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Josh Likes Maryland: Part 1

I’ve found that I can’t enjoy full-fledged roller coasters anymore, but I enjoy the hints of thrills from airplane turbulence and chunky landings. Kinda gross.

We fly to the eastern part of the continent for a family reunion on the mother’s side – not just the immediate family, but a whole congregation of 19 humans of all ages on a plane. And Baltimore is the closest relevant city to where we’re staying – so that’s where I tell people where we’re going for 13 days – and I have little knowledge on these parts of the United States so I understand none of the references on crabs (“…is there a really bad inside joke on lice that I’m not getting?”).

It’s a bit of a trek from the airport to the neighbourhood, which is best approximately described as a more brick and tree-laden Wisteria Lane, and the arrival day is a bit of midnight blur involving godly 1AM croissant sandwiches and inflating air mattresses. We spend the next day relaxing, but some of the group decides to try and find a tennis court (the relatives we visit have numerous trophies and plaques so I’m in dangerous alien territory) while I nap, hone my non-existent billiards skills, and practice my tennis grunts because hey you never know.

The next day in DC is slightly less hot than Vancouver but much more humid, and it makes it feel like our group of 19 is treading slower than we really are. But the first place we visit is the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum which is amazing and informative but sardined with families who want to take group pictures beside every damn model airplane and army outfit. I’m mostly too tired to read any words so I look at maps and pretty things, and take pictures of parts of exhibits that I’m afraid I’ll care more about later. And there’s the gift shop to look at gross shirts I’d never wear but secretly want to.

New dream: creating a hybrid museum-school on wine, beer, and spirits. Yes.

A dimly glowing light of familiarity in a sardined museum

A dimly glowing light of familiarity in a sardined museum

We also hit up the Washington Monument – the tall obelisk pencil-looking thing that makes you wonder how many of them make up The Wall from Game of Thrones, height-wise (4!). I’m the fastest walker in the group so the stroll ahead of everyone (and the wait, therefore) to the Lincoln Memorial is tortuous but satisfying – hot and terrible but amazing and sweaty. And you can kinda tell everyone despises the heat, but my bedroom at home is a sizzling nightmare in the summer with a badly misplaced once-a-kitchen-window – and I sleep on a bunk so it’s worse – but I’ve grown to love it, and I love this gross sticky temperature we’re in. #Targaryen? #Martell?


And so we get home and thank God, but then our cousin who lives in New York City arrives and wants to take the twenty-somethings out to downtown DC which sounds like a terrible idea without a shower and a subsequent outfit, so I do that, and we’re off to pick up one of his friends before heading to his buddy’s apartment. And I mean hey: I’m thinking we’re heading to a bar for a couple of drinks or something, but then we stop by a 7-11 to buy beer (“riiiiight I forget you can do that here?”) and we all collectively decide that my cousins’s inquiry of  “…the family will be fine if we don’t come back for a night, right?” is a red flag, and I’m wondering which one of the cast of the Hangover we’re each going to be the next day. Alas. On the ride to wherever we’re going, I look out the window and jot down street and intersection names just in case we have to trace our steps back in this labyrinth of a city. God, aren’t I fun?

Some form of expectations were surpassed when one of the guys starts giving me a history lesson on Pabst Blue Ribbon – at this point I’m texting my friends back home my faux perils and my shitty judgements because I’m not drunk enough to mingle without a social sieve, but we end up having fun with forever Bud Light (“so it’s come to this“) and shots of soul-shuddering Fireball.



We subsequently Uber our asses over to some other house party (because Uber is like a thing, here) and at this point I’m introducing myself to everyone even though I accidentally have chunks of gross lip balm all over my face, and after I drink someone’s beer we all head a couple blocks west (east? north? maybe south?) towards nightlife. At least I think it was downtown. Sobriety is but a myth at this hour, and I have no idea where in the state I’m in, or even which state for that matter. And there’s pizza and more PBR at one point and I accidentally yell about a person real loud and there was deep talk I think?


what city are we in?!



The next day we shop at some outlets, which look just like outlets at any other American city. And then 4th of July BBQ. Yes.

Wine game is still weak, but I’m working on it. I’ve noticed that German wines are basically insignificant here besides a bottle of Dr. Loosen every now and then, and a weird prevalence of sparkling Limoux compared to back home, even in the most random and dusty wine and beer stores with lotto corners, dirty floors, and employees who ask for ID only when they finally decide to look at your face when the transaction is almost over. Some wine prices in this state, so far, are comparable to BC and aren’t the holy land that people claim US liquor prices to be, and there’s not a bottle of hard liquor in sight, anywhere, except for bars and restaurants. Huh.

Next: New York City.

Pêche Imperiale NV
Peachy! I thought it was just the marketing. And then I realized there’s flavouring added, and maybe I shouldn’t go to a wine shop 10 minutes before it closes and frantically choose a jazzy-looking bottle. Spiked sparkling Saumur, basically. Soapy. Chalky. A bit cloying. Crying.

Chandon NV Blanc de Noirs
Seemed appropriate for 4th of July celebrations! I don’t remember much but hints of yeastiness amongst ripe pomaceous fruit and bits of red fruit. Round.


DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

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