Two Loves Connected in Ellicott City

The backstory

My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.

My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.

My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.

When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.

And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.

I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.

I have very key memories of Ellicott City.

Gordon Ramsay

Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.

I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.

So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.

The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.

N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.

(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)

Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.

I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.

The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.

If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.

I hope N gets to watch it.

I’d like to hear her opinion.

In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.

The Road Trip Home

The witch travels from Washington DC home with Mercury in retrograde

I thought I was on top of everything. I hoped to leave DC around 9 so I could be home by 1.

But then M’s housemates made this lovely kale frittata for breakfast.

I love kale and I love breakfast!

So I enjoyed a slice. And then another.

Everyone followed me out to the car and wished me farewell… and then M noticed a nail in my tire.

M called AAA because I don’t have my membership card. While he did that, I called my AAA home office and asked them to email me a pdf of my membership information. They assured me that I was in the system, but a pdf still made me feel better.

M and I chatted about the international cleaning staples: Lava soap, Brillo pads and Borax powder.

The AAA man came expediently, plugged my tire and sent me on my way.

After 25 miles, while on I-95 about to merge onto 695 outside Baltimore, my tire pressure light came on. I did what I always do, I called my dad and started to freak out and cry.

He advised me to get off the highway and have someone check the tire.

So I got off 695 on the first exit and pulled into a CVS parking lot while I checked the tire visually, then tried to reset the light, and then gave up and used the AAA app to locate local gas stations.

Interesting tidbit, it didn’t tell me which were gas stations and which were actual service (repair) stations.

I ended up at a Sunoco, I believe A.C.E Automotive. I pulled up in front of what looked to be an air compressor hose. I stepped into the office and explained what had happened earlier and asked if anyone could check my tire pressure.

An older gentleman finished writing up someone’s car repair invoice and told me to move my car “by that silver car.”

The silver car was my car.

He checked all of my tires. The back tires were around 26 psi. The drivers side front tire was 31 psi and the freshly repaired tire was 20 psi. The person helping me filled them all and went to get a spray bottle to check the plug.

After it looked like the plug was good, he then told me to drive a mile or two and come back.

I still couldn’t get the light to reset.

So I drove a bit and came back and filled the car with gas. I asked the gentleman his name, and introduced myself. His name was Gary and he reminded me of my dad.

Meanwhile my dad is texting me. My dad encourages me to be cautious and not to hesitate to buy a new tire.

Gary checks all the tires and they are holding pressure. He knows I have 175 miles to go. He tells me to text my dad that I’m fine and I don’t need a new tire.

I try to pay Gary and he tells me I don’t owe him anything because “that’s how people should be.”
I stop at the visitors center right over the Pennsylvania state line and finally am able to reset the tire pressure light. I thought about how much those lights scare me. “Back in the day,” we got in the car and took our chances. We didn’t have warning lights. Cars just broke down.

And now a light comes on and I’m calling my dad in tears terrified I’m going to have a horrible accident.

But at the visitors center, the light goes out. I buy coffee from the vending machine.

And I notice the rest stop has free wi-fi. How cutting edge of Pennsylvania.

I was considering stopping at a truck stop to buy a tire gauge, but I did not.

I also promised myself if I saw a Popeye’s I would get a chicken sandwich. I did not.

I got home at 3.

That was a long day.

For more on my weekend away:

Saturday mini-break in DC

Sunday Funday paperwork

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

My walking tour of Salisbury

We finished the official 5k volkssport walk in Salisbury, Maryland, with almost 2 hours before the bus came to pick us up and drive us off to the racetrack in Dover, Delaware.

Dunkin Donuts had alerted me via their app that the Ravens won yesterday so I could get a free medium coffee. I googled the nearest Dunkin from our hotel (La Quinta) and asked Gayle if she were up for another adventure. She said sure.

Off we went.

On the way we passed a Wawa and a Goodwill. My ears perked up.

After a straight shot one mile walk, I got my coffee and a spider donut with a munchkin head. We stopped at Family Dollar and also at Goodwill. I bought a shirt, a blouse, a dress, and two sweaters for $31.

We still got back with an hour to spare.

Brief update: Cape May Eastern Shore Maryland volkssport trip

Today is the third and final day of the Liberty Bell Wanderers bus trip to Eastern Shore Maryland.

These trips include volkssport walks of 5 or 10K daily and some sightseeing highlights.

Unfortunately internet and free time have both been unpredictable so I’ve been posting more on YouTube and Instagram that blogging.

On Instagram, check out the hashtag #theadventuresofPJtheBear.

This is a tractor trailer at the grain mill at Purdue Chicken in Easton, Maryland:

https://youtu.be/cLMjk0Rol7E

This is a brief video of the weird little rail system in Cape May:

https://youtu.be/rpsziLk0vtA

Now, I am just starting to edit video on my phone so these are poorly & sloppily edited but this ferry might have been my favorite part of the trip:

https://youtu.be/FbJ4SkUyiAY

This cruise on the Patriot in The Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michael’s are definitely my second favorite:

https://youtu.be/S0ZtdAtQnd0

https://youtu.be/3ZiQCLar6xM