In 16 Hours, Charm City
While I gleefully rolled out of Melbourne at 6AM, I'll admit to feelings of trepidation. But, what a great feeling to be back on the road, even for less than 48 hours.
Like many of you I've spoken with, I imagined the drive from Florida to Maryland would entail empty highway stretches, perhaps limited gas stations, and arrival to an empty hotel. Quite the contrary, there were many people, from at least 7 states, heading north; the stretch from Daytona to Jacksonville felt like rush hour; and South Carolina was a truckers' domain. In North Carolina, my hotel hosted at least 20 guests from 4 states; and along the way, fuel was readily available, with Virginia winning the award for $1.39/gallon. I was pleased to arrive in my "state of residence," though the location hasn't fully registered, as I continue to be surprised by seeing Maryland license plates!
It's been a week in Baltimore, and while I'm very rested and relaxed, it will take another week to adjust to urban life (and the temperature). My home for 60 days is a delightful apartment with instant access to walking/biking the harbor promenade. So, while I am learning how to be an urban cyclist, I'm simultaneously feeling like a greenhorn as I adjust to using FOBs for doors and elevators, wonder how to clean laminate floors, and realize (after 72 hours) that I have an oven to bake pizza.
Thankfully, I know my way around the nearby neighborhoods of Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Canton, as my initial draw to Maryland was based on the TV series, Homicide: Life on the Street. Have you any doubt then, that my first long walk was revisiting both recognizable series locations, as well as a few memorable haunts from my wilder days? And, while I can't belly up to the bar at Bertha's, I will soon enjoy a take-out cappuccino from The Daily Grind.
I had many plans in place for spring that I've now let go of, and I refuse to ponder the plans I had in mind through fall, but I must move on in early summer. Decisions, decisions. In the meantime, lots to do here in yet another unique environment.
Never assume, it makes an ...
It has been a very long month in an Airbnb for oh-so-many reasons, including the fear of getting sick and stranded and seeking healthcare in Floriduh. When I booked the room, I made two assumptions, both incorrect. The first, that since I was renting the owner's room, he was gone, and the next, that since there were no Airbnb house listings, people were here long-term or not at all.
Instead, the reality has been that the greedy (hoax-believing) owner has been living in a back room, and somehow filling 4 bedrooms with a stream of people from various places. So, while I have a comfy room with my own fridge, so I don't have to go near the kitchen, I have been sharing a bathroom with 4 people, and it's been freaking me out. While demanding "social distancing" and avoiding all but one gal I know here, the daily routine of flossing and contact wear has become a great fear! Luckily, I love being dirty, so a weekly shower in flip-flops coupled with "bird baths" is just enough, thank you.
If you've seen Florida in the news, you know how utterly absurd it is here. I've stayed off the beach as there are too many people with no common sense. I've bulk shopped so I limit my market visits where no one is adhering to distancing and few are wearing masks. But, my daily sanity has been cycling and walking for hours in places where I have control. Yes, I've also been studying French, taking an online course, watching a few good TV series, and catching up with people, but living in one room has me pondering a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Nevertheless, it's day 27 and I'm healthy. Better yet, in just three days, I begin the long 2-day drive to Baltimore for a stay at a delightful apartment (solo!) with infinite thanks to "my Maryland family". So indeed, there will be another story!
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover