Friday, December 28, 2007

Overnight to Baltimore

As is quickly becoming tradition, we took a one-nighter on the day after Christmas. This has become a nice and relatively easy way to get away, for not much expense, and gets us out of the house after the holidays. The boys love to stay in the hotel, and we always have great food and fun.

This year, we decided to go to Baltimore, which is only about two hours away. Ed used his Marriott points to get us a room on the 31st floor (the Concierge Floor). The boys really enjoyed the high room with a spectacular view of the harbor below. (If you click on the picture at left, you will see a labeled version detailing all the places we visited.)

Even though it was raining as we arrived, we didn't let the weather deter us. We immediately toured a retired Coast Guard cutter, and Ed was happy to give us the tour, since he is intimately familiar with vessels like these from his days in the marines.

After touring the cutter, we had to warm up a bit in Becky's version of heaven--the largest Barnes and Noble bookstore ever. The bookstore is built in the old power plant, where even the smokestacks have been incorporated into the renewed architecture. While Becky, Eddie and Ed browsed the stacks, Luke and I warmed ourselves up with hot chocolates and Chai lattés.

Upon returning to the hotel, we checked out the pool before heading over to dinner at McCormick and Schmicks. This restaurant had the most excellent seafood! I had a San Francisco Seafood Stew (which is more commonly known as Cioppino), Becky had a Parmesan encrusted sole, Kathleen had rainbow trout, and Ed had salmon. Dessert was also exceptional, with créme brulé, raspberry cobbler, cheesecake, bread pudding, and an enormous fudge torte sundae. Unfortunately, I the lighting was really low, and I didn't get any good pictures of the food.

I was able to get some really nice nighttime shots however. The first one was taken from the restaurant, and the glow of sodium vapor lamps yellows the sky unnaturally. The other one was taken from the hotel room, and I think it turned out perfectly.

The next day, we breakfasted in the hotel restaurant before heading to the Baltimore Aquarium. The aquarium is always enjoyable, even if we see it at top speed when seeing it with the boys. I think they spend a grand total of 10 seconds on each display. I can't complain; I was the same way when I was a kid.

We did have some amusement at the cayman tank--during feeding time. One of the caymans got a little rambunctious and got tough with Luke, although Luke held his own pretty well.

The dolphin show held the boys attention pretty well, and we saw some excellent tricks and jumps.

We ate lunch at California Pizza before heading home. Later that night, Becky and I went to see Spamalot at the National Theater. The show was delightful and silly and crude, but totally enjoyable. Yet, with all that driving, we were pretty worn out by the end of the night.

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