Monday, October 24, 2022

Prevailing Through a Pandemic

We were so careful. We did everything right and followed all the protocols. We respected the science and actual doctors. We researched proper masks and wore them even when no one else would. We got inoculated with the necessary vaccines, even our littlest members, even though TK ran a low-grade fever and got the chills 12 hours after every shot.

We stayed safe throughout 2020 when people were getting sick and dying. We remained healthy through 2021 when variants were confusing and vaccines became available. We started 2022 in the clear even though our closest family members got sick and we could not see them for weeks.

But it still came for us; it came for all four of us.

My parents were on vacation in Italy and it was TK's birthday when I woke up to head to work and my throat felt scratchy. TK said he felt similar that morning. When I got to work, I took my vitamins and Tylenol to stop the pain. My throat felt better but I got increasingly tired as the day went on. By 1 p.m., I could barely keep my head up and decided to call my boss to ask him to leave early. He suggested that I test myself when I got home. I exited my office while spraying Lysol on the way out. I wore my mask as I dropped off my leave form and started my drive home. Since it was TK's birthday, I popped into Publix (fully masked) to get him a cake but I could barely carry myself. I grabbed the cake, paid using the self-check, and got home.

When I arrived home, my family was surprised to see me. TK thought I left early to celebrate his birthday, but I told him it was because I was sick. I took out the COVID test and started to administer it. Within five seconds, the test popped positive. Since it was an expired test, TK recommended I take another so I did and that one was positive too. I was quarantined to the bedroom to eat my dinner when TK decided that he and the kids get tested as well. I made their appointments at a pediatric urgent care that we visited earlier in the year and called Teledoc to speak to a doctor about what I should do. Her advice was to hydrate, rest, and use Flonase because I was vaccinated and this would just be a really bad cold. TK and the kids were taken pretty quickly and after I was able to create their care accounts, I received a call from the lab. Jax and Addie were also positive and TK was still negative. Addie even had a fever in the office.

It broke my heart when they returned home and Jax was afraid to come near any of us because he said he had COVID. We comforted him by telling him that we all had it and would all be OK as long as we took care of each other. Since TK had the symptoms without the positive test, we decided to function as though we were all positive. We drank Gatorade, kept tissues handy, took plenty of naps, and took our vitamins. I worried about how this virus would affect the kids because they are little and their bodies are not fully grown. I also worried about how my asthma would affect my experience. 

Throughout all of this, we kept quiet. I didn't post on social media and we didn't tell anyone other than a couple of friends and family members about our sickness because we did not want my parents to find out while they were on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in a foreign country. They wouldn't be able to help us and would just worry or cut their trip short―neither of which were wanted. We talked to them every day and enjoyed all their fun reports from their trip, but we left out a few details.

We were positive on a Friday. Our energy did not return until Wednesday and we did not test negative until Saturday. It was a long week of keeping an eye on each other, paying attention to everyone's breathing and temperatures. Luckily, the kids were in virtual school so they could still sign on and complete their coursework, but I had to stay home from work. I missed a big event but was able to work a couple days before becoming truly exhausted, slamming my laptop shut at 5 p.m., and falling asleep. It was brutal.

Fortunately, it's been five months since we had the virus and we aren't wearing masks everywhere anymore but we are testing when we feel sick and getting boosters. We just recently received the Omicron booster and I received the flu shot at the same time. We are grateful that we were safe for so long and when we were sick it was with a less severe variant. We still worry about the long-term effects, but we know that we are healthy and can still follow the science to stay that way.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

My Journey to Ed.D.

Ed.D. Doctor of Education in Progress

I've always wanted to be a doctor. When I was younger, I wanted to be a medical doctor but knew I would cry every time someone got sick or died. That's not very professional or a great way to live. Then, I decided I wanted to be an academic doctor because I am a pretty good student. My mom likes to remind me that when someone says, "Is there a doctor in the house?" I can say yes but I can't save anyone's life or help them past administering CPR. But I can change some educational processes and maybe make people's lives just a little bit better and easier.  

I embarked on this journey in January 2020 and at the start of my first in-person class, we were involved in a deep discussion, and I was surrounded by intellectual individuals who wanted to soak up all they could from the professor and the content. As the discussion progressed, I felt that I was in the right place and made the right decision. 

Two months later, the world changed and my class pivoted to online. Luckily, I was already taking one class online and Zoom was easy to learn. I learned that I enjoyed learning remotely because I am comfortable using technology and enjoy grasping how to use new digital platforms. 

I proceeded to complete two courses each semester for six semesters and maintain a 4.0 GPA. My favorite course was Leadership Theory even though I had to take two hours off of work every Monday and Wednesday, rush home to shower (COVID safety), and hop on the computer for four hours. I was buried in work for that course, but I learned a lot and felt that I was able to contribute in a meaningful way to each class session. 

Currently, I am editing my prospectus for the second submission in mid-November. My first pass was not good enough, but that's OK. Nothing worth doing is easy. I've made it past the concept paper, chair selection, and literature review. I still have the prospectus, proposal, research, analysis, write-up, and defense left to complete. It is hard work, but it is worth it. 

My plan was to graduate in spring 2023, but after the prospectus setback, I am planning for summer 2023. For now, I will "just keep swimming" and take my dissertation bit by bit. Stay tuned ...

Friday, April 01, 2022

Quick Disney Trip Report, Day 3

Cast of Characters = me, TK (husband), Jax (9), and Addie (6)

Setting = Walt Disney World with a reservation at Gran Destino for March 9 - 12, 2022 

Day 3

Adventure = Magic Kingdom

We got up and got ready for the day because we were headed to Magic Kingdom on the bus. We took the car to the other parks but Magic Kingdom is a hassle for parking because it takes 30 minutes or more to get to the entrance because you have to park and then take the ferry or the monorail over. The bus stops right in front of the park and you walk right in. That's efficient. 

Our first stop was Joffrey's in Tomorrowland for breakfast. We found an outdoor table and enjoyed a quick yet pleasing meal. When we were finished, we headed to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. I found some way to get 350,000 points and beat TK. That had never happened before so I was pretty proud of myself. Then, we headed over to Mickey's Philharmagic to see the new Coco scene. It was beautiful. There were so many bright and beautiful colors added to an already expressive attraction. 

The kids wanted to see the Country Bear Jamboree, so we headed right in, but the parade was getting ready to start. When we got out, the parade was ending, so Addie got to sit on TK's shoulders and wave at the characters. It was the best of both worlds. 

We wanted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean because it's one of our favorites, but Addie doesn't like the drop so we had to negotiate with her. Jax had just started watching the movies so he connected with it more. He was up to the third movie. 

For lunch, we wanted to leave the park, so we headed out. On the way, we saw a friend from home and his family, so I took a few photos of them and we hopped on the monorail. We mobile ordered our lunch at Captain Cook's at the Polynesian and found a table outside to eat our meals. It was nice to eat outside the chaos and watch waterfalls at our favorite resort. The kids were entertained by a duck who was swimming in a small waterfall. 

We returned to Magic Kingdom to ride Under the Sea and buy a Nuimo for Addie. I didn't realize the price had gone up so high for that small doll. In the summer, the price was around $13 and it rose to $22. We visited to the Main Street Confectionary for the Peanut Butter Cookie Pie that I saw on YouTube. Then, we headed back to the hotel to relax before dinner. 

We took our showers and drove over to Old Key West because we had a dinner reservation. The setting was fantastic but the food was just meh. We drove back to the hotel and hopped on the bus to head back to Magic Kingdom. When we got there, we thought we would watch the fireworks, but the kids wanted to go on rides instead so we headed to Tomorrowland Transit Authority. It stalled a few times, but we didn't mind because the fireworks were going off and it was also a favorite of ours. 

When we hopped off, we needed caffeine and hit Joffrey's again and finished our beverages before riding Dumbo. That was the end of our night, so we headed back to the hotel on a crowded bus. Out of all the families on the bus, one remained unmasked even though masks were required on all transportation. I don't know why they thought they were above the rules, but it's selfish and they should be penalized for not abiding by the rules. Addie fell asleep on my lap and we were so done by the time we got to the hotel and were definitely ready to call it a night. 

Quick Disney Trip Report, Day 2

Cast of Characters = me, TK (husband), Jax (9), and Addie (6)

Setting = Walt Disney World with a reservation at Gran Destino for March 9 - 12, 2022 

Day 2

Adventure = Hollywood Studios, Pool, Three Bridges

We woke up early yet again and arrived at Hollywood Studios by 8 a.m. We headed straight to Rise of the Resistance which was already at a two-hour wait by 8:06 a.m. so we got on line for Runaway Railway which took 20 minutes to ride. It had a new queue that included a short video that we've never seen before. We always love that ride because the kids love the Mickey cartoons and we love the effects. 

Then, we went over to Toy Story Mania and waited about 20 minutes again. I still did not beat TK. He scored 166,000 points and I only scored 112,000. Afterward, we stopped at the Market so I could finally buy a Num Num Cookie. I packed Ziploc bags so I could put the cookie away for later when I could warm it up. We also stopped at Joffrey's for coffee, chai, and muffins for breakfast and brought it all over to ABC Commissary so we could grab an outdoor table. 

After breakfast, we went over to indulge in the kids' Muppet obsession and watched Muppet 3D. I forgot that they only experienced it as toddlers. We headed right to Vacation Fun after because that was one we all haven't seen and it was cute. 

The park started to get even more crowded, so we left around 11:30 a.m. to head back to the resort and go to the pool. At the pool, the water was a little colder than I like but the kids didn't mind. They played some fun games with the recreation cast member and TK and I drank some fun beverages, but then it started to rain. We went back to the room to relax and get ready for dinner. My parents and their friends were meeting us to eat at Three Bridges and it did not take reservations. We decided to be there as soon as it opened so we could get a table for eight. We were seated within 10 minutes. 

Our food at Three Bridges was fantastic and the server was really helpful and friendly. After dinner, we went up to the Dahlia Lounge on the 16th floor so my parents could get some coffee. The view was fantastic because we could see Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach, and Expedition Everest. 

After dessert, my parents and their friends left and we went back to the room to get ready to go to Magic Kingdom but the kids said they would rather stay in and watch movies, so we did. 

Quick Disney Trip Report, Day 1

For Spring Break, we decided to take a few days off before the actual vacation to head to Walt Disney World and beat the crowds. It kind of worked, but stay tuned for details ...

Cast of Characters = me, TK (husband), Jax (9), and Addie (6)

Setting = Walt Disney World with a reservation at Gran Destino for March 9 - 12, 2022 

Day 1

Adventure = Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Beach Club Resort

We woke up so early (5:30 a.m.) to get to Animal Kingdom by 6:45 a.m. because the park opened at 7 a.m. for resort guests and we had our reservation set for Gran Destino at Coronado Springs. We headed in the parking lot and were not able to park close to the entrance because cast members started directing us toward the middle. We ended up in Unicorn Q, so Addie called herself the Unicorn Queen for the duration of time it took us to walk to security. 

When we entered the park, we headed straight to Kilimanjaro Safari, but it did not open until 7:45 a.m., so we made a loop and headed back to pick up breakfast at Creature Comforts which is Animal Kingdom's Starbucks location. It was the emptiest I've ever seen so I made the comment to the barista that I was "Queen of the Starbucks" and she wrote it on my chai latte cup. Of course, I got a chuckle out of that. TK got a caramel latte and I bought a croissant and a chocolate croissant for the kids. We enjoyed our breakfast on line waiting for the Safari to open up. 

We entered the truck at 7:46 a.m. which was truly awesome. We saw a ton of animals and loved it. We learned that a group of giraffes is different when moving vs. standing around. When they are moving, they are a journey, and when they are standing around, they are a tower. Something new! 

Afterward, we walked out of the Safari and right over to Gorilla Falls Trail. We were able to see the animals and talk to cast members without waiting our turn to get close to the glass or fence. 

Then, we headed over to Maharajah Jungle Trek to see the tigers. We enjoyed taking our time to check out the animals and of course, the kids loved every minute. We took a ton of photos throughout the stroll.

After we saw all of the animals, we decided to ride Triceratop Spin because Addie enjoys it. When we rose above Dinoland U.S.A., I could see the barren space where Primevil Whirl used to be. That was a little sad. As we walked toward Discover Island, we had the great luck and pleasure to see a mama duck and her ducklings waddling around before a cast member shooed them into the bushes. 

We were ready to head out at 10:30 a.m. because we saw what we were focused on for the day. We headed over to Disney Springs to get our updated annual pass cards and 50th Anniversary magnets. When we made it through security, I checked into the virtual queue for the magnet and then spoke to the cast member at Guest Relations who sent us over to the Ticket Center. Our spot in line was group 13. I received a text about heading over for the magnets while waiting and then we were called up to the desk within minutes and scooped up our cards. The magnets were available back in Art of Disney and we showed our IDs, got our cards scanned, and received our magnets. Easy peasy! 

After we checked off those two tasks, we walked by Sprinkles to pick up a Cookie Cupcake that was a limited-time offering. I walked right up to the register, used my annual pass discount, and got one cupcake for all of us to share. I need to know what the cupcake tastes like, but I don't need to eat it all myself. 

On our way out, I popped into Ron Jon's Surf Shop to see if there were any rash guards for Jax. He is growing like a weed, so his rash guards all look like Winnie the Pooh shirts. I found one in black and found out that they offer a Florida resident discount (15%) that is more than the annual pass discount (10%). Jax also popped into the Pintraders and purchased a Hondo Ohnaka Funko POP to add to his collection. 

Since it was getting close to lunchtime, we headed to the resort. Our room at Gran Destino was not ready yet, so we headed to the front desk to ask about club level. They didn't have any upgrades available, but our room became available while we were chatting. It was a few minutes after noon. We went up to the room that was on the 10th floor and had a great view of Hollywood Studios and the parking lot. TK had to go to a doctor appointment, so after the kids ate their lunch in the room, we watched Disney Hits on the TV and then headed out for a short walk. They had yard games set up, so the kids played giant checkers with my help. It ended in a tie because I wanted to enjoy my vacation. We had to run back to the room quickly for the bathroom, but then we went to the food court area to grab a small lunch for me. I had half of a tuna salad wrap and got the kids some water. We went for a walk to see where the pool and the Three Bridges Restaurant were located. It started to drizzle, so we went back to our room to wait for TK to get back. 

When TK returned we set up our mobile order and headed over to the Beach Club Resort to grab the food from the Marketplace. We sat outside by ourselves for a while and enjoyed our dinner. We chose Beach Club for dinner because we wanted to end our night with serious ice cream sundaes at Beaches & Cream. Of course, each of us enjoyed our dessert. TK had the No Way Jose (topped with peanut butter and fudge) and I had a mini version of that. It was gluttonous but glorious. Jax had an ice cream sandwich and Addie had a small chocolate ice cream sundae. 

After filling up, we rolled out to the car to head back to the resort. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and went to bed. 

Friday, June 08, 2018

Dealing With It

In the past, I've been asked whether or not I go to a therapist or a counselor and I say no. When I am feeling really down, I do one of two things: write in my journal or turn to Disney.

I used to draw, but that hasn't been enough for a while. I can't express or flush out my feelings in a drawing of a figure or a landscape, but I can verbalize it in a journal entry.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash
And, when my life is really getting heavy, I escape to the Wide World of Disney and forget about my issues and sympathize with a princess who never knew her parents until she escaped from her captor or one that has an unpredictable power that injured her sister or one that works 20+ hours a day to achieve her dream of entrepreneurship. Those are "real" problems, so I forget about me for a minute and dive into the heartfelt stories of mostly fictional characters. You may think this is ignorant or silly, but it is my way to stop my brain from constantly shifting from one idea to the next and just relax, and maybe even sing.

Lately, I have felt a lot of stress and pressure, which comes with the territory of interviewing for a job 1,200 miles away and then getting said job and uprooting my family of four to move an hour away from that job where there are 496 new people to meet and figure out how I can make their job easier while also boosting the reputation of my employer. Then, there was figuring out how to buy a house and support a family of four on one income and enroll my child in an appropriate school knowing that he has had specific needs in the past.

I did not invite you to my pity party, but I have been internalizing a lot of things lately and they make my stomach hurt and keep me awake some nights. So, instead of making myself completely sick or getting super fat by drowning in pints of Rocky Road, I have decided to turn to happiness. I figure that's the healthiest way to deal with things.

After reading one of my countless magazines, I started a journal entry that lists all of the things in my life that I am grateful for. This has helped me realize that my life is rich and I need to stop focusing on what I lack. I smile a little bit more with every list item.

After a meeting with my colleagues, I have also decided to watch TED Talks and read books about what inspires others to get my creative juices flowing. Americans are reading far less books than they have in the past and I personally refuse to be one of the reasons that libraries and bookstores are struggling. Reading is another escape that I enjoy, but variety is the key. Non-fiction for self-motivation. Fantasy for imagination, and romance to urge me to sit up a little straighter.

The escape is key. When I leave work, I don't talk about work unless someone specifically asks. I have to keep that work-life balance and the best way for me to do that is to make sure I leave home at home and work at work, unless there is an emergency that overlaps the two.

My tactics may not work for everyone, but so far, they work for me and I needed something to help me cope with all of the stress and developments occurring in my life. Let me know what you do to chill out or deal with the stress in your life. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Tears on the Treadmill

In early March, I entered into a weight loss challenge with my father, brother and husband. At week 4, I was down 11.4 pounds and I hit a couple of personal goals in the process. But, I feel like I still have a long way to go.

I would like to lose another 30 pounds to reach my goal, and yes I have 30 pounds to lose, which leads me to the theme of this post. I believe that throughout my life I was never fully confident about how my body or face looked. Yea, I act like I am super awesome and most of the time I believe that, but sometimes I feel less than awesome and unsatisfied with how my body looks or how I feel.

So, this is where the sappy stuff comes in ...

Today, I went to the local Y for my lunch break. I went on the treadmill to run/walk for a half hour. I just got back to the gym after a few years off, so it is more of a jog than a sprint. By the time 28 minutes had ticked down and the sweat was dripping from my forehead, the song switched to Lady Gaga's "Born this Way." I raised the speed of the treadmill to run and started to listen to the lyrics ...

"There's nothing wrong with loving who you are,
She said, 'Cause He made you perfect, babe,'
So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say ..."

As I mouthed along to the words, I felt myself starting to well up. I was running and crying, but not because I was in pain; it was because of the lyrics. The words were really resonating with me. I actually felt like Gaga was talking to me, which I think is the real point of her song. Weight loss isn't just a physical journey, it is an emotional one too. Ask anyone whose image in the mirror has been seriously altered. I've been there a few times in my life.

"I'm beautiful in my way,
'Cause God makes no mistakes,
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way ..."

Since day one of the challenge, I've been trying hard to get healthy and lose weight. I've lost a chunk so far, but no matter how heavy I think I am or what size my jeans are, there are still people who love me and depend on me. And, I am still proud of myself for putting this initial effort forth. I can be my biggest champ or my biggest enemy. It's my choice.

"Don't hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you're set,
I'm on the right track, baby,
I was born this way (Born this way) ..."

It's OK if I work my butt off and only lose 20 pounds. It's OK if I only go down one dress size. It is OK if I don't win the weight loss competition, but I won't stop trying, no matter my shape or size, this is me. Like it or not, I was born this way. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Splashing Around at Great Wolf Lodge

We planned a family trip for January to drive up to the Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun, Pennsylvania. Since the kids like splashing around, I thought they would love it. At the time of the trip, my kids were 4 1/2 and 1 1/2. Great Wolf was only two and a half hours away and the drive was rather easy. I remembered it well because it was also how I traveled to and from college.

On the way up, we stopped at the Red Robin that was about 10 minutes away for lunch. We met Carrie, Dan and Christian there. After the kids smacked us around with their free balloons that I unfortunately gave them before lunch instead of after, TK, the kids and I stopped at Giant for some groceries. I needed to get milk, bananas and frozen pancakes for the kids. I knew we would end up eating breakfast in the room, so I wanted to make sure I had something for them that could be microwaved and stored in the small refrigerator.

When we got to the resort, TK dropped me off to check in. There was no line, so I walked right up, got our bracelets and headed back out to get the bags. Luckily, they have little carts that you can pile your bags on to get them to your room much easier and quicker. The receptionist even gave us little wolf ears for the kids, so they put them on immediately and started howling.

Our room was a standard room with two double beds and a pull-out couch. We also asked for a pack-n-play for my daughter. I brought her sheets and a blanket from home. We knew our son would just sleep with one of us every night, so I only brought a blanket from home for him. Carrie and Dan got the Wolf Den room with a king bed and bunk beds in a little cove in the room. It even had a little television for Christian. The kids had a great time jumping around in there. It was really cute, but I didn't reserve that type of room because my children are daredevils and I didn't want to spend the weekend in the hospital.

When we unpacked, we took a quick walk to see the water park and amenities. It was wonderful to have our room on the same floor as the water park. It did get a little loud at night with kids running back and forth, but my kids sleep through almost anything, so I wasn't worried. Kids were playing a game with magic wands that had certain interactive stations around the resort. We didn't let Jackson play because he was still too little to run around the resort and it could get really expensive.

The water park had a section for little ones, another section for not-so-little ones, an indoor pool and big slides for big kids like us. We spent most of our time in the toddler section because Jackson and Christian loved going down the slides by themselves and Addison just liked standing in the water and pointing at the woodland characters that decorated the water park. I brought Jackson his life vest from home, so he was able to go from slide to slide with no issues. When we went in the pool, he did a great job floating and trying to swim. He pretty much loved every minute of Great Wolf.

At certain times of the day, the adults would break off into groups of two so we could enjoy the big slides. I screamed my head off and loved how fast some of them were. There was a nice variety of slides and we rode them in groups, so it was a great bonding experience. By Sunday, Paul, Kerri, PJ and Jenna arrived and we had more folks to ride the slides with.

For lunch, we brought food from the room to the tables that surrounded the water park. I ended up buying macaroni and cheese from the for my kids because they were inhaling the mac & cheese microwavable cups that I brought from home. I also had to buy a refillable cup and a soft pretzel. If there is a pretzel on the menu, I have to try it.

Our trip was for four days, so by day three, TK got bored watching Jackson go down the slides a million times, so we hit The Crossings Premium Outlets. We shopped at Under Armour, Converse, The North Face and Nike, but not before we hit Sonic for lunch. We find a Sonic during every road trip because who doesn't like shakes and burgers? I mean, there are no diets on vacation. The outlets were pretty empty too because it was a rainy Monday afternoon when we went shopping.

After Carrie, Dan and Christian left, we looked for some stuff to do that didn't include the water park. So, we went mini bowling and I took the kids to the souvenir shop to pick out one item each. We also had dinner at the buffet, which was completely empty. The food was OK, but there wasn't anything I especially liked. At the end of the night, we changed the kids into their pajamas for the dance party in the lobby. Jackson hated that, but Addison loved it. After Addison got bored, we headed back to the room. We were leaving the next day, so I went down to the pizza place to buy a bottle of wine to relax with and they even gave me a corkscrew to open it ... that I could keep.

We had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge and the surrounding area. We hope to make this an annual trip or a biannual trip because the kids had so much fun. Next time, I am bringing my own wine.

Things to know:
  • The refrigerator is a good size, so you should bring food with you.
  • The food on site is not great, so consider the surrounding restaurants for meals. 
  • Pack n Plays are available for the little ones. 
  • If your kid needs one, bring a life vest because they were abundantly available at some points and at some points folks had to search for the size they needed.  
  • Laundry rooms are available and to use a dryer, it's a quarter. The washing machines cost more.
  • There are no clotheslines in the bathrooms, so bring quarters.
  • The staff is very accommodating, so if you need something, just ask.
  • The Crossings Premium Outlets are close, so are Red Robin, Sonic, Longhorn Steakhouse, Chili's, Wendy's, Moe's and DQ.
  • There is a Starbucks on site, but they don't have the same menu as other locations, so there are no breakfast sandwiches. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Childless in Baltimore

Crab Dip Pretzel
In April, my husband and I took a road trip to Baltimore, Maryland to spend a long weekend together, and we left the kids with my parents. We left on a Thursday morning and I drove the entire time until we got to the hotel, and I sang 90s hip hop the whole way.

Our trip began at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor. When we checked in, our room was ready because we upgraded to a room with a better view. We could see all of Inner Harbor and the water out our window. We were starving, so we headed out toward Camden Yards. We stopped at Pratt Street Ale House and checked out their menu. We each tried a beer from their Oliver Brewery craft beer menu and then we shared a PSA Pretzel. I had the Cherry Blossom Ale and he had a Dark Horse and a Creator/Destroyer. The PSA Pretzel was covered in crab dip, and I thought this was unique, but it seemed as if every restaurant we visited had a pretzel with crab dip on their menu. I was not complaining because I love Old Bay seasoning and soft pretzels, but it was a staple and it was yummy.
Camden Yards

Since we had tickets for a 1 p.m. tour at Camden Yards, we had to go. We took the nice, short walk down the street. The stadium is built down into the city and has Eutaw Street running adjacent to it. The area was so clean and the tour was great. We learned a lot about Camden Yards and ballparks in general, like the fact that home plate has to face away from the sun so that the sun is never in the batter's eyes. I did not know that prior to the tour.

Bucket of Mussels at Phillips
After the tour, we stopped into Dempsey's which is a bar/restaurant within the stadium. I tried the Dempsey's Old Bay Summer Ale and it did have the taste of Old Bay, but it wasn't bad. We also tried their Camden Tenders with honey mustard for dipping. That was a good and quick bite. After our short meal, we looked around their team shop and headed back to the hotel to change for a night out.

We freshened up and headed over to the water taxi. The walk to the taxi stop was short and it was only $8 to travel on the water. We were able to watch the sun start to set as we traveled along the water to Fells Point. Fells Point is a historical area that has a lot of bars, cafes and cobblestone streets. We started out at The Wharf Rat and chatted up the friendly bartender. Blue Point was actually on tap and we were pretty surprised to see that. We had one beer and then moved on to the next bar, Max's. We heard good things about Max's. Their list of beers is extensive, so we sat at the bar for a while. First we ordered a couple pints and then we moved on to tasting glasses after we met some folks who told us that the mini glasses were a better way to get through the menu. I ordered sliders to get some food in my belly, and we headed out to The Horse You Came in On, a bar dedicated to whiskey. I am not a whiskey drinker, so I had a Hard Root Beer. Then, we stopped at one more bar, hopped in a cab and called it a night.
Beer Menu at Max's

The next day, we started out with lunch at Phillips Seafood. I had a New England Clam Chowder and a bucket of mussels. Since the aquarium was $40 per person and we don't go to the movies that often together and we don't go to the movies that often, we walked down to Harbor East and found the Landmark Harbor East Cinema. I knew we were getting close when I smelled the popcorn. Harbor East is a really nice area to shop and walk around too. There were several small cafes and shops, like J. Crew and White House Black Market. After seeing Batman vs. Superman, I would have liked to shop and walk around a little, but we had to head back for our reservation.

We had a reservation to take the B'More TGIF Cruise around the Harbor. We purchased a couple of beers for each of us beforehand, so we had tickets to hand in for them when we got onboard. It was a very relaxing cruise and we learned a little bit about the area as we floated along. When we got off the boat, we were starving, so we headed over to M&S Grill, a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant, which we love. I had Maryland Crab Soup and TK had Lobster Bisque. They were very good. Then, I had the Baked Stuffed Shrimp and he had the Sirloin. We were both very happy, and full.

Harbor East
Saturday started with us going for a drive to Target to get some things for our trip back on Sunday and lunch at Canton Dockside. My meal started with the Crab Bisque En Croute. It looked like a French Onion Soup, but instead of cheese, it was bread dough with Crab Bisque underneath. It was good and interesting, but by the time my Crab Cake Sandwich came, I was stuffed. On our way back to the hotel, we hit a lot of traffic. The light system is awful in Baltimore.

When we finally got back to the room, we dropped all of our stuff off, changed our clothes and headed out to the many bars that lined the water. We started at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. and had apps and drinks. We then moved on to Hard Rock Cafe and Dick's Last Resort. Everything was in walking distance of our hotel, so we enjoyed our last hurrah in Baltimore. When we returned to the hotel, I went up to the top floor to check out the pool area. There was a fire pit up there and a family had purchase the s'mores kit from the front desk and were enjoying their treat.

Crab Bisque En Croute
On Sunday, we drove home until we came upon a Cracker Barrel that wasn't completely packed and enjoyed breakfast, and a little shopping, of course. Cracker Barrel is always a must on a road trip. We had to make sure to buy my mom a Cracker Barrel gift card because we share a LOVE for that place.

Our weekend in Baltimore was great, but we have to get back and try all of the places that we missed, including Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, the Rusty Scupper, Potbelly Sandwiches and Bo Brooks. Next time, we may even take the kids. Maybe ...
Food Trucks in Inner Harbor