After leaving Annapolis we pass under the Bay Bridge and anchor out in Worton Creek at about 8 pm. Matt and the boys jump in the water as the sun sets; a huge amber-gold moon comes up later that night.
We leave the next morning and sail to Chesapeake City, MD. It’s an adorable town and just happens to be Ice Cream Day. Continue reading
The weather looks good on Friday but, according to sailor lore, it is bad luck to begin a voyage on that day. We depart on Saturday. The new plan is to head north. We’ve had some amazing experiences but rushing to get places has not worked very well so we are making this leg of the trip more about the journey than the destination. There is no timeline – just moving on when we are ready and as weather permits. Although I would have loved to cross an ocean, what I realized is that I would have loved being able to say I did even more. That realization, coupled with the fact that the boys cannot last more than two days on the boat without needing to run on land plus the fact that they do not want to be dragged to castles, art museums and churches, makes crossing the Atlantic to Europe much less appealing (there is also the small matter of my sailing skills). During our literal and figurative June meltdowns, Matt and I had seriously discussed ending the trip. I even considered setting up an online Doodle poll so that all five of our blog readers could vote on whether we should end the trip or forge ahead (oh, fine, all three of my readers if we take out my mom and Matt’s mom). I do think ending it now would be worse than not having started it at all. So … we are heading north in search of whales. From there, we shall see.
Our time in Annapolis is coming to a close. Matt, his sister and the boys go up to Ithaca, NY for their mom’s birthday over the July 4th weekend. I crash in Baltimore at his sister’s place – glued to my computer working on research papers and enjoying AC and modern conveniences. When they get back, I do last-minute errands with the boys. Joshua received a penknife for Brother’s Day and Malachi has been coveting it. I figure if the 6-year-old can handle it, so can the 8-year old. We get to the car and literally 90 seconds after opening it, Malachi stabs himself in the face with it – only 1 mm from his eye. He had the blade open and, simultaneously, reached down to pick up some trash on the floor of the van. As a parent, I want to absolutely freak out. But it’s me. And all I can do is recall the day I was prepping dinner and reached up to itch my face while holding a 10-inch knife – almost stabbing out my own eye. It is damn scary to see yourself reflected back at you in your children.
Anyway, both of them borrowed money from the Bank of Mom and need to repay me. We head to the bank so they can withdraw money (and yes, we could have transferred everything electronically but I want them to experience it). The teller hands me two withdrawal slips and I have the boys fill out their names and the amounts while I fill in the rest. I hand the slips to the teller. He hands them back and says “I need their signatures.” I glance down at my 6- and 8-year-old. Signatures? Hell, they can barely write their names. We just had a discussion about signatures and what they are used for the day before. Joshua had his own ideas about them. I look at the teller, “Are there any constraints on the signature?” He looks at me puzzled. I rephrase the question, “Can they be anything?” “Sure …” he answers slowly. This is Joshua’s signature (if you can’t tell, it’s a shark fin in the water); Malachi’s is a sailboat in water. To the teller’s credit, he smiles and processes the transactions.
Decrepit books at a used bookstore, shellacked to create a bookhouse in its garden. A bibliophile’s dream.
One of the things I wanted to see was the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Matt wasn’t interested because he had visited there and actually applied there (he ended up in the Corps of Cadets at VA Tech). We took the boys’ good friend from the marina, Zach. The boy is ten and an absolute fount of historical knowledge. The tour guide is amazed and shoots me an impressed look. Although I’m dying to give a no-big-deal shrug and take the credit, I shake my head, point at myself and then at the two monkeys hanging on the fence. Zach’s mom is clearly a ‘real’ homeschool teacher.
- New plebes being marched around.
We see a cool video of what life is like as a cadet (very impressive but not one I’d like … all the rules!), a set of new plebes being whipped into shape, a tour of the campus including the beautiful chapel with a naval hero buried in the crypt below, and a museum with ships carved from fish and whale bone.
- The chapel at the US Naval Academy.
We try to strategically time our outings to take advantage of any and all air conditioning opportunities. Given the projected temps, it’s a great day for an indoor outing. We take the boys into DC and see the Washington monument, the Capitol building, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The museum is amazing. The gem and mineral exhibit alone is worth the trip.
We also see sea animal skeletons, a movie about undersea exploration, mummies, butterflies, etc. The boys are able to virtually interact with dinosaurs (too hard to even explain) and see some creatures up close. Poor Joshua – he loves animals so much and wants a pet so badly that he even gazes fondly at a Madagascar cockroach.
On the walk back to the car, we pass the National Archives.
We decide to get dinner in DC before going back to the boat and pick a trendy little Mexican place. They have a variety of wonderfully described miniature tacos, including one with crickets. Not kidding. Matt orders it. Again, not kidding.
Go ahead and look. All crickets!
I like to consider myself gastronomically adventurous but there are limits. “Really?” I say to Matt. “You don’t think the chef and the sous-chef have an ongoing bet to see how many gross things they can get people to eat – all under the guise of haute cuisine?” I ask the waiter if many people order them. He says yes but smiles. I start laughing. “But they don’t actually finish eating them, do they?” I ask. He laughs too and says that most of their tacos can be eaten in 3 bites. The cricket ones take five. Enough said.
Matt examining wings and legs and working up the courage to take a bite.
It’s hard to watch sometimes – the way they can be when they face frustration and disappointment and unmet expectations. They’re old enough now that they don’t throw themselves on the floor and scream and have tantrums in public places but it’s still not pretty when they get this way. No, sadly, I am not talking about the boys.
Linds & Chris sailing to get ice cream with us.
We went on a few day sails. One with a good friend’s brother and his family and another with Matt’s sister Lindsay and her husband Chris. We sailed to downtown Annapolis, parked the boat in what is known as Ego Alley and went to get ice cream.
This is the only marina we’ve been to that actually has children. Some live on boats here permanently, others are transients like us. The boys spend part of their day roaming around the marina with a small gang of kids – playing Legos, looking for crabs, and noticing the wildlife.
Malachi at camp
While in Charleston, I told Matt I wanted to put the boys in summer camp for two weeks so they could have more exposure to other children and so that I could spend some time working on research papers (tenure still looms …). It was great for all involved. The first day I dropped them off and realized I had a full 6 hours to myself I had to restrain myself from jumping up in the air and yelling ‘Yes!’ It felt amazing to be working again. Week 1 was a science camp. Let me tell you, nothing impresses a parent more than having their kids come home talking about Isaac Newton, creating planetary systems, and shooting off a homemade rocket that goes about 200 yards in the air. The next week was a more traditional camp with games, archery, Legos, etc. It was nice to be off-duty for a while and use a different part of my brain.
When the boat feels really small, there is only one possible way to make it feel bigger. Double the number of occupants. My mom came down for a visit with my younger sister’s three children (11, 9, and 6 years). They love the boat and scamper all over the marina with their cousins. After lunch one of the kids asks if they are sleeping on the boat. My mom looks at me questioningly. I start laughing, thinking she is joking. I stop when I realize she’s not. Of course she’s not. This is the woman who raised 6 children, had numerous foster kids, several Fresh Air Fund kids every summer, and seriously considered adopting again at the age of 72. Sleeping on a boat in tight quarters does not faze her at all. Am I really going to be a killjoy and say no? They stay two nights and every available surface has a body on it. The boat feels much bigger when they leave Monday morning. I breathe a sigh of relief (and tell Matt I am never doing that again).
We take the kids out for a sail on Saturday and have a Father’s Day picnic with Matt’s sister on Sunday. One of our rituals is ice cream on Sundays. [Matt secretly orders a second one, gets busted and tries to hide it from the kids].