Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday's Suburban Maryland Tranquility Bay; In Memoriam to a Forgotten Mental Hospital

The life-affirmingly high spring green-cloaked tranquil yard just outside the house of my friend Chester located in Ellicott City, Md., 3:27PM, May 27, 2012.

As described below, I unexpectedly spent yesterday mid to late afternoon in suburban / rural Maryland in Howard and Carroll Counties yesterday.


Today is Memorial Day 2012. I am home since it is a Federal holiday and I have the day off from work. It is also hot, humid, and D.C. shitty outside with temps. already around 90F and dew points in the mid 60s to lower 70s Fahrenheit, giving a heat index well into the 90s Fahrenheit.

Here is the Sterling (LWX) NWS CWA map as of this afternoon, valid as of 349PM EDT.

I'm surprised WOODY! the Woodcock actually allowed a heat advisory to go into effect, since in pharisaical-style, we are not likely to meet the strict daytime definition of a heat index of at least 105F. 


Another tranquil view of Chester's yard, Ellicott City, Md., 3:34PM, May 28, 2012.


The highlight of my otherwise garden variety weekend, in-a-decades-long-endless, Washington, D.C., severely rutted life was meeting Chester yesterday in Mayland and going to his house in Ellicott City, then taking a walk along the freight train tracks and past an abandoned mental institution in a neglected part of Patapsco State Park, and finally having a pleasant dinner at a nearby diner.

Chester is a friend of mine from my meteorology graduate school days and a faithful reader of this blog. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and two children (a five year old son and a two year old daughter).

A pile of firewood along the back fence to Chester's yard in Ellicott City, Md., 3:33PM, May 27, 2012. He lives on a "woodsy" sidestreet off Columbia Road.

Both the setting and interior of house (which I did not photograph) was so peaceful compared to my D.C. life and setting. I forgot out peaceful it can be in the Maryland suburbs.


Here is a backyard fountain / miniature manmade pond on Chester's deck. There is a frog in the image at the edge of it next to a flowering water lily, half under a flattened rock.

Apparently, the total lack of winter weather last year caused a mini-ecological crisis with a runaway frog population that required intervention and transporting one large frog in particular to a nearby stream.



Chester and his wife M. also showed me the pics of what it was like during one of the three blizzards during the legendary winter of 2009 - 2010. The second blizzard was in particular worrisome for Chester as M. was a couple days away from giving birth to their daughter and it wasn't clear they were going to be able to get out to go to the hospital in time -- or, if necessary, if the 911 first responders would be able to get to them. Everything worked out well, though, and that situation did not arise.

As for me, I couldn't enjoy those blizzards, trapped as a 1099 "independent contractor" in the agony of the exploitative Bethesda Japanese turkey farm, itself a kind of intellectual sweatshop engaged in cheap research and, to the extent that it could, low-rent corporate espionage with illegal taping during rare interviews with industry reps or agency officials.

This was the sick place that Wall-P DEMANDED I remain at indefinitely.

"Eh. Eh. Eheheh. You were failing to add value to society. Therefore, failing that obligation, it was incumbent upon you --"

Ohhhh, shut-up, Wall-P, you thimbleful of corporate stoogery. 


Another view of Chester's tranquil, sunlit-and-shadowed yard in a placid green-cloaked suburban Maryland setting, Ellicott City, Md., 3:31PM, May 27, 2012.


A couple more driving images ... with tangentially related commentary ...

Here we were driving along Rt. 29 in Howard County approaching Ellicott City, 3:20PM May 27, 2012.

As the sign states, if you take this exit to Rt. 100, you will get to Glen Burnie, Maryland.

Glen Burnie, not only the Royal Family Jewel of Anny Runnell Kenny, Merlin ...

...  but also the 1980s Center of My Moral Universe and where -- although I am from New Jersey -- I spent a hideously unhappy and maladjusted high school period at shitty Glen Burnie High School, graduating in 1988.

I hate the memory of "GBHS" and will NEVER attend a reunion again (I attended either the 10 or 15 year event, I actually can't recall).

I also want to say how much I regret filling out the caption for my senior year book (which I long ago trashed) and having a "shout out" ("AUF WIEDERSEHEN!") to frickin' Kenny Burkman (we were in German class together), as if he were my friend when he was nothing of the sort. Of note, not one person mentioned me in their senior year book captions. Frig them.

I did enjoy, however, volunteering at the annual Big Glen Burnie Carnival event put on each year by the, yes, Glen Burnie Improvement Association with Mike and Luther ("ANCIENT G.B.I.A. SECRET, EH??") at the large food stand.


Sign for Baltimore, cropped image, location unsure -- somewhere in Howard County.


Forgotten Crazy and Sick along an Old Train Line ...

Thereafter, Chester and I then took a walk in a forgotten part of Patapsco State Park on the Howard - Carroll County line along an old freight train track and past an abandoned old mental institution and -- prior to that -- a tuberculosis sanatorium called Henryton State Hospital.

The Henryton Tunnel along a line of the CSX network (formerly part of the B&O line), approaching from the east end on foot along the tracks, Patapsco State Park, Md., 4:48PM, May 27, 2012. I think it is technically in Carroll County.

The tunnel was originally built circa 1850 and rebuilt in 1903 (the date carved atop the entrances). The train tracks and tunnel are still in use -- and apparently the tunnel has the distinction of being the third oldest train tunnel in the world still in active use (as considered from the original construction).

The place -- located in unincorporated Marriottsville -- is a bit sketchy because it is both abandoned / overgrown and yet so many local teenagers plus vagrants and addicts hang around the spot. On a hot day such as yesterday, there were 20 or so teens swimming in the nearby Patapsco River.

Above: The view approaching one of the larger buildings at the complex.

I guess there is more than a touch of the Blair Witch Project feel to the location. That too was set in Maryland farther up in Burkittsville.


Another view of the abandoned grounds of the Henryton State Hospital, Patapsco State Park, Md., 5:03PM, May 27, 2012. It looks a little like something out of a 1970s horror movie -- Burnt Offerings, anyone??

The Wikipedia article on the old institution is here. According to the article, the State of Maryland can't get anyone to take the place off its hands.


"Can Matthew Henryton come out to play??"

Yours truly at the abandoned Henryton State Hospital, Patapsco State Park, Md., 5:04PM, May 27, 2012.

Mr. Henryton wasn't home, but I saw this erstwhile patient roaming the railroad tracks.

It's OK to post this since no one on Planet Earth cares about my blog, and therefore no one reads it.


A group of teenagers walking toward the west end of the Henryton Tunnel, Patapsco State Park, Md., 5:11PM, May 27, 2012. As I mentioned, a lot of teenagers hang around this area.


This picture didn't come out very well owing to the glare of the Sun and my own crummy-quality cellphone camera but this was taken somewhere along a bucolic stretch of Howard County (unsure of location or road), Maryland, 5:38PM, May 27, 2012.


Chester and I then had dinner at the Double T Diner in Ellicott City, where I talked his ear off about, well, everything. Then he drove me back to Forest Glen Metro.

Driving along Rt. 29 in the ambiguous, far-flung Wheaton - Glenmont section of Montgomery County, Md., looking at the top of an approacihng line of thunderstorms coming down from Pennsylvania at dusk, 8:01PM, May 27, 2012.


Scary Underground Forest Glen Metro

I have to say that Forest Glen Metro is scary -- especially going into it, taking the elevators down into its deep subterranean bowels (the deepest in the whole Metrorail system, it is so deep that there are no escalators) and imaging all manner of terrible things happening.

The Forest Glen Metro station, one of the two Red Line platforms.

And then waiting for the train to come on the eerie underworld platform. The station manager is way above at ground entrance-level and only technology keeps you tethered to the world above. And then finally when the train comes -- making all kinds of weird noises in the tunnel as it approaches -- and you get the hell out of there, you are relieved, esp. going back above ground just before Silver Spring.

Thereafter, I went to Nellie's -- just as a thunderstorm arrived from the north north west. It rained for about an hour and as I estimated, it dropped about 0.2 to 0.3 inches of rain, although, although at DCA with its vicious rain gauge, this translated into just 0.05 at DCA proper. Area wide, BWI got 0.24" and IAD 0.30" of rainfall.


Turning to the weather ...

(The following part of this entry was written around 1PM this afternoon.)

Here is a NOAA satellite image of Tropical Storm Beryl as it was making landfall early this morning (shortly after midnight), May 28, 2012. I'm not sure which one of the GOES satellites this was or the exact time since I found this on a Yahoo news site and it wasn't specific.


Tropical Storm Beryl formed a few days ago and made landfall shortly after midnight today near Jacksonville (at Jacksonville Beach), Florida with 70MPH winds just under hurricane strength (which has a threshold of 74MPH sustained winds).

Here was the Jacksonville (JAX) NWS radar (in enhanced base mode reflectivity) at 12:47AM EDT May 28, 2012 as Beryl was making landfall.


The system, was initially designated a subtropical storm initially, and follows the mostly bogus Tropical Storm Alberto last week located off the South Carolian coast.

The system as of 1PM EDT is a tropical depression centered over Hamilton County in north Florida along the Georgia border. It is exected to recurve sharply / rapidly to the right ahead of an approaching strong upper level trough / cold front and graze the SC - NC coastline before rushing out to sea.

National Hurricane Center 5-day track for now-Tropical Depression Beryl issued at 11AM EDT 28 May 2012.


Through early afternoon, Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) has 2.21" in the past two days with top wind gusts recorded around 40MPH. Damage was minimal with mostly downed trees and power lines.

Flagler Beach, where my dad lives, was south of the center of circulation by about 50 miles. It had a wind and rain last night but it was an offshore flow there. Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) appears to have had only 0.40" in the past two days.

Jacksonville NWS (JAX) NWS radar (in standard base mode reflectivity) at 12:38PM EDT, May 28, 2012.

Owing to the shape of the U.S. Atlantic coastline, hurricane strikes on the northern Florida coast are rare. I believe Hurricane Dora in 1964 was the last hurricane to strike Jacksonville proper, though Hurricane David in 1979 got close.


OK, that's all for now. I shall end this entry with one more tranquil suburban Maryland picture from Chester's yard ...

...this one showing a bird feeder next to a fence. It was taken yesterday, 3:27PM, May 27, 2012, technically in Ellicott City, Md.


Well, this entry ended up being the main one I intended to write, so my next planned one will not be until Wednesday or Thursday.


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