Wednesday, October 07, 2009

More Maryland Landmarks

We'll soon be leaving Maryland -- unfortunately, I had too little time here to visit with everyone I wanted to -- but I will be back!

In the last couple days, John and I visited a national historic site that I had always overlooked when I lived here: Hampton House. It turns out it is a huge, elegant, beautiful mansion that was the largest house in the U.S. when it was completed in 1790. It even had its own indoor greenhouse and an outdoor ice house so the owners could have chilled berries and citrus in the middle of winter!

Next, Fort McHenry, the birthplace of our National Anthem. While being held hostage on a British warship During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key watched the attack of Fort McHenry as it lasted through a long, long night. After the attack was over, he remained unsure of the victor as the fort, now becoming visible in the dawn's light, was still shrouded in smoke from the battle. He finally caught a glimpse of the flag, still flying over the fort, and penned the poem that we now sing as the lyrics to the National Anthem.

The fort, the canons, the ramparts, and broad stripes and bright stars of the flag are still there for the viewing.

But John -- that end of the canon may not be the best place to look!

Finally, a trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

I had previously been by the tall stone fence many times, and had been inside a couple times -- once even to attend a wedding at the Chapel. This time, though, I departed from just roaming around and took the tour, and it was fabulous. We got a lot of insider information from a very knowledgeable guide. We saw Bancroft Hall (dorm and dining hall), the athletics building with an Olympic size pool and diving boards (the cadets traditionally finish off their last parade by jumping in, fully clothed, from the 3-story high board), the Chapel, recently restored and looking spiffy (it boasts a stained glass window of a newly minted officer, and a crypt containing John Paul Jone's body), and a new museum with naval displays on the ground floor and an amazing collection of model ships upstairs.

We expect to move next to Harper's Ferry where a whole lot of history awaits.

Here in the northern part of Maryland, we have been nestled back in the woods where the night is noisy with crickets and the blue jays and cedar waxwings come around each morning. In the evening, we have had several fires, an especially nice way to end the day when the temperature is cool. Simple pleasures are the best.

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