Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm Alive

Wow, what a first week: 5 stadiums down, 25 to go. Dave flew home from San Diego on Sunday night, and I'm really going to miss having him with me. I don't know if I could have made it last week, being so sick and having to drive so much. It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be and I really appreciated having someone to help me. Hopefully things will be easier from now on and I won't get as sick again. I’ve spent the last few days sleeping a lot and watching a lot of baseball. I bought the package and I can watch every single MLB game over the Internet. It costs $15 per month and I’m going to have it for the 2 moths of road trippin’. I got to watch Felix last Friday and I got to watch a nice M’s win today. I also get to watch all my fantasy pitchers when they’re in games and I can decide who to keep and who to cut based on personal observation. It’s really awesome.

Safeco Posted by Picasa

Monday, of course, was the Mariners' opener. I didn't write much about Safeco because it's my home park and I didn't really think about it. I can say with confidence that Safeco is one of the top two stadiums in the league. The fans aren’t the greatest but the stadium is absolutely gorgeous. I really like the fact that you can walk around the entire field and still see the game at all times. The bullpen is fully accessible to fans and you can watch you favorite relievers warm up while standing about 5 feet away. The stadium is built right next to the Seattle Amtrak station so trains cruise by and blow their horns a few times each game. I think it’s kinda cool. Lastly, Safeco has a retractable roof so we never have rainouts. I like it a lot.

At the game on Monday I bought garlic fries and requested extra garlic. “I don’t want to see any fries” is what I told the lady behind the counter. Well, as you can see, she definitely hooked it up:

Extra Garlic Posted by Picasa

I generally like a little less than that but I made my own bed so I had to sleep in it. The fries were still delicious.

After the game I shopped around for minivans a bit more but never found one that I really liked. Now, on the trip, I get extreme minivan envy whenever I pass by a Honda Odyssey on the road. The Prius gets about 2x as much MPG so although I’m in a smaller car, I’m saving more money. On Tuesday, I picked Dave up from work around 1 PM and we hit the road. The opening stretch was exciting because I was finally getting the road trip underway but boring because I’ve driven that stretch of I-5 so many frikkin times. I was really excited when we got onto Highway 199 at Grant’s Pass, Oregon, and headed West toward the Redwoods. Sadly, it was 8 PM already and I didn’t get to enjoy the windy roads and tall trees. Honestly, it was pretty damn scary and I drove really slowly the whole time. We got to Crescent City around 9 PM and check-in time at the hostel ended at 10 PM. We decided to stop at Burger King for dinner and I had a chicken tender sandwich with more mayo than any sandwich I’ve ever had. It was pretty disgusting but I was starving and slammed it down. We got to the hostel right around 10 PM and got our room. The hostel is right on the coast and cost $20 per bed. They had a “private room” for couples with just one double bed for $49 but Dave and I passed. We were both tired and I was starting to feel pretty sick so we crashed pretty early.

Most people that know me won’t believe this but Dave and I woke up on Wednesday at 7 AM. 7 AM!!! There was a loop trail that started and ended at the hostel so we took that to wake us up.

Hiking Posted by Picasa

It ended up being about 4 miles long and wound through the forest and onto the beach. It was pretty overcast but never really rained on us. The views were pretty nice and we even saw a banana slug:

Banana Slug Posted by Picasa

Right as the hike doubled back toward the hostel we saw a Paul Bunyan so I took a picture with him. Check out Babe's massive testicles:

Paul Bunyan and Me Posted by Picasa

After the hike we started the drive down to Oakland. I decided to take a detour and we drove on a 10 mile road that was parallel to the 101 but took you through the Redwoods at a slower pace. We oohed and aahed at the big trees then saw a sign that simply said “Big Tree (”. We couldn’t pass that up so we pulled over, found “Big Tree” and took some pictures.

Big Tree Posted by Picasa

After the detour we pretty much drove straight to Oakland. We were craving a lunch buffet so we looked up Round Table Pizza on the Magellan GPS and after a few slip-ups found one on our way. I don’t know if it was just this Round Table but it was like $9 for the salad bar and a pop so we decided to split a $20 pepperoni and bacon pizza. It was the most expensive Round Table we’d ever encountered and we both swore never to return to that city again. I don’t even remember the name so I might accidentally go there someday. We got into Oakland around 5:30 and parked in the Network Associates McAfee Coliseum parking lot. We remembered the stadium as Network Associates and it was programmed in the GPS as Network Associates so we were both one year off. When I search for directions to stadiums I’m going to have to remember last year’s names. It might prove to be difficult. Anyway, the lot cost $14, which we thought was cheap compared to Seattle, and there were a ton of people tailgating. It looked like a fun crowd but I wanted to head into the game. We bought $10 seats because they were the cheapest offered for the Yankee series and ended up wandering around for most of the game. In Oakland, they covered the entire upper deck with tarps and decreased the capacity to 35,000 or so, making them the smallest stadium in baseball. I think it definitely was a good idea because they were selling less than 20,000 tickets anyway and it definitely feels more special when the stadium is at least half-full. The crowd was half-Yankee fans and half-A’s fans so there was a lot of good trash talk and if you heard a cheer while walking through the concourse you couldn’t tell which team did something good. I must say that the A’s fans were definitely loud and rowdy and I was treated to one of the best “YANKEES SUCK” chants that I’ve ever heard. The A’s run a promotion called “Dollar Dog Wednesdays” and they were selling hot dogs for $1. I was planning on trying something unique at every park but I couldn’t pass up on dollar dogs. McAfee Coliseum had the greatest selection of beers I’ve ever seen, from Sierra Nevada to Mendicino Brewery. It was awesome. They also have Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo booths. Maybe that explains the rowdiness of the crowd. We were treated to a good game and the A’s won, breaking a 4-4 tie with 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th.

A's-Yankees Posted by Picasa

After the game we drove to my Dad’s house. He lives about 20 minutes south of San Francisco in a city called Foster City and was nice enough to let us use his room while he was out of town. We found tickets on Craigslist to the Giant’s game on Thursday and arranged to pick them up in the city at 9 AM. At this point, my sickness was full blown and I was congested as hell and getting the fever chills at night. I tried to cuddle with Dave but he would have none of it. We ended up getting a good amount of sleep but I still felt like crap. We got to the guy’s house at about 9:15, bought the tickets, and boarded the N-line train which ran right by his house and ran right to the stadium. We got off the train at the Embarcadero stop and decided to walk up to fisherman’s wharf and check out the seals and other touristy things. After about 20 minutes we realized that we didn’t really have time to walk all the way up there and get back to the stadium so we turned around and headed back toward SBC Pac Bell AT&T Park. On the way we stopped at Safeway and shared a lunch of chicken strips and jojos. We also picked up some sour straws and apples to eat later. So much for eating healthy on the trip. We got to the stadium around 11:30 or noon and walked around the entire thing. A few kayak guys were already in McCovey Cove and there was excitement in the air. This was the Giant’s home opener and all the yuppies came out. I have to say that AT&T is right up there with Safeco and I might be persuaded that it is the best park in baseball. It’s pretty like Safeco and quirky like Safeco but it has so many extra things that Safeco doesn’t have. In left field there’s a big coke bottle that they converted into a slide for kids and somehow it didn’t seem overly cheesy. In right field there’s an open area, under the stands, where fans can watch the game for free through a chain-link fence. The fact that the stadium is RIGHT on the water is pretty cool and the kayakers definitely add a lot to the experience. Our seats were pretty good and we again saw another good game. The Giants rallied from 4 down to win 6-4. Barry was intentionally walked twice and the crowd booed and waved rubber chickens like terrible towels. It was pretty entertaining.

Afterward we were planning on hanging out for a while but we were too tired and caught the N-line back to the car. Dave convinced me to go to Lombard Street and drive down the super windy road so I obliged but that was the extent of our touristy experience in San Fran. We got back to my dad’s place around 7 PM and decided to drive to LA that night. The original plan was to spend one more night in Foster City and drive in the morning but because of traffic concerns we decided to hit the road at night. I was exhausted and couldn’t really think straight but I drove about 30 minutes before we stopped at Applebee’s to watch the M’s-A’s game that was in Seattle that night. The M’s won and leapt into first place at 3-1. I had the riblets and they gave me so many that Dave had to help me finish. That never happens. We were both scared by my driving from my Dad’s to the restaurant so Dave drove the first 2 hours toward L.A. He woke me up around midnight and I felt 8 million times better so I drove the rest of the way. We got to Chris’ apartment at 3 AM and he was still up, working on his taxes. Apparently he stayed up until 5:30 AM and went to work at 8:30 the next day. Ridiculous. Anyway, we crashed HARD that night and apparently I snored my brains out. Good times for all involved. At noon I had to move my car because of street sweeping so I stumbled out and found a spot that I thought was legal. At 1:30 we went for some teriyaki and I had a $45 ticket on the Prius. I parked on the end of a block and there were signs up and down the block but not on this particular strip. There were 3 other cars there, too, and we all got tickets. I think I’m going to try to contest this one. After teriyaki I parked at a meter on Wilshire until 3 PM when the street parking opened back up. At 3 I went to get my car and had left the lights on so the battery was dead. I called my friend Mariel but she was getting a manicure/pedicure and couldn’t meet me until 4 PM. I called some other friends but she was the only one with jumper cables so I met her at 4. We drove out to Wilshire and got my car jumped right before a meter maid gave me another ticket. Apparently they tow all cars there at 4 PM because of the rush hour traffic. Whew.

Friday night we headed down to Huntington Beach to meet some other friends and hit the bars. I still felt like ass so I only had 2 or 3 beers and acted as DD. The bar was quite the sausage fest and there was a huge line for the guy’s bathroom and no line for the women’s. Never a good sign. We got home around 2 AM and watched Anchorman until about 3:30. Dave is a working man so he got up at 8 AM and had to wait for everyone else to get up. They headed to Wendy’s for lunch but I refused to go and slept in until around 1:30. It definitely felt good to rest. I would have slept later but Dave and company decided it was time to wake up and called my phone repeatedly until I answered. I met them around 2:30 and we headed to Huntington Beach. It’s a pretty nice beach and they have 10-12 volleyball nets set up and five of us played a game on one of them. If you know me, you can probably imagine what a horrific beach volleyball player I am and we definitely stunk up the joint. We hit this Asian lady on the other court in the head a few times and she finally moved to the other side. The professional chicks two courts over doubled over in laughter on more than one occasion. Oh well. My chest felt like it was going to collapse and I was having fun. We quit after an hour or so and my body was pretty sore from diving on the sand.

Saturday night was the Angels-Yankees game so Dave and I left Adam’s around 5:30 and got to Angels Stadium around 6. Traffic was light and the parking lot was only $8. Score! Again, our tickets weren’t bad, on the 3rd deck, 3rd base extended and not too high up. A few people commented on my Johjima jersey but no one really talked too much crap. I think the Mariners are so bad now that no one yells, “Mariners Suck!” because it’s just too mean. I didn’t really like the stadium that much but they put together some killer video montages. Before the game they ran every Angels highlight in franchise history with “Calling all Angels” in the background and I almost got goosebumps watching highlights of a team that I despise. I didn’t realize that the Angels had so many highlights over the years. For some reason the 1995 season wasn’t on the montage. Muahahahaha. AGAIN, we saw a good game that the Angels won 3-2. So far on the trip, we had seen two Angels wins, two Yankees losses and two saves from K-Rod. After the game we headed to Newport Beach and a bar called Malarkey’s and it was a lot better than the bar in Huntington. There were a ton of hot women and the bar was huge. They played some old rap music and we had fun. Again, I only had 2 beers and aced as DD because I felt like crap. Here’s a pic from the place:

Newport Beach Posted by Picasa

After the bar we drove to my old apartment in Carlsbad, about 30 minutes north of San Diego. We got in around 2:30 and crashed. I let Dave have the love sack and I slept on the couch. My old roommate has one of the huge love sacks and it’s wicked comfortable to sleep on. Dave owes me.
Sunday morning, we showered and headed down to the game. Petco is my second home park since I lived down here last summer so we found free street parking and walked to the game. The cheapest tickets they had were $12 and we sat in almost the same spot as we did in Angels Stadium. It was Mexican Opening Day so they sang the Mexican National Anthem before the game and introduced both line-ups in Spanish and English. It was pretty weird. I think Petco is really nice but it really doesn’t compare to Safeco or AT&T. They have a cool beach area in right-center and they sell a “Park Pass” for $5 where you sit on a grassy hill and watch the game on a big screen as their main quirky attractions. It’s nice and retro-new but a pretty high bar has been set and they weren’t quite there. We finally saw a crappy game as the Rockies pounded the Padres 10-4. I have Jake Peavy on my fantasy team and he gave up 8 runs in 4 innings so I was doubly pissed. After the game we went to Hooters in Mission Valley because one of Dave’s friends from high school works there. She wasn’t working but our waitress was Shavonda from Real World: Philadelphia. I had no clue who she was but Dave freaked out and had no one to share it with. It reminded me of the time I saw Peter North in Huntington and everyone thought I was weird for getting excited. I had a pretty good BBQ Beef sandwich and we headed to Dave & Buster’s. Dave has a dog named Buster so he bought some t-shirts for himself and his wife. It actually looked like a cool place, like an adult Funtasia, but Dave and I are both too cheap to pay money for those kinds of games. I took him to the airport around 7 PM and drove back to the apartment. We watched the Sopranos at 9 PM and I crashed early.

The past few days I’ve been sleeping and watching baseball. I feel a lot better and now I’m just hacking up phlegm and blowing my nose a lot. The dizziness is gone and the congestion will be gone soon. I think I’m going to see some friends in Seal Beach tomorrow and I’m headed to the Dodger’s game on Friday night. This weekend I’m going to Vegas and I’ll be there for about 5 days before heading to Phoenix. I’ll try to post more often so I don’t need to drop a mega-rambling nonsensical post on everyone next time. I also didn’t take any cool pictures because I wasn’t exactly in an inspired state so I’ll try to fix that for future games and future travels. Bless you if you made it this far. Go Mariners!!


AlCantHang said...

Looks like the trip is starting off well (except for the whole getting sick thing). I'll have to figure out what unique food we'll get you in Philly. Either a Tony Luke's cheesesteak or Bull's BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Good read, helps my workday, the longer the better!! :)

Anonymous said...

Dang, buddy! I read it all. :) Thanks for entertaining me. Hope you're feeling better!


Anonymous said...

finally! nice to hear from ya! take it easy!


Anonymous said...

Honestly I can't believe you left out so many highlights of the first leg of your trip. How could you not give love to the hairy pit girl working at the hostel. And no mention of the girl in Oakland who was thrown out for throwing Sheffield's homerun back onto the field. Or what about the poor sap in SF whose friend ripped his hat off his head and threw it down the ramp never to be seen again. Or the first pitcher I've ever seen bat, Jorge Sosa crushing a ball 400ft. Some drunk guy in Anaheim running onto the field only to be manhandled by security. A Teriyaki dish big enough for the 2 of us to split. But at least you gave props to the smokin hot chicks in Newport Beach. Can't wait to meet you in Cleveland. Much less driving equals much more drinking. Dookie

Anonymous said...

I really wish I could be there with you. Let me tell you, if I were with you, I'd let you cuddle with me. Seriously... I would.