Day 2: October 8, 2011
A Fort to a Paradise
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Getting to Fort McHenry was a little tougher than I expected. There was a detour for a closed bridge and a crossing blocked by a train that I thought might be there permanently. Working around those led to some awkward one-ways. Had those defenses been in place in 1814, the British probably wouldn't have even tried.

But I did make it and watched an excellent movie about the assault on Fort McHenry, the War of 1812, and the events that led up to both. The British were actually on a bit of a roll at this point having just captured Washington and set fire to the White House. That was the last time the US Commander In Chief commanded forces in the field and the last time, as far as I know, that a President's home has been set ablaze by foreign troops. I certainly wish no harm to the White House but, as I've hinted before, getting the bosses in on the action, especially mounted on horse back, seems like a good idea to me.

A large Stars and Stripes (fifteen of each) hangs from the fort's flag pole but there really wasn't enough wind to get it waving today. Inside the fort, I listened to a ranger give some history of the fort and of the flag before helping volunteers fold one. A father and son reached the flag just before the folding commenced and Dad made sure Son got to participate. I learned today that anyone can have a flag hoisted briefly over the fort then receive a certificate attesting to it. Fifteen star flags are sold in the gift shop partly for this purpose or you can bring you own. That fourth picture shows a fifteen star flag being hoisted by a fellow who bought it as a gift for his brother.


There are two large statues outside the fort proper and neither is of Francis Scott Key. One is of Major George Armistead who commanded the fort's defence and made sure Key's ship had a place to return to and James Madison had a home to repaint. He died less than three years later with some thinking "the months of preparations to defend the city" partly to blame. He was 38.

The other is of Orpheus, the mythic Greek poet and musician. He's holding a lyre in his left hand. You know. Like "Lyre, lyre, pants on...". Oh, never mind. Key is honored in the carved base of this statue.


From the fort, I worked my way into Baltimore then left town on the path of the old Baltimore Frederick Turnpike. I photographed several of the old mile markers when I came through here in 2006 so didn't do that today even though I did see some of them. I stopped for the "6 M To B" marker because, despite it being unusually well marked, I missed it in '06.

In 2006, I took a picture of the Elicott City overpass with, unbeknown to me, a Baltimore Frederick Turnpike mile marker hidden in it. I took a similar picture today though this time I was very much aware of the marker. As I noted in a 2008 addendum, this stone is credited with getting both Frank X Brusca and William Least Heat Moon interested in roads.

After walking around Ellicott City for a bit, I headed out of town on Old Columbia Pike. It looked really promising for awhile but quickly turned into divided four-lane.


I had hoped that something called Old Columbia Pike would be at least a little bit rustic but it was either unexciting expressway or a congested city street all the way to Bethesda. Bethesda is the home of Maryland's Madonna of the Trail Monument and I wanted to visit. I've seen this particular Madonna before but she wasn't home at the time. In December of 2004, a sinkhole developed under the statue that threatened to topple it. It was moved to the Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville where it stood until June of 2007. I visited the lady on Independence Day of 2006 and got her to pose for a picture. I'm glad to see her back home and back on her pedestal but I'll never forget our time together.

This house concert featuring Dirk Hamilton was a big reason for scheduling the trip as I did and an even bigger reason for keeping it going after the train was canceled. The venue was the home of Georgie Jessup, who opened for Dirk on Friday and would do so again tonight. For reasons I failed to check into, the place is called Edith May's Paradise. Georgie opened with a few tunes on piano then switched to guitar when she called up David Salyers to accompany her. I'd only heard a couple snippets of Georgie's music and wasn't entirely sure what I was about the hear. Good stuff, it turned out. Nice tunes and thoughtful lyrics delivered with skill. A good opener for Dirk.

After a break of exactly the right length, Dirk kicked off his set with When Good Men Do Nothing from his latest CD and stuck with newer stuff for the first few songs then really mixed it up quite well. Dirk no longer sounds exactly like that twenty something guy who first sang songs like Wasn't That One Night Good? (which he did tonight) but the voice is still great and it's the right voice.

Dirk also had Dave join him for a few songs then Georgie joined in for the last three or so. Dirk had finished his "planned" set and the last couple with Georgie and Dave were really half planned encores. Dirk had set down his guitar for the last song which was actually a Georgie Jessup tune he'd written a couple of verses for. The others left the stage then Dirk, after a short breather, picked up the guitar again. In what was a real and unplanned encore, he first told the story of Billboard on the Moon then closed the show with a beautiful performance of it.


This is Edith May's Paradise from the outside. It's a delightful place for concerts of the proper size. In addition to the music, there was a table of great food (The stuffed mushrooms were killer!) seemingly added to constantly by a lady Georgie called Chef Duck. I can't explain why I have no picture of that.

Whether it's news or just a reminder, I'll mention that I started a weekly (at least) blog a couple of months back. Last week's entry was about seeing Dirk for the first time ten years ago. This week's entry will probably be little more than a pointer here.


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