Day 2: From Columbia to Ellicott City and on to the big city of Baltimore
0 miles; Steps*: 13,180 (B) 10,385 (R)
* We’re committed to exercising while on the road and both wear pedometers to log our daily results.
Our day began with a visit to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce in Columbia, MD to get the lay of the land before beginning our first Discover Small Town America Tour excursion. Columbia, which consists of ten self-contained villages, isn’t a small town in the traditional sense of the word. But, as a successful “planned community”, it feels like one. It’s got a pretty cool history and development story, which Wikipedia captures well (http://bit.ly/c5abH5). We want to give a big “thanks” to Marlys, who warmly welcomed us to the Howard County Chamber office this morning and gave us some great tips and contacts with whom to connect during the day.
Our first, and highly anticipated stop, was in Ellicott City (EC) and we weren’t disappointed. We parked on historic Main Street in the village. To Bart’s great happiness, our parking spot was just a few doors from an awesome, lively cafe named Bean Hollow.
The folks at Bean Hollow make amazing espresso drinks and we highly recommend you stop by when (not if) you visit EC. Based on the the number of regulars and newbies there, I’d say the enthusiasm for this java joint is “espressoly” high (this is Rorie’s phraseology)!
Walking up and down the streets lined with gorgeous historic buildings housing shops, restaurants, a railroad, museums and stone houses, was like stepping back into the 1800’s. And if you happen to be an antique lover, this is the town for you!
We came across a beautiful public garden on the banks of the Patapsco River and had a great conversation with Paul, a Master Gardener who along with other volunteers maintains this lovely space and is also active in the nonprofit organization, Patapsco Heritage Greenway.
Paul directed us to Howard County Visitor’s Center, which was once a funeral parlor, where we learned even more about the people and heritage of Elicott City. The folks who work there couldn’t have been any friendlier or more helpful. Thank you Paul and everyone else we met for your warm welcome, sharing of your time and information, and for your pride and stewardship in maintaining Elicott City’s rich history for all of us to enjoy.
“Got nothing against a big town”
When John Mellencamp wrote his song “Small Town”, he told us he’s “Got nothing against a big town”, and neither do we. Even though this is The Discover Small Town America Tour, we took in the sights and tastes of nearby Baltimore after leaving Ellicott City.
Urban neighborhoods can be a lot like small towns in scale and neighborliness, and the Federal Hill section of Baltimore – our second and last stop of the day – proved this point. Bart loves GOOD crab cakes, which are hard to find. He found them at Regi’s in the Federal Hill neighborhood, just a few blocks away from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (http://bit.ly/JHCByh). The restaurant review site Urban Spoon gave the place a 4.5 rating. Bart loves good “lump crab” crab cakes and this place exceeded his high standards. Yum!
Rorie’s a BIG fan of sweets and that could only mean one thing in B-More: Little Italy. After lunch we wandered over to this iconic neighborhood and wandered its streets until we found Piedigrotta Italian Bakery, which gets 4.5 on the food review site Yelp (http://bit.ly/vV6JlZ). Normally Rorie is all over the Italian pastries but today – because temperatures were a little toasty – we decided on some amazing pistachio gelato. It really hit the spot!
Tomorrow we’re off to Harpers Ferry, WV, Staunton, VA and other amazing small towns. Stay tuned…