From 'Dark Harbor' )

We are, in theory, going to my in-laws to the weekend by way of the Baltimore Zoo, then going Sunday to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival. I say "in theory" because if it appears that there is going to be a gas crisis (which there was in parts of Maryland today, after a rumor went around that all gas stations would close at 4 p.m.), we may not drive so far. We should only need to refill the tank once for this trip, but even once makes me nervous right now. I got an e-mail today from the woman who owns Sea Shell City, who had found my photos of the Discover Sea Museum and asked why I didn't have pictures of the hermit crabs or shell souvenirs. So I tried to take photos of the painted Discover Sea Museum cowrie shell and the tall ship treasure box I bought there, but had Cinnamon barge into pretty much every photo. Here is a typical example of what I got, in which she is trying to bite the American flag off the mast of the ship:

In this state of uncertainty I did not drive at all today (the place where I bought gas for $3.01 now having it for $3.29) but stayed home, wrote my review of "Shore Leave" (an episode of staggeringly slashy proportions though I kept that low-key in the review, as I want to save my real K/S ammunition for "Amok Time," "The Empath" and others that absolutely demand it), briefly discussed New Orleans as Sisko's birthplace and a city whose cultural mix exemplifies IDIC in the Site Columns, picked up younger son and a friend from school while older son went to the pool with my father, tracked down a cheap copy of a book on color-correction using Photoshop that I desperately want but sells for $40 new and watched the first episode of the fourth season of Dawson's Creek while folding laundry. Watching this show through for the second time, things that seem thematically jarring make more kicking off a season with an episode that begins and ends without the title character. God knows I never want to read another article about Katie Holmes' fiance but I can't manage to hold that against Joey Potter, which I guess is all to the good.

We had dinner with my parents and discussed Bar Mitzvah plans for older son, who has very little input himself right now as he has only been to one Bar Mitzvah (Conservative, and he was very unhappy as he knew none of the kids). We had moved the date in 2006 from a Saturday night at the end of September between the High Holy Days to a Saturday morning at the beginning of September right after school starts, so now we are trying to figure out how many of our friends, our parents' friends, etc. we want to invite vs. who we really need to invite regardless of sentiment. Son does not want a band, nor a dance, nor any girls, but of course that could change radically in the next twelve months. Doing it in Israel is cost-prohibitive even though I think that would be everyone's first choice, so we are on to Plan B...

[ profile] fannish5 is favorite superhero movies and I don't think I have five. [ profile] fridayfiver has organizations supporting New Orleans instead of questions this week, so I recommend visiting the community if you haven't already made contact with the Red Cross, Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, etc. (note: I do not condone donations to the Salvation Army, ever -- an organization that evangelizes to the people it helps and that refuses to hire gay employees in the name of the personal brand of Christianity they proselytize -- we give to AmVets and Value Village as well as our synagogue). But I can do [ profile] thefridayfive: Sports. )
Patroling Barnegat )

My in-laws picked up my children for a couple of days of camping after lunch today (and after younger son's orthodontist appointment, which ran over an hour as they decided to do x-rays to figure out why his adult incisor hasn't moved down to take the place of the baby tooth and gave him the unwelcome news that if it hasn't budged in six weeks, they will pull the baby tooth next to it). We all went out to California Tortilla (again! but everyone likes it!) and tried to make sure the kids had their bathing suits, their toothbrushes, their Game Boys, their stuffed snakes (because who can go camping without a stuffed snake), enough underwear for a week and all the rest.

So my husband and I had a quiet child-free evening drinking Bailey's and watching Visions of Scotland on PBS. It was marvelous, even with the pledge drive interruptions, and I am very sad that the PBS web site does not list the musical credits. Now I can't decide whether to campaign to go to Scotland or Ireland next, or southwest England. I need someone to hire me to write a travel book on the British Isles, dammit! Speaking of which, my son's orthodontist is evidently an science buff, as they have Discover, Psychology Today and the like in the office. While my son was getting his braces realigned, I read "Mystery Man of Stonehenge" about the archer discovered in Wiltshire in Smithsonian and "The Anglo-Saxon Prince" about the seventh-century burial site in Archaeology and the latter was so interesting that I asked the receptionist if I could borrow their photocopier and make a copy. Then my older son and I sat there discussing Stonehenge and everyone else in the office looked at us as if we were total geeks. Which we are, heh.

Discover Sea Museum, Fenwick Island )
Dismantling the House )

It was a rainy Tuesday, so I took the kids to see Sky High (their choice -- I pushed first for March of the Penguins which they rejected as too informational, then The Island which they just didn't feel like seeing). I was expecting to be bored and was very pleasantly surprised; the plot is utterly predictable and you can see some of the gags coming for several minutes, but it's also sweet and earnest and reasonably funny and well-acted. I am tempted to talk about all the ways in which it seems to rip off The X-Men, The Incredibles, Spy Kids and even Harry Potter, but I liked it better than the first three and there are even some advantages in the female character department over HPB, though it's rather Dawson's Creek in the romance department. My expectations were pretty low which might be why I enjoyed it so much, but given how disappointing I have found a lot of this year's movies, this was a delightful surprise. It's worth the money for the coming out scene alone.

My in-laws are taking the kids camping in Pennsylvania from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon (in the morning younger son has an orthodontist appointment), so in the late afternoon we played games (my mother beat older son at Scrabble; younger son quit playing Mystery at Hogwarts with me because I refused to let him throw back an H card he didn't like). Around this I managed to get three articles written; I know there will be people here interested to know that Connor Trinneer will be guest starring on Stargate Atlantis, and that Kate Mulgrew has once again opened her big stupid mouth and pissed off both her lesbian fans and a lot of Catholics -- I swear that woman needs a filter! (She's all yours, [ profile] totallykate, heh.)

Otherwise, I attempted to secure [ profile] ldybastet's place in hell and decided to put my LJ colors back to the same ones I have had for so long because I am really that boring, though I am very fond of my new layout and might even play with the font sizes a little. ([ profile] vertigo66, I meant to call you back but this late hour is my first time child-free all day!) And have I mentioned that I am seeing Master & Commander again on a big screen Thursday night and I am very happy about this? *g* In honor of my seafaring mood, today, to go with the crabs in Baltimore, I bring you...

Rehoboth Dolphins )
From 'The Book of Pilgrimage' )

I feel reasonably accomplished tonight because I have finished all my trip laundry, saw [ profile] perkypaduan for California Tortilla and a DVD (Close My Eyes, because what can beat naked Clive Owen, garrulous Alan Rickman and hot sibling incest), gotten my kids to a friend's house and back, burned trip photos for my parents, sent [ profile] mamadracula her late birthday present, wrote three articles for TrekToday, answered untold numbers of comments, finished drafting Snucius #4 and wrote bare-bones outline porn with [ profile] ldybastet while helping my son with Scrabble (he beat [ profile] apaulled so I am pleased with myself, heh).

For the first time since right after I got my journal in 2002, I have a new layout! I wanted to switch to S2 so that I could use tags and also to keep my sidebar content. Many thanks to [ profile] hak42 for discovering it for me. There's information about it here and a community, [ profile] s2smoothsailing.

And thanks to the wonderful [ profile] boxer_ferret I discovered that the Loews in Georgetown is showing Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on the big screen this Thursday night and was giving away free passes online, so I now have a pass for me and [ profile] apaulled to go see the movie at the same theater where we first saw it, also on a free pass won online, several days before it opened nationally. We went out for Thai food first and I expected that to be the highlight of the evening, as I was apathetic about the naval story and only lukewarm when it came to Russell Crowe. I did not know when I left home that evening that it would change my life. So I am very, very happy to get to relive the experience, also for free and in the very same theater!

Salisbury Zoo )
True Love )

Today it was nearly 100 degrees, I had laundries, I had work, I had lots of phone calls and things to drop off various places and the kids were stir-crazy and in the middle of the afternoon we started driving to Great Falls to take a short walk, decided that it was too hot to be bearable even for a brief time outdoors by the river, so we stayed on River Road until we hit the beltway and ended up downtown at the National Museum of Natural History for a couple of hours, looking at dinosaurs and minerals in air-conditioned bliss.

Then we came home to all the insanity we had left earlier, had dinner, talked to both sets of parents (my in-laws tell me that contrary to all expectations, some groundhogs have come back! I am so hoping that Maximus is one of them!) and tried to get schedules in order for later in the week. I am wiped out, so I shall just post some trip photos from St. Michael's...

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum )
The Unswept )

Saturday we had to check out by 10 a.m., so after packing up and getting everything into the van, we drove away from the shore to the zoo at Salisbury -- an excellent free zoo and public park at the edge of a town that has clearly seen better days, as its large mall is sitting empty with grass growing in the enormous parking lot. (A new highway was built several years ago and we suspect that cars that used to pass through Salisbury and stop for lunch now bypass it on the new roads, hurting its tourist commerce.) The center of the zoo is a large artificial lake filled with a wide variety of waterfowl -- geese, ducks, swans, herons, a couple of cranes -- as well as South American rheas and llamas, inspiring younger son to sing the llama song repeatedly. There are also bears, otters, monkeys, iguanas, a jaguar, a bobcat, an ocelot...many of the usual smaller suspects, though none of the larger African animals like the National Zoo has.

After lunch we drove to St. Michael's, a historic city famous for tricking the British during the War of 1812 by putting lights in trees and on ship masts so that the British bombarded the wrong location, situated where the Potomac River joins the Chesapeake Bay. It's now home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where there is an 1879 lighthouse, a boat yard and restoration shed, the buyboat Thor which is now on land for kids to explore, a waterman's wharf where kids can pull up traps full of blue crabs and eel, an indoor oyster dredgeboat and big exhibit on Bay oyster fishing, collections on steamboats and the transformation of the Bay from working fishery to tourist attraction, and collections on Bay naval and historical history. It's a spectacular museum, a bit like Mystic Seaport without the historical reenactors wandering through, but it was nearly 100 degrees and we spent far more time in the indoor exhibits than the hands-on ship and fishing demonstrations outside.

We had dinner at the Crab Claw, a seafood restaurant on the premises (had to have one last meal of crab soup, crab dip, etc.) and drove home in the evening over a traffic-free Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Unpacking was enlivened by the terrible Redskins game and nearly-as-terrible Ravens game. It's going to be a long football season. Since I am behind on posting trip photos, you get Lewes, Delaware tonight; I will get to the Salisbury and St. Michaels photos later in the week!

The First City in the First State )
To Sleep )

Friday while my parents had lunch with friends, [ profile] apaulled and I and the kids drove to Lewes, "the first city in the first state," founded in 1631 by the Dutch. We went first to the Zwaanendael Museum, which focuses on maritime history with a Dutch and Native American emphasis, though its centerpiece is artifacts from the locally shipwrecked HMS DeBraak, taken over from the Dutch by the British and destroyed in a storm after being separated from its convoy.

From there we went for lunch at a local coffee shop, then went to the Lewes Historical Society Marine Museum in the Cannonball House, built in 1765 and damaged when the British bombarded Lewes in 1813. This museum has the lens from one of the lighthouses since fallen into the ocean, a chest carried on a ship from the Spanish Armada, a lantern from the USS Constitution, a 400-year-old locally made Indian canoe, the last Lewes pilot skiff and a pair of British cannons used in the 1813 bombardment. On the way back to Bethany we stopped in Rehoboth once more because I wanted to go to Mostly Irish, the gift shop with souvenirs from the British isles including silver jewelry and imported Cadbury chocolate.

Then we met up with my parents and went to the beach a last time. Despite gorgeous skies, the water was even rougher than the day before with white-capped waves out as far as we could see; we did not swim for very long, as it was hard work fighting the rip currents, but we found a few last mole crabs and took the kids to the pool in the Sea Colony high rise complex. On the drive to Sea Colony West this time we saw a rabbit, swans, ducks and a turtle near the different lakes. We ate at the condo, did laundry and packed to leave in the morning, when we are driving to St. Michael's.

Mid-Atlantic Beach Life )
Lines for Autumn )

Thursday we woke to the most gorgeous weather we've had here, albeit very hot -- 95 degrees by the afternoon. We went to the beach in the morning, where we had perfect blue skies with dolphins barely 100 yards offshore (and many of them by the looks of it -- more than ten at least, and one woman said she had counted 50). We also had the roughest waves yet; I am not sure whether this is from all the rain we had earlier in the week, from the tidal patterns or from the fact that Hurricane Irene is brewing in the Atlantic a long way from here. We swam, dug for sand crabs and got knocked over by waves for awhile, then went to one of the Sea Colony pools, where we ran into people from our synagogue at home and the kids insisted on trying to knock us over.

We ate lunch at the condo, then in the late afternoon we went to Rehoboth, where we walked down the main street with the Thunderbird Shop, Grateful Dead apparel, jewelry stores, etc., then walked along the boardwalk which was much less crowded than Ocean City's (though the beach was much more crowded with sunbathers and swimmers, plus lots of hungry laughing gulls). We played in the Playland arcade for awhile and the boys won stuffed dragons with everyone's combined tickets. We had dinner at Nicola's Pizza because a trip to Rehoboth requires Nic-o-bolis, then we had ice cream at Kohr Bros. for those who required soft serve and Coldstone for those who wanted hand-dipped with mix-ins. It was dark when we drove back to Bethany, so we parked near the beach and went to look for ghost crabs, of which we saw several.

The House of the Dead and Other Amusements )
Painters )

Wednesday the forecast had been for occasional thunderstorms, but other than some very early rain, we had an absolutely gorgeous day along the shore. After a late breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning and half the afternoon first at the beach, then at the pool that's just up the steps from the beach beneath Sea Colony's condominiums. It was once again quite crowded due to the beautiful weather. Despite clearing skies, the waves were rougher than yesterday, churning up lots of sand and knocking people about in the water; it was harder to find mole crabs and also harder to avoid being hit by people surfing in on out of control boogie boards! The kids spent much of the time in the pool with my parents while Paul and I mostly stayed in the ocean, going to the pool near the end of our time down there to play catch with one of those water-filled soft footballs. We did not see the dolphins but we did see a huge horseshoe crab, unfortunately on its last legs, and many of the usual shore birds and clams.

In the evening after dinner at the condo we went to the boardwalk in Ocean City. A lot of things at the beach seem smaller than I remember from my childhood (Phillips Restaurant, for instance, the other night, and many of the stores), but the boardwalk seems to have tripled in size. While many of the iron-on t-shirt places have been replaced by tattoo parlors and Candy Kitchens, the kitsch shops and waterside musicians and ice cream parlors have only increased in number, and there were three arcades between 12th Street and the end of the boardwalk alone -- I am sure there were more headed into the higher numbers. A blues band was playing down by the amusement park but we didn't sit and listen, as it was already dark. The amusement park area itself was absolutely mobbed (there's also a Ripley's Believe It Or Not added since I was last in Ocean City) and the kids weren't interested in riding, so most of our boardwalking involved strolling, browsing in the kitsch stores, eating ice cream, dodging the trams and wandering into the sand to the play equipment there. It was what I think of as a classic beach day: surf, swimming and boardwalk.

Under the Boardwalk )
Song )

Tuesday the original plan was to get up and go to Assateague National Seashore relatively early, but it was raining in the morning, so Paul took the boys to the pool for awhile before lunch and we left in the early afternoon when the rain had slowed to a drizzle. We stopped at the national park information center first, where we saw two movies -- one on the ecosystem of Assateague and Chincoteague during the various seasons, and one on the wild ponies and other animals of the barrier islands. There was also a touch pool with marine animals and some tanks of fish and shellfish in the visitor center.

We saw ponies almost immediately upon crossing the bridge into the park, grazing between the road and the salt marshes. We also saw white-tail deer, which are suppposed to be plentiful in the park but have been driven out by the Asian sika, a species of elk which were released on the island by some Boy Scouts and are driving the deer out (they're very cute and quite unafraid of people, at least). We stopped at a shipwreck site, a salt marsh where people were fishing for the plentiful blue crabs and clams, and along the Atlantic coast where we saw mole crabs and the little clams that burrow into the sand, plus the terns and seagulls that dig them out with their beaks to eat them. It drizzled on and off during these stops but it was blissfully cool, below 80 degrees all day, and since there wasn't thunder we could wade in the bay and the ocean.

The drive from Bethany to Assateague took us through Ocean City, so on the way back in the evening we had dinner at the original Phillips Crab House, where we used to go with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Paul during my childhood. We have come to the conclusion that Phillips is not close to the best seafood around but we wanted to eat there for nostalgia's sake, and their crab bisque is still excellent (the crab cakes and au gratin are good as well, I just think they're overpriced compared to similar restaurants). After dinner we drove past the high rise where we stayed a few times in my early teens -- the Braemor -- and came back for games and dessert while Dad watched part of the James Bond marathon on cable.

Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses )
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