We arrived in Annapolis at the beginning of Commissioning week for the US Naval Academy. We remain to be convinced whether Annapolis really is the sailing capital of the world as it proclaims, but it definitely has the very impressive United States Naval Academy, of which they are rightly very proud. The town is traditional, green and leafy, with some small streets and ship lap housing and this was a very pleasant place to stay.
Chesapeake is like an enormous Strangford Lough but, of course, not quite as nice. There are many creeks were anchoring is easy and very peaceful. The weather is very changeable from very hot and sunny to thunder storms. There are numerous Osprey which use the navigation aid posts for nesting sites – sheltered and safe from predators -how very convenient! They are wonderful to watch. Less attractive are the flies and midges! So far they do not seem to be the bitting type but irritating all the same.
The Navel Academy was very open and, on showing our passports, we were free to visit and tour the site with or without a guide. The site is beautiful, has a rich history and it certainly looks like no expense has been spared. Think Richard Greer and the film “Officer and a Gentleman.” There are 4000 mid shipman and they are very fit young men and ladies (30%) all beautifully turned out in white uniforms. Commissioning week includes many traditions but the most notable for us was a display from the Blue Angels (US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron) and a visit from President Trump which involved numerous helicopters, of which we had an excellent view from the boat.
The Academy also housed an excellent model boat exhibition. Some of these models were 300 years old and the detail was amazing.
We hired a car in order to visit Washington DC and do some hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We are still struggling with the scale of America and we had determined that the car hire shop was just up the hill and around the corner – it turned out to be a five mile walk! Probably good for us.
Not really being city people, Washington DC was definitely a day trip for us. We parked out of town and metro’d into the city. We walked the Mall to Capitol Hill and then on to Union Station. At Union Station we picked up a “duck” which is an amphibious touring vehicle. Apparently they were used at the Normandy landings and it was suitably rustic and throaty. We were issued with quacking whistles and did get some jaunty American country music! All, a little tacky, I know, but actually not a bad way to see the sites on a hot, humid day. We saw many monuments, many museums, many queues, many huge roads and loads of people but actually the commentary was very good. Our tour was stopped by a Harley Davidson rally of what seemed like a 1000 bikes. Biker accessories include goaty beard, healthy beer gut and leather jacket! We then walked down to the White House, the Washington Monument and headed back to the car via the metro. Washington, or the bit we saw, was impressive and the scale huge but this was enough for us.
On to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We certainly got a taste of the American motorway system – there is no doubt you can travel vast distances with relative ease. We walked, or hiked for two days, first in the magnificent mixed forest and on the second day in more open country. We were on various trails but mostly the famous Appalachian Trial. Sadly the weather was against us and we got very wet and could see very little. Thankfully we had booked a cabin and did not have to use the very basic huts, and bear proof food boxes on the trail, albeit the huts were welcome for lunch. The cabin was comfortable and had a bath – a real treat, as reading in the bath is something Julian particularly misses. We will return in the Autumn when hopefully the weather will be kinder. It has been good to be inland but we were pleased to return to the boat and find all was well.
We are now heading south in the Chesapeake to join a rally. Very kindly the rally organiser has volunteered to be our address in USA for amazon deliveries and we look forward to receiving our parcels! We have a few boat jobs to do before the rally. The major one being to fit the old solar panels onto the side railings – we will then have approximately 1000W of generation capability. For the uninitiated that is quite a lot of power.