This essay is called a Mental Rabbit. The assignment was to think of an item we touch daily and then start writing about it and see where it leads us, like a zig-zagging rabbit running from bush to tree to hole. This was what I came up with on my rabbit hunt:
For our last vacation, we flew to Maryland. When we arrived at the BWI (Baltimore Washington International) Airport, we took the shuttle to the car rental center, used our Amex card to pay the rental fees, which automatically provided insurance on the Chrysler Impala we rented from Enterprise. That Impala took us to Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and to Baltimore, Towson, and Annapolis, Maryland. We visited Civil War battlefields, Independence Hall, Ben Franklin's grave, and the Liberty Bell. We admired the DuPont Estate, mourned in the Holocaust Museum, and were amazed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We also visited the National Zoo, National Cathedral, and all the monuments on the DC Mall. We visited the US Naval Academy and spent a day at Ocean City where the towels were spread on the sand as far as the eye could see; spacious awnings and huge beach umbrellas marking the seasoned beach goers' turf. Miles of boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants behind, the Atlantic Ocean in front. We read, sunned, hunted seashells, splashed, slept, then we took my American Express card and did a little shopping and found fresh seafood for dinner.
Each night we returned to the Sheraton Hotel in Towson--home base for our daily excursions. We have a Sheraton rewards card, with benefits for members (are you surprised?) We made sure to take in a tour of Inner Harbor, where we looked at tall ships, a WWII submarine, coast guard ship, and the USS Constellation anchored in the Harbor. We have thick, metal tokens, good for life-time admittance to the Constellation at her permanent berth--Constellation Dock, Inner Harbor, Pier 1, 301 East Pratt Street, Baltimore. She is the last wind-powered warship built by the U.S. Navy and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994 as the last existing naval vessel from the Civil War.
Lots of food is required for a family of six traveling in the United States. Luckily, there is a Costco in Baltimore which supplied us with croissants, the makings for sandwiches, big bags of chips, and flats of sodas. We packed lunches and saved a few dollars, but we also ate at restaurants, pubs and fast-food joints. Crabcakes, fresh flounder, and salmon were on the dinner menu; Dunkin' Donuts was a favorite breakfast spot. The Baltimore Orioles played the Pirates at Camden Yards while we were there. Abbey Burger after the game was a loud and boisterous place because the Orioles won. At this pub, the menu is a check list of about a hundred items. You pick your meat--ostrich, alligator, and bison were three of the many choices to select from; you choose the kind of bread/bun from about 10 varieties; and then you choose your toppings from dozens of items. Abbey Burger is home of Baltimore's best burger--my assessment as well as that of Best of Baltimore Magazine. We discovered Trader Joe's and can't wait until we have one of those 'Joes' at home. Every place we went, we looked for the familiar blue and white 'American Express accepted here' sign because we never leave home without it.
Around my birthday each year, Amex rewards checks are sent out. The one, two, or three percent cash back on purchases made over the past year will be totaled and mailed. We can use our check on Costco merchandise or cash it and used it anywhere else. Isn't that a great birthday gift? I look at our check each year and start figuring what one, two, or three percent translates into as charges on our credit card over the past year, then I think maybe we'll cut back and not buy so much next year. But I start thinking of places we've yet to visit, things we need to do, and start making plans--after all, membership has its rewards.