Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting Our Kicks on Route 66

I’m still jet lagged.

I don’t know what it is about going to the West Coast for a few days that takes me awhile to adjust to on my return, but I’m still going to bed late and waking up late. For someone who’s a habitually early riser, this is not an easy adjustment to make. I went to Japan back in 2008. It took me three days to get my rhythms back in sync. I’ve been home a week from my family’s visit to California and I’m still having problems.

However, I must say it was an awesome trip. During our time out there, we took a family trip to places in Arizona. We visited the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and toured around Sedona.

I probably first learned about the Grand Canyon in Elementary School. We studied about western U.S. geography in 4th grade. I remember we watched films. I saw pictures. (There was also that three-part episode of the Brady Bunch where they went to the Grand Canyon.)

But there’s nothing that could have prepared me for the grandeur that is the Canyon. We came in through the south entrance, which is the part that’s accessible year-round. (There is a north entrance that’s only accessible during the summer.) We feared it might be hot, but you’re 7,000+ feet high when you’re visiting there. Rains threatened and kept it cool. We went to several viewing sites and also watched the sunset. I gave my wife a hard time, telling her that she was taking so many pictures that she was missing it.

On Day 2, we went to the Petrified Forest, another fascinating geographical marvel that I’d only read about. While not as impressive as the Canyon, the Forest was still amazing. My younger son wanted to take piece home, an activity that is forbidden but impossible to monitor. We told him no, that taking things would destroy the Forest for future generations.

We’d planned to spend our third day back at the Grand Canyon. However, we got a pleasant surprise at our hotel in Sedona. We arrived at our hotel late at night, the outside giving new meaning to the term pitch dark. However, when we awoke and stepped outside in daylight, we were blown away by the natural pink rock formations.

The thing I didn’t expect on this trip was Route 66. Much of the trip was on I-40, which parallels the old Route 66 in the western U.S. There are numerous signs that point out Route 66, both drivable and non-drivable sections. As my boys have seen Cars numerous times, they enjoyed this, too.

I would love to visit again some day, but I don’t know when that will happen. We’re running out of places within driving distance of my in-laws place in southern California. We’re thinking that we might have to meet somewhere. Our first choice is Mount Rushmore, though we figure we could also go to Yellowstone.

May need to check the geography to make sure we can do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thank You, David Aardsma

We just returned from vacation. By just returned, I mean it’s Monday as I write this. We flew overnight from Los Angeles to Atlanta, landing Monday morning. We spent the last eleven days with family in southern California. The trip included several days in Arizona with stops at the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and the red rock country in Sedona. It was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever viewed. When you see the Grand Canyon, you understand immediately why it was the first area Teddy Roosevelt designated as a national park after creating the national park system. I will talk more about that next week, after I have a chance to review the pictures.

Today, though, I want to talk about baseball.

While in California, we attended a game between the Angels and the Mariners. My in-laws bought Angels caps in advance for the boys and a stuffed rally monkey that my 9-year old adopted.

The most exciting thing about this game for the kids, though, was the chance to see Ichiro. They’d seen him once before when the Mariners visited Atlanta. They looked forward to it then and still remember it. However, whenever the Mariners return to Atlanta, it’s a distinct possibility that Ichiro may have retired by that time. So, this time may be my boys’ last chance.

We went early to watch batting practice and were able to watch from the first base side of the outfield. The Mariners warmed up in front of us. In hopes of drawing Ichiro’s attention, my nine-year old wore a Mariners cap that we have.

Getting noticed, however, was a problem. We weren’t the only ones in the stands trying to get the attention of the ballplayers. Many fans were around us, hoping to obtain signatures or foul balls. Luck didn’t seem to be with us as none of the foul balls bounced our way. Seattle pitchers and outfielders, who were shagging the balls, would often throw the balls into the crowd. However, the players were just as likely to throw the balls back in to be reused.

When players threw balls into the crowd, they often pointed at a kid in the stands to let them know. However, none of the players pointed at my kids.

Until Seattle closer David Aardsma fielded an Ichiro grounder.

He scanned the crowd, likely saw my younger son’s Seattle ball cap, and pointed right at him Aardsma threw a perfect strike with a soft touch. My son caught it. He now had a ball hit by Ichiro, courtesy of Aardsma.

I admit I was nervous. I was afraid my son would drop it. I was also afraid that someone might try to take it from him. The balls are marked with a special logo for the Angels 50th anniversary and are apparently prized by Angels fans. Thankfully, the fans there operate with a non-interference code when someone is chosen.

If only I had it on film. At least, though, I have the image in my head forever.

I saw an announcement that Aardsma will have Tommy John surgery. I wish him a speedy recovery from a grateful parent.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rockin' The Suburbs

I’m always amazed by the diversity of songs on my older son’s iTouch. He gets his favorite songs from movies he has seen. He has songs by Elvis, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Coolio among a huge smattering of names.

One movie he liked a lot a few years back was “Over the Hedge.” Among the tunes in Over the Hedge was a rewrite of a Ben Folds song called Rockin’ the Suburbs. The lyrics were funny. The song also had a monologue from William Shatner, who voiced one of the characters in the movie.

My wife listened to Rockin’ the Suburbs on my son’s iTouch recently and got a shock. Neither of us had ever heard the original version before, but found the original lyrics to be unsuitable for children.

We explained the situation to our son and he knew he’d have to get rid of the song. We also explained that he wouldn’t be able to get his money back. He’d made the purchase. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize what he’d bought.

We looked for the version from Over The Hedge but were unable to find it on iTunes. We told him that if he really wanted it, he could buy the movie soundtrack. I’m thankful that he understands our decision.

Readers, what would you have done? Would you have let your child keep it? Would you have tried to get your child’s money back? I’d like to know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Holidays

With family in town, I took a break an enjoyed. Instead of a blog post, I've posted a few pictures. Hope all enjoy them. Moreover, hope everyone enjoyed spending holiday time with their families.