Sunday Walk – Jug Bay

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After last week’s Super Summer Friday with a smashin’ 26°C and porch gatherings until midnight, a polar vortex came blowing down from the Arctic and wrapped us in a thin sheet of frost. Yikes! It was raining a lot too! Almost a whole day, unheard of in these parts. But today was sunny and even though a mere 3°C we didn’t want to spend all day inside and headed on out to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary on the Patuxent river, about a forty minute drive from home. We saw bald eagles, ospreys, cardinals, titmice (yes), red-bellied and red-headed woodpeckers, herons turtles etc. We missed the beavers though, I hear the only come out at night.

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Make Winter Great Again

The Great Snowfall of 2016 started on Friday around 1.30pm. It is now Saturday night, 10pm, and it has not yet stopped. On the verge of cabin fever, Karl and I decided to brew up some Glühwein earlier, with the help of a bottle of Tempranillo (part of our snowstorm supplies) and some mulling spices, fill it into a thermos and head on out into the stormy night. We’re in a state of emergency, no cars are allowed on the street other than plow trucks, so the whole town was a pedestrian wonderland. Here’s some pics from our walk – click for a slideshow or to enlarge! It was amazing.

Winter Sunday

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We woke up to utter grayness this morning, turned back around once, twice until finally ready to get up. What greeted us behind the living room windows was a scurry of snow flakes. Naturally, I got all excited. Then the coffee ran out. What else would you do in such a situation other than bundle up and go on a two mile walk to the local coffee roastery, taking advantage of the snow and get some fresh air? It didn’t stick, by the way. We walked through pretty neighborhoods and along one of the rare bike paths until we arrived at a nondescript building nestled in a corner off a main road that holds Ceremony Coffee Roasters.

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Inside, the incomparable smell of freshly roasted coffee, a cute little café/store with coffee accessories (French Presses etc.) and in the back, a bigger room with the actual roaster.

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It wasn’t our first time there, but I hope tit provides you with a long awaited new glimpse into our lives as well as an example of the things Annapolis has to offer other than pretty historic buildings and amazing water views. Karl and I are actually (mentally) constructing a food tour off the beaten path for future visitors. More on that (maybe) soon …

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Unser Lauftreff (eigentlich ein Vorbereitungstreff) kulminierte heute im Cold Turkey 10k, einem 10km-Lauf etwa zwanzig Minuten mit dem Auto entfernt von hier. Der Kurs war recht hügelig, und da ich die letzten zwei Wochen Probleme mit meinen Knöcheln hatte und entsprechend so gut wie gar nicht gelaufen war, hatte ich meine Ziele im Vorhinein auf die Ursprungseinstellung zurückgesetzt: ins Ziel kommen. Es war kalt, lange Hose, Handschuhe, langes Unterhemd unter dem T-Shirt, Mütze. Am Ende steckten Handschuhe und Mütze im Hosenbund und die Ärmel waren oben. Es waren knapp 200 Läufer am Start, und in einem Wort: Ziel erreicht. Konnte die Sache entspannt angehen und entspannt durchlaufen und hatte viel Spaß und wurde stolze sechste in meiner Altersgruppe. Karl hat nach der ersten Meile ein bisschen angezogen, kam dreieinhalb Minuten vor mir ins Ziel und begleitete mich auf meinem Schlusspurt (in kleidsamen T-Shirts unserer Gruppe).

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Zur Belohnung gabs ein ausnahmsweise richtig schönes und weiches Langarmshirt, meinen neuen designierten Schlafanzug, danach zu Hause ein heißes Bad und einen entspannten Sonntag mit einer großen Portion Nudeln. Am Donnerstag ist Thanksgiving! Wir fahren nach Delaware bzw. Pennsylvania und freuen uns auf vier Tage Wochenende.

Billy Goat Trail

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This weekend’s hike took us to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park where can be found a rather rocky hike that at times resembles a climb – hence the name Billy Goat Trail. It lead us and some friends along the Potomac river, over large boulders and up steep cliffs; beautiful views abound. It was pretty crowded, but that didn’t really bother me; since it’s highly popular I figured we wouldn’t be alone on the trail. I will say that while fun, it was also a painful experience. You see, on Saturday morning we had a 5 mile race which went well, but at a price. My ankles were rather sore and on Sunday pretty much every step hurt. Oh well, nur die Harten kommen in den Garten. It was a gorgeous day, weatherwise, not too warm, not too cool, sunshine aplenty. So an active weekend on this end with good food, good drinks & good company.

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Weekend Roundup

Not much has been happening around here lately – which is kind of enjoyable. The weather is gorgeous these days, I finished the short stories I was working on and we joined a running club. Apparently I need organized physical activities or it’s not gonna happen. Yesterday we started with an 8 am run with said club, followed by brunch with friends in DC. Afterwards, Karl & I took a stroll past ye olde White House down to the Museum of Natural History where we found ourselves overwhelmed with the sheer volume of exhibited items, info boards and stuffed animals.

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So we just took a casual stroll past the elephant (entrance in all DC Smithsonian museums is free, so no waste of money here) and I got myself a pair of beautiful earrings at the museum shop. Karl picked up his bike that he had fixed at a DC bike shop, then we went back to Annapolis for dinner, a movie and ice cream (the former two at our house, the latter one downtown). I was beat at night, in bed by nine.

Today, Sunday, we also got up early for a hearty breakfast (breakfast potatoes = best invention of all times; I added some of my homemade Creole seasoning which I acquired a taste for at the beach house) and then drove up to Sugarloaf Mountain Park, where we were meeting up with some people for a hike.

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We hiked around the mountain for about four hours and finished with a stop at the local winery, where we tasted some Maryland-made Pinot Grigio (not too shabby). Back in A. we checked out the Fall Festival that was being held at Maryland Avenue, just around the corner from our apartment. In the back you can see the State House, Maryland’s parliament buildung.

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As per tradition, this Sunday night will end with a bunch of pizzas. May your weekends have been blessed with a variety of toppings of your choice.

Summer vs. Autumn

In der roten Ecke: Anna “Sommer” Höfflepöff, in der blauen Ecke: Karl “Autumnal” Hurzenplutz.

Whenever I mentioned that my favorite season was summer over the past couple of years, K would always with respond with an “Are you serious? Autumn is so much better, the air, the leaves etc.” and I was like, yeah, right, and the greyness without end and the nasty rain and the early darkness. Who would ever prefer that to weeks of sunshine, greenness, ice cream and no socks? Case in point, I have not worn socks once since I got here. So in the past, we politely agreed to disagree on this one.

Turns out, this argument was a mere matter of perspective. When you grow up in summers like this one here in Annapolis, where oppressive humidity is the rule and not the exception, where the sun stings on your skin as soon as you step outside, where you start sweating like a mofe without even moving and where you cannot picture how to survive without air conditioning, let alone find a minute of sleep at night in your apartment, I can see how you might lean towards another season, where it is also mostly sunny, just more bearable and with lower humidity. When we were hiking in Catoctin State Park a couple weekends back, we crossed paths with another hiker who cheerily exclaimed “Isn’t it just wonderful for August?” I smiled politely and nodded, having no idea what she was talking about when she said “for August”, since the weather was just perfect and all I would expect from a day in late August – in Germany. Upon consultation with my husband, I found out she was referring to the nice, warm temperatures and lack of humidity that were unusual for this time and place of year. Well, longitudes and latitudes have changed and I actually find my nordic self anticipating – gasp! – autumn. Annapolis, by the way, is just about on the same longitude as Sevilla, Spain – the hottest city in Europe. That should give you other nordic natures over there an idea. If this fall is anything like what I I have been promised, that is not as much greyness, way more sunshine and agreeable temperatures that will actually wanna make you move your butt, I might be swayed. At least while I am here at 38° 58′ N76° 30′ W.

Encounters

Some people aren’t morning people. It takes me about an hour and a half from the time I get up before I am willing and/or capable to perform any meaningful interaction. I was in the middle of waking up this morning over some chocolate spread and black tea, when someone pounded on our apartment door. It was a very important sounding pounding. As I was, unshowered, hedhog-like hair, in my lounging clothes and not even there yet (aka a pretty sorry state) I tip-toed to the door and risked a peek through the peephole. I saw a massive man in uniform which I presumed to be a police uniform, so I opened the door. “Do you own a white Prius?” the officer asked. (We do, as I suspiciously responded, fearing the worst – even though I don’t know what the worst in this case could have been – stolen and ran into a tree? Broken into and defecated all over?) He informed me that some sort of emergency had occurred in front of the building where Karl parked the car last night and kindly asked me to move it. I only heard “emergency”, slipped into some fancy hiking sandals and followed him downstairs as I was (aka disgusting). He said “Whoa, you don’t have to be that fast.” Turns out, a pipe had broken and the City needed to place their fixing-pumping-vehicle where we were parked. The whole group of workers and tenants was really happy to see me coming down the street with the officer, which kind of brightened my morning.

The past weekend we spent camping in Catoctin Mountain Park, a national park about an hour and forty-five minutes from Annapolis. We took it pretty easy though since I had caught a mystery cold (no idea when and where) and only went on a little hike on Saturday. Which itself was cut short by a nasty group of insects. We were heading towards a vista up in the mountains, and a family of four plus two dogs was coming our way. When we were about twenty yards away from them, the mother let out a terrible scream. And then another. My first thought was a black bear, which there were warnings about in the park. “RUN!” she yelled. “BEEEEES!” Her family took off and so did we. I felt terrible running away while at the same time thinking “We should probably help them”, but I couldn’t come up with a very good plan on how to help. A little further down the trail we stopped and Karl went back to them to offer his first aid kid. The woman was still screaming in pain; she had been bitten about eight times, and her husband once right on the kisser. Karl wanted to still try and get to the vista, I suggested to first wait a half hour and let the presumed bees calm down a little. After a food break we headed on up again. Karl was walking a couple of steps ahead so just in case, I would still have time to run with my weakened immune system. Everything went well, we came by the spot where we had seen the family, and Karl said “Seems fine” and I decided I might as well close up to him, when I suddenly heard him yell “F*CK!” and saw him jump up and run in a bunch of big black flies around his legs. I turned the other way and ran. On the other side Karl met a couple of people who had all been attacked on their way up there and led the expedition back through the woods off trail, making a big circle around the spot where the what we now believe to have been some extra mean horseflies patrolled the trail. We also put up a warning sign and decided to head back to camp. Luckily, Karl only got bitten once, but there were several people with multiple bites that had swollen to some impressive sizes. Weekend was fun anyway.

Segelausflug

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Sonntag haben wir uns zum ersten Mal auf offene Gewässer begeben – not even, wir haben es bis zur Chesapeake Bay Bridge geschafft (die im Übrigen eine Riesenperversität für sich ist – sieben Kilometer über die Bay, und ich habs ja nicht so mit Brücken; aber wir haben eine Spur gefunden, auf der ich keine Schnappatmung bekomme – zum Glück, denn wir cruisen ganz schön oft rüber) und zurück. Bei Bier und Chips schipperten wir zwei Stunden bei eins a Sonnenuntergang vor Annapolis herum, es war wunderschön. Wir hatten die besten Plätze ganz vorne im Boot, wo wir so taten, als wär außer uns niemand an Bord (in fact: vier Mann Besatzung und vielleicht noch zwanzig andere Leute). Und wir haben ein Segel gehisst, Karlsson & I (the jib, brandneu und noch ziemlich steif).

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Ein Festival der Guten Laune

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My birthday yesterday started at six in the morning with me not being able to stay in bed any longer. I had been awake since three – not with excitement, as one might think, but with a small but nagging hangover. We celebrated Birthday Eve in a wine bar on Main Street. Sampling two wine flights left its traces – as Karl pointed out: Man ist ja keine siebenundzwanzig mehr. The festivities surrounding my birthday started on Wednesday and will continue on until tonight. It’s almost like a royal wedding. It’s not like we make a big deal of birthdays every year, but for some reason this year we’re having some fun with mine. Wednesday night we took a trip to DC just to go to my favorite bookstore – this had actually been on the top of my to-do list for months. It was all I hoped it would be. Thursday night (and people who aren’t familiar with my sensitivity to lighting might find this odd) we went to IKEA to buy some lamps to improve the lighting situation in our apartment. I don’t wanna hear it myself, but winter is coming and it can’t hurt to be prepared.

We were thus up at six in the morning yesterday and decided to go on a walk, grab some bagels on the way and take advantage of the quiet streets. We ended up in Lafayette park, which is really just a patch of green by the water and watched the morning getting brighter.

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And now we get to the exciting part – another thing that had been high up on my to-do list ever since I got here, but with my birthday coming up and us reserving seafood for special occasions we decided to wait until my birthday until I would taste my first Maryland Blue Crab. We picked a place by the Severn called Cantler’s. We had to wait an hour for our outside table (they don’t take reservations). No problem though, we were expecting that, got a drink and went down out back, where the fresh catch is delivered daily. So the crabs you’re eating there were still swimming around happily in the bay a couple hours earlier. There’s a culling station, where the (male) crabs are sorted by size, as well as crab floats.

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The restaurant is boat accessible, this is their parking lot. We were buzzed about an hour later and got a table outside which was covered with a heavy duty paper cloth. We weren’t sure how many crabs to get, but the waitress recommend half a dozen extra larges, given my being a first-time crab eater. Turns out, she was spot on. We managed three crabs each and a couple extra claws that came with them and were pretty full after. The spice mixture you can see on the shells is called “Old Bay”, and the crabs are steamed in it. You do everything by hand, so the spice gets on your fingers. When you pick out the crabmeat and put it in your mouth, you automatically get some spice in there too. The dips we had are melted butter and vinegar. Loved the vinegar. Before and after (pics taken with phone camera):

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I will say that crabs are a work intensive and messy dinner. I loved it, also because eating with my fingers is one of my favorite things in the world. When I was younger I was convinced that my first ruling as a future chancellor would be to abolish all silverware.

So much for now! Today’s celebratory events included a farm-to-table brunch that Karl prepared, now we’re gonna head out to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for some outdoor relaxation. Birthday weekend finishes tonight with a sunset sailboat trip. Good times.