It's grand.  It's gorgeous.  It has a wonderful visitors' center.  I just love how much my kids love seeing temples.

The visitors' center has a cutaway model depicting the inside of the temple.  Really neat.

Caleb got in a little interactive scripture study:

And we took our first selfie stick picture of the trip:

We left the temple and arrived in the heart of D.C. just in time to make our reservation at the National Archives.

No photography is allowed inside the building, so I had to borrow this picture of the rotunda from the internet:

It's cool and quite dark inside so as to preserve the documents.  The Declaration of Independence is on the left, the Constitution in the middle and the Bill of Rights on the right.  Even with reservations, we had to wait about 30 minutes to view the documents.

Afterwards, we explored the exhibit galleries which contain an endless array of interesting archives. Natalie took a turn at the president's podium.  (We weren't supposed to take this picture.  oops.)

It was here, at the National Archives, that I learned just how much Caleb loves museums.  Who knew?  He wanted to see it all and took his time in each exhibit.

A rather sizable parking ticket was waiting for us when we came out of the archives and I felt my grouchiness meter dial up one notch.  We had dinner reservations nearby so Jon and Natalie searched for a parking space while the big kids and I walked to the National Museum of Natural History for a few minutes.  We hadn't eaten since breakfast and since our planned grocery stop never happened due to the change in our itinerary, we had no snacks and we were all starving.  Cue grouchiness meter. The kids were amazing.  Such troopers!  It was Mom who was growing discontented.

Jon and Natalie were seated at Carmine's, an Italian restaurant, a few minutes prior to scheduled reservation.  The big kids and I were stalled at the museum by a sudden, torrential downpour.  When we thought it was letting up, we made a run for it.  But the rain picked up again and by the time we arrived at the restaurant five blocks later, we were drenched from head to toe.  I visited the restroom hoping some paper towels might sop up some of the rainwater from the insoles of my sandals.  

Carmine's was just o.k.  Our family has such diverse tastes (and a special needs eater) that ordering family style (which is all Carmine's offers) was difficult.  Additionally, the cuisine, while good, was perhaps a little too authentic for those whose Italian food consumption rarely extends beyond Olive Garden or Old Spaghetti Factory.  Still, we got full.

And we got another parking ticket.  The kids thought it was funny, calling our vacation "The Trip of the Parking Ticket." I was not amused and it did not help the tilt of my grouchiness meter.  We decided it was time to call it a day and decided to go check in at our hotel, which was in Crystal City, right near the Pentagon.

We were so happy with our D.C. accommodations, the center atrium being adorned with two enormous American flags.  

The girls loved the glass elevators and sometimes rode them all the way to the top and back down again just for the thrill of it. 

The kids had plenty of room and their own TV, while Jon and I enjoyed having a king-size bed and our own TV in a separate bedroom.

After a trip to a nearby grocery store, we stocked our little fridge and cupboards with snacks and were grateful for such a comfortable room at a really reasonable price.  Our accommodations also provided a wonderful hot breakfast, which included cooked-to-order omelets and even had french toast and cranberry juice for Caleb.

Parking tickets and wet clothes aside, it had been a really great day.  We were grateful to be in our nation's capital and were excited to explore history and stir our patriotic spirits.


Granny said...

Wonderful post. I'm excited for the next installment.

Jen said...

Love that picture of the girls with their shirts in the elevator! Sorry about the parking tickets!