light rail

Holiday week in review

Dec 21st – My flight from Orlando to Baltimore was frustratingly delayed over an hour for unknown reasons so it was already dark by the time we landed at Baltimore-Washington International. I’m used to BWI, but I was completely unprepared for cold, wind… or the 35-cent increase in Light Rail fares. Due to my relatively late arrival in HVTC (7:30pm), mom decided she would pick me the next morning so I had an awful dinner at Panera Bread and could barely find my hotel in the scarcely lit side street surrounding the mall, let alone feel my ears\nose\fingers.

Dec 22nd – Overnight in Hunt Valley. Nothing exciting to report here except that I was going to post Hanukkah memes, but couldn’t find enough that weren’t juvenile or anti-Semitic. I’m all for humor (which is why I compile these meme posts to begin with), but NOT at the expense of others.

We got back to Shamokin barely in time to meet my aunt (yes, THAT one, and while I wasn’t looking forward to it, it went relatively well) and her boyfriend at a popular pizza place in the next town over. I say “barely” because mom turned down the wrong street and got completely lost so we had to ask Siri how to get back. However, I can say with certainty that “the best pizza in town” isn’t.

Dec 24th – Normally, we spend Christmas Eve going to my parent’s friends the Nye’s house for a special holiday themed “open house” at 5:30 for dinner (featuring “Uncle Paulie” in the world’s least convincing Santa outfit) before heading over to the Candlelight Service (7pm). THIS year, instead of doing that we went to my brother’s house in Nazareth for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family (wife, and two young children). It was loud, hectic and crowded, but I got some nice pictures.

Since said dinner wasn’t until at least 5pm, mom decided it was safer to stay overnight. I was downstairs in the basement on an uncomfortable air mattress with sheets that were too small to actually be of any use. Fortunately, the ticking of the clock 3 feet away from said mattress was loud enough to keep me awake until the heat kicked on around 2am.

Dec 25th – Did I mention, the kids “slept in” until 6am? Slackers. By the time I admitted defeat and headed upstairs around 7:15am, the living and sitting rooms were a complete war zone. Toys, wrapping paper, boxes, unopen able plastic containers. On the plus side, my “gift,” a plastic card for a gas station (your brother has no license and no car and you get him a gift certificate to a gas station?) was waiting for me in a tiny box in an otherwise untouched stack of gifts on the other side of the sofa. Breakfast was at 9am and was good. As soon as we finished, we packed our stuff in mom’s van and drove 5.3 miles to my OTHER brother’s house in Bethlehem.

It was 11am by the time we arrived, and my sister-in-law had just put out the last of her Christmas brunch. My mom chastised me “how can you say you are trying to ‘lose weight’ when you had not one but TWO breakfasts in two hours?” The conversation at the table I shared with my mom, brother, SIL and her parents quickly went from light and humorous to dark and slightly disturbing (dead pets, bird attacks, death camps and Donald Trump. I pitied my SIL for trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. After less than an hour there, we left and made the roughly 90-minute commute back to the middle of nowhere, where we could contemplate our nothing lives. At least, I don’t need a password for my mom’s wifi…

Dec 26th – Before today, I would have assumed this would be a separate post. You see today is the day BOTH my brothers came to Shamokin and brought their kids with them…but we weren’t here to celebrate Christmas. We were here to work, cleaning up the garage, my dad’s den and what’s left of the basement. We got the den passable – in that one is actually able to pass through it without killing themselves.

The reason only ONE of the three areas was tackled was our mom decided since my eldest was coming in around 11am, we would meet him at a REAL pizza place along with my aunt and her boyfriend (who was able to come in because it was “slow” in his shop), my other brother came in with his family at quarter-til-12 so we weren’t out of there until almost 2pm.

After this, we were ready to work…until my middle brother got an important call on his cell which left us in limbo for almost a full hour. Finally, we get to go outside and open a mysterious chest in the garage (dad wanted “all 5 boys” present for it, but my 3yo nephew and his older sister went home with their mom after lunch). Good news, there was stuff inside it; bad news, it was boring stuff so my SIL took my remaining nephew home while the three girls stayed behind and played Clue in the living room with gramma while the three of us tackled the desk\cabinets\miscellaneous stacks of paper between them (dating back to 1973). The girls definitely won the night…

 

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, coal region, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, holidays, light rail, Orlando, Pennsylvania, transportation, weather | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 2)

I got off the Circulator and walked back over to the Tent Village where I caught a shuttle to the Single Carrot Theater in Remington. I’ve never actually been inside this new building, but their new space was a LOT bigger than the architectural drawings I saw at their temporary venue on Charles Street made it look.

The show started on time and without issue. Unfortunately, I had a very loud dry cough for most of the week (it was what woke me up both times at yesterday’s screening) and about midway through the show I checked my pocket and discovered I was out the cough drops I put there before I left. I had no choice, I pulled my bag out and as I carefully fished a few out trying to make as little noise as possible and just as I had a few in my hand I could feel a HARD slap against my left knee.

“WOULD YOU QUIT MAKING SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE,” the woman in front of me said in a low threatening growl with her waving finger shoved an inch from my nose. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH A DAMNED MOVIE!”

Apparently, she knew that I wasn’t even though I was, but it’s okay as her act of aggression was completely justifiable because, well, I’m me and abusing me is somehow okay. Me treating someone else like that is NOT okay, but those are the “rules” and I’m not allowed to object to them. I never have been, and today wasn’t a good idea to do to try it.

“I’m getting a cough dr-“ I said quietly, my knee still hurting from her assault on it.

“SHUSH,” the woman next to her said. “NO TALKING DURING THE FILM!”

I never even got to put the cough drop in, but the good news my cough went away. I spend the next 35 minutes feeling that hand burned into my knee as the people around me shouted at me in my head. If I wasn’t seated in the middle of my row I would have left 20 minutes ago, but now it was impossible without enflaming people anymore.

The movie finally ended, and the director led a somewhat dull Q&A which the angry finger pointing lady didn’t stay for. I won’t spoil the film for you as well, but I will say I already told you the most interesting part of this screening.

My next screening was also at SCT so I took the opportunity to attempt to gather up my thoughts on the movie itself – not on the screening just on the movie itself…but I couldn’t. My knee stung like hell, and I kept worrying someone was going to recognize me from the show and punch me too.

An hour passes and I went back into the theater, once again I was near the middle of my row. Fortunately, this film was much better, even if that damned cough did return about a third of the way through.

There was another dull Q&A afterwards, and then I took the shuttle back to MICA. I tried getting a slice of pizza at Two Boots, but the line was too long so I took the train back to Baltimore Street. When I got off, I realized it was almost 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon so I got a 6” sandwich and a cookie before heading back to the hotel.

When I got to the lobby I could see people getting off the elevator I had been on earlier and to my surprise it took me to my floor without issue. I opened the door to my room, threw my bag on the bed and prepared for a shower. As I took my shorts off, I noticed the seam had split slightly at the crotch so I threw them away making room in my bag for the item I didn’t buy. Whatever, I’d worry about that in the morning, but first I have a pair of reviews to write…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 2)

I got to the light rail stop on Baltimore Street around 4pm and when I got to the ticket vending machine I could hear an old black man singing Bob Marley slightly off key to himself coming up from my south. As I’m putting my money into the machine I can literally feel him breathing on my neck.

“Do you mind? I’m trying to do something here.”

“Ain’t no-one gettin’ yo way, I just here to collect my change from dat ‘chine chu at.”

“Could you at least find somewhere else to stand?”

“Wha day hell wrong wit chu, boy?”

Perfect, now I have to explain a disease I was never officially diagnosed with to someone who more than likely only “asked” that as an insult. I collect my ticket AND my change (since I had to get back somehow) from the tray and crossed over to the northbound track as my “friend” ranted on.

“Bah,” he said waving his hand dismissively as he continued up the street. “Nah wooomah nooo cryyyyy.”

The train arrives. I get off at Mt Royal and head into the Barnes & Noble where I accidently insulted the barista working there while trying to make small talk. I try to come up with a way to apologize and/or explain when the manager appears, and asks what I want to drink. When I tell her, she cuts me off with a giant smirk saying:

“Decaf? Oh darn, we are compleeeetely out of decaffeinated beans. Looks like you’ll have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE for your beverage! Sorry about that, have a nice day.”

“Yes, I will,” I said ignoring her retaliatory display.

We BOTH knew there is no such thing as “decaffeinated beans,” but I might as well let her think she “won.”

Besides, my film was in 20 minutes, I could just head to the venue and find a seat…which was a pretty good idea as said screening was nearly sold out (something I take partial credit for). Fortunately, it was only an hour long and I found myself in the shortest Chipotle line I’d ever encountered in Baltimore.

With that formality out of the way, it was time to get back (yes, the room was turned this time) and hammer out my thoughts on my second film and rewrite the review from this morning. This was going to be a long night…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Bolton Hill, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 1)

Note: I missed the first full day of the Maryland Film Festival due to a delayed flight. I was supposed to see my first show at 7:15 that evening, but I didn’t land at BWI until 9:45pm so my coverage is a tad abbreviated – particularly since it was cheaper to leave on Sunday (actual last day of the festival) rather than Monday.

 

I found the tent village at 10:05am after dealing with a disappointing breakfast in the hotel restaurant and a particularly demanding – and entitled – homeless woman at the Circulator stop on Fayette St. If I had time, I would have stopped at the McDonald’s next to the village and gotten a REAL breakfast, but I was there to get tickets not to eat.

Tickets prices have gone up since my last visit from $10 up to $12, but there was a “3 for $30” promotion that I didn’t notice until after I already purchased my FOUR tickets. Though I will say the volunteer at the festival tent was friendly even if I had to explain to her the times and venues to her so she could explain them back to me. How do I keep getting into these stupid sitcom-like situations anyway?

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum about a half hour before my first movie was set to start and took 15 minutes to write down everything that happened to me today before putting away my notebook and heading inside to the auditorium…just to find the film would be “delayed” (not the word I wanted to hear) due to “minor technical difficulties.”

The program, started about 10 minutes behind schedule, but since there was no “host” the film started immediately. I won’t get into my thoughts on the film here, but I fell asleep twice during its 104 minute runtime.

I walked down Charles St towards the Inner Harbor looking for someplace to have a nice lunch. I didn’t want fast food or a food truck, but an actual sit down meal so I was disappointed when the time on the check from Pizzeria Uno was only “1:37pm” – I still had nearly three hours until my next movie!

I took the Circulator back to the hotel, but the room wasn’t turned yet. I considered going down to the pool while waiting for housekeeping for come by, but it was too cloudy/breezy to swim so I stayed put and struggled through my first review until it was time to leave for my second screening.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

If only Busch Gardens had this problem…

if-only-busch-gardens

This is a shot of the nine buses waiting at the Falls Road light rail station in Baltimore as part of a bus bridge put in place while the MTA repairs a section of track eroded by the recent  heavy rains.

Categories: Baltimore, light rail, Metro bus | Leave a comment

travels and travails

I asked the woman at the front desk (same one who checked me in on Friday morning) last night to call an airport shuttle for me for this morning. She insisted on a firm time like I was supposed to know ahead of time what kind of traffic to expect (though The Tampa Bay Times reported that there MAY be a downtown-airport Light Rail line in the distant future) or how bad the line at security will be (I’ve waited as long as 2hrs and as short as 15 minutes). When she pressed me, I ended up choosing a conservative number that assumed the worst of both numbers – 9am for an 11:40am flight.

When I came down this morning at 8:45am, the first thing I saw was the bright white cab sitting in the sunshine. “That’s YOUR cab,” the desk agent said as if I couldn’t see it.

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting it to be here” [as I was 15 minutes AHEAD of schedule].

“ARE YOU CALLING ME ‘INCOMPETENT?!’ YOU gave me a job – ‘call a cab for 9am’ – and I DID IT, and I am VERY good at my job.”

“I did NOT say you were ‘incompetent.”

“You didn’t NEED to – you IMPLIED it. It’s the same thing. Take the receipt – it’s YOURS, and your cab is STILL waiting.”

Traffic was heavy, but I still managed to get to the airport I approximately 15 minutes. The driver wasn’t all that talkative during the trip which is just as well since I’m pretty sure he understood me as well as I understood his heavy South Asian accent.

He pulled up to the U.S Airways curb, bolted out of his seat and around to open the door for me immediately putting his hand in my face. I don’t even know how much I’m supposed to give him yet and he’s already clapping the tips of his fingers against his palm.

“Youuu forgiiit my TEEP,” he said literally blocking the door with his body.

“All I have is $5.”

“AAAEEEIII Tay-git!,” he said snatching it from my hand.

Whatever, I don’t have time to argue with him, I go inside with my empty wallet and find a SunTrust ATM next to the Ron Jon Surf Shop. I put my card in their machine and read the display…

“$2.95? That’s highway robbery!”

It didn’t matter; I wanted to find someplace that had breakfast. There was a Burger King next to the shuttle to “Terminal F” so I went in there. They didn’t have the McCafe coffee I wanted (though the cashier assumed I was talking about Starbucks’ Frappuccino) so I bought a small container of chocolate milk instead.

Security was on the opposite side of the shuttle route, though I found it curious that they had a ticket checkpoint on BOTH sides of the shuttle. Interestingly enough, the line for the TSA screenings was almost non-existent despite it being mid-morning which gave me plenty of time to find a work\charging station which was (conveniently enough) located directly in the center of the waiting area for my gate.

There are two major problems with sitting in the last row of the airplane: Being the last to get on and being the last to get OFF (at least getting on, I can actually move about). Luckily, I was in the 3rd from last row on the second leg of my return trip.

My flight from CLT to BWI was delayed by “inclement weather” that the weather app on my phone said Charlotte wasn’t getting. This also led to severe turbulence on take-off, but once we reached our cruising altitude things smoothed out considerably. The cloud watching for the first half of the trip was absolutely fascinating.

The plane landed in Baltimore at 4:19pm, and it took just over 20 minutes for me to get off the plane. Fortunately, I was entering into Terminal D so it was only a five minute walk to the light rail station.

When I got to said station, the train was already there. I bought a ticket, boarded the train, put my stuff down on the first available spot and then quickly gathered them up again and bolted to the restrooms immediately inside the glass doors.

Naturally, when I came out again, the train was gone.It was a full thirty minute wait for the next one to arrive, but it still beat having to take a damned cab back to Bolton Hill…

Categories: Baltimore, flying, light rail, Tampa, transportation | Leave a comment

Missed connections

Everything about today was off, which stinks since it was the only good day this weekend (rained all day on Friday, snow expected on Sunday).

I left the apartment at 10:48am, made my way down the hill towards Charles St and as I began eating my sandwich, I could see the northbound circulator zipping by the window. I thought nothing of it until I was finished eating and made my way around the corner just as the same bus was pulling away from the curb. Great, now I’m stuck waiting out here in the cold until…I checked my phone for “next bus” time (which, naturally, wasn’t working), and when I looked up again there was another southbound circulator pulling up to the curb.

I arrived at Inner Harbor at 11:31am and the first thing I saw when I disembarked the bus was the westbound circulator passing above me on Pratt St. This time it really was a 15 minute wait (not counting my time walking to the stop), and, because they realigned the western part of the route and renamed some of the stops, I had no clue where I was going when I got on.

I disembarked at the renamed Mt Clare St (which was located in front of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, but now two blocks away with a different name) at 12:01pm just as the whistle of the departing 12’o’clock train blew. As you can guess by now, that was the train I was hoping to catch when I left this morning.

So I enter the museum and a young man sells me my ticket for the exhibits, holiday layouts and the train ride to Mt Clare House (the only reason I was visiting the museum today). I wander around the roundhouse looking at all the elaborate holiday layouts which all looked almost exactly like they did last year (to be fair, all S-guage layouts look like cheap plastic junk to me). Then I went outside, walked around their permanent outdoor layout and got a quick snack in their café before it was time to board the train.

I made my way to the platform, told the ticket taker I was going to Mt Clare and he told me to take the car on the right. The attendant saw the Mt Clare ticket, and he directed me to the door on the right. I walked about halfway through the first car until I found an open seat with an unobstructed window. I sat down and about a minute later the train whistle blew and we began our slow and initially scenic ride through west Baltimore. As the train passed into less scenic area of the route, Frosty made his way through the cars to wave and have his picture taken as his grumpy-looking handler gave out lollipops (just to the kids).

Ten minutes into the trip, the train stops for a minute or so and then begins moving backwards (technically forward as the engine was facing the wheelhouse as we left). I asked the conductor when they were letting people off and he hems and haws and eventually gets around to saying I missed back when we stopped.

So the train pulls into the same station it left 20 minutes ago with me still on it. I step off the platform the conductor pulls me and an older couple aside as he proceeds to wish the rest of the guests a good day. Eventually, a manager comes over gives the three of us was a halfway sincere apology and instead of a refund he offers us complimentary driving directions so we can drive ourselves there in our own cars on our schedules. This is, of course, really nice of him because if I take the 2pm train, I’d have no way of getting back.

That’s when I had to tell him about the accident that nearly took my life and how the state awarded me for my pain and suffering by revoking my license. I literally cannot drive so if I don’t take the train I cannot get there (unless I leave the museum, wait around for a cab, give the driver precise turn-by-turn directions, pay him for my time and tip them for the pleasure of their being rude to me). He then offered to “let” me ride again and they would make sure I got off at the manor (apparently, they run a special, unadvertised pick-up-only trip to the mansion at 3pm).

It turns out, when I was finished with the manager I checked my watch and it was 1:25pm so I had just enough time to use the restroom on the far side of the roundhouse before heading back to the platform. Oddly enough, now everyone was keen to direct me to the “Mt Clare car” (even though they knew full well where I was headed on my previous journey) which was empty save for one other family.

As I sat down in a seat with an unobstructed window, a worker with an orange\yellow vest told me I “couldn’t sit there” (no explanation given) and then leads me to the front of the car and points to a seat next to the other family. “Sit here,” he said pointing to a seat with an unobstructed view of an informational poster and then promptly left through the end door. If I wanted scenery, I could just lean my head really far back in the seat.

Fortunately, Santa arrived (with the same grumpy attendant from before) to take pictures with the other family but when he was finished with them the conductor opened the train door so all I got from the jolly old elf was a pat on the back and shove out the door.

The mansion, like the 15 foot platform the train drops you off on, was smaller than it looked from the tracks. Granted there were additions, subtractions, restorations and the excavated outline of its foundations (though very little is mentioned of the latter on their website). Like most historic homes, the rooms were roped off with a docent standing at the entrance to explain the purpose of each area. They even had a special wedding gown on display in the master bedroom (which I initially mistook for a part of the bedspread).

As nice as the grounds and period furnishings were, I was there for the “holiday open house,” and I was sorely disappointed with what I saw. I liked how they had musicians in the foyer playing live carols, but the house was barely decorated. Yes, there was a Christmas tree in a corner by the entrance, but most of the wreaths\greens were shoved off into a side room with a plain handmade sign that read “for sale.” Even with the room by room tour, I was in and out of the house well within time to catch the train back to the museum.

I disembarked the train just in time to hear the announcement about closing “promptly in 30 minutes” which was just as well since I was leaving anyway – a full hour behind schedule. I made my way two blocks west on Pratt St to the new circulator stop, and was surprised to see it come around the corner as I arrived at the stop. Naturally, the driver turns to us and says he’s off duty and we’d have to wait on the bus until his “relief driver” arrived (about ten minutes, but at least the bus was heated).

I took the circulator to Pratt\Howard and just as I was coming off a man was standing there telling me he needed change for the light rail. Could I please help him? I considered crossing the tracks and slowly making my way over to Fell’s Point for the boat parade and lighting of the Christmas tree, but it was way too cold to stand around so I headed over to the ticket machines. Besides, I knew I’d probably run into more panhandlers as I approached the harbor.

A Penn-Camden train came around 4:07pm, but it was full. Ten minutes later, another shuttle train arrived – and it was nearly empty. When the train arrived at Mt Royal station, I disembarked without being hassled for change, but finding out that the Starbucks behind the station had closed – an hour ago.

I didn’t get a hot coffee, but it was still warmer back in the apartment than it was outside…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, BO museum, Charm CityCirculator, holidays, light rail, museums, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Birthday recap 2013

I admit that I got off to a late start today – particularly since I woke up after I had expected to leave for the day’s festivities. So like it or not, I was going to have to rearrange my schedule – considerably.

By the time I was showered, dressed and ready to leave it was already 11:25am. I made my way down the hill to the light rail where a northbound train was already waiting for me to board. I had planned on going to the Harbor East, but why argue with convenience?

I arrived at Hunt Valley at 12:11pm and immediately headed over to Caribou Coffee which offers a “free medium coffee on your birthday.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my ID to prove it was my birthday, but they decided to waive the requirement for the sake of moving the line. The coffee was actually really good, and the young woman who gave it to me was the first person today to wish me a “happy birthday” without me prompting her.

I finished my coffee and decided to wander around the shops (which weren’t all that crowded for a weekend in December). Then I made my way to the cinemas at the back of the mall and bought a ticket for a nearly sold-out matinee of Disney’s Frozen. I won’t get into details about it here, but, suffice to say, I was a little disappointed in the film (particularly since I own stock in Disney).

The movie got out at 3:12pm, and I slowly made my way towards the light rail station again. Just like earlier, the train was already sitting there, but this time it took another 10-15 minutes for it to depart the station (as of 3:35pm, not one person on Facebook wished me a “happy birthday”). It got me back to Mt Royal at 4:35pm and from there is only a 10 minute walk up the hill to my apartment…

But that didn’t mean my day was over. I went downstairs, got a shower, got dressed and was back out the door by 6pm. This time I knew ahead of time where I was going… I just didn’t know how I was getting back (as light rail and the city’s free circulator bus end service at 7pm and 8pm respectively).

My first stop was the mini restaurant row there on Charles\Preston Streets. I would have preferred a real sit down restaurant, but I knew I couldn’t risk it time wise. I was somewhat surprised by how quickly I had finished my food, and even more surprised that no one had wished me a “happy birthday” on Facebook yet.

After disembarking the circulator at 7pm, I made my way up St Paul St, across the street and around the corner to the large brick building that dominated the block because I knew if there was ONE institution that wouldn’t let me down on my birthday – it was Center Stage. They even offered me “rush” tickets without me having to ask.

I was wrong, but I’d rather not discuss it here. You can, however, read my very low opinion of their show here. Fortunately, there was an intermission about halfway through the show so I was able to make a quick exit (something I don’t normally do as a drama critic) and since it was a rush ticket, I was only losing half of what I would have paid if I bought in advance.

When I got back to my apartment at 10pm, I had a notification on my phone – someone had finally written a birthday wish on my wall. J

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, holidays, light rail, movies, ramblings, retail, theatre, writing | 1 Comment

Disappointment all around

It was a beautiful sunny day outside today. Unfortunately I spent most of it stuck inside doing laundry, and then I decided to go out and go out and do something productive. In fact, I pretty much bolted out of here as soon as the machine buzzed; you know Carpe Diem and whatnot.

I took the fifteen minute walk to the circulator stop, and I looked at my watch realizing that I had a lot of time on my hands. As I looked up again the bus was just pulling in, and surprisingly enough there were still a few seats left towards the very back. See, this wasn’t so bad.

I get off at Inner Harbor and walk into The Gallery. I knew what wanted, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it at a dollar store. Heck for a dollar, I could get anything else I wanted – yah for wanton spending!

I get behind an angry woman yelling at her restless toddler. I finally get up to the cashier, put my 4 items on the counter and the bored looking woman rings it and it comes out to just under $15.

“Huh, four items is $15? I thought this was a DOLLAR store.”

She rolls her eyes and gives that same “you’re a moron” look I get from every retail clerk. She then points to the price column on the receipt while shoving my bag to the side and calling the next person in line.

She clearly had this conversation more than once today, but I didn’t feel like letting her ennui ruin my day. Not to worry, I would have other opportunities for that as the evening continued.

I look down at my watch and it was just after 5pm. I cross the still barricaded Pratt Street and make my way to the Banner stop at Conway Street where I quickly discovered that the barricades blocking off most of Light Street as well – including the stop.

Fortunately, they had cleared up enough space for a stop two blocks south at Lee Street, and as I was walking it I felt drops slowly falling on my head – good thing I left my umbrella at home. One Purple Route came then another one and finally after 15 minutes of waiting in the rain, the Banner Route finally showed up and it was empty and remained so for most of my journey.

I arrived at a rain-free McHenry Row at 5:45pm and immediately made my way to the Green Turtle on the main corner. I opened the door (which had a large colorful sign on it advertising “$3 Game Day Apps”) and about five staff members were just sitting there at the maître de stand. Finally, one of them looks at me skeptically and asks if I wanted a table.

I was tempted to say smart to their stupidity, but I was not about to piss off someone who can spit in my food. The maître de grabs a menu and leads me off to a booth with a view of the dark sky and completely dry patio.

The waitress does arrive, and I as her about the $3 appetizers.

“Actually, if you look at the sign, you’ll see that it says ‘Saturday and Sunday only.’ Today is THURSDAY.”

“Great,” I said trying (and failing) to match her enthusiasm (mom always said I can’t be disappointed in something that is my damned fault). “I guess that means…uh…full price….what a deal.”

“Yep, now what can I get you to drink?”

I order an iced tea, and a sandwich. I felt somewhat bad about not ordering an appetizer, but truthfully I really wasn’t hungry for one anyway. Besides, if it were as bad as my sandwich then I made the right call (usually I like their food).

She drops the bill off on the table, and I felt bad again. Then I realized, it was 6:25pm and I didn’t have time for pity. I was on a schedule, and I was determined to keep to it. I left the bar as the southbound Circulator zoomed by which meant I wouldn’t be waiting too long for a northbound bus.

It took just under ten minutes for the northbound bus to arrive, and I rode it all the way back to Oderbein where I got off in time to be caught in a sea of people heading over to the Orioles game (that I seriously forgot was going on tonight) and the various street vendors that serve them. Yes, having a Light Rail station at Camden Yards can be so convenient at times.

I walked over to the ATV and swiped my Smartcard. When I turned around, an empty “Penn-Camden” train was just pulling into the station. I get on, and as I’m checking FB on my phone, the operator comes by talking on her phone. She stops in front of me, points at me and says “where are YOU going?” Her tone sounding more like an accusation than a question, but I told her “Everyman Theater” and she walks off mumbling about “not knowing where THAT is.”

I was about to tell her when I noticed the northbound Hunt Valley pulling into the station. I remembered that normal MTA trains (non-Penn-Camden) have priority on this line so I crossed the platform and waited for the fans to get off before talking one of the few empty remaining seats on my two stop journey.

I got off at Baltimore Street and took a moment to get my bearing as I’d never been to Everyman’s “new” venue (it opened last year to HUGE fanfare). I look left, and as I turn to head right I nearly run into a man standing a few inches in front of me.

“You don’t understand how bad of a night I’m having,” he pleaded. “All I ask from you is some change: 10-cents, a dollar, anything you can spare. Please I’m begging you.”

Yep, that’s me the default ATM of Baltimore’s poor and disenfranchised. Every time I leave my apartment…but on the plus side, it was nice to hear other people having problems. With him gone I was able to find the theater in peace…and wandering all the way to UMD Hospital without seeing it I finally pulled my smart phone out, checked the map and realized that I had just walked three blocks down the wrong street. I made it to the theater with twenty minutes to spare, and a damn near miracle they still had seats left. All that being said…

There is a certain amount of irony in being disappointed by a play about disappointment. Unfortunately for Everyman, I hate irony… almost as much as I hate sitting here trying to justify why I disliked a show with no “objective” flaws. Sometimes I hate this job… but then again I’ve always been, as one of the characters in the play said: “a good Christian martyr.”

After a seeming eternity in the theater, the show let out after only 90 minutes (it felt like a lot longer) – just in time to get caught up in the wave of people coming out of the Orioles game. In fact, the first train was completely full. The second one, which arrived about 4 minutes later, was crowded, but there were still a few visible seats near the back.

Yah, I was going back to the apartment. I could rest, unpack my shopping bag and begin coming up with reasons to not hate this evening…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, light rail, locust point, sports, theatre, transportation | Leave a comment

Exploring Mount Washington

12:27pm – leave apt

12:47pm – arrive in Mount Washington

1:15pm – leave Baltimore Clayworks

1:30pm – after a bit of exploring, I find myself in Washington Mill (directly across the creek from the light rail, but on the other side of I-83). The place reminds me of a larger version of Clipper Mill (Woodberry Station).

1:35pm – find the Starbucks at the far end of the complex. There were no open tables inside, so I take a seat at a metal table outside of Whole Foods. I use my free time to begin compiling notes about the exhibits I had just left.

1:55pm – throw my empty drink cup in the trash and make my way back to the light rail

2:01pm – ….but first I stopped into the small Charm City Cupcakes kiosk near the exit. I order two of their beautifully decorated creations and take a seat on a nearby wall. To my surprise, they were cold.

2:07pm – needed some water or something to wash down the cold cupcakes so I went back around into Whole Foods.

2:20pm – leave the store, and make my way back towards the light rail – for real this time.

2:37pm – arrive back at light rail just in time to catch a southbound train back to Mount Royal.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, light rail, Mount Washingto, photography, transportation | Leave a comment

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