Friday, December 24, 2010

A Maryland Christmas Eve 2010 -OR- Washington to Baltimore to Annapolis (and back)

A bright winter morning beneath a blue sky with the sunlight filtered through the bare forest along a stretch of Stevenson Rd., Severn, Md., 11:15AM, Dec. 24, 2010. I was in the car with my mom returning from the Lowe's.

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CLARIFICATION: This entry was initially written between 1230PM and 130PM yesterday -- on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2010, but I did not actually post it until over 24 hours later, around 3PM on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2010.

It was about my trek up to Baltimore on the train and then down to Glen Burnie on the light rail and then my night and Christmas Even morning with my mom and Ray, including at their place in Millersville.

My mom at the Chart House restaurant, Annapolis, Md., 3:34PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

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Later on Friday, I had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with my mom, Ray, and Gary at the Chart House in Annapolis and then an OK Christmas Eve itself back in D.C. with my friends. I say "OK" because it mostly just entailed me at Cobalt with the usual outcome. But I was there with a whole gang of friends -- Gary, Gerry, Kristof, and even LP.

The marina in Annapolis as seen from the wooden plank pier walkway to the Chart House's main entrance -- yes, the place is actually on a pier -- at 2:42PM, Dec. 24, 2010. The restaurant did not open until 3PM and it was frickin' gusty and cold on that drafty, rickety walkway.

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The Chart House interior, Annapolis, Md., 4:35PM, Dec. 24, 2010. Yes, that was a big man. And his companion had on a colorful red and green hat.

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I am including some of the Chart House dinner pictures EVEN THOUGH they were taken after I started this entry. I'm doing that because I already started this entry and uploaded the first batch of pictures and it would be too time-consuming to re-resize and recrop them from my Hotmail account and then re-upload them. It's easier just to do it this way.

The 6Z 25 Dec 2010 GFS showing MSLP, 850mb temps, and 6 hr precip valid at 0Z 27 Dec 2010 (7PM EST Dec. 26, 2010).

Lastly, the on again, off again, on again, off again snow event is back ON, sort of*, as the GFS has been consistent in its last few runs in giving the D.C./ Baltimore area a significant snowfall in the 4 to 6 inch range tomorrow into Monday.

*The 12Z GFS has just come out and it ISN'T as impressive for us as the 6Z run but I'll keep the above image anyway.

The weather models (GFS, NAM, EMCWF) have really been flip-flopping, and in the case of the NAM, in some cases it hasn't even shown an East Coast storm.

As it is, it now looks like there will be a major winter storm along the mid-Atlantic and into New England, where southeastern Massachusetts may get an outright blizzard.

OH, and as an afterthought, it's actually SNOWING lightly on CHRISTMAS MORNING here in Washington, D.C., as the first northern stream impulse swings through. This is NOT the main coastal low.

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From yesterday ...

This is a not-so-quick entry from my mom and Ray's place in Millersville, Md., where I spent last night as part of short Christmas time visit. I'm actually here for just a very brief visit -- I arrived yesterday and I'm leaving in a little while. We are going to Annapolis to the Chart House for a Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and Gary is joining us.

The MARC trains at Union Station, Washington, D.C., 4:00PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

I was hurrying to catch the 4:13PM MARC Camden Line to Baltimore. I got off work early -- at 2PM -- as the Federal Government and many of its contracting companies closed.

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So I managed to make it to Christmas while still being employed at my current job, which I actually like quite a bit. My worry is that things seem to be somewhat unstable there -- for reasons I don't want to go into now. Remember, if I lose that job, my D.C. life would pretty much be over.

The old and basically abandoned Washington Coliseum -- better known as the Uline Coliseum -- that was once home to the now-defunct Washington Lions hockey team and where concerts -- including a 1964 Beatles one -- were held in a crappy part of Capitol Hill near Gallaudet Univ.

I didn't even know it was called this but fortunately my old ADC atlas shows the place as red dot #7 on the downtown Washington inset. I always thought it would make a good night club venue.

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The MARC Camden Line train, car 7792, heading from D.C. to Baltimore, somewhere in a particularly forlorn stretch of "suburban Maryland" between the two great cities. Time: 4:31PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

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This is not a trek I have made for many years, but back in the 1990s, I used to do it quite often. The train slowed down (as it always does) as it entered a particularly blown-out section of southwest Baltimore called Carroll Park and Washington Village -- but that the locals refer to as Pigtown.

The MARC train -- lead engine no. 24 -- idling at the end of the line in Baltimore's Camden Yards located next to the baseball stadium on one side and the light rail stop of same name. The train tracks just dead end here on a separate line from the main northeast corridor route that the MARC Penn Line (to Baltimore's uptown Penn Station) and Amtrak trains follow.

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When I arrived, it was bitterly blustery cold (OK, maybe the air temperature of about 35F would not qualify as "bitter" but the wind was gusting to 20 - 25MPH and it felt frickin' cold) as I waited for a Light Rail to Cromwell Plaza in Glen Burnie.

The Baltimore skyline, as seen in a photo taken by my cellphone camera, from Camden Yards on a cold December night, 5:21PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

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Most significantly, though, when I stepped off the MARC train, there was the nearby Baltimore skyline with its illuminated skyline that what it lacks in soaring American city-style skyscrapers (the tallest building is the Legg Mason Building at 529 feet / 40 stories) it makes up for in an aesthetically pleasing "post-modernistic" eclecticism. The Wikipedia article is quite useful on this topic.

Here is a full daytime view of the Baltimore skyline from across the Inner Harbor.

For reasons I never fully figured out, when I used to take that train ride into Baltimore, and see its skyline, I would always think of the climactic scene in Logan's Run when the city computer asks Logan 5:

"Did You Find Sanctuary?"

And Logan 5 replies:

"There is no Sanctuary."

After a little bit of this, the city computer explodes, as does much of the domed city itself, opening up to reveal the post-apocalyptic, abandoned and overgrown world with Peter Ustinov's character -- which Logan 5 and his companion Jessica 6 found in an otherwise empty and reforesting Washington, D.C. (!) standing there, the first old person they ever saw.

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Baltimore.

I'll ride back with him and be in D.C. for Christmas Eve and tonight and we'll do whatever (probably Cobalt and another bar and then go to the tail end of midnight mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral.

Anyway, I had to wait in the freezing windy cold of early darkness for the damn light rail.

The MTA light rail actually has several lines including one that goes to BWI Airport station and another that runs on a spur to Penn Station.

Naturally, every combination came in those agonizingly long 20 minutes I had to wait except the one I needed.

The one I wanted was the main route that runs from Hunt Valley to Cromwell Plaza in Glen Burnie -- a distance of about 27 miles.

Here is the system map. Click on it for a larger readable version or go here.

The route I took follows a strange route through a blown out section of south Baltimore into northern Anne Arundel County, but I won't go into detail on that now.

The Light Rail system is really showing its age. It is vintage 1980s state of the art technology.

Even the destination displays are the "old style" crystal quartz rather than LED and you can barely read them. You also have to press a button to open the door even though the light rail has stopped.

Thank God the train operator said, "You have to press the button to open the door" through her intercom, rather than just taking off.

That's what the dreadful MTA #14 bus did as soon as I arrived at Cromwell Plaza. However, my mom and Ray were already there to pick me up and I didn't need that damn bus, which figured prominently into our lives back in the 1980s and early 1990s. I noticed, though, that MTA has some brand new buses.

Another Baltimore - Camden Yards view, 5:26PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

Camden Yards ... Hamburg Street ... Westport ... Cherry Hill ... Patapsco ... Baltimore Highlands ... Nursey Road ... North Linthicum ... Linthicum ... Ferndale ... Cromwell/Glen Burnie.

These stops, especially those in South Baltimore, are so ghetto nasty. And the light rail system itself looks like it has aged about 80 years in its 18-1/2 year operational existence.

An ad for MTA's new "CharmCard" -- Baltimore's equivalent to Metro's SmarTrip -- using the legendary Baltimore "hon culture" imagery, except it really is more a working class Irish - Scottish - German American (white) thing than a black one, this ad not withstanding.

Here is a better view of the two "hon characters" in the ad campaign taken from the Website screen shot.

I was on the drab, fluorescent-lit light rail car #5015 passing through the gusty cold winter darkness in some forgotten south Baltimore purgatory. Oh, yes, and on the other side of the car was for a Fred Frank Bail Bondsman -- 1% DOWN! 1% DOWN! 1% DOWN!

I remember when the Light Rail opened and how new it seemed.

The bar at Bill Bateman's Bistro, Severna Park, Md., 6:49PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

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Anyway, the three of us rode down -- on a route I had not traversed in some places in about a decade -- to Severna Park. We stopped at Bill Bateman's Bistro, which, despite the name, is more of a sports bar than a bistro. We had a holiday drink or two and then went to Ledo's in the same strip shopping mall to Ledo's. Then we came back to Millersville.

The bar at Bill Bateman's Bistro, Severna Park, Md., 7:51PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

The guy by himself at the bar in the Santa hat was all alone and seemed to be falling into a happy boozy haze.

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I slept in the front room of the trailer. It was quite dark in their and didn't realize it was already 10AM when a ray of sunlight pierced the thick curtain and I finally got up. Of note, I had not been there in 2 years.

Here is the front room, quite cozy in its way, Millersville, Md., 10:07PM, Dec. 23, 2010.

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This morning, my mom and I went to the Lowe's in Severn -- there are just SO MANY big box retail stores in Glen Burnie and environs -- so I could buy a new box fan and larger plant holder for my Gold Dust Croton, which has gotten sooo big in the past year. The Lowe's was not mobbed, unlike the nearby Wal-Mart.

The Lowe's in Severn, Md., 11:00AM, Dec. 24, 2010. That is my mom in the white.

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Oh, yes, I also bought her a pack of two compact fluorescent light (CFL) light bulbs, 13W which are equivalent to the 60W old incandescent bulbs. These are the first CFLs she has had. I explained how the old "legacy" incandescent bulbs will be disappearing in a few years (due to EISA 2007 and its new energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs).

This is my mom's clothes rack. It is at least 30 years old -- and quite possibly 40 years old. It's an old, rickety wooden thing that is barely standing anymore and is held together with some tape. Place/time: Millersville, Md., 12:02PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

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Here was Kellie Pickler on the television singing "Santa Baby."

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Ray and my mom heading outside their place, Millersville, Md., 1:46PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

We were heading to the Chart House (where we met Gary) in Annapolis.

The big space ship looking water tower off East - West Blvd. in either Severn or Severna Park, Md., 1:55PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

These weird ellipsoidal shaped water towers elevated on a giant central shaft and smaller legs seem to dot northern Anne Arundel County.

The campus of St. John's College, Annapolis, Md., 2:16PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

St. John's is this weird ultra-liberal deconstructionist-everything tiny academic bastion in deeply conservative and wealthy Annapolis, a counterpoint to the dominant Naval Academy culture.

The giant 400+ year old Liberty Tree on its grounds is long gone but I remember it.

Gary at the Chart House, Annapolis, Md., 4:21PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

I'm surprised the Chart House doesn't regular suffer storm damage given its location ON a pier raised only about 5 or 6 feet above the water and whole walls that are mostly windows.

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The Liberté boat docked next to the Chart House, Annapolis, Md., on Christmas Eve dusk, 4:27PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

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This was about as good a picture of the outside of the Chart House in Annapolis that my cellphone camera would take, 5:15PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

After dinner, Gary and I drove back -- in VERY quick, traffic-free time -- into D.C. and my mom and Ray went back home.

The Kristin Soars dingy parked alongside the Chart House pier at dusk in Annapolis, Md., 5:16PM, Dec. 24, 2010.

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Here are two more pictures I wanted to post ...

My plush animals snug in their place.

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View from my Hampton Court apartment, Washington, D.C., 8:12AM, Dec. 23, 2010.

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And with that, I will wrap up this entry. I will write more about the snowfall if indeed it happens. We are under a winter storm watch for tomorrow.

That's all for now. Merry Christmas.

Ho Ho ho.

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UPDATED 4:56PM 12/25/2010:

OK, I had to update this ... not only are we under a winter storm warning in D.C. and points east (west and northwest of the city is just a winter weather advisory) but the New York City area is under a full-fledged blizzard warning. On Christmas Day. That has not happened in the modern times -- by which I mean since the NWS has existed in its present form.

Here is the Mount Holly/Philadelphia County Warning Area (CWA) map but it also shows the New York City and Sterling (LWX) areas, the latter including the Baltimore/Washington region. This is valid as of 3:54PM Dec. 25, 2010.

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There was the 1909 Christmas Day snowstorm but I don't know if the Weather Bureau back then issued those types of warnings. Anyway, the forecast for our area calls for 3 to 7 inches of snow in the D.C. area -- on average 5 inches -- and about 10" along the axis of the Chesapeake Bay.

Here is the graphical forecast. Source here (this map may change).

All this is subject to change.

--Regulus

2 comments:

fifi said...

Merry Christmas to you Regulus.
It looks as if you had a good day, restaurant looks lovely and even if it was freezing the blue sky looked beautiful.

I hope you are not now buried under and avalance or frozen solid to the footpath outside, poised with your key towards the door.

Christmas day here waS WONDERFUL, AS SYDNEY WAS POISED BETWEEN TWO RAINFRONTS AND miraculously avoided rain. Perefect blue sky, just like you.
nasty ever since though.

Anyway, seasons greetings to you.
love Fifi.

Regulus said...

Thank you for your nice comments, Fifi. And it is very nice to hear from you.

Yes, Christmas Eve was quite nice.

However, as you can see in my new entry, D.C. missed ALL the real snow and was left with basically nothing.

Also, while I'm happy the weather was good for you for Christmas -- and I think the concept of Christmas in summer would be the weirdest thing for me of all were I to visit Australia that time of year -- I sort of prefer rainy weather.