Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Stuff to Do In Baltimore

The nice thing about staying in a major city for three weeks is the opportunity to find unique places to visit that are off the beaten path. My sister Lora played a great tour guide and turned us on to some really wonderful festivals and towns. We perused the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (see Wooley Wooley) and spent time discovering Historic Ellicott City – in fact, we loved it so much we visited it multiple times (see Historic Ellicott City). Between Baltimore and Washington DC was a treasure trove of fun activities – the National Cryptologic Museum, Patuxent Research Refuge, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

If you are wondering what a cryptologic museum is, so were we. Cryptology is the art and science of coding and decoding secret messages. The museum is the outreach arm of the National Security Administration which occupies a big black ominous-looking building behind a chain linked fence and flanked by scary machine gun totting guards. We were all on our best behavior when we drove through the check-point. (It happened to be the day the world learned Osama Bin Laden had been killed so security was tight) The museum, housed in a less ominous looking building, provides a glimpse of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology. The interesting exhibits explain the development of coding/decoding techniques and equipment, ranging from early code machines to the advent of spy satellites. There is a great 45-minute History Channel film on cryptology that discusses interesting events and the importance of cryptology in national security. After leaving this museum, one cannot help but think Big Brother is watching!

Early 1900's code machine.

Early code machines.

As a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee, I was interested in visiting Patuxent Research Refuge. Betsy and I have both worked with employees of the research arm of Patuxent throughout our careers in wildlife conservation, but did not know that the refuge encompassed nearly 13,000 acres and offered a host of visitor activities including hiking, fishing, wildlife observation, hunting, etc. The visitor center has exhibits, a wildlife viewing area, orientation film and a 30-minute guided tram tour ($5). We happened to visit on a rainy Sunday which meant the refuge was not very crowded. Friends from DC came to meet us for lunch and visit the refuge with us. Since we had Otter and they were accompanied by their dog, we decided to take in a hike so the dogs could stretch their legs. The trail wound through forested areas, meadows, and around a large impounded pond. Wildlife is plentiful on the refuge and we saw white-tailed deer, a bald eagle, waterfowl, herons, and various other birds. We definitely recommend the refuge for a visit, especially if you are looking for a nice place to hike.
Chrissy, Christina, and Betsy ready for the tram ride around the refuge.

Exhibits inside the refuge visitor center.

Indoor wildlife viewing area at the refuge visitor center.

Beaver lodge.
Located in Greenbelt, Maryland is the Goddard Space Flight Center. The center is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. The center manages many of NASA's Earth observation, astronomy, and space physics missions. The visitor center has many exciting and visually stimulating exhibits describing some of the space exploration programs of the center. There are numerous interactive displays and models, as well as real examples of satellites and rocket flight hardware, and the best exhibit - a piece of the moon! The earth observation photographs were really interesting, especially with the imagery of the recent flooding of mid-west rivers. Some of the exhibits are out of date and not up to using updated technology like we might expect today but still very informative.

Earth observatory images displayed in the space flight visitor center.

Betsy in space.

Nancy inside Gemini 7.

Contol panel inside Gemini 7.
After so much heavy rocket science, we were all starving. We knew our feelings of intellectual inadequacy in physics science would be cured by food. My sister made an excellent restaurant recommendation – Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Once she told us that President Obama gets take-out from a Five Guys in DC, we were there. The burgers were juicy, big, and delicious. Only to be matched by a regular order of fries that fills an entire paper bag and must have 5 pounds of potatoes in it. There are over 15 toppings you can put on your burger. Choose toppings carefully because you may find the burger is too big to fit in your mouth. YUM! Five Guys is a definite must if you ever run across one.
Free peanuts in Five Guys Bugers and Fries.

Betsy and Lora enjoying burgers and fries.

1 comment:

  1. I interned at the Baltimore Museum of Industry one summer. I think you'd enjoy it. Amazing to see the work that women did in the canneries. http://www.thebmi.org/

    What's the news on Otter?


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