|Northeast Baseball Road Trip. Part 4: Orioles|
We only had a 2 hour drive today, but with that being enough time to need a stop, we welcomed ourselves to Delaware - an especially special stop for Clarkman, as this was his first time in The First State.
Aside: does it count as seeing a state if you only see their visitor centre and interstate?
We left the oppressive heat behind by getting back into the cool car. It wasn't long until we passed through the familiar landscapes around Havre De Grace & Elkton.
The interstate spit us out on an arterial road for a few miles. Rowhouses fluctuated from decrepit to attractive along Orleans Street in East Baltimore, through John Hopkins Hospital and over to our reserved room at The Mount Vernon Hotel.
Walking towards the overhang and columns marking the entryway, I laughed at the fact that this building happened to be an old YMCA as well. Was this the old YMCA tour? I guess it's a shame that Philadelphia turned their YMCA into luxury apartments instead.
Without any prior planning, we just so happened to book a hotel near the National Landmark Historic District of Mount Vernon. I had picked a room downtown so we could walk about, but didn't research any neighbourhoods and only decided to walk away from downtown because we'd be there later. Nice!
The large monument you see in the above picture is Baltimore's Washington Monument, built between 1815 and 1829, at a height of 178 feet. While Boonsboro built their Washington Monument 2 years before Baltimore - therefore building the first - Baltimore did build there's 55 years earlier than the more famous Washington Monument in D.C..
I was really disappointed to later read that you can climb the stairs to the top of the monument, but as it turns out, we didn't miss anything as the monument has been closed since 2010. I thought this was because of a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country hitting the fence in 2010, but uninterestingly it was because of mortar gaps and rusting supports.
The boulevard leading to Washington Circle was lined with stately stone mansions from another time, packed closely together by their proximity to Baltimore's downtown.
Trees would prevent me from getting much of a picture of those mansions, but as we crossed the cobbled roundabout at Washington Square, Mount Vernon United Methodist Church was an obvious candidate for shutter depressions.
Continuing north, the amazing buildings of Baltimore didn't stop. In addition, we passed about 10 promising-looking restaurants, but unfortunately neither of us were hungry!
We even passed Jerome's Liquors, but since Boston hadn't yet won the cup (as I was sure would happen in 2013-14) we couldn't get any celebratory champagne either.
We stepped into Baltimore Penn Station for a minute, as it just so happened to be at the northern point where we decided to turn around.
Peering upwards three stories, domes of stained glass painted the main hall in soft light.
We unfortunately still weren't hungry as we rounded back, having to pass up a kabob spot flowing with love for Adam Jones and the rest of my Orioles.
All of this afternoon heat made me really sick and tired of my thick beard. While I didn't overheat back home, it was now hampering me in this 100-degree+ weather. Stopping at Eddie's of Mt. Vernon Supermarket, I didn't buy a new razor, but rather disposables. So on returning to the hotel for an afternoon siesta, I spent my time hacking away with one of those plastic Bic disposables.
I'd eventually make due, really happy that my face wasn't any more pockmarked than the few cuts and gashes I couldn't avoid.
It was still too early for dinner, so with that, we left the hotel behind with plenty of time to find something to eat near the Inner Harbor and also because Clarkman was excited for Camden Yards & wanted to get there early.
Unfortunately, the only exciting things we passed were the old St. Paul's Parish and Baltimore Arena. Lack of preparedness left me cursing as we arrived at Camden Yards quite early, but hadn't found anything to eat yet. Scurrying along Conway towards the Inner Harbor, we passed parkland and apartment complexes en route to a touristy area. Myself unaided with my baby face as I still looked like I just got out of the shower, we eventually settled on some boring cookie-cut pub, now fearing that we'd miss first pitch. At least it was funny when the waitress let me know there's a nearby H&M store if I wanted some new, non-sweaty clothes.
Regardless, I should have been more prepared and I beat myself up when botching things like this in such a cool city. It's simply more difficult when on the ground, standing on street corners and guessing at which direction leads to decent spots.
Thankfully we made it to Camden Yards with enough time for a couple go-rounds of the concourse before first pitch.
As an Orioles fan, I don't know if this will ever get old.
Clarkman briefly entertained buying this sweet Orioles tank-top, but I was the only one to buy anything here, a fantastic Orioles t-shirt with the flag of Maryland incorporated into the logo. I still have the Orioles plastic bag it came in as well.
Tickets aren't cheap to these east coast games, so again we were out in left field, with okay seats, but at prices where we'd sit a lot closer in someplace like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee.
The real unfortunate thing was the number of Yankees fans in our section.
So even with the good Baltimore people giving Alfonso Soriano the business, he sadly had plenty of New Yawk defenders amongst us. The two of us also thought about going over to yell Detroit doesn't love you anymore at Granderson, but in the end, the number of Yankees fans over there would remain a mystery.
Much to my chigrin, we got to see Mariano Rivera again as he came in to close out the victory for the Yankees - spoiling our visit to Baltimore and squashing our plans to go to one of the nearby Orioles bars to celebrate the victory.
As much as I wanted to do the rare thing of hang out with people who like the same team as I, we ended up going to Fell's Point and that was equally good with a city square surrounded by typical Baltimore rowhouses, filled with interesting places to pop into. Even the two cynics of Clarkman & myself, who'll usually pass 40 bars before settling, found one here in quick order.
The problem was that I wasn't feeling very good. I don't know what it was, but I was tired, congested and having trouble getting fluid down. The place we were at was awesome for its insane beer list, but I kept messing up my choices and wore myself down with fruity ales of apricot and raspberry (which is not my usual cup of tea).
In the end I had to rain on Clarkman's parade and ask if he wanted to go back to the Mt. Vernon. I was up for drinking in the hotel, so we walked the streets of Baltimore for a bit after the cab ride, but unfortunately couldn't find any liquor stores before giving up and hitting the hay.
Holy fail day on my part. Sorry Clarkman! On to the next day!
The next day was our first day without having to make it to a baseball game, so we had plenty of time to hit the road to the next city. Knowing this, we popped by the Inner Harbor to see a couple of things that ranked high on my Baltimore list.
After complimentary breakfast at the Mt Vernon, it was off to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
Seeing as I've never managed to see one single lighthouse in my beloved Maryland, I was pretty excited here. The problem of visiting lighthouses in Maryland - save for the fact that I'm not in Maryland as much as I'd like - is that many of their lighthouses are out in Chesapeake Bay, as screwpiles or caisson lighthouses.
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was one of those screwpile lighthouses, built in 1855 to mark the entrance to the Patapsco River, which subsequently leads into the Harbor of Baltimore.
It is the oldest screwpile lighthouse in Maryland.
Of course it didn't mark the Patapsco River all the way down here in the Inner Harbor. It sat roughly 10 miles or 15 kilometers from here, declared surplus by the coast guard in 1949. It would sit there rotting and eventually spraypainted with graffiti into the 1980s, when assessments started to call for its demolition or allowance to let it sink into the Patapsco.
Thankfully the City of Baltimore stepped in here and rescued the light as a piece of its Inner Harbor Revitalization of the 1980s. Moving the lighthouse by crane & barge, it was repaired within a few years and opened as a museum and rental space.
Nearby, the other priority this morning was the Pratt Street Power Plant, built in 1900 and converted into a Barnes & Noble, ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe and Maryland Art Place in 1997.
This was after it had sat vacant for some years, Six Flags had failed to open an indoor amusement park (1985-89) and a dance club also failed (1989-90). While I've never heard of any power plant of this scale being renovated, I'm not quite sure why Pratt Street was given multiple chances.
We went into the Barnes & Noble, where bookshelves lined the smokestacks and exposed steel supports.
Inside the smokestacks was scrubbed brick walls, with blinding light at the top.
Clarkman & I both bought some books to support the place, with Clarkman impressing me by how long it took him to find something he hadn't read yet.
I had an easier time finding The Glass Castle for myself, a book which my friend Amber had recommended quite a while ago.
The two of us eventually made our way back to the car, ready to drive another hour southbound.
On to Part 5!
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< Older Update:
1 - Baltimore Sun - Van Destroys Section of Baltimore's Washington Monument Fence
2 - Wikipedia - Washington Monument (Baltimore)
3 - HistoricShips.org - Rental Information: 7 Foot Knoll Lighthouse
4 - Mary Ellen Hayward & Frank R. Shivers, Jr. - The Architecture of Baltimore, 2004.
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