Thursday, May 24, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - Part 4

Wednesday, April 25th -


No trip to Newark, DE would be complete without a beer and some nachos at the Deer Park Tavern. It’s located in downtown Newark and was built in 1851 on the land where the remains of the burned down St. Patrick's Inn had resided since 1747.
The St. Patrick’s Inn was said to house famous historical figures such as George Washington and Edgar Allan Poe.

In 1764, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon stayed at the inn with their team of surveyors. A folk account of their stay says that they were a jolly bunch who kept a tame bear for amusement and consumed large portions of peach and apricot brandy. The Mason-Dixon Line was the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, which became famous as the line of demarcation between free and slave states.
On December 23, 1843, Edgar Allan Poe lectured at the Academy and visited the inn. As he was attempting to emerge from his carriage at the inn, he was reputed to have fallen in the mud and was so upset that he put a curse on the building.
The first railroad line built through Newark in 1869 is close to the building, and helped to escalate the hotel’s popularity. At this time, The Deer Park was considered one of the finest hotels on the east coast. Much history surrounds the Deer Park including rumors that the basement was used as part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
Brian, Kerry and I had a few beers and a huge plate of nachos (although I think Brian’s Deer Park “homemade” nachos are much better).

Friday, May 11, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - Part 3

April 24, 2007

My 38th birthday was fabulous! Brian and I hit the road south to Baltimore, an hour away from Wilmington, Delaware, early and arrived at the Inner Harbor – a few blocks from Camden Yards before noon. The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, tourist attraction and landmark of Baltimore. The harbor itself is actually the end of the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River and includes any water west of a line drawn between the National Aquarium and the Rusty Scupper restaurant. The term "Inner Harbor" is used not just for the water but for the surrounding area of the city.
Brian had my birthday lunch all planned. A brief walk around the Inner Harbor first (it was sticky humid) and lunch at Phillip’s Seafood (check out the menu) www.phillipsseafood.com
We each had an amazing Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake with big huge lumps of crab meat. The best crab cake I’ve ever had (and I live in Dungeness crab country).

After lunch we walked over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It was the first, and thus one of the most highly praised, of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s. It is situated in a picturesque location, at the corner of downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor. Camden Yards is just a short walk from Babe Ruth’s birthplace, which is now a museum. Coincidentally, the location of his father's pub was where center field is currently located on the playing field.
Camden Yards is built at the former location of a major rail station; its name derives from the rail yards that were formerly on the site. The view from much of the park is dominated by the former B & O Warehouse behind the right-field wall. The stadium planners incorporated the warehouse into the architecture of the ballpark experience rather than tear it down or shorten it. The warehouse has been hit on the fly only once (by Ken Griffey, Jr. during the home run derby for the 1993 MLB All-Star Game).
At street level, between the stadium and the warehouse, is Eutaw Street. Along this avenue, spectators can get a view of the game or visit the many shops and restaurants that line the thoroughfare, including Boog Powell’s outdoor barbeque stand.
Brian and I walked around and took pictures for 2 hours before the first pitch trying to take in all the nooks and crannies of the park. The first pitch was at 3:05 and we sat in the hot sun 4 rows behind the first base bag - so close I could see the stubble on the face of the first baseman!
Camden Yards has a very intimate feel. I found myself staring at the B & O Warehouse – unable to believe that I was actually there. Still (in my opinion) Camden Yards ranks second to the major league ball parks that I have visited, behind Pittsburgh’s PNC Park which still remains #1.
The game against the Oakland A’s ended too quickly and with the Orioles losing 4-2. Soon Brian and I were back on the road and heading north to Delaware and looking forward to a nice dinner. Brian treated me to a birthday meal at the Iron Mill Brewery, on the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington - check out the menu for Wilmington location. www.ironhillbrewery.com (the pan seared scallops and shrimp with crab meat was AWESOME).
We ended the evening back at Kerry and Julie’s who surprised me with a YUMMY ice cream cake! A perfect ending to my perfect birthday! This vacation is going too fast!!


Stace

Thursday, May 10, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - Part 2

April 22, 2007

Brian and I left D.C. in the early afternoon on the 22st of April and headed NE into Maryland – going through (or should I say around) Baltimore. One of the first things I noticed while traveling in the car was how “flat” the landscape appeared. Without the coast range or the Cascades, I was unable to tell exactly what direction we were going in!

Another interesting thing about the east coast is the toll fees on the highway. The first toll we encountered was in Baltimore at the Ft. McHenry Tunnel for $2.00.
As we drove north further into Maryland, the next toll we encountered ($5.00) was upon crossing the Susquehanna River Bridge named in honor of Millard E. Tydings, a longtime Congressman and Senator who died in 1961. The bridge, a multi-span girder connecting Havre de Grace, MD with Perryville, MD has to be the SCARIEST bridge I have ever crossed in my life! I made Brian drive in the center lane as I was fairly certain we would go over the edge (although no one ever has according to Brian’s brother, Kerry)!

Just north of the bridge you drive past Aberdeen, MD home to Brian’s hero, Cal Ripkin Jr. who retired from baseball in 2001 and paid for a new stadium in his home town (it’s sits right off the highway).

Another interesting fact about the Delaware Turnpike - On November 15, 1963, just one week before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy opened the 49 miles of the Northeast Expressway and the 11 miles of the Delaware Turnpike at the Delaware-Maryland border. The border is more popularly known as the Mason-Dixon Line.

As we crossed into Delaware (about 2 hours after we left D.C.), we handed over another $3.00 toll fee – making our toll total for the day $10.00. Next stop – Newark (sounds like New Ark), Brian’s hometown.

Meeting Brian’s Mom, Ann was so special. She cooked us a homemade “Sunday” spaghetti dinner along with salad and fresh bread that was YUMM-O! As the sun set, we made our way north to Wilmington, DE to Brian’s brother Kerry and sister-in-law, Julie’s home where we watched Sunday night baseball (it’s starts at 8PM on the east coast) and talked about our D.C. adventures.

April 23rd

Our first full day in Delaware started with an eating adventure – scrapple. Scrapple is a savory (whatever) mush in which cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, are simmered with pork scraps and trimmings, and then formed into a loaf. Small scraps of meat left over from butchering, too small to be used or sold elsewhere, were made into scrapple to avoid waste, a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.

We picked up Brian’s Mom and headed to the small town of Stanton, DE – home of Mary’s Café for my first (and last) taste of scrapple. When it arrived on my plate, it appeared gray in color - a rectangular crispy slice. Thank goodness for the fried potatoes and eggs, because the “gamey” taste of the scrapple (it’s often spiced with sage and thyme) was not at all good (and I eat everything). I joked to Ann that I would be back to Delaware, but not for the scrapple.

The most poignant part of our day was a visit to Brian’s Dad – Allen K. Lee’s gravesite. Al died in January 2007 after a long illness. He was laid to rest in a beautiful military cemetery outside of Newark – surrounded by poplar trees and lush farmland.

We ran various errands in Newark and took a quick loop around the downtown and University of Delaware area before returning to Kerry and Julie’s in the afternoon for an evening BBQ. Day three of our vacation in the books.
Stace





Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Diamond News - From Brian




Baseball 2007

GAME 1 – April 15th - JACKIE ROBINSON DAY
Stacy and I begin our 2007 Baseball season today with a game between the Mariners and the Texas Rangers on Jackie Robinson Day, an MLB tribute on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the “color barrier”. This game will begin a baseball odyssey of 4 ballparks in 2 weeks (not including a Triple A game in Tacoma).

We enjoy our first game of the season with our first visit to the Hit It Here Café. Besides the mid-April chill in our face, the seats aren’t too bad and the food is a little better then the typical ballpark fare.
Seattle 14 Texas 4























April 17th
As part of our “Spring Training” at work, we enjoy an after-work ballgame at Cheney Stadium between the Tacoma Rainiers and the Fresno Grizzlies in Tacoma, Wa. The best surprise of the game is being able to watch the S. F. Giants rookie phenom, Tim Lincecum who strikes out 10 in 6 innings. Unfortunately, his bullpen is unable to protect his lead and the Grizzlies go down to defeat in the 9th inning.
Tacoma 2 Fresno 1




















GAME 2 – April 24th (Stacy’s Birthday)
On a warm, balmy, 80-degree day, Stacy and I visit the park that started it all – Camden Yards. Built in 1992, it is the ballpark that began the renaissance in stadium design that all ballparks built since have attempted to emulate. Its small, intimate feel and the old, converted warehouse – not to mention its proximity to Baltimore’s Inner-harbor – makes this park one of our favorite parks in the country.
Oakland A’s 4 Baltimore Orioles 2








GAME 3 – April 26th
In contrast to a couple of days ago, the weather is cool and cloudy with a bit of drizzle as we visit Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. As Stacy digests her first authentic Philly Cheese Steak, we enter the centerfield area known as Ashburn Alley named, of course, after 1950 Rookie of the Year Richie Ashburn. Along with a great timeline of Philadelphia baseball, there are a myriad of concession stands and plenty of room to roam. Again, modeled after Baltimore’s Eutaw Street (right up to the old, overweight, ex-ballplayer cooking ribs) it is fan friendly and a nice place to peruse the field. The park itself, for whatever reason (maybe it’s those blue seats), just doesn’t make our top 5. It’s new; it’s clean but it just doesn’t have that classic feel.
Washington Nationals 4 Philadelphia Phillies 2

GAME 4 – May 1st
I visit, without my partner I’m sad to say, Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wi. This park tends to show up on a lot of Top 5 lists and I can’t imagine, for the life of me, why. Grant it, it has all the bells and whistles of the new modern parks but I was exceptionally disappointed to find that the park is… ENTIRELY ENCLOSED! (Memories of the Kingdome still haunt me) It has all the intimacy of an oversized basketball arena when the roof is closed. It has too many flashing lights and the P.A. echo’s inside the cavernous park. It had to be built for the video game generation or those who suffer from A.D.D because you are constantly bombarded with noise and lights.
For the sake of being fair and balanced, I sat in a great area known as the Club on the Club. For the price of your ticket (around $70), you get an all you can eat buffet, 2 free beers and open seating. It was the best special seating I’ve been in.
Milwaukee Brewers 12 St. Louis Cardinals 2



Brian

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

EAST COAST SWING - PART ONE


It’s hard to believe that we have been home from our trip to D.C./Delaware (and three other states…I counted Virginia on the way to the airport) for over 2 weeks now. We had a wonderful time catching up with family and Brian enjoyed sharing with me the roots of his youth.

Thanks to Alaska Airlines miles, we flew into Washington D.C. on Saturday, April 21st non-stop from Seattle and arrived just after 9PM. As we were walking to baggage claim, in the distance I saw the United States Capitol Building - an awesome sight illuminated in the distance. We retrieved our rental car (from “Little Richard’s” twin brother) and drove to our hotel room which was situated less than a mile from the White House and the National Mall (an open-area national park, it is the site of gardens, museums, national monuments and memorials). Being on “West Coast Time” afforded us the luxury of a D.C. nightcap, which we enjoyed at the Old Ebbets Grill (the best pineapple upside down cake on the planet).


Day One: Sunday, April 22nd – Our first stop - the White House. Lots of school groups and tourist for an early Sunday morning. We had beautiful sun and temps rising steadily. Brian had been to D.C. before, but I was amazed by all the sights. Surprisingly, I thought the White House was rather small. It was built of white-painted sandstone in the late Georgian style of architecture. The North façade of the White House, seen from Pennsylvania Avenue is where a visiting head of state would enter (through the North Portico) for a formal state dinner or event and is also most recognizable on TV (where the reporters all do their evening news report).


We walked around to get a good look at the south lawn and past the Old Executive Office Building, now officially known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (and formerly as the State, War, and Navy Building) which is located next to the White House. This National Historic Landmark was built between 1871 and 1888. I took a picture of a bed of bright pink tulips in front of the building. The Executive Office Building continues to house various agencies that compose the Executive Office of the President, such as the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council.

From the White House we started down the National Mall to the National World War II Memorial which was built to honor all Americans who served in the armed forces and on the home front during World War II. It is located at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. It opened to the public on April 29, 2004. Brian and I each posed in front of our “states” and I took quite a few photos of the pools and fountains.
Next we walked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that honors members of the U. S. armed forces who had died in service or are unaccounted for during the Vietnam War. The Memorial currently consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldier’s statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial (which we did not see) and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the most recognized part of the memorial. The Memorial Wall was designed by U.S. architect, Maya Lin.

From there it was a short walk to the Lincoln Memorial. The monument is a United States Presidential Memorial built to honor our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The building is in the form of a Greek temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by him. Brian and I read each one with a tear in our eye. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”. It was amazing to stand on the steps of the monument and look across the reflecting pool and scroll the historical images in your mind.



The temperature was beginning to increase as we walked the length of the reflecting pool and back towards the World War II memorial. The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is located directly east of the Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall. The reflecting pool is approximately 2,029 feet long and 167 feet wide. It has a depth of approximately 18 inches on the sides and 30 inches in the center. It holds approximately 6,750,000 gallons of water.

We continued our journey down the National Mall and to the Washington Monument, a large, white-colored spire at the west end of the mall. It was constructed for our first president, George Washington. The monument is among the world's tallest masonry structures, standing 555 feet, 5⅛ inches in height and made of marble, granite and sandstone. The actual construction of the monument began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884, almost 30 years after the architect's death. This hiatus in construction was because of a lack of funds and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet up clearly delineates the initial construction from its resumption in 1876.

The sun was high in the sky as Brian and I continued down the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol Reflection Pool, located directly west of the U.S. Capitol Building. The U.S. Capitol is the building that serves as the location for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government and is located on top of Capitol Hill. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where people can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. Too bad Brian and I didn’t have time for a tour!

Our D.C. tour on foot was complete. Brian and I estimated that we walked at least 5 miles that Sunday morning. I snapped 3 rolls of film and Brian took 2 dozen pictures on our digital camera. We tried to hail a taxi at the Capitol to take us back to the hotel, but managed to make it back on foot by 2PM in time to retrieve the rental car and head north out of the District of Columbia through Maryland to Newark, Delaware - our next stop.

Stace

April 15th 2007 - JACKIE ROBINSON DAY




A long over due post! I am going to hit you with a couple today! These photos were taken on April 15, 2007 at Safeco Field - our first Seattle Mariner's game of the year versus the Texas Rangers. We sat up in the Hit It Here Cafe for the first time and had a great view of the entire field (with no one in front of us). The food was good (check out the chocolate cake). It was a bit chilly until the sun finally hit us, but we had a great time watching the M's cream the rangers.
Stace