The War of 1812 may ring a bell for most people, but many aren't going to remember what it was about. That's not what this blog is about, however. This entry is about the 200 year celebration of Detroit setting the record as the only major American city to have ever surrendered to a foreign power. (Seriously, Detroit holds that title. You can read all about it here.)
September 5th through the 10th was Navy Week in Detroit. Now, the Navy is cool and all, but the reason I wanted to go was the promise of a tour of the USS Niagara, a reconstruction of the original ship that won the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. A tall sailing ship docked at a port near moi? Yes, please!
Since I didn't work until 7 that evening, my boyfriend Greg and I headed out that morning for Detroit's Riverwalk, where most of the activity was planned. In addition to the Niagara and other modern Navy vessels, there was a military band performing, and, inside the RenCen, there were a number of educational booths set up, including a table with people dressed up as sailors from 1812 and an array of what they would have carried with them on board ships. There were 12 year old sea biscuits that were still crumbly enough for me to easily break one in half, so I was less than impressed with their hardness.
But back to the ship! The USS Niagara is a fully functioning ship, and even offers cruises in which you can choose to work as a sailor on the ship and learn how everything works (which I think would be freaking awesome). There were workers hanging about answering questions, but mostly we just walked a pre-set path through the ship. Belowdeck was extremely low ceilinged. Greg couldn't stand up straight at all, and I could only stand up in the spaces between the beams. Cramped is an understatement. They did manage to fit some hammocks, a small table, and a tiny, yet fully functioning kitchen. I am not sure how most people managed to cook all hunched over, though. They didn't actually let us in the kitchen, so I couldn't investigate properly.
Once we'd finished with our tour of the Niagara, we headed into the RenCen for a few minutes before returning to the car and going in search of American and Lafayette Coney Islands. Then on our way out of town, we stumbled upon John K. King Used and Rare Books, where Greg and I had our third date over a year ago. (I hadn't been back since; Greg had.) I think wandering through an old glove factory that's been converted to the largest used bookstore in the state was the perfect way to end our outing in Detroit.
A tall ship, coneys, and books. Oh my!