Day 81 - We had a Nautical Nightmare!July 11 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 23 °C
Jackie got me up at the crack of dawn, 9.30am, to get up & out for a planned boat trip. We checked out of the hotel, leaving Doodle in their car park, then headed back to the harbour.
On the way down we were desperately looking for somewhere to grab something to eat. We settled on an 8” BLT French stick that we shared.
We arrived at the City Dock at 10.40am & purchased our tickets for a 40 minute Annapolis Harbour & United States Naval Academy boat trip. 5 minutes later we boarded the ‘Harbour Queen’ & took a seat on the top deck.
At 11.00am sharp, we set sail & immediately skirted around the banks of the USNA complex. There was an onboard commentary providing us with information about the buildings we were looking at. We passed the impressive sports facilities & Farragut Field, before turning up the Severn River. We passed Santee Basin, where there was dingy training in progress, then Dewey Field. When we reached Dorsey Creek we looked across at the Cemetery, where John McCain was laid to rest on 2nd September 2018.
We then turned & crossed to the other side of the Severn River to admire, or be resentful of, the huge houses & their jetties, overlooking the bay. We then passed about a dozen small training Frigates in dock. We continued out to the Chesapeake Bay, then headed back to dock, passing a pair of nesting Ospreys & their chicks on top of a ‘crossing day beacon’.
At the conclusion of our boat trip we took a stroll around Historic Annapolis, with it’s ‘oldy worldy’ buildings, then stopped for an alfresco lunch at O’Brien’s Oyster Bar & Grill. Jackie had grilled Chesapeake Shrimps & I had loaded potato skins, plus a beer & gallons of water.
After a pleasant lunch, we headed for the United States Naval Academy Visitor Center & Museum. We arrived at the security desk & produced our UK driving licences as our identification. The ‘jobsworth’ Military guy, informed us our licences were insufficient & we needed our passports. What a nightmare!
Jackie went back down to the harbour to rest her weary legs, whilst I marched back to our hotel & Doodle to get our passports. 40 minutes later, I located Jackie & we made a 2nd attempt to gain entry to the USNA. I was saturated in sweat, but they still allowed us entry.
The Visitor Center contained various exhibits & examples of naval uniform down the last couple of centuries. There was a stuffed ‘Bill the Goat’, the mascot of the US Navy, then we went into the theatre for a 15 minute movie detailing the life of a new recruit at the USNA.
The USNA was established in 1845 at it’s current location, a 338 acre campus, which was formerly Fort Severn. Approximately 1.200 “plebes” (an abbreviation of the Ancient Roman word plebeian) enter the Academy each summer for the rigorous Plebe Summer. About 1,000 midshipmen graduate.
We then walked out into the grounds where students/trainees in varying uniforms were running around all over the place. We stumbled into Dahlgren Hall, a vast hall where 2 different troops were rigorously being put through their parade drills. It didn’t seem right that we were about to walk past them, but nothing said that we couldn’t. We compromised by scaling stairs to a walkway above them.
Dahlgren Hall was stunning & had a ship suspended at one end of the Hall & model of a Wright B-1 Flyer at the other.
We continued on to Main Chapel with it’s gold steeple & copper dome, unfortunately the Chapel was covered in scaffolding for renovation work. The interior was ornate & blue, with Tiffany designed stained glass windows. Under the Chapel was the crypt of John Paul Jones, who we now know to be one of the greatest Revolutionary War Naval heroes.
Next was the USNA Museum in Preble Hall. As we walked in, we were accosted by an over enthusiastic Museum Volunteer who insisted on telling us everything that we were going to see in the Museum. We might as well have turned round & walked out as we knew it all, but we did enter & on the 1st floor we saw numerous dockyard ship models & model ships made out of animal bones by French Prisoners of War. The highlight was an incredibly detailed model of the HMS Victory.
On the ground floor were exhibits throughout the ages, including John Paul Jones’ presentation sword from the Revolutionary War, Oliver Hazard Perry’s ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’ flag from the 1812 War, the USS Hartford ship wheel from the Civil War & the surrender table used on USS Missouri from WWII.
It was nearly 5.00pm when we left the USNA & we still hadn’t sorted out a hotel for the evening. We had been playing cat & mouse with Booking.com to stay another night at the Hotel Annapolis. We walked back to our car with the sky blackening & just made it before the heavens opened. The hotel rates still hadn’t gone down sufficiently for us, so we decided to stay at a substantially cheaper motel, Country & Inn Suites, just a couple of miles up the road.
That evening we had a superb curry at the Basmati Indian Restaurant. Incredibly we shared a curry with the usual accompaniments & were both full after!!
Song of the Day - In The Navy by Village People.Read more