Gettysburg is undoubtedly a primary destination, but it is also well situated to take day trips elsewhere if you like. Hershey Pennsylvania with its chocolate factory is just a short distance away, as is Baltimore Maryland.
Mireille and I were sitting at the bar in Gettysburg Eddie’s one Friday afternoon, discussing these two alternatives when we got to talking with a threesome at the bar next to us. They were a man and wife and his sister who had met there in Gettysburg as the sister lived in Rochester, New York and the couple lived in Baltimore. As we were talking, we mentioned we might like to go to Baltimore for the day. They encouraged us strongly and clued us in on a really excellent way to see some of the town easily without the hassles of having to worry about parking.
Following their advice, the next morning we drove Gretchen the 75 miles from Gettysburg to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. This is the Fort that was holding off the British Fleet in the War of 1812, keeping them from making it into the harbor when Francis Scott Key, watching from another ship, wrote his famous song. We parked in the parking lot and took in the Fort. We watched a short movie in the visitor center about the battle, why it was important, and Francis Scott Key and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Once that was over we made our way outside and to the fort.
Touring the fort, we met a man dressed as he might have been during that time of the battle. He told us about the cannon, of which there were many, and how they fired them. It’s an involved process, and a single gun would have a large crew of 12 to 18 men, mainly to aim it and muscle it back into position between shots.
There were a couple of women baking pies in a Dutch oven over an open fire. In the courtyard of the fort, a fife and drum corps in military dress uniforms of the day was playing music. We watched a while, but it was hot and humid, and I did not envy them standing out in the sun in their wool uniform coats. After a while, Mireille and I retreated from the courtyard and the music to the rampart walls to catch what breeze there was and hopefully cool off. We walked all around the fort, going into the rooms which were opened to show how the people then lived, slept, and worked, before moving on.
Leaving Gretchen where she was parked, we went down to the water taxi landing at the water’s edge by the visitor’s center. The Baltimore Water Taxi is more of a bus than a taxi, but it is cake to navigate, and it will get you close to anywhere you want to go to around Baltimore Harbor. You can buy a day ticket on their website (baltimorewatertaxi.com) and then just let them scan the barcode on your phone.
Our first stop was Fells Point, across the harbor from the fort. This is an old section of the town with cobblestone streets and lots of interesting places to eat and drink. From the taxi dock, we walked a short distance to Captain James Seafood, and it was here we drank our first “Natty Boh.” National Bohemian beer started in Baltimore and is pervasive there, and we liked it, but, sadly, we have been unable to find it again since we moved on. Natty Boh or not, the food at Captain James was amazing! Mireille and I agree it was the best “crab based” meal we have ever had. She had a crab cake with some amazing sauce on it, and I had a filet of flounder stuffed with the same thing. I would be more precise, but the menu we ordered from is not on the website, and I was so busy enjoying the food I didn’t take any notes. You will just have to explore for yourself. But rest assured, it could not have been any better and we both highly recommend this place!
After our meal, we walked back along the cobble-paved streets to the water taxi dock. We decided just to ride the boat around the harbor and let the breeze over the water cool us off. Mireille had gotten wind of a casino not too far distant, so we rode the taxi to the closest stop which was at the end of the harbor. Along the way we saw big Navy ships, the Domino Sugar plant right on the harbor, the “Constellation,” the last sailing ship built for the US Navy, a submarine from WWII, the aquarium and lots of other stuff which we did not have time for. They and others, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s house, are surely worth a visit but will have to wait for a future orbit of the US.
From the final taxi stop, we got an Uber for the short ride to the Horseshoe Casino. I can abide casino’s, but Mireille loves to go. When she does, she looks for the shiniest, most colorful, prettiest, noisiest machines she can. She goes to “push buttons.” When we first got in the door, there was a massive machine that Mireille wanted to play, but there was a couple just sitting and resting in the chairs. We moved on rather than stand and wait. We played maybe an hour or so. I won some on video poker, and Mireille had lost a little, so between the two of us, we were about even. We were leaving and on the way out Mireille saw that the people who had been resting at the big machine we saw on our arrival were no longer there. She sat down and put in some money, and almost immediately hit some kind of bonus (I do not understand these “slot machines,” and I am just fine with that) and when it was all said and done she had won over a hundred dollars. As it turns out, we are pretty easily amused.
So that made a fun time just that much better. It was getting late in the day, and it would be about an hour back to the car via the water taxi. The water taxi is fun and convenient, but you need to have time for it. We had an hour and a half yet to drive to get back home to Charlie. Instead of the water taxi, we got another Uber back to the Fort McHenry parking lot, picked up Gretchen, and had a lovely evening drive back to Charlie. One good day!