Naval Academy

Reading this week:

  • Sketches from the Dark Continent by Willis R. Hotchkiss

The very next day after our exciting adventure in Baltimore visiting Fort McHenry and the Walters Art Museum my super amazing girlfriend and I doubled down on our Maryland weekend and went to Annapolis! We did several very fun things, include getting ice cream and checking out my favorite used bookstore. Although my super amazing girlfriend and I had visited Annapolis together before, and done these very things, there was a difference this time around: we could visit the Naval Academy!

Last time we went to Annapolis the Naval Academy was closed to visitors because of course there was a pandemic on. Some things have changed (and some haven’t), but the restriction on the Academy was no longer true and we could visit at will. My super amazing girlfriend was extremely interested in visiting the Academy, because in much the same way that Captain America was made in a lab, I was made in Santee Basin. So she wanted to see the place at the Naval Academy did not disappoint.

We started at the Visitors Center because they had bathrooms. While there I was delighted to discover the one of my absolute favorite parts of the Academy was housed there, namely 3-0 Jack Dalton. 3-0 Jack Dalton is the stuffed goat in the photo at the top. He was the only Naval Academy mascot not named Bill, and the reason I like him is because he is a century-old stuffed goat that the Academy clearly doesn’t quite know what to do with. I have been going to the Naval Academy since I was but a wee lad, and I think I remember that goat near the ice rink, back when there was an ice rink in Dahlgren instead of across the river. The last I saw him he was in the Midshipmen Activities Center, and now he is stuck awkwardly in a hallway in the Visitor Center, greeting the legions of kids who want to be Midshipmen someday and haven’t quite realized what they’re signing up for yet. This blog post will not feature any cannons, though my one complaint about the Naval Academy decorating scheme is that it is full of cannons they clearly feel they can’t get rid of anymore because now they are Historic instead of just Old. In the same way, I assume at some point you can’t just put your century-old stuffed goat on ebay.

I am going out of timeline order here, but this seems like a good time to say that another place I was especially excited to show my super amazing girlfriend is the other preserved old dead thing at the Naval Academy, ie the Crypt of John Paul Jones. I still think it is Very Strange that the Naval Academy has a crypt. I mean, I like it, I’m a big John Paul Jones fan, me and my super amazing girlfriend rode around on one of his boats just the other weekend (the Providence), and so to be absolutely clear I am entirely for having a crypt. But like I also went to Yale, the whole school is very consciously Oxford cosplay, and yet I don’t think they have a crypt. Any real ones anyways. They want to claim Skull and Bones but do they actually have any skulls, or for that matter any bones? Anyone at all preserved in booze? I think not. Anyways the crypt was nice, I think my super amazing girlfriend was impressed, I can’t believe it exists.

But to back up a bit. After a peak around the Visitors Center I took my super amazing girlfriend on an absolutely terrible tour of the Naval Academy. It probably wasn’t so bad but I was interested in all the places I used to wander around and not necessarily like, the picturesque places the normal tours take you on. This was probably a good decision though because she was blown away by how gorgeous the view is off of Farragut (I should link to a map at this point). I wanted to drag her off to the sailing center so we could check out the boats. I talk about sailing all the time so I wanted to show her the boats I used to sail, and I was over the moon that my favorite boat was there! My favorite boat is the one I am pictured with above, the NA-23 Defiance. This is my favorite boat because I sailed this boat to Bermuda one time and I enjoyed that trip! Our crew was the first to really actually sail that boat, it was brand new when we got her. She is still looking absolutely gorgeous. This is what you can do when you have a budget.

After this I dragged her past all the academic buildings. At each academic building I pointed to it and was like “I used to go to classes in there.” I even pointed to the little Chemistry Majors Study Room at Michelson where I probably spent most of my time. Then it was off to the Naval Academy Museum so we could stare at all sorts of artifacts. By this time we were kinda pooped actually so it was a bit of a whirlwind tour. I was mostly looking for pictures of myself, because I am so important and all, but alas while there was some Class of 2011-specific stuff there was no me. Oh well. I did make sure that we went upstairs to the real centerpiece of the museum, which were all the old model ships they have. Look at this impressive piece! 400 years old!

From there to round out our Naval Academy experience we went and visited the Chapel. The Chapel is the big centerpiece of the Naval Academy layout which is weird. I spent a lot of time in that place as a kid because that is where my family went to church and I hated it. An absolutely massive waste of time every weekend. But it is a fairly impressive building. Looking around I did appreciate all the stained glass windows. They are of course extremely heavy on the oceans/seas/boats theme, and I admire the dedication. The pews where my family typically sat were up on the right, in front of the below window:

Instead of Jesus or whatever boring stuff other people put into their church windows, this is Admiral Farragut lashed to the rigging in the Battle of Mobile Bay, presumably around the time he apocryphally yelled “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” which, you know, hells yeah. So the chapel has that going for it at any rate.

From there we head out and off the Naval Academy to do the one thing my super amazing girlfriend has always wanted to do in Maryland: absolutely devour some crabs. So we went to the place you gotta go, Cantler’s. Having cleverly waited until the lunch rush was over, we only had to wait for an hour. The crabs were served up almost right away, and after only a few warm up swings my super amazing girlfriend was happily hammering away at some absolutely delectable and second-to-none Maryland blue crab. Truly a fitting lunch for such a wonderful day in Annapolis.