Breaking the Code

Got lost trying to find a Burger King on the way to Baltimore on Saturday and ended up at the gate to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade. Trying not to appear suspicious–although I don’t see how suspicious you can be with three little kids in the car–I opted to take a left turn into the road leading to the National Cryptologic Museum.Fortunately, the museum was open and I figured, what the heck, it’s free, let’s check it out. A group of about 15 people were waiting at the entrance for the next tour to start but with none younger than about 20, I figured this wasn’t the kid-friendly tour. We got to explore the small museum on our own, and it was packed with neat exhibits. My 4- and 6-year-old tired of it quickly since the only interactive item appeared to be a kiosk with code games at the front. But my 10-year-old loved all the war-related exhibits, including a mannequin depicting a communications soldier and his communications gear. We didn’t go into the park next door, National Vigilance Park, where they have two reconnaissance aircraft used for secret missions, according to the Web site.The lady at the front desk said they’re hoping to establish a playroom for the younger set, but for now the kiddies will have to make do with the kiosk and cool activity books. Don’t think I’d drive out all the way to Fort Meade just to go to the museum, but it’s a great little side trip off 295. For directions and more info, go to http://www.nsa.gov/museum/

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