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A Safeco Field Sendoff and the Inevitable End of Year Six

After lunch everyone met back up near the tree that stands at the end of Pike Place Market, at Virginia and Pike.  From there we moved in a more or less northwesterish direction to Lenora Street and took that to 5th Avenue.

Whether it was the time of day, the angle of the sun, the breeze off the bay, our sheer exhaustion or the city itself, this was a beautiful walk.  Seattle surprised us all by being clean.  I’m not sure why were surprised, maybe Portland lowered our expectations of every city, but we were.

Along 5th we walked in the shadow of the monorail line, but unlike most areas we’d walked through in Chicago or New York, this elevated train line didn’t detract from the buildings around it.  Businesses and real estate didn’t suffer for being near the line.  Except for the immigration office, or law firm, whatever it was.  I don’t think anyone really cared much about that place, though.  Or you know what?  It may have made that monorail cooler.

wpid-wp-1404253909665.jpegThere were boutique shops and restaurant, fountains and coffee shops, a glass blower, all along this street.  I understand, the monorail has a smaller footprint than a full blown elevated train line and since it services a significantly more limited area its reach isn’t as great.  It may not be fair to compare the aesthetic or economic effects of a monorail to an L.  And this one, I believe, only dates back to the 1960s, so NYC and Chicago have a hundred years of blight and decay on Seattle when it comes to that.    Well, you know what?  I’m going to compare them anyway.  This was a cool walk.   You did good Seattle.

We saw just the tip for a moment and it was gone.  We were so close!  The monorail line curved away from us and we turned onto Denny Way for a moment until at 4th Avenue we turned again.  Then there it was again and this time we got a good view.

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The Space Needle was really cool, and we only saw the outside of it and the gift shop.  Honestly, I’m ok with that.  It was $24 to ride up to the top and the wait was a little ridiculous.  Would I love to go back and take a ride to the top, maybe have dinner, see the city at night from up there? Of course.  I’m cheap, not dead.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Instead, we spent a lot of time in the gift shop and took some great pictures inside and out of the Space Needle.  Would it have been great to take some shots of the city from up there?  Absolutely.  Do I feel like I missed out on something because we didn’t?  Nope.  Besides, that Space Needle t-shirt was expensive.

Around the Space Needle has a great amusement park feel to it.  There are more souvenir shops; one Seattle-themed, another Northwest-themed, and also what I thought to be a third cleverly named shop but, in fact, was the actual monorail station.

wpid-wp-1404166307054.jpegNearest the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition hall, featuring a massive suspended glass sculpture.  Just outside is an art installation called Sonic Bloom, comprising of massive Dr. Seuss-like flowers that collect solar power to glow at night and will also generate harmonic tones as you walk around them, giving them a cool interactive quality.

Beyond the glass museum was an amphitheater, an IMAX theater, the Kobe Bell (which I don’t think any of us got around to seeing) and tons of people.  Tons.  For everything that was in this area, there was still a lot of open space, great for picnics, field trips, I think some kids had a soccer game going.

We caught the monorail back down 5th Avenue and started walking again, hitting a disappointing patch of Chinatown and then stopping into CenturyLink Field to say hi to Richard Sherman before heading over to the Pyramid Alehouse.  It turned out, this was directly across from the ballpark.  It also turned out, that this is when things started to get a little hazy for me.  I can say, however, that there was definitely a baseball game at some point, after which, the Mariners were nice enough to put on a fireworks show for us.  I assume it was for us.  Why else would they have fireworks?  Obviously, it was to celebrate the conclusion of our trip.  I guess I could be wrong.

After leaving Safeco Field it was a short walk in the misty Seattle rain to the train station and a somber ride back to Tukwila for our cars.  The ride was somber for a lot of reasons.  Most of which are none of your damn business.  But we knew the night was winding down, that the trip was coming to a close.  Kevin and Tony had shipped their beer home already, and in the morning we’d all meet up at the airport to say goodbye to Seattle and Dave (mostly Seattle) and head home.

After the disappointment that was Portland, Seattle proved to be a high point of the trip, all of us agreeing that we would love to come back and explore more.  Which is great for everyone since Dave is offering free lodging, whether he knows it or not.

We eased into Baseball Trip this year and took it easy on the ballgames, giving ourselves the time to explore that we regretted not having on previous trips.  Sure, there were times we didn’t like each other much, but that’s completely expected when you cram nine people into two cars for a week, especially with how much Kevin farts.  There was beer, karaoke, sea lions, the Golden Gate Bridge, dirty old hippies, dozens of bookstores, beer, hills, dirty young hippies, more hills, more beer and even some baseball.

We didn’t do everything we wanted, but we did more than we expected.  There wasn’t a dull moment.  Of course, with this group of idiots, the same could be said if we’d have hung out in someone’s backyard.  That’s what makes Baseball Trip so great; it isn’t the baseball or the driving, it isn’t scaring the locals (or being scared by locals), it isn’t the beer or the crop dusting of entire city blocks.  It’s these people, this group, that has evolved and changed so much since that first year when our road trip route was shaped like a chicken wing.  C’mon, we’re from Buffalo.  What did you expect?  And yes, that chicken wing was hot and spicy, just like Nick Markakis’ mom.  Sorry, Baseball Trip joke.

There’s not one of us who wouldn’t agree with Tony (twice), when he said: Best baseball trip ever you turds!

So that’s it.  Thanks.

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Later losers. See you next year.

Easing Into Baseball Trip

wpid-psx_20140624_231144.jpgWell, after three days in San Francisco we failed to ride a streetcar, visit Alcatraz, engage in a high speed chase with Steve McQueen or eat any Rice-A-Roni whatsoever.  We did manage to visit the Full House house though, so props there, at least we did something right, and see an old man buck naked walking up Guerrero Street.

There’s no picture, I apologize, he was really trucking with his sweet, white wrinkly ass cheeks waving at us with each step and his old man manhood bouncing from thigh to thigh, and by the time the shock wore off and my camera was out, he’d turned to head uphill away from us.

Another thing we did right?  Eased into baseball trip.  This is the sixth official year we’ve taken a baseball road trip, a week-long marathon of touristy sightseeing, dangerous levels of alcohol consumption, even more dangerous levels of flatulence and even a few baseball games.  You know, when we’re bored.  This year we’re doing a West Coast North trip, hitting the Oakland As, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners, which will put our ballpark total at 24 by the end of the trip.

What’s different about this trip is the start; not only did we not see a ballgame the very first day but we spent the first three days in one city.  While we still try to pack as much into our limited time in each city and along the drive to each stop, over the course of six years, we’ve learned to slow down a little.  We’ve learned some pacing, we’ve learned to slow it down where we can, we’ve learned to drink and enjoy our beer rather then inject the alcohol directly into our veins.  We’ve grown up a little.  Also, I think New Orleans may have broke us.  Twice.

Sorry, baseball trip joke.  Maybe I’ll share that story with you one day when you’re older.

See, there’s a a big difference when it comes to Baseball Trip Day One, between driving from Buffalo to Pittsburgh and catching a Pirates game at the comparatively small but immensely beautiful PNC Park, and flying from Buffalo to Kansas City for a Royals game.  PNC Park blew me away.  It’s on the water, it’s open, it’s a smaller place but not closed in at all.  Kansas City?  It was hot.  I remember that.  It was a nice enough park but I don’t remember much of the experience other then there were fountains (not as many as some Royals fans led us to believe, those packs of cheaters), there was enough swamp ass to go around, and at one point Tony announced to most of the outfield section that the fans there were a bunch of hicks.

Its important to ease into baseball trip, which is why this year, after flying from Buffalo to (Las Vegas and then) San Francisco, we settled into the house we rented at Page & Octavia and took our time getting our bearings and picking out someplace to go for dinner.  That’s right, not hotel, a house.  We rented a classic San Fran house for three days.  We fancy.  Well, we’re at least coming to terms with the fact that we’re adults.  Most of the time.

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Haight & Ashbury

The house was in a great location for what we needed; near the highway to get us out to Oakland for the first game, walking distance to a ton of great shops and restaurants along Valencia and its myriad of cross-streets, not to mention Haight & Ashbury, 1709 Broderick Street for the Full House house, Ashbury Park with the hundreds of different things we never had a chance to do, and near enough to the subway to get us out to AT&T Park for the Giants game our last night in town.

We’re all from Buffalo, where you’re always twenty minutes from wherever you’re going and two blocks from the ghetto, that is a fact.  So we were in a great location in the city as it turned out we were always withing about a half hour walk from wherever we were going.

Haight & Ashbury was half an hour from the house, and the Full House house was half an hour from there.  The Full House house was supposed to be half an hour from home, but then we got cocky and tried to find the house from Mrs. Doubtfire.  It was a valiant but failed attempt, although we did get to ride the bus with a wonderful woman who told us the difference between Upper and Lower Haight, recommended a restaurant with “Porky the Piggy on sign” and said we should get out to Marin County if we could.  At least she thought it was Marin County.

wpid-img_20140624_224248.jpgThen the bus dropped us off at our doorstep.  Literally.  There was a bus stop right outside our very tall front door that led into our crazy-high ceiling two story house in the classic San Fran style, with the super-hipster backyard in the heart of downtown San Francisco that cost us less then two hotel rooms for three days would have.

I told you it was a great location for us.  I think easing into this trip was the right choice.

Now bring on the Redwoods, Portlandia and those sparkly vampire bastards in Washington…

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