Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vacation, Part 1

As July comes to a close, I look back on the month as one of the best in my life. When summer school ended on Friday, June 27, I was raring to go. I missed vacation last year due to a, uh, miscommunication on the part of our school system. They told us before we left for China that Magi would have enough sick days to take off the rest of the school year to stay home with Sera, and then, with one week left in the year they told us that she was not allowed to use them for the last week. So, we had to basically eat an extra week's worth of her salary, which meant I got to teach another session of summer school to make up this completely unnecessary shortfall. So this year, I was determined to get the most out of my vacation, to say the least.

On that Friday afternoon, I drove immediately over to our new favorite car dealership, Heart City in Elkhart, to get an oil change. While I was waiting in their luxurious waiting room (and I mean that without irony of any kind. They have leather couches and current magazines and newspapers to read, as well as free coffee) my buddy Doug called with great news. He had Tigers tickets for us for the next day! We had planned on making a stop in Chicago at the comic book convention on Sunday, but that plan went right out the window. So on Saturday we piled into the Crimson Cruiser, as we now call our minivan, and headed for the Motor City. It turned out to be a very exciting game. Sera enjoyed the carousel and the fireworks, and I enjoyed the game. Although closer Todd Jones blew the save by giving up four runs in the top of the ninth, Miguel Cabrera picked up his teammate with a walkoff double in the bottom half, preserving the win. This game marked the first time the Tigers reached the .500 mark all season long and it made a great beginning to our break.

On Monday, we left for Utah. The first leg of our trip was to Omaha, Nebraska. Let me begin by saying that when you have seen Indiana, you have also seen northwestern Illinois and all of Iowa. Good grief, I was tired of looking at cornfields! When we arrived, we found every hotel room booked. Turns out that Omaha was the site of the US Olympic Team swim trials! We found a room a little down the road that suited us, and on Tuesday we got up early and went to Henry Doorly Zoo. I've been to a lot of zoos, and this one was pretty average for a big city. But like most zoos it had some features that made it shine. This zoo had a nice aquarium with a glass tunnel that you could pass through, watching sharks and rays swim overhead. They also had a great penguin display. Sera had been watching Happy Feet on the backseat DVD player, so this made her very happy.

As we made our way west across Nebraska we noticed...more corn. To save a little bit on restaurants, we had packed lunches that we prepared using our new Coleman camp stove/grill. We used numerous rest stops to cook hot dogs and chicken breasts and to get away from the van for a few minutes at a time. As we finally made it to the Colorado state line, we saw...more corn. Finally, cornfields gave way to a little more interesting landscapes as we approached Denver.
We arrived just a little bit late for the baseball game for which I had bought us cheap tickets. We got to Coors Field in Denver just before 8:00, only 55 minutes late for the beginning of the game between the Rockies and the Padres. I had just enough time to get Sera and Magi food and tour the stadium and then the game ended. I looked at my watch...9:00! Turns out that this was the shortest game in Coors Field history at one hour, fifty-five minutes. I didn't really mind. I only paid $12 for all three of our tickets. Coors Field has seats in what they call the Rockpile, which are about 500 feet from home plate. I never once sat in my seat but I did get to enjoy the atmosphere and a little bit of food, including the Colorado Rockies Blue Cheese Chips, freshly made potato chips with bleu cheese and bacon sprinkled over a zesty cheese sauce. They had Rocky Mountain Oysters, too, but I had to pass there, sorry.

We left Coors Field pretty much freshly rested, and thought about continuing past Denver on our trip for a while. Just one problem...the highway was closed. They actually closed the highway for construction from 9:30 PM to 5:30 AM, so we ended up getting a hotel. It was just as well. The rest of our trip was amazingly scenic and we would have missed it in the dark!
To be continued...

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