My Fourth of July was spent in the lovely city of Baltimore. While bummed that I was not in such patriotic cities such as Boston or Philadelphia for this holiday, the city I found myself can claim host to the birth of our beloved nation’s national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. I’ll take it.
My trip began Friday afternoon with my transport to Baltimore via New York aboard the much-beloved BOLT BUS. Although I had never actually traveled on this bus before, I had heard only good things about it, and so was surprised when the bus approached overheating somewhere along I-84 and had to stop for roughly 45 minutes to an hour. This unfortunate occurrence forced me to miss my 715 bus from NYC to Baltimore, and also, despite their vow to wait ten minutes for me, the 815 bus (which, pleasantly for its passengers, left right on time!), which was also the last bus of the evening to Charm City. Thankfully as I worriedly ambled around the perimeter of Madison Square Garden, I caught sight of the 830 bus to DC, which graciously let me aboard. I met my parents and sister in our nation’s capital and took the 45 minute ride back to Baltimore via the inferno red minivan we have in our familial possession. A blessing in disguise: despite arriving two hours later than expected in an area 45 minutes away from my expected point of disembarking, I got to spend a good chunk of time that evening chatting with my family rather than going promptly to bed. Hoo-rah.
Upon getting a good night’s rest in the family’s cushy hotel room and a filling breakfast at the hotel’s buffet line, father, sister
and I mozied on down to check out the great Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a baseball stadium much-raved about by my superiors at job #1. Although we only got to take a stroll along the area outside the gates behind right field, I was still impressed. The O’s have a great tradition of marking the area where home runs hit outside the park land. A just reward for so gargantuan a blast. Each of these dingers is at least 400+ feet! I look forward to the day where I can actually take in a game at this lovely field. (For the record, I expect this to be in early October, for my sister’s family weekend at Loyola.)
Upon returning to and checking out of the cush hotel, all four of us checked out the highly successful and hoppin’ waterfront area.
Might I say, Cleveland, take note on what Baltimore has done. No reason why the Cleveland waterfront can’t match up. Oh, ye silly civil engineers and city councilmen… anyways. The family enjoyed a thrilling high-speed boat ride on the “Sea Dog,” replete with tour guides and boat drivers barking like dogs and making slightly humorous yet mostly corny jokes about Baltimore tour trivia. Exposure to the sun was plentiful and, thus, burning to the skin. Excellence. Following the boat ride was dinner at Shucker’s in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, an area I look forward to visiting again with sister dearest sometime during the academic year. How could I not order the Ribeye Lord Baltimore at this restaurant, both because of the location and because of the temporal proximity of my date of birth? It did not disappoint. Neither did Spain’s victory in the World Cup game which was occurring simultaneously to dinner. (I’m rooting for Germany – this is for you, Toni Werner Zender.)
Upon commencement from dinner, we traveled to my first cousin once removed Frankie’s house, at which we lodged the rest of the holiday weekend. These kind folks put up not only our family but nearly their entire immediate family (three sisters and two brothers, all my first cousins once removed). Although their house is by no means gigantic, it is quite spacious, and replete
with all the desirable goodies once could wish for in a house. In other words, their backyard goes extremely deep, nearly into a wooded area, and sports a treehouse (with cable TV!!!), a trailer, a zipline which one can hang from, a see-saw… the list goes on. Oh, yeah, they also have an in-ground pool, in which I spent a collective six or seven hours over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening consisted mainly of chatting with relatives, many of whom I met for the first time (at least in my adult memory), eating a fine dinner of sliced steak, roasted peppers, and twice-baked mashed potatoes (capped off by home-churned vanilla ice cream!), and splashing in the pool with the newly-inflated pool “boat.” Safe to say, with the previous day’s travel and the night’s late hour, sleep Saturday night was plentiful.
Sunday morning, the family plus Aunt Aggie traveled to the See of Baltimore, the Basilica of the Assumption, for Holy Mass. Much to my joy, Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, pallium and all. Always good to pray with the head of the diocese. The cathedral building itself, although not my style, was lovely indeed. I enjoyed the presence of the high altar, nestled deep in the sanctuary and seemingly unscathed from the “renovations” that such a building must have undergone sometime within the past few decades, though I may be far off the mark about this. I also highly enjoyed seeing the Archbishop still standing near the back of the church, greeting the sheep of
his flock, roughly twenty minutes or so after Mass had ended. Finally, a particularly stunning part of the basilica was the tabernacle of repose (redundant?) in the lower chapel. I let a picture speak for its beauty.
Following Mass and explorations of the Cathedral, the family gave me a very brief tour of my sister’s impending place of study, Loyola University of Maryland. Due to the heavy heat of the afternoon, we only took a glance at a few of the buildings around the quadrangle area, including the university’s first building, and the chapel which, much to my grief, was locked! On the Lord’s Day! Alas. I’ll have to have a conversation with the president of the university, who I look forward to meeting during one of my visits of my beloved sister…
The rest of Sunday consisted of partaking in the bounties of (cousin/uncle) John’s grilling, avoiding the crisp heat in the pool, more casual conversations with Grandma and family, and strumming a few tunes indoors with cousin Tommy. I must say, he is quite the guitar virtuoso for a nine-year-old. The evening featured clam chowder and leftovers from the preceding meal, as well as a little more ice cream and apple pie (God bless America). The night was capped off by backyard fireworks set off my Frankie, viewed from the friendly confines of the pool.
Following another good night’s rest on the playroom cot, the immediate family packed up, hugged relatives goodbye, and drove me to the Baltimore Penn Station lot to leave me for my travels back up north to Boston. Despite the fact that, even as I type, my bus is once again over half an hour late, probably causing me to miss my second bus, I can’t help but love the kind people of BoltBus. Today’s driver has the tradition of buying a burger and beverage at the rest strop for a person blessed to have a birthday in near proximity to the current date. Since I assumed I would be able to consume a burger from the Tick Tock tavern nearby my next bus, I elected to let someone else have the sandwich. Of course, since my bus is so late, it looks as if I’ll get the chance to enjoy a burger there anyways…
All in all, an enjoyable trip. I look forward to many weekends in Baltimore in the future. (Bwahaha, Marianne, bwahaha…)