I had been planning to put my son in preschool for five days a week this year, but he's just so stinking fun right now I decided to keep him home on Mondays and Fridays for father/son adventures and projects and so far this year we've had a really great time together.

Not long ago we heard that the USS Niagara was visiting Detroit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, i.e. the one we lost to Canada, or as I explain to my children, "the reason Windsor looks so much nicer than Detroit." This was the brig that Oliver Hazard Perry escaped to after his flagship was crippled during the Battle of Lake Erie. Somebody did not want to miss the opportunity to see a real tall ship, so I walked down to the river with a pirate or an 18th-century sea captain wearing gold lamé short pants.

Once aboard, the enamored crew was really nice and let us take our time exploring every nook and cranny of the restored 199-year-old ship.

What an adventure! His favorite part was going belowdecks to see the cramped cabins and watch his father bang his head against the deck several times. We ran into some real naval 1812 reenactors and he was appropriately awed by their costumes and muskets. It turns out that naval officers of that era wore top hats and dapper collared jackets, which definitely appealed to my son's dandyish sensibilities:

Image via the Newport Historical Society

And there across the river stood the venerable Windsor skyline. "In the war, Detroit surrendered to Canada and a powerful Indian named Tecumseh," I told him. Just think how close we came to having bilingual road signs, potholeless streets, and no tea party relatives grumbling about Obamacare.

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