I thought I’d write a quick post regarding the All-Star break. I stayed Sunday night in Houston and took the bus to the airport Monday morning for my flight back. I left Houston at 10:30 am, connected in Atlanta, and arrived in Milwaukee at 3:30 pm. I drove right back to Madison and spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday relaxing. It was nice spending some time with Victoria and Prince. I swear he was clapping when Prince won the home run derby, and said “meow that was a bomb” after one of Fielder’s blasts.
On Monday night Victoria made roasted and shredded beef sandwiches with horseradish mayo. She’s made them before and they’re amazing every time. I’m one lucky fella.
On Tuesday I had a physical therapy appointment, and they did an Iontophoresis treatment. It involves using an electric charge to deliver medication, in this case a steroid to try and help with the pain in my knee. It’s nothing crazy, and it just feels like some pins are poking you when they have it running.
Tuesday night I watched the All-Star game, and it was nice to see Braun go 2-3 with a double and a triple. Atta Boy!!!
On Wednesday I went into my former workplace to say hi to some familiar faces. Pam and Steve, who came to two separate games in June, joined me at a Happy Hour at Legend’s Sports Bar & Grill. We had a beer and some nachos. Delicious.
On Thursday I had another physical therapy appointment and then headed back to Fort Atkinson. My friend Dustin, who came on the Phoenix – Los Angeles trip with me, was in town and we hung out. The Fort Generals (a home talent league baseball team) had a game at Jones Park. It’s arguably the best non-professional baseball park in the State. I might be biased in that but I believe Sports Illustrated did a piece on it a few years back. I’m not sure what year (it was probably the 1920′s) but the Green Bay Packers played an exhibition game at the park. Good stuff. $1 hot dogs and $1 beers are always on the menu, so if you’re ever in Fort Atkinson I suggest you make a visit. Jones Park is on Janesville Avenue, just south of downtown. This was the hot dog I got, and you can see my friend (number 12) in the background. His name is Josh and he plays shortstop and pitches for the Generals. He’s come to a few home games this year with me as well.
I just remembered that I took a picture of Josh making a sweet play back in 2010. It just might be the best picture I’ve ever taken. I happened to have my camera out when they were in the field, and someone popped one down the left field line and he made an amazing catch.
They have a large concession stand and upstairs is the announcers booth. Outside is a nice standing room spot; not bad at all. The field might not be in the best shape, due to the record temps and lack of rainfall, but it’s still a nice place to play/watch a game.
I’m about to leave for game number 86, and the start of the “second half”. The flight back from Houston put me over the once-around-the-world tracker, so that’s pretty cool. We’ll see how close I come to making two trips around.
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Thursday was the fifth off day of the season, and I spent it in and around Denver with my friend Dustin. Dustin and I have been friends since elementary school, and he moved out here a few years ago. I asked if he wanted to join me on this part of the trip, and he was more than willing. We’re leaving in a bit to drive through the night to Phoenix, where the Brewers play next. Then it’s on to Los Angeles, where after the final game I’ll fly back to Milwaukee, and he will drive back to Denver.
We started Thursday off by going to Coors Field, which is just a mile or so from Dustin’s house. The Rockies also had the day off, so the tour that they offer is more inclusive, and you get to see the visiting clubhouse. We got there about ten minutes late, but luckily all that they had done was go to the upper deck, something that I’ll be doing anyways in August when the Brewers visit. We went to the club level and continued the tour, the first thing we came across is this Statue of Liberty. The Yankees gave each National League team one of these to commemorate the 2008 MLB All-Star game. I’m not sure where the Brewers have theirs, but I don’t think I’ve seen it, or maybe I’ve seen it so many times I just pass by it and don’t pay attention to it.
We continued along in the club level, and there was lots to see. There are going to be many four part pictures in this post, and they all go clockwise, starting from the top left.
1) The suites are all named after Colorado’s Fourteeners (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet). The ones in this picture are named after Mt. Bierstadt.
2) They had these inscribed in the tiles in the club level, and I thought it was photo-worthy.
3) One of the conference areas. The tour guide told us that after the 2007 season (when the Rockies made the World Series) there were requests for areas for people to hold conferences. They removed nine of the suites and put in a conference room.
4) This is the area across the hall from the conference room, where you can actually see the field. They rent out the conference room individually, so if you wanted to hold a conference/meeting, and go to a game, you would have to book both of them separately.
On the Club level there is also a nice restaurant; Mountain Ranch Bar & Grille.
1) The exterior of the restaurant.
2) Some bats in the restaurant, and the field in the distance
3) The view from one of the tables that overlooks the field.
4) A candid (I think) photo of Troy Tulowitski, the Rockies All-Star shortstop. I like the picture because it shows a nice reflection of the field.
The press box was the next stop on the tour, and it is quite large. I haven’t been in the press box at Miller Park, but the Rockies press box seems larger.
1) The interior of the press box, I wasn’t even all the way to the right, so there were about 30 more seats behind me.
2) The view of the field, those windows can swing inwards, and there are carabiners on the ceiling to keep them in place.
3) Jorge De La Rosa getting some work in. He’s a former Brewer and is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he’s rehabbing and trying to get back in June sometime (at least that’s what the tour guide told us).
4) One of the dents in the drywall from a foul ball. Someone in the press box (presumably closest to the dent) writes who hit the ball and the date of the game on the wall itself. After the season they’ll make the repairs, but for the remainder of the season they’ll know who the culprit was.
The tour then took us to the depths of Coors field, and we got the tour of the visiting clubhouse.
1) The visiting team’s coaches office. In less than three months, Ron Roenicke is going to be in there planning for the Brewers-Rockies series.
2) The visiting clubhouse.
3) Staff rubbing down baseballs for the Rockies’ upcoming home stand. When each team gets their baseballs from Rawlings, they rub them with Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud. Every team uses the same stuff, and the location of where they get the mud is a secret, but it’s known to be somewhere on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.
4) Part of the visiting clubhouse’s bathroom. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you forget your shaving cream, because it looks like everything is provided.
Out onto the field we went, and I did my best to imitate a manager giving signals to players during a game.
We also had the tour guide take a picture of us on the field.
That pretty much concluded the tour, and we left Coors Field and went back to Dustin’s place. We weren’t there long and we headed to Golden Colorado for the Coors Brewers tour. We parked and then found out you take a shuttle bus to the Brewery itself.
1) One of the arches that welcomes you to downtown Golden, you can see one of the shuttles under the G in Golden. We wanted to ride the Coors Light themed bus to the Brewery, but got stuck with the Killian’s Irish Red bus.
2) The exterior of the building where the tour begins. The copper kettle pictured is from the 1880′s.
3) The interior, where you get your wristband for your free samples, and your self guided tour audio device. I’m not a big fan of self-guided tours, but it was alright. You can go at your own pace and skip stuff if you want to, so I guess it makes sense. Dustin and I listened to pretty much everything though. The tour, by the way, is free of charge.
4) The first part of the tour, which explains a little bit about how Coors got started and notable events in its history.
More from the tour:
1) A few of the many brew kettles that they have on site.
2) The control room, which oversees the brewing process.
3) The quality control laboratory. No one was in there, but our “guide” said there are usually people with white coats in there doing QC.
4) Some cases of Coors Light after they have been packaged. The weren’t going as fast as they look, it’s just that the light was dim enough to require a slow shutter speed. The 30 packs on the bottom were actually for the Bay Area (I assume), because they had a promotion on them for the San Francisco Giants.
We only got two of the three samples they offer, hit up the gift shop, and then it was time for lunch. On our way to the shuttle pick-up we had someone get a picture of Dustin and me. You might notice that faint “M” above Dustin’s left shoulder, up towards the peak. If you click the picture you can get a bigger image. The M is for the nearby Colorado School of Mines. The water behind us is a cooling pond, and it also provides Coors with a little bit of electricity.
We had lunch at Old Capital Grill in Golden, and it was delicious. I had the BBQ Pork Stampede, which consisted of tangy strips of pulled pork with grilled onions and Texas toothpicks piled high on a soft bun. I didn’t know what Texas toothpicks were but I learned they are jalapeños and onions that are lightly breaded and then deep fried. I thought it would be spicier than it was, but it was still worth the $8.95. The sandwiches come with french fries and, get this, a small red delicious apple. We were both a little confused when our waiter brought us our meal. I like the idea though, and was not disappointed by finishing off a meal with a crisp apple.
We’re leaving shortly, and should be arriving in Phoenix between 11:00 am and noon. After a nap at the hotel, it’ll be off to Chase Field for game number 45 of the season.
Thursday was the best day weather-wise, and I’m glad we waited to go to the beach. We took the bus, and left for Ocean Beach around noon, and made it to South Beach Bar & Grille around 12:45 for lunch. My sister had introduced me to South Beach and the wonderful world of fish tacos back in 2009, and I’ve gone back on each subsequent visit. Going clockwise from top left, the four parter below contains:
1) The inconspicuous exterior of the restaurant, word of mouth is all this place needs though.
2) The view from our table, which was just inside the entrance.
3) Unused taps above the bar.
4) My lunch. From left to right (like you can tell a difference), I had grilled Mahi, the Baja (which was fried Cod), and grilled Shrimp. They were all amazing, and extremely messy.
After lunch we took it the beach, and laid out for a while. I put on sunscreen, but my back wound up burnt because I fell asleep while on my stomach. This might be surprising to some, but the swim trunks that I’m wearing in the picture below… are from the 8th grade. Yes, I’ve kept, and am able to wear, the same trunks that I did in the year 2000. It’s probably my proudest achievement, or not.
It was a (somewhat) nice day, according to Victoria anyways. It was a little windy on the beach, so at times it was a little chilly. We walked down to the water to get our feet wet, and going all the way in never crossed our minds after feeling how cold it was.
On our way back to the bus stop, I noticed some artwork on the boardwalk, just off the beach. This would be my artsy photo of the day.
This next photo is looking down Newport Avenue, which has a lot of shops and restaurants, including South Beach Bar & Grille. Picturesque, to say the least.
We got on the bus at 4:50 and headed back downtown. We stopped at Jamba Juice (thanks Pam!), and made our way back to the hotel. The four parter below contains pictures of our last few hours in San Diego (besides the airport). Going clockwise from top left, you have:
1) The Gas Lamp Signage, looking north on 5th Avenue towards downtown.
2) Victoria and the hotel dog; Buckeye. As a Badger through and through, I disagree with the name, but he was cute, so I’ll let it pass. It may look like he’s vicious, and we laughed when we saw the picture, but he’s not. He had just licked Victoria’s face, so I think I just caught him awkwardly.
3) A few of the dogs (and humans), partaking in Canine Cocktail Hour. Hotel Indigo puts this on once a month, and it’s pretty sweet. It takes place on the ninth floor balcony, and when I was out there, I saw about 30 dogs. I think all were friendly and having a good time save for one that I think wasn’t very social. Anyone can bring their dogs, and it’s free. You can buy drinks, and there are small business owners there selling dog collars and other canine items.
4) The view of PETCO park from the 9th floor balcony. With some binoculars you could see a good amount of the action.
I’m typing this up from Allison’s couch, a college friend of mine and Victoria’s. Just like Alex and Katie, who I mentioned in this post, she was also was a part of our close-knit dorm freshman year. She works at Pixar, and we’re heading over there in about two hours for a tour.
Yesterday was supposed to be spent in St. Louis, a doctor-ordered MRI prevented that. Victoria and I were planning on leaving Wisconsin in the morning, and spending the day in St. Louis, and of course the weather was perfect. My doctor was a little concerned that my knee wasn’t feeling better, and had ordered an MRI on Wednesday. I had blood work done beforehand, and I still had a bruise from the last blood draw which was 8 days ago. I’ve had plenty of MRIs before, but I was still alarmed at how loud those things are. I had the headphones on, and asked them to put on some classical music, because I wanted to try and sleep a bit. I was startled when they started, and the noise was so loud I thought it was coming from the headphones, it was not. I couldn’t hear the music for the duration of the MRI, but was still able to fall asleep a few times. Luckily my legs didn’t twitch (which is known to happen when I’m dozing off) and force them to start over.
Victoria and I left just before five from my parents’ place in Fort. We stopped for a quick bite at Arby’s around 7:30, then finished the drive to my Aunt Anne and Uncle Mike’s house, which is in Saint Charles (a suburb of St. Louis). We arrived just before 11, and were shown the ropes. To sum up my aunt Anne, you need one picture, and it’s what I woke up to this morning:
Long story short, Anne is a [NOT crazy] cat lady. She has six cats, four of them are pictured below. Going clockwise from top left you have:
1) Dempsey, named after Tom Dempsey, because he has somewhat of a club foot (paw). Tom Dempsey is best known for kicking a 63 yard field goal back in 1970. I didn’t know that he was born in Milwaukee, so maybe this will provide some sort of luck. When Victoria and I were getting ready for bed he jumped right up, and wound up sleeping between us for most of the night.
2) Marvin, the second of the “Tuxedo Brothers”, which is what Anne and Mike dubbed him and Dempsey.
3) Speck, who is 20 years old, deaf, and diabetic. Anne has a little heating pad on the chair, and said that Speck will stay there most of the day.
4) Buster, who, as you can see, is rather large.
They have cat trinkets around the house, and this four part picture exemplifies my aunt quite well.
Again, going clockwise from top left:
1) Their entry way, and you can see right away that they like cats, and the U.S.
2) A cabinet full of cat figurines.
3) University of Kansas stuff. My Grandpa Wally, who I went and saw last Saturday, went to Kansas and played football, and played in an Orange Bowl! Anne also went to Kansas, and played Basketball during the 1975 and 1976 seasons.
4) Anne’s medals, which are mostly from the last 16 years, when they moved to Saint Charles. She does 5k races, and these aren’t just participant medals, a lot are 1st and 2nd place medals (for her age group).
Victoria and I are leaving shortly to go to the Gateway Arch. I went up it years ago, but it’s been at least 15 years, (it makes me feel old saying that). Her mom was stopping in town with a friend, on their way back from Texas. We’re going to have lunch with them, and then Victoria and I are planning on hitting up the Budweiser tour before the 7:15 game. The chance of rain for tonight has gone from the predicted 70% from a few days ago, to 30% at game time. Tomorrow should be nice, but Sunday calls for some thunderstorms. If all three games are played between now and Sunday night, I’ll consider this part of the trip a success. Winning will definitely magnify that sentiment.
Yesterday was my first off day, and I was pretty lazy. I got up to say goodbye to Annette, who had class in the morning, but then went back to bed and really didn’t get up until noon. Dave and I talked about baseball and other topics, and then he took me to the MARTA station at 2:45 before heading off to an appointment. I spent the 40 minute train ride catching up on some Words with Friends games and some emails that I had neglected. I got to the Airport around four o’clock, went through security, and went to find the Chick-fil-A.
I had the spicy chicken sandwich, and wasn’t overly impressed. It reminded me of a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich. Don’t get me wrong it was good, but I wasn’t blown away or anything. It was my first experience with the Coca-Cola branded fountain soda dispensers with a touch screen. I’m not a big soda fan, but the number of options those things have is amazing. I went with Diet Dr. Pepper with Cherry, and then refilled with Dasani water infused with lime. I think they had about seven different variations of Sprite, and countless other variations.
I read a digital edition of Sports Illustrated as I waited for my flight, which wasn’t scheduled to take off until 6:55. The flight wound up being delayed 15 minutes or so. If that’s the worst delay I experience this season, I will be more than happy, in fact, I’d be ecstatic. On the plane I watched the first two episodes of Eastbound and Down, which probably wasn’t the wisest choice because there are some inappropriate parts since it’s aired on HBO. Friends have talked about it for a while, but I had never gotten around to actually watching it, so I downloaded the episodes (legally, from iTunes) at Annette and Dave’s, and put them on my iPad for the trip.
I got into O’hare at 8:15, and took the 25 minute train ride to the Logan Square stop, where I walked back to Alex’s. It is Jess’ birthday today, and they had cake and ice cream! I tell myself that it was also a welcome home dessert for me. I left at 9:30 and was planning on going back to my parent’s in Fort Atkinson. My girlfriend, Victoria, texted while I was on my way and said she didn’t have to work until 11am this morning, so I drove to Madison instead. I got in just before midnight, and my first real off day was a success.
I’m extremely grateful that Alex and Jess, and Annette and Dave, were willing to host me for a few days. People like them allowed me to (try) and make this dream come true. I will always be appreciative of what they’ve done for me.
The Brewers game is in just under five hours, and I need to get moving. I’m meeting with a guy who works for the company that owns the major Madison radio stations before I head out. More to come later.