Road Entry#20 (George Washington's Estate - Mt. Vernon, VA - 3:58pm - August 11, 2010)


I am writing this blog entry about Baltimore and Annapolis while sitting the home of George Washington in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. So I guess you'll have to wait a couple more days or so for me to write about this new experience in Washington DC and Virginia.

I refer back to the last blog and my adventures in making my way from New York City to Baltimore, Maryland. It is now Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 and I am taking at 10:30am bus from 33rd and 7th Ave by the Sbarro to Baltimore's Marc-Penn Station. I walked from Ryan's apartment to the Sbarro in the morning before the bus and by the time I got there - I was drenched even though it was still before the humidity really set it. I was happy to get onto the air conditioned bus and get out of New York City for a new experience again! I relapsed with Boston and New York just because it was cheap to travel down the coast from the major metropolis centers. While being very sweaty on the Bolt Bus down south, I was also very tired from staying up late the night before. I slept the majority of the way down from the city to Baltimore. I was coherent for the last 45 minutes of getting into Maryland via the small Delaware crossing along I-95 and just missed seeing Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE from the bus.

I started to get my things together while exiting the bus and met Joannah Rose Fine. She was a very cool lady from Ithaca, New York and went to school at UMBC. She was going to the Mt. Vernon area of downtown Baltimore and I was headed to a cafe to use the internet in that area as well. So we walked down to Donna's cafe right across the street from the Washington Monument and Museum in downtown Baltimore. She and I were getting along so well that she stayed and had lunch with me. We were both waiting to get picked up which didn't hurt as well. She and I had great conversation and learned about each others' lives. She was headed down to Baltimore early before school started to find an apartment in the Mt. Vernon area because it was only going to be her second year living in Baltimore and going to UMBC. She attended a small junior college in New York for a year and decided to head to UMBC for a major in ??? - I forgot. She didn't have to point out that she was a free-spirited girl with an artistic side because of her obvious henna tattoos on her left arm. She actually gave me her professional henna tattoo card to call her about going to the Orioles game the next night because I was planning on going. All this while we were loosing track of time as her friend comes to pick her up and I receive a call from my host saying she would be there in an hour or so. Joannah and her friend leave and I sit down to some internet surfing, e-mails, and the federal application packet I wasn't completely done with. The time between Joannah leaving and my host arriving went by unbelievably quick.

Kate Lynch is my host in Baltimore that I found on Couch She is a 28 year old physicians assistant at one of the big hospitals in Baltimore. She works in the Trauma-2 unit of a Baltimore ER and sees some pretty gnarly accidents and injuries. She said that there is a lot of patients that are accident victims from the highways that surround the hospital and victims of violence in the city. It probably wasn't a great introduction to the city of Baltimore - but nonetheless, interesting. She told me story after story of the danger that looms around almost every corner in the Baltimore area. She said that bicyclists get hit off their bikes with a bat or club when going through the wrong neighborhoods. Once day while at the ER, she had two 19 year old boys as stab victims in street violence - thinking they were friends that got attacked and shanked. It turned out that they were enemies and she helped save one boy who stabbed the other one to death. The one she helped save only had minor internal damage and lots of superficial wounds - and the only reason he lived was because of his size and physical condition (super athletic). The other one was a smaller boy and got stabbed right below the cerebral cortex behind the ear. He died almost instantly due to brain hemorrhaging and bleeding in the brain. Stories like this would come up almost every hour - something that you just HAVE to get used to while being in Baltimore I guess.

Kate picked me up in her brand new Honda Element around 4-5pm from Donna's Cafe and took me back to her house that was situated right near Johns Hopkins campus in Wyman Park. When we entered her house, she prepared me for some barking from Nepal her dog. The surprising part for Kate was that he didn't bark at me at all and just went about his business with Kate when I entered. It has been great to be with animals as I travel - I love them so much! I put my stuff down in the empty bedroom that was left by their roommate Bill, who is working in Alaska. I hung around the house while Kate left to pick up her friend's dog - Pirate! So we had two dogs with us while I stayed in her cool little home. Her other roommate, Erin, came home from work while I was there by myself - which was cool because she was expecting me and was very inviting and open to meeting new people as well. Erin and Kate were really great people and both worked in the healthcare industry at the hospital.

Actually all of Kate's friends were in the healthcare industry. (This is leading into the next part of the evening - dinner at Mike and Kelly's). Kate suggested that we go over to their house for some dinner and I am always game for some new people and some home-cooked meals. I asked Kate if I could help her with the Strawberry-Goat Cheese Spinach salad she was preparing to take over - but she wouldn't let me help. We took over that delicious looking salad to the dinner house to find Mike in the kitchen with the some music bumping from the living room. Mike is a really interesting guy that works with Kate in the ER. He and Kelly just got married in April of 2010 and are both nurses. Kelly got back from a 12 hour shift to sit down to a delicious eggplant lasagna and that great looking salad. The four of us sat around for a couple hours with some refreshing beverages and talked and talked. I had a great time with these courteous, generous, and beautiful people. I felt welcome, comfortable, at home, and at peace with the people around me. It was definitely a comfort zone evening with it's ambience and energy. Living GOOD LIFE.

We departed to leave Kelly to get to bed because she was extremely tired from a long shift at the hospital. Kate and I got back to her apartment where we sat down and talked for another couple of hours into the midnight hour. I learned about her family, her travel benefits through her brother and Continental airlines, and her life story! She was extremely interesting and I had a great first day in Baltimore. It was great first impression of her culture, her area, and the people like her (not the gang related violence she eluded to). I mean - besides the extreme heat and humidity - I felt at home with some really great people. So the lesson to be learned is that you can make home anywhere you want - just as long you can find people that have aligned interests, preferences, values, habits, and a vision for life. To say the least - Que FANTASTICO! I dozed off to bed around 1:30am.

(continuation of this blog post at Cosmo Cafe in downtown Charlotte, NC)...

The next morning I woke up around 10:30am - hopping out of bed and eating a banana, drinking some water, and then going off for a 4 mile run around Druid Hill Lake, very close to Kate's house and the Johns Hopkins campus. I wasn't feeling particulary special during this run - sweating more than before - and coming back with a soaking wet shirt in thanks to the extreme heat and humidity (100F / 90%) this Thursday, August 5th. It took me a while to stretch and cool down - then eat some food to stay energized for the day. Kate invited me to go with her to Fell's Point - a popular nightlife location for locals and daytime landmark for tourists. I agreed to go with her and find a bag that she was buying for a friend. After getting down to the inner harbor area and Fell's Point, we walked around for less than 15 minutes in the brutal heat before getting the bag and getting out of there back to her air-conditioned home. I stuck around there for the next couple of hours - planning my evening with Anna Swicklick at the Baltimore Orioles game.

Anna is a good friend and a former student of mine at the University of Oregon athletic department - tutoring services. She is going to be a senior and starting attacker for the Ducks and is originally from the Baltimore area. Anna works at a summer camp for kids in the Baltimore area and was taking a nap when I called her to confirm a meeting point and time down at Camden Yards. I heard from her at the last minute (6:05pm) right as I was getting in Kate's car to head down to the park. She said she would meet me there with her friend Ty around the time of the first pitch (7:05pm). So I went down to the ballpark area and had dinner outside the stadium (mexican cuisine, somewhat similar to Chipotle) so I wouldn't have to pay a butt-load of money for tickets AND food AND beer. I thought it was a great idea until I got to the gate and a kind man was giving away two of his extra tickets and vouchers for pulled-pork sandwiches. Oh well...

Anna and Ty met me outside the outfield gate and I started taking pictures as we entered one of the most beautiful park-scapes in all of modern day baseball. I snapped away from the outfield as the three of us watched the Orioles battle with the Angels.

The wait for Oriole Park at Camden Yards was picture perfect...

It was 0-0 tie all the way until the bottom of the 6th when Nick Markakis put the O's on the board first with a solo-shot to right center (one section away from where we were sitting!). The next 4 innings were thrilling as the 4-0 Orioles lead faded away in the top of the 8th to an even score (4-4) on a bunch of good hitting by the Angels. In the bottom of the 9th though, Cesar Izturis hit a walk-off single to win the game for the O's and sweep the Angels in the mid-week series (3 in a row for Buck Showalter - the new Orioles manager).

The three of us drove back to Ty's apartment in the Inner Harbor area to cool down from the game. We then decided to go out as a tripod to a relaxing rum bar in Fell's Point. It happened to be a complete sailor's rum bar - with special rum cocktails - and a tropical fun theme for everyone to enjoy. The tiki-bar upstairs is where we sat, overlooking the quaint Thursday night harbor. We had some special coconut concoctions and sweetened up our lives with too much sugar in this rum based cocktail... felt somewhat horrible afterwards. We sat around there waiting for Anna's friend Alex to show up - an chinese-american beauty from Johns Hopkins University and someone who had a stimulating story in their own-right. She studies French and English and just got back from living in France. She also was a former professional or amateur ballet dancer that had her dancing career shortened by injury (knees? ankles?). We traded stories for the rest of the night while Anna and Ty conversation and body-language resonated with sexual innuendos, frustration, and chemistry all rolled-up-into-one.

Alex was sober to drive me back, along with Anna, to Kate's house. I said goodnight to the two lovely ladies and retired for the evening (1:30am).

I woke up the next morning to the delicious taste of Kate's banana-chocolate chip bread. I had a slice of that along with some cereal before my local Maryland Transit Authority bus to Annapolis. It was a short 10 minute light-rail ride to the bus station where it took another hour and a half to get to my destination in Annapolis. I played Chess on my iPod chess for most of the ride down to Annapolis. I also got in touch with James Hanrahan, my next host for the journey, as I approached Anne Arundel Community College for our pick up point. It is great how everything just works out as I travel! The community college is along the bus route and where James' youngest daughter goes to day-camp. Lena is 9 years old and attends a regular day-camp every week. She told me that she does arts & crafts, scavenger hunts, games inside, sports & swimming outside, and has fun with a group of kids her age at the camp. Lena is a curious little girl that has an immense love for her hamster - Sammie the three-legged Jewish hamster that lives in her room with her. Her mom, Anne, actually told me that Lena one year said that they needed to start celebrating Chanukah. Anne tried to remind Lena that they were Episcopalian Christians and they didn't celebrate Chanukah - but Lena responded with, "It's not for us, it's for Sammie - she is Jewish - I looked it up on Google".

What a laugh!

I also met they second daughter, Gemma, that scortching afternoon when James picked me up from the community college. Gemma is a 16 year old, going-to-be junior in high school. We didn't get much time to spend together and talk, as she left the day arrived for Pennsylvania and a Warped-Tour concert with her friend. But later, I did find out that she averages 7,000 texts per month. What a lasting impression - thumbing away on the cell phone. There I was little to no judgement on my part, but just an observation {giggling at the short generational differences}

So James picked me up at the community college with Lena and Gemma - and took us over to their church to set up for "The Joust" the next day. The annual jousting event is held at their church with games, horses, petting zoo, face-painting, etc... We set up the banners and the dunk tank before heading over to dinner at a restaurant called the Red, Hot, & Blue. It was a little smokehouse BBQ place off the highway, near their home and the church. We sat down as a "family" and had a great dinner - talking and me explaining my journeys thus far.

The meal ended before dusk and we made our way over to the gated Epping Forest community for a night sail on their friend's sailboat. We arrived to the boat-house and dock to find a bunch of kids and adults sharing good times before getting on the water and setting sail. We sailed off on Chuck's 42ft sailboat into the Severn River with 6 kids and 6 adults aboard - me being in generational limbo as a 24 year old with 6-12 year olds and 40-50 year olds. Nevertheless, I had a great time! We sailed for an hour or two as the water and sky got darker and darker - blackness (almost). Along the way, James snapped a couple pictures of me from his iPhone and sent them to my mom via the 3G network. We made our way back to the dock and drove back to the Hanrahan's to settle in for the night. It was a beautiful Friday and I had a great first day in the Annapolis area - learning a lot and meeting more great people along the way!!!

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