Day 28-29: Baltimore
Baltimore is a whole different thing. We started off our Saturday morning by doing outreach in the just off Broadway in preparation for a street service and back-to-school celebration the following day.
From there it was off to Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." I've seen the original flag itself at the National Museum of American History, in Washington, DC, but being at the location helped me better understand what the lyrics of the song are talking about. (Because, I don't usually see "ramparts" and stuff.) The kids got to participate the the lowering and folding of the flag and we got to check off the only Historic Shrine in the country.
Fort McHenry Radical Score: 8/10
I already talked about Ice Queens' shave ice and the world-beating pizza at Angeli's. They were fuel for Sunday's street church.
Street-service day was frantic and fun in all kinds of different way. Getting all the chairs, sound equipment, instruments and people in place was the gretest four-block journey ever told. It was worth all that effort when we saw we had 150 Baltimoreans there to hear about the hope only Jesus can bring and celebrate going back to school with their new backpacks.
Day 30: Washington, DC
Anne-Marie and I had the privilege to go to DC for two days back in 2010, but the kids had never been. We did our best to tackle it in a single day. Here's what we did:
First stop was the National Museum of African American History and Culture. All of the Smithsonian museums are unforgettable experiences, but we chose to visit the newest one and it didn't disappoint. The injustice of slavery and exuberance of jazz music are captured in the same place and it's priceless. We stayed three hours until the ushers politely force us to leave. I could go back tomorrow and spend another three.
NMAAHC Radical Score: 9/10
We timed our visit to DC later in the day to allow us to walk the National Mall in daytime and after dark. All the museums were closed and all we got around to was the one, so it was endless photos and monuments. Here's a few:
Washington deserves a full two week of exploration. So far, I've given it three days of my life, but I hope to be back. We milked our stay amongst the lights of the Mall for as long as we could, then drove back for one more night in Baltimore.
The National Mall Radical Score: 10/10 (you gotta go to know)
Day 31: Leaving Baltimore / Philadelphia
We had to part ways early Tuesday, so we finished up laundry (more on that later), re-packed everything and pointed the Hyundai northeast toward Philadelphia.
Last thoughts on Baltimore: Being in this beautiful, historic city with all the challenges of poverty, substance abuse and gang violence was a powerful experience. It was an honor to share those things with Anthony and Erica after three years of being apart*. Vanilla lattes and Old Bay Bagels are on me next time, Erica.
Baltimore Radical Score: 7/10
|Did I mention how Delaware happened? (only pic)
Philly was the only city still masking up at the time of our trip and tight windows for all attractions were still being maintained for crowd control, so our trip took some planning.
We arrived in town before our timeslot for Independence Hall, so we wandered into Old City to enjoy cheese-whiz-free cheesesteaks at Sonny's. From there we stumbled around the cobblestone streets to Betsy Ross House. The story about the first flag is probably inventive fiction, so we skipped the expensive tour, but it was nice to see the traditional birthplace of America's flag. And we picked up a magnet, which is important (more to come on that).
We timed it so we would have time to visit the Liberty Bell--which is a self-guided tour--right before our visit to Independence Hall, which made a lot happen in a hurry. The Liberty Bell is just about as simple as it can be as far as actually seeing it. There's exhibits and videos and whatever else, but Nicholas Cage already explained all that stuff to us. We made a beeline for the Bell.
Most of these American icons are thousands of miles away from us, so we had to get dozens of photos. The thing I loved most about the Liberty Bell is how they positioned it so you could get Independence Hall in the background of your photo.
Liberty Bell Radical Score: 7/10
The Independence Hall tour is a must, not because the guide is going to tell you much more than you learned in sixth-grade Civics, but because it's the only way to be afforded the chance to stand in the same place as men as George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. I don't remember much that was said, but I got to look at the place that's in all the paintings.
Independence Hall Radical Score: 8/10 (glad I went at least once)
From all the super-serious history, we Uber'd to Midtown to go shopping and see the Love Statue. Then we made one of the worst decisions of the trip when we decided to walk more than a mile through the scorching heat to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We made it--and we even ran up the steps--because it's not about how hard you can hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin'.
LOVE Radical Score: 7/10 (I know very little about pop art, but this was fun.)
Philadelphia Museum of Art Radical Score: 6/10 (we didn't actually go in!)
Rocky Statue Radical Score: 57 Wins, 23 Losses and 1 Draw
Uber got a bunch of our money just so we could get back to our own car.
We pulled out of town late and got to our hotel near the Medowlands after dark. Our time in New Jersey was limited, because Manhattan was happening in the morning.
|New Jersey sign, but I parked too far away
*Since the time of our visit, our friends have moved back to Portland. I'm beyond proud of the work they pioneered in Baltimore and left in good hands.