Thursday, January 31, 2013

20 Things I Learned in Baltimore:

1. Why not to smile at people on the street
2. Do not change bus routes on North Avenue
3. How to navigate a large city bus system
4. How to have poor success navigating the public buses to the extent that fellow ward members take pity on me and pick me up every Sunday for church
5. The definition of humidity
6. That dehumidifiers exist and are useful
7. Maryland is a small state compared to Utah
8. What bail bonds are
9. What US marshals do
10. I can live out of a suitcase for longer than two weeks, in fact, I can go two months! (Ready to multiple that by nine?)
11. I enjoy summer without classes
12. I miss summer school
13. There is a precise medium to have the AC unit on setting 3 and the ceiling fan on high all night to stay asleep
14. Finding a service center for my credit union (which only exists in Utah) and is open outside of regular business hours is difficult and hard to plan for
15. I am thankful for roommates (Natalie) willing to drive me to a service credit union in Baltimore county
16. A large majority of the world's population can not function properly without coffee
17. How to open door handles with my elbows
18. How to close door handles with my elbow and hip simultaneously
19. I don't have to have fireworks on my birthday, it all still works out
20. That cat feces cause Schizophrenia (well, potentially . . .)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Home bound

{Saturday, August 11, 2012}
I am on the plane now, headed home. I have so many emotions that conflict with one another that I am not sure how to interpret them all. I do not think any emotion shows on my face though, I feel like a clean slate that way, no, a wall that has been primed. I have all sorts of coats of paint underneath, but they are hidden beneath the coat of thick primer washing everything white.

There are clouds outside the window. They are puffy, but as I stare at them I think they resemble a pattern like fabric, tuckered into a texture of a sweater.

The couple next to me is coming back from Spain. They teach English at Utah State. A cat has just been produced from my neighbor’s carry-on bag. I wonder if that is allowed.

I’ll be home soon. Only a couple more weeks with my family, and school is ready to start once more. I am looking forward to it. I have so many wonderful things before me. 

Now it is time for me to face it, and love every moment. I think I am ready.

All the rest . . .

{Saturday, August 11, 2012}
Natalie and I spent the morning doing all of the things that I had not done yet. We started out of our little row house walking west on Aliceanna St. The first thing on our agenda was to paddle around in the Chessie boats.

When we got to Inner Harbor, the Chessie boats were still neatly lined up and didn't open for another hour or so. We resolved to come back to them when they opened.
Something that I had not done all summer long was to check out the view at "Observation Point" at the top of the Baltimore World Trade Center. It was a beautiful sight on such a clear day with a bright blue sky. We spent some time enjoying the 360 degree view on the 27th floor of the building. Apparently Baltimore's World Trade Center is the world's tallest pentagonal building. Who knew?

Another book that I took the time to read over the summer was "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. At one point in the book, the author mentions sitting at a hotel window and seeing a clock tower with the face saying "B-R-O-M-O-S-E-L-T-Z-E-R"

The entire book was full of little Baltimore characteristics that I thoroughly enjoyed. Not only was it a great book bridging the view of science with humanity, but it brought in tidbits of culture from the city that it took place in.

I don't think I could have read that book at any better time. I was living in the city Henrietta Lacks and her family was living in those years before, and I was working everyday in the hospital that she visited and where her cells were discovered.

Anyway, I thought it was a good read, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a book to read. I learned so much. I think that's what I love most about travelling, the opportunity to learn from everything around you.
When you are thrown into entirely different surroundings, you observe so many more details than you originally would.
To me it's like I am looking at the world with new eyes, comparable to how a toddler might see the world. I struggle to capture each detail and record them in my bank of memories.
I have enjoyed the new perspective. It is fresh and enlightening. I don't want to lose my sense of wonder at the world and people around me. I wish I could tuck it away in my pocket and carry it home with me so that I can take it out later and use it.

Anyway, I have included a few of the pictures that I took at the top of Observation Point. Included in them are pictures of Federal Hill, the Chessie boats, the Francis Scott Key bridge, my Fells point neighborhood (a little harder to see), and shot tower.
By this point the Chessie paddle boats were now being operated, so we made our 27 floor decent. Good thing there was an elevator! We waited in line and bought our tickets. It was time to fulfill this dream!

Of course we wore adorable orange life vests as we boarded our green monster. (We were hoping for a purple one, but things just didn't work out that way.) We cleverly avoided the shark submarine, I just was so sure how well Chessie monsters and sharks got along so we played it safe.

Also, we took some pictures. Aren't we cute?
We had been paddling around our confined area that the boats were allowed in when Natalie pointed out the  caution sticker. "Fast peddling can cause rapid tiring of legs." I never would've guessed.
When our half hour was up, we wandered the Inner Harbor.
We treated ourselves to some high-end cupcakes, just because. Oh, and because I'd never had them before. The one on the left is raspberry lemonade and on the right is cookies-n'-cream. We split them down the center and each had a half. They were both absolutely delightful.
The next stop was Federal Hill. We made our way around the harbor to climb up the hill that held so much history. Some of the other perks to being on the east coast were the rich historical places that I have learned about in American History in school, but never been able to see.

Baltimore was unique in that it was on the fence during the Civil War. There were people from both parties here and it held some of the sites where battles broke out and raged.

The hill was really steep, and thankfully it had stairs. When we got to the top it had an amazing view of the Inner Harbor. I guess I just wanted to get a good view of things before I left Baltimore.

I used my camera to zoom in on the Chessie boats where we had been not too long before. One city can yield multiple perspectives in the space of a few short hours.

I even took a moment to get a picture by the cannon. There were a couple of tour groups exploring Federal Hill at the same time so we hurried to snap a shot.
Just on the other side of the hill was the Visionary Arts Museum. I didn't have enough time to go explore it because I did have a plane to catch, but I liked the mosaic on the outside of the building. I also saw a basketball court that had the Maryland state flag on it, so if any of you were wondering, that's what it looks like.
That concludes my days in the city of Baltimore. I learned so much and I loved my time I spent there. I also met so many wonderful people that went out of their way to be sure I felt welcome. I was very privileged to have such an opportunity and I am thankful for it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hershey Kisses :)

{Thursday, August 9, 2012}
I slept in as long as I could Thursday morning and I spent much of my time listening to a recording of the Hunger Games on Youtube. Since I started the first book in the Barns & Noble on Monday, I had been finding time slots here and there to listen to the series on Youtube. It would not be my first choice, I would much rather be holding a book in my hand, but considering I did not have a choice in getting to a library anytime soon, and that I had lots of free time, I utilized my resources. I had finished the first two books and was only a couple chapters into Mocking Jay.

Around 2:30 p.m. Leah (from the singles ward) picked me up and we headed to Hershey, Pennsylvania. We chatted on the car ride there, and I enjoyed her company. I wished I had longer to spend time with everyone from the ward. They are such a lively and accepting group. Time is a luxury that I did not have.

 Once we arrived, we first visited Chocolate World. Inside is an amusement ride all about how the chocolate is made. The best part was the reoccurring singing cows. They provided a lot of amusement for me as they sang their songs about chocolate.
 After the ride everyone was given a free sample of chocolate. The thought crossed my mind to go again, don't worry, I didn't. Inside Chocolate World there was a gift shop, a station to create your own candy bar wrappers, and a cafeteria.

 Leah and I decided that it would be nice to get a treat. We purchased some fudge for later, and an ice cream sundae for the moment. It was delicious. I think there was just as much whipped topping as there was ice cream. Of course this was a brilliant idea to down all of this just before going outside to the amusement park.
I found the world's largest Hershey's bar!
It has a net weight of 5 lbs!

When we had nearly made ourselves sick, we ventured out to see what the amusement park had to offer. The weather was a bit temperamental and there was a warning that some serious rain showers were coming in. People were flooding out of the park, as many of the rides had been shut down. We waited outside to find out if it would be worth our time and money to get in. I don't recall how long we waited (maybe an hour?) to hear if the entire park was going to be closed, but since the stormed looked like it was just going to be dark clouds looming ominously in the distance, the rides started opening again.

We risked it and paid our way in. Unsure of the amount of time we would have, we hit the biggest rides first. It was fun! We also counted it a blessing that so many people had already left for the day, so it wasn't very crowded at all. We strategically made our way around to the best rides until the weather turned threatening once again.

As it got late, we found a little karaoke recording place.  You basically could choose a song and go into a recording room and sing to the song and get a copy of the CD when you were finished. It had a whole bunch of popular songs that you could choose from and it sounded like a lot of fun. Leah talked me into doing it, and soon we were recording for the song Bubbly by Colbie Caillat. It was a lot of fun and definitely an experience that I am glad I took part of. I don't know if I'd ever do it again, but I enjoyed it that once. I made sure that Leah autographed my CD just for good measure. :)

I am so grateful I had the chance to make memories and have fun. I did things I normally wouldn't do, and I loved it. I need to branch out more to try new things at least once, even if I'm bad at it. It can provide entertainment in the moment, and fond memories for later. It was a good day in Hershey. 

New York City

{Wednesday, August 8, 2012}
Natalie and I spent all day in New York City. The plan was to leave our place at 5:30 a.m. but I made us a few minutes late. Natalie drove us up to White Marsh to catch our Megabus which was to leave at 6:30 a.m.

The goal was to arrive at the stop early as to get a parking place that would leave not getting Natalie’s car towed while we were away. We got a parking space and an early spot in the forming line that would no doubt ensure us a seat together.

The drive was approximately three and a half hours long. Despite the comfortable seats, I was itching to stand up by the time we arrived.

We exited the bus and began walking toward Times Square. It was several blocks before we got there, and on the way, I managed to almost lose sight of Natalie crossing a street. The number of people at each corner added to the confusion, and I scrambled up behind her before she knew anything had happened. I have no idea how parents keep a hold on their children.

At Times Square we found the line to TKTS and joined the end of it. It had opened at 10:00 a.m. but we got there at a quarter after. After waiting for an hour (it went quicker than we thought it would) we purchased discounted tickets to a Broadway play: One Man, Two Guvnors.

Since the play was not to start until 2:00 p.m., we killed time by eating some New York pizza for lunch. The pizza slices were large and thin and delicious. We then made our way north to Central Park.

The park was beautiful and green. I noticed multitudes of bikers and artists on the walkways. Most of the artists had stands with their work and a tourist perched on a chair as the artist drew their caricature. Natalie bought a map of the park from a woman when we entered. 

Using the map, we navigated ourselves next to the carousal and on our way to Balto. A bunch of little kids were lining up to get their picture taken next to Balto, and Natalie and I did too. 
We walked past the zoo, but since it was not free, and it was time to be heading to our theatre, I managed to capture a sea lion on camera before making our way out of the park. Look closely in the water, I promise that it's there. In the smaller picture a sea lion is poking its head out of the water on the far side of the pool.

We rode the Subway and walked a few blocks to the Music Box where we found a long line extending down the street. As we waited I noticed a shirt hanging in a shop that reminded me of Dad. I remember him telling me about a friend of his that had a shirt like this, and he was sure to be careful about which side of his friend he walked on when he wore that shirt. I laughed out loud and would have bought the shirt instantly if I knew Dad would wear it, but uncertainty got the best of me.
Inside the theatre, Natalie and I settled into our seats (which had a great view) in perfect timing. The show began, and we were not disappointed. One Man, Two Guvnors is a comedy that left us in stitches. The main actor, James Cordon, was absolutely brilliant – as the British would say. When we were picking out which plays we might be interested in early in the week, Natalie knew this actor from a Doctor Who episode she had seen.

There were several times during the show that did not go according to plan, however, nothing threw him and the audience was thoroughly entertained.

After the play, we took the subway yet again, down to Battery Park. We looked at the Statue of Liberty, and a war memorial.

We wondered through streets enclosed by skyscrapers. We attempted to see the 9/11 memorial, but apparently tickets are needed, so we did not see it. It was alright though because it was time for us to make our way over to the bus stop again. Our Megabus was scheduled to come at 6:30 p.m. so we found a subway and rode north until we only had to walk west. At the approaching time, we began to run a few blocks. It was comical really, but we were determined to not wait for the light to change again.

I found Wall Street!

It was a miracle :)
Just enjoying the street signs . . . there were some fun ones. I wonder why streets in Utah aren't all named great names.

We made it with time to spare. The line for the bus was very long. When a double decker bus showed up, we learned that the line was so long because it was actually two buses worth of people, so everyone waiting for the 6:00 p.m. bus left and everyone else expecting the 6:30 p.m. bus waited on.

The bus showed up around 7:00 p.m. and we got a seat together on the second level. I dosed off and on all the way back. 

We got home around 10:30 p.m. and found a parking place quickly (in Fells Point that tends to be a difficult feat, considering the hour) and head off to bed.