Friday, May 11, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - Part 3

April 24, 2007

My 38th birthday was fabulous! Brian and I hit the road south to Baltimore, an hour away from Wilmington, Delaware, early and arrived at the Inner Harbor – a few blocks from Camden Yards before noon. The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, tourist attraction and landmark of Baltimore. The harbor itself is actually the end of the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River and includes any water west of a line drawn between the National Aquarium and the Rusty Scupper restaurant. The term "Inner Harbor" is used not just for the water but for the surrounding area of the city.
Brian had my birthday lunch all planned. A brief walk around the Inner Harbor first (it was sticky humid) and lunch at Phillip’s Seafood (check out the menu) www.phillipsseafood.com
We each had an amazing Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake with big huge lumps of crab meat. The best crab cake I’ve ever had (and I live in Dungeness crab country).

After lunch we walked over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It was the first, and thus one of the most highly praised, of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s. It is situated in a picturesque location, at the corner of downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor. Camden Yards is just a short walk from Babe Ruth’s birthplace, which is now a museum. Coincidentally, the location of his father's pub was where center field is currently located on the playing field.
Camden Yards is built at the former location of a major rail station; its name derives from the rail yards that were formerly on the site. The view from much of the park is dominated by the former B & O Warehouse behind the right-field wall. The stadium planners incorporated the warehouse into the architecture of the ballpark experience rather than tear it down or shorten it. The warehouse has been hit on the fly only once (by Ken Griffey, Jr. during the home run derby for the 1993 MLB All-Star Game).
At street level, between the stadium and the warehouse, is Eutaw Street. Along this avenue, spectators can get a view of the game or visit the many shops and restaurants that line the thoroughfare, including Boog Powell’s outdoor barbeque stand.
Brian and I walked around and took pictures for 2 hours before the first pitch trying to take in all the nooks and crannies of the park. The first pitch was at 3:05 and we sat in the hot sun 4 rows behind the first base bag - so close I could see the stubble on the face of the first baseman!
Camden Yards has a very intimate feel. I found myself staring at the B & O Warehouse – unable to believe that I was actually there. Still (in my opinion) Camden Yards ranks second to the major league ball parks that I have visited, behind Pittsburgh’s PNC Park which still remains #1.
The game against the Oakland A’s ended too quickly and with the Orioles losing 4-2. Soon Brian and I were back on the road and heading north to Delaware and looking forward to a nice dinner. Brian treated me to a birthday meal at the Iron Mill Brewery, on the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington - check out the menu for Wilmington location. www.ironhillbrewery.com (the pan seared scallops and shrimp with crab meat was AWESOME).
We ended the evening back at Kerry and Julie’s who surprised me with a YUMMY ice cream cake! A perfect ending to my perfect birthday! This vacation is going too fast!!


Stace