ANNAPOLIS- THE UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY
On a late October afternoon, the Fat Bald White Guy and his Faithful Hiking Companion took a side to trip to the capitol of Maryland... Annapolis, the home of the United State Naval Academy. The Midshipmen were playing Tulane and the town was buzzing with activities. Seldom has an unplanned side trip proven so much fun!
We discovered four major reasons to visit Annapolis. First the town is simply charming. It has a New England coastal hamlet combined with an old college town feel to it. There are shops and stores, restaurants and bars, all catering to the eclectic and the sublime.
Second, it has an enchanting harbor located on the Severn River just off the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis is the home of all sorts of sea craft, from the largest to the smallest. Any boat is welcome to dock in the small harbor that seems to fit nicely in the midst of storefronts.
Third, Annapolis is the home of the United State Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, the academy has educated some of the most dedicated members of our armed forces.
Finally, Annapolis is the home of one of the finest named restaurants ever opened. Even if the food and service found here were not exemplary, the name of this restaurant alone should bring throngs of visitors.
We begin our visit by walking the streets and stopping in various shops that drew our attention. Of course the FBWG needed a new hat for the winter....if you don't have hair, you know what a I mean. What a great store. But then as we left the store we heard the hot licks of an electric guitar and discovered one of the best street performers I have ever seen.
But his street concert was interrupted when my faithful hiking companion pointed to the sign which led us to that wonderfully named restaurant. We were hungry and this was the place to eat in Annapolis. From our upstairs table by the window, we got to see the Annapolis Harbor while supping on some of the best cream of crab soup ever made!
Turns out there are no discounts for customers who are named "Buddy" and the restaurant owner is not even named "Buddy". Seems that he named the place after his fishing buddy...how about that?!
Having topped that cream of crab soup with some peel and eat shrimp, the FBWG was ready for a hike. Setting off to explore the Annapolis Harbor and the US Naval Academy we put in about 2.5 miles.
Every time Navy scored a touchdown, the good ole boys at the Fleet Reserve Club sounded a ship's horn causing most ever boat in the harbor to respond by blowing their horn.
Navy beat Tulane that day 31-14, just sayin...
Adding some money to the parking meter, we decided to visit the United States Naval Academy and proceeded through security and was granted our clearance. Having seen Harrison Ford in Patriot Games movie, I understand why they are so security conscious. True to form every inch of that campus is covered by a security camera. But we were able to stroll all over campus and it was a great walk.
Not wanting to miss the harbor views, we strolled over to the wharf and walked around the point down the banks of the Severn River. The walk offered great views of the Annapolis Harbor as well as the distant Chesapeake Bay. Boats were everywhere.
There is something about sailboats that I find majestic. The Severn River is the host of many sail boats, both large and small. Sails dotted the horizon as far as we could see.
Along the wharf were several memorials and monuments to Midshipmen and their service to our country.
I was especially drawn to the memorial named "Gate to the Sea". It really looked like it was a gate to the ocean and true to form there were ships sailing in the distance illustrating the allure of the sea.
I really could have spent hours at this spot watching the vessels sail both near and far. It was a magical setting.
As we rounded the point, we followed a fast moving sail boat up the river and the contrast of the boat against the fall colors proved to be a nice scene to capture.
Turning into campus, we set our sights on the green dome gleaming in the distance and strolled our way into the older part of the Naval Academy.
In the middle of campus is a square in which a gazebo is located in front of a large church. The stroll way crossing the square was adorned by a beautiful orange tree.
In the square is the Herndon Monument named for a Commodore who lost his life saving lives on a sinking ship off Cape Hatteras on September 12, 1857. It is the site of the Herndon Climb. The monument is covered with lard and first year plebes try to retrieve an cap from the top of the monument.
Looking to the left we saw the decorated home of Vice Admiral Walter E. Carter Jr., the current Superintendent of the Naval Academy. Nice digs!
One of the main focal points of the campus of the Naval Academy is the Chapel which holds the crypt of legendary Naval Commander John Paul Jones.
Many of the stained glass windows are dedicated to revered Admirals. I caught a very nice reflection in the one on the western side of the building.
On the other side of the square is another interesting building. Mahan Hall is in the center with the clock tower.
Taking the Stribling Walk across the campus square from Mahan Hall, we arrived at one of the main assembly areas the Midshipmen. Oddly named Tecumseh court is in front of Bancroft Hall.
Not realizing the significance of the decorated statue in front of Bancroft Hall, I did not photograph one of the more unusual monuments on the campus. The statue is a replica of the figurehead of the USS Delaware presented to the Academy by the class of 1891. It is regularly decorated by Midshipmen on game weeks and it said to grant favors to those who give in a left handed salute.