Hello, Baltimore

December 30, 2015
Sitting at a food court in Baltimore (BWI airport), waiting for my phone to charge so I can walk around and request an Uber to Federal Hill Park. It’s in the Inner Harbor area so I should be able to find something to do for 4.5 hours while I wait for my cousin to pick me up.
I arrived about 4.5 hours sooner than originally planned. On my way to the airport I received an alert that my flight to Charlotte was delayed, pushing my arrival back, which would cause me to miss my connecting flight to Baltimore. *Blessing in disguise* My dad had to take me to the airport early because he had a doctor’s appointment. Initially I was complaining about having to wait longer at the gate, but I ended up re-booking on a different, earlier flight once I arrived at the airport. This meant that I had less than an hour to get through security and to the gate, but it was either that or wait on standby for a 5:30 flight that evening. I’ve never been a fan of being on standby (or waiting) so luckily I was able to make it through security quickly and made it to the gate with time to spare. It’s almost like the universe “wanted” me to start my impromptu vacation earlier!
After being involved in two different scenarios where I could have been killed or more severely injured (car accident and a natural disaster) and on top of already having a challenging couple of months (calling off my wedding in the fall), I realized 1) That I need to stop feeling sorry for myself/throw “pity parties.” 2) Life is too short to just plan and/or say that I’m going to do things and not do them. 3) That despite feeling “worthless”, I’m “supposed” to be here doing something important with my life though that purpose remains unclear.
Anyways, our God is a God of second (and third+) choices. I have a good feeling about 2016. I plan to write a list of things I want to do and create an “action plan” so they’ll actually get done (I’m a list-maker). Sometimes I need a little big push…
I took an Uber to the Inner Harbor District. There I explored and took photos of Federal Hill Park (in the rain). Got a little lost, but that’s okay. I flipped through a magazine and had a snack at the Barnes and Noble in the Inner Harbor (designed with lighthouse towers inside), then migrated to a Starbucks down the street in search of an outlet to charge my phone and a comfier chair. No chair, but at least I was able to charge my phone and read while I waited for Hannah.
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Once we arrived to my cousin’s house we unpacked and headed to one of her favorite “Syracuse” bar, Dogwatch, to watch her college basketball team play. I got to meet a few of her friends and enjoyed a much needed drink and food after a long travel day.
December 31, 2015 – New Year’s Eve
In the morning we errands around town: Chipotle for lunch and grocery shopping to buy ingredients for meals then walked around the little shops and harbor in Fells Point, another neighborhood (it reminded me of my first roommate’s town – Excelsior, MN).
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My cousin Max, Hannah’s brother, drove down fro New York. I wasn’t planning on seeing him so it was a nice surprise! The three of us went to dinner at a little Mexican restaurant called Nacho Mama’s where we enjoyed fajitas and a “hubcap” raspberry margarita. I knew I was in Maryland when I saw crab on the menu (crab enchiladas and quesadillas)! After eating we headed to downtown Baltimore for a Bluegrass concert (The Infamous Stringdusters) at Ram’s Head Live. I danced with a real hill billy! Crossed that off my bucket list a before I even had time to write it down! But then later it got really hot and I almost passed out from dehydration and claustrophobia (not so much fun)…

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We ended up leaving the concert close to 1:30 am. Hannah’s roommate wanted us to come see her at the bar she was working at. Honestly all I really wanted to do was go back to their house, but the Uber surcharge was 7.8% and my cousin wanted to wait so we wouldn’t have to pay so much.So then we went with her roommate to a different bar where her friend was working and ended up staying there for an hour and a half. I REALLY didn’t want to stay or drink. I was tired and my phone was dead, but they kept drinking (free drinks). Pro to being there was the bar was playing country music. Even though I don’t listen to county music that often I felt like I was back home in Texas. I did make the mistake of drinking a Red Bull energy drink because I didn’t know how much later we were going to be out and I was fading fast. Thanks to the drink I didn’t end up falling to sleep until after 5 am… SO unlike me…
 
January 1, 2016 – New Year’s Day
Since the night before was rough, we spend the morning sleeping in, hanging out around the house, playing banjo, and watching How I Met Your Mother.
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Early in the afternoon we went to the National Aquarium. It was pricey, but very well done. Hannah really want to go and see the jelly fish. I was mesmerized with the leopard-print looking Manta Ray – overall a very cool place (lots of kids).
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When we got back to the house I made a well-received chicken stir-fry for dinner and watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Mad Men. Good Night.
 
January 2, 2016
We slept in a little and had lunch at the house and Max headed back to New York (or so we thought).
We drove to Fort McHenry and when we pulled up in the parking lot Max popped out of nowhere – he just wasn’t ready to leave us! The museum and was very informative about the fort’s history and Francis Scott Key, and how our national anthem was inspired. After the video/museum we went to the gift shop and I found the perfect mason jar shot glass for my brother’s collection. Then we headed outside and walked around the Baltimore Harbor and were able to Facetime with my brother. We showed him our sites and he gave us a quick tour of the TV station he works at before my phone battery died. The fort reminded me of when I went to Savannah, GA with my Girl Scout troop over 10 years ago as we visited several Civil War forts during our trip.
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Max really did have to leave this time, so we parted ways and Hannah and I headed to downtown Baltimore. There we visited Westminster cemetery, primarily to see Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, but also saw the grave sites of other prominent people from Baltimore (including several names we learned about at Fort McHenry). It was very eerie being there, standing on top of old graves and tombstones amid a bustling city. After snapping a few photos, we walked to see Poe’s house. This was not the best idea as we ended up being in a sketchy part of town at dusk. We were still able to get a few pictures of and in front of the house (the house itself was currently closed for the season so we couldn’t go inside) before a very brisk walk back to the car. Originally we had talked about going to Annabelle Lee’s, a tavern that has “Poe-themed” menu items, but it had been a long couple of days and we were tired. Plus we still needed to swing by the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients for dinner.
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Back at the house it was Hannah’s turn to cook so she “made” me color while she baked homemade chicken parmesan, roasted brussel sprouts, and pasta. We even opened a bottle of wine her mom had given her for Christmas from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. It was another cozy evening in coloring, eating yummy food, and watching About a Boy and Gilmore Girls.
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January 3, 2016 – Travel Day
It was so hard for me to get out of bed, but I forced myself to get up and be somewhat social with my cousin and her roommate before leaving for the airport at noon. I REALLY didn’t want to leave! I fell in love with the harbor, brick row houses, and Baltimore’s rich history. I even lucked out with the weather. other that it being rainy when I arrived, it was relatively mild there for that time of year (I don’t think I would have enjoyed myself if it was colder). Overall, I felt like I had a good balance of activities/things to do and rest – the recipe for a great vacation!
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