Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lancaster County Dutch Market & DC Tour

Today was a big day. It was such a big day that it made me seriously second guess where I want to live. I'll elaborate more on that in a minute. First, I'll mention the hotel breakfast I had this morning. They had a pretty good selection, but I settled on a couple omelettes, a few breakfast sausage links, and a waffle with butter.

Then, we went to a magical place. This place was the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown, Maryland.

It was only a few minutes from our hotel and was discovered while searching for ice cream places. Upon further research, it was found that this market also had chocolate covered bacon and pies. When we got there, it was so much more. It was so incredibly much more. This place literally had everything. I'll just throw some pictures up here and let you look through them. None of the pictures are repeats, and there was more to this place that pictures couldn't capture.

There were meats...

...there was fudge...

...there was the chocolate covered bacon...

...there were other chocolate delights...

...and more chocolate delights...

...and still more chocolate delights...

...freshly made pretzels and pigs in blankets...

...a myriad of doughnuts...

...cinnamon rolls...

...gourmet and specialty breads...

...strawberry shortcakes...


 ...more pies...

...still more pies...

...a bunch of cheese...

...some ice cream...

...some more meats...

...yet more meats...

...a lot of fresh poultry...

...some fried chicken and potatoes...

...and some more fudge (including watermelon!).

This place also had non food items such as furniture and other knickknacks, aprons, etc.

After almost having several nervous breakdowns deciding what I would get, I settled on the fried chicken. I got two thighs and a leg, and it came with a potato wedges, cole slaw, and a role.

It also came with a pickle, but we all know I didn't eat that.

I also had to go back and get a Boston Cream doughnut, because yes.

And, of course, I had to get a slice of chocolate covered bacon. My dad would be so proud!

I might mention that everything at the Lancaster County Dutch Market is homemade and delicious. The fried chicken was some of the best I've ever had. The doughnut was absolutely delicious as well. The chocolate covered bacon was the perfect combination of salty and sweet and rich. The bacon was perfectly cured and the dark chocolate coating had a little sea salt sprinkled on top. It was divine. I could justify (to myself) moving to Germantown, MD just to be close to this place. But not only that, this whole area is just beautiful. The roads are perfect and smooth and curvy and just the right amount of sweepingly hilly. The trees are numerous and tall and full. The colonial and neoclassical buildings are aesthetically pleasing. It's almost a perfect area. There's even a relative abundance of Indian restaurants around.

There are a few caveats, however, that deserve mentioning. The first one is that this market is only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I mean, it's understandable. It takes a lot of time to produce all the wonderful magic that is available at that place. The second is the weather. While not much different than Kansas weather, it just seemed to be overall more humid here. Of course, three days isn't really a fair sample size, so I'll need to spend much more time here to really judge the weather. The third is the population. With over 6 million people in the metro area, commuting can be troublesome. Even with the presence of a good public transit system, it took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from our hotel to downtown DC on the train. But that's par for the course with that many people around. The fourth and biggest deal-breaker is proximity to family. We'd be over 1,000 miles away, and visits with our parents would be heavily restricted.

All that being said, though, this was really the first place where I actually could see it being home. Sure, I like Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona, and Texas, but they never really gave me the "home" vibe. This place did. The overall atmosphere was similar enough to home that it felt comfortable, but it just had this niceness that's hard to pinpoint. I don't know. I don't think I'll ever actually live here, but I'm sure that I'll be back to visit more than just a few more times.

Anyway, after leaving the Dutch Market, Sidney and I went next door to Mr. K's and got some bubble tea. I got strawberry, and it was much better than the strawberry from the other night.

Later in the day, we decided to do a bus tour of the many monuments and notable buildings of Washington, D.C. We knew we couldn't feasibly drive and park downtown, so we headed to the nearest train station. We picked up our SmarTrip cards and headed up to the platform.

To commemorate my first public transit train/subway ride, Sidney and I took a selfie.

Once we got Union Station, we perused the food court for potential gains. Of the many options, I landed on Charley's Philly Steaks.

It was similar to PepperJax in that they cook the meat on a griddle to order. I got a Philly with bacon.

I also got some fried with bacon, cheese sauce, and ranch.

Sidney's mom also so kindly donated one of her chicken tenders from Bojangles.

We then headed upstairs to get in line for our bus tour. I was simply awed by the architectural detail of almost every building.

Just take a look as we toured the city on the bus.

We quickly approached the Capitol Building.

The Washington Monument wasn't far behind.

The Marine Corps War Memorial followed a drive by Arlington National Cemetery.

We then paid Honest Abe a visit.

We drove by the White House to hang with my bro Barack, and then we headed back to the hotel.

Sidney finished off the pretzel she had gotten at the Dutch Market earlier.

Naturally, I had to try it.

I'll be darned if it wasn't the best pretzel I ever had, even hours later.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Travel Day: Part 2

After a night of surprisingly restful sleep, I awoke to this view:

But I didn't stay in the window for long. There was a breakfast to eat! I hurried downstairs and found a pretty wonderful sight.

There were obviously carbs available, but I wanted some brotein too! Luckily, I found just that:

And more brotein!

There were also some carbs lurking in the corner:

But I maintained my willpower...

...for about 2 seconds!

Like I mentioned yesterday, travel days are a lost cause. And today was yet another travel day, so I again decided to take it face first. I got my 4 hard boiled eggs, I got my scrambled eggs. I also got a biscuit and plenty of gravy. I also got some gravy for my scrambled eggs, because gravy. The biscuits and gravy were actually surprisingly good. They weren't WheatFields, but hey, for a hotel they were excellent.

To top it off, I had a bagel and some "light" cream cheese with a carton of chocolate milk.

Ok, in all honesty, I attempted to eat a lot at breakfast so that maybe I would eat less at any place we may stop along the day's travels. Well, let's see how that went.

We found a place that purportedly has really good wings and hoagies. I may be in trouble.

And I was. I got a Philly Cheesesteak and 4 mild wings with ranch.

The Philly was good, with plenty of steak and provolone.

The wings were actually really good. They were smoked wings with Buffalo sauce, which was a first for me. In my experiences, smoked wings are usually just smoked, and wings with Buffalo sauces are fried. But these were really good.

I only got a half order so that maybe I wouldn't gain 10 pounds today, but I did sample Sidney's chicken strips. They were really good too.

Several hours later, we reached our final destination in Germantown, Maryland. We had been dreaming of ice cream all day, so when we got all of our stuff into our rooms, we headed to the nearest ice cream place.

It happened to be a Coldstone, which is fine because that means I knew exactly what I was going to get.

Since I'm completely devoted to chocolate, Chocolate Devotion it is!

In a waffle cone, of course! It was a beautiful outside, so that's where we went!

And this was my dinner! There's nothing quite like having an ice cream cone for dinner. It really is a special feeling, and maybe the sugar will help me sleep tonight!