When we got into Baltimore, there was no denying where we were. Toto, we aint in Kansas anymore! It was rather obvious when we started seeing these orange banners hanging off the street lights. Each light had 2 banners. The banner on the left said Orioles and the one on the right said "This is Birdland". In the area of the city we were in, they had a section of the road set aside for the bikers. They did it up right though. In many cities where there is a bike lane on the roads, they simply mark it off with white paint on the pavement. In this particular part of Baltimore, they had it actually blocked off with these orange railings. I know I'd feel safer riding a bike with that sort of protection between me and the cars, that's for sure!
As we were approaching the Aquarium, we started seeing some boats. The first one that caught my eye was this older one with the three masts and rigging. It was so cool. I'd like to go back if only to check this baby out! The triangular glass building behind it is part of the Aquarium. We saw the boat for those Duck Tours that I ~think~ iggy had mentioned in one of his entries (or was it someone else??) and I told hubby the next time we visit, we WILL be going on that so to plan for a long weekend. There was also a Coast Guard boat, The SS John W Brown (one of the two Liberty ships still floating today), The USS Torsk SS-423 (one of two surviving Tench class Fleet Submarines in the United States), and what I'd guess to be a tug boat of some kind. Feel free to check out the pix in my Photobucket (LadyStyx account Baltimore folder). I'll leave any history lesson regarding these boats (or ships, whatever your preference) to iggy if he'd like to take on the task sometime.
We ended up parking about a block or so from the Aquarium. My original intention had been to go and get set up in a hotel first and then come back out but hubby had other plans. He pulled us into a garage about a block or so from the Aquarium. The only spots left were in the topmost tier. Thank goodness for elevators! The picture to the right is looking out over East Pratt Street in the direction we'd be heading once we got to the ground floor. The buildings were magnificent. I cant believe I've missed buildings this size in just the time we've been in Manassas.
This picture was actually taken when we were leaving but I'm going to stick it here so you can see it. It's a rather odd building to say the least. The one triangular section housed a good share of the exibits while the other side housed the dolphin exibit, show and the IMAX. There was a covered, elevated walkway between the two buildings. The day was hot and were they ever BUSY!! If I'd had ANY indication the line was going to be as long as it was, I would have gotten tickets in advance. They were on timed openings which meant they only allowed a certain number in at a time and they only opened the doors at 15 minute intervals. *UGH*! As we worked through the line the opening time went from 2:15pm to 2:30, then it jumped to nearly 3pm, then to 315pm and then 335pm!! I looked at the clock...it was only about 1pm *sigh*. Well, our turn came for the window and we decided that maybe because of the crowds we'd just get the admission and skip the dolphin show and the IMAX this trip and come back at another time to do the whole kittnkaboodle....preferably during the fall when the kids are all in school (maybe I'll have a better camera then too!!??). Since we opted for just the admission and not a package deal, the ticket person was able to get us in earlier than we planned. HURRAY! We only had to wait until 2:15pm. This gave us time to go get some lunch first. We went to PotBelly's. The food's ok but not really worth the price to be honest but it got us out of the heat for a bit. In this picture to the right, PotBelly's is just off the picture to the right of the Hard Rock Cafe. Hubby said if we'd had to wait longer that we'd have gone to the Hard Rock Cafe instead (to the right of the Barnes and Noble in the center). I'll have to make sure that's in our plans for next time. I'd also like to make sure we have time to go to the railroad museum as well because hubby is really good about going to zoos and aquariums for me.
When we were done, we went back to the Aquarium to wait. We had about 20 minutes to spare so we just sat and watched the goings ons around us. There was this awesome map on the ground near the entrance. I really wish I could have gotten a picture of it from overhead. I've got several shots of it in my Photobucket showing the details a bit better but this shot to the left shows you how big it was. It was of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and was scaled at a half inch being equal to one mile. Photos simply dont do this piece of work the proper justice to be honest. While I was looking around I noticed the clouds reflected in one of the buildings nearby and thought it was very pretty. If it wasnt for the fact that it was very humid and the fact that the sun likes to do nasty stuff to my skin, I do believe I could have sat there nearly all day just watching the clouds move over the windows in that building. When we were allowed in, we spent about an hour and a half or two hours in. It was too crowded to really enjoy ourselves , plus my knee started acting up, so we didnt stay as long as we could have. Because we were only 90 minutes or so from home, hubby decided that it would just be best to go on home instead of getting a hotel room. He said that we'd stayed longer and got out closer to 6pm, then we woulda stayed. Well dang, if I knew that I woulda dawdled! *sigh*
After the trip to the Aquarium (that'll be the next entry), we headed back to the car. On our way to the garage, I heard a distinct clop clopping and whipped my camera out to get this shot of one of their horse and carriage rides. As much as I'd love to make sure that this is on the agenda next time, I dont think I could handle being that close to the back end of a horse unless we were headed DOWNWIND the entire trip. *laffz* Whenever I see something like this I think of that one Seinfeld episode where Kramer drives a cab for a night...unfortunately, before heading out he'd fed the horse a huge can of Beef-a-roni. EW...Major EW.
One of the last things we saw as we were making our way out of town was this musical group playing on one of the corners. It reminded me of the time a few of us went into the French Quarter in New Orleans. I couldnt believe they were out in the hot sun in long sleeved shirts, dress pants and TIES playing like there would be no tomorrow. Im wondering, since it was a Sunday if they'd come out after church and just decided to jam. In any case, everyone seemed to be enjoying the music. This picture was snapped while we were waiting on the light to turn green. If there'd been a place to park (short of going back to a garage), I think I would have had hubby pull over for a few so I could get some more pix.
The rest of the drive home was about 90 minutes or so. When we got back into Manassas he took me to Red Lobster for supper...yummy!