The last time my parents visited in 1999 (?…I need to double-check that), they did many of the Smithsonian Museums and drove down the Maryland coast looking at lighthouses. This time, I decided that they needed to see a bit of Baltimore. The National Aquarium seemed like a good choice. Andrew also joined us, even though we’ve already been to the aquarium — we both enjoyed it the first time, so looked forward to our second visit.
The aquarium was much as we remembered, but the last time we went, it was on a federal holiday (i.e. schools were closed). It was probably just as busy as the last time, but today there were lots of school groups, so the adult-to-child ratio was much, much lower. It’s hard to pick a favorite thing at the aquarium — we enjoyed the dolphin show (and the little ones have grown quite a bit since the last time Andrew and I had gone), we also watched the sting rays for a long time, and I was creeped out (in a good way) by the sharks. Perhaps, though, the highlight was still the sea horses. My favorite was the leafy sea dragon, near the end of the exhibit.
I rediscovered the types of people I hate:
- Stupid people with cameras. There was one guy who would not look at any of the exhibits except through his camera. He was quite rude about it, too. One time he shoved the camera right between my mother and I.
The other type of “stupid people with camera” are the clueless ones with digital cameras. I have nothing against digital cameras, mind you; in fact, I’m thinking about getting one myself. However, there was one group crowded around one of the small tanks who waited several minutes to take “just the right picture”. Then, as if oblivious that they are not the center of the universe, they sat in front of the tank checking out all of the pictures they had taken that day. I started to shove the girl in the group, and they finally got a clue.
- Clueless parents. Ugh. We got behind one mother and daughter walking down the stairs in the rain forest exhibit at the top of the main building. We just needed to get down about ten steps, but that took forever because the mother was letting her 2-year-old daughter walk down the stairs with her hand-in-hand. This meant that the entire width of the stairs was taken up by the pair, and we were going at a snails pace. Come on lady…pick up your daughter. She can practice going down stairs in a place where there aren’t already ten people behind you.
After the aquarium and lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (yum), we went to the USS Constitution, since Dad really wanted to go through the ship. They are still restoring the lowest deck, but there is still plenty to see and learn. After we had finished the audio tour, one of the “sailors” was giving a talk on food on a ship in the American Civil War. It was a good talk — featuring hard tack, salted junk, coffee and ale. I, however, started to get seasick during the talk, and had to run out as soon as he had finished. As a result, I don’t think I really heard the last half of the talk. My parents and Andrew claimed that they couldn’t feel the ship moving much, since it was docked, but I assured them that it was, indeed, moving.
We parted ways with my parents at that point. They were staying at a bed and breakfast in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore, while Andrew and I needed to head home so we could get to work tomorrow. Before going back to the car, though, we did stop at the big Barnes & Noble near the Hard Rock.