maura @ 10:00 pm
Last weekend we took a short + sweet trip down to the DelMarVa peninsula. After we’d had to cancel our trip to the Baltimore aquarium over Spring Break Gus was bummed, so we checked the calendar and arrived at Brooklyn-Queens Day, otherwise known as the first Thursday in June and a school holiday. We decided to yank him out of school for Friday 6/8 as well and bingo, our quick Spring Break replacement trip was set.
It’s been ages since I visited Baltimore. I spent much of my preteen childhood in and around Philly and I’ve always felt warmly about Baltimore, sort of a sympathetic younger sibling feeling. Like so many Eastern working cities it’s maybe not transitioned as well into the post-industrial age as would be nice. Which is why I can’t completely fault the mallification of the Inner Harbor — as much as it’s not my thing by a long shot, it’s good to see the tourist dollars rolling in.
And in and among the malls there’s good stuff for sure. The aquarium was a good time and holds up well to my memories of long ago. As I sort of feared it’s hard for any aquarium to live up to the touching sharks and wading with rays experience Gus had at the Camden aquarium last year (which I don’t seem to have blagged about, mysteriously). But I still think the Baltimore aquarium has a lovely design, with the moving walkways taking you up up up to the rainforest at the top, letting you look down onto the ray tank further below at each floor.
In the big coral reef tank with the ramps that lead you back down there was not one but two puffer fish, one the biggest I’ve ever seen. I love puffer fish (not just because of The Simpsons) and only just this time realized that the reason they’re so easy to love is that they have big eyes that sort of swivel in their sockets like mammal eyes do, not really flat or fishy at all. So kawaii! All of my pictures came out sort of lame, so instead you can look at this one from a cool aquarium we visited long ago in Auckland, New Zealand:
In the jellies exhibit was a type I’ve never seen before called upside down jellies. They all seem to congregate, flipped over, in a pile on one side of the tank. Occasionally a lone jelly would be swimming around, right-side up, which looked super weird in that context. Some were nearly impossibly small, smaller than a ladybug! They were hard to get a good photo of, what with all the undulating tentacles, but I gave it my best shot:
It was a quick trip and of course Gus wanted to get in as much time swimming in the hotel pool as possible, so other than the aquarium the main thing we did was visit some of the historic ships in the Inner Harbor. First up and coolest by a long shot was a WWII sub. So many levers and switches to flip, dials to turn! Also bunks to lie in (kind of icky). And lots of yelling “fire in the hole!” and “dive, dive!” Only later did Jonathan and I begin to realize how creepy it is to imagine being cooped up on a submarine under all of that water.
We also toured the Chesapeake Lightship, and until then I hadn’t realized that lightships basically anchored themselves to a specific spot off the coast and hung out pretending to be lighthouses. The next day we did the restored Civil War ship USS Constellation, which was a bit less fun and more restored-y, though Gus did like swinging from the hammocks where the sailors slept. We missed the Coast Guard ship (walked by it, but no time), and were able to squeeze in a quick walk through the Knoll Lighthouse, a funky flat kind of lighthouse designed to be out in the ocean rather than on the edge of a land mass. Far fewer stairs to climb, but far lonlier, I’d imagine, too.
Rounding out our tourist experience was chain restaurant food and the waves and waves of red-clad Philadelphia Phillies fans seemingly everywhere we turned. The stadium where the Orioles play is quite close to the harbor, and there was some sort of three-day baseball extravaganza happening while we were there. It was kind of surreal and theme-parky at times, esp. since we as a family are so completely unsportsy. Talk about fish out of water! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)