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Friday, July 6, 2012

B'More and Beyond

       I've taken some time to get around to blogging about our wonderful time in Baltimore and surrounding areas.  I think I've kept it to myself for the past couple of weeks just hugging all the memories, examining them closely before sending them out into cyberspace.

      Of course the best part of the trip was seeing Dani and Kelly.  They celebrated their third wedding anniversary and moving to Baltimore in June.  In those three years we have seen them only five times--NOT enough!

        We left home at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 13.  Kevin was generous enough to drive down from Logan and transport Rob, Bryan, Camille, and I and all of our luggage to the Salt Lake International Airport.  We had a 10:50 am non-stop flight to BWI.

        When we arrived, we collected our suitcases, took a shuttle to the car rental center, and met Dani and Kelly at about 5:30 (Baltimore time).  Dani had just finished her last day of school earlier that afternoon and now she had us to take charge of.

      We followed D & K to downtown Baltimore to their favorite burger joint, Abbey Burger, which was ranked "Baltimore's Best Burgers" in Best of Baltimore. The menu consisted of a check list we marked with our selection of meat, type of bun, toppings, and add-ons we wanted. We could have ordered alligator, duck, kangaroo, or about a half dozen other meat options. We each completed our list and the waitress collected them and presently returned with our order. My black Angus with avocado, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and chipolte mayo was the best hamburger I have EVER tasted!

      Following dinner, we checked into the Towson Sheraton, and then went to Dani's and Kelly's apartment where we got to meet their cat, Libby, for the first time. We discussed our plans for the rest of the week, watched a movie, and ate the delicious individual creme brulee Kelly made for us. 

      Thursday, June 14th, we awoke early, met at the Ahern's apartment, made and packed a lunch and left for Gettysburg, PA. We went to Gettysburg the last time we visited, but Rob loved it so much he wanted to do it again and Bryan wasn't with us last time, so he voted to go there too. We enjoyed the beautiful drive through the countryside. At the battlefield, we did the 'driving' tour, but we got out and walked a lot.  Around noon we found some picnic tables set up near the center of the battlefield and ate our lunch. Squirrels and Cardinals hovered around waiting for our crumbs. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading monuments and listening to Rob tell stories of the three-day battle and those who made history with their bravery. We ended our day at the Gettysburg Cemetery.
A cardinal who wanted to share our Gettysburg picnic
A Gettysburg Cannon
     The next morning (Friday, June 15), we splint into two vehicles to head to Washington DC.  The guys--Rob, Kelly and Bryan--were headed to the Air and Space Museum, while the girls--Dani, Camille, and I--went to the Holocaust Museum.  We spent six hours in these places and then met up at the National Zoo.  We visited all the enclosed exhibits when we first arrived because they closed at 6:00 pm. Then we ate dinner and spent the next two hours exploring the rest of the zoo, or at least as much of it as our tired feet would allow.  We were all footsore and exhausted when we arrived back in Baltimore that evening.
One of the two elephants who entertained us.
The lazy Howler Monkey (a new daddy to a cute baby Howler).

     Saturday, June 16, didn't require quite as early a start as our two previous days.  Kelly had a job interview at 8:00, so we met them at about 9:30 and Dani and Kelly took us to their favorite book exchange called The Book Thing (how is that for a catchy name?).  We spent an hour looking at thousands of used books then we walked to the farmer's market that the Aherns visit most summer Saturday mornings.  We enjoyed the chance to see our Baltimore family in their own surroundings.  After walking back to the car, we headed down the freeway to Philadelphia, PA. Since Dani and Kelly are both history majors, they love exploring many famous US historical sites. They were very familiar with Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's grave and several other places in the city.  They also took us to Reading Market where we ate authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  They were delicious and then we poked around some of the other booths and shops in the famous market. We bought some candy from a Amish family's store. Kelly directed us to a few more sites as we headed out of town that afternoon and then pointed us in the direction of Longwood Gardens. Kelly had purchased on-line tickets for this amazing place where we spent the next six hours. Longwood Gardens was Pierre duPont's estate in Kennet Square, PA which was deeded to the state by the famous millionaire as a foundation for people to visit the exquisite gardens, fountains, arboretum and grounds.We stayed until after dark so we could view the spectacular lighting displays and watch the fountain show. It was so beautiful, I don't even know the words to use to adequately describe it.  

Philly Cheesesteak. Yummy!!
Walking to Independence Hall
At Benjamin Franklin's Grave
Longwood Garden fountains in the daytime.
I could not get a decent photo of the gorgeous night-time lit-up fountains.

      Sunday, June 17, we met Dani and Kelly at their church house at 9:00 am and enjoyed visiting their ward and meeting many of their friends. After church, we went back to their house and Kelly made Chicken Marseilles to celebrate Father's Day. That afternoon, we drove back to Washington DC and visited the National Cathedral, some of the monuments at the National Mall, and Arlington Cemetery. It was a pleasant Sunday.
National Cathedral with scaffolding around earthquake-damaged spires 
A stained-glass window from inside
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Memorial (also earthquake damaged)
from the Lincoln Memorial.
See our reflections in the Vietnam War Memorial.
      Monday, June 18, was the day Camille was most excited for on our whole trip. We had another early morning to get on the freeway headed to Ocean City before the rush hour crush. We made good time and arrived in Ocean City on the only over-cast day of the trip. At first I thought it might be too chilly to enjoy the beach, but it ended up being a delightful day. The clouds seemed to keep the crowds away and we stretched out and enjoyed our section of sand. We napped, read, talked, walked the boardwalk, waded in the Atlantic Ocean, and shopped in some touristy shops. That evening, we cleaned as much sand as we could from ourselves and our belongings and went to the outlet mall where Kelly did a little 'back-to-school' shopping. He will be teaching high school starting next week and needed some new shirts, slacks, ties, etc. We also got a local's recommendation of where to eat. He directed us to a seafood place for dinner.

Enjoying Ocean City's Beach
A cloudy day over the Atlantic 
Fish for dinner
     Tuesday, June 19 we got another fairly early start with the plan to begin the day at Fort McHenry, but as we approached the bridge, we were stopped by police officers who were not allowing anyone over to the fort. We are still not sure if the island was filled to capacity, if there was an accident, or if some other issue prevented us from seeing Fort McHenry, but we didn't get to "Sailabrate" the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with other Baltimorians that day. Our alternative plan took us to Annapolis where we discovered a beautiful little city, which is the capitol of Maryland and picturesque in every way. We walked through the old part of town, found a spot for lunch (even though we couldn't locate a crab house), ate delicious ice cream, and toured the Naval Academy. It was the warmest and muggiest day of our trip to this point. Mid-afternoon, we headed back to Baltimore where we ended the day at Inner Harbor. We had plans to visit Kelly's favorite Crab House Restaurant there, but found that it was closed, so we returned to their apartment where he grilled steaks for us instead.

A lightpole hung with flower baskets against the
backdrop of the Episcopalian Church Steeple
in Church Circle, Annapolis
The National Aquarium in Inner Harbor, Baltimore

       The next morning, Wednesday, June 20, we awoke to the hottest day of the whole week.  We met Kelly and Dani at the Towson Mall and where we did a little shopping in the airconditioned stores. At noon, we had brunch at Towson Hot Bagles and said our tearful goodbyes. It was time to head to the airport for our return flight.

      We had a grand time in Baltimore. It was sad to leave our kids knowing we won't see them again until Christmas. Thanks for taking such great care of us and treating us to so many visual and culinary delights on our trip.

Sidenote:  I've been texting a very hot and miserable daughter each day this past week. The power has been out since a huge storm hit the east coast on June 29.  Today is July 6 and at 8:00 pm, they are still without electricity. They have been experiencing 100+ degree days and high humidity.  The poor Aherns have been waiting it out in their third-floor apartment without any airconditioning, refrigeration, warm water, or lights for seven whole days. The power company has given them expected days/times for restoration of power, but all of the estimates have come and gone over the past three days without the promised power.


Dani Marie said...

We had so much fun with you guys and wish you could visit more often! We miss you and can't wait for Christmas.

Also, for anyone who cares, our power came back on last night. We went to a late movie because it was so darn hot, and when we came back the power was on! We had a little impromptu dance party to celebrate. Too bad the weather wasn't as nice this past week as it was when you were here, then it would have been just fine (except for all our food going bad, but maybe the pickles would have survived with cooler weather?)

Tina said...

It sounds like you packed your trip with lots of fun things to do . . . . and will still have stuff to do on your next trip here (if there is one!) I was wondering how you enjoyed your "maryland" crab dinner, sounds like that one will have to wait!!!