Baseball Trip of 2006
Beginning | Middle | End

Itinerary| Budget | MPG Log | Best Of Trip |Ballpark Rankings | My "I've Been Everywhere" progress | Boxscores

total days - 77
total days in car/camp/hotels/friends' houses - 49/1/12/15
miles - 21,099
gas used - 772.79 gallons purchased
best / worst / avg. gas mileage - 23.06 / 32.88 / 27.59mpg
highest/lowest/avg. 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 visited -
states: TX, 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.
capitals: austin, 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.
baseball/national 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 jasper.
runs scored (visitor/home) - 129-130
shortest / longest / average game - 2:12 / 4:21 / 2:58
visitor/home record - 15-13
movies seen - chris: 32, 30 in theater, 1 on laptop, 1 on tv in LA. meryl: 30, 29 in theater, 1 on laptop.

from the beginning...
5-8-06 (17:01)

  • meryl wrote to a bunch of baseball teams explaining the trip and asking for tickets. amazingly, it has yielded one set of mets tickets:

  • "Meryl,
    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.
    Donald Muller
    New York Mets
    Media Relations Coordinator"
    i'm very surprised. i might have to become a mets fan.

    5-19-06 (17:45)

  • cut and pasted response, this one from an intern for the nationals:

  • Hell Ms. Phillips and Mr. May:
    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, . 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.

    5-22-06 (08:57)

  • 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 downtown.
  • 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.



    5-27-06 (12:40)
    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.
    Best Regards.
    Nate Ingles

    5-27-06 (19:56)

  • 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).



    5-28-06 (10:15)

  • minute maid park pics:

  • cool buidling in downtown houston.

    5-30-06 (10:46)

  • trip has officially started, we're on the road.

  • bungey cord system which currently holds clothes and sleeping pads. bungey cords are indispensible.

    5-30-06 (15:06)

  • 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 of houston.

  • 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.

    5-30-06 (21:34)

  • Chris 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.
  • We 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.
  • According 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.



    5-31-06 (16:00)

  • 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.



    6-1-06 (16:49)

  • We 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.
  • We 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 true.
  • 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

    6-2-06 (10:26)

  • Driving 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.
  • The 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.
  • Our 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.
  • We 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!
  • Well, 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.

  • 6-3-06 (17:18)

  • 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.

  • florida:
  • 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 problem was.
  • 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.
  • In 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.



    6-4-06 (09:17)

  • 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 Jerk."
  • 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.

    6-4-06 (19:07)

  • 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.

  • 6-5-06 (17:50)

  • So 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.
  • After 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 everglades:
  • After 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.
  • Today 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 so far.
  • 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.



    6-6-06 (16:43)

  • 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.

  • savannah georgia:

    6-7-06 (09:58)

  • 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 a bonus.
  • so far south carolina doesn't appear 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 socio-political opinion.
  • 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.



    6-10-06 (21:19)

  • 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.

  • me, thrilled:

    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.

  • richmond's capitol 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.

  • baltimore:

    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 field fence.

    mr. tyler:
  • 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:

    rfk stadium

  • 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.



    6-12-06 (9:22)

  • I 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.
  • After 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.
  • We 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.
  • After 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 sweaty.
  • Right 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.

  • pennsylvania capitol building:

    yankee stadium:

    6-14-06 (09:35)

  • 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 time):

    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 enjoyed it.

    one of the nicer buildings in downtown philly:

    6-14-06 (19:22)

  • Chris 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: " 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.
  • We 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.
  • After 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.
  • Right 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 in philadelphia:

    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.

    6-17-06 (19:07)

  • 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 blowouts.
  • 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.

  • sequoia cross-section. 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:

    6-18-06 (17:45)

  • 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 fame:

    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.

    6-19-06 (23:21)

  • We've 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.
  • We 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.
  • After 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.
  • Once 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.
  • We 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.



    6-20-06 (10:49)

  • 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 teeth."
  • 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 great.
  • 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.



    6-20-06 (12:16)

  • 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.

  • rockwell sketch:

    two of the more impressive stats:

  • 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 tonight.
  • 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.



    6-24-06 (9:42)

  • Phew, 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.
  • So 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" 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.

  • syracuse:

    niagara falls:

    toronto skyline:
  • After 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.
  • When 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.

  • 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.

  • skydome pics:

    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.

    6-25-06 (16:04)

  • 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 arctic 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.

  • 6-27-06 (15:00)

  • I 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.
  • We 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.
  • After 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.
  • We 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.

  • shot from our seats:

  • After the game we walked through Greektown where we found out that gambling was legal in Detroit and continued down to the (detroit) river 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.
  • We 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.
  • I'm 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 see.

  • Right 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 or so.
  • 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 you wish.
  • 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.



    6-28-06 (22:14)

  • 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.

  • Baseball Trip
    Beginning | Middle | End