What To Do In Baltimore

The USS Torsk (SS-423) is docked at the Baltim...

Image via Wikipedia

Joe and I have been to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on several occasions.  Each time we have taken the “history” tours and walked around the USS Constellation, the submarine – USS Torsk, rode the water taxi, tramped the grounds of Fort McHenry, and helped the City celebrate Defender’s Day.

Our first visit there, several years ago, we took a tour of the USS Constellation which was nearly finished in the restoration work.  We met the man that was in charge of the restoration work done on the ship and talked with him about the process he and his crew went through to do the work the “old” way without power tools and screws or nails.  We met a woman that actually made the ropes the old way.  That was very interesting.  At the time, she was creating lengths of rope that would be stuffed down between the floor boards of the upper deck then sealed with tree sap and some other kind of black substance that acted like tar to “caulk” the boards.

While on the “Canon Deck” of the ship there was a man dressed in the sailor’s uniform of long ago.  He was asking for volunteers for a canon firing demonstration.  I, of course, volunteered Joe for the assignment.  Somewhere I have video of that demonstration.  I’ll have to dig it out and go through it.

Did you know…..

Bags of sand were a mainstay on ships of that era?  The sand was poured out on the floor of the canon deck when there was going to be a fight.  Several inches of sand was poured all over.  Like many, I thought it was because of the possibility of the ship catching fire when the canons went off.  Not so.

The sand was used for traction.  I don’t remember how many canons lined each side of the ship.  There were, most definitely, more than the one that was being used for the demonstration.

The very first volley of canon fire and the concussive blasts that came from the canon caused all the sailors ears to bleed.  The second volley the sailors were deafened  because their ear drums had burst from the horrendous noise.  There would be several men around each canon.  Two to pull the canon back in place at the port window, by means of thick rope, after firing off a round.  The man at the back of the canon that had lit the fuse would have to jump out of the way lest he get run over by the forceful blow back that would send the canon hurtling backward away from the port window.  If he didn’t get out of the way in time an arm or a leg would get amputated.

For the next firing, the canon barrel would be tilted inward toward the center of the ship, loaded with gun powder and other stuff then the canon ball would be tamped in and seated.  The barrel would then be turned back to the port window, pulled forward by the two men and fired once again.  There were times when the barrel would be so hot and have embers from the previous firing still down in there the addition of fresh gun powder and a ball would cause the canon to fire within the ship.

Water buckets were on hand in case there was a fire that broke loose around one or more of the canons.  Blood, sweat, and water would make the floor slippery, even with all the sand laid down.  If someone had been run over by the canon on its bounding backward force, the sailors would have time only to move the body out of their way so as not to step on gore and body fluids or trip over the downed sailor.

There would be some sailors that would have burns on their heads and shoulders from the ignited gunpowder.  They would have had water doused on them to quell the fire and expected to remain at their posts and continue to help load and fire the canons.

Can you imagine the smell?!  Sulfur from the gunpowder, burned or singed hair and skin, the metallic smell of blood and the rising odor of bowel and bladder elimination from the dead and dying.  Hollywood conveniently leaves out such details in their swashbuckling action movies.

Another time we went through the USS Torsk.  The submarine.  By five minutes I was looking for the top side and wanting OUT.  Narrow walk ways, cramped spaces, and a low ceiling caused my claustrophobia to work overtime.  I don’t remember much of that tour except forcing myself to not shove people out of the way and run them down in my attempt to get “top side”.  I won’t be doing that tour any time soon again.

Our last trip to Baltimore we toured Fort McHenry.  You have to ride a Water Taxi to get there.  That was nerve wracking for me.  Out on open water with the possibility of a shark sighting at any moment.  By the time we got to Fort McHenry my hands were numb and red from hanging onto the pipe railing so tightly.  That damn Joe still laughs at me and relishes the idea of getting me back on the water taxi and doing it all again.  Notice he is not “Honey Bunny”!!!!!

It was Defender’s Day when we went to Fort McHenry.  There were a lot of people in period clothing everywhere.  There was a woman under a tree with a huge cast iron kettle (like a small cauldron), over an open fire, dipping lengths of string into a liquid and pulling it back out.  After several minutes watching her process I had to ask what she was doing.  The kettle was filled with melted animal fat.  She was making candles.  The string would soak up the melted fat, cool in the air as she brought it out.   She would be doing the dunking thing most of the day to create candles.

This is the kind of history I like to learn.  Actually seeing how people lived, what they wore, how they stored food, made the things they used everyday.  Instead of reading about it in stuffy books that put me to sleep.  As you can surmise, I did not get an “A” in any of my history classes when I went to school.

Wandering around Fort McHenry there were men dressed in wool uniforms of the military.  It was a warm day and they had to have been hot in them.  Very colorful these uniforms are.  Red  and white coats, some wore a bright green coat with white pants or leggings.

Francis Scott Key was at this fort when a battle was pitched to defend it from raiding forces.  The “Star Spangled Banner” was written at Fort McHenry.  This place is rich in history and the volunteers and re-creationists bring that time alive.  It is well worth the trip…..even having to ride the dreaded water taxi there and back.

Okay, I’d better get off this subject or I’ll be calling to figure out a way to catch up with Joe and Les in Baltimore and get back out on the road.


A new flat surface

Data entry in my paperwork is the stage I’m in now.

I’ve had to drag out a folding table to have a place to hold a month’s worth of work to go through.  I’m in the process of going back through January and making sure I have not forgotten anything when I finished my work at the beginning of this year.

Turns out I only worked on 2009 and had not even touched January of 2010 when I was at home before I had to go back out in May.  Seems like a long time ago that I was last home, while it really was just a few short months ago.


Receipts, receipts, receipts

Each and every load has its own envelope.  Every purchase made during that load is placed in the envelope.  When the trip is finished then all the corresponding inspection sheets and other documents are stored away in there for me to go through and file away.

Since it has been a while since I last did my data entry into QuickBooks I am having a bit of trouble remembering the sequence I went through in getting all of this done.  Slowly it is coming back to me.  Kind of like riding a bicycle.  I will have a few spills and some wobbling before it clicks back in.  Once it does and I get a rhythm going then it will be easier.

The problem I will be faced with then will be the “zone” and losing track of time.  It is not uncommon for me to begin the day at 7:30 in the morning and work at this until midnight or later.  Stopping only for bathroom visits and talking with Joe on the phone.  I get kind of cranky when he interrupts me frequently during this time.  Eating is something I forgo also.  The coffee maker is my only friend when I get in the “zone”.  Have to stop those bad habits and make sure I eat this time round.


Clear space, but not for long

I got my desk area cleaned off.  That is a must when I do the data entry part.  Stuff falling off the desk, going in the trash I have next to me, or rolling around and getting on the keyboard and in my way.

Before I’m half way finished with my paperwork I’ll have sticky notes plastered all over my computer face with reminders of what I need to order online from Quill, notes to myself about incomplete load envelopes of which there will be a few.  I’ll have questions for the accounting people at Coldiron or Dependable on some of these past loads.  A grocery list when I run out of coffee filters and coffee.  I’ll leave the list at home and find myself at the store in a fog trying to remember what I went there for in the first place.

So far with my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday days for paperwork is going well.  I’m having to deal with the feeling of not getting anything accomplished on the other days of the week when I’m off running errands or playing in my craft room.  Old habits are a bit hard to break and I am struggling with trying to have a balance in this work and play.

Today, I have a few errands to run.  Bank and Hobby Lobby for more spritzer bottles.  I’ve figured out a way to make the “Glimmer Mist” stuff with Stampin’ Up! ink refills and Perfect Pearls that seem to be working.  At least the spray nozzles are working and have not seized up on me with the Perfect Pearls.

I received a package in the mail from someone I don’t know.  I’ll have to do a post about that tomorrow and show you the goodies I received.  How she got my address is beyond me but I do need to dedicate a post to her and thank her properly for the gift she bestowed upon me.

Okay, I’ve got to get away from here and get out of my pj’s.  Everyone have a great weekend and get your batteries recharged.  Weather permitting get out and walk through the leaves littering the ground.

About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

8 responses to “What To Do In Baltimore

  • Heidi Jo

    That is so cool to read about!
    One day I want to visit that!
    Mommy I love how you write a story! I can so hear your voice as I read!
    Love you Mommy!

    • Message In A Fold

      Thank you Heidi Jo. It would be cool if you could visit Baltimore one day. You’d have a good time there.

      It’s really cool that you can “hear my voice” as you read my foolishness. It’s also pretty cool that you do stop by and leave comments. Guess since we live so far apart, and now that I’m home I won’t have the chance to see you when Dad has trips to California and drops in, I can still connect with you. Reminds me….I need to be a better Mom and call you. I haven’t talked with you all week 😦
      Love you Punkin

  • Shelly

    Very interesting stuff there Leslie 🙂
    I don’t like the reading of history books either It is absorbed by my brain easier when I can see and touch what I’m learning. I think that is why the youtube videos appeal to me so 🙂 I had a chance to go through the titanic exhibt a few years back and the tight quarters in the bottom hull about make me sick, Super freaky ; I can’t imagine the poor people who had to stay down ther and ultimately die there. So sad. Hope you are getting some rest yourself, We got lots of house stuff done today Yuck 🙂

    Takd care.
    Love and hugs,

    • Message In A Fold

      I’ve been on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. I didn’t know there was an actual exhibit of the Titanic where you were “on the ship”. I just thought it was like a maze, partitioned off tour in a huge space. That would be freaky to be down in the bowels of a ship with no light and cramped quarters, no way out during that time.

      Woo Hoo on getting “lots of house stuff” done. Such a never ending job that is. Guess that is why it is called “house WORK”?
      Love you – Leslie

      • Shelly

        It was just am exhibt Leslie with and actual piece of the titanic and a giant Ice piece like an iceburg made it really cold next to it. we tried along woth many others to hold our hands on the ice for as long as we could Wasent very long though. they had it all set up with a replica of the staircase and chandelier (sorr if spelled wrong) A very beautiful sight to see. We also went on the submarine they had ant the museum and the tight quarters arent for me.

      • Message In A Fold

        Wow, it sounds like your tour of the Titanic exhibit was very interesting. Recreating the iceberg and a portion of the ship to encourage thinking of what the people went through. Talk about an “interactive” exhibit. That would make for some good conversation and speculation. I’ve heard the staircase and the chandelier were awe inspiring. Sounds like it was so good you still have strong memories of your visit. That is really cool.
        Love you – Leslie

  • Lynn Claridge

    I must be weird then as I love history books! I like the tours too as that gives me the chance to ‘flesh’ out the words but I am lost without my books. Have just finshed a new book and shall then have to re-read a book I have re-read already!! Rod reckons that one day the walls will fall down and the floors will collapse with the weight of books I have in my collection although it is a much slimmer collection after I took several boxes of books to the recycling centre in preparation of moving house.

    No submarines for me either – how submariners can stand being shut up in a metal tube for 6 months at a time beats me, no fresh air, no daylight, no stars at night, no privacy or peace and quiet. I’d be a gibbering wreck within days.
    Would love the water taxi and the chance to spot a shark! When we go to the Islands of Scilly by ferry we look out for basking sharks and dolphins – very exciting.

    Good for you getting on with the data entry process; a most boring aspect of the whole thing I think. I would just want to crack on with it to get it over and done with as soon as possible. I admire your tenacity and patience but don’t forget to eat!

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Sounds like you and my Joe would have enough books to create a library. Joe is the avid reader in our household. Our bookshelves are cram packed with books he’s read. I do wish the school history books were as interesting to read as the books that are more in depth on any given person or era.

      You actually relish sightings of SHARKS?!! Dolphins I could go for but I’m not too sure about sharks. All of them live in deep, deep water. Geez, I’m more of a fraidy cat than I even acknowledge!!!

      Progress on the paperwork side is coming along. January is about to be put in the bin. Yippee!!!
      Love you – Leslie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: