| Middle | End
Budget | MPG
Log | Best Of Trip |Ballpark
Rankings | My "I've Been
Everywhere" progress | Boxscores
SUMMARY - TRIP BY
total days -
total days in car/camp/hotels/friends'
houses - 49/1/12/15
miles - 21,099
gas used - 772.79
best / worst / avg.
gas mileage - 23.06 / 32.88 / 27.59mpg
cost of gas - $4.15 (US dollars) in blue river, british columbia, $3.39
in boron, CA. $2.61 in austin, tx and auburn, al. $2.99 average.
total cost -
$6,476.88, this doesn't include donations and accommodations from friends,
family, and ballclubs.
states and capitals
LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, VA, MD, PA, DE, NY, CT, MA, ontario, MI, OH,
WV, IN, IL, IA, MO, WY, CO, NE, MN, WI, SD, MT, alberta, british columbia,
WA, OR, CA, NV, AZ, UT, AZ, NM.
baton rouge, montgomery, atlanta, raleigh, richmond, harrisburg, trenton,
albany, boston, columbus, springfield, madison, des moines, st. paul, topeka,
denver, cheyenne, pierre, helena, salem, sacramento, phoenix.
parks visited - 29 baseball parks visited (dodger stadium skipped,
chris has been there a million times, meryl will visit it when dropping
chris off), game seen in 28 stadiums (weren't able to see a game at dolphin
stadium)/18 u.s. national parks visited: everglades, biscayne, canyon de
chelly, petrified forest, saguaro, death valley, glacier, crater lake,
badlands, wind cave, arches, bryce canyon, canyonlands, capitol reef, zion,
north cascades, grand teton, and yellowstone. 2 canadian parks: banff and
runs scored (visitor/home)
shortest / longest
/ average game - 2:12 / 4:21 / 2:58
- chris: 32, 30 in theater, 1 on laptop, 1 on tv in LA. meryl: 30, 29 in
theater, 1 on laptop.
from the beginning...
meryl wrote to a bunch
of baseball teams explaining the trip and asking for tickets. amazingly,
it has yielded one set of mets tickets:
We received your letter
and I am writing to inform you that we will leave 2 tickets at the Will
Call window for you on June 19th.
The Will Call Window
is located between Gates C & D to the left of the Mets Offices Entrance.
Good Luck with your
trip...It sounds like a lot of fun.
New York Mets
Media Relations Coordinator"
i'm very surprised.
i might have to become a mets fan.
cut and pasted response,
this one from an intern for the nationals:
Hell Ms. Phillips and
I am writing regarding
your complimentary ticket request. Unfortunately, we do not donate tickets
to independents. One of our donation requirements is that the group is
a 501c3 non-profit. I do still encourage you to come to the game, though!
You can get tickets for as cheap as $7/each if you check our website, www.nationals.com
. Plus an N.L. East Rival coming into town is exciting!
I do wish we could
help you out, but your trip sounds amazing. Have a fabulous time!
poorly written and
a disappointing outcome. fuck the expos, er nationals.
went to houston on saturday
to watch our first game of the trip. when we first arrived in houston (4th
largest city in the us) we were caught in traffic on the outskirts. traffic
that reminded me of the worst of la and dallas. it turned out that it was
more a result of bad road maintenance and construction plans than anything
else. eventually they'll be done and, presumably, the traffic will be much
better. but, for a saturday at noon, it was the worst traffic i had ever
been in. strike one. we drove into downtown and i was immediately struck
by the architecture and cleanliness of downtown. we drove around a bit
and admired the nice layout of downtown, but noted the lack of commerce;
downtown was remarkably empty. there are plenty of office buildings and
i'm told there's a condo building downtown as well, but there isn't much
in the way of shopping or entertainment. oddly, i didn't see any theaters
(live action or film) in the theater district. basically if you're not
going to work or going to a baseball game it didn't seem like you'd go
after we explored the downtown
area we drove around the adjacent areas. first we went to south houston
which has some nice apartment buildings, then to east houston which is
more run down (just like east austin) and industrial, then to west houston
which has some nice areas (including a huge, nice park) and some not so
nice areas. overall, it's a fairly spread out city, but it didn't seem
to have much commerce and it didn't look like the fourth largest city in
the country to me.
after looking around houston
we settled back into downtown where minute maid park is. what a baseball
park. it's designed by HOK, the same architectural firm that designed pacbell.
they look pretty similar with their lines in outfield and this one has
a train on the left field wall, just like pacbell has a trolley. it's famous
for its retractable roof (which we didn't see in action). according to
my baseball book it has a capacity of 40,950 (and it sells out 10% of the
time), but there must have been some upgrades or something because it wasn't
sold out and the attendance was 41,480. the astros fans get really into
the game. even with the 'stros down 6-0 in the late innings the crowd was
trying to pump up the team. during the 7th innning stretch they sang "take
me out to the ballgame" and "deep in the heart of texas," it was hilarious.
we were in the upper deck in left field and had trouble seeing all of left
field. otherwise the sightlines seemed pretty solid. around the park they
have cool info about baseballs, bats, pitches, the astros, etc. they're
also the first (maybe only) stadium to have a closed captioned screen;
it's in right field. the field is squarish - 436 to center field and only
326 to right. i wonder what the biggest gap between center and right/left
field is. during the national anthem they had the lyrics on the big screen
and the last line read: "O'er the land of the free and the home of the
brave?" i thought it odd to have a question mark at the end since it's
supposed to be a statement and we're in texas so i doubt it was some subtle
commentary. more likely a faux pax on someone's part. as nice as the park
was the field wasn't in great shape. the grass was pretty well worn in
the out field and deep infield. one last note, i think it's the first sports
stadium in which i've ever seen a church advertising. the astros lost 6-0,
pettite got pounded and that's not good for my fantasy baseball team.
we got another rejection
letter, this one from the tigers, saying they couldn't give us tickets.
it was signed and mentioned the trip so it was peronalized, so that's nice.
The Cincinnati Reds
Community Relations department has recieved your ticket donation request.
It is with pleasure to inform you that the Reds will donate two view level
tickets for the 6/28 game to help with the finances of your trip.
so far we've gotten two
sets of free tickets - mets and reds (both in the national league) and
been rejected four times - nationals, blue jays, tigers and white sox (three
of which are in the american league).
minute maid park pics:
cool buidling in downtown
trip has officially started,
we're on the road.
bungey cord system
which currently holds clothes and sleeping pads. bungey cords are indispensible.
on I-10E heading to new
orleans right now. we're about 20 miles from the LA border. meryl's dad
got a gps program for us and i've been messing with that for a while, pretty
fun. it has all sorts of info - local gas stations, points of interest,
theaters, restaurants, campgrounds, etc. of course it also does realtime
directions and the like.
rained very hard outside
lonely planet's guide
to the USA (i bought the 2006 edition because i forgot my other one in
davis) is fucking great. it gives a great, balanced look at the US. it
has good info on culture, media, sports, religion, history, etc. for the
traveler. it also does a good job of highlighting the unique elements of
particular regions and it doesn't pull its punches. they don't mind pointing
out the weaknesses of new orleans alongside raves about its musical impact,
for example. it also made me think about the fact that most of our culture
denies, at least outwardly, some of the unsavoury elements of our history,
but museums around the country generally do a great job of incorporating
the effects of slavery or europeans' impact on native civilizations. i
feel most patriotic when i'm travelling and seeing the potential and diversity
of the nation.
is driving now, we split up the driving today pretty well, so we each got
a good amount of passenger and driving time. When I drove to Houston last
weekend it made my knee hurt a lot. I seem to not be having that problem
so far on the trip, so that's good news to start off with.
got to Baton Rouge around 5:30 or so this evening. I saw the LSU campus
from the freeway, so of course in honor of Sarah (at work) we drove onto
the campus so I could look around at her alma mater. I figured the most
important thing to visit would be the football statdium, which was VERY
big, and old. It looks as if a lot of the original architecture is still
intact, but they were doing some repairs. All in all, LSU looked like a
pretty cool campus, good choice Sarah. We decided it was time for dinner,
and I attempted to navigate us to one of the Lonely Planet's recommended
restaurants. This of course is where my dad was right when he guessed that
I wouldn't be able to use the navigation system he got us properly. In
my first attempt at using it I got us lost. In true Meryl fashion, I got
completely pissed off and had Chris take over as naviator. We finally got
to Phil's Oyster Grill. It was pretty tasty. After dinner we roamed around
the shore of the Mississippi River. The Old State Capitol building was
down there. It was really cool, and at the same time pretty strange looking
for a capitol building - we figured it was because of the French architectural
influence, because it was very gothic looking.
to our navigation system - which I have now figured out - we are about
40 miles outside of New Orleans. The first day of our trip has been pretty
fun, even though mostly filled with driving. I've been counting down our
trip for months now, so it's very exciting to actually be on it.
I-10 in LA is in pretty
bad shape. it's a federal highway, but outside of LA the highway is in
fine shape, why? is it state responsibility to maintain the highway, was
it poor LA workmanship, is there an unusual amount of traffic along this
route because of the MS river and the N.O. port? please fill me in.
first sign of hurricane
damage was around the LA state line - several businesses had damaged signs.
we stopped in baton rouge
for a few hours. mostly did the driving tour thing. went to the campus
which was nice enough. there were some rundown parts around the LSU campus,
but overall the city was decent and easily the best part of louisiana to
my limited knowledge. lsu apparently boasts the best baseball attendance
in the country and athletics are clearly a big deal there. that goes for
the rest of the south as well.
a bad picture of an
awesome building. the old capitol building in baton rouge:
we arrived in new orleans
at night with the intentions of finding a suitable parking lot or campground
to spend the night. the campground that the gps system had listed was either
no longer in business or tucked away between industry and a railroad; either
way the area was in very bad shape and it didn't look safe. there was debris
all over the place, usually in piles. signs were half fallen, buildings
were abandoned, and cars were abandoned and in various stages of decay.
basically, much of the outside part of the city looked as close to a war
zone as i've ever seen.
it was late and we were
getting tired so we decided to find a public parking lot so we could park
and sleep. we drove towards downtown and eventually found a sporting goods
store with a sizable parking lot. i quickly pulled into the first parking
lot entryway that i saw and, as soon as i made the turn, i realized i was
entering the lot from an exit road. less than a second after that i noticed
a cop car following behind me. he proceeded to turn on his lights and i
parked in the parking lot. he told me to come to the rear of the vehicle,
but i didn't have my shoes on (it was hot and i don't like driving long
distances with my shoes on) so i bent down to pick them up and put them
on outside (so he wouldn't think i was reaching for a weapon). i gave him
my info and told him that i was looking for a place to rest and was so
excited by the sight of a large parking lot that i didn't have time to
notice what path i was taking. to be fair, neither meryl nor i noticed
any "one-way" or "wrong-way" signage. at any rate, he was nice and said
he just wanted to make sure i wasn't drunk.
sleeping in the parking
lot proved nearly impossible - it was very hot, even with the windows open,
and mosquitos were in full force. i wonder what the hurricane did for the
mosquito population of new orleans. after giving rest a try for about 1.5
hours we looked for the only hostel we found listed in our guide book.
we found the place, but it was closed. as we sat in the car looking for
nearby hotels/campgrounds meryl saw a couple guys walking towards the car
in a suspicious manner so she started the car and we got the hell out of
there. we went downtown to probe for hotel prices, but that proved to be
far too expensive so we decided that new orleans sucks and left. i've been
to new orleans pre and post-katrina and haven't been impressed either time.
it was rundown, dingy and unimpressive. the cop was the best part of the
city. speaking of cops, there seemed to be a good deal of cops on the streets
of new orleans, but i felt less safe there than in almost any other city
i've ever been in.
i feel bad for the city
since it's been through a lot and the community has an uphill battle for
the next few years. at the same time, other than its musical contributions,
i think new orleans is a shitty little city.
outside of new orleans
we looked for some reasonable lodging and came up empty. places were either
closed down or too expensive. while filling up the gas tank we saw a couple
junkies come out from behind a trashcan to wait for the bathroom to be
free. we ended up sleeping in the car outside of slidell, la. it was cooler,
there weren't any mosquitos and it was a hell of a lot safer.
today, while in alabama
we saw a sign for a local sheriff's race, the candidate it was for was
named Hoss Mack; that's perfect.
we drove through mobile
and montgomery today as well. while in montgomery we stopped at Chris'
hot dogs, which has been in business since 1917. the prices were good and
the food was too. it was a real down home cooking style experience. worth
checking out if you happen to be in the area.
we also saw the confederate
white house that jefferson davis occupied for a brief time. nice enough
from the outside, but it doesn't come close to some of the nicer southern
homes or new england homes. the wainscotting was fairly commonplace, the
floors looked like plainsawn (not quartersawn) oak, the plaster was in
disrepair and it wasn't as big as i would have imagined. in many ways i
supposed it embodied the entire confederate experiment - i'll let you decide
in what ways that applies.
confederate white house:
after checking out the
capitol building and the small downtown area we left for atlanta. right
now we're 11 miles from the GA border.
got to Atlanta around 5 or so last night. We looked around to try and find
something to do, but because of the timing of our arrival, most of the
museums and other attractions were closed. We decided to go see a movie,
sadly the only movie we hadn't seen was Mission Impossible 3. I had vowed
not to see it, but it was too hot and we couldn't really figure out what
else to do, so we went inside. We saw it at an AMC theater, but they apparently
started redesigning their movie theaters like the Alamo Drafthouses in
Austin. I have to say I enjoy Alamo more, they've got much more character
and they play way cooler movies. I fell asleep in the theater, during the
movie which was good because I guess I kept my vow not to watch it. After
the movie we cruised around for a little bit, stopped at a Kinkos and then
decided it was probably time for bed due to the fact that the night before
we only got 4 hours of sleep after our adventure in New Orleans.
woke up this morning and went out to breakfast at a cool place called The
Flying Biscuit - which we later learned is going national. It reminded
me of a place I go to for breakfast with my mom and Clarke in San Rafael
called Johnny and Theresa's, and the general area (named Buckhead) reminded
me of Berkeley, so that was nice, a little taste of home. After that we
went to the CNN Center, which is the global headquarters of CNN. We bought
tickets and went on a behind the scenes tour. I have to say, I was pretty
impressed. We were on the tour with a bunch of younger kids (probably at
camp), which turned out to be pretty fun because they asked a lot of funny
questions, kids are always good for that. Part of the tour put you above
the actual news room which was cool because you got to see live taping
that was on the air. After the tour we walked through the Centennial Olympic
Park. I thought it was going to be exciting, but other than a fountain
that kids were playing in, it was pretty boring which was a little dissapointing
because I love the Olympics. We tried to go to the Aquarium (which we learned
is apparently the largest in the US, and I think the world) but after finding
out it was $22.75 we decided not to. After a little people watching we
decided to go to the Jimmy Carter Museum. It was pretty cool, and I learned
a lot of stuff about him that I didn't know, so that's always good. We
drove to Turner Field after that to get tickets for tonight's game against
the Diamondbacks. From the outside the field looks pretty cool, so I'm
pretty excited. It's our first game of the trip, so that's even more exciting.
we're in a burger place
called Varsity right now. it's been around since 1928 - it's got a huge
interior space and several drive up (not drive-thru) spaces as well. it
seems pretty popular and the food is good so it was a good choice.
atlanta is a lot cooler
than i remember it being. it's big and sprawling and the traffic would
probably bug me if i lived here, but it's otherwise a nice, livable city.
buckhead is an especially nice up and coming area. apparently it was once
dominated by clubs and bars, but has been transformed by businesspeople
over the last few years. skyscrapers and malls are a bigger focus and,
in 2007, construction will begin on making it more pedestrian friendly
and beautiful. urban development is another thing i find interesting.
one odd thing about the
buckhead/midtown area of town is that peachtree blvd runs the entire length
and it intersects with several streets of the same name. that is, you'll
be heading north on peachtree blvd and you'll see a cross street like "peachtree
road" then a couple other streets, then "peachtree ave" then "peachtree
circle" then "peachtree lane" then "peachtree street" then "peachtree street."
i shit you not. it seems needlessly confusing.
after strolling through
atlanta a bit last night we watched mi:3 (you know where the reviews are)
and made use of meryl's dad's tmobile account at kinko's. while we were
there there was a guy sitting next to us talking on his cell phone about
soybean trading or something. we slept in the parking lot for the night
and went back into kinko's the next morning to check gas prices and e-mail.
surprisingly, the commodities trader guy was still there.
sleeping last night was
pretty tough. it was really hot and i couldn't get comfortable. eventually
i found a cool spot and slept well.
this morning we went to
the aforementioned flying biscuit and had a good breakfast. it's a nice
spot that would fit in well in berkeley or hyde park in austin or the like.
afterwards we went to the CNN office and did the tour. the building is
filled with ted turner related projects - braves, tnt, tbs, tcm, cnn, etc.
are all represented there in one way or another. apparently the first broadcast
of CNN occurred exactly 26 years ago today. the building has the tallest
free-standing escalator in the world (185 ft.), not that that's important.
the tour guide was reluctant to talk about anchors' salary or CNN's competition,
but she did mention that CNN has about 90 million viewers and that larry
king gets $14 million a year. while inside we saw a live broadcast that
just happened to mention that New Orleans has seen an increase in the crime
rate every month since katrina. this confirms what we already felt to be
after the CNN building
we walked around olympic stadium a bit and headed off towards the jimmy
carter museum. i've stated before that carter is probably the best ex-president
of all-time (at least to my knowledge), but the museum really focused on
his work as a president. j.q. adams is the only ex-president who i can
think of who might have done more after his presidency than carter, but
i honestly can't be sure about that. main topics of the museum include
his establishing stronger ties with china, the camp david accords, the
energy crisis and response, the 444 day hostage crisis, SALT II and his
treaty with panama. the last of which got me thinking. a lesser president
would have handled the situation with far less tact, diplomacy, skill and
morality. to summarize: we had lifelong rights to the panama canal because
of TR's work around the turn of the century. as time passed the panamanian
government grew tired of the permanent agreement and pushed for change.
while many senators (including strom thurmond) were pushing to steamroll
panama on the issue, carter tried to find a middle ground - keep america's
economic interests protected while returning sovereignty of the land to
panama. most politicians would look at in the short run: if i talk with
the panamanian gov't i show weakness and if i don't talk with them the
u.s. can continue to have run of the canal. carter, though, chose the moral
and politically difficult path so i laud him for that. in the end, carter's
treaty passed by one vote in both houses of congress. i've always viewed
carter as a great guy and just a so-so president because of some bad luck
and reluctance to be an asshole.
fuck fucking zell "i
wish these were the days when i could challenge you to a duel" miller
has been the theme of our trip so far. We estimated that the entire trip
would take 16,000 miles, and already we have driven about 1,400 miles,
and it's only four days into the trip. Right now we're in Vienna, Georgia
(about 70 miles or so from the Georgia/Florida border) on our way to the
Tampa/St Petersburg area, tomorrow will be our second game - Devil Rays
vs. Blue Jays.
Braves game last night was pretty fun. We got there early to buy tickets
(they are one of the few we don't already have), and Chris picked some
up for $5 each, so that was pretty sweet. Turner Field is pretty nice.
Once you walk in from the main entrance behind center field there's a big
open area where they've got all sorts of food stands and activities for
kids. There was even a little country band playing, so it was a nice little
welcome to the park. Chris and I walked around for about 30 minutes or
so looking around the park. Besides the courtyard thing behind the outfield
when you walk in, the park seemed pretty standard. Minute Maid is still
my favorite so far, and I think it's going to take a lot to beat it.
seats were on the third deck on the first base side but the sun hadn't
set yet and it was shinning very brightly where our seats were, so we decided
to park ourselves on the third deck right behind homeplate in the shade
until someone made us move - which it turned out never happened. I was
on the phone with my mom before the game had started when the lady who
had sat down next to us noticed the score book I had made on Chris' lap
(the cover says "Chris and Meryl's Cross-Country Baseball Scorebook). I
over-heard her ask him if we were going across the country visiting baseball
parks and he of course said yes, which led to her being excited and asking
us all sorts of questions about our trip. It was nice though having a stranger
be so excited about our trip, I'm always excited about it and it's pretty
cool when other people become interested in it too. We continued to talk
with her on and off throughout the game, and she even gave us a Braves
hat as a souvenir, VERY nice, so shout out to the random lady at the Braves
game. It started to rain in the 8th inning and so we moved down to field
level where the seats were covered and most of their inhabitants had left.
The Diamondbacks won 2-1, which I was excited about because Eric Byrnes
(a past A's left fielder) is on the Diamondbacks and I like his hustle
and was very dissapointed when the A's traded him last season to the Orioles.
He had a pretty good game too, 2 for 2 with 2 walks, he represented 2 of
the D'backs' 5 hits.
started driving south on I-75 after the game on the way down to Florida
because we knew we would have a lot of driving to do. We decided to sleep
in the car again last night because Florida has LOTS of mosquittos and
we wanted to save our hotel money for a place where it would be put to
better use. Tonight we'll probably turn in early and hang out at the hotel.
We've been going to bed pretty late and waking up early because of the
sunlight and heat, so we haven't been getting that much sleep. Plus, Chris
wants to see some of the NBA playoffs, and we've missed the last 4 games,
so that'll be nice. Only 291.4 miles to go!
it seems as if the south is full of a lot of bad drivers. For example,
it's been about 2 minutes and we've seen 2 HORRIBLE drivers. I'll save
the best for last. 1 - some Lincoln town car was apparently trying to change
lanes, but it had to have been officially the slowest lane change ever.
It literally must have taken him about a half a mile of driving in the
middle of the left and right lane until he finally crossed over to the
right lane, and because we're only on a two lane interstate, it was pretty
comical to see from right behind him in the right lane. 2 - and for sure
the best....a truck hauling ass down the interstate had a trailer about
20 feet long trailing it. He of course passed us on the left and continued
down the freeway playing tag with a Cherokee about who was going to change
lanes. At this point he was in the right lane and finally went for it when
he shouldn't have and changed lanes into the left way too quickly for a
truck with a trailer behind it. Because of it, his trailer started fishtailing
back and forth REALLY bad and all of us behind slowed WAY down. It went
on for a good 20 or so seconds and at one point it was getting worse and
worse and we thought maybe the force of the trailer going side to side
would jackknife and the whole car would just flip over. Some how he got
it under control and just kept motoring down the freeway. One would think
he might pull over on the shoulder and make sure his car or FAMILY was
okay, but he of course didn't. What a retard.
(11:30) meryl's driving
right now. that fishtailing experience with the trailer was pretty fucked
up - it looked like he was going to flip a couple times, but he got luck
in the end so i guess that's a good thing.
the braves game last night
was enjoyable. i liked the way both teams were playing - lots of good defense
and groundball pitching. there were several excellent defensive plays,
especially by the braves, who i felt played a better game, but ended up
losing by a run largely because of a fielding error by the pitcher. there
seemed to be a good amount of entertainment during the breaks - some quizes,
a couple of those find the ball under the cup type games (meryl missed
both), etc. i haven't been to a dodger game in a while, but i used to go
there all the time and the entertainment (beachballs, the wave, etc.) during
the breaks was generally provided by the crowd. even though we're only
talking about mid-inning entertainment i think i still enjoy the organic,
grassroots aspects of the dodger games over the top-down entertainment
provided by some other ballclubs.
turner field has a more
traditional look to it than minute maid park. the right field fence has
a break in the curve, but it's otherwise a very standard field. minute
maid park, meanwhile, has that hill in center field and a couple odd angles
in left field. it also has some blind spots for people in the upper deck
of left field. the turner field announcer seemed to have a bit of sas as
well. he called the marlins "the mullets" and at one point there's a mid-inning
break where they get shots of people in the crowd and put little thought
bubbles over their heads. they showed a diamondbacks fan and put a toilet
in his thought bubble, we all got a laugh at his expense. i did get into
the "tomahawk chop" part of the game. it's pretty intoxicating.
i'm looking forward to
the pistons game tonight. they really seem to need to have their backs
against the wall in order to play to their potential. if they win tonight
then i think miami can go ahead and start planning their summer vacation
because game seven is in detroit.
we're in florida now and
i'm not too impressed. the terrain is flat and the foilage isn't anything
special. there are a shitload of "jesus saves" type billboards on the highway.
yesterday we saw a sign warning visitors to florida that florida residents
are allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves; the sign featured
a picture of a large handgun as well.
yesterday we went to gainesville
and saw a bit of the u of fl campus and had a pizza at a local place call
the mellow mushroom. gainsville, like much of flordia thus far, is pretty
scummy and rundown. lots of storefronts are ugly and abandoned. there's
an amazing number of businesses in this state that are out of business.
reminds me of yojimbo, wherein the big businessman in town was the coffin
maker. the pizza was good. in the bathroom the handicap stall had its own
sink, that's a first.
we hit a shitload of traffic
on I-75S, but took a detour around it so we didn't get to see what the
today we left the shitty
hotel we stayed at in lakeland and hit the road for tampa bay and st. petersburg.
we went to tampa bay, but basically just drove through since it looked
so rundown and pathetic. it's pretty sad, too, because between tampa and
st. petersburg there's a really nice community so it's clearly an economic
problem, rather than a geographic one.
now we're in st. petersburg
at the only wi-fi place we could find after an hour's worth of driving
on main streets. the touristy part of st. petersburg is near the beach
and there's a couple museums, etc., the only place worth really mentioning
is the salvador dali museum which features the largest collection of his
work outside of spain. he was a great artist who developed a truly unique,
identifiable style. great stuff.
we're going to watch the
devil rays/blue jays game in about 1.5 hours.
the words of Seinfeld......"Me and Chris started our baseball trip in the
South, and yada yada yada we liked the rest of the country a lot more."
I've got to say that after driving around the south for the last couple
of days I'm not in the greatest mood. Images of the confederate flag, unobservant
people, signs promoting gun violence, smoking inside restaurants, among
other things have put me in a pretty foul mood. I know that I should stay
positive and really think about the fact that I am never going to be in
most of these places ever again, but I've got to say, in all honesty, I'm
not too sad about that. For instance, we're in the Tampa/St. Petersburg
area, we finally got out of the hotel ready to go today at 11 am, and we
ran out of stuff to do at about 3:30. Boston, DC, New York, Yellowstone,
Seattle, Philadephia....the list goes on of places we'll only be in for
a day, and sadly we could find amazing things to do there for MANY days.
At this point I'm pretty excited that we'll be visiting the Everglades
soon, because at this point Florida is pretty forgettable.
being on the road and getting
so much done in a day certainly makes the days seem long. we've been gone
for only 5 days and it seems like a couple weeks; think of 1979's "The
last night's game was between
the devil rays of tampa bay (even though the stadium is actually in st.
petersburg) and the blue jays (who we're going to see like six times on
this trip). the devil rays stadium is nice, but nothing too spectacular.
it's the first indoor baseball field i've been to. because it's inside
the field seems smaller even though it's the same size as an average field
- 404 to center, 370 in left/right field. the bullpens are in foul territory,
which i've never liked, but meryl likes because that's how the a's field
is. last night was "golf day" and they were giving out golf club warmers
with the devil rays logo on it. i thought about holding them for my dad
or luke, but neither are big devil rays fans so we just left them at the
stadium. before the game they had a guy who hit 111 golf balls in 85 seconds,
which was unusual, but still impressive. the entire time i was there i
felt as though i was at an amateur game. perhaps because the field felt
small or because of the kitsch factor involved in the cheesy "golf day"
activities and give aways. the level of game play was good, so it wasn't
that, but the feeling was there nonetheless.
tropicana field has a good
number of vendors and pre-game activities in the non-field portion of the
building. since it's an indoor field it feels a lot more like a basketball
stadium than a baseball field. as such, when you're out getting something
to eat you're more separated from the game than you would be at your standard
stadium. on the first level they have an endless supply of different food
vendors and the activities range from a stand-up comic to baseball quiz
competitions. the outside of the stadium looks strange because the roof
is slanted to reduce the volume of air that they need to air-condition,
this according to our baseball road-trip guide. there are three catwalks
that encircle the entire stadium and one of them comes down pretty far
in the outfield. they have a set of rules for what to do if the ball hits
the catwalk, but they didn't come into play during our game. another thing
i noticed about the place was how well sound carries - you could hear small
groups cheering from across the stadium. when the p.a. comes on there's
a noticeable echo as well. of course part of the problem is that there
weren't very many people there making noise to overwhelm the noise of others.
it's also got a full dirt infield, which unusual for an indoor park. the
synthetic field grass is softer and longer than usual so, apparently, it
makes for a pretty realistic field. walk around vendors were less prevalent
than in other parks. minute maid park actually had walk around vendors
camped out at each gate, which i thought was a smart way of doing it.
our first seat:
our second seat:
our third seat:
right now we're in sarasota
which is so-so. it's on johnny cash's "i've been everywhere" song so check
one more off for me.
we slept in the parking
lot in front of this building in sarasota:
i've seen one or two
theaters the entire time i've been in florida.
i don't say this to be
cruel or hurtful, but florida fucking sucks. i'm pretty sure it's the worst
state i've ever been to and that's saying a lot since i've been to all
of them (except alaska). it's pretty safe to say that florida is about
75-100 years behind most of the rest of the country in more ways than i
can list here. that said, the everglades are beautiful and interesting,
i wish they weren't littered with people fishing and parking in the middle
of the road, etc. tomorrow we plan on visiting the lower part of the everglades
in addition to biscayne national park. earlier today we saw key largo,
but not the rest of the florida keys. key largo is important because of
the 1948 bogey and bacall (and robinson) classic, but isn't notable for
any other reason; it's basically a tourist trap. i'm told that key west
has plenty of partying, etc., but that isn't a good enough reason to drive
120 miles off the mainland.
after my bad day in Florida on Saturday, we made our way to Tropicana Field.
Our baseball book said that there were lots of fun things to see at the
stadium, so we made sure to get there early so we could see as much as
possible before the game started. From the outside the stadium seemed pretty
plain, except for the fact that the top of the dome is built on a severe
slant (Chris said he read that it was so they didn't have to air condition
the inside so much). After finding out we couldn't bring a Nalgene water
bottle in the stadium (very lame) we got our tickets from Will Call and
went inside. I have to say I was pretty impressed, it blew the rest of
the Tampa/St Pete area out of the water. There were tons of places to eat,
there was an interesting sort of Hall of Fame exhibit on Ted Williams,
which was weird because he isn't from Florida and he obviously didn't ever
play for them because they're an expansion team. We later read that he
came down for Spring training while he was a ball player and liked the
area so he would fish down there when it wasn't baseball season. They had
a cool batting cage area where kids could play, a video game area where
people could play baseball video games (even ones on Nintendo), a trivia
booth, some guy on a microphone giving people a hard time as they walked
by (he commented on the fact that I was wearing an A's hat and Chris was
wearing a Braves hat, but who likes the Devil Rays?). It was pretty cool
to walk around the border of the stadium and see all the features they
had. We got to our seats in the third deck and watched most of the game
from there until we decided to try and move down to field level. We sat
for 2 innings about 20 rows back from the field when an usher discovered
we weren't sitting in the right seats. He was nice though and let us stay
the rest of the inning before he said we needed to go back to our original
seats. A 2 inning break from nose bleeds was nice though. One thing I've
noticed....we've been to 3 games so far (Astros, Braves and Devil Rays)
and so far a home team has not won yet. I wonder how long this will last.
the game we drove to Sarasota and camped in a museum parking lot. We woke
up and drove around a bit and decided to try to go to the classic car museum.
It was $8.50 and pretty rink-y-dink and we figured that Detroit would have
a better museum for probably not that much more. We headed on down the
road and stopped in Ft Myers in an attempt to find a place to eat. It didn't
really work, the only place we could find only took cash, and there was
a 30 minute wait (it seemed like the whole town was there) so we drove
a bit more on the freeway and stopped at a Bob Evan's restaurant which
seem to be everywhere down here. It wasn't too bad. After that we were
on our way down to the Everglades but got royally screwed but our map/road
signs and went about 30 minutes out of the way and missed the last tram
tour at the park. We went to the visitor center and asked the ranger what
he suggested we see. After our visit with the ranger we took a self-guided
tour down an asphalt trail. I haven't been to that many National Parks,
but I have to say I LOVE the Everglades. While walking around for only
an hour or so (it was TOO TOO TOO TOO hot) we saw about 6 alligators, even
a little baby one that was walking on the trail. There were also HUGE orange
and yellow grasshoppers that were all over the trail and pretty funny to
watch. The animal life there is just amazing, which makes it so sad because
of all the environmental problems in Florida that are destroying the Everglades.
on the road to the
the Everglades we drove through one of the shittiest towns I've ever seen
on our way to find a movie theater. At that point it had been almost 3
days since I had seen the last movie theater. We finally found one that
was 11 miles away from the town we drove to. It amazed me. In the Bay Area,
LA, New York, Chicago or any other city you can barely go 2 blocks without
seeing at least one movie theater. The crazy thing is, near the Everglades
it's not like there are no towns or anything, it's just towns of NOTHING.
On every block there's at least 1 business that has been shut down, there
are empty fields with crap covering them, and people just roaming around.
It seems like Florida has never recovered after the Civil War or something,
or Jeb Bush just doesn't care about his state. Anyway......we decided the
watch "The Break Up" and I was actually pleasantly surprised. I didn't
have very high expectations, but it was laugh out loud funny at many parts
and I liked the ending. After the movie we camped out at a K-mart parking
lot for the night and fell asleep.
was a VERY busy day. We went to another area of the Everglades and looked
around for a bit and then headed to Biscayne National Park. Sadly, at this
park you can't really experience anything unless you take a boat out to
some islands and go snorkeling or scuba diving. Our budget didn't really
give us that option, so we looked around at the exhibits in the visitor
center and walked around outside for a bit and then headed for Miami. Surprisingly
I didn't hate Miami. I thought it was going to be full of fake blondes,
fake boobs, and fake tans, but it wasn't too bad. We walked around on South
Beach for a bit and went on to the beach (which was BEAUTIFUL). I really
liked the architecture of South Beach and enjoyed walking around, although
it was AMAZINGLY hot and DEATHLY humid. We could only last a little over
an hour before we dragged our melting bodies back to the car. I guess the
locals have it right when they walk around in their bathing suits because
MAN is it hot. After we got back to the car we drove to Pro Player Stadium
where the Marlins play. This was our first baseball stop where we weren't
going to see a game. We tried to drive into the park and look around, but
the security guard said we weren't allowed to, so we took a couple of pictures
from the road surrounding the park as best we could. One thing I noticed
was that baseball calls the park Pro Player Stadium, but there were no
signs that say that. Miami is another place like Oakland where the baseball
and football teams share the field, and Dolphin Stadium was written everywhere,
but no where did it really say anything about the Marlins or Pro Player.
Weird. After that we got back on the road, which is where we are now. Our
next scheduled stop is Baltimore on Thursday, but until then it's just
a drive up the east coast. Our plan (if we can stay up) is to drive all
the way to Jacksonville and stay at a hotel there tonight. My mom got us
a Best Western hotel book and we picked up a Motel 6 one too, and according
to both of those books, hotels are WAY cheaper in the Jacksonville areas
than the rest of the Florida east coast. According to the map though, it
takes a little over 6 hours. So, if we can do it, we'll make our way into
Jacksonville tonight sometime around midnight. Here's to hoping....
(19:25) meryl's driving
now. i think she covered most of the facts of the last day or two.
this pretty much sums
up ft. myers, and florida in general:
the everglades are teeming
with wildlife, but the real story is in what it once was, what it may become
and why. it's about a fifth of its original size because of human development
- whether it be housing or sugar plantations or roads or flood controls
as a result of all of the above. in 2000 congress approved over $10 billion
for projects to improve water quality, quantity and timely delivery, but
that money hasn't had any positive impact yet. as an aside, i read that
secretary of the interior gale norton proclaimed within the last couple
years that wetlands acreage was at an all-time high under the bush administration.
turns out that this was courtesy of a redefining of "wetlands" that included
man-made ponds, etc. pretty ridiculous, but typical of politicians and
the bush administration in particular. anyway, it was nice to see the everglades
before they wither further.
anyway, the everglades
had wildlife that rivals yellowstone. here's some of it:
tougher to see, but
a cool looking bird nonetheless
we didn't see a manatee
and there were a couple birds of which i couldn't get pictures.
there's another nat'l park
in south florida called tortugas national park. it's a few dozen miles
off the coast of key west (which is the key furthest from the mainland)
and it was once used as a fort and later as a prison. its most famous inmate
was the doctor who treat john wilkes booth after he shot lincoln. speaking
of which, being at the carter museum made me think about how unfortunate
it was that neither lincoln nor fdr got to guide the country out of their
respective wars. i don't think anyone claims johnson or truman were as
capable as lincoln or fdr.
i've been to a good number
of national parks, including most of the big ones in the lower 48, and
i've never been to a park that has actually encouraged visitors to do off-trail
exploring; until the everglades, that is. at the everglades you are encouraged
to wade in the alligator pools and touch plants. generally this sort of
thing is frowned upon and i'm not sure they should be so lax about it in
an ecosystem as delicate and damaged as the everglades. tidbit: florida
has the most lightning of any state in the country.
on our way to miami beach
and downtown miami we passed through little havana. let's just say it's
only a minor step up from the real havana. i noticed that they have a park
named maximo park, i wonder if that's where the band gets the name. for
some reason i thought they were from overseas, but maybe not.
downtown miami had a shitload
of construction in the downtown area. surprisingly there wasn't much nba
fever downtown; i guess miami has other things to worry about. we went
to miami beach which is really an island in biscayne bay next to miami
proper. it's been raining quite a bit during the trip and it didn't stop
for our visit to south beach. surprisingly, there were still a good number
of people out on the streets and on the beach itself. the rain was sporadic
and generally not too heavy, plus it was hot outside so the rain was actually
a nice respite from the blazing sun. the beach's water was surprisingly
beautiful. not was good as waikiki, but it still has some nice green/blue
hues and looks relatively unspoiled. it's especially surprising considering
the cruise and cargo ships that go through the bay.
one of best things
i saw in miami was this stretch of graffiti.
we didn't get any great
shots of pro player stadium and we weren't allowed to visit so that sucked.
we got as far as the parking lot and had to turn around. from what i read
it's a shitty stadium for baseball and the food sucks, so i'm not too broken
up about it. i'm just happy to be leaving bush country.
now we're on I-95N heading
towards jacksonville, then to savannah and on from there. we'll probably
stay outside of jacksonville as they seem to have cheap motels and we have
money in the budget for a motel this week. truckers on I-95 are much more
aggressive and reckless than on I-5.
one good thing about visiting
florida is that i've been to three more cities that johnny cash lists in
his "i've been everywhere" song. i've been to a measly 26 of the 80+ places
sports haven't been too
good to me lately. the nba finals is another in an increasingly long line
of TX/FL teams that are beating my favorite teams. it's depressing. i guess
i'll root for the mavericks in the nba finals because i like avery johnson
and hate shaq and pat "i copyrighted 'three-peat'" riley. bastard.
stayed just outside of
jacksonsville last night. jacksonville's 840 sq. miles is second only to
anchoridge alaska in square mileage. pretty cool fact that i never would
have guessed and was wondering about earlier in the trip. while in jacksonville
we stopped at the budweiser brewery and took the 30 minute tour. it wasn't
very informative and mostly came off as a commercial. i didn't learn anything
new about making beer. it did make me interested in going to a sam adams,
or another higher quality, brewery to see how their tour differs. budweiser
mostly highlighted their size, success and history. there wasn't much information
on what they do to ensure quality. there wasn't any discussion about their
packaging or distribution process either. at the end of the tour they did
offer free samples, but neither of us partook. our tour guide mentioned
several times that "real alcohol abuse" is when budweiser has to dispose
of old or imperfect beer. she seemed to take her job home with her a bit
too much, if you ask me. there were only two other people on the tour with
us and they were an older couple from sacramento. small world.
each one of these contains
67,000 six-packs worth of beer.
saw this car outside
of the budweiser brewery. the window reads: "happy 21st birthday! yeah!
buy me a drink or two!"
after jacksonville we went
to savannah georgia. it's notable for being the first english settlement
in the state, but is basically just a tourist place now. it has some local
businesses, but it also has its fair share of places like blimpie, gap,
etc. i liked the buildings, but new england is better.
i think graffiti in bathrooms
should be allowed. it's a creative outlet and it occupies an otherwise
boring time. it has the potential to be a public forum. i'm not advocating
graffiti on buildings or elsewhere, but graffiti on stall walls and above
urinals is fine by me.
we saw charleston last
night and it was everything i thought savannah was going to be.
both cities were adversely affected by the drop of their cheif crop - rice
for charleston and cotton for savannah, both cities are on the atlantic
coast, both have a varied and deep history, and both have some great buildings.
it would be interesting to compare the histories of the two cities since
they seem similar, yet charleston seems to be much better off than savannah.
is it because savannah is on a river 18 miles from the ocean while charleson
has a proper port and, thus, better access to commerce? charleston was
badly damaged by hurricane hugo in 1989, yet it seems to have recovered
just fine. both cities have plenty of pull for tourism, yet charleston
seems to maximize it better. anyway, charleston is worth visiting and savannah
is probably better passed up.
after savannah and charleston
we drove up the coast towards myrtle beach. we pulled off the road and
slept at a cvs pharmacy. this morning we got an oil change and we're on
our way to baltimore. our next game is tomorrow night. it's a lot cooler
as we've gone further north. it didn't rain last night so that was also
so far south carolina doesn't
to be as conservative as it actually is. i've seen only a couple "bush
2004" stickers and the like. of course that doesn't mean much since it's
perfectly possible that the people are conservative, but don't think politics
should be advertised on one's bumper. i think the votes speak for themselves,
but it's still interesting that i've yet to see obvious signs of the prevailing
one of the surprising things
about being in the south is how many adult superstore type places there
are on the highways and interstates. i assume these are generally trying
to appeal to truck drivers, which makes sense, but it's still funny to
see so many in the part of the nation that's supposed to be so moral. in
fact, just a moment ago i saw a "4:20" store which specialized in marijuana
related products. on the inverse is the absence of starbucks and coffee
bean locations. i'd usually be happy about this, but we actually use starbucks
for wi-fi so i find myself, for the first time in my life, looking for
a starbucks. another oddity is that, around myrtle beach, there seem to
be dozens of mini, and regular, golf courses; it's uncanny.
something that i think
demonstrates the greed of the oil companies better than any $400 million
severance package or performance bonus is the fact that the price of a
gallon of gas isn't $2.87 it's $2.87 and nine tenths. it's the only industry
that i know of that does that to its customers. when you buy produce by
the pound you don't ever see bananas listed at $.39 and nine tenths.
been busy driving and navigating.
after sleeping outside
of charleston on tuesday the 6th we headed towards the research triangle
- raleigh, durham and chapel hill. raleigh is the capital of north carolina
so we parked downtown, looked at some of the buildings and went to the
museum of natural science. it's a four floor museum with some great exhibits
and well-laid out info. we didn't have much time because of parking and
what we had planned to do for the rest of the day so we were in and out
in about 45 minutes, which was about three hours too short. while in raleigh
we also saw the nc state campus which was fairly nice. overall raleigh
looks like a nice enough city with some notable downtown attractions.
only dinosaur fossil
ever found with its heart intact:
after raleigh we went to
nearby durham, most notable for being home to duke university. duke has
one of the most beautiful campuses i've ever seen. harvard is also nice.
we didn't drive around durham too much because we still had to see chapel
hill and get to richmond. chapel hill is a relatively short drive away
from durham and it made me think about what march must be like in these
three cities. all three schools have great men's basketball teams which
are capable of making a big run in the tournament. duke/unc is one of the
best rivalries in college sports and i'm sure it helps that the two cities
are so close. throw nc state into the mix and you've got the vertible epicenter
of college basketball.
a bit of duke:
chapel hill is a nicer
town than durham and it seems a bit more laid back and college-oriented
than raleigh. there are a good number of small shops and it had a progressive,
athens, georgia kind of look to it. the campus is also nice, but not as
nice as duke's. we drove by the dean smith center, other parts of the campus
and the town in general and then left for richmond.
richmond's a pretty crappy
city from what we saw. the tourism industry has a lot of potential, but
they don't do a good job of coordination and beautification. contrast this
with baltimore's efforts and you begin to understand how important it is
to have good local leadership. the right mayor making the right efforts
in this arena can increase sales tax revenues and local business incomes
by an immeasurable amount. richmond doesn't have it and baltimore does.
charleston did a good job with their history, savannah did not.
building, under construction:
we slept in a nice part
of richmond and got up early the next morning. i really liked the old buildings
in richmond, but much of the town is run down or dirty so it doesn't make
for a great visit. we drove to the third street diner downtown and had
some homestyle breakfast. it's a 24 hour place that looks like a diner
and serves omelettes and the usual diner style fare, but they also have
a bar and a vending machine that vends cigarettes (i thought that this
was illegal, but i guess not). about half the people were smoking and it
had a dingey feel to it. richmond is home of philip-morris so cigarettes
were a prominent theme during our visit. we had planned on doing the canal
walk and visiting a museum or something, but quickly discovered that richmond
is a business-oriented city and we felt our time, energy and money would
be better spent in baltimore.
unlike richmond, baltimore
is a great city. it seems like a good place to live, visit and do business.
it was the first time we really wished we had more time. we went to the
visitors' center near the bay and saw a fairly well done video about the
area. the people working there were all older people who were very helpful
and friendly. baltimore has one of the better downtown areas i've seen.
it's clean, relatively easy to navigate and it's packed with good activities
from sports (m&t stadium and camden yard) to shopping and everything
in between. at night, after the orioles game, i felt completely safe walking
back to the car. that said, one person who parked in the same complex as
us reported having their car window broken. unfortunately, while in baltimore,
we squandered our time a bit. we did the water taxi thing and saw little
italy and fort mchenry (the battle here inspired key to write the star
spangled banner). i looked at a copy of the original four versions of the
star spangled banner and noticed that the final line "home of the brave"
has three different punctuations. two with a period, one with a question
mark and one with an exclamation mark. the one we use now has a question
mark so the astros' punctuation on that was actually correct. all the other
stadiums and reprints of it that i've seen so far use a period or an exclamation
mark, but that, apparently, is incorrect. speaking of the star spangled
banner - at camden yard the orioles fans accentuate the "o" in "o say does
that star spangled banner..." i thought that was somewhat funny.
me messing with the
camera settings. the kid was on the water taxi with us and he was a local
who knew a lot about the area.
i'd like to visit kentucky
a bit more fully in the future. i don't think this trip is going to take
us there, but a lot of pretty interesting people were born there (lincoln
and jefferson davis, muhammad ali, diane sawyer, hunter s. thompson, loretta
lynn, bill monroe, and more), it has an interesting history, and the terrain
is supposed to be pretty fantastic.
camden yard is a very good
place to see a game. apparently the building of the field made a big impact
on the way ballparks were constructed. it came during a time when more
and more domes were being built and it was built in the middle of a city
so it changed the perception that a baseball park needed to be built indoors
or on the outskirts of a city. HOK designed it (they also designed minute
maid park and pac bell park) and it's well-placed in downtown. we were
behind the plate and got a good look at the downtown buildings including
a tall clock tower which features a face larger than big ben's. above the
outfield screen there's a sign that reads "the sun" and when there's a
close scoring call the official scoring (hit/error) will be indicated by
the "h" or "e" blinking. we had a bit of rain at the end of the braves
game and we had some more before this game started. it was the first time
i had ever been to a delayed game; it ended up being a 40 minute delay.
philip showed us to our seats and even cleaned them for us before we sat
down. that was another first. the music that they play at camden is well
chosen. during the rain they played rain themed songs, during a mound meeting
they played "should i stay or should i go" by the clash, etc. subtle, but
appreciated. the crowd wasn't as into this game as they have been at the
other games. steve mcnair, now of the baltimore ravens, threw out the first
pitch. they also had a video, during the rain delay, about ernie tyler
who is responsible for rubbing up the balls before the game and giving
them to the homeplate umpire. presumably he does other stuff, but that's
what they focused on. he's worked more than 3,000 games without missing
a day and he's like 82 years old. i thought it was good of them to do a
feature on a little guy just doing his job.
me messing with the
camera settings again. this is the b&o building that is over the right
after the game we found
a rest stop in between d.c. and baltimore and slept.
the next day we went to
d.c. and did all the typical tourist crap. we saw the capitol building
from afar and most everything else up close. the white house, vietnam memorial,
wwII memorial, jefferson, lincoln, and fdr memorials, etc. we got really
tired of walking. the buildings in d.c. are just amazing. they're all so
well-maintained and good looking and ornate. the row houses are also beautiful.
after doing the touristy stuff we went to see the nationals play. there
was a dealy of 102 minutes and we ended up having to leave after the 5th
inning because we were staying with a friend of meryl's co-worker and we
didn't want to leave her hanging. the game ended up going 12 innings and
i'm pretty disappointed that we didn't stay to see it all. the employees
at rfk stadium were all very good. the stadium itself is pretty old, but
the field looked fine. you can see the lines on the field from the soccer
games, but it's otherwise fine. for being a dual-use facility i found the
grounds to be in good shape. the ground crew at rfk is slower than the
crew at camden and this turned out to be important because the rain kept
coming, stopping, coming again, etc. sadly, michael milken threw out the
first pitch. they billed him as founder of some prostate cancer society,
but we know who he really is. screw that guy.
my favorite president
and my favorite memorial:
after the game we stayed
with jill, meryl's co-worker's friend, and got a good night's rest inside
for the first time in a few days.
this morning we left d.c.
and headed on over to gettysburg. while in gettysburg we went on one of
the ranger talks. he talked mostly about the third day of the battle, but
he put it in context fairly well. he covered it in great detail and i appreciated
that. he fumbled for words a bit here and there, but was extremely knowledgeable.
you could tell that he read a lot of first hand accounts of the battle,
rather than mere summarizations of the battle. it made me want to watch
the film again. war strategy is pretty interesting stuff in spite of the
fact that i think war in general is pretty lame. anyway, after the ranger
tour we did an audio tour by car that got cut short because we took a wrong
turn and got tired. after a nap we left for harrisburg.
harrisburg is yet another
capital (started in austin then to: baton rouge, montgomery, atlanta, raleigh,
d.c., and richmond) that we've visited on the trip. pretty good without
even trying. harrisburg is a pretty nice little city. the architecture
is much along the same lines that we've seen elsewhere on the atlantic
coast. it's got a lot of pubs and bars downtown and seems to have a good
sized irish population. the capitol building itself is pretty unique, i'll
post the picture with the next update. now we're on our way to nyc.
haven't written in a LONG time and we have been VERY busy. I'm not sure
where to start, seeing as we've been so many places the last couple of
days. I guess Chris covered most of Baltimore and DC, so I'll start from
there. We left DC Saturday morning after staying at a friend of a friend's
house. Sarah (at work) has a good friend who moved there after college,
so she hooked us up with her so we would have a bed to sleep in and a shower
to take :). Jill was very nice and very hospitable. She had a cute little
apartment outside of DC in Alexandria, and it was really nice to have a
bed to sleep in because we had slept in the car the last couple of nights.
We left DC well rested and headed off to Gettysburg. Chris had been there
previously, but I had never been, so I was pretty excited. I was amazed
at how big the park is, and how within the park there is a town. We took
a park ranger guided tour for 45 minutes, but it was cold and very windy
and we were both tired, so we decided to take a self guided tour in the
car after our first tour ended. We went to the bookstore and bought a 2-hour
CD that guided us through the park and explained certain significant locations.
Throughout the tour there are monuments and statues everywhere. It was
pretty cool to see all of the landmarks that had been erected in honor
of the battle. We took the tour for about an hour before we accidently
got lost and wound up back in the parking lot. Chris was very tired and
I was pretty tired myself, so we decided that it was nap time. For about
a 45 minutes Chris slept and I read. After nap time were were fully rested
and ready to go.
our nap time we set out for New York. We were pretty hungry so we drove
for a little under an hour before we stopped at Harrisburg (the capital
of Pennsylvania) to stop for dinner. Our Lonely Planet guide said the capital
building was pretty interesting so we made sure to make a stop to check
it out before dinner. We wound up eating at a local Bar and Grill that
had TVs at every table and a bunch hanging from the ceiling. It was cool
because you were able to watch any sports game you wanted while you ate.
I was a fan. Dinner was tasty and we set out again for New York after our
tummies were full. New York City it turned out wasn't as far away as we
thought, so we didn't have to drive too long into the night before we found
a rest stop outside of Newark in Clinton to sleep for the night. The past
few nights before that had been pretty chilly, but this night was COLD.
Not only was it cold, but the people around the rest stop were pretty interesting.
Normally it takes me a little while to get comfortable in our surroundings
before I fall asleep in the car, but this time it took a little longer.
I lifted up the curtains to check people out for a while before I decided
I could fall asleep. Throughout the night I woke up periodicallly because
it was so cold, even sleeping next to Chris with the blanket didn't keep
me warm enough. However, it was a nice change after being WAY too hot in
the south each night to sleep.
woke up a little later than we normally do when we sleep in the car. Normally
the heat and sun wake us up pretty early, but it was neither hot or sunny,
so we were able to sleep a little longer, which was nice. After washing
up in the bathrooms we headed out to the Bronx for our A's/Yankees game
at 1:20. We got to the Yankee Stadium around 12 or so, which was nice because
the game started at 1, so we had a bit of time to walk around. It seemed
like all the parking lots charged the same amount, so we parked in one
that was close to the Stadium. I've been to Yankee Stadium once before
when my friend Carlos took me when I was at Parson's, and I had a pretty
good experience. I have to say this time I did not. Our seats were bleacher
seats, which apparently means there is only one entrance for you in the
whole park. Each time we went to a gate to try and get in, the attendant
would say "Oh, you have bleacher seats, the entrance is around the corner."
We would go around the corner and try again, only to be told the same thing.
I think it was about the 4th gate we went to before we finally got to the
entrance. As it turns out, the bleacher entrance has a sign that is about
10 feet off the ground and about 2 feet wide, pretty difficult to find
if you don't know where to look for it, which of course we didn't. We finally
got in and walked to our section and discovered we had probably the crappiest
seats in the ballpark. I don't really get why people like to seat in the
bleachers at Yankees games because you're about 475 feet from home plate.
We watched the A's batting practice for a while and then found our seats.
The overcast sky and wind that we had encountered in the morning soon dissapeared
as the afternoon went on. Throughout the game it got hotter and hotter
and sunnier and sunnier. I stupidly hadn't put sun screen on and my arms
got pretty burned. The game was on a whole pretty uncomfortable. It was
too hot, the sun was beating down too much, our bench seats didn't have
backs, the benches were WAY to close together (I don't have long legs at
all and I kept accidently hitting the guy in front of me) and the people
around us were pretty annoying. I've got to say, I know plenty of people
who are Yankees fans, and they've never bothered me with their cheering,
but the fans at the Stadium really pissed me off. Yankees fans have got
to be the most self-hating fans I've ever encountered. In the 3rd innning
Nick Swisher hit a deep fly ball to center and Johnny Damon and what ever
Yankee was playing left (both team's line-ups were all switched around
for some reason this game) collided and Swisher was able to get an in the
park home run (pretty cool because I've never seen one). After the play
a lot of the fans were screaming at Damon calling him a bum and cussing
at him and blah blah blah. Later on in the game he miss-played a fly ball
and they yelled at him again. I was curious if he was another A-Rod and
everyone just hated him, but I was worng. Late in the game he had caught
a ball that would have been a homerun and they all cheered and praised
how good he is. I thought it was pretty ridiculous because 4 innings ago
they were calling him a bum. It really bothered me for a couple of reasons.
1) Damon is a great player, he may have misjudged a play, but on a whole
he is really good, I loved him when he was on the A's and was dissapointed
when he went to the Red Sox. 2) The Yankees have a manufactured team and
money just gets thrown all around, so their fans are pretty spoiled because
they always have top players on their team. I've grown up watching the
A's, a team that rellies on chemistry to win and seems to really enjoy
being a TEAM. I've really got to say after this game I hate the Yankees
even more than I did before. I can't generalize, but where we were sitting,
the fans were spoiled brats. A woman sitting ahead of us said she wanted
to leave after the Swisher homerun, that that "was the last thing" she
wanted to see, and sure enough when the Yankees were coming back, she was
screaming for them and saying how much fun she was having. I was doubly
happy that the A's ended up winning, because they're my favorite team and
because they beat the Yankees. Fuck the Yankees.
the game we had a miserable time getting away from the park. For some reason
the NYPD closed off a section of the sidewalk and we had to walk through
some random parks in an attempt to find the parking lot where our car was.
I've decided that the NYPD is the most worthless Police Force I have ever
encountered. They weren't directing traffic, they weren't helping people
find their way to their cars......they were just standing in groups together
talking, which seemed to be standard throughout our one day visit in the
city. When we finally got to our car it took us 20 minutes to get out of
the parking garage and another 30 to get on a road. One hour after the
game ended we were probably 300 feet away from the Stadium. Having a car
in New York sucks. By the time we finally got to Manhatten it was nearly
dinner time. It sucked. Because of traffic the only thing we did the whole
day was go to the game, a 1:05 game. Lynn (at work) hooked us up with her
sister who lives by the UN on the east side of the island (basically straight
across from Times Square), so that was really nice because I'm not sure
I'd want to sleep anywhere in New York in the car, I mean I LOVE New York
City (without cars) but I'm not sure sleeping in the car is the safest
thing to do there. After parking we walked to Times Square to the ESPN
Zone restaurant to watch Game 2 of the NBA finals. We waited for about
45 minutes and had a pretty good time during the wait. On the 3rd floor
of the restaurant is a video game arcade and we walked around and watched
people play (it was REALLY expensive). The people competing in the basketball
games were particularly funny, so we stayed there for a while. When we
got our seats we were able to watch a whole bunch of sports games on all
the TVs that were up throughout the 2nd floor dining area. Our waiter was
really nice and dinner was good. The game should have started at 8:30,
but it didn't start until 9:15 which sucked because we had to leave at
9:30 to get back to Barbara's apartment. We watched the 1st quarter and
then headed off to Barbara's. Lynn's sister and husband were REALLY nice
and funny. We stayed up a little bit talking, and then she showed us around
the apartment and went to bed. We finished watching the basketball game
low so as not to wake up her and her husband, and then went to bed. I woke
up at about 6:45 to move the car (they have really strict parking around
their apartment because it's by the UN). I drove around for an hour but
could only find a one hour meter spot which sucked. I walked back and Chris
and I took showers, packed up, and headed out. It was really nice to get
a shower because the game was pretty hot the day before, so we were pretty
now we're probably 30 minutes outside of Philly where we'll be for the
next 2 days (game tomorrow night). After that we'll head back to NYC for
a few days and then we're off to Boston. I'm excited to visit Philly because
I've never been there and I hear it's a pretty cool city. I've also heard
Phillies fans are crazy, so that should be fun too. Hopefully our Phillies
experience is better than our Yankee experience.....
(12:50) we're doing laundry
right now so i have time to write. i tried changing the air filter on the
car, but the screw is stripped and i don't have my socket wrenches with
me. when i asked the guys at pep boys if i could borrow a socket wrench
for a minute i got the run around from six (i counted) different people
and it led to a dead end. so, i returned the filter and maybe i'll just
have them do it at an oil change place. it's not a huge deal, but the last
time it was changed was a year ago and there have been a lot of miles since
then so it's probably time.
yankee stadium is a so-so
stadium from most perspectives. the bleachers are clearly not the way to
go - you're separated from the rest of the stadium and unable to walk around,
you're further from the field (esp. in the left field bleachers), and the
seats are pitched too gently. overall i suppose i agree with meryl regarding
the fans, but i think the truth is more that there are a lot of differing
opinions being voiced in the bleachers and when taken together they conflict,
but they may not individually. that said, they are pretty spoiled. the
yankees do the least of the ballclubs we've seen so far to entertain the
crowd between innings. generally, i think the crowd entertains itself with
conversation and griping and bragging. all that said, it is yankee stadium
and a lot has happened there so going there is sort of a rite of passage
for a baseball fan.
i can't understand how
so many people can choose to live in new york city, or why so many like
it, with or without a car. if you drive in manhattan you're either rich,
a masochist or you do it as part of your job. but cars aside, manhattan
is just ridiculous. there are far too many people, you can't see the sky,
there's no nature, everyone is loud auditorily, visually and olfactorily
(?). i like that you can do anything there, but most cities have plenty
to do so long as you're reasonably creative and your interests are varied.
i guess i just don't like people enough to be surrounded by 10+ million
of them. travis bickle and i are in agreement on this issue.
after nyc we drove to philly.
we got a philly cheesesteak sandwich from pat's, which is across the street
from geno's, and i thought it was pretty decent, but not spectacular; it's
definitely authentic philly though - they've been around since 1930. geno's
has only been around since 1966 and they seem like rednecks to me. they
have a sign that reads "this is america so order in english" and they have
a bunch of pro-police and pro-america stuff on the walls. it's not that
there's really anything wrong with being pro-police or pro-america, but
in this case it smacked of jingoism.
philly has some nice areas
(south street, old town, independence square) and some not so nice parts
(south and west philly). the seedy parts are pretty dirty and don't seem
to get street cleaning. we walked around south street at night and it's
got some good record stores and clothing stores. we also did the liberty
bell thing. i think the liberty bell is pretty overrated - they just make
too much out of it as a symbol. the next morning we saw independence hall
where the declaration of independence, the articles of confederation and
the constitution were all written. philly very well may have more important
early american history than any city in the country. afterwards we saw
the u.s. mint and a temporary exhibit on sports. both were pretty decent.
it was getting close to
game time so we looked around downtown, including an indoor farmer's market
kind of place, to kill 45 minutes before heading over to the game. citizen's
bank park is pretty great. it's got some good character in outfield, a
good amount of seating, plenty to do before the game and it looks nice.
there were about 38k people there which i think is pretty damn good for
a tuesday night. the crowd was into the game most of the time and it was
made even more fun by the fact that so many mets fans were there. there
was some good back and forth between fans throughout the game. there were
also 7 or more homeruns hit throughout the game and four of them were fairly
close to us (in left field). i think it's my favorite park so far. i like
that it's intimate, has good character and that the fans are entertaining.
this is where the aforementioned
documents were ratified, independence hall, philadelphia (the capital at
the senate met in this
room. the ranger who gave us a talk in this building was quite a character.
he called on people from the (small) crowd and was a dynamic speaker, i
one of the nicer buildings
in downtown philly:
summed up Philly pretty well. I've got to say Philly and Baltimore have
been my favorites so far as cities go. Both have hold a lot of early American
history (Philly winning) and both are pretty diverse with a lot of stuff
going on and cool cultural neighborhoods. I however had a bad first impression
of Philly because I was driving and I've got to say the craziest drivers
are here. Forget NYC, that was easy. It seems like people don't pay attention
to traffic rules at all in Philly. Stop signs are disregarded, 2 lanes
become 1lane and become 2 lanes again. It's crazy. It made me pretty frustrated
so Chris drove while we were there. Without needing to be the driver I
enjoyed my time there very much. I liked looking around Independence Mall
(Liberty Bell/Independence Hall area) and walking around South Street at
night too. The Philly's game was especially fun too. There was a Met "fan"
ahead of us who was kinda annoying. He wasn't cheering for the Mets until
it was a close game, in fact he was cheering for Philly while the Mets
were winning by 5 runs. When Philly came back to within 2 he started getting
crazy. I found it pretty annoying as a baseball fan, like you only want
your team to win if it's close? He in fact said "Come on, let's get some
insurance runs," in the top of the 9th when the Mets were only up by 2
which I thought was laughable because 2 innings earlier when they were
up by 5 he was cheering for the Phillies. Oh well. Like Chris said, there
were lots of Mets fans on a whole at the game, which made it a lot of fun
because they would yell back and forth at each other, it was pretty fun
to watch. Chad Bradford came in for relief for the Mets and kicked ass
which was a nice thing to see because he used to be a reliever for the
A's. He's a submarine pitcher who I later read has only let 1 of 23 inherited
runs score so far this year in relief. He's kicking some serious ass. Go
Bradford. Another great thing we saw was on the big video screen - during
usual birthday greetings - they had a camera on a guy proposing to his
girlfriend, who thank goodness said yes. I, of course, pathetically thought
it was fabulous. Another thing that was pretty comical was during the 7th
inning stretch a really bad local boy band "sang" Take Me Out to the Ball
Game. I learned to play it on the piano when I was little and I'm sure
my rendition of it was awful, but this had to have been the WORST singing
of it I have EVER heard. They BUTCHERED it by singing it doing vocal gymnastics.
An example: "Take.....me out to the......ball g-AME." It was really funny
though because NO ONE appreciated their version and booed them like CRAZY.
I know they have different people sing it at Wrigley and I've heard of
pretty bad singings of it, but this was AWFUL, the fans booing wildly though
made it wonderful.
had a day to kill before we went back to NYC so we thought it might be
fun to travel down to Atlantic City. We started yesterday night after the
game, slept at a rest stop along the way and finished the drive this morning.
What a mistake that was. I honestly have NO IDEA why people want to go
to Atlantic City. I understand the whole gambling thing, but it was SO
DEPRESSING. I think Atlantic City is my least favorite stop so far along
the trip. I mean, it has potential and it still sucks. We tried to go to
a silly little rainforest restaurant, but when we saw how AMAZINGLY expensive
their prices were, we walked out and went to a Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets
is normally pretty dependable, but the food gave both me and Chris stomach
aches and we left Atlantic City around noon pretty dissapointed.
AC we left for Trenton, NJ. Dissapointing as well. In AC we saw about 5
blocks of good area, the rest looked pretty seedy, I don't think Trenton
even had 5 blocks, at least not that we could find and we drove around
for a while. Dissapointed again, we left for Newark. One of my favorite
books, The Pact takes place there and is about three young guys who make
a pact when they are young to not succumb to street life and become doctors.
I love the book, but from that story and from what my friends at New School
in NYC say, I had the impression that Newark wasn't going to be a very
good area either. I don't know if we just weren't driving in the right
area - although once again we drove around for a while - but once again
we couldn't find an area that looked like it was even decent. While we
were in Trenton we saw two groups of about 5-10 teenagers that were getting
arrested and Newark didn't seem too much better. It was pretty depressing
to drive the whole day throughout New Jersey and not get the greatest impression.
I know there are really nice areas of New Jersey, it just kinda sucked
that we didn't get to see them. Oh well.
now we're on our way to White Plains, NY for the night. We'll hopefully
get to see a movie and hang out for a bit and then head into NYC tomorrow
morning, spend the night at Barbara's again, stay in NYC for the Mets game
Friday and then head off to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Red Sox
game in MA for a couple of days. I love NYC, so I'm looking forward to
the next 2 days.
citizen's bank park
from our awesome seats
in left field:
one of the pregame
attractions was this giant baseball pinball game:
this sums up atlantic
city fairly well: notice that the facade of this building is just that
-a facade, and nothing more. it has not structural purpose - it's there
simply to give the impression of old buildings.
the places that we went
to in new jersey had to have been the worst places in the state because
we drove for hours through the state and it felt as though we never really
left the ghetto. the last time i went to new jersey i liked it so i guess
it just comes down to where you happen to be. we ended up going to connecticut
to find a place to sleep for the night.
nba finals are turning
out to be fairly uninteresting. i've seen two games so far and both were
the next morning we left
ct and went into nyc. we parked in queens and took a bus and train into
manhattan. first thing we did was go to the american museum of natural
history. my opinion is that it's the best museum of science in the country.
of course, i haven't been to all of them, but i've been to a good sampling
and this is the one that always blows me away. the exhibits are incredibly
detailed and good looking. it doesn't cover all aspects of science by any
stretch, but it covers the human impact on the globe, space, major mammals
of africa and asia as well as areas dedicated to human history. it's impossible
to cover it all in a day so we set aside about four hours for a few of
our favorite exhibits. one fact that i found interesting: the average mussel
filters one liter of water every 42 minutes. i wonder how well a mussel
is able to filter salt water. could we use this to our advantage - a pre-filter
to salinzation plants or something? nature holds so many answers.
we went downtown to see
the wtc site afterwards. at this point it basically looks like a downtown
construction site, not much more. there's some information set aside for
people to look at and read while they're at the site, but it's mostly just
a screened off construction site. there was no overwhelming sense of tragedy
or emotion while i was there. my personal opinion is that places like this
don't have an aura or metaphysical attachment to the events which took
place there, rather they have meaning because we give them meaning. since
i had been to the wtc only once before that space didn't hold much meaning
for me. of course, thinking about what it represents gave the visit meaning.
later we walked around
union square and did some people watching. then we went to the place we
were staying (meryl's co-worker's sister's place). both barbara and hector
were amazingly nice for letting us stay with them. they were great hosts
and good to talk with about nyc, etc.
the next morning we went
downtown and walked around times square a bit. meryl's knee was hurting
so we didn't walk around too much. meryl went to lunch with an old friend
and i did the moma thing. moma is like nyc. i like the idea, i like that
it exists, but i'm not a huge fan. i like that nyc is there, but i wouldn't
want to live there - it's just not my kind of place. other than the van
gogh, hopper, dali, and picasso ny moma isn't really my style either.
we went back to union square
to watch the end of the angola/mexico game and eat before the mets game.
after the soccer match we left for queens, but the bus was delayed and
we ended up missing the first inning and a half. this was the first game
that we saw for free and the tickets were great. we got seats on the loge
level, which is just above the field, and almost dead center behind the
plate. they were the best seats we've had so far and they were comped courtesy
of the mets so that made it even better. sadly, the mets lost the game
because of heilman's bad inning of pitching, but we saw them beat the phillies
so i guess it's okay.
shea stadium isn't all
that special of a park. it was designed as a dual-use stadium and there
are some blind spots. i didn't find the food selection to be all that amazing,
but, according to our book, there's a pretty good selection. it's not a
bad ballpark, but it's not special either. all that said, the mets are
cool because they comped us tickets, and really good tickets at that.
after the game was a mess.
some people drive, but most of the 45,000+ people there took the train
and that caused quite the cluster fuck. there's only one exit to the #7
train so a lot of people started jumping the fence and that provided some
entertainment while we waited for the bus. we took the bus, which was late
and full, but not too bad. we drove for a couple hours and ended up sleeping
outside of new haven, ct.
this one was from a tree that was about 1500 years old. not sure if general
sherman is older or not.
shea stadium, from
our awesome, comped seats:
we woke up yesterday morning
in ct and headed over to springfield, ma. the basketball hall of fame is
there so we got tickets and ended up spending a few hours looking through
the museum. it's a pretty great place. it goes over the entire life of
basketball since its inception, as well as documenting the major players,
coaches, refs, and contributors to the sport. it outlines all the leagues
and major teams - from barnstorming teams and touring teams like the "rens"
and the globetrotters to nba teams like the 60s celtics. it does a very
good job covering a wide range of topics as well; my favorite themes include
the rules changes and the strategies that different coaches have developed.
there are interactive exhibits from mainstream video games to skills tests
to touchscreens with lots of stats and videos. there's also a basketball
court on the first floor and dozens of balls on racks so you can shoot
hoops any time you want. on the court they even have several different
baskets and backboards to show the evolution from peach basket to clear
glass backboard with twine netting.
the basketball hall of
fame took a good chunk of the day and we had been fatigued by the nonstop
walking from d.c. to philly to nyc, so we decided to get a motel early
and rest. i was able to fiddle with some of the photos and write and meryl
watched tv. we watched a bit of the hockey game and i was happy to see
that edmonton tied the series up. i also watched the taylor/wright boxing
match while meryl slept and thought that the draw was a fair decision.
taylor seemed like the classier guy and wright seemed like a better boxer,
but he got cocky in the last couple rounds.
we woke up late this morning
and left for boston. right now we're in jfk park near harvard university.
we did some of the freedom trail things, but broke it off early because
meryl's knee is bothering her and it's over 90 degrees right now. the plan
for the rest of the night is to take it easy, catch some dinner and watch
the basketball game.
i was happy to see the
us eke out a tie despite being two men down. the replays didn't look that
bad so i agree that the ref made some bad calls. it sucks that it's going
to affect them in the next game as well. speaking of bad calls - the nba
has been full of bad overreactions to fouls during the playoffs this year.
i really don't like the way they're suspending players so frequently for
relatively small infractions. the only one i really agree with was the
raja bell clothesline on kobe, because it was deliberate and malicious;
though i commend him for doing it. the others have been crap.
i like boston. it seems
more laid back and easy going than philly, nyc or chicago, but has many
of the same perks and a shitload of history. it's got great scenery and
the buildings, though not as impressive in size, are just as good looking
as anything else you'll see. of course it's got its head on straight when
it comes to political and social issues as well so that's not an issue.
plus, it's got good transportation. i'm not a big fan of the cold, so that's
really the drawback with any cities in the northeast. the people here are
also pretty nice and helpful. there's a certain gruffness that most people
acquire living in a very large city which seems to be less present here.
sure, there's a certain boston attitude, but it's more humorous than forbidding.
i'll have to remember to look up tom silva before i leave.
so the first thing we did,
as i mentioned, was the freedom trail. but we actually were distracted
a bit beforehand by a protest that was taking place at city hall. there
was some jewish/pro-israel celebration taking place at city hall so some
pro-palestine people came out to protest israel and zionism. here's
the video meryl took.
while in the quincy market
area we saw a couple street performers. personally i prefer watching street
performers to going to a bar, or whatever it is kids do these days.
forgot to mention this
in the philly section...this is a monument to the irish food (potato) famine
of the 1840s (correct me if i'm wrong on that time frame). it's a great
monument with six acid-etched stone exhibits explaining the history of
the famine. well worth a visit.
basketball hall of
shots in boston:
not sure if this is
an homage to the car guys, or if they took it from this, or if they both
got the idea from somewhere else. my personal favorite of their credits
is their chaufers: Pickov and Dropov. ha, great.
spent the last two days in Boston, and I've got to say I'm pretty split
on the city - I'm still not quite sure what I think of it. Yesterday we
attempted to walk the Freedom Trail with a National Park Ranger - that
DID NOT work out. We waited in the lobby of the National Park Visitor Center
and when she arrived she started out the tour running circles through the
lobby waving American and British flags screaming something I can't quite
remember. I gave a look to Chris, and he of course told me I shouldn't
judge too early, he knew I thought she was INSANE. It turned out I judged
early, but I was definitely right. She was CRAZY and pretty soon into the
tour, we turned around and started walking the other way and took the walk
on ourselves. We managed to hit a lot of the sites, but as the day went
on my knee got more and more tired and it got hotter and hotter so we decided
to stop and hang out in Harvard Square. Later we went to a Bar & Grill
to watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals. We had a pretty good dinner and were
able to watch only the first half because the restaurant was shutting down.
We were pretty pooped though, so it was okay. We drove around for a while
and decided to park outside the Harvard Football Stadium for the night
to sleep. The day was hot and the night was hot as well. Besides our first
night in New Orleans, last night was probably one of the more difficult
nights to sleep through. It never seemed to go below about 85, and in the
car with the windows rolled down only a bit we weren't getting a lot of
air. I was able to sleep on and off, waking up about every hour, but Chris
had a really hard time, and at some points he just sat up and stayed awake
for a while before he could go back to sleep.
woke up this morning not well rested, VERY hot and pretty cranky. By 8:30
it seemed like it was already 90. We drove to find a Starbucks to check
email, upload the web page and all that good stuff. After that we drove
around for about an hour trying to find a place to eat breakfast, and then
find a parking space. We found a cool Irish pub that had World Cup coverage
and ended up staying there for about 2 1/2 hours eating lunch and watching
the Ukraine/Saudi Arabia game. I have to say I'm pretty uniterested in
the World Cup considering I was a soccer player for so long. I've never
really liked the men's USA team, for as hot shit as they think they are,
I don't think they're very good at all. I think a lot of them think they're
God's gift to the country and they really haven't lived up to the hype
they've created for themselves. Last World Cup they only scored one goal,
and so far they've only scored one goal - and the Italians scored it for
them. I feel like whenver I watch coverage of them, they're all making
excuses about how it's not their fault and blah blah blah. I even bet Chris
$5 that they wouldn't win a game, yeah sure I'm going to hell, but I don't
really care. I really have started to dislike the Brazilian and English
teams as well. I understand and know that they are very talented teams,
but I think they're a pretty stuck up bunch too. I really have no respect
for asshole athletes, it just makes me want to vomit. I really hope a team
that NO ONE would expect to win ends up winning. I would LOVE it if Trinidad
and Tobago won, or some other underdog, I think it would be pretty great.
lunch we went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. I felt kinda bad about not
touring around Boston a bit more, but my knee really couldn't handle it
today and touring the city by car is a no no. I expected the movie to be
disgustingly horrible, and although it was horrible, it wasn't disgusting,
so that was good.
the movie was over we headed over to Fenway. It was only about 4:30 or
so and the game started at 7, but after all the crap that happened at Shea,
neither Chris or I wanted to take the chance that we would miss ANY of
the game or the chance to walk around Fenway. I think we finally got there
around 5:30 or so. The book we have says that unless you're willing to
pay at least $25 for parking around the park you have to take a train that
costs $1.25 per person each way. Chris and I figured we could find better.
It turns out, we were right. We only had to pay 75 cents for the meter
until 6 when it was done, and walk maybe 10 minutes till we got to the
field. I thought we did a pretty good job. Fenway was GREAT. I loved Yawkey
way - the street running along one side of Fenway and all the stuff they've
got going on. There are tons of sports bars and pubs and restaurants and
souvener stands, it's CRAZY. I saw lots of Boston gear, but I don't think
they beat the Yankees as far as wearing team gear goes. One thing in particular
Chris and I liked was the Boston Souvener Shop. It was the BIGGEST store
dedicated to one team I have EVER seen. There was literally every piece
of fan merchandise there you could think of. They had every Red Sox hat
I had ever seen and then 20 others, women's bathing suits, pool floaties,
pajamas, memorabilia, jerseys, jackets, running shorts.......and the list
goes on. One thing I REALLY liked about the store is, as a female who is
a fan of baseball I have a hard time getting jackets and sweatshirts that
actually fit me. I either have to get X-Small or Small men's things or
large kid's stuff, and it still never fits right because it's cut for a
boy and not a girl. But they had TONS of women's stuff, down to the team
fleeces, it was great. We walked around Yawkey way a bit more and then
entered the ball park. We hung out in the field level seats for a bit and
watched batting practice. I was tired so I stayed in my seat, but Chris
walked down right to field level and saw Terry Francona signing autographs
and posing for pictures. That was pretty cool considering he used to be
the A's bench coach, gotta like that. After we hung out down there we headed
out to our seats in the bleachers. They were pretty good, so we were satisfied.
I've got to say, Fenway is a GORGEOUS park. I like the fact that you are
so close to the field of play practically everywhere, and the park itself
is pretty small (originally designed to fit within a city block, thus the
weird field dimensions). These factors really give you a sense of intimacy
and make the game a lot more exciting. Our book told us that bleacher fans
are pretty rowdy and drunk (reminds me of the A's....sigh.....) but we
didn't encounter any sort of rowdiness until the end of the game when a
reliever with the first name "Rudy" came in and everyone started chanting
his name (like the movie) and started screaming insults at him when he
wasn't doing so hot. Another thing I liked was a little girl who was about
12 was sitting next to Chris and she was keeping score and was really into
the game and seemed to know her baseball stuff. It made me smile. She was
keeping score with a regular pen and kept scribbling stuff out, so I passed
along one of my erasable pens to her. I love girls who are into baseball
and know their stuff. I remember being little and playing Little League
and not having really any other girls around me. For a couple seasons there
was one other girl in my league, but other than that, girls were pretty
absent. I don't know if she played Little League or not, but it was nice
seeing another young girl into baseball and not afraid to show it. I feel
like a lot of times young girls are encouraged to play or like sports that
are "woman friendly," and not play sports with boys. I remember being called
a lesbian by 10 year old boys or asked if I was even a girl because I played
baseball and not softball. It's sad that so many kids aren't able to deal
with things that are different, and that a lot of parents didn't seem to
be bothered by their sons treating me so bad. So all in all, blah blah
blah, seeing little girls who are baseball fans always make me smile. The
Sox ended up winning 6-3 and all the fans were in a good mood at the end
of the game. We were a little discombobulated when we came out of the ball
park and it took us a little bit to figure out which way to go to get to
our car, but we eventually figured it out.
hit the road and headed to Cooperstown, or Mecca, whatever you want to
call it. We're stopped at a rest stop for the night about 125 miles away.
Hopefully we'll be able to make good time tomorrow morning and hit Cooperstown
by late morning or early afternoon. After that it's off to the Niagara
Falls and Canada. I'm not sure how I feel about our visit in Boston. I
kinda got the sense that locals thought they were a lot better than tourists,
and I can understand that feeling, but it also kinda bothered me. Also,
like Philly, the driving was NOT good. There were no lane markings very
frequently and it seemed like people drove where ever they felt they wanted
to right then. Pedestrians were also all over the place. Even when cars
had the green light they would just march out into the street and figure
that SOMEONE would stop for them. Two ladies were walking in the middle
of the street at one point and we honked at them so we could go by because
they were blocking the road and we had the green light and they turned
around and gave us dirty looks. I was not too fond of the driving and a
lot of the locals kinda rubbed me the wrong way, but all in all, I think
Boston is alright, so long as I don't have to drive.
forgot to mention that
i added some images in a few of the previous entries, so there might be
something new that wasn't there the first time you looked at it.
while in atlantic city
i saw a funny/sad image. a lady sitting at a slot machine with her player
card inside while she was playing. her player card was attached to a long
elastic lanyard which was around her neck. i wish i had taken a picture.
i would have captioned it: who's playing whom? or something to that effect.
it really looked like she was on a leash. i hated atlantic city, just like
i hate las vegas. nothing good happens in those places, but meryl rightly
made the following observation when talking about las vegas vs. atlantic
city: "yeah, but at least las vegas is clean and the people there have
when we're traveling and
looking for good places to sleep for the night there are a few reliable
business indicators. bad: pawn shops, check cashing locations, gun shops,
and liquor stores. good: starbucks and whole foods markets.
while in baltimore we were
walking downtown and there was a trafic officer at a four way intersection
efficiently directing traffic. he was in the middle of the intersection,
but in the right most lane, which was a turn only lane. some woman in the
right lane was slowly driving into the intersection right towards the officer,
he held up his hand and strongly gestured for her to take a right turn
because it was a turn only lane. she kept creeping forward towards him
as he did this, then he reached into his back pocket and took out his ticket
book, held it up for her to see and repeated the right turn gesture. she
continued forward very close to him and he stepped aside and she started
talking to him, and i couldn't hear what either party was saying, but he
seemed upset and she just seemed retarded. finally he gestured for her
to turn and park so he could give her a ticket. as we walked by she continued
to talk with him, presumably to try to explain herself or get out of the
ticket, but he had none of it and just wrote her a ticket. it was pretty
another funny story which
i neglected to impart came in atlanta. it was after the game and we were
walking with the usual crowd of fans trying to get to their cars. it had
started to drizzle a bit and we reached a parking lot exit where there
were a few traffic cops directing the flows of pedestrians and cars. they
signaled for us to stop and for the cars to go. the steady stream of cars
continued for a few minutes and the pedestrians (including us) started
commenting on the poor strategy of the traffic cops as well as some of
the silly drivers who were confused by the traffic cops' directions. after
several minutes of waiting the pedestrians around us started to grumble
about not being allowed to go and they started booing the traffic cops;
that was a first. the booing got louder and then we all just sort of took
it upon ourselves to start walking through parking lot exit, at which point
the traffic cops had no choice but to stop car traffic.
fenway is a pretty great
place to watch a game. it's the only time i've gone to a park and gotten
goosebumps. coming out of the walkways and into the light and seeing the
field right there was a pretty great experience. it's not just that the
field is so close, it's that you're on the same level as the field, and
that makes all the difference. as meryl writes below, i went down to the
second row of seats and took pictures, and some video, during batting practice.
we were in basically the last row of the bleachers, which are oddly angled,
so we were probably as far from the action as you can get, but it really
wasn't all that bad. i really liked being amongst the people and hearing
their conversations. it didn't feel as distant or cramped as it is in yankee
stadium and the bleachers bums aren't second class citizens who are kept
separate from the rest of the action. it's definitely an old ball park
- it doesn't have the crisp look of a pacbell, minute maid or citizen's
bank park, but it's so much more tied to the historic baseball experience
that what it lacks in bells and whistles is forgotten. capacity is only
like 35k which is paltry, esp. considering how big baseball is in boston.
speaking of which, judging by conversations, the souvenir shop and the
surrounding area, the red sox seem to be something of a religion here.
the ruth curse is about as easy to believe as the idea that jesus is his
own father, but i digress. fenway is well maintained, the field has as
much character as any other i've seen - there are a couple odd angles and,
of course, the green monster. the fans around us got out of their seats
too often for my taste, but that was my only real complaint. here's
a video i took of terry francona signing stuff for kids. at one point a
kid threw a baseball card and it hit terry in the face and he gave a real
annoyed look, then he told the kid to gently throw the pen and it was way
short so terry looked more annoyed and reached across the dugout to get
the pen and sign the card. it was funny.
i disagree with meryl about
bostonians feeling superior to tourists, we've talked about it and i don't
really see her examples as any different from the new york experience.
i guess it just comes down to a matter of opinion. as for the driving situation
- i think that if i grew up in boston i'd be completely used to it and
wouldn't even consider the lack of lane dividers an issue. i think it's
just a regional thing, one that we're not used to.
right now we're in albany.
it's a nicer town than i envisioned and the buildings in the gov't center
are quite nice. hopefully some of the pictures will be worth posting.
the biggest annoyances
in the northeast are parking and toll roads.
so far we've been to the
following states: texas, louisiana, mississippi, alabama, georgia, florida,
south carolina, north carolina, virginia, maryland, delaware, connecticut,
pennsylvania, new york, new jersey, massachusetts. of those sixteen states
we've been to the following capitals: austin, baton rouge, montgomery,
atlanta, raleigh, richmond, boston, albany, trenton, and harrisburg. 10/16.
slept at a motel 6 in syracuse
last night. at motel six you can count on two things: low prices and there
will always be something that you won't like about the room. sometimes
it's a dank smell or a lack of towels or bad tv reception. this morning
it was being woken up to loud banging on the ceiling. apparently they were
repairing something with the sprinkler system, but they were banging so
hard that the drywall in the ceiling above us actually broke between the
joists. i thought someone, or something, was going to come crashing down
on us, but that never happened.
it's interesting to see
how each state's license plates work. some have the name of the county,
others do not. california doesn't do that and they have two number/digit
systems for trucks/cars. trucks are NLNNNNN and cars are NLLLNNN. back
in the day ca used to be only six characters NNN LLL. my favorite is still
washington d.c. because they have "taxation without representation" printed
on the bottom edge. it's pretty pathetic that the nation's capital has
the same problem that we cited when separating from england. they have
electoral votes, but no representation in congress.
there are a shit load of
dunkin' donuts in boston.
we saw the baseball hall
of fame in cooperstown yesterday. it's bigger and better than the basketball
hall of fame, but still has some gaps as far as i'm concerned. it would
have been cool to have an outline of some of the major debates in baseball
- from the dh to the "greatest player of all-time" debate. there was a
hall of major stats, but it would have been cool if they had some obscure
single game records like most steals in a game or most homeruns in a row,
fun stuff like that. i think this is especially true for baseball since
stats are such a large part of the enjoyment of the game. they didn't have
any discussion of strategies either. there was some coverage of the game's
evolution, but not much. all that said, it was a pretty great place. they
had an overview of the different kinds of parks and the evolution of park
design from the wooden structures to the concrete and steel structures
to the dual use stadiums like shea to the retro look in urban areas like
camden. they had plethora of memorbilia - from game bats and balls to jerseys,
championship rings, luggage tags and everything in between. generally,
that stuff isn't all that interesting to me, but i appreciate that so much
of it is where it belongs. they also had a section dedicated to baseball
art and movies. both were small, but it gives you an idea of the kind of
impact the sport has had on american culture. there were a couple of norman
rockwell pieces that i enjoyed and there were a few by vincent civileti
and stevan dohanos which were very much like rockwell's style. they had
a trivia challenge which we didn't see, but i thought it was cool that
they had that. they also had a short video which was kinda crappy. they
had another art section dedicated just to negro league related art. there's
a wealth of information there and you could easily spend an entire day
there if you're a hardcore baseball fan.
two of the more impressive
in the couple games i've
seen i'm really liking reyes, who leads off for the mets. he's quick, plays
good small ball, and is a solid infielder. it was pretty cool because last
night peter gammons listed him as an up and coming shortstop on baseball
the nba game last night
was a disappointment. it was a fine game, but i didn't like the outcome.
the nba seems to have turned into a bit of a fascist regime lately. they
fined mark cuban 250k the other day for something (i'm not sure what because
they didn't show a replay) he did after game five. then there's all the
b.s. suspensions during the playoffs this year and a few suspect changes
in wardrobe rules. i don't know what they're trying to do, but it's getting
obnoxious. the other thing that annoys me is the lack of players who are
willing to commit fully to defense. in the last 10 years i can think of
only a few players who really play defense. rodman, artest and wallace
(in that order) are the most obvious. why isn't there a player who is willing
to face guard a guy like wade in order to deny him the ball (the most effective
defense there is for a player like that)? i'm also annoyed by the nba's
new "video game" camera angle. the wire camera thing may work in video
games, but it just doesn't cover enough of the court to be effective in
real life. the camera operators aren't up to snuff with yet either. it's
fine for replays, but not for live action - there were several times when
they'd switch to that angle and miss a 3 point shot as a result.
LOTS has happened in the last couple of days and we have been QUITE busy.
Last Tuesday we went to Cooperstown and I LOVED it. It's true, like Chris
said some stuff was left out that could have made it even better, but all
in all it was a pretty fabulous place. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It
kinda sucks that it's so far away from where I live, I don't really see
myself going into the buttcrack of New York anytime soon, so maybe I'll
never get to go again. But if I don't, at least I got to go this once.
blah ba di blah blah blah, we stayed in Syracuse that same night like Chris
said and got woken up by VERY loud thumping and crashing from upstairs
and we called the front desk after they busted a hole in the ceiling and
found out they were repairing the sprinkler system in case of a fire. You
can't really get mad at that, but it sucked because the really nice thing
about staying at hotels is that we get better sleep and we can sleep for
longer, but they woke us up a bit early, oh well. After that we headed
out for Utica, NY for brunch. It turns out we passed it without knowing,
I guess it was so small we couldn't see it from the freeway, whoops. So
we continued on to Buffalo and ended up eating at a place that used to
be a Masonic Temple. It's now a bar and grill, that turned out wasn't too
good - my pasta primavera made me feel sick. One thing that was weird,
on their TVs they were playing PBA competitions, I've got to say that was
my first time being at a bar and grill that was showing bowling. It seemed
weird, the World Cup was on and they had bowling on every TV but one. After
lunch we continued on to Niagara Falls, which I was pretty excited about.
Chris, of course, had been there before, but I hadn't so I was looking
forward to it. When we got to the border the border patrol lady asked us
quite a lot of questions. I've never been to Canada, and the only other
times I left the country were to go to Mexico walking across the border
where they're really not going to tell you anything, or I was with parents,
whether it was my own or someone else's, so I didn't pay as much attention
to what they asked. I asked Chris if last time he went to Canada they asked
him that many questions and he said no. I figured it must be related to
the post-9/11 world, or the fact that we didn't really know our details
- "how long are you staying?","uh, three or four days." "Where are you
staying?","we're not sure".....you get the idea. Once we got to the Falls
I was blown away. I've seen pictures and everything, but not to sound cliche
or anything, but pictures don't do it any justice. It was pretty amazing.
I'm kinda afraid of large natural bodies of water (I'm weird like that)
and so the incredible force that the water created and how AMAZINGLY fast
it goes rushing up to the fall kinda freaked me out a bit. There are a
bunch of baby falls leading up to the big one, and after each fall the
water gets faster and faster and faster. It was pretty fucking amazing,
I think it was my favorite nature site we've seen so far...wellllll.....maybe
the Everglades, but this is a VERY close second.
that we headed up to Toronto. We got there around 7 or so I think and drove
around a bit before parking and deciding what to do. I've got to say, I
LOVE Toronto. For the last 4 or 5 years my favorite city has been NYC,
but I think Toronto may have it beat. It's got all the same great things
as NYC - art, culture, diversity, mass transit, cool neighborhoods, great
parks, and interesting people, but it's also so much CLEANER. It was amazing
to be in a big city (4.5 million) that didn't smell like urine. Not only
that, but on all the corners where trash cans are, there are also recycling
containers. The city provides garbage bags to businesses that waste is
put in, and then along side all of the waste you see all of the recycling
that the company puts out as well - empty folded up boxes with all their
paper recycling in it. Most cities just dump all of their waste into one
container - things that can be recycled and all - and this creates A LOT
of waste because cities use a lot of resources. So it was really cool that
the ENTIRE city participates in recycling so extensively. Toronto also
has got to be the most ethnically diverse area I have ever been to in my
entire life, so that was pretty cool. The area that we hung out in most
of the time had a lot of cool different kinds of shops, LOTS of restaurants,
and a bunch of movie theaters. One thing that Chris pointed out to me that
I didn't see at first, was on our second day we were walking around and
a homeless man had a cast on his foot with a walking boot. Canada has government
funded health care, so it was really cool to see that a homeless person
was supported by this as well. Toronto gets an A+++++++. We drove around
for a bit and decided to see a movie. It was a little after 10 when we
got to the theater so we were limited to Nacho Libre and the Lake House,
we saw the Lake House. I had pretty low expectations and they were right,
I did not enjoy the movie and a lot of the time Chris and I kinda laughed
at it. A lot of couples were there and I couldn't help to think how many
of the girlfriends made their boyfriends see it with them - I'm sorry boyfriends.
After the movie we drove back to a ritzy neighborhood we had seen before
and parked the car across from a park and went to bed.
we woke up in the morning we found a place to watch the US/Ghana World
Cup game. I wasn't surprised to see how many people were at the pub so
early in the moring to see the game. When we were in NYC we saw a game
in the middle of the afternoon and only one other person was there to watch
it. At this pub, the place was completely full for a 9:30 game. They had
the Italy/Czech game on the big TV and the US/Ghana game on the small TV.
I of course was not surprised that the US lost and in fact didn't really
watch the game and instead watched the Italy game which made me hate the
Italian team because they flopped all over and cried like babies whenever
they got "fouled." I wanted the Czech team to win SO bad because they seemed
pretty tough and had good sportsmanship, but sadly they didn't. In the
US/Ghana game, I was surprised to find out that about 80% of the fans there
were cheering for Ghana and erupted into applause when Ghana scored. Later
throughout the trip when we drove around we saw TONS of Ghana flags, so
it seems like there is a large Ghanian population in Toronto. After the
US lost, I've got to say I TECHINICALLY won the bet I made with Chris.
I agreed that he shouldn't pay my $5 because the US did TIE a game, but
you know, they never WON. And they only scored one goal again (I don't
count the one against Italy because that was an own goal, they didn't score
it). And actually, I think the US guy who scored danced around a little
cockily, if my team had had that disgusting of a showing in the World Cup
after I bragged about myself so much and just bitched and bitched and bitched
in all the interviews I had, he had some serious balls - at least I think
- to celebrate that much. To sum it up, I think the US sucked this World
Cup, AGAIN, but it wasn't a surprise, I expected it.
meryl's such a negative
nancy (that's a cartman reference) sometimes. after the game we went to
a starbucks and took care of some business there. we also did some laundry
at a coin-op place and read while we waited. we went to the bata shoe museum
and saw the evolution of footwear and some good exhibits on the importance
of shoes in different cultures. it was a pretty interesting museum and
we figured we may as well go to a few wacky museums because there's only
so much cezanne and manet you can take on one trip. we left the museum
and didn't have anything planned for the night so we went out for a quick
dinner and then saw "wordplay." (meryl wants erik to see it) my reviews
are in the usual place.
to skip back a bit...on
wednesday when we left syracuse we stopped in rochester and buffalo on
our way to niagara falls and toronto. rochester was pretty much a dump
and it seems like we've come across a lot of dumpy cities in our travels.
it could be any number of factors working independently or in tandem, but
i think one element is that we're generally visiting the downtown area.
i think there's an element of suburbanization that has been occurring for
a long time which has depressed the downtown area of a lot of mid-sized
cities. downtown is for going to work and not much else, so it seems to
me. i only have theories as to why this is happening, but i think it's
an important factor to the depressed nature of many downtown areas.
regarding toronto: i'm
not a city guy. i was born and raised in the second largest city in the
country and i like it there, but somewhere within me i just wasn't meant
to be in large cities. i hate the dirt, the lawlessness, the busyness,
the noise, the smell, etc. i like that you can do anything in a city and
i sometimes like that you can blend in without being bothered, but that's
generally derives from the fact that people are too concerned with themselves
than from some sense of wanting to allow people their space; at least that's
my take. i can look at a city and enjoy the architecture and appreciate
the great cultural venues and frequent the theaters and restaurants, but
ultimately i'm not a city guy. all that said, toronto is great. i've been
to dozens of cities in america and a few in canada/mexico, and toronto
probably sits atop the heap. it's a little more expensive than some cities,
but overall it's not as pricey as san francisco, chicago or nyc and it's
got some car traffic at certain times in certain areas, but it's otherwise
a fantastic city. it's bustling with activity from lots of different kinds
of people and everyone seems to get along. people are nice, there's not
much honking or trash. it's active, but it's not the kind of city where
people would step over you if you fell down. for being a city of 4.5 million
it's amazing how many people rollerblade, skateboard and (especially) bike
around town. the public transit system is easy to understand and only a
bit more expensive than nyc's (which is probably one of the top three in
the world behind tokyo and london). it's home of a really great and up-and-coming
film festival. while we were there it was (gay) pride week and there was
a jazz festival going on as well. it's got some great architecture and
cultural/sport venues. the skydome is right next to the cn tower (the tallest
free-standing structure in the world, as of 2005) and both are impressive,
but not as forbidding and dominating as the skyscrapers in new york. i've
seen the sears tower, the wtc buildings and the cn tower up close and the
wtc buildings seemed the tallest because they were so monolithic. the sears
tower steps in to preserve the skyline and the cn tower (though impressive
up close) doesn't have the same dominating presence as the other structures
do/did. toronto is also, so far as i can tell, a fairly green and blue
city. "green" socially and "blue" politically. a lot of their power derives
from hydo-electric and wind. they are committed to recycling and public
transit and conservation programs. there are ads alongside the major highway
and rather annoying billboards which dominate the view, they have ads which
are made along the grass shoulder. bushes and flowers comprise the logos
of different companies in a pretty, but still effective, manner. one thing
i noticed, which i read later in our travel book, was that toronto residents
are in pretty good shape for city dwellers. not only is there a definite
presence of people who are working out, biking around the city, and looking
good, but there is also a lack of obesity which is more prevalent in the
states. other random notes: even the churches seemed more inclusive and
laid back - one church had a rainbow flag on the front door. i'm pretty
sure medicinal pot is legal here and we saw two women walking down the
street puffing away in a nice part of town. the us dollar sucks these days
and the exchange rate wasn't as kind as it was the last time i was here.
for me, the winters are probably the worst thing about toronto.
bata shoe museum exhibits:
more images from toronto,
vern might like the nosferatu to radiohead flyer, we once watched metropolis
to black sabbath's self-titled album:
i've seen a lot of General
Hospitals in my day, just once i'd like to see a Specific Hosptial.
friday we woke up with
a ticket on our windshield and that was unfortunate. we had planned on
parking at the same park and sleeping there, but some van showed up and
parked kinda close so we drove somewhere else and didn't see the no parking
between 2-11am sign. paid that online later that day. we went to the textile
museum and learned about the different kinds of weaves and stitches that
have developed for different uses. it had some good exhibits on how different
cultures have used different textiles for different purposes. it also showed
some of the different styles and symbols/motifs that those cultures have
developed. i think my grandmother would have liked it. later in the day
we caught another movie before going to the ballgame.
me at a computer in
the textile museum. the computer program was a visual display of the paterns
in music, pretty nifty.
we used the subway to get
to the sky dome (rogers centre). there's a good amount of activity outside
of the park - some people selling souvenirs and food and tickets, but also
a guy playing drums and a lot of people just hanging around before the
game; almost like a standing tailgating scene. we bought our upper level
tickets behind homeplate without any trouble. the tickets were reasonable
at $9 (CAD) each with a $2 fee, but the other price levels are pretty silly.
the next cheapest seats are $24 and it goes up from there. capacity is
a bit over 50k, so it's a big place, but i didn't find the upper level
seats to be all that bad. the bottom level goes back far and doesn't go
up much, like fenway, and the upper level goes up a lot, but doesn't go
that far back so the seats are pretty decent. the jumbotron is great looking
and really big, i think the biggest in the majors. consequently it has
plenty of good information about the pitch count, some key stats, the lineup
and some general information about the man at bat. they also have screens
in the outfield for other baseball game scores, pitch speed and type, and
other info. the retractable roof was also pretty cool. other than the outfield
wall, which is perfectly round and symetrical, there is very little advertising
inside. this may explain the ticket prices a bit. one cool promotion they
had was for some pizza chain that gives free slices of pizza for ticket
holders if the jays strikeout seven or more batters. after six strikeouts,
with the jays losing by 5 runs in the top of the ninth, everyone in the
stadium was chanting "pizza, pizza, pizza," even the rowdy mets fans cheered
after their own player struck out, thus securing the free pizza for all.
"hey, we like pizza too!" a few of the mets fans said while cheering and
giving high fives. it was great. the whole game was great, even better
than the phillies/mets game. in fact both of those games were made better
by the presence of annoying mets fans riling up the opposing fans. at both
games the mets ended up winning and the mets fans would cheer throughout.
"let's go mets" was the most popular, but they also cheer for jose reyes
with the "ole, ole ole ole" soccer cheer, only they change it to "jose,
jose jose jose." i've mentioned before that i like jose reyes so i enjoy
this cheer, but i also enjoyed it when he missed a ball and the jays fans
used the same cheer to mock him. a few jays fans even used this cheer melody
to call for the beer guy: "more beer, more beer more beer more beer." there
was a great dynamic between the loud, outspoken mets fans who wouldn't
shut up and the few jays fans who would talk shit back. it's not the kind
of thing i can really describe, but suffice it to say that it was great
fun and i wish every game was a mets game because their fans seem to really
bring it. after the game they were at the end of the tunnel high-fiving
everyone as we came from the seats and were saying "good game good game,
we all got pizza" and stuff like that. another great moment came in the
8th inning, or thereabouts, when two fans
ran onto the field and the game stopped. security officials rushed
the field and tackled both fans while everyone else cheered. i remember
the days before 9/11 and the time when that father and son attacked the
first base coach, when running onto the field was fun and not seen as such
a threat. nowadays they take it so damn seriously because a few stupid
people have done stupid things and we live in a culture of fear. anyway,
people at the game loved it and i thought it was great. they weren't running
on the field to hurt anyone, they were just being dumb (probably) drunk
guys and it entertained everyone so i don't really see the harm. hopefully
they didn't get in too much story. this game was easily the most fun one
that i've been to. there have been great moments at other games - the phillies/mets
game was great fun, the time bonds his 7 rbi at dodger stadium and even
the dodger fans were rooting for him, the time the dodgers had like 6 errors
and the dodger fans were getting irate was also memorable, but this game
had it all. here's one of the more
funny fans we sat next to. there's a decent amount of provided entertainment
between the innings as well.
big, high quality jumobtron:
with the digital zoom
and the shaky seats i couldn't get a great shot of this guy getting taken
off the field.
after the game we left
the skydome and headed toward the subway. the drummer guy was still outside
and he had quite a big crowd around him so we watched that for a bit. everyone
seemed to be enjoyed themselves quite a bit and they started chanting m-v-p
for him after he did his show. toronto is great. we eventually got back
on the subway and back to the car. considering there were about 25k people
at the game the transit system worked pretty damn efficiently. getting
out of the area is a lot easier here than it is at shea or yankee stadium.
we drove to missisauga
and slept at a motel 6. woke up the next morning and hit the road, which
is where we are now. we stopped in london to drop off some mail and see
if we could get the car worked on, but the place we went to was busy so
we're heading to detroit.
on the road from london
to detroit meryl was driving and we got a sidewall flat so she pulled over
quickly and we changed the tire on the side of the highway. it was faster
than if we had AAA do it and she doesn't get cell service in canada so
we had to do it ourselves; what a concept. i could digress here and mention
the atrophy of our culture in these arenas as a result of our service economy
and technology like cell phones, but i won't.
so we rode the gimp wheel
to windsor (the "automotive capital of canada"), just outside of detroit,
but still in canada, and went to a costco to get our tire changed. technically
we needed a membership card to get service, but the guy was cool so he
let us slide. technically my mom's a member an i could have found a pay
phone or something to get the number, but, like i said, he let us go. so
after a slight detour/delay we hit the road for detroit.
we got to the border and
went up to the window and right away the guy gave us attitude. he told
me to take off my sunglasses, i apologized and complied. then he asked
us for documentation and we gave our driver's licenses (which is all that
is required until november, i believe). he asked for birth certificates
and passports and we said we didn't have them. he asked if we had any way
of proving that we were citizens and we said "no." he asked where we had
been, how we knew each other and all sorts of stuff. he was very accusatory
and obnoxious the entire time. then he launched into a semi-rant about
how we couldn't prove that we were citizens and how driver's licenses don't
prove anything - they can be made illegally - etc. it was funny to hear
a lecture from this guy about the relative nature of citizenship and what
amounted to an epistemological discussion. i felt like debating him about
the ability to counterfeit a ca driver's license versus a birth certificate
and various forms of identification and what they actually indicate
(nothing), but i didn't. obviously he's got to be somewhat difficult to
make sure certain people don't make it inside the border, but i really
didn't understand why he was being such a dick about it and why he was
going about it the way he was. also, if they're going to require a passport
to cross the canadian/u.s. border why don't they just say so. the law requiring
that doesn't go into affect until late this year so enforce the law or
change it. anyway, after putting us through the wringer and trying to make
us slip up with our stories, he let us in. the only other thing we gave
him were receipts for things we did in toronto, which, apparently, proves
that we're american citizens. fuck that guy.
we drove around detroit,
which is basically a shell of what it was 40 years ago. buildings are hollow
and streets are empty. i suspect flint is even worse. both have been screwed
by globalization, the weakening of unions, suburbanization and the exodus
of american car companies. it's pretty sad, but it's also a good reminder
of what once was and a warning of what could happen.
we ate at a burger/hot
dog place called american coney island which has been around since 1917.
there are quite a few coney island eateries around here. they're cheap
and offer greasy, chili topped american food. it was good.
after the cheap dinner
we watched the omen at a theater way north of downtown. we ended up sleeping
in the same parking lot as the theater. the next morning (today) we went
to the detroit zoo and walked through the entire grounds. they have an
exhibit that's very cool, though not litterally. the pinnacle of the
exhibit is about 2/3 of the way through when you get to walk through an
acrylic-lined tunnel with water surrounding you. polar bears and seals
swim next to and over you as you walk through and take pictures. the detroit
zoo also has the usual african animals like zebras, lions, rhinos, giraffes,
etc. they don't have elephants. we also saw the reptile and bird exhibits.
pictures are forth-coming.
was a pretty happy camper going to the Zoo, I had been wanting to throughout
the trip so far, so when we went to the one in Detroit, it was pretty sweet.
After the Zoo we drove back to downtown Detroit (the Zoo is actually in
the 'burbs) and hunted around for a place to eat. There were a couple sports
bars across the street from Comerica Park, so we settled on Hockeytown
Cafe. Chris and I both got salads (BBQ and Taco) that were both tasty.
My taco salad was a tasty treat because I could actually taste all the
ingredients - tomato, lettuce, olives, beef, beans, etc. - and Chris said
his BBQ Chicken salad was good too. After dinner we weren't really sure
what to do seeing as it was around 6:30 or so and all the museums and stuff
were closed. We decided to make it another movie night and headed back
to the same theater we had been the night before. After nearly an hour
of driving (the theater is a ways away) we arrived. This last weekend nothing
really came out besides Click, and we'd already seen that (and just about
everything else) so we had to see Nacho Libre, which I've got to say blew
pretty bad, I guess I'm just not a fan of Jack Black. After the movie we
decided to try and make it an early night. We parked in the same parking
lot and got ready for bed and fell asleep around 10:45 or so. Later, at
4:15 in the morning, some cops came by and banged on the window with their
flashlights to wake us up. Chris woke up and started talking to them but
I didn't wake up till he bonked my leg to have me get my driver's license.
It turns out we were parked in a private parking lot and you aren't allowed
to stay overnight. The cop was pretty nice though and let us go and even
gave us directions to a cheap motel. It didn't really make sense for us
to check into a motel for 4 hours though, so we drove around a bit and
parked in a residential neighborhood to sleep for the rest of the night.
woke up in the morning and headed to the Motown Museum. It was in a crappy
area and didn't look too impressive, so we decided it wasn't worth the
$16 for the two of us. we found out later that it was closed anyway.
We drove to the Detroit Institute of Art, which was pretty close, and tried
to go there instead. Sadly, we didn't plan very well - it's closed on Mondays
and Tuesdays. Chris was pretty disappointed because he had been there before
and really enjoyed the Diego Rivera murals and the architecture inside
the museum. We walked around a bit to try and find something to occupy
our time before meeting Mike (the brother of a friend of Chris') later
in the afternoon. We found the Detroit Science Center and spent the next
few hours inside. They had a cool space exhibit there as well as a floor
that reminded me of the Exploratorium in SF. The entire floor is made up
of hands-on exhibits showing you how the science behind electricity, wind
currents, refracting telescopes, etc. It was pretty cool, but I've got
to say the Exploratorium in SF is far superior. I remember going on TONS
of field trips there when I was little. It's a HUGE museum that's made
up entirely of hands on exhibits, and it has the Tact Tile Dome too, which
is a jungle gym type dome that is made up of a bunch of different rooms
that are completely dark and you have to figure out how to get out by feeling
around. Field trips there were always the best, and visiting the Detroit
Science Center made me excited for when our trip finds us in the Bay Area
and we can go to the exploratorium.
our visit we went to a Kinko's to upload the web page and wait for Mike.
While we were sitting in the car waiting a homeless man started yelling
at us about buying water, while asking for money, and something about the
auto industry, and anything else he could think of. He started getting
more and more belligerent, but at the perfect moment Mike came up and rescued
us, so that was pretty sweet. We got in the car and he took us to a parking
garage down the street where we could get free parking, which was nice
because we've actually been spending A LOT on parking the last couple of
weeks. We walked over to the hotel that he stays at and got changed for
the game and headed out to buy tickets and go to dinner. We got to the
park and decided on left field bleacher seats that were only five rows
back. Mike was really nice and bought Chris and me tickets. We walked around
the ball park area for a while which was nice because we hadn't toured
around the downtown area too much. We settled on a small diner type place
across the street from the outfield entrance to Comerica Park for dinner.
Mike and Chris got burgers and I got 2 hot dogs and fries. The food and
atmosphere were good and it ended up being pretty crowded with Tigers fans
by the time we ended up leaving. Mike was incredibly nice again and paid
for our dinner, which was pretty cool of him I have to say.
walked over to the Stadium and walked around inside for a while. Upon entering
Chris and I could immediately tell that it was another HOK design (unconfirmed,
but likely) - there was the dark green steel detailing
and incredibly steep upper levels. Like other HOK designs, there were numerous
"courtyard" type gathering areas with games and concessions. In fact, one
really cool detail is the Merry-go-Round they have in the stadium. What's
even cooler is that instead of horses to ride, they have tigers. The game
ended up being a slaughter. The Tigers beat the Astros 10-4, which actually
makes them only the third home team to win out of the 11 games we've seen
so far. I was happy though, after, so many years of the Tigers sucking,
they're the best team in baseball. It's good to see come back stories,
and it helps Detroit even more because all the fans walking around before
and after the game bring a lot of money back into the city. One thing we
noticed was that there wasn't a lot of advertising at the park. I figured
that GM must have put a TON of money into the field because there's a giant
GM fountain in center field that goes off whenever a the Tigers score and
they're pretty much the face of Detroit at this point.
from our seats:
the game we walked through Greektown where we found out that gambling was
legal in Detroit and continued down to the
bank where we could look across the water to Canada. As it turns out, Detroit
is one of the few places in the US that looks SOUTH to Canada. Along the
river we came across TONS of bugs called fish flies. They kinda resemble
a mix of a fly and a dragon fly. They were EVERYWHERE. When you walked
or drove over them they made a weird cracking sound and Mike told us that
one time when he was driving they were so thick he had to put his SUV in
4 wheel drive! It was pretty comical. We headed back to the hotel and chit
chatted for a bit and fell asleep. Mike left early this morning for work
and Chris and I woke up by the alarm clock around 9 to make sure we made
it downstairs in time for the continental breakfast. Compared to the hotels
we have been staying at, this hotel was a palace. Free breakfast, Chris
and I were all over that. We called Mike to let him know that we were leaving
and to say thanks. Buying our tickets, our dinner and letting us crash
in his hotel room (even letting us take the bed while he slept on the couch)
- I've got to say he was a pretty fantastic host.
drove a little outside of Detroit to go to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
When we got there one of the ushers walked around with us a bit and talked
with us about how high the unemployment rate is the area. We commented
about the fact that we had read in the paper this morning that GM just
paid off 47,000 employees to leave and he said that he was bought out a
long time ago to leave also. He said that it has been really bad lately.
It was pretty sad to hear.
not a big car person or anything, and my knee was feeling a little sore
from all the walking the last couple of days, but I thought the Hall of
Fame was pretty cool. And, as far as I was concerned, it did a good job
of describing the evolution of the automotive industry. We spent 2 or so
hours wandering around before we left. One thing I noticed was the entire
time we were there, there were only 2 other sets of guests - a family leaving
when we came in, and a couple that left a little before we did. It sucked
that the area is doing so bad, and tourists aren't helping out by visiting
the museum. Another thing we noticed was the amount of American made cars
in the area. At one point we were at a stop light and we were the only
car waiting that wasn't a Ford. As we drove along to the freeway we lost
count of all the Fords and GMs. I know that GM is headquartered in Detroit,
and Ford somewhat still is, but I couldn't believe with the dwindling industry
and all the layoffs that everyone in the area is still driving Fords and
GMs. I mean, you've got to think that most of those people used to work
for one of the two and got paid to leave. It was pretty interesting to
now we're heading down I-75 to Dayton where we'll have dinner at a place
that boasts the best milkshakes in Ohio and then make our way to Cincinnati.
We have a game there tomorrow night, Pittsburgh Friday, Cleveland Monday,
and then Chris' birthday is Tuesday. Hmmmmmm Christopher, I wonder what
I'll be doing for your birthday........
speaking of milkshakes,
i neglected to mention that the best milkshake i ever had was some place
in victoria. while we were in toronto, though, i had another excellent
milkshake at a long standing diner in the area called fran's. the chocolate
in the shake was unique and quite tasty. so, two of the best shakes i've
ever had have come from canada. i also forgot to mention that the economist
magazine named toronto the most livable city in 1994. the most recent winner
is apparently vancouver so we'll see how it stacks up in the next month
i think meryl covered most
of the last few days pretty well. we altered our itinerary a bit so we
could see the cardinals play a game in their new park, check that out if
quite a bit of the detroit
cultural venues seem to be closed on monday and tuesday. the lonely planet
guide actually makes specific mention of this fact. when i was in detroit
in 2001 i remember liking the place, but only being there for part of a
day. this time i was able to soak up the city quite a bit more. mike was
a very good guide. he's well-traveled and knowledgeable, so he was able
to give us plenty of info and provide some comical anecdotes. as mentioned,
he was also extremely generous so my first born child will go to him.
detroit is as much a story
as it is a city; a story about the american automotive industry and suburbanization
and other elements of which i'm not aware. from what mike told us, detroit
is coming back. the basketball all-star game and the superbowl came to
detroit in the last couple years and that's helped. the waiter at the hockeytown
cafe talked with us about how the tigers' success has benefited their business
immensely. so, we talked with three locals and all of them mentioned the
job market and the economy without our provocation. it seemed to me that
the current mayor and gm/ford were actively trying to turn things around
so that's encouraging. urban revitalization has become a fascination of
mine during this trip.
upon leaving detroit and
the automotive hall of fame we looked for stuff to do while in cincinnati.
while perusing our book we found a diary farm (young's jersey dairy) that
was supposed to have the best milkshakes in ohio. we went there and ate
an earlish dinner which was fairly decent. the milkshake was good, but
not amazing and meryl's ice cream was also decent. after the detour outside
of dayton we hit the road for cincinnati. cincinnati is a pretty nice small
city so it was surprising to hear that it displaced detroit for the largest
population loss (2000-5) in the country amongst cities over 100k. in fact,
five of the worst 30 cities were in ohio. driving through the city for
the past day i couldn't honestly figure out what the problem was. it didn't
seem too seedy, dirty, crime-ridden, sprawling, etc. they don't have excessive
traffic and housing and general cost of living seemed fairly low. when
i read the local weekly paper they mentioned the following as some suggestions:
decrease crime, new form of city gov't (?), keep open mind about new public
transportation ideas, better education, and some others i've forgotten.
i found cincinnati to be a fine city by outward appearances, but we weren't
there long enough to really soak up the culture or get a great picture
of the social, economic, and politcal climates.
we slept in a parking lot
last night and got a jump on the morning today by going to the krohn conservatory
and the cincinnati art museum. both were worthwhile. the krohn conservatory
would be best appreciated by my grandma and mom since they like plants
so much. the conservatory had different rooms showcasing different plant
habitats. there was a room for rainforest plants, a cactus room, a bonzai
room, a room with flowers (which was closed for maintenance), and a room
with orchids and carnivore plant species. the cincinnati art museum had
a good range of work - from early middle eastern to contemporary paintings
and photography as well as plenty of local works. they had the big names
like manet, van gogh, miro, and picasso, but they also had woodcarvings,
musical instruments, rifles, and pottery by relative unknowns. they had
an effective range of work from 4500 b.c. to 2005 a.d., so that's damn
impressive. to top it off both the conservatory and the museum were free,
so that can't be beat. well, actually it can - the getty in l.a. is more
impressive and is also free, but you get the point.
after the museum stuff
we got lunch at a local bistro and wasted time downtown before the game.
our game tonight featured the reds and the fairly pathetic kansas city
royals. it's the first time i've seen ken griffey jr. play (so far as i
know) so that was notable, oh, and he hit a homerun as well. so i'm probably
one of only a million who has gotten to see him do that. great american
park is designed by HOK, the firm that seems to do all the post-camden
baseball parks. it had the same style lights (tall and skinny) as featured
in comerica park. it wasn't a dark green color, but it is steel and concrete
construction. it's got a little homerun structure in the outfield. the
outfield wall is more angular, rather than being a perfect arc, but it
doesn't have the relatively radical pockets that pacbell or minute maid
have. it's a nice park with a good view of the river dividing kentucky
and ohio, but it wasn't amazing. the fans were pretty uninspired. all that
said, we got the tickets for free so that made for a good experience.
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