Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Welcome to Annapolis, Mom Foree!

Monday, September 6 - Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Hi, everyone! Welcome to another exciting edition of our blog. September has been a whirlwind month for us, and we've been holding on for dear life and enjoying the ride. We crossed the Chesapeake from Eastern Bay to Annapolis on Labor Day, unaware that we'd be entering the Severn River amidst 200 boats preparing for the final day of the 44th Annual CBYRA Annapolis Regatta. Nothing like dodging racers as they practice tacks and jibes before the start of the race (as if dodging the anchored freighters wasn't enough)! We managed to get into Weems Creek around noon, and enjoyed a reunion happy hour that evening on Sojourner with Rick & Linda and four of their cruising friends. The reunions continued on Tuesday when we went into downtown Annapolis for happy hour and dinner with Rick and Linda, Skip from Ducks in a Row, Dave and Lisa from Hullaballoo, and another cruising friend of Sojourner's. It was a great evening, and we were happy to have a chance to see everyone again.

Wednesday the real fun began when Rene's mom arrived from the Netherlands. We hadn't seen her in over two years, and were excited to show her around the Chesapeake area. We arrived at the airport well before her flight landed, and were a bit concerned when we hadn't seen any sign of her after 2+ hours. Imagine our surprise (and relief) when we got a call from a woman saying she was with Rene's mom near the information desk. Thanks to some confusion at the airport, Mom and her luggage were treated as transfers; an attempt was made to take her and her bags to a connecting flight, even though Annapolis doesn't have its own airport. We all finally found each other at the info desk, and even managed to get her luggage back. Poor Mom - at least the airline didn't lose her luggage like they did in Maui during our wedding trip!

Figuring Mom would be jet-lagged after her flight, we planned for a relatively quiet day on Thursday. We spent the morning planning activities and meals for the next two weeks, and got our heads spinning trying to sort everything out. After figuring out tours, road trips, meals out, and a menu for lunches and dinners in the hotel, we headed for the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish market in Harbor Center. You can get fresh meats, cheeses, salads, baked goods, bulk spices, garden-fresh produce...you name it. This is still one our favorite stores in Annapolis, and we found some great produce and other foodie bits for everyone to enjoy.

On Friday, we took Mom on a trolley tour of Annapolis. There's an incredible amount of history here, and it's fun to hear the details from someone "in the know". The tour took us through the downtown area, along the waterfront, across Spa Creek into Eastport, past St. John's College, and across the Severn River bridge to an overlook with spectacular views of the Naval Academy and city. Interesting tidbit shared by our tour guide...if the Naval Academy isn't your style and you can afford the $50,000 per year tuition, you may be lucky enough to become one of the 400 students enrolled at St. John's College. Founded in 1696 by several signers of the Declaration of Independence, the college has no departments or majors and modern textbooks and exams aren't part of the curriculum. Instead, students read, discuss, and write about 120 of the "great books" written by Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and Einstein, just to name a few. Not surprisingly, most graduates continue on to higher education programs before joining the workforce. :-)

Saturday we visited the Maryland Seafood Festival - this thing was all about eating! Restaurants, charities, and other organizations sold everything crab-like...cakes, bisque, quesadillas, etc. Once you got too full for another crab ball, there were plenty of vendors selling jewelry, arts, crafts, clothing, sunglasses...you name it. The festival was held at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, within sight of the Bay Bridge. Talk about a change of scenery - it was pretty interesting to see the bridge from land instead of going under it in the boat!

Sunday we drove to Philadelphia to meet up with Jennifer, an old friend from Houston. She was in town for a family wedding, so we jumped at the chance to be within driving distance of each other. We met her in town and played tourist. Visits included:
--The Liberty Bell: this worldwide symbol of freedom is best known for its crack that formed when the bell was rung for George Washington's 100th birthday
--Independence Hall: the Declaration of Independence & the US Constitution were debated, drafted, and signed here
--Franklin Court (which once included Benjamin Franklin's home and print shop),
--Carpenters' Hall: the first Continental Congress was held here in 1774; still home to the Carpenters' Company, America's oldest continuously operating trade guild, founded in 1724.
--City Tavern: the original City Tavern was built in 1773 and hosted notables such as John Adams, Paul Revere, G; first 4th of July celebration was held here in 1777; the tavern was demolished in 1854, but was rebuilt in 1975 by the National Park Service. Today, it appears essentially as it did 200 years ago; Visitors can enjoy food and ales similar to those offered during the American Revolution. (Two ales are made from the original recipes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.)

After a couple of rest-and-shopping days, Wednesday was road trip time. We headed out bright and early (okay, 10am) for the 50-mile drive from Annapolis to St. Michaels to show Mom one of our favorite Chesapeake cities. We wandered up and down Talbot street, browsed among the shops, and had lunch at Ava's Pizza (we were hoping to try the gourmet burgers at 208 Talbot, but they were closed). After lunch we headed up highway 213, otherwise known as the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway. The byway winds through Maryland's Eastern Shore through Centreville and Chestertown, across the Sassafras River, and up to Chesapeake city and the C&D Canal. Rene was a trouper at the wheel, and we enjoyed getting to see the rolling hills, farms, and forests of MD.

Friday was a busy day for us. We started the day in Baltimore to show Mom the Inner Harbor and the historic districts, with a lunch stop at Phillips' Seafood for their world-famous crab cakes. We got quite a treat in the harbor - the US Coast Guard Barque, Eagle, was in town for a festival and offered free tours. What a gorgeous ship! After lunch and the tour, we hopped on a Circulator thinking it would be an easy way to see the city, but the crowded bus didn't offer quite the views we were looking for. We managed to escape Baltimore as traffic began pouring in for an Orioles game at Camden Yards, and headed to the outlet mall for some window shopping and dinner at Medieval Times. Think jousting, beautiful horses, and food you eat with your hands...no utensils allowed!

Saturday we took over Skip and Betsy's kitchen to make one of our favorite recipes: rack of lamb with a smoky cabernet reduction sauce and a porcini and morel mushroom risotto. We used to make this back at the house in Houston for special occasions, but it's too involved to make in our little galley. We were able to make the sauce and do most of the prep work in Mom's hotel room kitchenette, and finished everything off at Skip and Betsy's that evening. We really enjoyed getting to introduce Mom to Skip and Betsy; they've become such good friends over the summer, and we're really going to miss them when we leave the Chesapeake. They've promised to come visit us in the tropics...we're holding them to it!

The last few days of Mom's visit flew by too fast. We brought Mom to the boat for Sunday brunch, and Stacy's college friend, Becky, came with her family that afternoon. Monday we went into downtown Annapolis for breakfast at Chick & Ruth's, a bit of souvenir shopping (thanks again for my sailboat serving dish, Mom!), and a tour of the Naval Academy museum. Tuesday we drove into Washington, D.C. for a photo tour of the monuments and museums before taking Mom to Dulles airport. We had a lovely time with her, and hope she enjoyed her visit as much as we did.

Wednesday we had a final happy hour with our friends in Weems Creek. We had quite a surprise at the end of the evening when a neighbor boat dragged anchor and bumped up alongside us. We were able to get fenders out and raft them up to us; only then did we realize that they'd been in such a hurry to get topside and control the boat that they didn't have time to...ah...put any clothes on. Talk about a lively ending to our time in Annapolis!

Pictures for this Blog chapter:

Pictures borrowed from mom:

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