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So I ended up spending the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Baltimore. I originally intended to spend the entire time at the annual Christkindlesmarkt that was held at Zion Lutheran Church. But then I got stuck in a horrible northbound traffic jam. I reached the North Linthicum light rail stop and I had to wait a bit for the next light rail train. I transferred to a Metro subway train and I had a long wait. So I managed to make it to the Shot Tower Metro station and walked through the area. By the time I made it to the church I only had 45 minutes left to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christkindlesmarkt.

As I left the church I took a photo of this magnificent cloud formation that was over by Baltimore City Hall (which is literally located just a few steps away from Zion Lutheran Church).

As I was walking away from the church, I couldn’t help but take a picture of this sign for an apartment building that should be of interest for anyone who knows anything about Edgar Allan Poe.

As a consolation for not spending as much time at the Christkindlesmarkt event as I would have liked, I decided to hop on the next Charm City Circulator down to the Inner Harbor, where I went to an annual event that’s similar to the one at Zion Lutheran Church except that it’s bigger—Christmas Village in Baltimore.

It was the opening weekend for this event and it’s currently running on a daily basis until Christmas Eve. (This year is the fifth year that it’s operating.) I took a lot of pictures while I was there.

The next photo shows the Advent wreath. The electric candles were dark when I was there because Advent wouldn’t begin for another week.

The woman with the long golden curly hair and the gold clothes was the Christkind who came from Nurenberg, Germany to help with the opening ceremony of the Christmas Village in Baltimore.

There was live entertainment inside of the tent.

There was a variety of stuff available for sale.

I was there on the first day that the Christmas Village in Baltimore opened for the first time. Even though most of the lights were up, the Christmas tree was dark because the tree lighting ceremony was scheduled for the following night, which I wasn’t able to go to.

As I walked away from the Christmas Village in Baltimore towards Harborplace, I saw these signs pointing in the direction of the place I had just left.

I ate a bratwurst platter with sauerkraut for dinner while I was there. The only other purchase I made was a pack of lavender scented incense that I bought from the Käthe Wohlfahrt area of the tent, which sold a variety German handcrafted items ranging from tree ornaments to nutcrackers. (I don’t have any pictures from that area because it had a “No Photography” sign posted on the outside.)

So after I left the Christmas Village in Baltimore I headed over to Harborplace, which I’ll write about in my next post.

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Beltway Plaza in Greenbelt, Maryland is basically a typical suburban shopping mall. It is anchored by a Target at one end and a Giant at the other end. It is a thriving indoor mall despite the fact that other malls similar to Beltway Plaza has succumbed to the phenomenon known as dead malls or the retail apocalypse in recent years. Beltway Plaza has such staying power that The Washington Post did an article about it last year.

The mall has a Southwestern-style motif on the outside that has gotten pretty grimy over the years. But a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be at the mall right at the point where it was briefly transformed into a total visual marvel. Outside there were some dramatic looking clouds that had come in that looked threatening but it didn’t rain at all. At sunset both the sun and the clouds combined to create this awesome effect.

This visual effect started to reflect off of the exterior of Beltway Plaza, which added a very warm glow to the mall that contrasted with the dark clouds in the background.

Here’s another shot of the clouds that reflected the glow of the sunset as it contrasted with the mall in the foreground.

Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I really got into shooting a bunch of photos with my new Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS camera (which I purchased used on eBay for $80) throughout the entire weekend-long Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. My time began when I submitted my artwork to be shown at the Art Show portion of the festival.

The one thing I noticed about this year’s festival was the weather. Usually the weather tends to be on the warm to hot side with some years being in the 70’s with low humidity while other years the temperature rises somewhere between 85-95 degrees with high humidity. This year’s weather was really unusual in that the temperature was in the 60’s and it was so cool outside that I wore long pants for the first night instead of the usual shorts.

On my way to and from submitting my art I shot the very early phases of the festival as it was opening to the general public for the very first time.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The most memorable food booth was this one which not only sold funnel cakes but also fried Oreos, fried Rice Krispies treats, fried cheesecake, and even fried Twinkies.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

For the many years that I’ve appeared at the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, the one thing I have never done before is sit in on the opening ceremony. I decided to finally do this for the first time ever. As I sat in the stands, I took a photo of these nice textured clouds that were floating over our heads.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The opening ceremony included an appearance by the color guard and we all stood as they played the national anthem.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a photo of one of the photographers who was shooting the opening ceremony.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

I managed to figure out how to use the zoom button on my new camera so I can take a few close-up shots of the stage, which was just in time for the next part of the opening ceremony. For the first time I actually saw the awarding of the annual Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen. Paul Downs, a local artist and environmental activist, won this year’s award. Here he is on the right receiving the award.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul is flanked by Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (second from left) and the members of the Greenbelt City Council.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul’s friends and family were invited to go on stage so they can have their photograph next to him.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs gave a short acceptance speech.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The general public was invited to a reception for Paul at the nearby Greenbelt City Hall, which would begin in about 15 minutes after the opening ceremony ended. I killed some time by taking a few more photos of the various festival attractions at twilight.

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I arrived at the reception, which was well attended.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Cake and punch were served at the reception.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs can be seen taking to a well-wisher on the right in the next photo.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (on the right) hosted another ceremony to honor Paul Downs.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul was awarded a miniature replica of Greenbelt’s iconic Mother and Child statue.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs posed with some of the winners of the previous years’ Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen award.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a closeup shot of Paul with his miniature Mother and Child replica.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Up until this point I had the camera set on the automatic function. By the time I stepped outside again I found that the sun had set. I decided to change the camera settings to night so I could continue to take pictures of the festival.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I spent some time at the bingo table while I played a couple rounds of bingo.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

This next photo shows a bingo variant where the winner was required to simply spell the letter “P” on the bingo card. Instructions were handed out on the acceptable way of spelling that letter.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (left) stands next to a couple of Greenbelt police officers.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I purchased two items at the festival that night. Both of them were at the used book table that was run by the Greenbelt Elementary School PTA. One was a DVD set of the first season of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which I only purchased for $4.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The other is this book titled Songs of the Gilded Age. It’s a music book full of songs that were written between 1890-2000 that I only purchased for $2. I can’t wait to plug some of these tunes into MuseScore, just like what I did with a few vintage sheet music that I purchased for 25 cents each at a yard sale last summer. This book also has some very lovely watercolor illustrations, such as what you see on the front cover.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 3)
Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

Here are a couple of recent photos that I consider to be the last summer ones. (I shot both on August 25.)  Here’s yet another nice sunset twilight photograph complete with some nice clouds.

Twilight

Here’s another twilight photo of some Black-Eyed Susans in full bloom.

Twilight

This really violent storm went through my area one hot and humid summer day (a.k.a. normal August weather in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area) which not only cooled everything off temporarily (the hot and humid weather returned the following day) but provided these really dramatic pictures.

I saw this really cool rainbow. I rarely see rainbows and, when I do, I only get to see just a portion of that rainbow. This photo documents the first time I’ve seen a full rainbow in recent memory.

That rainbow was short-lived because the sun tended to dart behind the clouds. But that storm provided some really dramatic looking clouds.

Those dramatic clouds provided a backdrop to this really cool looking sunset.

Here are a few things I found in the stores this holiday season, starting with the dinosaur-themed items I found in Target.

Dinosaur Stuff

Dinosaur Stuff

Dinosaur Stuff

Then there are the games that you can literally play while you’re on the toilet, which I found on sale at Five Below.

Games You Can Play on the Toilet

Meanwhile Safeway was selling these specially marked foods, such as the special Baltimore Ravens edition of Utz potato chips.

Specially Marked Package

Then there is this special version of Cheerios where one can easily make pumpkin spice part of a regular meal. (LOL!)

Specially Marked Package

You can now purchase Cthulhu, Chucky, Regan from The Exorcist, and Freddy Kruger as cute and cuddly vinyl figurines.

Pop! Vinyl Figures

Sometimes, when shopping gets overwhelming (especially this time of the year where I have to deal with more crowds than usual), I like to simply step outside. One day, while I was in a mall parking lot, I happened to catch this nice looking sky.

Nice Sky

Sometimes I’ll go up to the Pennsylvania Dutch Market that’s only opened from Wednesday-Saturday in Laurel, Maryland. That market features all kinds of Amish-made goodies that are sold in stalls that are run by the Amish themselves. Here is what the market itself is like along with some of the homemade goods that are sold there.

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The next photo shows the parking lot outside of the market. As you can see, it’s a very popular place to go food shopping. The parking lot gets so filled with cars that I frequently park in the Home Depot parking lot next door and walk over to the market.

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There was a really lovely cloud formation that I saw in the parking lot during one of my trips to that market that I can’t resist sharing here.

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The last two photo shows some of the food items I’ve purchased from that market on separate trips.

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One evening I decided to attend a networking event on the emerging Creative Class that was held at the large makerspace known as TechShop in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. While I was riding the Metro to the Crystal City stop, I noticed these dramatic clouds forming over the Potomac River so I took this next shot. The window was dirty, which I couldn’t do anything about, but this next photo shows the 14th Street Bridge along with the Washington Monument located at the far right. The dome structure next to the Washington Monument is the Jefferson Memorial.

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There was a reason for al those storm clouds: It started to rain after sunset. Between being on the Metro and being in Crystal City, I was underground through most of it so I didn’t have to use my umbrella until after I arrived in the parking lot of the Greenbelt Metro station as I was returning home.

I got off at the Crystal City Metro station and I immediately went inside the adjacent shopping mall known as the Crystal City Underground, which is named because of its subterranean location. The Crystal City area was once envisioned as a place where one could live, work, and shop without ever having to go above ground. The theory was that anyone living in one of the nearby apartments could just take the elevator to one of the underground tunnels and walk to one of the other buildings to work then walk to the underground to eat at a restaurant or shop either after work or on the weekends. I haven’t been in this area since the 2012 Artomatic, which was held in one of the nearby buildings. There are a few nice stores but most of the merchandise is pretty expensive, which is why I normally don’t shop there. The underground architecture is pretty interesting.

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The next photo shows one of the many mall entrances that leads to a set of steps for the visitor to walk down.

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I focused mostly on this chocolate shop I don’t recall seeing before known as Schakolad Chocolate Factory. This stores sells all kinds of handcrafted chocolates in a variety of shapes.

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I purchased this chocolate five dollar bill there. It was made from dark chocolate and it tasted very good. I ate it along with a light dinner I purchased from one of the fast food places. (The event I went to served food so I didn’t eat a large dinner that night.)

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The one other place I found interesting was this bar and restaurant known as King Street Blues, which seems to have a New Orleans-themed decor. I didn’t have much time to take too many pictures because of the event I was going to plus the place was crowded with people who stopped by after work. If I’m ever in the area again I’m definitely going to make this place one of my destinations.

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I finally arrived at TechShop. I had heard about this place from people who’ve been there for the last few years and I have to admit that it’s very impressive and very big with some nice decorative touches.

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The event itself was held in a side room. There were a series of three panel discussions plus there were networking opportunities between the panel discussions. The next photo shows one of them.

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There were also opportunities to tour the facility between panels, which I took advantage of. TechShop is a makerspace that’s filled with the latest equipment for anyone who wants to make anything as long as he/she pays a monthly fee to use the facilities. There are all kinds of machines for all kinds of making ranging from welding to fashion design to woodworking to making musical instruments.

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Someone is currently working on his own personal airplane to fly in and the body of the plane (sans wings) was on display as a work in progress.

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If I ever have an idea for something that needs to be mass-produced, I definitely will go to TechShop to work on the prototype for my idea after I use Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to raise the needed funds for both the monthly fee and any needed supplies.

UPDATE (November 15, 2017): Sixteen months after I made my first and only visit to the Crystal City location, TechShop abruptly filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors at all of its locations across the country.

The sky over Route 1 in College Park, Maryland looked like something out of a Renaissance-era painting when I took this photo at sunset on August 4, 2015.

Gorgeous Sky After a StormI was shopping at a local Safeway when I saw this giant Spider-Man balloon guarding a shelf full of Werther’s Originals candy. Spider-Man Balloon

Mothers' Day

On the way to my scheduled appointment with my therapist, I discovered that I needed to get some gas. So I stopped off at this gas station on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland that had something else parked there as well. It’s a vintage circa 1940’s-1950’s RV camper that has been converted to a food truck that serves fajitas and subs.

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I was scheduled to meet up with a friend after my therapy session ended. I had something that belonged to him and I decided to return it while he was working at his job at the public library in nearby Takoma Park. On the way to meet my friend, I saw this gorgeous flowering dogwood tree that I couldn’t resist photographing.

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The weather was raining on and off throughout the entire day. On the way home I saw a very faint rainbow that was pretty wimpy compared to other rainbows I’ve seen in the past. I attempted to photograph it but it didn’t show up too well. (I tried to darken the picture in Photoshop but it barely showed up.) However I was able to capture this really dramatic cloud formation over the sky.

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