Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, July 20, 2007

We slept in at the Ramada. It was nice to have a king size bed and have the air conditioning running all night. It was still 85° at 10:00 at night in Baltimore.

We drove over to Jen’s place near Fell’s Point, and then walked down to a local hangout, the Sip & Bite Restaurant. It’s really a small diner. It has a lot of character, but the food was just okay. I had a salad, a lettuce and tomato sandwich, and French fries. There were not a lot of options for vegetarians, let alone vegans. I suspect it’s one of those places that locals love more because of its funky charm than its food.

Jen then went with her boyfriend, Joe, to see his son’s play. But first, she dropped us off at Johns Hopkins Hospital. We went to say hello to Dr. Nguyen, who essentially saved the vision in my wife’s right eye. He got her into a study where she could get Avastin, a drug approved for colorectal cancer, but which shows great promise for treating conditions like “wet” macular degeneration. I won’t go into details here, because that’s not the point. The one time I went with my wife to Johns Hopkins for one of her treatments, Dr. Nguyen was back in San Francisco, where his wife is from. Ironic, isn’t it? I usually stayed at home with our children, while a friend of my wife’s would accompany her across the country for her hospital visits. So, while she spoke extensively about Dr. Nguyen I had never met him. Well, now I have. We stopped in the Wilmer Eye Institute, and Dr. Nguyen made time for us in his very busy schedule. By all accounts, he is a brilliant doctor and researcher, but my impression of him was that he is one of the warmest, kindest, most sincerely compassionate doctors I have ever met. He spoke with the two of us for quite some time, asking about my wife’s condition, updating us on some current research, and even sharing a recommendation or two for eating and sightseeing in Baltimore. I was glad to have met him finally and to share my gratitude for all that he has done for Kelley. He will always be an exceptional doctor and great man in my book.

We walked back from Johns Hopkins to Fell’s Point, which we walked around for a bit, then down to the harbor where we caught a water taxi over to Fort McHenry. We considered going to the National Aquarium, but it was such a beautiful day, sunny and warm without too much humidity that we decided to go to Fort McHenry. We ended up spending quite a while there. We went on a walk with one of the National Park Service rangers who gave a fascinating talk on the history of the fort. I knew it was famous for the flag still flying that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the “Star Spangled Banner,” but was unaware of the rest of its history, including during the Civil War and as a hospital around the time of the First World War

As a teacher and as someone who loves history, I learned a great deal, including details about the Battle of Baltimore and the War of 1812 with which I was mostly unfamiliar. But I think just about anyone would find a visit to Fort McHenry worthwhile. You can take a water taxi there, as we did, or you can drive because it’s on a peninsula.

Once we got back to Fell’s Point, I wanted a snack. I was going to need something to tide me over until we went out to dinner for tapas. We found Liquid Earth, which I had looked up on Happy Cow and VegGuide.

It is described in the Moon Handbook for Maryland and Delaware as “a deluxe juice bar that serves vegetarian and vegan sandwiches for lunch and dinner daily.” It is vegetarian and the menu includes a handful of vegan sandwiches. I ordered the T.L.T., which was vegetarian “bacon,” baby greens, tomato, and Nayonnaise on whole grain bread. It was quite good and such a delight after the dearth of vegetarian options so far on our trip.

I also had a smoothie, the Oxymoron, which was strawberries, bananas, two shots of chilled espresso and milk blended with chocolate syrup and ice. Of course, I got it with soymilk, and it was delicious!

My sandwich and smoothie hit the spot and I was all set until our late dinner.

After we hung out at Jen’s place for a while, we drove back to the hotel to freshen up. Then we piled into Jen’s car to head out for dinner. It took us forever to find a parking place. Apparently, there was some event called ArtScape going on and parking was at a premium. The lot and garage across from Tapas Teatro were both full. It must have been forty-five minutes to find street parking.

The tapas were worth the wait. There were a small number of vegetarian options, but they were all excellent. They had a Mediterranean mix of green olives, which were exceptional, asparagus, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. They had a special that night of mushrooms, which also were delicious. I also ordered gazpacho; it was good but not remarkable.

We were going to go dancing at The Depot, a club across the street near the end of the block. The play 80s music on Friday nights, but we were disappointed to find they were having a couple of live bands play that night, so no dancing for us.

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