Giving Thanks to Mongolia

 

 

Flaming Cliffs

Flaming Cliffs and I

In this time of giving thanks for all that we have, I can’t help but focus on the incredible trip I took this past summer to the planetary middle of nowhere. It was one of those trips that hits everything on a traveler’s to do list and then some. And while I call Baltimore home, this begins the season of home being where you heart is, and my heart is now scattered all over the world thanks to this land called Mongolia.

 

gers

I say that my heart is scattered and not left in Mongolia because this trip opened more of the world up to me than my previous travels, and I have traveled a LOT. I’ve hosteled my way through Europe, snorkeled reefs at home and abroad, and spent more hours of my life than I care to count in airports. But this trip was different than the rest. Sure, I saw the incredible landscapes of the steppes, drank hot milk tea and marveled at the music of throat singers—and I do not want to belittle those experiences. Trust me, never say “No” to the chance to visit the land of the blue sky. But for me, the thing that made all the difference was the people I met and lived with along the way.

Travel means meeting new people and seeing new ways of life, but honestly how often does it mean new friends? With all the travel that I have done I can’t honestly say that I’ve collected a ton of friends along the way. Yes, I’ve broken bread or swapped a social media handle, but rarely have I made a connection with anyone that turned into true friendship. That changed in Mongolia, where making friends seems to be the unofficial national sport.

Mongolia Crew

#mongoliasquad

In a land where you can literally drive up to anyone’s ger, knock on the door and be treated like family, making friends was the norm. By the end of my two weeks, I realized that the people I spent this time with squashed in Soviet vans, waiting out dust storms and counting lichen on rocks, had become my international family. These were the people I never thought I needed to know but now couldn’t fathom my life without. When we went our separate ways to our true homes in different parts of the world, my heart went with each of them and I knew it would stay that way.

I’m so thankful for that trip because it gave me more to be thankful for than food, electricity and travel. It gave me an international family to follow and love and proof that no matter where you go you will never truly be alone—there will always be an open door.

What could just ‘B’ more great?

Cat Squad

Gotta Rep the Cat Ears

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It’s Halloween – Here’s the Party!

Halloween decore

Getting my decore on at Paper Source in Pikesville!

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to enjoy Halloween more and more. Not that I ever had a problem with the idea of getting candy for dressing up, but when going door to door was no longer an option I was less into the festivities. Luckily, that was a short-lived phase and now I look forward to what the season of spooks and scaries brings.

Being in Baltimore, there’s a lot of fun things to do on Halloween night. Who doesn’t enjoy a good walk around Fells or Canton to see the creativity that is the local Halloween scene?

However, I’m challenging you to think about the days before the big night and get into the thrills and chills a little earlier. Here are some things to help you get the most out of the season of Halloween!

Time Warp with Creative Alliance

Rocky Horro Picture Show

If you’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show you know it is a timeless cult classic that is best seen with a few dozen or more strangers. If you haven’t seen Rocky Horror Picture Show there is nothing better than seeing it for the first time with those previously mentioned strangers. Honestly, search RHPS costumes or put on your PJs and head to The Creative Alliance for showings, complete with dancing and sing-a-longs. What makes this even better is that there are showings Thursday, Friday AND Saturday night so once you realize you have to see it again – with friends – you can easily do so. Or do back-to-back showings on Saturday, October 21. Or go to them all, I won’t judge. (But I will see you there.)

*Rocky Horror picture show, October 19-21, 2017. Admission $15, see link above for times.

Go Brunching with your Witches

Halloween Brunch

I know that dressing up is thought of as more of a nighttime activity, but I challenge you to think outside the box. With Halloween on a Tuesday this year, the weekend before is the unofficial-official party scene. So go out to brunch on October 29 with a bunch of your best witches in full-on costume glory. Plus, if you hit parties the night before you’re already dressed and ready for some hair of the dog.

OR you can switch up your invitation-only Halloween Party in the evening for a Costume Brunch at your own haunted house. And there’s plenty of time to plan this out: just send the invites, make some themed food and don’t forget the Bloody Marys.

Do the Monster Mash with WTMD

Shake your bones on October 26 at the first ever Spooktacular hosted by WTMD. Local Baltimore musicians will be covering Halloween songs sure to make you howl with delight. With tickets starting at $15, you get great music, a little spooky poetry, scary stories and maybe even a ghost or two. Costumes are encouraged – don’t be a scaredy cat!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get some treats!

What could just ‘B’ more spooky?

 

 

Seeing the City through a Newbie’s Eyes

amazon fish

At the beginning of the year I set out to achieve four goals for 2017. (If you missed it, you can read about it here.) Recently, I met one of those goals — Travel (around town) — in the most interesting of ways.

Last Friday, I received an alert on my phone from Couchsurfers: Jonathan has requested to stay with you. Seeing as my weekend was pretty empty and I had the room, I enthusiastically hit the “Yes” button. What happened next was not having a person crash on my couch, but even better. I made a new friend and gained a new perspective on the place I call home.

If you really want to fall back in love with Baltimore, then show around an out-of-towner.

jellies

The first place that Jonathan and I hit up was the National Aquarium. One of the city’s jewels, we decided to take advantage of the Fridays after Five deal and enjoy the underwater world without having to get soaked. (It was already raining, so staying dry was a bonus.)

Now, I will say that I am biased when it comes to visiting the Aquarium because I work there on occasion. But due to a pesky broken ankle that’s made walking a literal pain, I haven’t been back in six months. There is something about seeing a familiar place with a person who has never been there, which allows you to notice things that you may not have noticed — and get points of view on things you have always wondered. (For instance, Jonathan being an Aussie native, enjoyed the Australia exhibit and was delighted to get to see the archer fish being fed. Although, when you get to watch fish spit water to knock crickets out of the air, it’s hard to be disappointed!)

It also shows you that, even when you live on the other side of the world, some things are universal — like getting your picture taken at the bubble tubes, something I’ve seen every visitor do at least once. We spent a good two hours wandering the Aquarium, so Jonathan was able to see Maryland rockfish, sturgeon and horseshoe crabs. He appreciated all of that, since he wasn’t able to hit Ocean City on this trip.

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Jonathan really wanted to know about the city as well as the animals. He already knew to grab a crab cake, try Old Bay with fries and buy a box of Berger cookies. I figured we could make some of it happen that night.

crab dog

He wanted to get a real Bmore feel, but had to be at an event in an hour. I knew that if he wanted local Maryland beer and seafood, the best place close by was none other than my fave, Heavy Seas Alehouse.

Our awesome waitress helped Jonathan choose between the oyster poor boy sandwich, crab dog and crab cake sandwich — gotta go crab cake, man! I went with my own tried and true dinner of a foot long crab dog. We swapped stories of our homes while dining on lots of crab cakes, crab dip, Old Bay and beer. Just like a normal Bmore night, right? Well, with one Aussie twist: Jonathan brought Tim Tams from the land down under, so we swapped those in for dessert instead of searching for Berger cookies.

(By the way, tipping your waitress with an additional Tim Tam surprise is totally worth it!)

tim tams

Over the next few days, I wasn’t able to physically show Jonathan around (jobs are pesky like that). Instead, I steered him towards Hampden for some great music and dinner at The Food Market. And he enjoyed his crab cake so much, he hit up the Papermoon Diner for a crab melt. Before he left, he bought his own box of Berger cookies to take home. Rumor has it, his coworkers thought they were delicious.

I’m hoping that Jonathan and I cross paths again on the travel trail. And I must tell you, having grown up on crab cakes and Old Bay it was fun to watch someone experience the flavors for the first time. I was a little jealous! So if you ever get the chance to take someone around town, I say do it! You won’t regret it!

After all, what could ‘B’ more adventurous?

heavy seas