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Sunday, August 30, 2009


As you’re already aware, we arrived in Washington, DC on August 24th, after a 30 hour, overnight run. Needless to say, our first day here was spent catching up on sleep. Also, it didn’t hurt that the first day here was also a rainy day, so lying around the boat and sleeping in wasn’t really a waste of our time. Instead, it gave us an opportunity to actually plan where we were going and on what day we were going there. So, with our bodies rested and plans made, we decided to get up early on the 26th, catch the bus and do some exploring.

The “Circulator,” that fantastic bus that comes ever ten minutes like clockwork, runs right by the marina. For us, it’s just about 100 yards from our boat, up the dock and across the street to the bus stop. We caught the bus around 9:15 and, since we were the only people on the bus, started chatting with the driver. When he found out that we were going to be in town for a month, he suggested we get a “Smart Pass” at the nearest METRO station. We learned that if we had a Smart Pass, you got every other ride on a bus or subway free (the catch is you have to board the next mode of transportation within a 3.5 hour window of exiting the previous vehicle.) So, armed with this information from the bus driver, we went to the METRO station before we did any sight seeing.

Once under ground, we went to a ticket window and bought two cards, at $5.00 each. Then, since the cards come with a “Zero” balance, we paid an additional $20.00 per card, which loaded and activated them. We also learned that the cards have additional benefits over running around town with a fist full of dollar bills. If you loose the card or it’s destroyed, the METRO will replace it free of charge. It’s good forever, so if you still have a credit balance on the card, it will still be usable on your next trip to DC. The Smart Pass is good on the METRO, the Circulator and the Metropolitan Buses, so with these three modes of transportation, you can go to every place in DC proper, reach Georgetown, Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon and Alexandria, VA plus get all the way to Mt. Vernon. You really don’t need a car here at all. So, with our Smart Pass in hand, we left the METRO station, got back on the Circulator and headed towards the National Mall and the Smithsonian Museums.

Our first stop was the Smithsonian Castle, which is the main office of the Smithsonian. There, we watched an 18-minute video orientation and saw the scale model of the federal city. We also picked up a free guidebook for all of the museums, got times and details on special movies that were showing this week and learned about any current, special exhibits.

From the castle, it was off to the American History Museum, which had been closed during our short visit here last year. The National History Museum exhibitions explore major themes in American history and culture, from the War of Independence to the present day. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War surveys the history of U.S. military conflicts and examines ways in which wars have been defining episodes in American history. America on the Move features the sights, sounds and sensations of transportation in the United States from 1870 to the present. Other exhibits include, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden; American First Ladies; the original Star-Spangled Banner; Abraham Lincoln’s top hat; Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Our next day was spent at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The main building on the National Mall contains 1.5 million square feet of space overall and 325,000 square feet of exhibition and public space; altogether the Museum is the size of 18 football fields. Contained therein are exhibits of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, the ocean and sea life, dinosaurs and gems and minerals. To see this museum properly, you should allow an entire day. Even then, you’ll probably not see everything that the Natural History Museum has to offer.

From the Natural History Museum, that was a whole nother day spent museueming. We went to the National Air and Space Museum. The National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. There are actually two display facilities. The National Mall building, where we went this round, has hundreds of artifacts on display including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is out by Dulles International Airport, displays many more artifacts including the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” and the Space Shuttle “Enterprise.”

We spent about 6 hours in the Mall building and were able to see all of the exhibits with no problem. The Dulles building is on the schedule for later in the month.

On the south side of Washington, DC sits the Washington Navy Yard, so on Monday,we went to the home of the National Museum of the United States Navy (yes, the have some United States Marine Corps stuff there too.) Devoted to the display of naval artifacts, models, documents and fine art, the museum chronicles the history of the United States Navy from the American Revolution to present-day conflicts. Interactive exhibits commemorate our Navy's wartime heroes and battles as well as peacetime contributions in exploration, diplomacy, navigation and humanitarian service.

One of the most extensive collections of ship models, films, cannon, aircraft, and some life size vessels detail the U.S. Navy’s history in the service of America. Tools, equipment and personal effects, of historical figures and regular duty naval personnel, offer visitors an exciting chance to learn more about naval history, customs and way of life.

Once we finished with the museum, we took a self-guided tour of the U.S.S. BARRY (DD-933.) This destroyer, a veteran of Korean, Vietnam and Middle Eastern conflicts, is maintained in perfect condition and allows visitors to see what it would be like to serve on a modern naval vessel.

From the Naval Museum, it was a short walk up 8th Street to the Washington Marine Barracks, at the corner of 8th and I Streets. This active Marine Corp post is the home of the Commandant of the Marine Corp, the Silent Drill Team and all of the Marine Security Force that guards the White House and other important Federal Buildings. Ah, to be wearing a set of Dress Blues again, and to be that skinny too (lol.)

So, there you have it, our first week in Washington. It’s been pretty busy, but really interesting and a lot of fun. Please take a look at the slide show we’ve attached. We sure hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back in the Capital

Sunday we were in no rush to get moving, with rain pouring down most of the night, but we knew we had put off the crossing to DC long enough. We left ST Michaels at 9:30 yesterday morning and finally saw some sun about an hour after leaving the dock. I had the Sunday Washington Post to keep me occupied for the first 2 hours and then I went to work on doing some waxing...not on me, but the boat deck!! I was able to wax the top salon deck, including the sides before the water got too choppy to be safe to continue. Really, it was a nice run south with a gentle breeze blowing in our favor!! By the time we made the turn into the Potomac River, it was almost dark and we were in for a long cool night. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate traveling at night, espically in a busy river?? Most of you know I am blind in one eye and can't see out of the other, have no depth perception at night and suffer with night blindness on top of not being able to see!!! I have a hard time telling if a ship is coming or going, what and how big it is going to be and I am nagging Gordon until he sends me below. I must say I didn't last as long as normal, but I can blame that on being tired from working as Gordon steered. Thank heaven for Sirrus Radio and Fox News for keeping him awake. He said it really wasn't too busy, just a few barges and a cruise ship to contend with along with being cold!!!

I was back topside shortly after sunrise and it was absolutely beautiful!! The fog was lifting from the hillsides of the Potomac as we slid along with the current. There is alot of time that passes before there are things to see and it was mid-morning by the time we were up to Mount Vernon. You could see people and buses all around the Washington home and grounds. We are planning to stop on the way back and anchor off and dingy in to take the tour.

We got to see Ft Washington, and it is amazing to think of the British ships taking the same path as we are. There is history all around and only if the trees, land or water could talk!!
An hour north, and we were pulling into the National Harbor for fuel...Gordon figured it would be cheaper there than in DC. We took on 50 gallons, so we will be full on arrival at the Gang Plank. National Harbor is a rather new marina facility with all kinds of shopping and restaurant. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center is also located there and you are only 10 minutes from Dulles Airport and downtown DC.

We were surprised at how empty the marina was, especially with all of the ammenities, but we plan to stop back there at the end of the month. Of course, for now, that computes to another hour and some for us to get to the Gangplank Marina, in DC, get in and call it a day!!!

Right after the National Harbor Marina, you go under the 'new' Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Then, as you near Washington, you pass by Alexandria,Virginia, another cool city on the schedule to visit while here. We were finally tied up at 3:30 at dock I-21, home for the next 30 days. The AC was turned on, Internet hooked up, showers taken, dinner cooking, and the bed calling!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

St Michaels

St Michaels is located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, south of Baltimore and is a step back in time, as the pace is slow and the town quaint. For the most part it, like many of the small towns that line the Chesapeake, is mostly a vacation town. The wealthy of Baltimore came here in the summer to get away from the city and to fish and sail. Much of that is still present today.

We sailed over in about 8 hours, but a power boat could easily do it in 2. It wasn't too long after arrival that it started raining and we were stuck on the boat, unable to get out and about. Also we had no phone service; imagine that!! The boat got her wash down really good and when we got going in the morning, there was still water in the streets. What stands out most for me is the large St. Michaels Parish, Episcopal, Christs Church and its bells. They chime every half hour and on the hour they play a song along with the hours chime. You can tell time without wearing a watch by them. They also have a large "old" cemetery that circles the church with graves dating back to the 1700's.

There is really only one street that hosts the many unique shops and restaurants! We were able to find a really cool place for lunch, St. Michaels Saloon!! Originally, a bank, it still has the large walk in vault that locks every night. I recommend the fresh shrimp salad sandwich, the best, east of Richmond, Indiana, that I have had!! Gordon had an original Reuben over-stuffed sandwich!!!

After lunch, we were off to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The largest of its kind, with both indoor and outdoor displays, showing life of the Chesapeake Bay and how it formed early America. We walked so much, poor Schooner was tuckered out and almost had to be carried!! Like everyday lately, at about 4:30pm the rain started and we had to make a run to the boat and dry quarters.

Saturday morning is the local farmers market, it was almost rained out, but it stopped raining long enough for us to go out and pick out some fresh peaches, tomatoes, and corn. Later we took a walk around the community and I have put together a slide show of St Michaels for all of you to see. Looks like we will be here another day ...weather related...before making the all-nighter to Washington DC.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I said earlier that Baltimore was one of our favorite cities in the United States. The reason for that is, there are not only great places to eat, but there are a ton of really cool places to visit. Some are educational, some are strictly for entertainment purposes, but all are fun and unique to the city of Baltimore.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the number one attraction in the city and is one of the most photographed and visited areas of the city. It’s been one of the major seaports in the United States since the 1700s and today, locals and visitors alike come to enjoy both the Harbor and the surrounding neighborhoods.

From breath-taking panoramic views of the skyline, from the Observation Level of the World Trade Center, to the up-close and personal experiences of street performances happening spontaneously at the waterfront, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers more to see and do than you might imagine. There’s a variety of fine dining, cultural experiences and exciting nightlife. A visit to Camden Yards is just minutes away and, if you're a true baseball fan, be sure to see the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame exhibit and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum located nearby.

A couple of blocks from Camden Yards, on Camden Street, sits one of the neatest places we’ve ever visited; Geppi's Entertainment Museum. Geppi’s is a walk back through time and 250 years of American History. Focusing on pop culture in media, toys and comic characters, Geppi’s uses a magical blend of entertainment and education show how all of our lives were shaped by these media.

As we walked through the exhibits, Kim and I kept seeing toys, books and characters from our childhood (Gee, I wish I still had that Mattel, Shootin’ Shell, Fanner Fifty pistol.) Things that shaped our social values and characters that served as our role models (Kim really misses seeing Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys, get those bad guys!) It was a pleasant place and we spent almost three hours there before we realized it.

From Geppi’s Museum, it’s about a 20 minute walk west, on Pratt Street, to The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. It seems that in the late 19th century, an overzealous publicity agent developed a trade show exhibit for the B & O Railroad, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. The railroad died, but the exhibit survived and grew to become a "national treasure" of railroad artifacts. Today, it comprises the collection of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, and is the oldest, most comprehensive American railroad collection in the world.

Dating from the beginning of American railroading, the collection contains locomotives and rolling stock, historic buildings, and small objects that document the impact of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) on the growth and development of early railroading and cover almost every aspect of an industry that left a permanent mark on the folklore and culture of America.

At the B & O Museum, one can see the evolution of railroad technology with the Smithsonian’s Railroad Model Collection. See one of the best HO model trains sets, with a dozen, computer controlled trains moving simultaneously. Imagine what it was like to dine in style on a train at the Railroad China & Silver exhibit or learn how the railroad industry influenced the creation of standard time in our Clocks, Pocket Watches and Railroad Time exhibit. View, climb aboard and walk through engines and rail cars that you’ve only seen in pictures, or take a ride on a real train, along the first commercial railroad track in the United States. We did and it was something we’ll always remember.

Last, but not least, is sailing the Patapsco River and the Inner Harbor. There are more boats (mostly sail) in Baltimore than anywhere else we’ve visited. The Baltimore waterfront looks like a forest of masts when viewed from the water. On our last weekend in Baltimore, we took Ross and Karen (old friend from Troy, Ohio) out sailing, along with their two boys, Trent and Reid.

It was a perfect day; sunny, clear, low humidity and a light breeze. We went out of the Marina and ventures down the Patapsco River to the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge. (We had to make a detour at the bridge, because rescue divers were searching for a “jumper.” But that’s another story.) Anyway, we sailed around old Ft. Carroll, built by Robert E. Lee, when he was in the U.S. Army well before the Civil War and sailed on down to the beginning of Chesapeake Bay.

From there, we sailed the 15 miles or so, back up the river and puttered around the Inner Harbor. Ross and Karen had never seen the city from the water and were really impressed with how many boats there were and how many people were walking along the harbor. And, as an added bonus, we got to see the S.S. John W. Brown, one of two surviving Liberty Ships, from World War II. Finally, we headed for home (the marina) and called it a day. It had been a really super time.

So, that’s it for Baltimore. On the 20th, were out of here and on our way to St. Michaels, MD. Don’t know what we’ll find there, but it’s a new place with new things to see and new people to meet.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Let me begin this segment by saying that, per Kim and I, Baltimore is one of the nicest cities in the United States. The people are friendly, the city is kept immaculately clean and there are tons of things to see and do there. In fact, we like to think of Baltimore as being a Yankee place with Southern charm. Over the course of the last two weeks, we’ve explored some very memorable places and met some really great people. It’s these places and the resulting encounters, regardless of how the places are rated in the internet “guides” that we’d like to share here.

So, let’s start with our favorite subject, restaurants. In the Little Italy district of Baltimore, sits a small, almost crowded (they have 5 indoor tables and seat 14 people), Deli/Pizzeria/Sandwich Shop called Isabella’s. Sitting on the N.E. corner of Stiles and S. High Streets, Isabella’s turns out hundreds of pizzas, sandwiches, calzones and other Italian delights daily, that are designed to please the pallet, not the waistline. Kim and I discovered the place when, as we were walking by, saw a line of working types and folks in office attire, extending for twenty feet or so outside the front door. Since this is usually a good sign, we took a place in line and were not disappointed with what we found inside.

Dan, the owner, and his staff of 5 or 6 people, crank out food at an unbelievable pace. But instead of tasting mass-produced, everything is like your Mom spent all day fixing it for you. After three visits to Isabella’s, Kim and I told Dan that we’d really miss the Italian sausage sandwiches when we left Baltimore. Without any hesitation, Dan volunteered to sell us some of his fresh, custom ground, Italian sausage at a price equal to that of the local Safeway Supermarket. That way, he said, you can enjoy Baltimore for a bit longer. So, we bought about three pounds of it and really did enjoy it to the very last bite. But, now we really miss it.

Then there’s the Blue Moon Café. Nestled in and old brownstone at 1621 Aliceanna Street Baltimore, The Blue Moon is famous for it’s breakfast, served daily from 7am to 3 pm weekdays and 11 to 3 on weekends (they also serve lunch stuff, but no one ever remembers what it is!) It’s signature dish; Captain Crunch French Toast, a stack of either two or three huge slices of French Toast, covered with seasonal fresh fruit, whipped cream, powdered sugar, a secret syrup and cracked Captain Crunch Cereal. (Watch out! You’ll gain ten pounds just reading about it.)

Now, no good thing comes easily, so, unless you go to the Blue Moon Café on a rainy day, be prepared for a wait. The reasons for the wait are: It’s killer food, somebody squealed and told everybody about it and they only seat about 25 people ins-de (Hey! That’s nine tables; four more than Isabella’s.) But, once inside, believe me, the service is quick, efficient and friendly and you’ll always remember that eating at the Blue Moon is well worth the wait.

Out east, (as they say here) in the 3800 block of Eastern Avenue, sits another gotta’ visit diner, The G & A Restaurant. Owner Andy Farantos is the third-generation owner of G&A and has been running the restaurant since 1988. Like his grandfather and his father before him, Andy can line up about a dozen hot dogs along his arm and dress them with chili, mustard, and diced raw onions, never spilling a drop. In short, all you need to say is "1 up" and you get the works.

While G&A is famous for its Coney Island hot dogs, (they’re delicious) and has served over four-and-a-half-million of them since 1927, it’s best kept secret is the G & A Coney Island Burger. It’s about a third of a pound mixture of beef, breadcrumbs, secret seasonings and broth, that’s cooked to perfection, covered with their special Coney Island chili and served on a fresh hamburger bun, with or without cheese. Man the taste buds go crazy over all of the flavors that evolve from this fantastic combination.

And then came the French Fries and Gravy. The last thing I ever considered eating were French Fries covered with a rich beef gravy. But, at the G & A Restaurant, I saw them on the menu and that’s exactly what I did. They were wickedly good. I even talked Kim into trying some, and the next thing I knew, they were all gone! (We’ve had some fries since then, but they just don’t taste as good without that darn gravy.)

As we paid our bill at G & A, we spoke with Andy for a minute or two, who invited us to sign his guest book. What a super nice guy! We found we have a common liking for boats, the ocean and good food and have a few favorite restaurants in common in the Carolinas. Next time we’re in Baltimore, though, The G & A Restaurant is at the top of our “go-to” list.

Then came our anniversary. Kim and I have been married for 32 years this year, so to celebrate, we went to our favorite, Italian Restaurant; Chiapparelli's.

We discovered Chiapparelli’s last year when we came in to Baltimore to have some work done on the boat. Kim and I walked into town from the marina and got turned around a bit. A local lady noticed us cussing and discussing the map and asked if she could help us find something. We told her we were looking for a good Italian restaurant, but wanted one frequented by the locals; not one that pandered to the tourist trade. Her recommendation? Chiapparelli's. (Who ever you are and wherever you are, Mamm, we still grateful that you stopped to help two strangers.)

Chiapparelli's sits on the N.E. corner of Fawn and High Streets, in Little Italy. Inside, it’s brick walls, carpeted floors and real cloth tablecloths and napkins. Chiapparelli's is clean, neat as a pin, and you can smell the Italian dishes cooking from a block away. If you go there during the day, you’ll probably be in the company of the local priest, beat cops, construction workers and shopkeepers. Go at night, and you’ll probably see the same people, only they went home, got cleaned up, brought along their significant others and you will hardly recognize them. But, day or night, they’re all here for the same thing; the best Italian food outside of Italy.

All of the Italian food is hand made, on site, daily. There’s Fresh Ravioli, Gnocchi, Manicotti, Tortellini, Fettuccini, Spaghetti, Pesto and so on and so on and so on. And with each entrée comes the famous house salad (about ten or twelve tons per serving) served with a hot loaf of bread and covered with Chiapparelli's House Italian Dressing; a dressing so good and so different, it defies description. Needless to say, we love Chiapparelli's

In closing, please know that we did eat at other places while in Baltimore; some more expensive and some cheaper. The places mentioned above, however, are the ones that stand out in our memory; places that we want to come back to next trip. So, next trip, we’ll see if we can’t find more local places to recommend if you’re ever in Baltimore Maryland.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crazy Days of Summer

It has been some kind of crazy around here. We have been cleaning up the boat…again and re-arraigning the storage. No more MRE's!!! We are removing those items that we have not used in the last 3 years to make more room in the storage areas for the things we do use. I would like to get our food inventory down to a more manageable amount even having it computerized isn’t working. We still buy more than we need and more of what we like and other items get pushed back. I’m sure every kitchen in America is about the same!!

Saturday, we had friends visit. Karen, who was our kid’s babysitter and Patrick’s first “gurlfriend”, and her husband Ross and 2 boys, Trent And Reid, came in for a visit. They live here now in Bel Aire which is a suburb of Baltimore. Also, Emily, her husband Chris and baby girl, Harper, from Toledo came too, they were here visiting with Karen. After a lunch nearby, they all took a tour of the boat before heading home. It was so nice to see them all and enjoyed catching up on their lives and families. You know you are getting old when the “kids” you knew, now have kids the age of your own when you met them. Scarry!!

Sunday, was a rain all day day. so I spent the better part of it watching soccer on TV. Thank heaven for FSC on Direct TV you can watch a match at most any time of the day every day!! Gordon spent his time working on our family trees. He has been able to trace my tree back to the mid 1500’s. And I have some pretty interesting people who are related!! Sarah Palin, Richard Gere Katharine Hepburn, Julia Child, Chevy Chase, Wilbur and Orvil Wright, to namedrop!! He has been up late on his computer every night and has come up with a lot of information on his family, too!!