On another sunny afternoon…

Me: Hmm… going for crabs in a few hours and I just got off from work. It’s not raining, so what to do?

Siri: ahem

Me *rustles with map* Let’s see… not too familiar with Baltimore, but there must be something in that area I’d like to check off the list.

Siri: AHEM

Me *studies map and consults Great Oracle the internet*

Siri: You can only ignore me for so long.

Me: Actually, all I have to do is think back to my glorious CIA adventure and I can ignore you quite well.

Siri: Look, we all have days when perhaps we are over confident in our facts. Besides, there was a road there. It’s not my fault the CIA fenced it off.

Me *goes back to studying map*

Siri: And let’s face facts here. You’re going to need me to get wherever you’re going, so you might as well clue me in now.

Me: Until your battery runs down.

Siri: You will recall that on the trip in question I was giving directions, finding places to go, taking pictures, and playing music FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.

Me: True.

Siri: Not to mention I found that great restaurant in Fredericksburg for you.

Me: Also true.

Siri: So where are we going?

Me *types in address*

Siri: Woo hoo! New Mexico here we come!

Me *sigh*: We are not going to New Mexico.

Siri: Sure we are! Look, it’s right there in the address! Turn on this road and head towards New Mexico!

Me: New Mexico. In Baltimore.

Siri: Yep. Right there, ‘N.M.’

Me: N.M. stands for ‘National Monument’, not New Mexico.

–Later–

Siri: Well it’s certainly feels like it’s 3000 degrees out here, but I always thought New Mexico was less humid.

Me *facepalm*

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Travel Part 3: Holy Cow Part 2

Chicago: Saw that blog post you did.

Me: Good times.

Chicago: ‘…’

Me: I wish I’d had my camera in Pike Place Market. That food was amazing.

Chicago: You know what else you wished you had in Seattle?

Me: What?

Chicago: Readily available cabs to get you places easily. And a really great but inexpensive hotel literally walking distance from local awesomeness. You know… LIKE YOU HAD IN CHICAGO.

Me: Uhh… yeah. Chicago was great, but the post was getting long so I thought…

Chicago: Oh no, that’s okay. I mean, obviously nothing amazing happened in Chicago. Like looking down on FIREWORKS from the top of a SKYSCRAPER. Or The Bean. Or an entire exhibit of miniature rooms, which you’ve loved since seeing some at the BMA years ago. Oh no, nothing like that!

Me: … that I would break it up into two sections. Hence the title you see up there.

Chicago: Oh goody. I’m in Cow Part 2. How awesome for me. I suppose it’s okay that I’m ranked behind a place where you got seasick on a whale watching cruise. And the Bee Capital of the World.

Me: THERE’S NO RANKING. I just couldn’t fit all the cool things in one post!

Chicago: Cool things? Like falling in love with Monet because seeing his works in person just doesn’t compare to a book?

Me: Alright, let’s talk about that hot dog.

Chicago: That hot dog was not my fault.

Me: Or the pizza.

Chicago: Also not my fault.

Seattle: Hey, I didn’t make anyone seasick!

Niagara: And I’m not the Bee Capital of the World! Besides, honey bees are important for the environment!

Chicago: No one asked either of you!

Me: Chicago was amazing. I want to go back, if nothing else than to see this again:

The Bean

The Bean

Chicago: Whatever.

Seattle: ROUGH SEAS ARE NOT MY FAULT!

Travel Part 2: Holy Cow Part 1

There are experiences in travel that move you, from something that reminds you how awesome the world can be to a horror movie amount of flies moving you and your picnic back to the car. Every place I’ve been has had at least one.

Hurricane Deck, Niagara Falls: I realize Niagara is the punch line to a lot of travel jokes, with a reputation for tourist hordes and honeymooners. But if you mentally prepare yourself for the stop and go traffic and detours necessitated by group photos, you can see why so many people have the same idea. There’s the usual suspects like Maid of the Mist (which you might as well get used to having in 95% of your pictures) and surprises like Three Sisters Island. But to experience the intense power of the falls, the Hurricane Deck is it. I loved every single minute. And there were a lot of those, since I stood up there until my skin was a nice prune consistency and bystanders started wondering if I was trying to get a month’s worth of showers in one go.

Shark & Ray Touch Tank, New England Aquarium, Boston: Seattle’s aquarium was my first touch tank experience, and was awesome. It’s based on their local tide pools, so you can exasperate sea urchins and the like. But as the name implies, Boston’s is filled with small rays and sharks. I danced around like a little kid from the time we got there until we could go in. There’s something surreal about sticking your hand into water with creatures you would normally do your best to avoid. The rays loved it, forming a circular conga line to get a pet. The sharks? Not so impressed, but I did manage to touch one (sandpaper, and I don’t know how but it felt dry even though it was under water).

Seattle was before I took pictures with wild abandon.

Not Pike Place Market: Seattle was before I took pictures with wild abandon. At least this was taken in Seattle. 

Pike Place Market food tour, Seattle: I’d seen this place on TV so much I felt like I knew it. It was on my ‘someday list’, and noshing our way through all good stuff without waiting in lines was the best way to check that box. We also went Super Tourist at Market Spice, and I came home with an ounce of every salt they sold. Apparently TSA dogs don’t like salt as much as gourmet brownies because my treasure trove made it back, but I’m sure if one of those airport reality shows had been around then my suitcase and it’s tiny baggies would have been on it.

Now that would have been a blog post.

Travel

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I discovered my love of travel while in New Mexico. Even though I was only in the Southwest for a few days, it was the first time in my life I felt I was ‘somewhere else’. When I got in it was dark, but the next morning I walked outside and saw a huge brown mountain rising behind the Target across from my rat trap motel the place I had stayed the night before. I stared at it so long anyone going by must have thought Target was putting out some kind of homing signal.

Travel can teach you a lot. For instance, during the New Mexico trip I learned:

  • If you’re planning to zip tie your suitcase closed, remember not to put your scissors in the suitcase.
  • When trying to rent the smallest possible car at the airport, if the agent stares at you and starts talking about ‘mountains’, bite the bullet and get a bigger car.
  • Japanese toilet seats are heated.
  • TSA dogs like gourmet brownies. At least that’s what the note next to the empty container in my suitcase said.

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What started out as a solo trip has morphed into a yearly tradition where my mom and I hit the road to check things off our ‘someday list’. We have our must-dos: market, aquarium, art museum, Duck tour. We do touristy things and eat ourselves to ruin. I usually come back with hundreds of photos and at least one fridge magnet.

And before we’ve even unpacked, we’re discussing where we want to go next year.

Extra Extra

Woman Drives Around Aimlessly, Declares Day A Success

Everywhere but home– An unidentified local woman spent about six hours driving around Maryland and Virginia Saturday with no apparent purpose. Sources say she didn’t even have an idea of where she would end up, but simply headed out towards a convenience store for supplies.

‘I asked where she was going, and she just shrugged and said she’d know when she got there’ said a source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. ‘I think she ended up somewhere in Virginia!’ A swimmer at a beach in Maryland saw a small silver four door sedan pull up around 5:00 and a woman get out to take a picture.

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Alleged picture

After checking her phone, she drove off towards Fredericksburg Virginia, where witnesses say she dined at a local restaurant and made promises to come back to shop at the used book store. They remembered her hair sticking up in strange directions, leading some to theorize that her windows had been down for the entire day.

Camera footage shows her stopping to fill up her gas tank after returning to Maryland. A station attendant recalled hearing her say the day was an awesome start to her staycation. Witnesses have noted the sedan heading off in all different directions during the week, leading to speculation that other ‘scenic drives’ may be in progress.

Please visit our website for updates to this breaking story.

The Prompt: Write about something that happened over the weekend as though it’s the top story on your local paper.

Survival Guide

You are not sure how you got to this point, except that someone you know has described your destination as ‘fun’. You wanted to argue but were a little alarmed at the gleam in that someone’s eye. Now you are on your way to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Fear not, for the following is a guide for the person who will be carrying most of the bags non yarn enthusiast.

– If you’ve never been to a festival before, upon arrival you may be alarmed that someone is waving you in the direction of a field. They are not suffering from illness; you will be parking in the grass. Please park as neatly as possible; crooked cars get the stink eye from everyone else that has to park around them.

– Like most hobbies, yarn crafts have their own special language. You may hear a sentence like ‘I frogged back my garter because my bulky tension was too loose.’ It sounds like Klingon to you; it makes perfect sense to us.

– This is not a llama, it’s an alpaca. But beware… they both spit*.

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– Yes, it is necessary to touch each and every bit of yarn before buying.

– No, every single booth isn’t manned by someone named Hank. A hank is what that twist of yarn is called (see above re: language).

– You will see people with full size spinning wheels sitting under trees making their own yarn. This is perfectly normal.

– When you see this investigate closely: if the cotton candy is fresh, it’s time for an important decision. How many bags should you buy: one, more than one but less than four, or enough that you need to make a trip back to the car.

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– Do not make baaad jokes. Remember, everyone here is armed with pointy sticks.

– Do not comment on the amount of yarn being purchased, or the amount currently at home. (see above re: pointy sticks)

– When in doubt nod and smile.

Follow these simple rules and you will make it through the day unscathed. Yarn will be bought, cotton candy eaten (and stored for the next day… and the next), and the mysteries of lace knitting solved. You will see sheep, llamas, and rabbits so furry you can’t see thier faces. You will eat lamb and wonder at the irony.

And when ‘next year’ is mentioned, you might not even panic.

*No, I did not learn this by first hand experience :).

My mission… was hopefully not that important.

The Spy Museum is a bit of an outsider in DC because it *gasp* charges admission. This probably seems odd if you live, I don’t know, anywhere else in the world. Heck, the Mushroom Museum in Kennett Square PA charged you a few bucks to learn all about how mushrooms grow.  You have to be pretty exciting to get people to fork over money in a town where you can see everything from dinosaur bones to modern art to Fonzi’s jacket for no charge.

I learned some things at the Spy Museum. For instance, I would make a very bad spy. After your narrated elevator ride, you pick a cover story and memorize it. There was one female in my age range, making my choice pretty easy. I stared at the plaque for a while, and then immediately displayed my ability to be identified as a troublemaker by having to check the plaque again when my brother asked for ‘my’ birthday.

Also learned was that no matter how old I get, when faced with a ‘Where’s Waldo’ style puzzle (finding suspicious items in a picture this time) I can’t pass it up. I am happy to say that my brother and I Team BroSis only missed one. I may not remember when ‘I’ was born, but I can sure find a suspicious looking rock!

The trip ended with the Bond Villains Exhibit and gift shop. The exhibit was well presented, but I agree with Dad that the real stuff was cooler. It’s one thing to see movie clips; quite another to watch interviews of real spies. The store didn’t have  lipstick guns or escape kits designed to be hidden in places I won’t mention, but it did have something like this:

That my friends, is what you think it is. A plush mustache. With a mustache. And if there’s a better way to end this post, I don’t know what it is.