Mon. July 25, 2011:
We walked to the Baltimore National Aquarium in the Inner Harbour, but along the way I almost stepped on a dead rat. It was just laying there in the middle of the sidewalk, and it looked like being stepped on was what had killed it. Not a good way to start the day, screaming and being traumatized. Being early birds, we got to the Inner Harbour before any of the shops were even open, cupcake breakfast would have to wait. The aquarium was also not open yet so we walked around a bit, looking at the boats in the harbour. There was a submarine from WWII that was covered in crabs (underwater) and pigeons (above water). We also saw an old ship that had brought slaves north in the Underground Railroad days (remember this for later, it will come up again). The aquarium itself was really interesting. For the first little bit every time we left an exhibit I thought that was all and it was over, only to be surprised to find that there were more rooms! At first part of the aquarium (with the dolphins and the puffins) was closed, but by the time we got through everything else it was open. Because we had gotten there so early we got to see them feed the stingrays, except we had the vantage point of being underwater in a small part of the aquarium that no one really knew about. So many people had been crowded around at the edge of the tank looking down, but no one went to the underwater viewing room.
The cupcake was well worth the wait, it was delicious. I had a lemon-rose cupcake that had some coconut flakes in the icing. I was not at all sad to be leaving Baltimore. On our way out of Baltimore I saw some herons hanging around in a river, just standing there, not doing anything. We passed a restaurant called Adam’s Ribs. I was surprised to see Chick-Fil-A and Hardee’s along the way, I always thought it was a more southern thing, alas I was not hungry. But I made note of it for possible dinner plans. St. Michael’s, MD is very small and quaint with lots of little shops (including a Christmas shop) along the main road. Before going to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum we went to the Crab Claw restaurant for lunch. I had a delicious crab cake, it was surprising that they gave me the option of fried or broiled. The side order that came with it of fries, was actually the perfect size, it was small enough for me to actually finish! But I made the mistake of having crackers on the side instead of rolls, because we had free crackers on the table already. In my defense, I would not have even eaten them! How was I supposed to know that Brent would’ve eaten them?! Brent had a soft shell crab sandwich which was just hilarious. It was a crab between two pieces of Dempsters white bread, with little crab legs sticking out. When we sat down, the waiter had placed paper place mats in front of us that had step by step instructions on how to dismantle and eat hard-shell steamed crabs. We both looked at each other, “dammit, could’ve used that last night” I said. As I read the instructions I had yet another “dammit” I had been eating it all wrong! There was a much easier way to eat it, one where you avoided the little sort of hard boney bits that I just ate anyways. You are supposed to flip it on its back and hammer its belly, you remove the equivalent of a breastplate and have easy access to the meaty goodness. I was smashing in the shell and just picking out what I could find. Ah well, live and learn. Now I know for next time.
Having filled up on lunch and happy to be far away from Baltimore, we set to exploring the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I finally got to go up inside a lighthouse, only a year later. In the rafters under the lighthouse there was a nest of baby birds and when I tried to get closer for a picture the mother returned with lunch and mayhem ensued. There was so much squawking and swooping and all I could see of the baby birds was open beaks. Having watched Hitchcock’s The Birds a few too many times, I found the whole thing unsettling. Later there was a small bird fighting off crows that were trying to get at its nest of baby birds. I saw some crabs in the marsh as well as a dead horseshoe crab. Alas, I did not see any eels. It was surprising to see them in a marsh though, until I read an information sign that stated that in Chesapeake Bay there is fresh water and salt water mixing together.
It started raining lightly but we thought nothing of it and headed over to Cannonball House, a house that had been hit with a cannonball during the war of 1812. There was also a square that Brent had found on Google Maps but it was really just a small piece of grass with a plaque about some lady. As we headed back to the car we saw a rabbit and two squirrels on a tennis court. The squirrels were sniffing something and when we walked by one of them got scared and jumped up, spinning 360 degrees while pumping its tail up and down. Then the rain started coming down, and there was thunder rolling in. We unfortunately had to bail on the sunset champagne cruise on a skipjack boat around Chesapeake Bay. We drove up to Mount Misery where it is said Donald Rumsfeld’s house is. And it did seem so, there was a house at the end that was very far away from the road and surrounded by trees and empty fields on each side. When we passed by and did a u-turn a giant black SUV started driving towards us. As we left St. Michael’s I saw a sign advertising “Free Garden Compost Tea Samples” and I had to get Brent to look at it as well, for I thought I surely must be misreading it. As we drove the rain got much worse. It was a torrential downpour and impossible to see anything. It did not help that a guy passed us on the right shoulder and later we saw a car accident where one car smashed another into the median ditch. So far every roadtrip there has been at least one stormy rainy day. I tried to calm my nerves with my Cherry Coke Zero, alas it had been sitting in the car all day and was warm and therefore disgusting.
Delaware proudly proclaimed itself as “The Small Wonder” and it lived up to that. My first impression of it was simply, a lot of cornfields. We drove to the mall for dinner and because our evening was wide open now that the cruise had been cancelled. Delaware is awesome; they do not charge sales tax on anything! Alas because of the exchange rates and such, I could not find any really good deals in the mall. I left with only a few new pairs of socks and earrings, what a shopping trip! As I was getting ready to find Brent a sales woman accosted me and managed to put makeup on half my face before I weaseled my way away from her. She was pissed that her sales pitch failed. Who would pay $70 for face powder?! We went to Target to get candy but the line was way too long for it to be worth it to stand there so we head outside (so I could avoid the sales lady) to Cheesecake Factory. There was a (fat) guy in front of me buying a large amount of cheesecake, clearly for himself. But that just gave me hope that the cheesecake is really good. I had the waitress cut it in half so I could save it for breakfast and not feel as guilty for eating something so bad. Alas, she put whipped cream on both halves. It was way too much whipped cream. The rain from Maryland caught up to us and soaked us as we ran from the parking lot to the hotel. Brent wanted to buy candy from the vending machine but it only accepted exact change (weird). So he was about to give up, but decided to put a $1 bill in the Coke machine and press return and he got back quarters, and thus saved us from a candy-less evening. We sat around eating and waiting for The Hangover to play on HBO… only to find that I had (somehow?!) misread the HBO schedule and it was not on. We were stuck watching 48 Hour Mystery.