This weekend started Friday morning at 2:30am, after about... 2 hours or so of sleep. As the roads were clear and traffic-free from Mystic to Baltimore, I managed the trip in a good 7 hours, 6 of real drive-time. Met with murakozi (Pete) there, just in time for the Comfort Suite's breakfast. Biscuits with gravy. Mmmm.
From there to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and assorted touristy wandering (including near the ballpark and vague sculpture), purchasing, and eating of crab cakes. Then we took the Water Taxi to Fort McHenry.. incredibly wonderful views of the harbour on the way there. Pete pointed out the dock where some of his friends abandoned their reasonably expensive live-on boat to avoid paying the back dock fees. The Fort itself was well-preserved, excellent views, and a good informative movie I fell asleep to. I'd been there half a lifetime before or so, did recall some of it.. though the complete overtaking of the grounds by a soldier's hospital for WWI, and the Nekkid Francis Scott Key Statue were new discoveries.
After that, the Over The Hedge movie (well-recommended, and best viewed as a distant prequel to the strip), followed by Dave & Buster's. A little Derby Owner's Club at D&B to get us in the proper mood for the races the next day, and back to the hotel.
Saturday, up promptly, and off to the races! We ignored the directions given- but not for long enough- and a half-hour was spent circling to get to the secondary, not-blocked-by-police parking lot entrance. Still, we made it in time to watch the first race, and start betting with the second of the thirteen ran that day. A lot of small bets, of $1-5 for me, aside from $50 on the Preakness stakes itself. We utilize the highly scientific methods such as "That horse looks cute.", "That horse has a cool name", and "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe."
Excellent weather there was, clouds fading through the day, windy but nice. The 'Black-Eyed Susan' official drink was fair, the fries tasty, everything overpriced.. But $125 tickets on the grandstand turn for free made it a bargain yet. All thanks to Pete's relative who provided the hookup, and Pete for inviting me.
After eleven early races (one including former Preakness winner Funny Cide), the Budweiser Clydesdale Team making an appearance, and whatnot.. the Preakness race itself. Barbaro's false start was an amusing moment, and Pere and I jest about conspiracy theories.. then the race starts for real. We're watching between the monitor and the track.. and just as the first thunder of horses passes us, we glance past them listening and looking for Barbaro. The crowd's on their feet.. and we see him, slowed down, and then stopped, one hind leg lifted. wince I kept checking back between him and the other horses on the monitor.. mostly him. They had fast on-track discussions, because he was not terribly far past the finish line.. it was a question of "Oh dear, he's going to get run over and it's going to be horrible." They had a track horse sort of 'windblock' him to the front, held him steady as the other horses raced past.. Bernadini did run very well and my place bet on Sweetnorthernsaint won.. as did Valent's ATB bet on Bernadini.
Race the thirteenth was subdued after that, unsurprisingly, with a good half the crowd gone. While we waited in the parking lot for traffic to ease, we saw the gates brought o the edge.. including 6, Barbaro's. Shiver moment. Comestibles, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers on PBS, then sleep.
Sunday the darn alarm went off too early. :P Checked out, and went to the Baltimore Zoo. It's nice, but feels unfinished, as any zoo without a small mammal house truly does. The otters were enjoyably cute, one chasing and pawing as a little girl showed it a plushie frog on the other side of the tank wall. Simply adorable. The vultures, zebras, and giraffes were also highlights of the trip.
Non-highlightful was the trip back taking nearly 8.5 hours, thanks to traffic in Delware and New Jersey. At least Wawa iced tea helped the miles go smoothly, and I got an early start on the drive back. Quite a busy trip this was, and an excellent one. Thanks again to <lj user="murakozi"? for inviting me. --Chiaroscuro