Tuesday was our first car day. I didn’t want to hassle with renting a car for the entire trip, so I reserved a car with Avis at Union Station. A quick cab ride later, I drove back to the hotel, picked everyone up, and we were off to Annapolis. (This is glossing over some details, like how one of my children, whom I will not name, took an inordinate amount of time to get ready so that we got a really late start.) Our late start meant that we missed our planned breakfast at McDonald’s, but as we headed north we found a convenient Chick-Fil-A and had an early lunch instead.
We tried to drive directly to the US Naval Academy (USNA) visitor center, but this proved to be impossible because none of us knew where we were going. We backtracked to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and took the free shuttle to the visitors’ center. Actually, Mom and the boys did that while I stayed with the car to conduct a short Q&A for a webcast I’d done for Windows IT Pro. This turned out to be a real problem because I’d planned on using my iPhone as a tethered Internet connection for my laptop. This seemed like a reasonable plan, and I tested it at the hotel, where tethering worked fine. (Well, OK, the truth: it was slower than I liked but it was also cheaper than hotel wi-fi, so it was adequate.) However, I had a hard time maintaining a connection, and when I did it was unusually slow. I eventually got in to the webcast site about 5 minutes before it was scheduled to be over, so I missed the Q&A– my apologies to anyone whose question went unanswered.
That done, I caught the shuttle bus and met everyone at the visitors’ center. It has a terrific array of Navy-related artifacts, including the Freedom 7 capsule flown by Alan Shepherd (USNA 1945) and a wonderful gift shop. Everyone else had already seen that stuff, though, so we went right to the tour. (David is really interested in attending USNA, so he went to an admissions presentation instead, though he rejoined us later.)
Our tour guide was terrific. He clearly knew a great deal about Annapolis and Navy history, and we got to see all the highlights, including the crypt of John Paul Jones beneath the chapel (fascinating story alert here), the Lejeune Building (a/k/a the gym; he got bonus points for properly pronouncing it “Luh-jern”), Dahlgren Hall, and the enormous Bancroft Hall dorm complex. We arrived shortly before the end of the formal class day, so we got to see lots of midshipment strolling around. “Strolling” isn’t quite the right word, but neither is “marching”… perhaps I should stick with “walking” and leave it at that.
After our tour, we went back outside to catch the shuttle bus, just in time to see the local police arresting four people for dropping beer bottles off their roof onto the street. This proved a valuable learning opportunity for the boys, who had never actually seen 5-0 roll up on someone and cuff them. The drive back to Union Station to drop off the car was almost anticlimactic after that episode.
For dinner, we decided to go to Chinatown… where we ate at Fuddruckers. It’s pretty funny, but the Chinatown gate is flanked by a Starbucks on one side and Fuddruckers on the other. Despite the incongruity, we had a great meal, then went back to the hotel to watch a little CNN and zonk out for the night.