Thursday, July 15, 2010

From Baltimore to Washington D.C.

You know, I'm growing as a person. I am. Or maybe my relationship is getting stronger. Or – perhaps – I just realize that there's no point in arguing something once it's done and over with.

Waking up, we were surrounded by water. Not trusting the tent at all, I had move all my things from the walls, but still there was some seepage that got to a book or two. Just the guide books – nothing that warrants being kept in perfect condition. These were not small little leaks though, not by any mean. A moat, an inner moat, had developed while we slept, within our tent. This was not a pleasant thing to wake up to.

Katherine went off to shower, and I got to work mopping everything up. By the time she got back the inside of the tent was dry, the car was on our lot, an all the bags were back within the trunk. Ducks started to wander close looking for food.

Hearing them rapt against the fabric as I cleaned up inside? A strange sound. Not unlike that of a potential Grizzly foraging. But fear I did not, for I was bigger than the ducks, and could no doubt take them in a fight. Thus, I did not worry. Until their wee ones came over. I hear they bite!

When Kath got back, I made my way to the shower, while she worked on breaking down the tent. On route, I stepped in the mud, which looked a lot like the road. I washed my shoe in the shower. When water hit this piece of plastic footwear black ooze was sent everywhere, coving the floor, the ceiling, and the walls. I avoided the worst by hiding behind the shower curtain. I tried to clean inside, but unable to direct the flow of water I quickly gave up. They can use the thirty five dollars I paid for a patch of grass to set up a tent in the middle of the night to get that gunge gone.

And that was that – good bye New Jersey. The toll of three dollars to leave the state was well worth it. I wanted to try and make a statement and see Delaware. We tried – we really did. We enjoyed a tax-free lunch, and then headed to Wilmington. Look – I want to say there's a reason to see Delaware, and I'm sure there is. I hear great things about their beaches down south – but it was raining, and being pretty small, it was surely raining there too – so they were skipped Wilmington? I saw the city on the drive through and around. It's a wee little thing, keep on going. Maryland has Baltimore. Surely that place is worth checking out, yeah?

Finding street parking, I paid my two bucks for two hours, and we set to work trying to make sense of the city. We parked by the harbour. This is the nice safe touristy place to hang out. Katherine read the guide book as we drove in. For some reason I truste the GPS over myself – I need to stop doing this. Rather than taking the I-95 all the way to the harbour, we veered off. Now, true, this took us on a tour of John Hopkins Medical School campus, and I've heard great things about that place... on tv. What they leave out? Well the guide book filled us in: rough neighbourhoods best avoided, do not go near at all after dark.

The book? It didn't seem to be lying as we carried on. Still – the people seemed non threatening, unlike in Wilmington, DE where a guy laid on the horn when I didn't start driving through a red light after he pulled up behind me. Once the light light went green he plowed by, giving me the finger, and then pulled into the McDonald's. Mac Attacks. Clearly a serious affliction in this country.

With only two hours to see this town we headed to the visitors centre. Step one, take pictures with my head through those holes for your face, so as I could be Bob the Builder, or a pirate, or something. Unlike other things of this nature, there were fake faces to stick through the unused holes, so that solo travellers, or people with those not wanting to be featured in such ridiculousness can find themselves in a full picture, rather than one full of empty holes.

Then the pamphlet hunt. At the info desk I asked a lady where I should go, what I should see. Upon finding out that we only had two hours, she went on about how I couldn't possibly spend just two hours in the city. No, I'd have to stay for more. For longer. I said I couldn't and she kept talking about how two hours wasn't enough time. I wanted to say how that time was still ticking as she went on, but listened to her expound about how great the town was, without ever mentioning a thing I should see.

I think I learned there was a free orange bus? But at the end of the day, we just walked the harbour, looked at the tall ships, the submarine, and the other boats just doing there thing. There was a Barnes and Noble's book store, in what was once a factory – or designed to look look like it was once a factory. Either way, it was pretty great.

And then there was the aquarium. I hear it's the best thing in Maryland - but we didn't have time for it. We made our way back to the car, after spending some time in the sun – and making a detour to see the holocaust memorial – then headed off again.

Next stop? Alexandria. A we little blip in Virginia just south of Washington D.C. Getting there, of course, required driving through D.C. New York Avenue – let me tell you, the American Highway system makes little sense in the best of time, but here? It just becomes nonsense of people cutting left, people cutting right. In front of us I watched a car from the lane to my left try to merge at the same time one in the lane to the right had the same idea. Realizing their error in the nick of time, the both shared all three lanes for the next little while before the situation could work itself out.

Stunts like this went on for thirty minutes. When Katherine's in the passenger seat she is normally pretty good. But this half hour was too much for her – you can only trust someone else's control for so long. And then there are sayings about how, “it's not you I don't trust, but others.” Which is nonsense, because trusting someone means trusting their ability to observe the actions of others – but we made it through, without a single error, and when the road opened up again, after lights, intersections, tunnels, and terror, she breathed a sigh of relief, alive in the end. That's when I started screaming.

“The Pentagon! The Pentagon!” Not just a building from military movies, but something for real, an there it was just off to the side. The Pentagon! We had arrived.

And then we left, to Alexandria and a Day's Inn. At 79.99 for the first two nights, an 49.99 for the third, it was pretty pricey. But we were looking to pay through the nose for this town anyway, so it was easier to accept. This is the city of cities – well D.C. is, and this motel provided a shuttle to and from the metro for carless entry to the city. After our drive in and out, that seemed like more than worth the extra price.

Dinner was at the adjacent IHOP, and it was delicious. Two pancakes, eggs, bacon, and hash browns for six fifty? Good value. I approve. And then to sleep – there would be much exploring and adventuring tomorrow.

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