Baseball Trip of 2006
Beginning | Middle | End

8-1-06 (16:11)

  • yesterday was a long day. met my sister in berkeley while meryl stayed at home with her mom. went into sf with sarah and essentially just walked and talked for a few hours until i had to leave for the giants game. met up with meryl and her parents at at&t park and got inside just as the game was starting. we thought it was a 7:35 start and the girls hit traffic so we were slightly later than we would have liked. we had club level seats (thanks tamara and clarke) around third base. you need a ticket to get up there and the food is really good. at the start of the second inning i went down to the first level and met up with jon. he happened to be going to the park with some co-workers so we talked and caught up with each other for a couple innings. the giants were losing pretty badly so a lot of "fans" started leaving around the 7th and 8th innings.
  • in the bottom of the 8th, or the top of the 9th (not really sure) someone hit a foul ball that flew back straight towards us. now, this is something i've thought about in advance before. i had figured that my biggest issue with getting a ball hit towards me would be the fear of a hardball flying at me that quickly. i had predicted that my biggest thing to overcome would be chickening out as the ball got closer and closer. i assumed i'd get a case of alligator arms. as it turns out things happened so quickly that instinct just took over. and, like most well-heeled young men, that means i went for the catch rather than thinking about the possibility of it going through my bare hands and hitting me in the nose, or something like that. as it went further and further back and got closer and closer to me i thought two things: "it's not going to come to me" and "it looks like it's going to come right to me." pessimism mixed with reality. anyway, i stood up and put my hands up without thinking about it. i didn't hear anything around me, i had tunnel vision and time slowed a bit, yet i didn't have time to do any thinking - it was all instinct at this point. it hit me right in the hands with a thud and then smacked out. i reach forward quickly to go for the rebound, but it was in someone else's hands at this point. i don't think i really looked at him or anything around me, i immediately knew that i had missed a golden opportunity and i wallowed in disappointment as quickly as that ball had gone in and out of my hands. i was pretty disappointed with myself for the next couple hours. knowing what to do and doing it under those circumstances are completely different. i know i should have cradled the ball more, i should have accepted it into my hands more gently, but that wasn't part of my instinctual program so i dropped it like most people do. if i had a glove it would be in the car right now, but i didn't, so it's not.

  • our seats
  • pacbell, er sbc, er at&t park is a nice park. it's probably most similar to minute maid in houston, another HOK design. minute maid has the cool roof and train in left field, but it seems to have worse blind spots and it doesn't have mccovey cove. i appreciate how open outfield is at at&t - not just for walking around the park, but also for the view. there's too much advertising at the park for my tastes. there are some activities past the bleachers which i didn't really get a look at, and i don't remember from my first visit. prices are a bit on the silly side - hot dogs, drinks, etc. are generally all $.50 to $1.00 priced above the average. safeco is also expensive. perhaps it's a west coast thing. i guess everything over here is more expensive so it shouldn't surprise me that much. i don't remember dodger stadium being all that expensive, but i'll report on that when i visit it with my dad after the trip. it was also interesting to see so many people cheering for barry bonds. i guess it makes sense that sf would support a drug-user though; and i don't say that disparagingly.
  • we said our good-byes and made haste for santa cruz. luke and vern welcomed us to luke's digs in the hills. he's got a sweet setup - plenty of money, a free place to sleep, a house to work on and five acres of land on which to work. i envy the guy. vern, luke, meryl and i talked until about 3am.
  • luke, meryl and i played a little wiffle ball and talked a bit the next day (today) and then meryl and i had to hit the road for la. we're more or less in santa barbara right now.
  • i've come to the conclusion that i should have been born with more money so i could do more of the things that i'd like to do: relax, travel, more fully pursue hobbies like carpentry, film, and music, etc.
  • i'd rather be an outfielder than an infielder. i've had this discussion with meryl before, but i think it's fitting to bring it up now in light of my botched catch last night. i explained to her that i don't like having to make those split second decisions. in the outfield you have a little more time to gauge things. it's like flying versus driving. if you're in the air and something goes wrong you generally have a decent amount of time before you're in real danger. in a car the hazards are presented to you too quickly to react with anything other than instinct. no one's going to make an illegal left turn in front of you while you're flying.

  • 8-6-06 (10:05)

  • we're on our way to the padres game right now. the past few days have been more relaxing than the previous 60.
  • after leaving luke's place we drove the 101 freeway all the way to my grandma's place. she made a good dinner for us and we went to sleep. the next morning we drove her to the airport (she's got business in maryland) on our way to the angels game. on the way there we realized that we had tickets for the previous night's game, so that was our first ticket-related mistake of the trip. we weren't too worried about getting tickets for the day game that we had planned on seeing, though, because the angels don't sell out that often and it was a day game. we parked the car and made our way to the ticket booth. there were a few lines and we got into the one that seemed the shortest. it turned out to be the slowest moving line, thanks to the picky fans at the front. it turned out that choosing this line was a good thing, though. after a few people had been helped in the other lines a woman approached us and asked if we wanted free tickets. she worked for a day camp which had purchased an excessive number of tickets and she was looking to give away the extras. we gladly took two adjacent seats and thanked her. it all worked out pretty well.

  • our seats:

  • there were an insane number of day camp groups at the game. all around the stadium there were kids with matching shirts, sack lunches, etc. who were waiting to get into the park. we did a half lap around the park and then made our way inside. the concourses aren't very open, but we were told that the park was originally made as a dual-use facility (the rams played there as well) and was later renovated to a baseball-only facility. our seats turned out to be limited-view seats - the right field bleachers protrude a bit and limit the view of center field from the right field first level seats (which is where we were). it's a pretty nice park overall. they have a nice water/stone feature in centerfield which seems to be fairly common these days. there were a few nice activities for the kids (including a timed homeplate to first base run game), but it wasn't too over-the-top. i had heard that disney made it a quasi-amusement park during the renovation, but that wasn't true at all. the hot dogs were total crap. i thought they were the worst we had, meryl thought the wrigley dogs were worse. my favorite hot dog was actually an apple sausage that i had at the sf park. though i must add that the garlic fries didn't taste as good as they smelled. i like the fact that angels' park is simply called "angels stadium." i get frustrated by all the bank names and shifting park names, like they have in sf, arizona, etc. camp kids "make some noise."
  • after the game we drove back to la and, after a bit of traffic, we made it to my dad's place. we went to todai and had an all you can eat feast. it's the first time i've gotten to see my dad's new place, though i still haven't seen his roommate.
  • the next day, thursday, we went into west la to get some work done on the car. meryl's friend peck picked her up and they went out to lunch. i went to the westside pavillion and watched the new woody allen pic. afterwards i went to border's and spent some of my birthday present (thanks tamara and clarke). later that day we met up with my mom and had dinner with her at some swanky sushi chain. they serve non-traditional sushi dishes which is pretty novel, but i think i prefer the traditional stuff. they had an oddly designed bathroom as well. the sinks were very cool - they were essentially stone slabs with spaces for the water to drain on the sides. there were mirrors from the ceiling to about three feet above the ground, all throughout the bathroom - including the stalls. the urinals didn't have dividers, but did have mirrors, which means easy viewing for passer-bys. apparently people love the place though, because they're expanding to downtown (right next to staples center) and the location we went to got pretty busy.

  • friday was a pretty relaxing day. we stayed at home the first half of the day and didn't do much. in the second half of the day we went to the staples center and watched some of the x-games events. there were four events at staples that night: moto x best trick final, bmx freestyle vert final, bmx freestyle vert best trick final, skateboard vert best trick final. the exciting thing about extreme sports, and new sports in general, is that something new and historic is always happening. it's very rare that you see something new in basketball, baseball, football, etc. you're lucky if you see someone do something that ranks amongst the best - like kobe's 81 points which is second best of all-time or chase utley's 35 game hit streak which is in the top 5 since 1941 when dimaggio hit safely in 73/74 games including 56 straight. on that night, though, we saw many firsts: travis pastrana pulled the first ever double back flip in moto x competition, kevin robinson did the first ever double flair in bmx competition, chad kagy did the first ever flat spin double tailwhip in competition, and simon tabron (or keith mcelhinney) did the first ever front flair in competition. it wasn't a packed house, but it got fairly full for the moto x best trick competition. the rest of the events didn't seem as popular. pastrana's double back was clearly the highlight of the night. our seats were on the upper deck, but weren't awful. the lights were in the way for the moto x events and we had an obstructed view of the big screen, but it wasn't awful. we went down to the first level during some warmups and it was pretty amazing to see those guys do backflips like it was nothing. i remember when mike metzger did the first ever backflip just a couple years ago and how huge that was. now people are doing it during their warmups as if they've been doing it their entire life. so it was nice to be able to squeeze in the x-games while we were in la. that's the great thing about a city like la or ny - there's always something big going on. saturday there was a huge hip-hop concert featuring the talents of aesop rock, mos def, talib kweli, crown city rockers, immortal technique, del tha funkee homosapien, wu-tang clan, and a shitload more. too bad we didn't get to see that one too. some x-games footage:

  • shaun white 1080 attempt.
    chad kagy's flat spin double tail whip.
    travis pastrana's double back flip.

  • saturday was our last full day in la. i watched three movies - the maltese falcon was part of a bogart festival on tcm and robocop and stormship troopers which were part of a verhoeven double feature at the aero in santa monica. we also went to the j. paul getty center; not the one on pch, but the one on the 405 freeway. it's a great place. we drove by it every day of the week and got to see it getting built, slowly. it cost $1 billion and took about 13 years to be developed. it's an impressive complex in so many ways. the gardens are beautiful, the artwork is noteworthy, and richard meier's architecture is enjoyable. the walls are made of either coated aluminum or travertine from a quarry in italy. i like the buildings and the mix of modern and ancient quite a bit. it also offers some great views of the city, mountains and ocean. i'm not a huge fan of cities, but i actually like la. i think the obvious drawback of la is the traffic and what it causes - smog. i've heard that it's gotten better over the years, but it's still not great. if i had a few billion dollars i'd add to the underground metro system and make it truly user-friendly. hopefully that'll happen one day and it'll make la a better place.

  • the getty:

  • speaking of which, we've seen more prius and hybrid cars in la and sf than we have in the rest of the country. california has its shit together. i also like the fact that prius drivers in la (and probably elsewhere) get to drive in the carpool lane.
  • i've seen 93 movies in the theater this year, but 17 of those have been shorts.

  • 8-7-06 (21:23)

  • was digging through some old video and found this. i recorded it because some gas station in south dakota was playing a familiar song that i couldn't place at the time. i listened to it again and identified it as a BS2000 song. BS2000 is a side project of adrock, of the beastie boys. not very many people know of it so it's pretty crazy that it was playing at a gas station in south dakota.
  • we just left las vegas and are on the way to zion.
  • the padres game was an interesting one. the padres were one of three teams that gave us free tickets - the reds and mets being the other two. thanks go to them. we parked several blocks from petco park and got free parking. it never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to pay $20+ to be right across the street from the park. not us. the park is quite different on the outside. it has a different color scheme inside and out, which was refreshing. it's a big park and there was a decent sized crowd in front of all the ticket windows. generally there are immediate ticket window openings, but that wasn't the case at petco. we got into the park and discovered that they were giving away free lunchboxes. we were both pretty psyched so we reached out to accept our gifts, but were told that they were only for guests 14 and under. lame. one girl passed the line and said she didn't want a lunchbox, i approached her and said i'd take her's if she didn't want one. quickly, her mother stepped in and, in annoyed way, said "no, she wants one" and instructed her daughter to ask for a lunchbox. we ended our quest for a lunchbox shortly thereafter.

  • petco's exterior:

    photo taken before the game...take note of the name on the jumbotron, he figures prominently in the story

    notice the park beyond outfield. wonder what that skyline is going to look like in five years...

    notice the metal supply building with bleachers, the tower at the left of the picture, the three major screens in left center (the third is to the left of the budlight sign on the outfield wall), and the lack of people in the rightmost section of the field level seats...

    these guys/girls got a standing ovation in the 4th or 5th inning
  • we settled into our free seats in the upper deck and took stock of the park. it's a fairly large park, but it has a lot of interesting features. there are two towers on the foul lines which house what i assume are luxury boxes of some sort. there's a metal supply building in the left field corner which mimics some of the brick buildings at wrigley which have bleachers on the roof. turns out that they had to build around this building which is over 90 years old. in left field there were two jumbotrons - one with color video, one was a monochromatic display which featured game info. on the outfield walls there were also a couple displays that featured pitch count and type. i like parks that give this info because i have trouble identifying pitches, especially from the third deck in right field.

  • my knee, meryl and two old guys
  • the concourses at petco are mores closed off than i like. the seats are nicely angled throughout the park so looking at the action is fairly effortless. the food looked pretty basic. there were a couple sections worth of military personnel in camo who were being honored. beyond right field there's a park with various activities and a jumbotron so you can catch the game. about half way through the game we were pretty bored so we decided to walk the perimeter. it was a 1-0 game, but it was going very slowly and neither of us were really engaged in the pitching duel aspect so we pounded the pavement. after checking out the various parts of the park we settled into a dining seat and watched about an inning on a tv. the game got a little more interesting when giles hit a 2-run homer and the crowd finally got into the game. we searched around the field level to see if we could find some nice seats. we settled on a section in left field which was strangely barren. after finding a spot i saw that jumbotron viewing was essentially non-existent from these seats and posited that this was the reason for the section being so empty. that said, there's a mini-tron on the centerfield wall which shows the same stuff as the jumbo tron...this is a feature of petco which i appreciated.
  • while we were seated and watching the game i thought about the fact that we were in pretty good foul ball territory. i was still a bit disappointed by the dropped ball fiasco at pacbell so every seat we looked for was rated relative to its potential for foul balls. this one rated pretty high. the game was tied at this point and we were hoping it wouldn't go into extra innings. brian schneider, catcher for the nationals, came to bat. he hit a foul ball towards us and, without thinking, i jumped out of my seat and ran towards it. i knew i wasn't going to be able to get it on the fly, but i also saw that it was pretty close, so i took a step back and waited for the bounce. i think someone got their hands on it because it didn't bounce much, but it did end up on the ground at the feet of a lady in the row ahead of me. i quickly bent down and picked it up before she was able to realize where it was. so, two games after my life-ending mistake, i find redemption at the feet of some middle-aged lady who was too slow on this particular day. i know the feeling, lady, hopefully you'll get a chance at redemption as well.

  • there's the lady, wearing the pink cap
  • other notes about petco: good music choices. they even played funk phenomenon by armand van helden, a relative oldie, but goodie. incorporated different ball park styles well. it has the steel/concrete look, but adds an almost southwestern look because of the colors on the exterior. has a little park beyond outfield, has the aforementioned brick building in left field and it has the unique towers on the foul lines. they played "god bless america" during the seventh inning stretch before "take me out to the ballgame." that's practically blasphemous, which is funny because many wouldn't ever think "god bless america" to be blasphemous. but that's why we have mental institutions. the game ended on an rbi double by giles, who ended up having all three rbi for the padres. the crowd was quite pleased.
  • after the game we caught a movie and drove to escondido where we ate dinner. we ended up sleeping off 395 in some pullout.

  • 8-9-06 (19:44)

  • after sleeping in four corners, ca off highway 395, we bought some water for $2 a gallon and some gas for slightly more. what a fucking backwards world.
  • we made our way to death valley in anticipation of a hot day. we went in through some crazy backroad entrance which was only partially paved. at this point elevation was decent so it wasn't too hot. as we drove east, though, it got hotter and hotter. the last time i went it was 114 in the shade. this time it was 109 in the shade with the forecast indicating temperatures of 114. it's too bad the heat wave had already passed because i was looking forward to temps in the 120s. oh well. that said, i guess when the temp gets that high, a few degrees doesn't make that much of a difference. we drove to dante's view, hiked on some sand dunes and stopped at the visitor center to see a video. we learned about the borax mining that marked the early human history of the area. we learned about the endangered pupfish which live in devil's hole. some of the causes for the intense heat are: the rain shadow caused by the sierras, the wind which blows away the 1.8 inches of rain the area gets a year more quickly than average, the mountains to the east which help keep the heat in the valley at night, and probably something else that i've forgotten.
  • i like death valley more than the average person because i don't mind the heat as much and because it's such a no nonsense place. people, generally, are there for more pure reasons than some other parks. there's not much in the way of recreation and entertainment in death valley. people go there because they're curious or for bragging rights, but they don't go there for a leisurely walk along a lake. there's something wholesome about that. that said, we saw a few test cars out on the roads. over 30 companies from around the world test their new cars in the heat. we saw a trio of them at dante's view. couldn't tell what the manufacturer was, though, because they cover distinguishing marks. we also saw a trio of bmws on the road into the park.

  • here you'll notice the top secret cars and something in my lens which makes a curved ghost shape in the middle of my pictures. lens needs to be dismantled and cleaned, at best, replaced at worst; wonderful.

  • after death valley we hit the road for las vegas. we spent too much time in death valley and couldn't make it to hoover dam so we planned on catching a movie in vegas to kill some time before making our way to zion's doorstep.

  • everyone's two favorite activities:
  • vegas is what it is and you most likely already have an opinion about the place. i see it as pure artifice - a fake statue of liberty, a fake eiffel tower, a fake pyramid, a fake roman palace, even fake rocks and a waterfall in front of the wynn resort and it's all in the middle of a desert. add to that the gambling, a marketing scheme ("what happens here, stays here") which glorifies the dionysian, and the utter unnaturalness of the place and you have a place that i don't like too much. it's a manifestation of so many things within humans that i don't like. i can't deny that they're there and i can't deny that many of them have their place, but i don't have to enjoy a colossal monument to them.

  • we left las vegas after watching a movie and driving the strip. i saw the $2.7 billion wynn resort from the outside and wasn't impressed. i saw an interview with him on charlie rose's show and thought him to be an interesting person with some novel ideas, but the exterior of the resort didn't spark much interest. of course i didn't see the interior so i can't pass full judgment.
  • we slept just outside of zion and i took some night photos while meryl fell asleep.

  • f/3.2, exposure 13 sec., iso 50:
  • zion is an oasis in an area that is generally desert-like. cut by the virgin river, zion canyon is about 4,000 feet deep and was established as a park in 1919. with 2-2.5 million visitors a year, it's the 8th most visited national park in the country. i'd like to get an official top 25, but i'd guess that yellowstone, yosemite, grand canyon, great smoky mountains, mt. rushmore, everglades and olympic would round out the top 8. the canyon took an estimated 16 million years to carve. water which seeps through the navajo sandstone takes approx. 1000 years to get all the way through. in 2000 they went to a shuttle system during the summer months. it runs every 6-8 minutes and is quite efficient. so far as i can figure, the biggest reason that zion is cut so straight, as opposed to the "V" canyons in grand canyon national park, is because the virgin river has one of the fastest declines of any river in the u.s. i think it loses about 2,000 feet in elevation over the course of its 150 mile run. both those figures are from memory, though, so don't quote me there. another cool feature in zion is the visitor center which uses towers with water soaked baffles to cool in the summer, and an angled roof to bring solar energy in during the winter when the sun is lower. it's quite effective and is testament to human ingenuity. i wish more homes were built like this.

  • wading through the virgin river

    i've been getting pretty bored of the usual pictures. nowadays i find myself pointing the camera at less photographed things, taking pictures at night and photographing things from different angles.

    that said, i'm still taking plenty of average pictures:

  • we left zion for bryce canyon n.p. this is as good a time as any to talk about the colorado plateau and why it's so interesting. southern utah and northern arizona are especially beautiful because of the way the area was formed. ancient seas came and retreated over this area several times over the last couple hundred million years and, in the process, deposited all sorts of minerals and salts. rivers like the virgin and colorado made their way through the soft sandstone. freeze/thaw cycles at higher elevations made formations like the hoodoos you see in bryce canyon. i love this area because it seems like the geologic history is manifested in such awe-inspiring and plain-seen ways. at the same time the variety of formations in this relatively small area is quite impressive. the canyons in zion look different than the ones in grand canyon or canyonlands national parks. then there are the natural bridges, formed differently than the similar looking arches. the hanging rocks and hoodoos are also different. somehow these features are more impressive to me than the most beautiful mountains and forests. the appalachians were formed over an equally impressive range of time, yet they just don't speak to me in the same way.
  • we saw bryce canyon, did a couple hikes and moved onto capitol reef national park. capitol reef is a smallish park and we got there late, so we just did the driving tour. there were some nice petroglyphs on some of the wingate sandstone formations that were drawn by hopi indians. we listened to afrika bambaataa while driving through the park, that may have been the first time afrika bambaataa was ever played in that national park, who knows. we thought about sticking around for the late night ranger talk on lizards, but it would have set us back an hour so we opted out. we spent the night at a small motel in green river.

  • bryce canyon

    capitol reef national park:

    ten people lived in this tiny cabin:

    outside of capitol reef:
  • this morning we went to canyonlands national park and then arches. both parks are great and worth the visit. the pictures will give the best explanation. one mystery formation was at canyonlands. it's a crater with a mountain of debris inside it. one theory has it being formed by a meteor, one has it being formed by salt uplift. speaking of salt....salt canyon in arches national park is interestingly formed by a thick salt deposit underneath sand deposits. cracks in the sandstone above the salt allow water to seep in and lessen the salt deposit's strength and size. the salt gives way and a canyon is created. the arches and balanced rocks in the park are formed by weathering and differing rock consistencies/strengths. speaking of weathering...canyonlands gets about 10 inches of rain a year and we ran into a bit of it. luckily it wasn't too heavy. the canyons in canyonlands apparently average a depth of 2,000 feet, thought they looked larger than that to me. the ranger i asked said they guess the canyons were formed over 5-10 million years.

  • canyonlands national park:

    dust is kicked up by the wind while the rain moves in...
  • while at arches i spoke with a young woman about some program through SCA which allows for what boils down to paid internships in the park service or other conservation organizations. she was working as a lowgrade interpretive ranger and had her expenses paid. i'll have to follow up on that.

  • one natural phenomenon that will never cease to amaze me:

  • arches had some of the more creative exhibits i've seen recently. canyonlands had examples of flora in ziploc bags mounted to posterboard with info on the species. i've learned a bit about cryptobyotic crust and its role in the desert ecology, but i'd like to learn more.
  • after arches we had a good dinner at moab brewery which has some good bbq sauce.
  • if it wasn't for the rout memorization i might like to become a scientist. i wouldn't mind being a journalist either, but i don't like deadlines and i wouldn't like being censored and told what to write about.
  • i think my "Milken will sell you some junk, Bonds" slogan may be the pinnacle of my creative life.
  • this is an ambitious trip we've undertaken. often it would have been nice to stop and spend a long time in one place or another, but we don't have the time or money. we've chosen to try to see as much as possible in a small time frame. i'd like to make my next trip be a tour of alaska so i can finally get that last state under my belt and so i can visit an even less tainted landscape. after that i would like to make more concentrated visits to the southwest and northeast to get to know certain areas better. of course i'd also like to do a grand tour of canada's wilderness and major cities. then i figure i'll branch out and visit japan, china, italy, australia and others. but that all happens when my non-existent rich godfather dies and leaves me his small fortune.
  • we just got done visiting hovenweep national monument in utah. it was closed and the (native puebloan) ruins are difficult to see in the dark so we experimented with some more night photography instead.

  • f/2.8, 8 sec. exposure, iso 50

    f/2.8, 10 sec. exposure, iso 50

    f/2.8, 10 sec. exposure, iso 50

    f/2.8, 15 sec. exposure, iso 50

    f/2.8, 6 sec. exposure, iso 50

    8-10-06 (08:56)

  • woke up this morning just a few miles outside of the four corners monument which is run by the navajo nation. we plunked down our $3/person, took a few pictures and left. i can't say that the four corners monument is all that exciting to me. it's sort of novel to think of the different things you could do on the site, but that's about it. most people posed on all fours - each limb falling in a different state. i thought it would be cooler to commit a crime in all four states at once, but that's just me.

  • now we're on our way to the petrified forest national park, but we'll make a detour at the canyon de chelly national monument. not real sure what it is, but it's sort of along the way so we're stopping.
  • meryl observed that we drove past two ladies in zion who had gotten off at the previous stop. the use of the term "gotten off" made me realize that you can get off while getting it on. while i'm on the topic...why is it that things "stick out like a sore thumb," rather than sticking out like, say, a boner in tights? in what way does a sore thumb stick out? if you hammer yourself on the nail then it sticks out because of the bruise underneath nail, but that's all i can think of. speaking of thumbs...i have to applaud sites like and the urban legend debunking site which knock down silly stories like the one behind the "rule of thumb" expression. the myth is that the "rule of thumb" is a reference to the maximum width of stick a man could beat his wife with. turns out that that isn't true at all. i wish news programs would do the same thing when they have so-called "experts" on who spew clear lies about whatever topic is being discussed at the time. unfortunately, reporters seem to think it's their job to merely repeat, and show, whatever they consider news (which, somehow, often includes three-legged dogs saving busloads of mentally retarded homeless children).
  • i plan on creating a directory of all the pictures from the trip when it's complete. but, since the unaltered photos (i currently post pics in 800x600, but the originals are at 2592x1944) are 1-4 megs each, and there are over 3000 of them, it'll be a huge directory. to make it more browseable i'd like to have a page with thumbnail previews that access the fullsize photo. if you have a quick way of making such a page then lemme know. i don't want to have to input each filename individually - i'd prefer a drag and drop format or something that i can automate fairly easily.

  • 8-11-06 (21:36)

  • so i looked it up and according to one site i found the top ten most visited national parks in 2005 were: great smoky, grand canyon, yosemite, olympic, yellowstone, rocky mountain, zion, cuyahoga valley, grand teton, acadia. mt. rushmore isn't a national park, it's a national memorial, i should have known that. and the everglades didn't even make the top ten. my other guesses were good though.
  • yesterday we went through canyon de chelly (prounounced d'shay) which (i'm fairly certain) is the only national park entirely on private land. it's on land owned by the navajo nation and people still use the canyon bottom for farming, but it's administered by the nps. it's basically a poor man's mesa verde so if you've gone there then there's not much reason to visit this one. the exhibits were a bit outdated - though they were soliciting public input for exhibits that will be installed in the near future - and the visitor center was smallish. it's right next to chinle which is another depressingly rundown native american town. i'm beginning to think that the department of the interior (which oversees native american relations and the parks service) needs to be overhauled. but i guess that goes for the entire executive branch these days. at a few of the stops which provide views of abandoned indian (hopi, navajo, and anasazi) ruins there were locals who were selling their wares - paintings and jewelry. there's some debate over the use of the word "anasazi" to describe native pueboloans. the debate centers around the translation of the word. i've heard it translated as "ancient ones" and "enemies." it's probably safer to substitute "native pueboloans" for "anasazi," but i don't know if there's an official ruling on that.

  • canyon de chelly

    thousands of these little buggers were in carved out pools in the rocks atop canyon de chelly. not certain what they are, how they got there, or how they have survived in the heat.
  • we left canyon de chelly after making a few stops and being generally unimpressed; primarily because the ruins were so far away and we'd already been to mesa verde where we hiked into the ruins. anyway, we drove out the south end of the park and took two dirt roads for what seemed like hours. they were pretty torn up from a semi-recent rain so that slowed us down. we finally made it to petrified forest national park a couple hours later. petrified forest's visitor center is outside the entrance which means you can visit it without paying; that's unusual. we watched the video which covered the science behind the formation of the petrified forest as well as some of the flora and fauna of the park. there was also a section on preserving the park. petrified forest is full of petrified wood which, for the uninitiated, means that the wood's organic matter is replaced by quartz and other semi-precious rocks. some of the samples they have in the visitor center are stunningly beautiful. all this means that the park is unusually susceptible to thievery. they estimate that one ton of petrified wood is taken from the park per month. add to that the fact that people have been taking the best samples from the park since before it was a protected area (in 1906 under teddy roosevelt, who else?), and you have some serious degradation. actually, the park didn't even have regular patrols until the 20s so, while it was a protected area, there wasn't any real enforcement until later. essentially, what we saw at the park yesterday is hardly representative of what it was before people began raiding the place. as a result the park was slightly underwhelming. there are still a few specimens of fallen trees with beautiful colors, but they're few and far between. the majority of the stuff that remains is rather simple looking, but i guess that's how (un)natural selection works in this instance - the nicest looking stuff was the first to go. for this reason, this park ranks among the more depressing national parks i've seen. everglades, glacier and petrified forest are the top, or bottom (depending upon how you look at it), three. people would routinely dynamite and chainsaw the petrified wood to determine whether or not the wood was worth taking. the orientation video also had a section on people who return pieces of wood that they've taken or write letters of apology.
  • the forest existed in the triassic period, some 225 million years ago and was wiped out. the places where the most trees are found are actually flood plains where the water logged trees were carried and left. these flood plains were later sealed and preserved by layers of sediment. unfortunately i've forgotten some of the details and the video wasn't all that extensive, but suffice it to say that the forest was preserved and slowly calcites and other minerals replaced the organic material within the trees. that's the gist of it anyway. tidbit: pronghorn are the fastest animal in north america.
  • we did a couple of the walks within the park and saw some more hopi ruins. we also saw a sampling of the remaining petrified wood. we also may have seen a family taking a little souvenir for themselves. meryl was more certain than i, but we both saw a kid with his parents and we saw that kid run off the trail while his parents were gesturing towards something. the kid then ran back with something in his hand and gave it to them. whether he had that thing in his hand before or not wasn't clear. whether that thing was a piece of petrified wood or not also wasn't clear. i think we live in an age of elevated suspicion so i didn't want to accuse anyone without better proof. at the same time i think anyone who steals from the national park deserves a thorough beating. so we filled out one of the incident forms that the park service passes out upon entry. it essentially allows visitors to document suspected theft with basic "who, what, when and where" type info. meryl put it on a ranger's truck and he picked it up later. we got the family's car make/model and license plate so i think we did our part. there's an inspection stop at each exit and they ask you if you have any petrified wood with you upon entry (places outside the park sell it) so, at least in theory, they've established a rudimentary way of detecting thieves.

  • after petrified forest we drove through winslow (mentioned in cash's "everywhere" song) and onto flagstaff. we listened to some religious wacko on fm radio and got a laugh. flagstaff is at around 7000 feet, i think it's on the colorado plateau, and is generally about 30 degrees cooler than phoenix. we decided to sleep there.
  • the next day, today, we drove to phoenix, elevation around 1000 feet. we stopped in downtown to see heritage square, but it wasn't as exciting as our guide book had indicated. as we were walking back to the car we came across an ambassador. i've seen a couple cities do this and i think it's a pretty good idea all-around, especially when there are big events in town. she suggested a good place to eat and that improved our view of phoenix. there was a lot of construction throughout the city, but especially in downtown and that made for a slightly annoying experience at first. there was a home design expo in town which i wish we had gone to, but we opted to watch some movies instead. i did poke my head into one of the buildings and saw an exhibit on concrete construction for homes. i've seen this before and i don't know that i'm sold on the technology. it essentially employs styrofoam as molds for the concrete which create the walls of the house. you lose a good deal of space, but you gain insulation. my biggest problems with it are that it seems to still be in the experimental stages and i have to wonder what the impact on the other trades is. i.e., how does it affect the installation of wiring and plumbing?

  • downtown phoenix:

    museum in phoenix's heritage square:
  • we watched the descent, which was good and scary, and world trade center, which was trite and crappy. 9/11 really did usher in a new era, an era which apparently cut off oliver stone's balls.
  • after the movies we drove downtown to the bob (bank one ballpark), only it's not called the bob anymore. it's chase field now. i'm freaking tired of this name change crap. it turns every park into a sellout, and i'm not talking sellout in the "capacity crowd" sense of the term. i'm talking oliver stone sellout. anyway, the bob has a retractable roof which allows it to have real grass, but also allows the crowd to beat the heat a bit. the bob is a big place more along the lines of skydome than miller park, both of which are covered, or have the potential to be. i really liked the open concourses and the informational displays that run throughout them. food prices were reasonable and food selection was varied. bob is the only park that has a dirt path from the mound to home plate and i like that feature. they also have a display in the main rotunda which has an illustrated history of sport from ancient greece to the diamondbacks franchise which formed in 1998. outside the park they have a rather elaborate mouse trap style contraption. balls move around a maze of twisted metal and periodically engage various bells and doo-hickeys; there's no real great way of describing it. see the first picture below. there are a few restaurants very close to the park, but none of them seemed all that popular, in spite of location and scantily clad women bartenders. speaking of which, we caught the centerfield cameraman checking out chicks on his camera before the game. the bullpens are unusually positioned right behind the foul poles and lie half in, and half out, of bounds.

  • the display didn't come out at all, but suffice it to say he wasn't filming batting practice.

    8-12-06 (13:50)

  • added an animated gif photo in the x-games section. wasn't on the previous upload because i didn't have a program at the time.
  • last night we had a bitch of a time finding a place to sleep. we planned on staying at a motel 6 near tucson, but saw a travelodge for even cheaper so we went there. it seemed to be in a bad neighborhood, the room was hot, there wasn't a remote for the tv and we ended up having to pay an extra $5 because we had two people. so, we decided to get a refund and go down the street to a motel 6. i went inside and there was some guy with his kid and he was getting in an argument with an employee about something and they went on for a few minutes so i just left. we ended up settling on another motel 6 that we saw about 10 miles back. it was a little more expensive, but it was in a better neighborhood and the people staying/working there weren't morons.
  • this morning we left tucson without checking the city out and went to saguaro national park. we went to the east park - the west park is about 30 miles away, on the other side of tucson - since it was on our way to dallas where we'll be watching our final game of the trip tomorrow. the east park's visitor center and loop road were both under construction so there was a temporary visitor center that was just opened yesterday, and the only access into the meat of the park was via hiking trails. typically the park has a loop road that's about 10 miles long. we were still able to see some good examples of the saguaro (suh-wah-row) cactus, as well as other cacti, but we were a bit disappointed. the visitor center was small and unimpressive, but that was understandable. we watched a 15 minute video on the unique ecology of the park, but it was interrupted by people buying stuff and talking - an unfortunate consequence of the small, temporary visitor center. i felt as though i wasn't getting the most out of the park so i decided to buy one of the books about the area. it's part of a series of books distributed by kc publications. they give a pretty good overview of their respective areas and they're only $10 so i figured it was worth it. i'd really prefer a compendium of all of them for all the national parks, but i haven't seen anything along those lines. the closest i've seen is a book called "geology of the national parks." i'd prefer something that goes beyond the geology, and that's what these do, so maybe i'll just collect individual books about individual parks over a long period of time, rather than buying one book that covers them all.

  • saguaro are pretty amazing cacti. they can live to be 200 years old and can grow to be over 50 feet tall. a 20 foot saguaro weight approximately 2,100 pounds and can provide food and shelter for many species of bird, rodent, etc. in a single rain they can soak up as much as 200 gallons of water because of their shallow and efficient root structure. it takes about 15 years for them to grow to a foot tall. other than habitat destruction (thanks to you know who) their biggest threats seem to be old age and freezing. most of the saguaro occur in the north and east of the park where winter temperatures sometimes reach freezing levels. the saguaro can't stand freezing for more than a day so this is obviously a challenge. creosote is another amazing plant found in the region. they can live to be thousands of years old and are the most common plant in the sonoran desert. they shed leaves to reduce water loss and can even shrivel up and die when there is no water, only to be revived by the next rain.

  • the mighty saguaro:

  • It's been quite a long time since I've tippy tapped on the old laptop. It was really nice to be in the Bay Area 2 weeks ago, I think it was actually the longest I've ever gone without being in the Bay Area or seeing my mom. So being there for a few days and getting to hang out with my mom and Clarke and see Adam and Erik and Chia Ling was really nice. Sometimes I forget just how hilarious and great my family is. We watched a few episodes of Chappell Show when Clarke's brother and sister-in-law came to visit. We watched "Black White Supremacist" and "Black Bush" which are my families favorites. While we all laughed our asses off, our guests didn't seem as entertained. Oh well, that's what makes my family so great, so what if no one else likes going to see "Bad Santa" on Thanksgiving instead of having a big dinner.
  • The A's game was fun, although they lost. The Giants game was great too. I truly enjoyed wearing my "Buck Fonds" sweatshirt to the game. And OF COURSE no Giants fans said ANYTHING to me, even though they cheer "Barry, Barry, Barry," when he's up. What wussies. In true hateful fashion I proceeded to stand and cheer whenever he got out as well. I was satisfied with my Giants game experience. Clarke however was not as pleased with me - he of course is a Giants fan, so my mom had to monitor our Giants discussions. I remember when I was in high school Clarke and I could barely talk about the Giants without getting into a good natured argument, it was pretty funny. It was fun to also be at a game with my parents (thanks for the tickets guys), I miss going to games with them and my dad. This trip has been pretty spectacular, however, I think the best game I've ever been to was a playoff game when I was in my first year at UCDavis. My dad got thrown out in the 7th inning, I got a foul ball after a scrum with other hooligan A's fans and the A's won. I remember my dad had been gone to the bathroom for awhile when I got the ball and I called him to see where he was, apparently I hadn't heard the 11 missed phone calls he had made. It turns out he was thrown out when some drunk guy started fighting with him in the bathroom and the only reason why he didn't have to go to Oakland City Jail was because he told the security guard he had a "child" still in the park (I was 17 at the time). They let him watch the rest of the game from the dugout store. Yup, I've got to say my dad is my partner in crime when it comes to going to baseball games and being an unruly fan. We used to yell at Ben Grieve so much that when he ran out to left field he would turn the other way so he couldn't hear us as much. And poor Wendy, having to deal with a sometimes belligerent husband and step-daughter. She always tries to be the moderator and make sure we're not too rude, but I think she secretly thinks it's great too. Thanks Wendy :).
  • LA was a lot of fun too. It was nice to get a few days break there as well and Chris' grandma, mom, and dad are very nice and funny. I also got to see Peck, so that was really nice because I haven't seen her in a while. We drove around and had lunch and hung out in a park and chit chatted for a while.
  • Touring around the southwest has been fun as well. I love the national parks in this region of the US and driving from place to place is much more enjoyable because I like the scenery in this region so much. After this trip Chris and I will have visited nearly every national park in the southwest, so that's pretty cool. We're on our way to Guadalupe Mountains NP now (east north east of El Paso - a city that's pretty forgetful). Tomorrow will be our last baseball game, and Monday will be the last day of the trip. It's amazing to think that the trip is almost over. It's strange to think that we've lived out of the car for 2 1/2 months. Thinking about how long ago we were in the Everglades or Washington DC is weird because I can barely remember what we did there, but at the same time it doesn't feel like we've been gone that long. I have mixed feelings about the end of the trip. I will enjoy sleeping in a bed for more than 2 consecutive nights, getting consistent showers and meals, but I will also miss this adventure. It sounds completely cliche, but I really have learned a lot about myself on this trip. Chris and I have definitely pushed ourselves the last 11 weeks and I think it's made us both a lot tougher. A few nights ago while falling asleep we quizzed each other on what we learned at different museums or national parks, the names of stadiums, what our favorite sites were, where we ate or slept in different cities and other random facts. It was pretty cool to be able to rattle off so much information and amazing to recall all the highlights: almost getting mugged in New Orleans, seeing Wrigley and Fenway, visiting Yellowstone, being harassed by the border cop in Detroit, Chris getting a foul ball, meeting great friendly fans, the list goes on. I feel pretty lucky getting to have gone on this trip and thinking about it ending does make me sad. At the same time though, I also miss getting to hang out with my family. This will probably be the longest I've gone without seeing my dad and Wendy too, so it will be nice to get to hang out with both sets of parents, brothers, and friends. I think my family is pretty great, and although I can be a stubborn bitch SOME of the time, they still love me, so that says a lot. Speaking of being a stubborn bitch, I have to congratulate Chris as well, I don't think anyone else would voluntarily spend 77 straight days with me, so he's pretty great for that.

  • 8-12-06 (23:41)

  • we passed the 20,000 mile mark earlier today.

  • 8-14-06 (03:39)

  • the southwest, and the desert in general, is pretty great. it's a place of contradiction - a place were life exists when it shouldn't. you look at a desert and often think of it as having little or no life, but deserts are often quite full of life; and very interesting life at that. creosote, saguaro, and yucca plants are three great examples, add to that creatures like the kangaroo rat and you have some of the more compelling lifeforms on land. creosote and saguaro i write about below. there are several species of yucca, but the one i learned about during a talk at grand canyon n.p. flowers only once in its long life time and does so amazingly quickly. it stores energy and liquid for years and then, all at once, flowers into an amazing fruit-type flower. people sometimes take this fruit-flower and cook it for hours and hours in deep pits. apparently it's extremely sweet and tasty. kangaroo rats are equally amazing lifeforms which are able to thrive in desert climates. they extract all their liquid from seeds and other solids. rather than urinating, they excrete crystals of urine, thus saving precious liquid. these are just a few of the species that i know of, i'm sure there are plenty more. but it all goes to show you that life finds a way, even in the desert. this is one of the fascinating things about the southwest, and it's one of the major reasons i like the place so much.
  • i'm a little wired on some energy drink right now. we decided to stay up on this, our last night, rather than trying to sleep. it's 85 degrees right now so we just figured we'd save ourself some grief. so forgive any typos, non-sequitors, etc.
  • after saguaro national park we drove to hobbs, nm and slept in some picnic area. this morning we drove to sweetwater, tx and ate brunch at el taurino, a mexican restaurant. i had the chicken fajitas, meryl had the nachos - a bad decision. after only a few bites meryl knew it was bad news; after 76 days, we had our first barfing incident of the trip. she's fine now so we can laugh about it. my fajitas were great.
  • we hit the road again for the dallas-ft. worth-arlington area. we got here with time to spare so we drove around the arlington area a bit looking for a bookstore to browse. we settled on some mall not too far from the baseball park. the place was completely packed, mostly with morons. i think "cutting" into hair is back, at least here, because we saw several young men/boys who had various things shaved into their hair. it's interesting to see regional trends. it was a fairly depressing place to be since people seemed unusually obsessed with their appearance and there was an unusual level of stupidity (people unaware of their surroundings, posturing, and conspicuous consumption) taking place. we left quickly.
  • we drove back towards the park and stopped by a kinko's to kill some time. shortly thereafter we drove to the park and found an $8 parking spot. the park in arlington, apropriately (since we're in texas), is probably the biggest we've seen on the trip. it's strange because the park is surrounded by a castle-like brick structure marked by tall arches. to my eyes, this brick facade was more a frame of the park than it was a part of the park itself. at any rate, we snapped a couple pictures and went inside. beyond the centerfield area there's a large space for kids' activities - they have a mini-wiffle ball field, a batter's box, and other games. they also have a row of fans equipped with water misters - something that is much appreciated by the fans. the park has several throwback elements incorporated into its design. it has a steel bleacher structure which is reminiscent of wrigley or fenway, the outfield was designed to mimic the polo grounds, etc. for the most part the concourses aren't very open and i generally don't like that. on the exterior support arches there are plaques commemorating different players or moments in rangers history. there's also a mini baseball hall of fame which apparentlly has the second largest collection of memorabilia in the country. it costs an additional $5 so we didn't visit it. there seemed to be an unusual number of closed in shops throughout the lower concourse area. in most parks there might be one or two team shops, but there were many more than that at ameriquest. all in all i found ameriquest to be too large for my tastes. i enjoyed the effort to incorporate different styles and i liked the idea of the mini h.o.f. and the activities for the kids, but didn't like that those were extra. it's not a bad park and it's not a great park. the crowd seemed pretty engaged throughout the game, but i've heard that they often leave early. they were winning in this game so maybe that had an affect. one less than funny moment came late in the game when a popfly was hit to ichiro suzuki. a man behind us, presumably in an attempt to disrupt ichiro, yelled "ko-nichi-wa!" the depth of stupidity involved in making that one comment is staggering. he had to be dumb enough to think it would make a difference, or dumb enough to think it was funny, and dumb enough to not know what it meant (hello), and dumb enough to think it was okay to yell it, and...

  • ameriquest field:

    the final baseball park shot of the trip:

    after the game we went to a mall and watched the new shyamalan flick. now were in kinko's reading and updating the page. tomorrow is the last official day of the trip and that's sad. we'll be in austin for a bit and then off to la to drop me off. along the way we plan on seeing two more national parks, but we've decided that the official end should be in austin. it's a day after the last game, it'll be our longest break since the beginning and it's where the trip began, so it makes sense. i really wouldn't mind living this way for several more years. learning and traveling are two such great activities that, if my finances permitted it, i'd probably just continue on the adventure. next time i do this i'll keep even better notes and take even more pictures. until then i have to find a suitable job.

    8-15-06 (14:38)

  • after spending most of our final night awake and in a kinko's reading and fiddling with several photo album programs, we left for dallas. when we first got to kinko's at about 2am there were several guys in a nearby parking lot who were playing soccer, i thought that was pretty cool. on our way to dallas, we hit only a bit of traffic (a surprise) and went to dealey plaza. i told meryl how it all went down and a bit about the major conspiracy theories. we opted to skip the conspiracy museum and the sixth floor museum because they were both pricey...we were frugal to the final day. dallas isn't exactly a very cultured city...there are only a few (pricey) museums and they're (from what i hear) not all that amazing. ft. worth seems to be the cultural sibling of the two. we were both tired from having stayed up all night and we weren't all that excited about dallas so we decided to grab a bite to eat and hit the road. i like a lot of the buildings in dallas, but didn't particularly love the place.
  • we found a place called the breadwinner in uptown, where there are plenty of nice places to eat, and had a unique and fulfilling dining experience.

  • beautiful dallas. yuck.

    in spite of the smog and the people, dallas actually has some great's my favorite, the wells fargo building in downtown. btw, they have this in the background of the main OCP building in the film Robocop.

    a bit of dallas culture from the dallas observer, read the whole thing:
  • i think there's something to be said about the fact that while we were in boston we saw an israeli day fair along with a peaceful demonstration that was pro-palestine/anti-israel and while we were in the dallas/ft. worth area i heard one guy yell at ichiro (story below) and saw that clipping in a mainstream area rag. i know these could be considered isolated incidents or anecdotal evidence, but it seems to me that there's a palable differernce between the two cultures: one of political vitality and one of outright ignorance and racism. people everywhere dislike other people, but it seems that they deal with it in much different ways in florida (recall the sign that read: visitors beware, floridians have the right to use deadly force"), boston, toronto and dallas.
  • after eating at dallas and stopping in infamous waco for some gas, we arrived in familiar austin.

  • final odometer reading, 21,099 miles:

    8-16-06 (01:05)

  • i've finally found and correctly configured a photo album program that works for me. here's the link to all the pics, if you want, for some bizarre reason, to download the fullsize pics then there's a little download icon above each picture after you click on it. there's also a slideshow option.

  • 8-18-06 (14:26)

  • we'll have a few more features added in the next week, after that this page will be done.
  • great ballpark information here.
  • boxscore info:

  • rangers at astros.
    diammondbacks at braves.
    blue jays at devil rays.
    blue jays at orioles.
    phillies at nationals.
    athletics at yankees.
    mets at phillies.
    orioles at mets.
    nationals at red sox.
    mets at blue jays.
    astros at tigers.
    royals at reds.
    tigers at pirates.
    yankees at indians.
    orioles at white sox.
    blue jays at royals.
    diamondbacks at rockies.
    cubs at brewers.
    dodgers at cardinals.
    mets at cubs.
    devil rays at twins.
    blue jays at mariners.
    blue jays at athletics.
    nationals at giants.
    athletics at angels.
    nationals at padres.
    marlins at diamondbacks.
    mariners at rangers.

    8-20-06 (00:20)

  • one of the things we hope to add in the next few days is an official ranking of the ballparks so check back for that soon.

  • 8-23-06 (21:45)

  • a partial list of (possible) future hall of famers we saw on the trip: glavine, maddux, f. thomas, piazza, bonds, hoffman, griffey, arod, jeter, damon, pujols, ichiro, vlad, ortiz, ramirez, tejada, giambi, halladay, rogers, glaus, zito, nomar, vizquel.

  • 8-24-06 (23:00)

  • added list of our official rankings.



    for room, board and donations thanks go to, in alpha order: Barbara, Brad, Clarke, Emily, Hector, Jill, John, Keely, Lisa, Lynn, Max, Mets, Mike, Padres, Reds, Ruth, Stephanie, Steve, Tamara, Vince, Wendy.
    thanks also go to everyone who bothered to read any/all of this travelogue, there's a lot of stuff on here so thanks for spending the time to sort through it.

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