Baltimore and Thoughts on History

This past Saturday was absolutely beautiful in the DC area. Low 70s, slight breeze, barely any clouds in the sky. We decided to use the gorgeous day to shoot up I-95 to Baltimore, an adventure that’s been on our list since we moved down here. It was a wonderful way to spend the day that also had me thinking about life in the East Coast of the US compared to that in other parts of the country.

With no traffic, the drive to Baltimore is a little under an hour. Jeff found a free parking lot where we could park right on the Patapsco River, near Canton Waterfront Park, from which we could walk up the Baltimore Waterfront Promenade towards Fells Point. To some, this may have just seemed like an ordinary walkway, but for us, it brought back the part of Hoboken that we miss the most: the ability to be close to the water. We adored being able to walk out to the river’s edge and stroll along the promenade; there’s something about being close to water that gives you a sense of lightness and freedom and of being close to nature, and that’s something we’ve been missing in Bethesda. So having the opportunity to walk for a mile or so with nothing but water on one side and stately brick townhouses and apartment buildings on the other was heavenly.

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Where there is waterfront, there are also waterfront restaurants. And when in Baltimore, one must eat crab cakes! We actually walked by Captain James Crabhouse before turning around and heading back. After sitting down at a picnic table, someone arrived to cover the table with a large piece of thick paper and to drop off a bucket filled with napkins and utensils. They put the paper down because you are supposed to just order a ton of steamed crabs, which they bring over on a tray and just let you go to town. I’m not terribly keen on food that requires a lot of work—I’ll always order a chopped salad if it’s an option just to skip all the cutting I would have to do otherwise. So instead of the steamed crabs, we opted for crab cakes, which I love, and these were incredible. They were huge, about 8 ounces, made with giant chunks of crab meat and a smooth, flavorful binder. We ordered them broiled, instead of fried, which delivered the perfect amount of crust. The coleslaw was light, crunchy and tangy, and the fries, which I covered in Old Bay, tasted like summer.

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The main part of Captain James restaurant was on the other side of the street, and is a boat. But as a building. Which was pretty fun too.

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We also walked a bit around Fells Point, which was a cool area filled with hip-looking restaurants and old brick houses. There were plenty of people outside eating, drinking and walking their dogs.

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As we were walking along the road with the above adorable brick houses, it got me thinking. I’ve lived in a couple different states at this point, but they all have their location on the East Coast in common. They also all happen to be areas where colonists settled quite early in the history of the US. Now, I know that compared to other parts of the world, the US is not old by any means. But as far as our country’s history goes, I have lived in areas where there is a great deal. I grew up seeing plaques on the fronts of houses signifying that they are part of the historic registry. We learned about the Underground Railroad in school, then walked from our school to a house just down the road that was part of it. In Hoboken and Jersey City, you’ll find signs outside many apartment buildings explaining the role that building used to play in the city’s industry, or the objects that were produced when it was a factory. And here in DC, and certainly in Baltimore, there are still so many homes built with bricks, a material that begs you to imagine the people who lived in the house generations ago. I love living close to history—I find it grounding and inspiring—and I wonder about how it feels to live farther west in parts of the country that don’t have as much.

We finished our visit with a quick trip to Inner Harbor, which is the more touristy part of the waterfront, complete with a Hard Rock Cafe and a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. As we walked along past the historic ships, which are definitely a cool element, we stumbled upon a stage flanked by hundreds of people in Ravens jerseys. Oh hi, Joe Flacco, NFL quarterback, just casually answering questions from young kids lined up to go on stage to talk to him. Not something you happen upon every day.

I know we only did a snippet, but I found this area of Baltimore quite charming. And there is plenty more for us to do on our next trip up!

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