2007 COOPERSTOWN ROAD TRIP Day 12: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park

5 Jul

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Because we wanted to spend the 4th of July in our nation’s capital (because how often do you get to do that?), we had to plan for a busy travel day on the 5th, being the last game of a Sox home stand at Fenway.  After very little sleep and an early-morning shuttle, Blake and I caught our flight to Boston.  We landed around 10:30 in the morning and caught the T into town.  Blake had Pricelined us a room at the Copley Square Hotel and fortunately they let us check in early.  The legendary Boston jazz club Storyville used to be located on the ground floor of the hotel.  It still bears the name of “Storyville” but is no longer a jazz club.

First stop after checking in was the exterior location of Cheers.  After a pre-lunch pint and a visit the gift shop to purchase Cheers memorabilia, it was time for us to wander the town and kill time before heading over to Fenway Park.

While wandering around town, we happened upon Berklee College of Music, a school I once considered attending, but couldn’t afford.  I at least had to run into the bookstore and get a T-shirt.

We eventually made our way over to Fenway for the game, and took a bit of time to soak the atmosphere on Yawkey Way.  Over the years, I have had a number of not-so-pleasant interactions with Red Sox fans, and from what I witnessed at Fenway, it was easy to see why.  I have no problem wearing my Angels gear at Yankee Stadium, but would probably incite a physical altercation at the Fens were I to don my Halo garb.  I really felt for the lone fan in his Devil Rays jersey, who had to endure constant taunts from the Fenway faithful, as well as some projectiles.

Of course, there really was no reason for the Sox fans to mistreat the Devil Rays fan as the game was a blow-out for the Sox, 15-4.  Coco Crisp hit a 1st inning grand slam off of JP Howell, and Mike Lowell hit a 3-run home run in the 2nd inning, putting the Devil Rays away early.  At the end of the game, there was a light rain, but that didn’t stop me from getting a picture next to the Pesky Pole.

When it came to the concessions at Fenway, I wasn’t impressed with the hot dogs, although the traditional New England bun was definitely a change of pace.  I also took advantage of the fact that Legal Seafood was selling chowder at the yard, but still I was not impressed by it.

Despite the experience of dealing with a stadium filled with Sox fans, it was nice to visit such a historic park.  As it turns out, the seats that Blake and I were sitting in were some of the oldest seats in the stadium.

2007 COOPERSTOWN ROAD TRIP Day 11: The Fourth of July in Washington DC

4 Jul

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We slept in again, so when we finally headed into the city, it was around lunchtime . . .

We emerged from the Federal Triangle Metro Station to the sounds of Tito Puente, Jr. and his Orchestra.  I was always a huge fan of his father.  Junior does a good job of following in his father’s footsteps.  We listened to a few tunes and realized we had other stuff to do in town.

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After leaving the Ronald Reagan building, we caught the tail-end of the Independence Day Parade.  Since it was so hot outside, we ducked into the Museum of Natural History to take advantage of the air conditioning.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea as the place was packed . . .

washington-monument.jpgOnce we had enough of all the people in the museum, we decided to explore the Mall and check out what was going on . . . a few days earlier, we had seen a sign that read “FREE FEAST” near a canopy on the Mall . . . as it turned out the free feast was being put on by the Hare Krishnas . . .

We decided to head down towards the Lincoln Memorial since that is where the best view of the fireworks is supposed to be.  Rather than walk, we hopped on the Metro to Foggy Bottom.  As we were walking down to the Licoln, we decided to grab a sandwich as buying food on the Mall wasn’t going to be very cost-effective.  When we got down to the Lincoln, we found security evacuating the Mall . . . apparently there was a “severe weather system” headed our way, and the Mall was on tornado watch . . . those people who had staked out their fireworks spots since the morning had to give them up.  Supposedly our Fourth of July experience in DC was a wash . . .

We had two choices:  1. head back to the hotel in Arlington until further notice, or 2. wait out the storm somewhere in town.  It was then that I had the brilliant idea to head over to Capitol City Brewing–after all, if we were going to wait it out, why not wait it out with beer . . . unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones with that idea–the wait for a table was over an hour-and-a-half.  However, Blake had his own stroke of brilliance and asked if certain tables were designated as part of the bar . . . we pounced on one just as a couple of people were finishing their beers . . . By this point, the sky had opened up and the rain was coming down pretty hard.

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Once we finished with dinner, we headed back towards the Washington Monument, and fortunately for us, they were beginning to let people back in.  All the lawn spots were pretty much taken, so we decided to sit right in the middle of 14th Street.  Other people followed suit.  For us this worked out great as we had a fantastic view of the fireworks behind the Washington Monument.  For others in the street, it wasn’t the most ideal situation, as three times during the course of the fireworks display, they had to move for emergency vehicles driving down the street.

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Getting back to Arlington was the challenge . . . apparently that evening, over half a million people rode the Metro.  The line to get into the Federal Triangle Metro Station was insane.  We were able to bypass part of the line by taking the stairs, and then found out that the line was so slow because the escalators weren’t working.  Down in the station, Blake and I got separated, both riding packed trains back to Arlington . . . Blake got to Arlington one train after I did.

Fortunately for us, there was an open Burger King just walking distance from our hotel.

2007 COOPERSTOWN ROAD TRIP Day 10: Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium

3 Jul

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After our midnight stroll in the graveyard, we were pretty tired and ended up sleeping till about 10:00 AM, obviously too late to get Washington Monument tickets . . . still we were at least able to get tickets to the Capitol.

We got in a little more time at the Air and Space Museum before catching our mid-afternoon Capitol tour . . . just way too much to see in our nation’s capital.  The capitol tour ended up being pretty short, so we went back to the Air and Space Museum before heading out to RFK Stadium.

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RFK Stadium is one of the three reasons we decided on a northeast baseball tour this year, as it is one of three parks which will be gone in a few years (the others being Shea and Yankee Stadiums).  Upon entering the park, it was easy to see why the Nats need a new park . . . RFK is an aging stadium–nowhere near the hole that Shea is, but in definite need of replacement.  On a positive note, it was nice to see an outfield fence which was perfectly rounded–not something you normally see.

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Concessions at RFK were nothing special.  The hot dogs were below average, however the lemonade was better than at other parks.

The biggest surprise of this game was that Cubs fans outnumbered Nationals fans, and were incredibly vocal.  Now I’d been to games at Anaheim in the past (1980s and 1990s) where there were insane amounts of Yankee and Red Sox fans, but their volume couldn’t compete with that of the Cubs fans at this game.

Overall, we were rather disinterested with this game–we were more or less there for the stadium experience.  The most exciting thing for us was the race between the former presidents (theme park-styled fuzzy characters dressed as the four presidents from Mount Rushmore).  George Washington won this particular race, and the following day the promotional give-away was a George bobblehead . . . we considered just coming back for the bobblehead and leaving.

When we decided to do the stadium walk (the walking tour we take of a new stadium, typically right after the fifth inning), the fans near where we were seated thought we were leaving.  We originally planned on returning to those seats just to show those fans up, but were pleasantly surprised to find several open seats on the bottom level directly behind home plate.  We decided to take advantage of the better seats, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as it began raining in the late innings, and our new seats were covered . . .

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When all was said and done, the Cubs won the contest 3-1.

The most entertaining part of the evening for us was the vendor on the walk to the Metro station immediately following the game.  I can’t accurately describe his delivery for effect in this narrative, but his whole schtick was “Two for five!  Two for five!  I need to buy my fireworks for Fourth of July!  Two for five!”  We of course had to take him up on it–such a value . . .

This time we made it to the Metro station in time . . .

2007 COOPERSTOWN ROAD TRIP Day 9 SUPPLEMENTAL: The Arlington Cemetery Adventure

2 Jul

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By the time we finished up at the Jefferson, it was pretty close to midnight, so we headed back to the closest Metro station which happened to be at the Smithsonian.  We got there about 12:15 AM, only to find that the station was closed.  We then started off for the next closest Metro station . . . on the way, we ran into a few cops and asked them what time the Metro shuts down for the night, only to find that it had closed up at midnight.

blake-at-lincoln-memorial.jpgWe were left with the choice of spending a lot of money on a cab (which, after having to do that our last night in Philly, was an undesirable prospect) or hoofing-it . . . we opted for the latter, not realizing how long of a walk it was . . .

The only bridge in our direction that allowed for foot traffic was directly behind the Lincoln Memorial.  The whole walk to the Lincoln, Blake was getting slap-happy from sleep deprivation, but like a trooper kept his head down and his eyes focused on our destination.

By the time we crossed the bridge over the Potomac, it was almost 1:30 AM.  We were closer to our hotel, but had only two routes to get there:  1. walking along the side of the  highway (which wasn’t exactly the best idea in the dark), or 2. walking through Arlington National Cemetery in the middle of the night.  Blake was too tired to even think, and I figured that we probably wouldn’t have a chance to come back, so we decided to chance the cemetery, after all, it’s all a part of the adventure . . .

blake-at-jefferson-memorial.jpgIf either of us were there alone, I’m sure we would have opted for the highway, but having a wingman there made things somewhat comfortable.  Of course, how many people go walking through a graveyard in the middle of the night–at least we can say we did that once . . . It was pretty eeirie and quiet walking through there . . . it was also very dimly lit.  Fortunately, Blake had a little flashlight in his bag, otherwise it would have been difficult to see the map.  At one point, Blake pointed up the hill and asked me what he saw in the distance, to which I replied, “I think that’s John F. Kennedy’s tomb.”

Exiting the cemetery onto the streets of Arlington put us at ease, but we still had to find our hotel, and our map wasn’t exactly accurate.  We hit a few dead ends before finding Arlington Boulevard and finally got to our hotel at 2:00 AM.

Originally we had planned on getting up early the next morning to wait for Washington Monument tickets, but instead, we decided to sleep in . . .

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2007 COOPERSTOWN ROAD TRIP Day 9: Travel Day to Washington DC

2 Jul

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We started our day by dragging our bags through Baltimore’s Little Italy on our way to the Metro station.  When we boarded our train at Penn Station, we were surprised to find the coach section full.  Fortunately, it was just a short ride to DC . . .

blake-at-washington-monument.jpgAfter checking into our hotel in Arlington, we caught the Metro back into town and emerged just a few blocks from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue . . . how sad to see so many fences and barricades around the White House.

Next, we walked over to the Washington Monument, but found that all the tickets for the day had been dispersed, so we decided to head towards the Capitol.  After a few hours at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, we continued up to Capitol Hill.  All along the Mall were fences, barricades, and metal detectors in preparation for the Fourth of July . . .

Realizing that many of the points of interest were closed for the day, we headed over to Capitol City Brewing for dinner.  Sadly, they were out of their hoppiest brews, but their coffee-infused porter called “Fuel” was very tasty.

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Our friend Tamara McNulty recommended that we visit the monuments after dark, so we started with the Lincoln around 10:00 PM.  It was pretty moving at night time . . . Next, we checked out both the Viet Nam and World War II Memorials before deciding to head over to the Jefferson . . .

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