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  • Sunday, August 27, 2006

    And a great time was had by all

    I'm back from Annapolis, the bayside capital of Maryland. It's a beautiful old town with a city center dock (that is, the waterway comes into the old downtown area of the city) appropriately named "Ego Alley" because people parade their fancy and very expensive boats up and down the dock area. Some were beautiful seaworthy vessels which can only be called yachts by this layperson while others were midlife crisis muscle boats -- ya' know, the aquatic equivalent of a Corvette. One owner even acknowledged as much, having named his boat "Hydro-therapy".

    The old part of the city is just gorgeous with all the cute houses and even cuter boutiques. I can tell you that I never went hungry with food choices ranging from the Mom-n-Pop family run deli to the pubs/microbreweries to dining on the dock. Seafood -- yum! I'm still full now. I kid you not.

    Two highlights were walking around the state capital building and seeing the Naval Academy. Who knew the state capital was so close to everything? It felt so easy and accessible, just a short stroll (and I mean, 5 minutes) from the downtown area -- with no barriers or guards, just grass and squirrels (and even a rabbit) and well kempt grounds. I guess I'm used to the security in and around the Capitol where you can't go anywhere without being under lots of surveillance. It definitely felt like being in another era.

    The USNA was interesting too. I learned a great deal about Naval history, "plebe summer", what it's like to become and be a "midshipman", the USNA's involvement in the space program, etc. And then seeing all of the young men and women walking around the town in their summer whites. They looked so fresh and clean and shiny. And I felt so old! I think about what my college experience was -- skipping classes, going on road trips, having a car, freedom -- and I know I never would have had the discipline to do what the service academy students do. And I really respect that choice. It takes a lot of maturity to basically decide your career (or a chunk of it) at 18. Daunting.

    One more thing I learned in Annapolis -- that the ship which brought Kunta Kinte landed in Annapolis where he was sold into slavery. There's a touching memorial in the downtown pier area with quotes from Roots around it. The memorial commemorates the arrival spot of Kunta Kinte but it also urges families to tell their stories, to pass down experiences and history to the younger generations, to celebrate your heritage. Yes.

    We also went to the Banneker-Douglass Museum which " is dedicated to preserving Maryland's African American heritage, and serves as the state's official repository of African American material culture." It's small, but growing, and the exhibit was well done. MD was a border state during the Civil War -- it was not part of the Confederacy but it was also a slave state. Therefore, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in MD. It took until the new Maryland Constitution took effect in November 1864 for slaves to be freed. I didn't know the latter factoid. Frankly, MD has a very checkered history when it comes to African American history and the civil rights movement. I knew a bit about the importance of the clash in Cambridge, MD, but I need to learn more.

    And that was part of the fun of this trip -- a number of "Huh, I didn't know that" moments which also whetted my appetite to learn more. And great food.

    And the water was gorgeous too. An easy day trip from DC. I'm gonna have to do it again.

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