It was just over a week ago that Stella and I had the good fortune to meet up with Ohmidog's John Woestendiek and his handsome and lovable dog Ace. Having read John's blog for the last couple of years, I knew he and Ace had gone on a pilgrimage of their own but I decided to send him an e-mail anyway and ask if he knew where I could go to find reasonably priced crab cakes. That e-mail alone might have been the best decision I made all week. As it happened, he was not in Alabama or Santa Fe but right there in Baltimore, taking a little break.
John suggested we meet at Riverside Park. Stella and I walked the nearly two miles from the hotel through Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood (a visual treat) and I called him when we got within shouting distance. I hadn't actually seen John before in person, but I'd seen Ace plenty of times on the blog. They came over the hill like a couple of old friends and it didn't take long to realize that the two of them were as much a part of the neighborhood as the park itself. Everyone from homeless guys to moms pulling wagon-loads of kids knew them well enough to stop and talk, and they did. Humans called out to Ace from a distance. Stella wasn't exactly thrilled that nearly all the dogs were off leash except her but she seemed to enjoy being part of a scene where there were almost as many dogs as humans. Thankfully, she appeared to take her cues in the park from Ace who was obviously one of the more well-adjusted dogs we've encountered.
We moved on to a nearby bar, Idle Hour for some human refreshment, where Ace and Stella were welcome to cool off and have a snooze, inside the bar. Stella had ants in her pants most of the time but everyone there was pretty relaxed about the whole thing and (attention bar owners:) having the dogs along made the beer taste better.
After the brew, we ditched the mutts at the home of a rather large feline named Mister and moved on to Captain Larry's for the crab cakes and fish tacos. If it had ended right there it would've been worth driving all 1930 miles for but it didn't. There were leftover birthday brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream to be had at the home of a real live Vanderbilt graduate and her carny-loving husband. It is a true friend who will let a man show up with a complete stranger, at nine-thirty at night for dessert. Seriously, it made me want to move.
That said, our timing was excellent as man and dog have now headed to Philadelphia with plans to begin again in Maine, and spend the next three months tracing the path of John Steinbeck and his dog Charley across the northern portion of the U.S. They're in the market for a loaner R.V. by the way, and if the folks at Coachmen ever find out about the two of them, I've not doubt they'll get one. I can't imagine an RV manufacturer finding a better entré to a world filled with dog loving travelers than John and Ace.
In case anyone missed it, here's a perfectly wonderful post from John, about our trip east.