Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The rest of our Maryland visit

One of the reasons we raced to Maryland was to make a trip to The National Aquarium in Baltimore before our annual membership expired. We went the day after we arrived, and we applauded the dolphin show, stared at drifting jellies, and fed crickets to the archerfish.

The National Aquarium offers an independent membership, unaffiliated with any other zoos or aquariums. Normally this exclusivity would discourage us from purchasing a membership, but we make exceptions for the National Aquarium and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which I'm hoping we'll visit again early next year. These institutions do what they do extremely well, and they have enough exhibits that we usually take the time to visit them on consecutive days. If we manage to arrange our schedule to get back there just within the year we get even more out of the membership. Our NAIB card expired the day after this visit.

After all the stuff in Greenbelt that I already wrote about, we suddenly had only a week left in Maryland! We moved the camper north to Patapsco Valley State Park and tightly scheduled our last few days.

When I was a kid, my mom would take us car-and-tent camping in both Greenbelt and Patapsco parks, so I love them both. Patapsco has electrical hookups, nice trails and a river, although once again we spent little time in the park, what with all the visiting. One other difference between them is that Patapsco's campground closes for the winter, while Greenbelt remains open year-round.

While at Patapsco, we used one precious afternoon for a family bike ride on part of the BWI Trail, and we spent a little time with some relatives who live in nearby Catonsville.

This past Friday we met still more family in downtown Washington, DC and enjoyed very selective peeks into the National Archives, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Lincoln Memorial.

Saturday we enjoyed a festive family Oktoberfest with about 30 of my closest relatives. We filled up on weisswurst, sauerkraut, potatoes, beer and homemade pies, and we cooed at the new baby in the family. Sunday we enjoyed what felt like a very short day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival - the weather was perfect for wandering about munching turkey legs and drinking cider, laughing our heads off at the outdoor shows, and watching the thrilling action in the jousting arena.

We're exhausted, and we know we missed so much in Maryland this time around. But we'll be back next year, if we keep to our rough plans. For now we're heading south for the winter!

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