And then we went to Baltimore…

Sure. Some people like sleep.

We’d tasted a bit of Pittsburgh night life after our ball field adventure.  Had a few drinks.  Clubity club.  You know how it goes.  But we were only passing through, back on the road the next morning to Baltimore, so it was time to hit the sack at the home of our lovely hostess.

Her animals, however, had other ideas about the proper methods for entertaining a guest.

These included, but were not limited to, the pawing and shaking of doors, whimpering, mewing & other irresistible animal noises, and, most importantly, the cat-plant on Justin’s face.  It was not the most restful of evenings…but I can’t stay mad…

How could anyone be angry at that face...at 3 in the morning...
“Look at me…how could anyone be angry at this face…at 3 in the morning…”

Coffee, Mexican brunch, and more coffee and it was time to bid Pittsburgh farewell, but for only a few days.  I loaded up the road trip mix and Kristin and I dashed off toward Baltimore.

I’d been told tales of the harrowing hills and curves of the mountain drive from this point on and, though I was skeptical (come on, this was Pennsylvania, not Colorado), my unrestrained imagination had run on a bit.  I recalled my previous road trips, rickety vans and inconsiderate truck drivers.  And my entirely too rich childhood action movie experiences. Thankfully, I quickly realized that everyone was being far too panicky, as the drive was much less this:

Hi Mom!
Hi Mom!

And much more this:

Zzzzzz....Oh wait, who's driving?!
Zzzzzz….Oh wait, who’s driving?!

And it was without incident that we arrived in Baltimore.

Ahh, Baltimore…land of…my sister and her boyfriend.  Land of my friend Kevin.  Land of…well…what exactly do they do here…ooh, boat!

IMG_2508

Fish!

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"Sup."
“Sup.”

And bongos!

AtND's Justin (that's me!), far too amused by his new purchase.
AtND’s Justin (that’s me!), far too amused by his new purchase.

Ok, honestly, I didn’t know much about Baltimore going in.  Probably still don’t know a lot coming out.  We mostly went to visit my sister, Stacie.  My friend, Kevin.  I was struck by the layout of the town, the tangled integration of the affluent and the poor or run-down.  I was impressed with the harbor and the fantastic aquarium.  But mostly I was there to see my people.

My sister has dated her boyfriend, Dane, (fiance as of this writing) for many years and I’ve always liked the dude.  He’s a big-hearted guy, currently working a very difficult job in the Baltimore school system as a teacher.  A number of times during our visit, he and I would embark on sensitive political discussions, often on opposite sides of the arguments.  I could sense the tension from my sister and Kristin as these chats would start.  Me, though, I dug it.  Rounded, considerate discussion.  You know, the kind with actual listening.  I loved it.  I think Dane did as well.  Or at the very least, it served him as a release.  Either way, I was never in fear of post-discussion hard feelings.

Meeting with my friend Kevin was also significant, in that, after twelve or so years of friendship, this was my first time actually meeting him.  See, he and I came up in what I call the “Wild West” of the Internet.  There was no Facebook, only Geocities and AOL chatrooms.  He and I met blogging before I think there was even the common term.

Kristin tells the tale of our cafe meet-up, starting with a very nervous me pacing and she feeling like a chaperone.  As soon as Kevin arrived, though, I realized we were both in reality the same people we’d been over the computer and entertaining discussion ensued.  We recorded a chunk of the conversation I hope to post on Red Chuck Pod very soon.

We left Baltimore refreshed by friendship, camaraderie, beer and new records for our vinyl collection.  Soon to NYC…but first, we step back a day to Washington DC…

All photos involving other than cars driving over cliffs by KillerB.

The Baltimore May 18 Flickr Photo Stream

The Baltimore May 20 Flickr Photo Stream

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