We drove up just after lunch on Friday. Our first stop was at Fort McHenry to see where the flag was flown that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.
My eldest son looking out over the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.
Next we went and checked into our hotel. We used our Marriott Reward points to stay at the Renaissance Hotel right on the waterfront in Baltimore. When we checked in, the lady at the counter gave us a free upgrade to a room with a view. Score!
The front desk staff was VERY helpful with information about what to see and do nearby. We had already been planning on going to the National Aquarium Baltimore because it is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays. What we didn't know, and what the hotel receptionist informed us, was that the aquarium was only $5 after 5 p.m. to get into the aquarium on Fridays. Score! Cha-ching! Cha-ching! It was like 4:30 then, so we went and had an early dinner at a restaurant across the street first, and then headed over to the aquarium.
YB with the jellyfish.
Toward the end of our visit to the aquarium, we came to this seemingly black wall. I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it, except for a smattering of various people sitting and standing around watching this wall as if they were watching a giant movie screen with nothing on it. Suddenly, there were "ooohs!" and "ahhhs!" and gasps through the crowd as these gray ghosts gracefully glided past behind the glass.
We ended up taking a seat to watch the dolphins swim past a few more laps before moving on. (Note the reflection of LW's pink sweater in the glass above.) This reminded me of being at sea off the coast of Southern California where the dolphins look like ghosts in the water, but there they are highlighted by a sheen of bioluminescence and leave a glowing trail behind them.
Night view of Baltimore from our hotel room.
Saturday morning, we went to tour the historic ships on the Baltimore waterfront. First we went to USS CONSTELLATION.
This boatswain's mate met us on the main deck of the CONSTELLATION, and he was AWESOME. He enlisted our help to do morning colors.
Raising the flag on USS CONSTELLATION
The Bo'sun showing the boys the ropes.
Oh say can you see...
The boatswain told us to come back after we finished our tour in order for the boys to receive their "pay" for working for him that morning on raising the U.S., Maryland, and Baltimore flags. When we returned for the boys to receive their pay, he explained how much they had earned and how much he had to deduct for their uniforms and candy they took from the ship's store, so they wouldn't actually get any pay. However, he said in honor of their service, President Lincoln was awarding them each a presidential medallion.
The boatswain presents "presidential medallions" to the boys.
Indian heads on them and that this was a genuine presidential medallion from President Lincoln.
USS TORSK, the last submarine to sink a Japanese ship during WWII. One of the volunteers on board told us the boat received an encrypted message in the middle of attacking a Japanese convoy. They sank two of the Japanese ships and were lining up to shoot a third when the radiomen brought the deciphered message to the captain reporting the Japanese surrender and directing U.S. forces to cease all hostilities.
While we were touring the USCGC TANEY, we were climbing up a ladder and my eldest son behind me said, "Daddy, there's a big hole in your pants." There is?
Port Discovery Children's Museum. The boys had a BLAST.
Later, YB asked my wife if he could get his own car when he gets older. She said, uhhhh, sure, why? He responded because then he could drive himself to Baltimore to go back to the Port Discovery Children's Museum. Sadly, by the time he's old enough to drive, I think he will have long forgotten how much fun he had there last weekend.
We had a great weekend getaway to Baltimore. There's still a LOT more to see and do around Baltimore, so we look forward to going back again someday.