Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Oct 2 2004 - City Hike / History Walk in Annapolis, MD (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Katry Harris
Participants:Katry Harris, Kate Copanic, John Putman, Brett Twiggs, Katie Buckley, Gwen Savage, Robin Bauer, Patrick Haas, Jessica Morin, Emily Dernoeden, Amy Pickwick, John Stone

Write Up:
The group met at the visitor’s center under a cloudy sky enveloped in mist and humidity. After groggy introductions, we set off on foot to explore the town. There was sporadic conversation as we meandered through the still-quiet streets of Maryland’s capital city. History came alive, metaphorically speaking, as our learned guide shared information and a glib charm. Despite her sunny disposition, the sun struggled to break through all day. The sun won skirmishes with the clouds through the day but the insurgent sun was ultimately defeated.

We made our way downtown to the City Dock past historic houses, both significant and insignificant. We passed Carrollton House, home of Charles Carroll, namesake of much of Maryland. Once we reached the dock, we saw the fairly new Alex Haley memorial across from the Market House. Also across from Market House, at the dock, is the famed Ego Alley. Named so for the hubris of certain boat owners who think their boats are the best and brightest.

After the dock we proceeded up to the seat of Maryland power, the State House. After fighting our way through the metal detector and some aggressive tourists, we made our way through the main hallway to the House Chamber and looked up in awe at the State House dome. We then took a peek in the Old Senate Chamber. A smallish room tastefully appointed with, among other things, a life-size figure of George Washington. Leaving the State House with a new appreciation for our democratic process, we moseyed through the town, past lovely and quaint homes to the beacon of excellence and leadership, the United States Naval Academy.

The academy is impressive indeed. Struck by the magnitude of the place, both physical and in its traditions, the group walked amidst the grounds in a sort of daze. Initially it was the immense size of Bancroft Hall and then it was the enormous bust of Tecumseh, which gets repainted by the midshipmen every week before each Navy football game. The final element of the Naval Academy tour was perhaps the most powerful. We entered the crypt of John Paul Jones—who is credited with being the father of the U.S. Navy—with trepidation. Upon entering, we noticed a skinny midshipman standing guard. Upon further inspection, some determined it was yet another life-size figure and moved on. We made our way around the circular walkway the surrounds the actual coffin. The coffin itself is an immense black marble sarcophagus held aloft by a school of black marble dolphins. It is stunning and creepy at the same time.

The group made its way around the crypt toward the exit. With a final glance toward the wax sailor standing guard, we see the inconceivable. The mannequin blinked! Like the guards at Buckingham Palace, this kid had been standing there unmoving for who knows how long. What admiral did he offend to end up with this duty? Or which admiral’s favor did he win to earn this noble guardianship? We civilians will never know. We left the Naval Academy in awe and with a newfound respect for our sailing men and women. All the walking we had been doing was finally getting to us and we decided to retire for lunch.

We settled on a local establishment right near the City Dock. Conversation flowed as freely as the iced tea as we rested our barking dogs. It was a pleasant yet hearty stroll through one of the most historic and beautiful towns in American history. Thanks to all for coming out on a day with such questionable weather and thanks especially to Katry for sharing her expertise with the group.

--John Putman

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