Philly Trip

My husband and I took an overnight trip to Philly a couple days ago. While I look for concerts I want to go to in the DC-Philly corridor, he looks for computer security conferences. In this case our desires aligned. He told me he planned to go up to Philly for a conference and it just so happened to coincide with the night Dawes was playing in Philly. I had seen them at Wolf Trap last summer, but had left wanting much more as I felt like their set got cut short because of Wolf Trap’s curfew and Shovels & Rope playing longer than I think they should have as one of the openers. So I was eager to see them again and when I realized that I could ride up with my husband and drag him to the show I put that plan into motion.

We drove up early Friday morning and I dropped him off at his conference and then went to see if I could check into our hotel super early. They didn’t have any rooms available so I just dropped off the car and my stuff and wandered around for awhile. It was cold and snowing the whole day, so it wasn’t the best weather to walk around in but the wind wasn’t blowing so it wasn’t completely terrible either. I wound up sitting in Barnes & Noble for awhile reading to kill time before my first plans for the day.

It eventually dawned on me after I made these plans that I was going to be in Philly on a Friday afternoon. I have mentioned here on more than one occasion my love for WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania radio station. It’s what I listen to at work all the time, and every Friday they do a Free at Noon concert. I have obviously never been able to go in person, but as soon as I put two and two together I put this concert on my schedule for the day. They only announce who’s playing about a week beforehand and then open up the site for claiming your free tickets to it. I would have gone no matter who was playing, but I was pleased that it wound being Amy Helm who I like. She’s the daughter of the drummer from The Band, Levon Helm. She sang a lot with him and did a lot of backup singing, but now has two albums of her own out. My favorite song off the new album is actually a cover a Milk Carton Kid’s song “Michigan”. I was hoping she would play it and it was by far the best song of the performance. The whole thing was great though. She went from playing the mandolin to the keyboards and then just singing sweet harmonies in an acapella hymn with one of her band mates.

It was great to actually be in the room for a change instead of just streaming it from my office. I felt weirdly overly surrounded by old, white guys though. I finally decided it was because that’s who has time to be at a concert in the middle of the day, a bunch of old retired white guys. Some day I’d like to be able to do it again, but that’s obviously not going to happen any time soon.

After grabbing some lunch I headed to the Mutter Museum. It had been on my list for a long time, but was just something I had never gotten around to doing any of the other times I’ve been in Philly. My husband was mad that I was going without him, but I told him afterwards that I’m glad I wasn’t with him. I read most of what’s on museum placards, but I’m also a fast reader and do skim some of the finer details. He will literally read every single word on every single item on a display case. I probably would have been done an hour before him if we were together. If you’re not familiar with the Mutter Museum, it’s located at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and is a collection of medical specimens, equipment, and models collected by Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter. It was an interesting collection and I’m glad I went, but I don’t feel the need to ever go again.

Friday night we obviously went to the Dawes concert, which is what I went to Philly for. Every so often Dawes likes to do tours where they do a bunch of An Evening with Dawes shows, meaning that there’s no opening act and you just get them playing for 2 and half to 3 hours. It was my first time at the Fillmore Philly. If I ever go again I might pay extra money to get premium seats in the balcony. It’s a 2, 500 standing room only venue aside from a few elevated seats in the back of the main level and the seats in the balcony. I pretty much can’t see much at SRO shows unless I’m all the way up front, which doesn’t happen often. I’ve generally found if I can get far enough the back if it’s not a completely sold out show then I can see over the crowd, but if this wasn’t sold out it was close to it so even though I did stand as far back as I could I couldn’t get enough distance between me and people in front of me. I wasn’t completely out of luck, but I could pretty much never see more than one band member at a time depending on how the crowd moved and how I was craning my neck. Dawes was great as usual. I was happy to get to hear them play or a good long time. I was hoping that they would play my favorite song off of their new album, Passwords, but I figured it was a long shot and sadly they didn’t. That was my only real disappointment with the night. It seems like they’ve decided on the three songs their going to play from that album, and “Mistakes We Should Have Made” isn’t one of them. I always hate when I fall hard for a song that’s deep into an album that I know a band is never going to play live unless somewhere down the line they do a show where they play all the way through an album. Overall it was a good night though and worth going up to Philly for.

Saturday morning we met up with my friend Erin and her family for brunch at a place in Logan Square called Urban Farmer. If you’re ever in Philly and looking for some place to eat near the Franklin Institute, The Barnes Foundation, or even the Philadelphia Museum of Art I would recommend this place. The brunch food was great, so I’ll go ahead and assume their other meals are as well. I had brioche French toast with hazelnut butter and cranberry compote and some of the best breakfast sausage I can remember eating any time recently. It was of course great to catch up with my friends too. I’m glad we get to see each other generally at least once a year and sometimes more since Philly isn’t that far away. Who knew when we met in 8th grade and only living in the same city for 2 years that we’d still be friends and hanging out when we were 40.

Our final stop before heading back to Baltimore was the The Barnes Foundation. We wound up getting some hotel deal that was a partnership with the Visit Philly tourist bureau whereby participating hotels offered guests free parking, 2 tickets to the Barnes, a Lyft credit, a coupon for $20 off at some restaurant and 2 free ice skating coupons. We were mostly in it for the free parking because parking in downtown Philly is super expensive and most places don’t give you in and out privileges with your car which makes the parking rates rack up even more if you go in and out of the garage. We actually wound up picking our hotel partly based on the fact that the hotel had valet parking that gave you in and out privileges since we knew we wanted to drive to the concert. The valet experience was kind of annoying since it wasn’t run by the hotel and I wound up dealing with trying to drop the car off and get it back out again right at morning and evening rush hour with people parking their for work. At any rate the deal save us $50 in parking. The bonus for us was the 2 free tickets to The Barnes. I had just gone back in August, so I wouldn’t have bothered to go again this soon but I figured we shouldn’t pass up the free tickets. It was actually interesting to go back because even in these few short months since I had been there they had rolled out a whole new digital experience that was very cool. The museum is laid out so that everything is hung as it was in Albert Barnes’ original home, so there are no labels on anything on the wall. There are paper booklets in each room that will give you the title and artist of everything, but they have now created a digital site you can use on your phone. You just pull up the site and then take photos of the art and it will pull up information about it on your phone. Sometimes it’s just the bare facts about the piece, but other times there is a lot more context about the artist, art, or it’s place in the collection. I did have to catch myself to make sure I was actually looking at the art too and not just staring at my screen, but for the most part I thought it was great and really added to the experience. As my husband said it has now ruined him for all other museums. He of course also wanted to be able to dig into the code and find out how everything worked.

It was an excellent couple of days in Philly, and I’m glad I turned my husband’s one day conference into a fun overnight trip for us.

 

 

Girls’ Weekend in Richmond

Three of my friends and I try to do a girls’ weekend away every fall. This year we chose to go to Richmond. Almost every single person who I told that I was going on a girls’ weekend in Richmond scoffed at me, including one of the people I went with when it was initially suggested. I had never been there before aside from driving through on I-95, but it was in a good driving distance for a long weekend and looking it up there seemed like there would be enough to keep us occupied for a weekend. So to everyone who looked askance at me I can tell you that you were wrong. We had a very fun time in Richmond.

We rented an AirBnB in a neighborhood called Church Hill. It’s pretty much a residential neighborhood, but it was very cute with lots of beautiful Victorian style homes. It was also very historical because when I went for a walk around the neighborhood I saw lots of historical plaques on houses. Even though it was mostly residential there were a number of delicious restaurants within walking distance of the house. We wound up eating most of meals nearby.

After we got in on Friday night we walked over to the Liberty Public House in time to take advantage of some happy hour specials and eat dinner. On our way back to the house we stopped by this little place called the Union Market, which was a little sundry shop/restaurant of some sort. We stocked up on some alcohol, cheese, crackers, and some amazing ice cream sandwiches from a local ice cream place called Nightingale ice cream. We tried 4 different flavors (key lime, orange creamsicle, cookie monster, and salted caramel). They were all amazing. I wish they had them here so I could try some of the other flavors. We wound up going back to the house and playing Uno because we were all exhausted. I swear I looked at my watch thinking it was time to go to bed and it was only 7:30.

I always like to try and get my exercise in, so I got up and went for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone else got up. I like walking around because it gives you better sense of things than just driving by. After we all got ready for the day we grabbed breakfast at a little bakery/coffee shop near the house called Sub Rosa. The baked goods were amazing. I ate a sour cherry and pistachio pastry that was crazy delicious.

After breakfast we headed to the Carytown neighborhood. There is a cute little main street there with tons of shops and restaurants. We spent several hours wandering around there popping into stores. We of course spent a long time browsing in the new and used bookstore. For some reason it was called Chop Suey. My best guess is maybe there was a restaurant in the same location by that name and they decided to go with it. At any rate they had a store cat whose name was WonTon, which I thought was super adorable. I managed to leave the kitchen store without buying anything, but I did get some spices at the Penzey’s.

We headed back to the house for a few hours in the afternoon where we snacked on our cheese and some fruit for a late lunch and played Phase 10. We went to dinner at a place in some other neighborhood, though I’m not sure which one, that several people had recommended called Lunch. or Supper! We wound up having to wait an hour for a table, but they had a nice beer garden to wait in so it wasn’t terrible. In addition to the recommendations we also chose the restaurant because it was just a block down from the Blue Bee Cider tap room, which we also wanted to go to. We got some cider and sat outside in their I guess cider garden and enjoyed the beautiful evening.

During our travels on Saturday I realized that there was a canal path about a half mile from our house, so I decided to check it out for my Sunday morning walk. It was a great walk along the water that took me through a lot of different areas. Where I started it was a path running under some train tracks with a lot of beautiful trees along the water. As I got closer to downtown it was kind of like walking through some various locks, which was kind of cool. Then it turned into an actual canal walk like cities sometimes try and build up with some restaurants though in this case not that many, and some place you could get on a sightseeing boat on the canal. At the point I turned around the path was in some park. So it was great little walk where I felt like I got to see a lot of different things. We grabbed brunch in our neighborhood at a place called the Roosevelt, which was delicious as well before heading back to Baltimore.

Everything about the weekend was helped by the beautiful weather. It was perfect for all the time we were able to spend outside walking around and enjoying food and libations al fresco. Aside from the traffic driving there and back (suck it DC beltway) we had a great trip and I would definitely recommend Richmond to anyone looking to get away for a long weekend.

Philly Art Day

My husband signed up for a one day conference in Philadelphia this past weekend. In the past when he’s gone I’ve visited a friend who lives there, but she was out of town this weekend. I still decided to ride up with him and figured I would spend the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation.

I realized I’m spoiled by the art museums in Baltimore and DC many of which are free to get into. The Philadelphia Art Museum is $20 and the Barnes Foundation is an outrageous $30. I can’t believe I spent $50 on art museums in one day, but I did.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Philadelphia Art Museum. They had a couple of special exhibits going on. One was called Modern Times, which covered American Art from 1910-1950. There was also an exhibit of photographs of artists. That one didn’t do much for me for the most part. There were a few interesting photographs but random portraits of people don’t get me that excited. Same of the section of the museum dedicated to painted portraits of old white guys. No thanks. Enjoyed most of the regular collection of the museum except for the video art, which always creeps me out. I also funnily enough ran into some Baltimore friends in the museum. That I was not expecting. It’s definitely a small world.

After grabbing a quick lunch I headed to the Barnes Foundation, which is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a very long time but for whatever reason have never actually made the time to go. When I was high school back in the mid-90s I saw a special exhibition of a portion of the collection at the Fort Worth Museum of Art when it was touring. That was a big deal with Albert Barnes who curated the collection and used it as a school was very clear in his will that he did not want the collection separated and he wanted all the art work left in the same configuration he had it in when he died. Whoever controls the estate went before the court to get approval to raise money to keep up the collection. They again got approval from the court to move the collection from its original location in Merion, Pennsylvania to the new building in downtown Philadelphia.

Having never been to the previous location I don’t know how the building layout itself compares, but the artwork is hung as it was in the original location when Albert Barnes died. It makes for a very interesting experience viewing the art as it’s not hung like you would normally see in a museum. There is a lot of art work hung up and down every wall. In a few rooms I would say there was too much. You couldn’t even really process it. There are no labels on the wall like you normally see in museums. Instead in each room there is a booklet you could pick up that would let you know what all of the artwork is. It’s a good thing too because if I hadn’t been looking in the booklet I wouldn’t have looked up far enough to see the Matisse mural in the arches at the top of the room along the ceiling. I had a particular interest in this piece, which I didn’t actually realize was real because it featured prominently in B.A. Shapiro’s book “The Collector’s Apprentice” which is very, very, very loosely based on Albert Barnes and the Barnes Foundation story. It’s a very cool museum and I highly recommend visiting it unless for some reason you hate Renoir. It’s A LOT of Renoir. It’s a very impressive collection for one man to have collected.

Newport Folk Festival 2018

This past weekend was our annual trip to Rhode Island for the Newport Folk Festival. It is by far always my favorite weekend of the year and this year was no exception. I know no one really cares to read a run down of every act I saw over the three days of the festival so I’m always trying to figure out a good way to write a review of it. This year I’ve decided to frame it around the Newport Folk Festival mantra shared by Jay Sweet, the festival’s Executive Producer, every morning before the gates opened:

Be Present
Be Kind
Be Open
Be Together

It’s probably a pretty good mantra for life not just for the folk festival.

Be Present

Every year I’ve tried to be more and more present at the festival. I didn’t spend hardly any time on my phone, mostly just using it to keep track of the last minute set announcements. I think I took like 3 photos the entire weekend. I’m not going to lie and say everyone was as consistently disengaged from their phones, but there was definitely a lot fewer people taking photos and videos than I usually see at concerts. It was nice not to be constantly trying to see things through someone else’s phone screen. It allowed me to really be engaged with the music and have experiences like being moved to tears of joy listening to Jenny Lewis play my favorite song of hers, “She’s Not Me”.

I also tried to be present in the sets I was at and not worry about what I was missing on some other stage. Until I can figure out how to clone myself for the festival there are always going to be known conflicts as well as hearing about special moments afterwards that I wish I had been there to witness. This year I just tried to experience and enjoy the moments I was there for and not be disappointed about the things I wasn’t.

Be Kind

The crowds at the Newport Folk Festival are the kindest I’ve ever experienced. Usually you get large crowds and everyone is just out for themselves, but I have never experienced that at Newport. I had people make sure that they weren’t going to block my view on more than one occasion before they moved in front of me. I watched people offer their blanket in the shade to a family with a baby when they left to go to another stage. I saw people returning things that people dropped. And there were obviously so many more examples as I saw an entire thread on Twitter of kindnesses big and small that people witnessed during the festival. There’s a reason why everyone talks about their “folk family” at Newport.

Be Open

I’ve always tried to make being open something I do at Newport. I always go in with a loose idea of who I want to listen to, but things always change. I always want to be open to where the day takes me. That meant staying for Caamp’s entire set because it was so good and missing out on most of Curtis Harding’s, who I had gone in really wanting to see. It meant giving Passenger a chance even though I only knew his one hit song, which I long ago grew tired of and discovering that he is a hilarious storyteller and great songwriter. It meant abandoning St. Vincent’s set, which I was sure I wanted to see going in because I’ve always heard great things and she canceled her most recent Baltimore date that I had tickets to. I realized there was no way it was going to make me has happy as I would be singing along to Jason Isbell’s songs for the third time in a week. It means dropping everything and running over to the Late July Family Tent when you hear Hiss Golden Messenger is going to be doing a set there. It means passing by the Newport Festivals Foundation tent and discovering Valerie June singing with a bunch of kids from local schools the foundation supports. The beauty of Newport is that wherever you wander you fill find something amazing and if you’re open to experiencing new things you will be greatly rewarded. Almost every year my favorite moments of the festival have come from things I originally didn’t have on my schedule.

Be Together

Togetherness is what Newport is all about. I don’t know any other festival where artists playing come together as much as they do at Newport. There is constant collaboration between artists playing the festival. There’s even an unofficial award, “the Jim James Award”, for the artist who sits in on the most sets over the weekend. This year that went to Brandi Carlile, who did have her own set on Sunday, but was there the entire weekend playing with seemingly everyone starting with singing “9 to 5” with Margo Price on Friday afternoon. Lucius who actually had their own set this year came in a close second and probably would have taken the crown again if they hadn’t had to leave for a gig on Sunday. They’ve showed up every year since their first whether they’ve had an official set or not. Hiss Golden Messenger also showed up a ton of places over the weekend. The Lone Bellow were only there on Sunday, but popped up numerous places throughout the day. I know I’m leaving out a ton of other collaborations, but this could go on forever.

And those are just the people who actually had official sets that sat in with others. There’s a whole other long list of people who just showed up to sit in on a song or two including John Prine with Margo Price, David Crosby with Jason Isbell, and all the people who came only for the closing set, “A Change is Going to Come” dedicated civil rights music including Mavis Staples, Chris Thile, and Leon Bridges all who I’m sad didn’t actually have their own sets to play during the weekend.

The Saturday headliner was unannounced. It turns out it was Mumford and Sons. People would have been a lot more excited about them a few years ago. They haven’t put out a new album in a while and the pop music fad they were riding high on has since passed them by. For several years Jay Sweet kept telling people to quit asking for Mumford and Sons because the festival is a small, non-profit and could never compete with the bigger festivals to get them. Their star has obviously fallen some such that Newport was able to get them, though to be affordable they still had to be unannounced due to radius clauses. I heard a lot of speculation about Paul Simon finally playing Newport before he retired (I was shocked to discover he never did) and a lot of people thinking it was going to be Neil Young for some reason. But Mumford and Sons truly made themselves worthy of the festival. Given all the things they have done to support musical collaboration like their Railroad Revival Tour, the Gentlemen of the Road shows they put on, and Marcus Mumford’s participation in the New Basement Tapes I always felt like they live by the Newport ethos and it was a shame they hadn’t played there. Their set was wonderful and exactly one that is the epitome of the Newport spirit. They had so many people out on stage to sing with them. They even took backstage and played back up to Maggie Rogers so she could sing her song “Alaska”. The best part of the set and my favorite part of the entire weekend was them bringing out Mavis Staples to sing “The Weight” with a whole bunch of other people including Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, Phoebe Bridgers, and Hiss Golden Messenger. It may be one of my favorite Newport moments ever.

There’s also just the message of togetherness I felt like I heard throughout the weekend from many a stage. It’s a folk festival so it’s going to get political, but the overwhelming political message I heard this year was the need to bring people back together while still fighting the good fight. I left the festival feeling some hope for humanity for the first time in a long time. There were musical moments just perfectly made for bring people together. I had been waiting since the first time I heard it to sing Brandi Carlile’s “Hold Out Your Hand” with a Newport crowd and the moment did not disappoint. And the festival ended with a giant sing-a-long with a billion people on stage singing “Freedom Highway” fronted by the queen Mavis Staples. We’ll keep marching down freedom highway.

Finger Lakes Weekend

This past weekend my husband I went up to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York for a long weekend. It began what I’m calling my week of Jason Isbell, in which I see him in concert 3 times in one week in 3 different states. I had already bought tickets to see him at Wolf Trap in Virginia which is one of my favorite venues when it was announced he was going to co-headline two shows with my other favorite artist Brandi Carlile. How could I not go to that? So I asked my husband if he preferred to go to Canandaigua, NY or to Portland, ME. He choose Canandaigua and because he’s awesome didn’t even question me. The third and final show will be at our annual trip to the Newport Folk Festival next weekend as he was announced as the Friday night headliner long after I had bought either of these tickets.

We drove up on Friday and arrived in Canandaigua in just about enough time to grab an early dinner before heading to the concert. Brandi Carlile was up first. It turns out I’m very glad that my husband chose Canandaigua over Portland because I compared the setlists and we got an entirely different set than what has been her more standard setlist that she’s been playing on this tour and I’ve seen multiple times already. For whatever reason instead of having the whole backing band plus the string quartet that they’ve been traveling with on this tour, it was just Brandi and the Twins up there playing acoustic guitars. I’ve seen them do that before, but it’s always awesome. They still played a decent amount of stuff from the new album, but not the whole thing like they have been doing. It was interesting to see how they filled in the string parts with the piano. They also played some different older stuff than they’ve been playing at other recent shows I’ve been to. I’m sort of curious what the actual written setlist was because there was a couple of times she said she was making a decision to change and play something not on the set list. One of those times was probably my favorite parts of the evening in which they did a sing-a-long medley of John Denver songs, “Country Roads”, “Sunshine on My Shoulder”, and “Rocky Mountain High”. It was glorious.

Having also seen Jason Isbell twice since he’s been traveling around touring his most recent record over the past year I wasn’t sure different this set list would be either. It was of course a lot the same, but he definitely mixed it up on the older stuff. He of course played a lot of stuff from the new album, plus the same three songs that he seems to be playing from the Something More than Free album, which are probably my three favorite so I won’t complain. He mixed it up a bit more with stuff from Southeastern and before. I’ll be curious to see what if anything differs in the next two times I see him this week.

I’d never been to the Finger Lakes region before so I decided we should stick around and explore a little bit instead of heading home first thing on Saturday. We drove down Seneca Lake and stopped in a little park and stuck our feet in. Our ultimate destination was Corning. I wanted to go to the Corning Museum of Glass. It was a cool museum, though I wished they had more about the actual history of Corning glass itself. All the art, innovation, and other history exhibits were cool though. They also have live demonstrations so we got to see some glass blowing as well. I was very interested in the fact that there seemed to be a high Chinese tourist population that goes to the museum given that the demonstration had a Mandarin interpreter and the signs in the museum cafe had Chinese translations on them. I was terrified of the gift shop. I was so afraid I was going to knock into all the glass displays and break everything. I managed to snag a Christmas ornament and get out without breaking anything.

The Corning Museum of Glass had a joint ticket with the Rockwell Museum. I didn’t really look into what the Rockwell Museum was. I just wrongly assumed that it was a museum of Norman Rockwell’s works. Turns out it’s actually a museum based off of a collection of American art started by a family with the last name Rockwell. I’m not sorry we went. It just wasn’t what I thought I was going to.

Despite the forecast when I packed on Friday morning saying it was going to be sunny and in the low-80s every day while we were there, the weather completely changed while we were inside the glass museum. It go much colder in the mid-60s and started raining. I would have packed much differently had I known. The weather kind of put a damper on my desire to do much else. We did walk up and down Market Street in downtwon Corning, but didn’t look into doing anything else that day or Sunday before we left because the weather was so gross and most of what there would be to do would be outside.

We ate dinner at a place on Market Street called Sorge’s, which is an old school Italian restaurant, and it was delicious. It was probably the best Italian food I have eaten in a long time. I liked they had sort of build your own pasta plates in which you could choose your pasta from a few options, which you could add additional toppings to. I got spaghetti and added meatballs, mushrooms, and threw some melted mozzarella cheese on top for good measure. I was very pleased with my decision.

We headed back to Maryland after breakfast on Sunday early enough that we were able to swing by a friend’s 40th birthday party before going home so even though the weather put a damper on our New York activities it worked out so we could celebrate with a friend.

Deep Creek Lake

Last weekend we spent a long weekend in Deep Creek Lake with some friends. They had stayed at the Lake Pointe Inn back in December and had a deal to return for 3 nights for the price of 2 and asked us to join them. It was an absolutely lovely weekend.

The Lake Pointe Inn is great and I highly recommend it as a place to stay if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or just a nice place to relax for a few days. I’m not generally a fan of American bed and breakfast places because it always seems like there’s something weird about the rooms or the bathrooms or the decor is way too froofy. And as an introvert I am not a fan of what too many times seems like forced breakfast at one big table with people you don’t know with no real choice as to what you’re being fed.

The Lake Pointe Inn was not like that at all. We stayed in the Buffalo Marsh room, which was quite spacious. It had a king bed, which I think all the rooms do, plus a nice sitting area. The bathroom was also quite large with a big jacuzzi tub, which it was way too hot to use, and a shower. I wish there were a few more surfaces to put stuff on in the bathroom though. They did have a thing with shelves above the toilet, but I kept being afraid I would knock all my stuff into the toilet because I’m talented like that.

room in an inn
Terrible picture of our room, the Buffalo Marsh room, in the Lake Pointe Inn

The breakfast was delicious. Every meal started with a cup of fruit and a little skillet of baked oats. Based on what my friends said they had more baked goods in the winter at breakfast, but I suspect the common items awaiting everyone were geared towards the vegans we heard were staying there. They did go out of their way to make sure there were options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten free people without them having to make special requests so good on them. There were 7 options for breakfast every morning. I ordered the avocado toast every morning because it was really good, and I was trying to avoid the heavy carb laden breakfasts given the amount of food I was eating the rest of the day.

There were also freshly baked cookies plus another little snack of some sort set out at 5pm every evening. There were also jars with pretzels and biscotti you could get at any time. They even made homemade marshmallows to roast over the fire pit and make s’mores. You had access to coffee, tea, and fridges full of water, La Croix, and soda too. They even sent us off with a little big of homemade snack mix for the drive home when we checked out. Basically you’re not going to go hungry there.

If you just want to lounge around there are plenty of places to do that at least during the warm weather months. There is a lovely front porch looking out over the lake with rocking chairs on it. They also have little decks built for 2 around the property with Adirondack chairs and lounge chairs on them. It’s great if you want to be off somewhere by yourself or with just your companion. I also spent an afternoon reading in a hammock on the edge of the water. As I mentioned there was a fire pit out back that we sat around every night and mingled with some of the other guests.

person lying in hammock by lake
Enjoying the afternoon reading in the hammock with a view of Deep Creek Lake
patio by lake
View of the back patio of the inn from our room. The roof line cuts out the fire pit.

The inn is set back in Marsh Cove, which is a no wake zone so it’s nice and quiet and great for swimming or paddling around without worrying about getting run over by a speed boat. They have canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards you can borrow for free. There’s also a jet ski on the property that you have to pay to use. Every evening from 6-7 pm they also have a boat ride out onto the lake. It was great to actually get out in a real boat and check out more of the lake than what we could just see from the inn.

Even though the inn was lovely we did actually leave it to do other things each day. Thursday night we grabbed dinner at Mountain State Brewery. They have some great pizzas and we were able to sit out on the patio and enjoy the sunset.

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Sunset view from Mountain State Brewery

Friday we started off the day hiking at Swallow Falls and Herrington Manor State Park. Swallow Falls was great. I liked the trails and all the water falls were beautiful. With it having rained so much in the last few months there was a lot of water flowing. I didn’t care that much for Herrington Manor State Park at least for hiking. Our friends decided to stay at the swimming beach there. I unfortunately for a lake vacation was unable to swim as I had an ingrown toenail removed a few weeks ago and there are still open wounds on my toe. I decided it was not a good idea to expose those to lake water. At least I was finally able to put on closed toed shoes for the first time on this trip or hiking would have been an issue as well. The trails at Herrington Manor were kind of muddy and covered in grass which made me paranoid about ticks, so we started out on several trails and then sort of just walked around the road for awhile.

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We grabbed lunch in downtown Oakland before heading back to the inn. Friday night we ate dinner at Moonshadow. They had a live band playing. We unfortunately wound up sitting at a table directly in front of their speakers, so it was way too loud. The band was okay, but I was definitely ready to leave when we decided to head out and get some ice cream at Lakeside Creamery.

Saturday we started off the morning on the lake using the canoes and kayaks. Unfortunately while we were out on the lake my husband got a call about a family emergency and he wound up having to leave the trip early. Luckily we had driven up in two cars so he was able to leave and I stayed and got a ride home with our friends on Sunday. We had a delicious lunch at Canoe on the Run and then my friends humored my love of mini-golf. I’m not sure why we decided the hottest part of the day was the best time to go mini-golfing, but we did. Perhaps it was all part of my evil master plan to win by taking them out with heat stroke. I love mini-golf but I am terrible at it. I can’t say I was good this time, but I did win. After mini-golf we decided it was necessary for scientific research purposes to try out the other ice cream location we spotted even if they only served Hershey’s ice cream and it wasn’t homemade. We finished off the day with dinner at Ace’s Run. The food was really good and we got to sit outside with a lovely view of the lake on a nice summer’s evening.

Sunday morning after checking out of the inn we went on one final hike in Deep Creek State Park before heading back to the heat in Baltimore. It was a relaxing, wonderful weekend with friends. I wish my husband had been able to stay for the whole thing, but other than that it was the perfect weekend. I definitely look forward to returning to the Lake Pointe Inn at some time in the future, and if you’re ever interested in going let me know and I can get you a deal with a referral code.

New Orleans

I recently went back to New Orleans for the first time in 7 years. I was going for the ALA Annual Conference, which was there this year. The last time I went was in 2011 the last time this conference was there. The Ritz Carlton was one of the conference hotels this year so I decided I would take advantage of the conference rate to stay at a fancier hotel than I normally would. Apparently that also tipped it so that my husband decided he wanted to join me on the trip. I can’t say that staying at this particular Ritz Carlton felt as fancy as other Ritz Carltons I’ve been in, but I’m really happy my husband decided to come with me.

The opening keynote on Friday was Michelle Obama being interviewed by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. She talked about Becoming, the memoir she is writing due out in November. It was a great conversation and it made me miss the Obamas in the White House even more than I already do.

After the opening keynote I met up with my husband for dinner. He’s a vegetarian so it was quite the challenge to find places where there was something on the menu that he could eat while also letting me enjoy New Orleans style cooking. Friday night we wound up at a place called G.W. Fins, where I had one of the best meals I can remember having any time in the recent past. Everything started off great with little biscuits they serve. The person who sat us warned that they were addictive and we should pace ourselves. I’m glad the guy serving them only came by our table twice because I definitely didn’t need to eat a third one, but I would have had a hard time turning it down. For my entree I had parmesan crusted sheepshead. It’s a fish I had never heard of before, but it’s basically some type of mild white fish. It was amazing and it was heartbreaking to not be able to take my leftovers with me. If you’re ever in New Orleans I highly recommend this restaurant.

We of course started off Saturday with beignets at Cafe du Monde for breakfast. Saturday was my major conference day. I hit up the exhibit hall in the morning with my husband who I got a free exhibit pass for. I went to a couple of programs that unfortunately were not that good. One was too basic for me and one provided some very terrible copyright information. I spent a couple hours staffing our copyright booth and answering people’s copyright questions in between people asking if they could take my picture at the booth. I finished the day off with a committee meeting.

Saturday night was the one night I didn’t make reservations for ahead of time. That wound up maybe not being the best idea as it took us awhile to find somewhere to eat that had availability and could feed my husband.I originally thought we might walk over to Frenchman Street and find somewhere to eat over there or on the way and then listen to some jazz in some of the bars over there. My feet were too destroyed by the end of the day to make that a viable plan, so I wanted to stick around somewhere closer to our hotel. We wound up at someplace called Mr. B’s Bistro because their website assured us they took walk-ins. The food there was okay, but not nearly as good as G.W. Fins. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there, but it will do in a pinch.

Since my original music plan didn’t work out we wound up at Preservation Hall instead. I can’t complain about that. We got out of dinner just in time to get in line for the 9 pm show. We even managed to get in early enough that we got to snag a seat on a bench right in front of the fan, which made it only slightly less oppressively hot. I have no idea how those guys play 5 shows a night in that non-air conditioned space during the summer.

Sunday we decided to try Cafe Beignet for breakfast instead because there was one much closer to our hotel than Cafe du Monde. While I appreciated being able to get a banana and some iced chai along with my beignet, the beignets were not nearly as good. They were much more dense. I guess there’s a reason Cafe du Monde is the gold standard of beignets.

I had one committee meeting I had to be at on Sunday morning, so I went to that and then I called it a conference. I was paying out of my own pocket to go to this conference, so I didn’t feel bad in treating it somewhat like a vacation as well. We met up with one my friends for lunch at a place called Magazine Pizza, which met the criteria of being veggie friendly for my husband and having gluten free options for my friend. It was great to catch up with her. Since she is the only other person I know at least personally who goes to at least as many concerts as I do, I was happy to introduce her to my husband so he’s knows I’m not the only crazy music fan out there.

Speaking of being a crazy music fan I found out there was a Cajun Zydeco music festival going on in Louis Armstrong Park. We walked over there and found some shade to sit in and listened to some music for awhile. It was nice to get out and do something that actual people who live in New Orleans were doing rather than just hitting the more touristy places. Also sitting outside and listening to live music is one of my favorite things, so this was a perfect way to spend the afternoon in my opinion.

Sunday night we had reservations at a place called Brennan’s. I didn’t love my blackened red fish. Somehow the seasoning felt sooty even though everything was covered in tons of butter. I was much happier with the rock shrimp that came on the side as well as the zucchini and summer squash mix. I was very pleased with the squash, which is usually mushy and not my favorite. This still had a nice crunch to it.

Monday we basically had time to hit up Cafe du Monde one last time before heading back to the hotel to get showered and ready to head to the airport. It turned out to be a really nice trip. I’ve lost a lot of my normal conference pals in recent years as people have rotated off committees and stopped paying to come to the big conferences. With my husband there I ate at much nicer places than I would have on my own, and it was nice to spend the time with him.