Saturday, June 24, 2017


My friend Nick Ammar and I decided back in the winter that we needed to do a baseball adventure. There must be a way to take in a number of baseball games over a 5 or 6 day time frame knowing that the most important game would be the LA Dodgers visiting the Cincinnati Reds. 

I did some Googling of schedules and came up with St Louis, Cincy, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago. Ending in Chicago was perfect as we could have our wonderful wives come there and we could all spend a few days touring around. 

It all worked out pretty well and we had a great time. What follows are the daily postings on Facebook. 

Day 1 of The Baseball Trip (TBT). The plane from Richmond to Atlanta was an hour late and I barely made the connection to St. Louis. However my bag also made the connection which was a good thing. We toured around in downtown St. Louis in the afternoon and saw the arch as well as other sites in the city. The baseball game was a lot of fun. Thanks to Dan Kiley and his son for helping us with the tickets and joining us at the game.

Day 2 of TBT (The baseball trip). Nick and I left St. Louis with a flat tire and had to return to exchange rental cars. Not a great start to the day. After a long drive through basically empty countryside we got to Cincinnati. The ball game from the standpoint of the Dodgers was a great game. They won 3 to 1. The Reds looked good however as it was a close game. We had a great dinner before the game and are headed to Pittsburgh in the morning. The fireworks after the game were spectacular.

Day 3 of TBT. It was an easy drive from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. We arrived early enough to our motel to get a workout in and then get downtown before all the traffic for the game. Had a really good dinner at City Works and then walked around downtown before crossing the bridge over the Allegheny River to PNC stadium. The Pirates ended up winning the game over the Cubs. It was an 8.15 game so we got back to the motel late. Another really good day!

Day 4 of the TBT. We left the Pittsburgh area early this morning in order to get to Detroit for a 1.10 game time. It was an easy drive but we did run into traffic coming into the city. And then walking from our parking spot to the stadium it started raining. The rain stopped and the game started about a half an hour late so everything worked out perfectly. The seats we had were behind home plate and had a great view. Thanks to my friend Len MacEachern for giving us his tickets while he played golf with his son on Fathers Day. For each of the four games so far we've had a different view point in the stadiums which has made it fairly interesting. Our ranking of the stadiums so far would put St. Louis and Cincinnati at the top and Pittsburgh and Detroit at the bottom. We had dinner with Nick's daughter Lauren and her husband Troy. Looking forward to Chicago tomorrow! Happy Father's Day to the all the dads !

Day 5 of TBT. An eventful trip from Detroit to Chicago to drop off the car. We totaled about 1300 miles and 8 states from start to finish. We ran into a lot of traffic around Chicago and then getting into Chicago our exit was closed and we had to take a detour. Talk about the blind leading the blind. We finally got to the hotel to drop our bags and then head to find the Avis drop off point in downtown Chicago in traffic. Not an easy thing to do but we made it. Candy and Pam made it to the hotel later in the afternoon. PAM's plane from Roanoke was almost canceled. We had a nice leisurely walk to the Navy pier. Italian dinner at Volare Ristorante. An evening walk to The John Hancock building. Big John, as they call it, was magnificent. The views from the top were spectacular.

Day 6 of TBT. We started with the architectural boat tour of the Chicago River. This was a great trip up and down both branches of the Chicago River with the narrator telling us about the architectural characteristics of all the different buildings. Followed that with hanging out in Grants Park and millennium Park. We had lunch at Wildberry Café. 50% of the people in the café were eating breakfast. Humongous pancakes and French toast. Saw the Cubs beat the Padres that night!

Day 7 of TBT.
Another great breakfast at the Corner Bakery Cafe. We rode the hop on hop off bus for the day and went to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. We could've spent a lot more time at each one of them. A full day at least for each. The bus was narrated and well worth it. We had a great dinner at Catch 35 followed by the play Aladdin. Great day!

Day 8 of TBT.
We had a "Mr. Toads Wild Ride" from the hotel to the airport to come back to Midlothian. This was a wonderful trip with great friends and we have some great memories and additional hats as souvenirs!

So, as they say, in conclusion, the consensus of Nick and I is: 
  • Avis did the right thing in replacing our car but did the wrong thing by allowing an obvious problem to perpetuate itself. 
  • we rank the ball parks as Cincy and St Louis at the top, followed by Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago. Reasons are the amenities surrounding the first two and the roominess of the parks, quality of concessions, and viewing areas to see the game. 
  • yes, we know the nostalgia factor with Wrigley Field but the seats, the view, the crampiness, etc are a problem. Chicago needs a new ball park!
  • Marriott brands and Hilton brands are worth the extra money due to the consistency of quality. In Chicago, we stayed in the Intercontinental Hotel which is an IHG hotel and we were also very pleased with it. 
  • We found a good breakfast place in Chicago right across the street from the hotel so we paid a normal price for breakfast instead of $25.00 per person!
  • Both Delta and American are now providing "free" drinks and snacks and with one exception, ran on time. 
We are already planning next years trip, which might include Washington Nationals, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I have decided to resurrect my blog and am committed to putting my current thoughts in wirting every week or so. I tried "tweeting" but it turns out my thoughts run longer than the allowed words. So, here we go. 


Thanks to all those wished me Happy Birthday on my 70th! It was a very good day spent down here in sunny southwest Florida. The only thing missing was a birthday cake, which was well substituted  by a piece of Florida key lime pie!

The turning 70 thing got me thinking about what it really means, if anything. When I was in my teens the concept of turning 70 was not on the radar. Long term then meant “what am I going to do this weekend”.  That plus cars and sports were about the only things on my mind. Not even the project due the next morning was in the picture. As an aside, it is funny how history repeats itself; vivid in the memory banks is the time our high school age son came downstairs one Sunday evening about 9.00 and asked “if we had any poster board”. His project was due Monday morning.

In the 20’s and 30’s, the only person I knew that was 70 was my Dad. He was 50 when I was born. He worked long hours every day so my guess then was that everyone did that. The only thought I had of me getting to that age was that I didn’t want to be working as hard as he did.

Finally, when I got to the 40’s and 50’s, I began to think that we really should be thinking about life in the 60’s and 70’s and beyond. So, some financial planning was in order. 

The thing that is different now about turning 70 compared to turning 70 many years ago is this: now we are much more mobile and can travel; we can play sports such as golf and tennis that old people “back then” didn’t or couldn’t do; we can operate a computer ( our phone ) that has much more power and capability than the old card fed mainframe computers; we have medical procedures that can sustain life and improve mobility, etc, etc, . We have Facebook and social media (not sure if this is good or bad).  I also think maybe our minds are more active. I know that the more we use them later in life, the “sharper” we are.

The point of all this is that turning 70 is both a big deal and not a big deal. I have had many friends that are now gone, God bless their soul, thus it is a big deal. Many of us are still ticking and doing well however and thus it is not a big deal. Being old is a state of mind and I truly do not feel “old” but I know that 70 is pretty old in that many do not make it this far or if they do, are having problems.

Being old and thinking you are old are two different things. As for me, even though I am “old”, I am going to keep on thinking that I am not “old”.

Anyone for turning 80?