Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Fond Farewell to Annapolis

posted by Ardys

Annapolis is a great place to hang out for a few months in order to get familiar with a new (to us) boat and make preparations to go south for the winter.  I had not anticipated that I would feel so sad to be leaving here.  Annapolis kinda got under my skin…..it’s funky and friendly and it seems that everyone here has some sort of relationship with the water.  With 7,719 miles of shoreline in Maryland, it’s no wonder.  

Here are some of the things I will miss about Annapolis.  
Sailing lessons on Spa Creek, St. Mary's Church behind

Enthusiastic sailors of all ages! There are several sailing schools here.  Little swarms of boats sailed by children and shepherded around by adults each claim a piece of the water for their group to learn, or to race against one another.  And then there are all of the other sailboat races that continue throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Wednesdays. We’ve counted well over 200 boats on the water within sight of the harbor.  A vibrant community of racers!  We met racers who are crew on huge race boats in more distant locations such as Newport, RI on a weekly basis.  We met people who chose their college based upon which school had the best sailing team.  We met people who are so comfortable on the water and skilled in sailing that it seems they are capable of sailing anything with a mast.  And have done so for most of their lives!  We became friends with a couple who also plan to sail to the Bahamas to winter there.  I was humbled to learn that they will be sailing a fairly small (30’) barebones racing boat.  In fact it is so spartan that they are able to clean out the cabin with a hose  And here we are, going on a sailboat with all kinds of electronics and comfort features.  I’m feeling a little embarrassed to be going in relative luxury.  

Maryland State House
The Maryland State House, the oldest operating state house in our 50 states is but one of the 350+ buildings on the National Registry of Historic Buildings in Annapolis—more than in any other city in the country.  The streets are narrow and charming and the sidewalks are brick.  I immediately thought about how I would not want to use a snow blower on them, but I guess they don’t have to worry about that so much.  We took a great walking tour with a very knowledgeable tour guide who verbally painted a picture of what it would have been like to live here in 1750.  For example, since the colonials did not believe in bathing more than once/year, and most owned only one set of clothing, it was common for two proper ladies meeting on the street to each pull out a little nosegay to hold in front of her nose and mouth as they talked.  That way neither of them would have to smell the offensive odor of the other.   This was astonishing to me when she pointed out the streets were the receptacle for everyone’s garbage and sewage in those days, so the notion that one would still have been able to detect the body odor of their companion is rather remarkable, is it not?  
Hermione, replica of French battle ship

Ego Alley is the slip that cuts into the shoreline in center city Annapolis where everybody and his uncle will at some time or other parade up and down there alongside the City Dock on their boat.  The slip is surrounded by restaurants and shops.  Ego Alley is the site of the Annapolis Boat Shows and hosts whatever tall ships come into port here.  The parade up and down Ego Alley reminds me of the practice in my adolescence of showing off your new driver’s license and vehicle by driving up and down Main Street, U.S. A.  It’s a rite of passage and something you just have to do.

Annapolitan, Alex Haley reads to children.   At head of Ego Alley
Annapolis has got to be one of the most dog friendly places in the country.  Our dog has become accustomed to getting treats from marina staff and/or workmen who come onto the boat.  They all know his name.  When out walking him, Jax is often greeted by those we meet before greeting me although I have to say that it is very friendly place to two legged folks as well.  When I have asked at ice cream stores whether my husband might bring in the dog so that he could choose his own ice cream flavor,  I’ve been told,  “Oh, sure….no problem.”  Restaurants with outdoor seating provide ice water to dogs while the dogs attempt proper introductions to one another under the tables.  
Back side "Because We Like It That Way"

Maritime Republic of Eastport bumper
Eastport, one of the neighborhoods of Annapolis is a homey little peninsula which lies across Spa Creek from the City dock.  We heard the Eastport story from those who live there.  Several years ago, the bridge across Spa Creek was closed for renovations, making it a very long drive around the head of the creek to get from Eastport to center city Annapolis.  The plucky folks of Eastport (known as Eastportoricans) decided that perhaps they should “secede” from the City of Annapolis.  Thus, they renamed their neighborhood the “Maritime Republic of Eastport” (MRE) and designed a flag for themselves as well.  A pair of Labs proudly are shown on the flag, holding a banner with pictures of a sailboat, power boat, oyster boat, crab, etc.  Eastport folks are creative.  They love their dogs.  They are proud of their homes.  What used to be a blue-collar neighborhood of Annapolis has become a somewhat trendy place to live.  We spent three months claiming Eastport as our neighborhood. 

South Annapolis Yacht Center, from the water
The South Annapolis Yacht Center is where we spent those three months from June to Sept.  It is the oldest marina in Annapolis (Eastport) and admittedly does look careworn.  While we were residents at that marina NORTHERN STAR became part of the tour for the kayakers, canoes and paddle boarders who came by every day with their tour guides.  The story goes that the marina was once two separate marinas.  We heard repeatedly that “there was no love lost between the owners of the marinas, who built a tall wall between the marinas.”  Now the wall is gone and the two marinas are one.   This marina is a neighborhood gathering place.  Not many people live onboard here, but it is well used by the people who love the old place.  Dragon boat crews.  Paddle boarders.  Locals out picking up crabs out of the bay from alongside the pilings of the marina.  Old, old wooden boats, very well cared for and enjoyed respectfully.  The caretaker of the marina worked tirelessly by himself every day and was never cross.  Although he knew my name, he routinely called to me “Lady, how you doin’?” He was a gem.  And I am honored to have been able to experience this old marina before it is torn down and turned into something else entirely.  It’s bound to happen before long.
Naval cadet

The Naval Academy is the jewel of Annapolis, in my opinion.  It shares a tall wall with the city of Annapolis and visitors can walk in (after a security check) and explore a bit.  John Paul Jones’ body lies in state in a crypt within the enormous Academy Chapel.  There’s a fascinating miniature ship model museum on campus as well, which is a must see for tourists.  Sometimes I catch sight of those young naval cadets around town, looking all pressed and trim and handsome (the women too) and it makes me feel like I am living on the edge of something great and historically important.  I believe I am.

Chick & Ruth's Delly, an Annapolis institution
Sailing in the Bay while trying to avoid crab pot lines was NOT my favorite thing about Annapolis, but going out to eat crabs WAS.  There are crab houses all up and down the Bay. I discovered that I absolutely love Peruvian chicken, and some vegetables I had never before heard of, that I was served in El Salvadoran restaurants.  My favorite “American” food restaurants were “Chick and Ruth’s Delly” (yes, they do spell it that way) and “Davis’ Pub.”  Chick and Ruth’s is known for leading the patrons in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at 8:30 AM, 9:30 weekends, something they have done every day since 1989.  The tables are tiny and space is tight.  (A lot like a sailboat!) It’s noisy and the portions are huge.  I loved it immediately!  The dishes are named after the Maryland statehouse politicians who chose them as their favorites.  Brightly painted walls are covered with photographs of politicians and more well-known, famous people that have eaten there.  This morning, a new photo of Pope Francis blessing a woman graced the wall.  When I commented on that to my husband, the elderly (meaning, a little older than me) woman seated next to him said "That was me!"  She then gave me a silver angel talisman to carry with me for safety. Fascinating breakfast companions!  
Eating before standing for the Pledge of Allegiance

Farewell Annapolis.  Perhaps we’ll stop to pay a visit on our way north again next year.  Who knows? 

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