In preparing/babyproofing for our arrival, Anicia inquired as to whether or not Juniper would be interested in viewing, touching, and eventually smashing a glass shelf full of ornate antique decanters:
"Can your TINY DAUGHTER walk/pull herself up on shit? If so maybe I should move an unsecured glass-shelved shelving unit that holds glass bottles. That's basically baby kryptonite."
"TINY DAUGHTER is a menace and can/will pull herself up on shit. Glass shelves and bottles will be an irresistible enticement."
Anicia then sent a picture and I followed up on my response:
"Dude, that glass is so delicate looking that I want to smash it! (I tested it on Juniper too. See attached.)"
When we arrived, the bottles had migrated over to the mantle.
And TINY DAUGHTER was free to roam.
Otis was showing symptoms of being cooped up, so Anicia and I took him on a little walk over to the Johns Hopkins campus where we picked up some aquarium passes from Anicia's buddy. (It was very clear that this campus has a lot more money than my campus.)
The men themselves: Johns Hopkins(es?)!
As is her wont, Anicia had prepared a colorful activity sheet, chock full of in-jokes and fun stuff to do around town!
And we were off! With Anicia deftly piloting her old Volvo Tank through Baltimore's winding tunnels, we soon found ourselves downtown.
For our first adventure, we decided to visit one of the city's most famous residents. This empty bag of Lil Yachty Rap Snacks is not long for this world...
MR. TRASH WHEEL!!! I'd seen a few videos of this guy years ago, but never thought I'd get the chance to see this ravenous motherfucker in person!
This True American Patriot eats all the trash floating down the Jones Falls River before it gets washed out into the harbor. The water wheel powers a conveyor belt which scoopes up the trash being funneled into his mouth and drops it into a dumpster. (I think there are solar panels too, for when there isn't enough current.)
Lotta bricks in this town.
Otis and I climbed up the weird round lighthouse at Seven Foot Knoll and spotted the girls down below.
I was pretty excited to see Mr. Trash Wheel, but watching a slow-moving water wheel wasn't going to keep the kids entertained all day. So, off to the aquarium, our reel destination! (GET IT?!)
We started seeing fish before we even got inside! These little dudes were all hanging out next to the wharf outside.
Jellyfish? Or bubbles? Otis investigates.
Sarah pets a prehistoric aquatic beast.
More bubbles! (I think this was in one of those inter-tidal tanks, where they have fake waves to trick the anemones into thinking they're at home.)
The gang inspects a coral reef.
The Baltimore aquarium isn't just an aquarium. There's a freakin' rainforest on top. And there are rainforest animals in the rainforest! We saw a sloth and also this noisy little bastard. Loudest bird I've ever heard.
That name can't be doing wonders for this little guy's self esteem...
We saw a group of folks that looked just like us. Several in fact. (This reminds me of that scene in Yellow Submarine, where the Beatles look out the porthole of the eponymous vessel and see an identical vessel carrying identical Beatles.)
June, Sarah, Anicia, and Anicia's ponytail, silhouetted in front of the deep water tank.
A couple of weird, bald fish.
This aquarium had sharks. Big ones. It was neat to see them up close, but the tank was way way too small for these guys. I felt a little guilty just being there.
Jellyfish for dessert! How do they keep track of those tentacles?
A mushroom in the cosmos...
Walking back to the car, we took a little detour.
Anicia had her priorities right: a list of kid-friendly bars/breweries occupied a prominent position in the abovementioned activities sheet. Here we are at the Waverly Brewing Company. Otis learned how to play Battleship...
...while Juniper collected bar germs.
With a bolstered immune system, June grew to ten times her original size! She set her sights on an unsuspecting Mom and Otis, who had begun picking at some leftover tacos.
Noticing the orientation of the lighthouse on Anicia's hat (and assuming that the depicted wave had to be Steamer Lane), I told our host that the picture was printed backwards. But upon further investigation, it seems to be right. My memory failed me. For some reason, the tower is set on the inland side of the building and this view is looking east, toward Lighthouse Point instead of west as I had assumed. Sorry, Anicia. I was wrong!
We never made it inside the science museum, but we did check out their little mobile exhibits on the lawn outside. Here, Otis prepares for a lucrative and practical future career in plumbing!
The real attraction, however, was the nearby splash pad. A much needed respite from the Oppressive Maryland Mugginess!
Juniper is hot and sweaty.
This EXTREMELY TASTEFUL statue of George Washington sits atop an EXTREMELY TASTEFUL tower, right next to the Peabody Institute (where Anicia teaches). Although you can't tell from this photo, the tower is a towering 178 feet tall.
Otis wasn't feeling too great for much of this trip. (He often gets sick when we travel.) Here we find him comforted by a luxurious bed of Mom on top of an air mattress.
For our last meal in town (before preposterously early flight back to JFK), Anicia took us to get some shellfish and ice cream in Hampden. The kids got restless before Sarah and Anicia were finished enjoying their dinner, so I took them for a walk around the neighborhood.
Otis told me what to photograph.
"Dad! Take a picture of that yellow rectangle!"
"Dad! Take a picture of those flowers!"
"Dad! Take a picture of thos stickers on that stop sign!"
Not sure what he was seeing here, but when the boss says "Take a picture!" I take a picture.
Otis didn't tell me to take this picture. I just thought it was nice that they put flowers in the mens room of our terminal at BWI.
With heavy hearts, we said goodbye to our dear friend. There was a squall at JFK that delayed our flight a little bit. But no big deal. Otis and I looked out at the jetway and the rain streaming down the windows and talked about our adventures!