26 October 2010

Vacation Blessings: Day 12

The Trip

Good morning, Baltimore! OK, so it wasn't technically morning when we got there. But I am also technically not Nikki Blonsky, so that's all right.

Today was fabulous from start to finish. We got up, played games, and then left for Del Ray, where we planned to enjoy some delicious food at Taqueria Poblano. Alas, it was Tuesday, and no estuvo abierto. Que pena. :-(

But we had no fear; Thai Peppers was near! They had a good Pad Thai and a passable curry, although not as spicy as the restaurant's name implies. Great lunch special, fast service, and very helpful people! Plus, they were open, which is always nice.

We were going to enjoy dessert at The Dairy Godmother, but it appears they copied off of Taqueria Poblano's schedule -- closed on Tuesdays.

Unfazed, we stopped by the Seven-Eleven for drinks and took off for scenic Baltimore. We spent all afternoon and evening at Fort McHenry and the Baltimore Inner Harbor, both of which are well worth visiting. We toured the USS Constellation, which was quite interesting though overpriced.

The Power Plant Live was interesting -- I'm not sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I love that the harbor development folks were able to keep some of the traditional structures more or less intact. On the other hand, I'm not sure that turning them into Hard Rock Cafes and Barnes and Noble Bookstores (with requisite Starbucks cafes inside) is much better than utter demolition.

Everywhere we went, it seemed like someone was after us to help retire the colors for the evening. I helped strike the big daytime flag at Fort McHenry, and two of our friends were asked to help lower the flag on the USS Constellation. This was a little bit ironic, considering that Baltimore was where "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written.

Dinner was at the devastatingly expensive but delectable Rusty Scupper. The crab cakes were worth dying for. Or at least worth killing someone for, since you wouldn't be able to taste them if you were dead. I think.

Finally, after our yumtastic dinner, we headed home. On the way back, we saw one of the most stunning night-time views I had ever seen: The six illuminated spires of the Washington D.C. Mormon Temple. It's kind of like the Sleeping Beauty Castle crossed with Orthanc. Quite pretty, but a little bit ominous. Out of place, too.

The Blessings

Food. I think we tend either to take food for granted or to take it much, much too seriously. Clearly, God intended food to be enjoyed; otherwise it wouldn't taste so good. But He also created it to be enjoyed without being completely abused as a feel-good panacea. This day was full of delicious foods in moderation -- a perfect blend of good things!

Freedom of Religion. I'm grateful to be in a country where all are free to worship as befits the dictates of their consciences. (Even the crazy Mormons.) It's nice not to have to worry about the secret police busting up our Sunday meetings.

America's Existence. As someone with a history degree, I have long tended toward scorn whenever someone tells me that God designed America's history and guided its founders and did all kinds of crazy miracles to set us up for a Bush-led theocracy.

The main reason I scoff is because my God is the same one whose son fled when people tried to force Him into the position of an earthly king. He is the one who proclaimed, "My Kingdom is not of this world." He is the one who rode into town on a donkey, not a war-horse.

And yet, when I look at the War of 1812, I am absolutely shocked to see the United States survive it. I see it as the one occasion when the flickering flame of our newborn nation was closest to being extinguished. And try as I might, I still can't see why it wasn't. How could the military might that overcame Napoleon's forces fail to crush a few upstart colonials who were whining about being pressed into naval service?

The answer: I have no clue. But I'm grateful they did fail, because it leaves me living in a free, prosperous country full of hope and civil liberties.

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