Crane in the Sky at Fleet and S. Central

Crane in the Sky at Fleet and S. CentralMonday was crisp and beautiful, and oh it felt good to get out on a bike ride! I had errands to run, so I took the Surly and pedaled down this hill to Harbor East for some groceries before heading to Canton for a much-needed haircut (though I got the $17 hair “cut” I paid for–oh well). I hadn’t been in this part of town in awhile, because the weather’s been terrible for biking, and when it’s good, I kind of just want to go to a circle ride freely around it–Druid Hill Park, Lake Montebello, etc. Everything’s the same, mostly, and it felt good to feel at home. Continue reading

Ivy Covered Ivy in Herring Run Park Near Belair Road & Parkside Drive

Ivy Covered Ivy in Herring Run Park Near Belair Road & Parkside DriveWednesday was my second anniversary in the fair city of Baltimore, Maryland, and I was in the mood to celebrate. How? By taking the bike out for a ride to see if we might get ourselves lost. It is amazing how quickly I can figure I can’t get lost anymore, and how quickly I can get lost again if I just take a slightly different turn. This day’s ride started with an easy pedal over to and around and around Lake Montebello, because for a minute I just wanted to ride without fear of cars, a song in my ears. I veered over toward Herring Run Park on the second lap, bouncing over the tree-rooted trail and along the water, surprised again that this is Baltimore and just a couple of miles from my house. I snapped this picture of layers of ivy covering over trees and bushes, everything growing all at once into a mass of lush green. Continue reading

Preparing to Pour Cement at Bethel & Fleet

Preparing to Pour Cement at Bethel & FleetIt was another gray day in Baltimore, and as soon as I got on the bike I felt raindrops. They weren’t the kind of raindrops that stayed–those would come later–and it felt good to just be flying down the hill in less than full summer heat. I rode down, took my left and my right, dodged some mail trucks, took another left and a right, and I was retracing familiar steps. I thought about why these familiar steps are never in the west–I blame MLK (the street, not the man)–and then I parked my bike and ate the kind of breakfast that you know you’re supposed to think is amazing, but really you shouldn’t have to ask that many times for a biscuit that’s more like a very, very plain crumbly muffin with jam that just doesn’t hold up. On my way I stopped to snap this picture of construction in Fells Point. It’s almost time to pour the cement, I think, the ground traced with steel bars. There are cranes in the sky down here. Every time I see cranes in the sky, I remember that’s what they said about New Orleans–there would be cranes in the sky, but that didn’t happen. Something else is happening there now. I walked down to the pier, sat and watched the water taxi come and go, and then it was back on the bike to the Inner Harbor and around to Locust Point for a couple of errands before a speedy trip home. Those last few miles were my favorite of the day, up and down, up and down, hitting my stride, waving my hellos.

Empty Storefronts in Baltimore’s Old Town Mall at Gay & Orleans

Empty Storefronts in Baltimore's Old Town Mall at Gay & OrleansI’m back in Baltimore, and after some cat-snuggling and email-answering it was time to head out on the bike. Oh, Surly, I missed you! We made a quick stop in the neighborhood for a sandwich before heading down the hill and taking a right on Gay Street for a slow trip through the abandoned Old Town Mall. This place is just a few blocks off the main downtown drag, but it might as well be in, well, east Baltimore. I snapped this picture while pushing my bike along, and it felt like a ghost town. I idly wondered if they might make this an Ole Tyme Ghost Town or Colonial Williamsburg-type tourist destination–what’s the difference? Or will it someday be that–urban disaster tourism, a la New Orleans? I continued along, saying my how-you-doins (I missed those–the west coast doesn’t share this neighborly ritual) and noting the couple of storefronts that have managed to stay open, and then I was back on a bike lane and pedaling along through east Baltimore and down to Fells Point to stare at the water and then heading to O’Donnell Square for frozen yogurt before heading home through Patterson Park and back up the hill. It just felt good to be out there and on the bike, good to be home. I really, really like this place, from the parks and bike lanes to the Old Town Malls–all of it.

View From a Pier Along the Gwynns Falls Trail Near Harbor Hospital

View From a Pier Along the Gwynns Falls Trail Near Harbor HospitalToday’s ride started early early, up with the sun in anticipation for the short ride to Waverly to meet J., C., and our new beehive! I spent a goodly portion of my childhood wanting to be a beekeeper, so when they asked if I wanted to go in on a hive together, well, that was a no brainer. We spent an hour and a half moving the combs from the home hive to our new one and then staring at the hive, wondering if the bees were ok, if the bees that were in the box would find their way home to the new hive, if there was a queen in there even though we didn’t see her, and just generally being excited about the appearance of bees on the scene. Continue reading

Property For Sale on Bank Street Near Caroline

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Today’s ride started at the bike shop for a new helmet, and oh my, what a pleasure it is to have a local bike shop. I tried on some lids and had a completely lovely chat about helmet philosophies and training diets (she prefers the ice cream program over my pizza plan) before setting off for a roll down the hill. I meant to go to the Kinetic Sculpture Race, a most wondrous festival of giant floats on bicycles, racing, but in spite of the obvious pleasure of that sort of event for a person like me, I just wasn’t in the mood for crowds. Instead, I biked down through Little Italy and up Bank Street toward Patterson Park. I snapped this picture of an empty and overgrown lot for sale just before Caroline. The part where this spot can exist mere blocks from the hyperdeveloped areas of Harbor East and Fells Point blows my mind, as a newcomer to the city, anyway. I didn’t live here when they decided to build so much public housing downtown, when all the rich people were taking the new highways to the booming suburbs. I live in Baltimore now, when there’s a reversal, and downtown is being developed as live-work-tourism space. I wonder what the city will do with areas like this, Perkins Homes, as the real estate becomes more valuable. For now, this spot is offered by Fells Point Realty, perhaps a sign that that neighborhood’s creeping north. The way things look now, I will be here to watch those developments. The rest of my ride was all a marvel at wispy clouds, ridiculous blue skies, brilliant greens, and a traffic jam of bikes on the Fallswat heading home. Yep, spring is here. Lucky, lucky us.

Scrap Metal at Cambridge Iron and Metal Recycling Center at O’Donnell & S. Haven

Scrap Metal at Cambridge Iron and Metal Recycling Center at O'Donnell & S. HavenFinally, I had an afternoon free enough to ride a bicycle around, so after work and talk and work, I took the Surly out for a ride. We went down the hill with traffic and then a left and a right and a left again to Fells Point and past all the new construction, gravel pits ringed by facade walls saved for history. A quck snack and I was off again, toward Patterson Park for loops with seemingly all the dogs and babies in Baltimore, plus soccer and softball and kickball leagues, all divided by age and race and income, it seemed. I headed east through Highlandtown and the dead end at Haven Street, which leades to all the really good stuff, like this, piles and piles of discarded metal bits and sheets, from what, I’m not sure, but cameras are watching, so don’t even think about it. I went under an underpass, no idea where I would shoot out, and rode around a development ringed by its own gravel pits, surprised to find the kickball demographic there. We had talked in my class that day about how places are temporary resolutions of struggle, and I wondered what will happen as that demographic hits up against the manufacturing corridor, and who will have to move where. I’m guessing the heavy metal that has been piling up since 1909 will be a hard limit, but you never know. And then I was in Greektown, found again. I pedaled back toward home on signed bike routes and a date for pizza with friends, happy to have been lost, if only for a short bit. Getting lost feels like home, and its good to be here.