While in Baltimore, we visited a friend of ours from freshman year of college at BYU. Ben Pacini lived on the same floor of the dorm as Mckay and they became really good friends. Ben lives in Baltimore now and it was really great to catch up and meet his wife and son. We decided to meet downtown one day for lunch at a Thai restaurant. This was supposed to be the best Thai food in town but, unfortunately we never got to taste the food. Shortly after being seated, we were told that there was a gas leak in the kitchen and they would have to close for the day. Still craving Thai food, we made a plan B. A nice couple the next table over told us about their second favorite Thai restaurant that was only a few blocks away. We walked over there only to find a sign on the door.
"Sorry, we are closed today." Mckay was not impressed.
We settled on a nearby Chipotle. Not Thai, but still tasty.
Ben teaches middle school math in inner city Baltimore, so he gave us a little driving tour of the neighborhoods surrounding his school. It was very humbling to see some of the living conditions that his students are in and hear stories of the challenges they face.
Later in the trip, we went to Ben's house and the 3 little boys had a blast playing together.
They were all singing, screaming, yelling and dancing, each in their own world. It was great dinner entertainment.
We had to do a paddle boat tour of the Baltimore inner harbor. At the rental place, the boat choices were a regular paddle boat or a "Chessie" monster paddle boat. Can you guess which one we choose?
The Chessie boat was more enclosed and had safer seats for the kids, so our choice was strictly safety related. It had nothing to do with the boys wanting the cool looking boat...
This wasn't explained to us at all at the harbor, but since coming home and looking it up, I've discovered the meaning behind the boat name. "Scotland may have its "Nessie" but only at the Inner Harbor will you spot a Chasapeake Bay 'Chessie' Monster." (From the paddleboat website)
Connor loved it so much he could hardly keep his eyes open.
We got to paddle around the harbor for 30 minutes.
It was a very small roped off area, so 30 minutes was plenty of time.
(Another group in a Chessie boat)
Our next stop was Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.
(Technically, Key was not at the fort when the events detailed in the song took place. He was being detained on a British ship at the time. Fun fact for you...)
It was a cloudy cool day and we used public transportation to get around that day. The bus drops off right at the gates to Fort McHenry, with a short 1/4 mile walk to the Visitors Center from there. Rain came pouring down as soon as we got off the bus so that by the time we made the short walk to the visitors center, we were soaked. We looked around the little museum and watched a short movie while we waited for our clothes to dry a bit. The rain let up eventually and we walked the rest of the way out to the fort.
We explored all the dark, musty storage rooms.
And we only had to lock up the boys once.
It was really interesting to learn/relearn about our nation's history. And thanks to the National Park Service creating the Access Pass, people with a permanent disability (e.g. Dallin) can get a lifetime pass to visit all the national parks for free. The National Parks are even cooler when they're free.
(Pass information found HERE)
Since Washington D.C. is only an hour from Baltimore, we planned a little extra time after Mckay's conference to visit DC. More on that to come...