The weather was cloudy and/or rainy since I left San Diego on December 3 and this travel day is no exception. Taking the LIRR to Penn Station in New York to switch to Amtrak to get to Baltimore was non-stop action. Because I had two rolling bags to manage, I had no hands free for train station photos, Starbucks, scratching an itch, etc. Stairs, escalators & many people going every which way made me feel like a bumper car.
I used the Amtrak Android app to buy all train tickets and struggled with my bags and needing my phone out with e-ticket showing for the gate attendant. The attendant was positioned at the top step of the escalator and with the crush of humanity pressing at my back to get down to the station platform I was anxious that I’d be trampled. Note to self: get a better luggage system soon!
I was on my way to visit Karen. We met through Urban Walkers, a San Diego meetup, back in 2009. Karen moved to the East Coast to spend more time with her family, planning a return to San Diego after a couple of years. However, life intervened and she has stayed. She lives in an ocean front community in Delaware. Being off-season, it would have taken many hours and four public transportation changes to go to her home, so we made arrangements to meet in Baltimore.
The Wyndham Peabody Court in the Mount Vernon neighborhood was my resting place. Sounds posh right? The room was gi-normous, feeling even more so after the really tight quarters at the Americana Inn in NYC. However, the hotel was showing its age and could use some remodeling. Perhaps someone could take down the sheer drapes and get them cleaned. Nonetheless, I had a deep and restful night’s sleep in the king-sized bed and met Karen the next morning.
We drove to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and had brunch at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. Karen and I haven’t seen each other for a couple of years yet our visit felt like just a week or two passed since our last visit. Talking has never been a problem for us! 🙂 http://www.sonesta.com/baltimore
Our next stop was the American Visionary Art Museum (http://www.avam.org/), a unique exhibition of the unusual. Life-sized sculptures made of match sticks, a huge ship model made of toothpicks (I think it was the RMS Lusitania), scientific displays about things I can’t remember but found interesting, garments made of wool, paper art, paintings . . . an eclectic collection. The Visionary Experience: Saint Francis to Finster was a somewhat unsettling exhibit, like living in the book of Revelation.
I was most intrigued by a sculpture hanging from the ceiling down through the center of the spiral staircase. It was called Falling Angel and I regret I did not note the artist. The sculpture spun slowly and but for the expression on the angel’s face, you wouldn’t have known there was a problem.
Overall, art that was, to me, offbeat and odd yet compelling and arresting. I would definitely visit again!
Even the gift shop was, well, offbeat and odd. The Sideshow Shop (http://www.sideshowbaltimore.com/) boasts a unique potpourri of items, in addition to many art books. One of my favorites is Criminal Crafts. This D.I.Y. craft book has the instructions for making many “useful” projects, including a ransom note kit and a John Dillinger soap gun. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1449409857/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
While we were at AVAM, it began to snow. Big fluffy flakes. It was the first snow I’ve seen in years.
We went shopping, visited a pub in the old part of town, some more shopping, and generally did those things friends do when they get together. A short but sweet visit in a place I’ve never been. Thanks for the whirlwind tour Karen! It was great to see you. As the former California governor says, “I’ll be back.”