Today’s ride took me down the hill to meet friends for lunch and then a walk over to Charles Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day parade (and no, I don’ t know why it was today). This is my third parade in Baltimore, and S. reminded me not to go in to compare this parade to New Orleans parades–they’re totally different things–and to see what fun I might get out of this one. I heeded this most excellent advice and leaned back on my heels for 90 minutes of Ancient Orders of the Hibernians, Irish dance teams, beauty queens, and bagpipers. I snapped this photo of the Baltimore Irish Northern Aid Society as they passed by, all smiles, their banner not nearly so smiley. This was the only explicitly political spot in the parade, though I’m sure the whole thing is political in one way or another. Today I didn’t really care–I was busy enjoying the warm sun, so warm it turned my neck pink, and a most delightful weekend, perfect, really. After the last vintage fire truck had passed, I walked my bike down to the end of the parade and then rode over to Fort McHenry to use the bathroom and get some water. That place was hopping today–summer’s going to be a whole different bag, isn’t it? I rode back toward the harbor and stopped at the Rusty Scupper for a drink and some basketball. Without the National Park Service, there’d be Rusty Scuppers ringing every beautiful body of water in this country, and that would be terrible. But as much as I’m surprised to admit it, I’m glad there’s this one–that cream of crab soup was one of the best things I’ve ever had in my mouth. I teared up while watching the NCAA men’s basketball selection show, and then pedaled my way back up the hill as the sun went down after 7:00pm. I’m sure glad I quit smoking 6 years ago today–I never would have even started that ride if I were still puffing away. Huzzah!