after Philadelphia we continued south towards our next rideshare in Washington, DC. we left in the evening with bellies full of cheesesteaks taking the I-95 south. as we approach Baltimore we remembered the stories of how we were supposed to avoid it. 'whatever' couldn't be as bad as all that, we figure, and we'll be going straight through on the interstate anyway.
as we approach the city it seems like any other we've gone by; cars on the highway driving notably faster than the speed limit, turnoffs, roadwork and the like. except there were signs for "NO HAZMATS" which confused us.
'well good thing we left the hazmat suits at home dear'
turns out they meant propane tanks. the likes of which we had riding in the back.
so we turn off at the last possible exit, which let us into Baltimore it's self. must have been a bad neighborhood because of the state of the roads and general seedy look of the pawn shops and diners. 'whatever', we thought. 'we've been through rougher looking places'.
we stopped at the 7-11 to get directions on how to get back to the highway. this was our first sign that maybe 'whatever' wasn't quite the sentiment to have. the drunk lady at the counter was surly, and giving the attendant a hard time about her lottery tickets through the thickest bullet proof glass i'd ever seen. the worrying thing was he still looked fidgety and scared.
I approach the glass after the lottery lady leaves saying "you got off lucky this time".
I ask how to get back to the highway. the guy on the other side of the glass stares at me with a 'you don't look like your from around here' look. then he gestures to the guy in line behind me.
I turned around to ask him where to go and stop dead. this guy has scowl down to an art form and is built like a tank.
getting back in the car, the first thing I do is lock the door. then figure i'd try the GPS in the cell phone we just got at the wally mart. it gives us a heading and we were off.
now i'm sure there are nice areas of Baltimore and i'm not trash talking the whole city. just giving the impression we got as we passed through. and here is a list of the things we saw to give us that impression:
a high speed police chase (of a badass looking low rider)
more bailbonds and pawn shops than i've seen together in my life
very gangster looking guys with either guns or gun-shaped tv remotes under their muscle tees
scared looking folks walking fast with their heads down
police station that looks like a fortress
streets that make country back roads look level
nobody smiling... like at all
and this was our 20 minute tour of Baltimore
we stayed at a rest stop that night and picked up our ridesare in Washington. he was a totally chill South Carolinian who gabbed with us all the way to Richmond, VA about Canada and the states and people we've met and things we've done. he invited us to visit him in south Carolina and left us with one piece of advice we were happy to take:
don't go to Baltimore
then there we were on a picturesque day in Virginia, just a stone's throw away from our first stop in Virginia beach. we stopped at a state park to walk the dog and camped out at first landing park.
but that's a story for another time.