Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 25: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros, and GrandSlamTrip Suspended

Day 25: Rangers Lose to Astros and GrandSlamTripSuspended

Our son Michael

who has been at marine boot camp in San Diego for 7 weeks developed chronic bronchitis a few weeks ago and then was diagnosed with pneumonia.  While he is much better now, he missed too much training to go forward with his platoon, and the marines sent him home.  He has the opportunity to go back at some point with a clearance from a doctor. 

Jeannie stayed in Dallas to be there when Michael arrived which was tonight (Thursday).  I came to Houston today because besides baseball, I wanted to see my mom and my sister and her family.

My old college friend Tom Owen (Houston's own T.O.) got some very nice tickets to the Texas Rangers Houston Astros game.  Also going with us is Bobby Moffett, who was our SMU fraternity brother and who I have not seen in 30 years.
We had great seats.
Above, the bases were full of Rangers, but they did not score in this inning or in the game.  Astros 7 - Rangers 0.
We saw the Rangers 3 times this summer, and the team lost in the first game we saw to Detroit in Arlington, lost to the Yankees in NY two weeks ago, and lost to the mighty Astros (who the Rangers had beaten the last 8 times they met) tonight.

While Jeannie was missed, Tom's wife filled in.
The Astros have a great new video screen.
Lots of Ranger fans at the game, but they went home sad and early.

So, no joy in Mudville (Houston) tonight, but Michael is home, safe, and looking very good.

One last note for my Ford dealer friends, Bill Utter, Bob Utter, and Blake Utter.  Tom Owen has employed a wonderful women from Pasadena, Texas (Mary) for the past 16 years as a jack-of-all-trades handy woman whose motto is "Have Tools, Will Travel."  While she refused a picture, she was proud to have a picture of her Ford truck included.  Mary has had this truck since 1973, maintains it herself, and has put over 700,000 miles on it.
So, thanks to Jill and Tom for the wonderful evening, and it was good to see Bobby again.
Tomorrow, I will visit with my mom, sister, and her family, and head back to Lewisville on Saturday to see Jeannie and my fine son, Michael.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 22-24: Tulsa to Our Home in Lewisville -- To Houston on Thursday

Day 22-24, Monday: Said goodbye Monday morning in Tulsa to Shawn and Scott.

(they had to get back to work)

In 36 hours they drove (8 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday) from Tulsa to St. Louis to meet us, have dinner, and see Toronto play the St. Louis Cardinals,
then Sunday morning drove with us to Kansas City for barbecue at
and to see the Chicago Cubs play a day game with the Kansas City Royals,
then right after the game drove back through the devastation in Joplin

to their home in Tulsa where we had a birthday dinner for Jeannie and stayed the night.

Early Monday morning we left for Lewisville and saw an interesting store in Okmulgee, Oklahoma that might amuse our daughter Debi.

After a couple of days in Lewisville, we head to Houston on Thursday to see the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros with our friends Jill and Tom Owen who have tickets next to George H.W. Bush (just kidding, but I bet the seats are close).

We will also see my mom

and my sister's family.
We are really looking forward to seeing our friends and relatives in Houston.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 21: Jeannie's Birthday, Kansas City (Barbecue, Fountains, and Royals/Cubs) and Joplin, MO

Day 21: Jeannie's Birthday, Kansas City (Known for Barbecue, Fountains, and Royals) and a Drive Through the Devastation in Joplin

Today is Jeannie's birthday and also our daughter Debi's birthday.  We celebrated all day, but we (Shawn, Scott, Jeannie, and I) started today by leaving St. Louis early to make a 1:05 p.m. game in Kansas City between the Cubs and Royals.

First, the barbecue:
Then the fountains:
Kansas City has some of the best barbecue in the USA and is known as the city of fountains with over 200, more than any city in the world except for Rome.

We got to L C's Bar-B-Q, which is a couple of miles from the Royals ballpark, around noon.
Here is Jeannie with the Troy the cook.
And, here is Jeannie with LC himself, who has been cooking and serving barbecue for 25 years.  We ate a lot of ribs and brisket.  It was DEE-Licious.
We met the nicest scalper outside the stadium who gave us a good price on 4 tickets by the left field foul pole.
First Pitch
Royals score 4 in first and go on to win 6 to 3.  Lots of Cubs fans in attendance, and they went home sad -- again.
However, Cub fans got excited when Geovany Soto hit a home run.  He is approaching the plate below.
It was very hot in Kansas City today, so in the 3rd inning we moved to the top level behind home plate where we could sit in the shade.  This was our view when the Royals changed pitchers.
Hotdog ingredient race (mustard was the winner) got the fans excited.

Birthday girl at the 7th inning stretch
After the game, we drove toward Tulsa, home of Shawn and Scott.  A little more than half way is Joplin, Missouri, which 5 weeks ago today suffered a devastating tornado.
The destruction, about 1 mile wide and 4 to 5 miles long right through the center of Joplin was massive.
In person, the destruction looks worse than these pictures, but about 9/10 of Joplin is intact and functioning, so I believe the city will definitely rebuild and thrive.

After Joplin, we finished the drive to Tulsa and had a wonderful birthday dinner with Jeannie.

On Monday, we drive to our home in Lewisville.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 20: St. Louis Cardinals

Day 20: St. Louis Cardinal Game with Old Friends

On Saturday morning we got up early in Milwaukee to drive about 370 miles to St. Louis, and our friends Scott and Shawn Whitman got up in Tulsa to drive (rent car) to meet us in St. Louie. 
We met Shawn and Scott at the St. Louis Airport Hertz location, they dropped off their car, and we drove them to downtown St. Louis.  We started with dinner at Charlie Gitto's (recommended by David Reid, life long Cardinal fan, fraternity brother, and resident of Springfield, Missouri), a famous Italian restaurant a few blocks from the ball park, Busch Stadium.
On the way to the stadium, we got a shot of the arch.
We also passed a wedding party, and I got a picture with the bride.

Well, stranger things have happened on our grandslamtrip.

Here, I am dealing with ticket sellers, scalper in the orange and wonderful couple (Kristi and Jason) with a couple of extra tickets .
Kristi gave us an extremely good price on a couple of nice tickets, and we got two cheap outfield upper deck tickets from the scalper.
 I gave the cheap tickets to Jeannie and Shawn, and told them that we would call them from our good seats, and work them in down by us by means perfected by the Utter brothers. 

On the way to our seats, we ran into four people that we sat next to in Charlie Gitto's.
This is Harry, SJ, me, Jana and Eric.  They agreed to be on the blog.
They are an example of the very friendly people one might meet at Busch Stadium.

These were the seats with Kristi and Jason.

I called Jeannie to have her and Shawn come down to the open seats, but Jeannie said that they had sweet-talked an usher into letting them in seats near third base (and they liked their new seats way more than wherever Scott and I were sitting -- SLAM).
Jeannie's favorite usher.

As to the game, the Cardinals scored 1 in the first, but Toronto scored 5 in the 3 including a 3 run homerun blast by J. Rivera.  Each team scored 1 in the ninth and the Cards fans went home sad after watching their team lose 6-3.

There was some fun though during the 7th inning stretch.

Choral group singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game

We had a great time in St. Louis.  Sunday morning the four of us drive to Kansas City for an afternoon game and to celebrate Jeannie's birthday.

Day 19: Special Lunch Reunion and North to Milwaukee

Day 19: Lunch with Helen and Fields and Baseball in Milwaukee

About noon, we got on Chicago's Red Line subway to travel north to the end of the line (Howard Station) where our car was in the parking lot.  We drove about 20 miles further north to Highland Park (they have one in Illinois too) to have lunch with Helen and Fields, Gregg Fleisher's parents.
We had lunch at Max's Deli.

Here, I am with Marvin "Fields" Fleisher
Fields is a life long White Sox fan, and Gregg took him to game 3 of the 2005 World Series in Houston.  White Sox beat the Astros 4 games to zero.

Fields has a twin brother who lives in Las Vegas and in October they are going to be 80 years old.  There will be a big blowout birthday bash at Joe's in Caesar's Palace.  We already have our plane tickets.

After lunch we drove north about 60 more miles to Milwaukee to Miller Field for a game between the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers

There is more tailgating outside Miller Field on game day (by far) than any other park we have been to.

View from out seats
Home team Brewers took a 2-0 lead after 5 innings, but in the 6th, Valencia of the Twins hit a 3-run homerun.  He and team mates Cuddyer and Young celebrate at home plate.
Then the sausages raced
Mr. Bratwurst was the victor.
Down 3-2, the Brewers rallied for 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th when Cecil Fielder hit a 2-run double.  Here is what turned out to be the winning run crossing the plate
7th Inning Stretch

After the game
we went to Sobelman's, a famous Milwaukee establishment, for hamburgers.


This is nothing compared to what Bob Utter (my friend who drove Mark Cuban in the Maverick Parade) can do.  He can balance just about anything on his nose.

Our wonderful server Courtney (social worker by day and Sobelman's worker by night) had to get Jim Beam away from Jeannie.

Tomorrow, we drive to St. Louis for the Cardinal game.  Our friends from Tulsa, Scott and Shawn Whitman (who met at our wedding in 1982) are driving up from Tulsa in a rent car, leaving the car in St. Louis, going to the St Louis game with us, then riding with us to Kansas City on Sunday (Jeannie's 39th birthday) to watch the KC Royals play a game, and after the game, we are all driving to Tulsa.