Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Love A Parade!

April 2006 - State # 20 - Maryland

I had so been looking forward to visiting this state because it meant we could spend time with our dear friends who live there...but who knew that they would hold a parade for us!
Actually, this is a photo of Noon Formation.  Usually held in Tecumseh Court on the campus of the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  The midshipmen line up before marching in for the noon meal.  When you visit Annapolis, plan your trip in order to see this.  Because of high security, guided tours are the only way to visit (unless you have a son or daughter enrolled).  So get there in time for an 11:00 tour and your guide will make sure to have you at Tecumseh Court for this patriotic spectacle.  More on this later, but let's visit those dear friends first...

I met all of these fine folks back in 1998 when Nordstrom opened its first store in the southeast at Perimeter Mall here in Atlanta. Haley (left) actually hired me in 1997 from the War Room at the Ravinia.  Matt (center) was the manager of Logistics and later, Mary, now his wife, was the Visual Display manager for the Mall of Georgia Nordstrom.  And Jose (right) was a server in the now retired PUB inside the Menswear department at Perimeter Mall.

Full Disclosure:  We have visited Maryland on many occasions.  So, not all of the photos posted here are from 2006 (like this shot of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore from Nancy & Steve's boat).  I had to meet Haley's first child after all, the adorable Lily.  And later, her second, the gorgeous Grace.  And we always have a great time with her husband, Mike!

And in 2009 our daughter Jill moved to Richmond, Virginia; and on our visits to see her we always made time for a road trip to MarylandMary and Matt were married in Virginia three weeks after 9/11 and afterwards they settled in Columbia, Maryland(Now they live in Florida - we'll have to double back to State # 9!)

Visits to Maryland allowed us to meet their beautiful daughters, Sarah and Abigail.  And all of these girls were able to meet the "Purse Lady."

And Jose settled in Annapolis after opening Nordstrom's first store in Richmond.

That explains our numerous trips to State # 20...but in 2006, on our official visit in Alphabetical Order, we played the role of tourist in addition to visiting our friends.

This is a photo of sunset at Chesapeake Bay.  And we took it from the balcony of our room at Great Oak Manor.  This inn is located in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore and we recommend this hotel.  As you drive the country road leading to Great Oak Manor, you can imagine what the once-massive estate encompassed when it drew luminaries such as Guy Lombardo, Robert Mitchum and Jack Kennedy.  The road segues from sunny to serenely tree-lined and shaded as you approach, and then the inn suddenly comes into view.  Reminiscent of European manor homes, Great Oak Manor stands majestic at the top of a circular drive.

After breakfast here, we drove the Eastern Shore to the town of St. Michael's.  Since its founding in the late 1700's, this lovely village has depended on the water for its living.  Most of all - Shipbuilding.  Starting with log canoes, then waterman boats and racing boats.  Bugeyes and Baltimore clippers were built here, too.  In fact, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is the best attraction in town.  You can actually talk with the folks who are building the wooden boats right before your eyes!

The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, now standing on Navy Point, was originally built in 1879 to light the way for boats passing through the shallow, dangerous shoals of Hooper Strait, a thoroughfare for boats bound from the Chesapeake Bay across Tangier Sound to Deals Island or places along the Nanticoke and Wicomico Rivers.  As a "screwpile" lighthouse, it is built on special iron pilings which were tipped with a screw that could be turned into the muddy bottom for a depth of 10 feet or more.

The other marvelous thing to do in this quaint village is SHOPPING!  St. Michael's has a lovely concentration of eye-catching shops along Talbot Street.  Our favorite - OPHIUROIDEA.  This is a lovely establishment filled with unique gifts from local artisans.  (I love that!)  And if you have a sweet tooth you will enjoy ST. MICHAEL'S CANDY & GIFTS.  Delicious handmade chocolates and Baltimore's own Lee's ice cream and a variety of other sweet novelties.

Of course, we expected to see beaches and shoreline in a place called the Eastern Shore, but we did NOT expect to be driving along serenely beautiful roads through the crops of Maryland.  Seriously, the roads were literally ribbons of asphalt through perfectly symmetrical rows of grapevines, peach trees, corn, tomatoes, peanuts and various other crops.  And we enjoyed numerous stops at roadside stands for a fresh treat.  People usually visit this part of Maryland for the beaches; but if you are here during the spring or fall, you'll really miss out if you don't take a short detour and travel these back roads.

Our final day on the Eastern Shore we planned to tour the U.S Naval Academy at Annapolis, see the Noon Formation and spend the rest of the day in Historic Annapolis.  Tucked behind the historic district, standing proudly on the shores of the Severn River, the U.S. Naval Academy has been educating future naval officers for nearly 170 years.

Visitors to "the Yard" can tour the grounds, see a sample midshipman's room  (do NOT call them cadets)  and visit the crypt of John Paul Jones  ("I have not yet begun to fight!")  in the chapel undercroft.  On the tour you will also see Bancroft Hall, the largest dorm in the world and the magnificent chapel, which boasts very unusual windows.  Stained glass on the inside, outside you'll only see blue glass!  And although you can't actually see it in my photo (top left) one entire pew is reserved with an iron candelabra for missing sailors...we were in reverential awe.  Did you know all students here are on "scholarship?"  They pay zero in tuition!  Instead they spend 5 years in the Navy or Marine Corps to earn their education.  After visiting here, we decided this is where our federal taxes go - really, our money pays tuition for a few worthy midshipmen here - not treadmills for shrimp!

On the day we visited, much to our delight, they were holding a Formal Dress Parade for the review of then current National Security Advisor to the President, Stephen Hadley.  And we were invited to stay as long as we did not leave the campus.  So, we had lunch at the Officer's Club(The manager gave me a leather bound menu.)  And toured the museum in Prebel Hall, which is full of items depicting naval history while waiting for the afternoon event.  The parade was stunningly beautiful and made us proud to be Americans!

At each Formal Dress Parade held at Worden Field these 5 sailboats  (all midshipmen learn to sail on these boats)  are launched and sail past the parade grounds while cannons are fired.  STUNNING!  Blue and yellow sails out and white sails back home...this is so POSH?

Posh    This comes from the days of Britain's East India Company.  Aboard the ships that sailed from England to India, the most comfortable quarters were found on the PORT side of the ship going OUT to India  (Because the sun rose in the east, thus warming that side of the ship first, and setting in the west, which cooled that area earlier from the heat of the day).    Returning from India to England, the more comfortable quarters were now on the opposite side of the ship for the same reason, or STARBOARD HOME.  Naturally, these quarters were much more expensive for passengers traveling by ship.  Thus, only the more wealthy families could afford to have the initials P.O.S.H.  (Port Out, Starboard Home)  entered into the ship's log book when they made their reservations.

So, our visit to Historic Annapolis, the capitol of Maryland, was brief.  We only had time for some shopping  (of course)  and dinner.  We really hope to return in the future just to see Annapolis (What do you say, Jose?)

That's all I have to say about our visit to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 

Next time...

Family & Friends in Maryland