The “Summer of Doug”

August 17th, 2018

I’ve dreamed about the “Summer of Doug” for years.  I’ve been working nonstop since I was about 12 years old.  I babysat and mowed lawns, had a paper route, got a jobIMG_2136 flipping burgers when I turned 15, bussed tables when I was 17, then worked through and directly after college.  Why didn’t I take some time off after I graduated?  I wish I knew.  Every year I joke with my wife about taking the summer off to either A) Do nothing or B) Travel all over.  While this isn’t an official “Summer of Doug”, it sure worked out to be about a month of it!  After a packed July and early August that ended at Dodger Stadium, I was off to New York (and some surrounding states) for another week of fun.

My flight out of Seattle was over an hour late leaving yesterday, which made for a long, or short night, depending on how you look at it.  I made it into Manhattan after midnight and was starving so I took a quick walk to Joe’s for two slices and a Coke, then grabbed a skewer from the Halal cart on the way back to my hotel.

Amy and the girls made it to Paris about the time I was headed back to the hotel, so about 2am East Coast time.  It’s 10am now, but I’ve already been up for a few hours to catch up on work (it’s not all off time) and because I just don’t sleep much on the road.  (Which goes back to my ‘short night’ remark.)

I’m set to hit Yankee Stadium tonight, with my eye on Foley’s for after the game, but plan on logging a few miles on foot before getting there.

I started the day at “Best Bagels” on 35th.  I was originally planning to hit a deli until I IMG_2202saw the reviews for BB.  When I got there the line was out the door a good 30 people, and as I found out later, another 50 or so inside.  I grabbed an everything bagel with egg, cheese, and bacon.  It was a solid and really hearty bagel.

After breakfast it was off to the VOID, a virtual reality experience I tried with the girls in Anaheim.  This thing is the future, it just needs to be longer.  It’s an interactive VR, so you wear the VR goggles, but then walk through a staged maze.  So for example, there’s a VR chair in front of you, then there’s an actual chair there that you can touch.  They even do it with wind, or heat, or cold, and smells.  I’ve done the Star Wars experience and the Ghostbusters here in NYC and both were very cool  — but not cheap.

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The VOID

Catching the train to Yankee Stadium that afternoon was easy.  I asked which street the D-train was on, then went right to it.  It’s cool when you’ve been to a place enough that you have a pretty good idea where you’re going.  I haven’t been to New York a ton, but enough to know.

I’m still very much a tourist on the train.  I can tell just looking around.  Everyone looks drained, or tired and beaten down by the heat or a long day.  99.9% of the riders don’t look up during the ride.

It was 1998 World Series reunion weekend at The Stadium and they were giving away replica trophies at the game.  I was able to snag a second from a Blue Jays fan for Maddy.

Like last time, I’m still unimpressed by Monument Park.  The hallway to it just feels like an afterthought.  I hit the Museum again too, and it looks like they may rotate some of the displays.  The thing that really stands out, which I tweeted about, is the low fanfare for DiMaggio.  Mantle is King at The Stadium and at times it feels like DiMaggio is odd man out.  I guess he rubbed one too many people the wrong way, including Steinbrenner.  Is there a more unappreciated Legend than #5?  He was Jeter before Jeter.

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The Yankees won 7-5 in a rain-shortened 7 innings.  It started to sprinkle and they immediately covered the field.  Within 2 minutes it was a total downpour.  I hung around for 30 minutes before heading to the train.  They didn’t call if for another hour.  I’m glad I didn’t miss anything.

It was late enough and I was still full enough from my Lobel’s sandwich that I passed on Foley’s.  Maybe later in the week.  In the meantime the anticipation grows for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’!

August 18th, 2018

Harry Potter on Broadway!

I’d walked by the façade on 42nd three or four times since the day before with a fevered anticipation.  While the primary purpose of these trips is baseball – realistically purpose should probably have quotes – I was more excited about Harry Potter than anything this trip.

I was shocked I could get a ticket since it had been on Broadway less than a year and had IMG_2318the original core cast from London!  WOW!  I’m sure going solo didn’t hurt.  The guy next to me was shocked too.  “Did you know these are House seats?”  (Which are saved for celebrities or people wildly more important than me.)

The show was everything I’d hoped it would be.  Notice the word hope, not expected.  I went in completely blind, blind enough that as of the week before I thought it was a musical, but was treated instead to an over 5 hour play!

I’ll spare the details of the plot and just say that visually, the Cursed Child was a feast of amazing set pieces and inspired illusions.  It’s something I hope to see again with the girls either in New York (which is preferred) or in San Francisco when it opens next year.

No Spoilers!  #KeepTheSecrets

I’ve said it before and meant it.  I would dedicate an entire trip to Broadway shows and enjoy every minute of it – And preferably with Amy and the girls!

August 19th, 2018

Coca Cola Park (Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs)

The days are long and the nights are short!  I checked out of my hotel early to catch an Uber to JFK so I could hit the road.  I’d planned to see a game in Allentown, PA for the Iron Pigs, then a Phillies game, but realized I’d made a Rookie mistake the night before (probably my first scheduling error ever?):  The Phillies were the home team, but they were playing in Williamsport, PA at the Little League Classic.  Well shit.  Tickets were only available via lottery, so I was looking at contingency plans.  I’d already made reservations for a hotel in Philly and was determined to get cheesesteaks, so I poured through the other area MILB schedules and saw I was in luck – Trenton Thunder!

First things first, it was off to Allentown!

I always enjoy driving to new areas, but I’ve found my interest in actually driving for days seems to be waning.  (Which is ironic because I’d debated driving across the country to North Carolina in place of this trip.)

I stopped off the freeway to grab a bagel in Staten Island.  “Travel Hunger” had kicked IMG_2344in.  The bagel place was just some random storefront in a small strip of businesses in the middle of nowhere that I’d found on Yelp.  It was popular, lined to the door before and after I left.  The bagels were fresh-fresh, so I grabbed a breakfast sandwich, a Black N White cookie, and a Yoohoo.

It was raining when I got into Allentown, which has been a running theme, but not enough to disrupt the game.  (It didn’t help the crowd though.)

I spent the first 5 innings left of home plate, then walked around the park before leaving at the end of the 6th to head to Trenton, which was an hour and a half away.

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The park itself was fine, but nothing particularly exciting.  The highlight for me was that I could grab a Coke, where so many parks here are Pepsi.  I was still full from breakfast, which was good since the food selection was a little low for variety for the matinee game on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  Next up, Trenton.

Arm & Hammer Park (Trenton Thunder)

I’m driving… I’m driving…

I liked Arm & Hammer Park a lot more than Coca Cola Park.  Part of it was the vibe.  The Thunder are a Yankees AA team, so the crowds are a little more interested.  They also had good food, which helped too!

The Thunder were playing the Blue Jays farm club, the Fisher Cats (whose park I’d hit a few years earlier).  Vlademir Guererro Jr is already up to Triple-A, but Bo Bichette, Dante Bichette’s son, is the next prospect.  Craig Biggio’s son is on the squad too.  How many Legacy players do the Blue Jays have?

Bo’s dad, Dante, (who struck me out at Fantasy Camp in my first year) had talked about IMG_2407how his son was doing great, but that Guererro was the best player in baseball.  Not the Minors.  In baseball.  I’m excited to see him play down the road.  Bo looked fine at the plate, but he looks a little impatient, if not slightly off balance at times.

Food choices at the park were very solid!  New Jersey is known for their ‘pork roll’.  I figured it was basically fried bologna, but it had a greasier, saltier flavor to it that I liked.  I had “The Swine”, a pork roll with cheese, pulled pork, and bacon, along with a side of Crab Fries (from Philly, just seasoned fries with cheese sauce) and enjoyed both!

After the game it was off to my hotel in Philly, by way of Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s.  I didn’t get the full cheesesteak experience before (just Tony Luke’s at the ballpark) so I was excited to try the two best known places in Philly.  It was late, but both places were still slammed!

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So who wins?  Pat’s, and it wasn’t even close.  I preferred Pat’s smaller pieces, softer rolls, and thought the cheese tasted better.  Geno’s were slices of meat, and I just didn’t think it tasted as good.  I ate half of Pat’s, went to Geno’s and ate half of theirs, then ate my other half of Pat’s to end on a high note.

I shudder to think what my calorie count was today.  Yikes!

August 20th, 2018

“The Road”

Today and tomorrow are road and ‘stat’ days.  I didn’t have any games set for today, but IMG_2466did have driving I was excited for.  First up was Rehobeth Beach in Delaware.

I’d never been to Delaware, but wouldn’t have felt right just driving across the border and saying I’d been to Delaware, so I drove a few extra hours to put my feet in the water and have an ice cream cone.  The boardwalk was jammed with people on a windy day.  I hung out for about an hour then hit the ‘dreaded’ part of the drive to Maryland.  There is no fast way in or out of Delaware.

After a drive that felt like forever, I hit Frederick, Maryland to see my friend Rian.  We were originally going to grab some dinner and see a movie, but it was ‘Game Night’ at the comic store and I thought that sounded really fun.  I asked if we could do that instead and had a great time. 

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We played a board game called ‘Detective’, and I bought a game called ‘Betrayal at House on the Hill’ to take home to see if the gang wanted to try, before making my way to West Virginia for the night.

August 21st, 2018

“Lame Day”

I spent the night, then the next few hours this morning in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  Another state down!

Today was slated for a set of Minor League games, but the weather wasn’t in my favor.  I went to Hagerstown, PA to see a Rookie level game.  Rained out.  Shit.  Drove to Harrisburgh, PA for a Senators game.  Rained out.  Dammit!

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Worse still?  The hours in the car and long drive back to JFK in the rain.  Today pretty much sucked in every way.  I should have called it sooner and got back to the city in time for a Mets game.

August 22nd, 2018

Ballpark at St George (Staten Island Yankees)

Wow.  I had some amazing Nonna pizza at Bleeker St Pizza on the walk to the Staten Island ferry.  Unlike traditional New York style, the sauce is a thick tomato sauce that’s dropped along the top of the pizza, then drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of basil.  It was so good!  I had a standard slice of cheese first, but heard a woman by me talking about it and went in for another slice.  I’m glad I did!

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It was my first trip to Staten Island by ferry, which was fun and remarkably easy.  We went past the Statue of Liberty on the way.

The Ballpark at St George is straight Single-A, so it doesn’t have much going for it other than a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. 

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I left early to get back to the city in time for the show ‘Dear Evan Hansen‘, but was sure to IMG_2705hit the ‘Little Pie Company’ on the way back.  I had a slice of apple sour cream and walnut that was to die for, then spent close to $40 on more pie for later.

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was an emotional and touching show that comes to Seattle in January.  I’m debating taking one or both girls since it talks about and deals with teen suicide – A sadly relevant topic for teens today.

August 23rd, 2018

MCU Park (Brooklyn Cyclones)

I finally did it.  I’ve waited for years to do Coney Island “right”.  I went back in 2015 to see a semipro football game at MCU Park, but nothing was open but Nathan’s Hot Dogs, so does it really count?  I mean Nathan’s counts, of course, but is a trip to Coney Island complete without the Cyclone?

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Sandlot shirt courtesy of https://store.rsvlts.com/collections/sandlot-collection!

Today I did everything I’d been wanting to do:

  • Rode the Cyclone
  • Walked on the beach
  • Saw a (not very freaky) ‘Freak Show’
  • Rode the Cyclone
  • Ate a chili dog at Nathan’s
  • Watched a baseball game (Better view? Manhattan skyline at Staten Island or lit roller coasters at Coney Island?)
  • Rode the Cyclone at night
  • Watched a burlesque shot
  • Ate another chili dog at Nathan’s

I finally did Coney Island right, and it was the perfect way to end the trip, and the closest I’ve come to a “Summer of Doug”.

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