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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Micro-Adventure

A Micro-Adventure...you know - when you cram what some people would fit into a few days all into one day? My family does that a lot and as a result, I'm left with memories galore of places all over the United States. My family goes with the motto "too much to see, too little time" and so we are constantly seeking out new sights, sounds and things to do.

I recently told my Mom that especially since I've moved to Virginia, if I'm not out and about on some kind of exploration every weekend...I feel like a complete knot on a log. I guess that motto mentality has set in; I realize over and over all the places I need to see, the things I need to do...and I've got to get around to it!

I bought tickets for us to attend a game at Camden Yards back in mid-June; I've always wanted to go to Camden Yards - I can't really tell you why; I'm not an Orioles fan (which anyone who has read this blog recently should know all too well) but it's just always stood out in my mind. The Nationals were playing there on Saturday and we all know that's why I bought the tickets...ha-ha! We decided to just spend the day in Baltimore as opposed to just driving in for the game...and thus, a Micro-Adventure happened...and yes, it has to be capitalized like that: Micro-Adventure!

En route to Baltimore 
The first stop we made was Fort McHenry - which I've been to before...but oh man, the last time we went was the Bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner and the place was PACKED. It was also raining cats and dogs, so seeing the place in the sunshine was nice too. Granted, I feel like the people dressed in period costumes probably didn't think the blazing sun (okay - it wasn't that hot) was that great, but I had no problems with it. I definitely enjoyed getting to look around without having to squeeze between a bajillion wet people to see things - it's the little things that matter, truly!

Members of the 1814 US Regular Army - I know this & not because I read a plaque....

Outside the Magazine
In case you didn't know - Fort McHenry is where the Battle of Baltimore was fought in September of 1814 and was one of the many battles in the War of 1812. The British Navy bombarded the harbor of Baltimore for three days and at the end of the battle, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner when he saw that the US flag was still flying over Fort McHenry. There you go - your history lesson for the day; don't you feel smart? I like to feel smart but apparently I'm not as brilliant as I'd like to think (I know - we're all shocked by that one, right?)....

Striking a pose with General George Armistead



The Chesapeake Bay in the distance!
I took all kinds of pictures throughout our walk around the Fort - and I posted some to Instagram. Well, apparently they caught the eye of whomever runs Fort McHenry's Twitter profile...and I had labeled something wrong in the picture! Y'all, they went ahead and re-tweeted my pictures and had the audacity to correct me on Twitter...which I thought was a whole new level of snarky! I mean, I'm so sorry that I labeled a statue incorrectly, but please don't call me out on social media - that is RUDE and obviously whoever is running that Twitter account does not have any home training. Okay - rant done. Please continue to look at my lovely pictures - labeled correctly here - since I don't want to let down the Fort and all...

Fort McHenry as seen from the ramparts...

The entrance to the fort...

The Star Spangled Banner - of course!
The next place we cruised on to was the Inner Harbor, which I honestly just love! Baltimore has been getting such a bad rap in the news recently and while I'm sure you could find trouble if you looked for it, on a whole Baltimore is still just as lovely as I remember from my first visit. The Inner Harbor is just loaded with things: shopping, restaurants, a museum or two (one in the form of an actual 1700s clipper ship) an aquarium and plenty of boats in all shapes and sizes, just begging to be boarded. They even have sea monsters - purple and green sea monsters, which tickled me to no end! You can also cruise around the harbor in a normal paddle boat...but why would you when there are sea monsters?

It's true - there are sea monsters in the Inner Harbor!

Clipper ships with flags fluttering in the breeze...

Cheesy smile moment!
I also cracked my Mom up all day - every time I would see someone smart enough to be wearing Washington Nationals gear, I would happily announce: Well, there are our people! And yes, I said smart enough...Nationals fans know whats up; rocking the red and navy with pride. Especially when every other person we passed was dressed in some Oriole orange and black - eek! Even from our perch at the Cheesecake Factory for lunch, I'd spy like-minded souls like us who were braving the mean streets of Baltimore to cheer on the Nats in the Battle of the Beltway and happily point them out. I mean...I didn't literally point because that's rude...and we've already discussed people with no home training - and I'm NOT one of them.

The USS Constellation & the Aquarium in the background.

A clipper ship that tours the harbor.

On board a submarine - pray it doesn't dive!
Once we'd stuffed ourselves with Cheesecake Factory goodness - and we didn't even get cheesecake - we set out to tour the four historical ships in the Inner Harbor. The first was a submarine and let me tell you right now - there is no way. No way in the world that I would ever be persuaded to willingly get on a submarine (okay, there are probably ways, but we don't need to discuss them because it would just be embarrassing for all of us...) and dive into the deep. I'm not really a fan of water that I can't see to the bottom in and holy! cow! but submarines are claustrophobic! And because I'm a spazz: while I know that sub wasn't going anywhere and was firmly installed in the harbor for display, every time the goofy teenage boys in front of us flipped a switch or yanked a lever, I knew we were going down! Let me assure you - I finished the tour of that "ship" pretty quick; I preferred standing up top in the open air!

Smiling because I was taking a picture...otherwise...way too closed in for comfort!

He thought it was great though.

The USS Torsk
We walked all over the Inner Harbour; down to an old lighthouse that I somehow didn't get a picture of...not sure what's up with that. We toured two Coast Guard ships, one that was in the attack at Pearl Harbor...and yes, I failed to take pictures of those too! I guess the sun was starting to fry my brain! Well, that or the stagnant air inside really old ships that don't have AC...AC is important! Do you know what the cure for a fried brain is? If you answered gelato, then you are 100% correct and if you answered something silly like water...well...whatever...I guess it's important too! We totally got gelato and let me tell you, it really made me feel much better and reminded me to take more pictures, ha-ha!

Headed out to sea...but...not really...

Pirates looting off the coast....

On board the USS Constellation!
The final ship we toured was the USS Constellation - a clipper ship that has been around since 1797 - and it's actually called a Frigate...so, you learn something new every day! I have to say, even though it was by far the oldest ship it definitely had the best decorating! It also had way more room than those other ships we toured; I think if I were to take a water voyage and I had to choose one of the ships we toured, I'd definitely go with the Constellation - and I'd want the Captain's Quarters! We also came across a wee Nationals fan on board the Constellation, wearing his Denard Span jersey and being led around by his grandparents...who were obvious Orioles fans. My Mom whispered across the ship to him "Go Nats!" and he grinned and pumped his fist in the air - I love it!

These people knew how to build a ship - hello!

Detail on the hull of the ship - and the ship, the Chesapeake in the background - we toured it too!

Peeking out of the gun ports & past the cannon!

Back in port after a day at sea...okay, but still not really at sea...



The pirates headed out to pillage & plunder...
And then - it was time for the main event - the ball game! I had to change into my glorious Harper jersey and then we scooted four blocks up the street toward the largely looming Oriole Park at Camden Yards! You want to talk about seeing a lot of orange and black...oh buddy, we were swamped! However, there were a LOT more Nationals fan in the mix than I expected. I don't know why I thought Nationals fan attendance would be low - DC is only 40 minutes away! I was certainly glad to see lots of "my" people to help cheer our Nats to victory!

Yay - it's baseball time! 

OPACY!

The Babe himself at Camden Yards
I picked out our seats - we were in the Eutaw Street Bleachers, which might be misleading because they aren't actually bleachers but they do back up to Eutaw Street. They were located right under the jumbo-tron, which provided a nice breeze and plenty of shade...but we totally couldn't see the jumbo-tron and I never realized how much I loved that big ol video screen until I couldn't see it. I enjoyed out seats for the most part...but we were seated behind some of the drunkest Orioles fans I ever did see; I'm not sure why they purchased tickets to the game - they can't have had any clue what was actually going on. One woman went through every range of emotions known to man in nine innings. And none of her mood swings were related to the game... Whoosh.

Well...until the Nats come to town, hehe!

Relief pitchers warming up - Treinen & Rivero!

The beautiful green baseball field...
Some thoughts I had about Camden Yards and the atmosphere in general: all the fans we encountered were really nice, no one heckled us because we were wearing Nationals gear and I thought that was good. I'm all for cheering for your team without being rude to the other team - and I know some fans that are NOT good at that (looking at you Atlanta...). The announcer at the Orioles game; I'm sure O's fans love him but man, he seemed kind of dead. There was no punch, no panache to the way he announced anyone...and at first I thought it was just the Nationals players, but nope...all of them - deadpan. So....that was exciting! Ha! Lastly...during the National Anthem; the song of our country...when they got to the line that said "O say does that..." the whole crowd yelled out over the singer "Oooooo" because...well, they're the O's...but I didn't think that was okay....

Camden Yards - I have arrived!

Looking across the park toward our seats...

The Harper jersey's first outing!
The game on Saturday was the 2nd of 3 games that make up the first half of the "Battle of the Beltway" series (the second half will be played in September in DC)...because the beltway is the section of the interstate that runs between DC and Baltimore. Historically the Orioles have the better track record with this series, but in this series...and game two in particular...the Nationals showed up and showed off! I was especially pleased because on Friday night I'd finally persuaded my parents to buy some Nationals gear to wear to the game...you can't go into the enemy camp without representing! My Dad even seemed like he was into the game as the innings progressed...and usually I think he just goes to games to appease me. And because I bought his ticket. Ha!

Three Washington National fans in a sea of orange...yikes!

Play ball!

Bryce - eyes up...something might be headed your way!
The Orioles took an early lead...by one run, but in the second inning the Nationals went ahead with a ground ball and an RBI by Michael A Taylor....only to let the Orioles turn around and take the lead again and make it 3-1. Things stayed locked up for the next few innings, although Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore ( a MS boy...and he was drafted from MS State to boot!) pulled off a pretty amazing double play in the fourth! The sixth inning was when the Nationals really exploded though - Harper homer'd and shortened the Orioles lead to just one run, then Clint Robinson and Wilson Ramos both hit singles and settled in on first and second base...and Danny Espinosa stepped up, smashed the ball into the stands with a homer, bringing his teammates home and making the score 6-3 in the Nationals favor! Judging from the way the crowd went pretty wild, there were more Nationals fan in attendance than I realized! Love it! Michael A added an RBI in the ninth inning, making it 7-3 and then Drew Storen came in and shut it down! Curly W!

Michael A - already slid into home & got some skid marks, ha-ha!

Curly W - I like it!
Something I especially love about the Nationals players (okay...in this instance it applies to Bryce Harper) is their interaction with fans! I'm sure a lot of MLB teams have excellent players; watching the Home Run Derby showed me that, but I'm a Nationals girl so I'll brag on my Nationals. Around the third inning, I think it was...when the Nationals would take the field, Harper, Taylor and den Dekker would toss a few balls back and forth to warm up for the inning and when they finished, Harper would toss the ball into the stands and the waiting arms of tons of fans! I assumed it was a one time thing but nope - he continued to do this every time and people loved it. The Orioles fans thought they'd get their outfielders to do the same thing...but it didn't quite work out that way. Try as they might to get their players to toss them a ball, the only time they were obliged was in the eighth inning...

Mid-inning chat; Harper looks like he's being extra sassy...

Bottom of the 8th - can we hold em?
One of the funniest parts of the game was the little Orioles fan sitting in front of us; when I say little...he might have been almost 3. He was decked out in his black and orange and he kept grinning at me over the back of his seat; granted, his Dad did warn me he was a ladies man! When the Nationals exploded in the fourth inning, he decided maybe he wanted to cheer for them too...much to the horror of his Dad. When Harper cracked his homer, the little boy threw his hands up in the air and hollered wildly, while his Dad pulled on his arms telling him "no...no...wrong team!" Ha-ha! He kept the support going by hopping around and yelling with joy again when Espinosa smashed his homer and the Nationals pulled ahead. The family finally left in the seventh inning and the Dad told us they had to go home since we'd converted his son, ha-ha!

Hold em we did - make that a Nationals Curly W!

Best way to end the night!
The end of the game was a nail biter, no doubt about it... Drew had one small slip-up; he let Adam Jones smash a homer and make the score 7-4 but in the end, it was a Nationals win for the books and I was absolutely thrilled! The Nationals went ahead and won the series on Sunday, which we obviously weren't at...but I hope to see Scherzer pitch before the season ends!

All in all, I think this Micro-Adventure was pretty awesome and it solidifies for me that I'm a big fan of Baltimore. The city has taken it's hits recently but everything we experienced while in the Charm City was...well, pretty charming. The people we encountered in and around the city were all very nice, including the shoe store promoter I met at Inner Harbour who told me I needed to buy some Orioles gear, ha-ha! I can't even complain about Orioles fans, they were all really nice! I'll definitely be returning to Baltimore again and again for many more Micro-Adventures in the future!

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