Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Family Fun in Maryland

Since my parents have relocated from our hometown of Columbus, Ohio a couple years ago to now Baltimore it's been such a blessing to be able to see them more frequently.

Last weekend we hopped on Bolt Bus for a long weekend. What's even better is that besides my parents being there, Mr. Love Bird's brother and sister-in-law are just shy of 30 minutes away from them. It's great to see both sides of the family in one visit!

We used to take Mega Bus down there but have now been taking Bolt Bus since we found it's actually closer to my parents. Bolt Bus' on time performance is much better than Mega Bus' and it's more comfortable as well. Mega Bus uses off-branded buses lately with hit or miss wifi and outlets from NYC and have moved their stop from the convenient Port Authority to further west making it a pain to walk especially with Nia and a bag. Bolt Bus however is right off the Path train from NJ and is super easy to get to. 

She's an old pro on the bus now!
Our trip last weekend started on a Friday. Mr. Love Bird took the day off and we got to Maryland while the sun was still up and headed home to drop our things and for my parents to give Lil Love Bird a special surprise . . .

It was hard to pull her away from her tricycle, but we had a reservation at the famous G & M, known for the best crab cakes in Maryland. They did not disappoint! The sides weren't that good though, but next time I'd probably get the onion rings with my crab cake (I had the whipped potatoes which were more like concrete masses). Honestly, I'd be happy with just the crab cake - it was divine and now I never want to order crab cakes anywhere else. It was pure crab without all the extra fillers and breading I'm used to in most crab cakes. We couldn't get Nia to eat any, but she was fine with veggies and French fries. This was the only pic I could snag of our experience:

Mr. Love Bird looks like he was caught doing something bad!
The following morning we were debating going apple picking since we couldn't arrange to go to an orchard outside NYC but unfortunately, it was over everywhere we called. Instead we started our day at the PA Dutch Market. It was a carb lover's heaven! 

I grew up going to Amish Country in Ohio and loved Der Dutchman, and I have to say I wasn't a fan of the breakfast at PA Dutch Market, but the items in the market were fantastic. We bought a tray of lemon bars and ate them so quickly that day that I don't even have a picture of the evidence. Nia loved them too and she's super hard to please!

We had fun exploring other areas of the market . . .

Mr. Love Bird was in awe that candy cigarettes were for sale
This pretzel station was very popular; there were stuffed pretzel rolls with many different fillings
This was an epic aisle of sprinkles
There was also a furniture/homegoods store connected to the market
Once we had our fill at the market (and Nia drove everyone crazy clanging all the wind chimes for sale!) we headed to the Natural Market across from the fall festival we were going to visit. My parents had a few things to pick up and I had fun browsing the aisles looking at all the interesting products. 

Next, we headed across to the festival. There was no way my dad was going to get me to go in the corn maze (or anyone else!), but we let Nia have fun sorting and dumping dried corn in the trough, playing in on the hay maze and riding the cow train. 

Ummmmm no!

We couldn't leave without Mr. Love Bird confirming his height . . .

(We did get a family pic in one of those face cut-out things but Nia's face was so awful because she didn't want to do it that Mr. Love Bird deemed it un-shareable. Oh well! We tried!)

That night my mom and I went to her church's dinner theatre - a special evening for women while Lil Love Bird joined her dad at her cousin's football game. The dinner theatre was a fun time to bond over good food and a chance to get dressed up. I can't remember the last time my mom and I got dressed up to go somewhere! I remembered the novelty of it and thankfully asked someone to take a picture to capture the rare occasion. 

When we got back Mr. Love Bird and I headed out to his brother and sister-in-law's for a wine tasting party. It was a fun night filled with lots of food, music and even a hilarious round of Taboo. My sister-in-law is a fellow Ohioan and a woman after my own heart with her attention to detail - everything was delicious!

The next morning we headed to church, checked out a nearby Chinese buffet that had awesome Yelp reviews (it was great!) then wobbled to the Bolt Bus to head back to NYC. 

It was a fun weekend and the best part is next weekend we're heading back for more family fun! It really is great having our family closer than before.

Are you near or far from your family? How often do you get to see them? We use Skype to keep in touch with our family in between visits. Do you use that or other forms of technology?