Friday, October 25, 2013

Amish Country Covered Bridges; Annapolis, Maryland

We spent our second day in the Amish country driving around to see a number of covered bridges.  Turns out that, other than in New England, the biggest concentration of covered bridges seems to be right in this part of Pennsylvania.  Most of these bridges are no longer in use, as the original roads have been replaced by newer roads, or the bridges are just in too much of a state of decay and disrepair to be usable.   We did come across a few that were still in quite good shape and still in use on the regularly traveled roadways.  Regardless, these are all very interesting, and we really enjoyed seeing them.  It was a chilly day and began raining not too long after we headed out for the day.  Nonetheless, we did get to see some more of the beautiful farms and a few more sights of folks riding the "scooter bikes" and some buggies.  It's such a surprise to drive by a hardware store, for example, and see in the parking lot most of the lot taken up with ordinary, lined parking spaces for cars, but also an area with a hitching post for the horse drawn buggies and wagons of the Amish customers.  Folks in the area obviously have come to accommodate the different modes of transportation, even though it requires much more attention and sometimes trucks slowing down or stopping to let the horse drawn wagons cross the roads.  From all outward appearances, the Amish and the "English" have figured out how to cooexist side by side, with their distinctly different ways and customs.  It was a great visit to this area, and a wonderful time of reflection for Trisha and me, as we had spent part of our honeymoon here 45 years ago--needless to say there's much more development, commercial and residential, than we recalled from back then, but still quite a charming place to visit!

After lunch we drove on to Annapolis, Maryland.  Since there simply are no RV campgrounds in the immediate area, and no Walmarts or similar places to park, we were pleased when the manager at the motel where Mickey and Sharon were staying said we could just park in the motel lot.  So, this made it very convenient for all four of us, as we have done all of our sightseeing in their rental car.  Went to the visitor center, hoping to get the details for a trolley tour of the town and harbor boat cruises, which we'd read about in the AAA books about Annapolis.  Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time chasing some wild geese, as first the trolley was finished for the day, and, despite the boat cruise company saying they were still running both of their tours, once we went down to the city dock, we learned that neither boat was going out that day--no explanation as to why, and the weather was quite nice all afternoon.  Anyway, we didn't let these minor disappointments cast any pall over our time here, and found a wonderful restaurant near the motel called Lebanese Taverna.  This is apparently a chain operating in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, but it was fabulous!  Lots of vegan choices and we've always enjoyed all types of Middle Eastern cuisine.  Also had several kids there who were excited to have a surprise visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus!

The next day we went to the US Naval Academy and had a really informative and interesting tour.  Even though we had lived in DC during my Army days, we had only been to Annapolis once then, and only very briefly, and had never visited the Academy.  It was really so interesting to tour this place and to learn more about the history of the institution, as well as to see first hand some of the daily life of the midshipmen.  A high school classmate had come here, and one of my law partners and good friends had graduated from the Academy--took a Marine commission and was a fighter pilot in Vietnam.  Our tour guide was a woman whose daughter is currently a plebe--freshman--indeed the place has changed much since the first women were admitted in 1976.  23% of the current plebe class is female--pretty impressive.  And, during the daily formation of the whole brigade in the courtyard outside of the mess hall, we saw many women in positions of leadership throughout the brigade.  We were disappointed to learn that we could not go inside the chapel, as it was being decorated for a Halloween concert--seemed somehow incongruous that there would be a Halloween concert in the chapel--as it is a really beautiful place, from pictures I've seen.  Anyway, it was a real treat to see the place.  Having gone through Army Officer Candidate School, I found myself with a bit of a surprised reaction to seeing so many of the midshipmen walking rather leisurely across campus.  While they all were in formation right before the noon meal, afterwards, they were just free to leave whenever they were finished with lunch.  Since at OCS we never went anywhere except in strict formation by company, e.g., after each meal, we all formed up outside the mess hall to march back to the barracks, it seemed more casual than what I had expected.  I'm sure that in the dorms there is still much of what I recall from TV shows and movies, including all the bracing and harassment of plebes, but the scene was much more like a typical college campus, just with everyone wearing the uniform.  Anyway, it was a treat to visit the place.

We also visited the Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol building still in continuous legislative use.  This is also the only state capitol to serve as the nation's capitol, as the Continental Congress met there in 1783-84; George Washington tendered his resignation as Commander of the Continental Army here, and the Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the Revolutionary War, was signed here.  It's a beautiful building--significant renovations are underway in the rotunda, so much of it is closed off from public access, but we got to see the inside of both the Senate and House chambers, which are quite impressive.  Also quite interesting that the Governor's Mansion is right across the street from the State House.  Not a bad commute for the Guv!

While the State House sits in what's known as State Circle, just up the street is Church Circle, where St. Anne's Episcopal Church is located, having been established in 1692.  The current building is not the original, but the third, having been built after the second one was destroyed by fire in 1858.  It is a gorgeous sanctuary and we really enjoyed walking around, taking it all in--the absolute beauty of the interior, as well as the immense sense of history of this place.  Learned that Francis Scott Key attended St. Anne's when he was a student at nearby St. John's College.  As you might imagine, Trisha especially enjoyed seeing this church!  A wonderful ending to a delightful visit to this charming town!

Some covered bridges

 Interesting way they used these great big arches to support the bridges

 Looking up at the ceiling of the covered bridge
 Lovely fall leaves on this tree near this bridge

One of the few remaining double arched covered bridges--in pretty rough shape, so they wouldn't let you walk all the way across it

 You can make out the two arches in these next two shots

 Mill wheel near the bridge--still turning!
 This bridge we could drive through
 Shot from the car so it's a little blurry, but this is typical of Amish farm houses, the clothes hanging out on the line
 Another well tended Amish farm!

Pretty murals on the side of one of the buildings in this little complex of shops in Intercourse, PA.  Trisha and I had stayed one night in this charming little town on our honeymoon 45 years ago--yeah, you can go ahead and write your own punch line to that one!!

 Just love these fall displays!!

 Sharon and Trisha, having a little fun!
 Really unique squash in a little display outside this yarn store

 Mickey had quite a time polishing off his Ploughman's Platter at this wonderful little restaurant where we ate lunch
 Sorry that these are blurred, but we were moving and it was raining, and I wanted to get these shots of the typical Amish buggy on the road, and the second one of a young man pushing himself along on his scooter bike

 Car and buggy, sharing the road!
Looking out on the harbor from the Naval Academy Visitor Center
 A destroyer, one of a fleet used for training by midshipmen
 Naval Academy emblem
 The Navy Goat, their mascot--our guide said there are two stories of its origin as the mascot; one is that  midshipmen en route to the first Army-Navy football game in 1890 stopped and bought a goat from a farmer, something to eat!; the second story claims that it stemmed from the fact that the earliest navy ships carried goats along to provide milk for the crew
General Lejeune, Naval Academy graduate and Commandant of the Marines
Our tour guide, describing the 1800 room dormitory
A midshipmen, strolling across the campus
Inside the athletic complex, the two Heisman Trophies, won by Joe Belino and Roger Staubach
Captain's Row, residences of senior faculty and administrators

Superintendent's residence
Monument to those who serve in the submarine fleet

The dorm
Preparing for noonday formation

Formation outside Bancroft Hall

Drum and Bugle Corps, marching the brigade into Bancroft Hall for lunch

Inside the grand rotunda of Bancroft Hall

The Commander In Chief trophy, annually awarded to one of the three service academies
Beautiful marble floor in Bancroft Hall

Shots inside a model dorm room

President Carter, the only Naval Academy graduate to become President
Beautiful chandelier in Memorial Hall

Memorial to all Academy graduates killed in action

Statue of Tecumseh, in front of Bancroft Hall--covered up to protect the water color paint job--he gets repainted each football weekend in some takeoff on the opposing team's colors
Tour guide showing photos of Tecumseh in different colors

Entrance to Superintendent's residence
Front of the chapel

Photo of plebe class scaling this obelisk, which is covered in grease, to retrieve a "dixie cup," the name given to the sailor's cap worn by plebes during plebe summer, as they receive their indoctrination into Academy life--this is a graduation day ritual, signaling the end to their plebe year

In old downtown Annapolis

Governor's Mansion

Front of the State House
House of Delegates Chamber
Senate chamber

Painting depicting Washington resigning his military commission
St. Anne's Church

Beautiful, intricate wood carving behind the altar, done by the German carvers in Oberammergau
The organ, in the rear of the sanctuary

Mosaic tile angel, over the door into the sanctuary
Some of the stained glass windows

Mary and her mother, St. Anne
The Bishops Chair, in the front chancel

Stars and clouds, painted on the ceiling over the altar
This eerily beautiful light pattern on the wooden walls behind the altar, from the sunlight refracted through high windows--it was moving somewhat and changing colors--Trisha said it was the embodiment of the Holy Spirit!

Under all the pews were these individual kneelers, covered in needlepoint of many different designs; apparently these were done in 1992, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the church's founding

Hard not to be reflective in a place like this!
Sharon, in front of the window depicting the Anunciation

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