Northern Baltimore City/Southern Baltimore County Hike

My friend Howard decided he wanted to arrange a city hike. He enjoys walking around the Northern part of the city in the tonier sections. This was a Mountain Club of Maryland event. I decided to tag along to offer moral support.

38 people showed up, for several of them it was the first time on a club event. Howard did an excellent job leading people through the suburban streets, down alleyways and foot paths. We visited the neighborhoods of Rodgers Forge, Roland Park, Evergreen, Sherwood and Homeland. We also got the tour of several educational offerings for Loyola College, University of Notre Dame, Boys Latin, Gilman, Roland Park School,and Johns Hopkins University. We returned through the very picturesque Robert E. Lee Park.

I came away with the impression that many people have much more money than I will ever have. I also believe that many people have to spend much more money and time supervising latino landscapers than me. Here are some pics:

Ocean City, Assateague, Layton's Family Restaurant, Maryland

I had a particularly stressful week last week and decided I needed to get out of town pronto. We all know that March comes in like a lion and ends like a lamb. I decided to force the lamb part of the equation and get back on my warm weather routine.

Ocean City, Maryland is about a 2 hour drive from Baltimore. I'm not much of a beach person but I wanted a mountain reprieve, besides one of my toenails is getting ready to fall off and I figured I would let the feet relax until that happened. So I headed to the ocean. OC is probably one of the ugliest beach towns there is on the planet earth. It has no trees, no charm and horrible architecture. Up until a few years ago it was ground zero for Maryland's graduating seniors and the local riff raff from Glen Burnie. But then, like the rest of the state, real estate prices started to sky rocket and the Arabs started blowing up airplanes so the rich started to see this place as a safe weekend haven.

Mind you, Ocean City, Maryland is still ugly. The good news is that due to its ugliness the big box retailers and chain stores have avoided the place like the plague resulting in an odd appeal as most of the restaurants, hotels and beach concessions are local homegrown goodness in a strange sort of way. Bobby Flay won't be opening up a restaurant here any time soon but you can get some very good Maryland-style meals here for reasonable prices.

I left for the ocean early Saturday morning and hit the beach for a quick 6 mile walk on the boardwalk. OC has about 3 miles of good people-watching boardwalk which runs parallel to a row of cheesy dollar-stores, teeshirt shops and temporary tattoo parlors. Although the sun was out it was a little on the cool side. After my walk I parked the minivan on a side street near the Convention Center and took a nap. My nap turned into a night's rest.

The next morning I woke at sun-up and went to Layton's Family Restaurant around 20th Street. I've never eaten there due to an addiction to the Dough Roller. However, the place was clean, the service exemplary and the food edible. I'd recommend it but I've only eaten there once.

I wanted to get some mileage out of my recently purchased Golden Eagle pass. The sad news was that I got to Assateague Island National Seashore early enough so that I drove right into the park without anyone noticing, nobody asked to see my parks pass. I decided to take a walk on the South Beach portion of the island, heading south. It was a beautiful day, rather cool. There were a few backpackers and an entire group of boyscouts camping in the group campsite.
Please note, it was very windy and cold yet the backcountry was occupied. Marylanders can handle cold camping weather without a second thought unlike out west.

I also noticed as I walked there was a large group of young people camping directly on the beach. I knew that this was probably a big NPS no-no. I got bored with the beach walk and headed inland where I saw a no-trespassing sign. It seemed like a great day to trespass so off I went. I discovered an abandoned house. Then I decided to have some fun with no not that kind of fun. I tried to get myself as disoriented as possible and find my way out of the woods with no GPS or compass. I got completely lost in the marshlands and tall grasses, it was early so I wasn't worried. From the position of the sun I made an edumacated guess which was was east and found the ocean without a problem.

Unfortunately, when I walked out of the marshland I found some rather unhappy looking rangers hovering over that sorry group of young people camping on the beach. One of the rangers had the kids' cases of beer and it didn't look like he was going to give them back. I took a few pictures but I couldn't get too close to the situation, these were the type of rangers who had guns. Between the underaged drinking, the camping where you weren't supposed to camp and, most likely, driving around on the beach without the $70.00 ORV pass, these young kids were probably in for big big trouble, I felt pity for them, they were in desperate need of Cham's short course on Effective Rule Breakage.

2006 Baltimore Marathon Route

For the last two years I have walked the Baltimore Marathon route alone. This year I decided to make it a hike through the Mountain Club of Maryland
and see if anybody wanted to take on this project with me. Although a few people called to find out about the hike, they seemed to back away from the 7AM start time and enthusiastic pace that I expected. Two people showed up, Howard and Mike.

We met at Rallo's for a hearty breakfast and strategized about our plan. The two men agreed to my West Side, East Side and South side loop idea. We would walk the marathon but in a different order than the actual race. Since both men were accomplished runners and hikers, we were able to start out our day at a brisk 5 miles per hour. The morning proved peaceful in the city and we were able to knock out the West Side by 10AM. We then headed over to the East Side where we noticed that the outdoors was quickly getting populated with, well, everyone. The temperature reached an unusual high today of nearly 70 degrees, people were acting like a groundhog to see their shadow and dress in their summer atire.

Things were going well until we (me) failed to make a turn onto Linwood Street taking us about a mile out of our way. Mike and Howard were not pleased, but since they had both lost their maps that I had supplied to them so graciously I did not acknowledge their smart-aleck remarks. I (we) decided that since we had gone more than a little out of our way we would eliminate the extra mile on Hillen Street near Lake Montebello. In the midst of our heated discussion on the matter a nice lady stopped us and asked us if we were lost since we were looking so intently at the (my) map. She implied that she was concerned about our paler complexions as being a little different than the darker complexioned inhabitants of the areas. She said, "You do understand you are right in the middle of THE HOOD!" We thanked her for concern and explained about our quandry and that we were not lost at all.

Howard had mentioned beforehand that he only wanted to do about half the hike but he valiantly kept up with mine and Mike's rather fast pace. We ate lunch at the Charles Village Pub and took some painkillers for the walk home. Both Mike and I started to experience blisters all over our feet and were enjoying the sensation of having them pop and soak our socks with bodily fluids.

We (me) decided to head through the harbor on our way back to South Baltimore over Howard's objections. Hindsight being 20/20, Howard had a point. It was around 2PM and everyone in the tri-state area had descended on the Inner Harbor to enjoy the lovely weather. We made our way through the crowds with Howard scowling.

We got back to Rallo's to drop Howard off at his car, he had walked an unexpected 23 miles. Mike and I headed east to ambulate the Fort McHenry loop. The wind near the water provided a comforting breeze. I arrived home at 3:40PM, we had started at 7:40 AM and took an hour for lunch, so we walked the route(marathon routes are 26.2 miles) in 7 hours, rendering our average speed at 3.74 mph.

For more information on The Baltimore Marathon, go here.