View From the East Side of Lake Montebello

I had a super long day at work, including a frustrating last hour and a half–it’s hard to advise students who haven’t been given the space to develop discernible interests–and the last thing I had the energy for was a bicycle ride. I had some errands I had to do, though, and they were all within a 2 mile radius, so there I was, on the bike–it’s just faster that way. Continue reading

Litter Pooling in the Tiny Lake in Patterson Park

As the guy stopped next to me at the light on 25th & Guilford said, 15 degrees cooler makes it almost fun to ride our bikes again, and it did. I headed out to run an errand and then just kept riding, enjoying the feel of a regular summer day. I zipped down the hill and over through Little Italy and Fells Point, through Patterson Park and over through Canton to Brewer’s Hill for some iced tea with my writing. Continue reading

Smoggy and Cloudy Skies Over Downtown From the Druid Hill Park Reservoir

Today was the day I’ve been waiting for, the day when it’s supposed to cool off a little bit, but then it started to look like we’d have to wait until tomorrow for that, but when I looked at the weather report, it was only 95 degrees out there, so yeah, that’s a cool down. I grabbed the Surly and headed to Hampden for a fancy brunch and errands. Continue reading

The Old Mechanic Theater Near Charles Center in Downtown Baltimore

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Friday’s ride took me out in impressive heat to tag along with E. and C. for a test ride of Baltimore Heritage and Bikemore’s new urban renewal history-by-bike tour. E. and C. are just my kind of nerds, proven again as we all donned our helmets and took the lane on a pedal from Mount Vernon Square down to Shot Tower, over through the squares of the business district, over to Lexington Market, and up to State Center at Eutaw and Lafayette where I got to learn more about the building that reduced me to tears trying to find a way in. I learned a ton, and you will too if youtake the ride on a hopefully cooler day in late August. A couple of highlights for me: urban renewal projects often had their roots in much, much earlier urban planner fantasy worlds, but now federal funds were available to make them come true, which also helps explain some of the truly outsized results~see, for example, the ginormous main post office in what was to have been the Shot Tower industrial park. I also learned about Brutalist architecture, and what happens when money dries up before the building’s done~hint: now it really is just stacks of concrete. I took this picture at Mechanic Center, of the old Mechanic Theater that will soon be torn down. Rumor was Mr. Mechanic bought out all the old theaters and closed them to direct traffic to his place, but it wasn’t quite so planned as all that. When he couldn’t fit a helicopter on stage for Miss Saigon he had his own comeuppance, and the Hippodrome was born. Or something like that. His theater is on its way down to make room for another round of development as the city continues to try to figure out how to rebirth itself. Hopefully it will leave at least traces of its past, as in the last round that kept buildings like the ones in the background of this picture. The other thing I learned is something it’s hard not to know if you bike around this town and pay a teensy bit of attention. Urban renewal was also about renforcing and enabling even more impressive forms of racial segregation. I thought about that at our most bustling stop on the tour: the transit station at Howard & Lex. There are lots of calls to revitalize the Westside, but to these eyes it looks pretty vital, the street full of people, but maybe not the sort of people city planners want bustling around the city center. This stuff has long, old roots, and the drug war is an old, old alibi. I don’t think we’ll solve the heroin and cocaine problem in this city by building a Superblock over there. But I digress. It was a great tour that taught me whole bunch of new stuff I need to learn about. And old stuff, like bring a lot more water than you think you need on a day as hot as this one, and yes, sunscreen works.

Looking Up at Redwood & Light

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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Mid-Atlantic’s having something of a heat wave. All these day at or near 100 degrees can wear on a girl, but I have decided that the best thing to do is hydrate and pedal slowly~it’s still better than getting in a car. Thursday’s ride took me flying down the hill (when they warned me about hills, they forgot to tell me how awesome that part is) to Federal Hill for a massage and then a trip to the wine bar with A. for a good ol’ 1% afternoon. the heat’s not really an issue on the downhills, so I had plenty of ire saved up for the FOUR vehicles parked on the bike/ped path around the Inner Harbor. I grr’ed my way around and then granny geared up the hill and over for a long cooling session in the Harris Teeter. After a positively lovely conversation it was time to head home, this time under ominous clouds with strong winds. The sweat was pouring by the time I stopped at the light at Redwood and Light. I looked up and snapped this picture; from this angle it almost looks like we live in a big city. Back on the bike, back up the hill, a quick stop to snag S. from the outdoor concert at Mt. Vernon, and on to home, another steamy day of cycling for transportation done. It really is a better way to go, even if it does mean more showering.

Learning About the Fort McHenry Wetland at Fort McHenry at the End of Fort Avenue

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I woke up this morning to a day with absolutely nothing scheduled. I can’t remember the last time that was true for me so I felt just a little giddy about it. After lazing about in bed for awhile and reading about World War I war memorials (fascinating stuff, really), I hopped on the bike and tooled around Baltimore to see how we were remembering a different war. It was really hot out and the streets were virtually empty as I sped down the hill. It’s rather ghostly when it’s like that, but I must admit I love flying through the streets with only a tiny worry about cars; I just love how riding a bike makes my body feel, all hugged close by wind I help make. I took my turn around the inner harbor’s new bike lane, groused to myself about all the cars in it~why do they need *everything*~ and turned to Federal Hill where I caught the first parade of the day. There was drum and fife, stiltwalking, vintage cars, and then everybody from the neighborhood in red, white, and blue strolling along. I wanted a little more music to really call it a parade, but I put ny bad attitude in my pocket, ate the grape tootsie roll pop I caught from the Grand Marshall, and got back on the bike to track down the dog parade at the American Visionary Arts Museum. I had missed the parade, but I settled in for the pageant and groused about how many winners had store bought costumes and how I think that’s not really in the spirit of things. I shoved my bad attitude back down and made my way to Fort McHenry after a quick stop for lunch. I did a loop around before heading into the air conditioning. I took this picture of the view of the new man-made wetlands around the fort. Apparently there used to be wetlands all over Baltimore, but they were destroyed when they got in the way of industry and were blamed for disease. After the Key Tunnel was built these wetlands were installed to grow back. It’s a similar logic to that inside the museum, remembrance and preservation, but of nature. Or maybe “nature.” I did a quick tour of the fort, watched some more drum and fife, and then I was on my way home, pedaling slowly through the giant oven that is the city right now. It was a most lovely day, but I would like to request a cooling trend so that a short ten mile ride through the city won’t leave me a wilted flower.

View of a Creek off Guyton & Bottom in Gunpowder Falls State Park

My dear friend S. has been in town visiting from New Orleans, which means everything feels like home, even though I’m not riding my bicycle (though this might be a good reason to get a tandem). We’ve spent time driving and walking, and today we did a little of both. S. drove us out to Gunpowder Falls State Park for some easy hiking and a session sitting ourselves in the cold waters of a creek that I swear is flowing the wrong way. Continue reading