Maryland [July 25th to July 27th]

The adventure continued on the east coast.

The very next morning, we got up decently early and hopped in the rental car to drive down to Maryland to see BFFL Hillary and her husband Jon. To be honest, the drive to Maryland was pretty uneventful. We took back roads because the NJ Turnpike + Tolls = HELL NO, and we drove through a good portion of Pennsylvania and into Maryland.

We drove on 78, which is the exact same way I used to drive from NJ to Kutztown when I was in college, so I passed all these exits I remembered and shared with Justin some random college stories, that he may or may not have heard before, if he had heard them before, he said nothing and still pretended to be interested in them because he’s awesome like that. The highlight of the drive was going to the first Sheetz we could fine [Sheetz > Wawa > Bucc-ees, though many Texans would disagree with me there, but they just have never had the pleasure of experiencing Sheetz or Wawa]. I got my favorite sandwich [chicken with double cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, ranch, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese because I know you care], Justin learned never to order a cheeseburger from Sheetz [I mean.. why would you? It’s not a burger place], but he was overjoyed to see tons of flavors of Faygo and stocked up. We got Faygo as a joke on a road trip once in 2017, and now it’s becoming our thing to try find Faygo on all road trips because it isn’t anywhere near Houston. It isn’t even the best soda ever, it’s super sugar and sweet and really just tastes like any other flavored soda, but they have some cool flavors, and there are way more flavors available on the east coast compared to the west coast and central US, where most of our road trips take us.

Flavors we got included Cotton Candy [mainly to make BFFL Hillary try it, and she did, and we all jokingly called it clown jizz, and that became an inside joke for most of the weekend], Candy Apple, Pineapple and Black Cherry [the two flavors I like and it’s hard to find good cherry and/or pineapple soda in Houston], Mountain Mist [think Mountain Dew], Cherry Coke, Creme Soda, Red Pop [Strawberry], and some weird raspberry blueberry flavor that we had never seen before.

I cannot believe I wrote a whole paragraph on Faygo flavors…

Eventually we got to Maryland, easily found BFFL Hillary/Jon’s place and the weekend began. Their apartment is awesome, and super super clean. They had some really awesome organization ideas, which Justin and I want to incorporate in our trap house so it looks less like a college frat house. They also have cute kitties. Hobbes was very friendly and after we were there a few minutes, he let us bond with him, Callie was shy though, and we barely saw her all weekend, but Gandalf [aka G] is a lot like that, so I don’t hold it against her. They also got Justin addicted to seltzer while we were there because they had SO MANY Polar Seltzer flavors/cans, and I’m really NOT a seltzer drinker [I like sweet diabetes inducing things]  and even I can admit it was good seltzer. I actually really like Polar brand soda, I used to be really into Polar Orange Dry soda back in the day, when I used to spend all holidays visiting my aunt in MA. Unfortunately they don’t sell Polar in Texas, so unless I want to spend an insane amount on amazon or Walmart online, alas I probably will never get my Orange Dry soda [nor will Justin get the Polar seltzer he fell in love with]. Alas, I digress…. [and about soda, nonetheless, WTF brain? I don’t even really drink soda. I’m a water and coffee type girl].

The long weekend started with us ordering pizza from Ledo Pizza, which is a pizza chain that’s only in Maryland/surrounding areas. We got a buffalo chicken pizza, a 1/2 cheese 1/2 meat of some sort pizza [can’t remember if it was bacon, pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, or all of the above?], and a macaroni and cheese pizza. The boys went to fetch the pizza [and apparently had to wait a really long time for the pizza because they didn’t have the 1/2 cheese/ 1/2 whatever pizza connected to our order?] which was awesome because BFFL and I got gossip time. Then the boys came back, and we ate lots of pizza. The Ledo’s pizza was really good, it was square-shaped. My favorite was the Buffalo chicken pizza. I don’t really think my area of Texas has any unique-ish pizza places aside from chains like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, etc. New Jersey has really good pizza though, I always get at least one pizza when I go home because it’s so good.

After we ate, we went to a Escape Room. Jon and Hillary really love their escape rooms. J and I like them too, but we don’t really get to go much because most of them are downtown Houston, and well TBH, fuck driving downtown with the Houston-area Highways and the fact that every single day, a different high-traffic road seems to close for construction that never gets done and makes traffic [and my commute to work!] worse, but we spent my birthday at an Escape Room about two years ago, and we had a good time.

We went to Rockville Escape Room and did a room about a diamond heist. We had a good time there, and we “escaped”. I attempted to help, but most of my leads didn’t pan out quick enough to actually be useful. But it was fun? But the Escape Room place itself was a disappointment? Granted, I only have once place to compare it to, but… There seemed to be only one person working there? The other place we’ve been too, which I’ve been to twice, there’s always tons of people working there, and a staff member actually stays in the room with you, to provide clues and time updates. When we solved the room, the staff member didn’t even volunteer to take pictures or anything, she just went back into a room or office or whatever. But we still attempted to take our own pictures

[both stolen from BFFL since I had left my phone in the car]

After we escaped, we went to get bubble tea. I had a matcha drink with bubbles, since Craig got me so addicted to matcha flavored things with out ventures to Asian Supermarkets when I was in NJ [and as I type this, I am snacking on matcha flavored pocky that barely survived the plane ride from NJ to Texas]. Justin had some green apple flavored thing with some sort of jelly in it. He did not like the jelly but did admit it was tastier than the bubbles [Justin hates the bubble part of Boba, I love it though]. Then we went back to their place, and played a shit ton of Jackbox TV on the switch. I got myself addicted to the rapping robot game, but unfortunately my reign of power in Tee-shirt ninjas has ended, before going to bed around 2 am or so.

We all went to bed. We slept on air mattresses in their extra bedroom, and those air mattresses were WAY MORE comfortable than the mattress in my brother’s bedroom that I had been sleeping on for the past month in NJ because that mattress is hard as a rock. And fell asleep.

The next morning we got up reasonably early. We were greeted in the morning by the smell of delicious coffee [and somebody, either Jon or BFFL has the same obsession with flavored creamer that I do] and we had coffee, and then drove to Diablo Donuts to have breakfast, which Jon claimed had the best donuts ever.

Diablo Donuts was this tiny store in downtown Baltimore [aka B-More because that’s literally what I started to call it, blame the fact people call Houston, H-town here], which I never would’ve known was there had I not been there with someone who did. The donuts were works of art.

We literally wanted like every flavor, so I think we each picked out two flavors we wanted and then we cut pieces of them and ate them all.

The donuts were indeed as good as Jon had claimed they are, and I’m REALLY not a donut eater [though Justin loves them]. My favorites were probably Unicorn Farts [the one covered in fruity pebbles cereal. I love fruity pebbles cereal] and the two fruity ones. I didn’t try the bacon one [I don’t like bacon]. The cinnamon one tasted just like a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch cereal.  I didn’t try the Rocky Road one. The strawberry cheesecake one was yummy. The sprinkled one was just a very delicious chocolate frosting covered sprinkled donut. I didn’t try the oreo one [the one with the gummy worm]. Justin also bought some of their coffee to take home, that’s been his new thing, we buys ground or bean coffee at places we visited, over this trip we collected diner coffee from my favorite NJ diner, coffee from Diablo Donuts, chocolate marshmallow flavored coffee from Wegmans [we don’t have Wegmans in Texas either], and one other kind, but I don’t remember what it is.

So Diablo Donuts was a delicious way to start our morning.

After we filled up on way too many donuts, we headed towards the Baltimore aka National Aquarium because Justin [and I] love aquariums, and I remembered visiting the B-More Aquarium en route to my 8th grade trip to Williamsburg, VA, and thought it’d be fun to do something touristy and go back.

The Aquarium was huge and filled of interesting facts like this one:

The entire aquarium was filled with perverted comments [mostly courtesy of me], cool fish amongst other animals, and awkward selfies. We had a really good time.

 

There was also this interactive part, where you could share what you’ve learned on your aquarium trip on a huge screen, chosen from a list of different aquarium-related words, and us being us, we probably had too much fun with that.

After we toured the aquarium, J and I did our tourist thing and went to the gift shop. I was sad that they did not have postcards at the gift shop [seriously though…. WTF?], but I did buy a snowglobe for the librarian at my school, and a best friends forever necklace complete with dolphins for BFFL and me because I’m secretly like a 6 year old at heart.

We went back to BFFL’s place, and we basically gamed until like three in the morning, with a brief break for dinner. We started by playing Pandemic. It was first time playing Pandemic. I didn’t hate it. It’s also a cooperative game, so I couldn’t really screw it up, which was good. Then we played a lot of Scattergories, which was really fun because I freaking love Scattergories, but I never really get to play it because with just J and me, we fight a lot over if each other’s answers count or don’t count, so it was much better with more people, including people who are equally as perverted as J and me.

We went to dinner after that to a place that Hillary and Jon frequent, so we could have REAL MARYLAND CRABCAKES, well so I could because J doesn’t eat crab. The resturant we went to had the BEST rolls I have ever had in my life. They tasted like zeppoli’s, IMO, but without the powdered sugar, and they were SOOOOOO good. I had an amazing lobster bisque as well, and of course crabcakes with a side of cauliflower mashed potatoes, and the best cucumber/corn/tomato salad I have ever had. I liked it so much, that I literally googled recipes until I found one like it, I found this one, and the salad was really good, and it met the approval of J’s mom and his mom’s boyfriend, so I think it’ll go into my salad rotation. And of course the crabcakes tasted awesome. The food was amazing.

We went back and started playing this board game called Therapy, which is sort of like trivia pursuit with a more interpersonal aspect of it? The board is divided into different psychological subjects… like there was infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult hood, aging, and another category which I forget but was basically based on dreams. You rode your couch around the board and collected pegs based on the questions you answered correctly. But keep in mind, the OG game is from the 1980s and the answers were SO outdated, but I thought that was part of the charm? Then there’s a part where you interpret what different Rorschach inkblots are. Then there’s the therapy aspect. If you land on a certain space within the different regions, you get stuck in therapy with whoever controls that color. Therapy consisted of interpersonal questions… like one was something like…. what does ____________ get more joy from… Their work, Their free-time, or an equal amount of joy from each…. The patient had to write their answer on a piece of paper, keep it hidden, and the therapist had to guess what answer ______________ picked. If the therapist got it right, you cured the person, and they could move again next turn, if the therapist got it wrong, the patient would be in therapy til the therapist got a right answer. There was also group therapy, where the patient wrote an answer, and the three other therapists had to discuss the correct answer they thought a patient wrote down.  BFFL got stuck in therapy with Justin, and was in therapy with J for at least ten turns. I got in therapy with BFFL, but since her and I are basically twins, she cured me pretty quickly. Jon got stuck in therapy with me, and he got out before Hillary did with Justin, but he was still stuck in therapy with me for quite a few turns. The game was so much fun and so funny. By the time we finished playing, it was after 2 am, and we went to bed.

The next day, also our last morning before heading home, we slept pretty late. Well, I slept pretty late [I think I slept til like 11?] and I’m pretty sure everyone else was wide awake before I was. We went to this place called Baked Bear, which makes homemade cookies, and you get to design your own cookie ice-cream sandwich for breakfast.

I had cookie dough ice cream with one M&M cookie, one chocolate chip cookie, and oreo cookies. The sandwich was AMAZING, but I do think it had a bit too much ice cream on it, which made it really hard to eat it without making a huge mess, but it was soooo good.

Then we went to Wegmans, so I could buy coffee for my dad [since I had drank most of his coffee when I was at home since I drink coffee far stronger than he does and I wanted to replace the coffee I drank for him], and Walmart so I could buy a few Maryland postcards to send [no… I haven’t written any postcards since being home, I’ll get there eventually] and so Justin could buy a shot glass. Then we came back, packed up our stuff, and drove home.

We had the best time with Jon and Hillary, and we cannot wait to see them again. We had soooooo much fun, and they were the best hosts 😉 I hope they come visit us in Texas soon 😉 There’s so much to do here that we haven’t done with them [for example, Jon has not had Killen’s and that’s a tragedy in itself].

The drive back to NJ wasn’t really that eventful [though we did stop at yet another Sheetz]. We got back at night. The next morning we returned our car and saw both my grandmothers. My Aunt Shari was over my grandmother on my dad’s side’s apartment, so we had a little birthday luncheon for her because her birthday was Monday. There was spaghetti and meatballs and cake. Then we visited my nana [on my mom’s side], but we didn’t stay very long. But then my Aunt Shari had posted a pic from her birthday luncheon, that my Aunt Debbie [my dad’s sister-in-law via his youngest brother, so my aunt by marriage] saw, and then Debbie and Rachel, who was home from college for the summer, doing an internship in NYC [god can you believe she’s about to be a senior in college?] wanted to see us because they didn’t realize I was home [even though I had posted various Facebook check-ins/updates from NJ in the month I was there? But sure] only we were leaving the next day, and we were supposed to see Ranchelle for dinner that night… So after a bunch of juggling, we all wound up deciding to go to Debbie’s for a BBQ, so she could meet Michelle and see us before we went.

The BBQ was very last-minute, but that’s just how my family does things. It was nice to see Rachel. I really hadn’t seen her since she was in my wedding in 2015, and she was 16 then and still in college, and I don’t think I had seen my aunt since my wedding either? It was nice to catch up with family. We didn’t see Jenna [Rachel’s sister, she’s 15 now, I think? or 16?] because she’s at sleepaway camp. My Uncle Johnathan [my dad’s brother] showed up after he was done boating. I’m glad Michelle got to meet Debbie/Rachel, and it all worked out, in the end. We didn’t stay very long though because we had a VERY early flight back to Texas.

The next morning, our flight left at like 5:40 am or something crazy like that. My parents had hired a car to take us, it picked us up at 4, and everyone insisted that was enough time to go through security and get to the gate because we live fairly close to the airport. But I guess no one else realized that a million other people were leaving just as early or that traffic might actually be bad that early in the morning because we missed our flight. Luckily, Southwest is really good about that sort of thing, so the agent at the baggage check-in booked us on a flight that left around 6:40 am and connected in Austin, so it didn’t really effect anything, aside from we had a 4 hour layover in Austin. But the flight from Austin is only about 45 minutes, if that, to Houston, but it was a really rough flight with a lot of turbulence because of storms over the Houston region. So really, there was no harm done, but the moral of the story is, it doesn’t matter how early your flight is, or how close the airport is,  PREPARE TO BE THERE TWO HOURS BEFOREHAND.

And since then, I’ve legit just been playing Fire Emblem Three Houses [Edelgard is legit my most favorite character in any FE game I’ve ever played, and she’s way higher on my list than even Lucina was. I am so obsessed with my Black Eagles house, and I constantly think about them night and day and I am so engrossed in their fictional lives. It’s insane. Like I don’t know if I can even play a different house in FE Three Houses in New Game Plus because I live Edelgard that much. Seriously, if you like Harry Potter, and you own a switch, Fire Emblem Three Houses is the best Harry Potter RPG ever that isn’t a Harry Potter game, YOU NEED TO PLAY IT, you will thank me for it later] for about 10-12 hrs per day.

School starts in a week [well back to school for teachers, the kiddos don’t start til the end of August] and I’m just not ready to accept that that is reality.

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