Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Annapolis and College Football

We finally got the boat back! We finally got the boat back!

So, she was out of the water for many weeks. We usually plan repairs for winter months but sometimes the boat has other ideas. It should never have taken as long as it did to replace the bellows but there was an earthquake, and a hurricane, and a tropical storm, and rain, and rain, and rain, and rain... you get the idea.

Doug picked her up last Friday afternoon and we left for Annapolis early Saturday morning. The Chesapeake Bay is still a bit of a mess. We kept our eyes open for debris and slalomed a bit during the hour trip. With an iffy weather forecast and knowledge about the bay conditions, the only other boats on the water were die-hard fishermen. The result -- water that was like glass.

We scored a prime docking spot in Ego Alley at the very end. I love people watching from the boat, especially in Ego Alley. One small issue with this particular spot in Ego Alley - the ducks! What? Is Julie really complaining about an animal? Well, a bit, yes. The ducks are cute and everyone wants to feed them. That's great. But when your boat is right next to their dinner zone, the ducks seem to think that your swim platform is a great place to hang out. Even that isn't all that bad. The issue - ducks doing what ducks do after they eat - on your swim platform.

But we couldn't sit on the boat all day. We had come to Annapolis to watch college football. We walked to one of our favorite outdoor bars, Pusser's, and settled in for a good game. I realize that "College Football" is part of the title of this post but the game was so bad I simply can't discuss it. At least the Lime Pepper Barramundi Wrap was completely worth it. We also had a couple friends drive down to spend the day so we had a great time (even if the Terrapins threw the game away).

After dinner at Middleton Tavern (a little pricey but great location), we walked to one of our other favorite places in Annapolis - Aromi d'Italia. This place has some of the best gelato we have ever found. We were completely unprepared to see this:

an eviction notice! We've been coming here for years! I peeked in the windows and the gelato coolers were completely empty. I don't think there is any hope that this is a mistake. Maybe someone else will buy the space and open another gelato place? Please?

One final thought on our trip - As we were walking around the docks, we came across these two boats:

Do you think one was purchased during a bull market and the other during a bear market?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tourists in Our Hometown and the Baltimore Grand Prix

This past weekend we moved our boat to BMC Harborview for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. My parents came into town and bought tickets for the four of us for the three day "Festival of Speed." Sure, we could have stayed in our own marina, but this marina was easy walking distance to the Inner Harbor (less than a mile). We felt like tourists in our own town. We rarely go to the Inner Harbor anymore. Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend that any visitor to Baltimore go there. It's beautiful; the city has done a great job revitalizing this important area. We just normally stay closer to home and less packed restaurants.

The walk to and from the marina was like a dream. There is a well-lit, safe-feeling walkway along the water between the marina and the harbor. I wish I had taken a picture of this walkway. I think there are (hopefully) still plans to extend the walkway further around into Harbor East, Fell's Point, and Canton.

We were definitely placed on the right pier at Harborview. The boats on E pier were rockin! Everyone was out being social and we had a great time. Plus, how can you go wrong with a Baltimore icon as a nightlight:Another plus for Harborview, it's walking distance from Little Havana. When I say walking distance, I mean 2 blocks. For those of you who don't know, part of The Replacements was filmed in this bar/restaurant. For non-movie people, the cuban inspired food is good and the atmosphere is delightfully unsophisticated. We went for dinner one night and snagged a prime outdoor table. Try this locals joint next time you are in town.

A highlight of the weekend was a stop at the BMC Inner Harbor. We noticed a Maritimo docked there and decided to show my parents our dream boat. The owners were sitting outside on the boat so I walked over to explain why the four of us were standing there pointing at their boat. Debbie and her husband were so kind; they invited us onto the boat so I could show my parents the inside. It turns out that they spend half of the year in Annapolis near the Chart House restaurant. If I ever see their boat again I'll bring them a bottle of wine for being so gracious. As I often tell people "once you have a boat you are in the club," yet this was an above and beyond kindness from strangers.

And now, a posting from a guest blogger (my husband) with more information about the Grand Prix:

The Inagural Baltimore Grand Prix was a huge success in my point of view. It gave the racing fans and those just interested in the hype a first class view into Grand Prix racing. Friday started out a bit slow due to delays in getting the fencing up and finalized but gave the first glimpses into what we were about to expect in the following days. The drivers were a bit cautious on the new course but all seemed to indicate by the end of the day that they liked the course. We even got to see one wreck of a Porche that backed itself into one of the retaining walls.

One of the neat things about the Baltimore set-up was that the prep area for the crews was inside within the convention center. You could walk through and see all of the car preps and even some of the drivers if they were out helping with the cars or signing autographs.

On Saturday the qualifying and racing really started and so with it came more fans. The first highlight of Sat was walking around finding the car club section where there were hundreds of high performance cars on display.

The second highlight was the American LeMans Series race. It was very cool to see the different style cars (porsche, corvette, BMW, lamborghini, and prototypes) all racing at different speeds and in different classes. It was difficult to determine who was leading each class but we really enjoyed the race. I know my favorites were the two corvettes and patron sponsored lamborghinis.

On Sunday the races were on. Our day started out by watching the Indy Lights race where only about 1/2 of the field finished the race. Three of the cars were pushed behind the wall on the hair pin turn by the end of the race. It seemed like no one wanted to win the race as the 4 drivers who were in the lead near the end of the race all wrecked on their own and gave the win to the #2 car that spun out early in the race. Goes to show that you should never give up.

The day wrapped up with the IZOD IndyCar race which showed how truly skilled drivers can drive a difficult track without wrecking since the first 30+ laps were completed with no issues....then the 10 car back-up occurred right in front of us. I was so focused on what was happening that I forgot to take a live picture so had to settle for a photo of the replay TV display in front of us. The race ended with the favorite (Powers) winning and Patrick showing that if you stay out of trouble you can turn a horrid qualifying session into a decent finish.

If this has perked your interest and you are trying to decide on seats for next year...I highly recommend the hair-pin turn. You see the most action and the higher up you are the better. Our seats even allowed us to stand at the top some which gave some fresh air through a nice breeze along with a great view of the city being attacked by the local pirates.

Bottom line...if you have any interest in the amazing thought of cars going 200+ miles per hour through a city...then plan on a weekend next year to go to the race and enjoy what Baltimore has to offer.