Baseball

International TravelThings I LoveU.S. Travel

FAREWELL 2021; HELLO 2022

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As has become my custom, I end the current year and begin the new year with both a wrap up and a forecast.  Planned travel is something that required fluidity in the last two years, at least if one wants to remain sane.  Practically the only thing for sure is that some aspect of a plan might change.  Following is the 2021 recap, for which travel I am extremely thankful.  Click on each destination heading for the various posts.

WHERE WE WENT

International ::

TANZANIA

UGANDA

BERMUDA

Domestic ::

CLEVELAND

DETROIT

CHICAGO

CHARLESTON

SAVANANNAH

WHERE WE’RE GOING

The big post-tax-season trip starts in Iceland followed by Norway & Sweden (traversing the southern areas by car).  From Stockholm, we fly to St. Petersburg as a visa snafu ejected us from Russia after our 2018 Moscow visit. The Russians are very serious about their visas.  After that, we meet up with our kids to enjoy Florence and Venice (they start in Rome and end in Milan).  This family trip was postponed from 2020; thus, we are very much looking forward!

Other travel (domestic) includes a wedding in Dallas, maybe a trip to New Orleans (site of this year’s Final Four), Lake Tahoe for a postponed concert (Train) and who knows what else.  Wherever we do go, I am forever grateful for readers who travel along.  April 2022 marks ten years of Travel with Teri B visiting 38 countries (out of 76 total), and I have loved every minute.

 

Things I LoveU.S. TravelWining/Dining

BACK IN THE WINDY CITY

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I absolutely love visiting Chicago.  It is a world-class city with great people, shopping, culture, baseball (none for us this trip) and fabulous food.  I have visited many times, first due to working for a company headquartered in Chicago (from their L.A. office), then for a variety of reasons — an All-Star game at the ballpark formerly known as Comiskey; another baseball trip for Wrigley; a trade show; a conference, etc.  It doesn’t take much prodding for me to visit.

This year’s road trip stopped first in Cleveland and Detroit, so the proximity to Chicago was an easy decision as the place of choice to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary (previous posts and links in bold).  Below are two different views from our hotel — of Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan.

So what was on the itinerary for the 3-night stay?  Pretty much everything listed above, plus a first:  a boat tour on the Chicago River to view the city’s stunning, historic and iconic architecture. Chicago is known for having some of the most interesting buildings, and many of the great talents in the field have contributed and continue contributing to this day.  Among those greats are the names Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Skidmore, Owings, Merrill.  (Click here for more about the buildings.)  And the weather gods cooperated by providing a perfect day in Chicago; timing is everything as they say.  Neither cold nor hot nor humid nor windy.  If only there were more of these days. Some of the photos from the tour:

Above — 333 West Wacker Street; below – Willis Tower (110 stories)

Above – Marina City complex; below – Wrigley building

Eating and shopping were next up on the agenda, even if the latter was mostly of the window type.  As for the eating, a great deal of advance research was done in order to savor each meal (three lunches and two dinners).

RL Chicago was first up.  Ralph Lauren has a penchant for doing everything “just so,” and that includes his namesake restaurants (NY and Chicago).  While it may be considered a “scene” by some, we found the service very hospitable and welcoming and the food is delicious.  Finding Pigs in a Blanket on an “upscale” menu might be surprising, but they were perfection which is not surprising in hindsight.  The other dishes we tried followed suit.  And, yes, it was fun taking in the scene.

A tried-and-true spot is Shaw’s Crab House, part of the epic group of restaurants from Lettuce Entertain You. It is amazing that they can do so many different cuisines so well. But they do, and we’ve tried enough of their restaurants to know that is the case.

Searching for Chicago’s “best” pizza might result in a debate over thin crust (my preference) vs. a classic deep dish, and many other types in between.  I read about a place called Spacca Napoli and decided that was the winner for us.

For our anniversary dinner, a Chicago stalwart was selected — Le Colonial — recently relocated from Rush Street to fashionable Oak Street (think upper Madison Avenue and all those glorious boutiques).  I loved the food in Vietnam and thought this would be ideal.  And it was.  Just a word about the dessert — it is up there in the annals of dessert perfection.  A chewy and crispy base of oatmeal and coconut and chocolate with a perfect scoop of vanilla gelato on top.  I’d make a trip back just for that (hence the top billing below).

A last lunch was squeezed in en route to O’Hare and recommended by an LA friend who is often in Chicago.  Gibson’s Italia combines the best of their reputation for steak with surprisingly delicious Italian food.  Both were excellent and a terrific way to bid the city goodbye (but hopefully not for long).  And that view of the river from the restaurant is just beautiful!  Separately, did you ever see two happier people around food?  I think not.

If the fondest visual is saved for last, then this shot of Michigan Avenue taken from our room qualifies.  I could just stare and stare ..

 

 

 

Things I LoveU.S. Travel

MICHIGAN FOR A DAY

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Of the U.S. states not previously visited, I can now check Michigan off the list.  What are the others I presume you are asking?  In no particular order: Maine, Alabama and Mississippi. So nearly there.

After spending a couple of days in Cleveland (click here), the principal reasons for going were twofold:  attending a Detroit Tigers game and seeing Kalamazoo, my mom’s birthplace.

The Detroit suburb of Dearborn was the location for our overnight hotel.  The town is synonymous with one word — “Ford” — as it adorns nearly every building.  And if not “Ford” then “Henry.”  Seen below is merely one of countless buildings that comprise the world headquarters.

Random sighting in Dearborn!

We took the opportunity to view some other areas, especially the grand homes in Grosse Point Farms along Lake St. Clair, half of which body of water is in the U.S. and the other half Canada (bordering Windsor, Ontario).

Lakefront family viewing in Grosse Point

As for Comerica Park, it is another of the classic ballparks right in the city that one can access by foot.  I’m so used to Dodger Stadium’s car-only access (or shuttle bus) that it’s really a pleasure to visit a park situated as Comerica is or Progressive Field (Cleveland) or PNC (Pittsburgh) or many others.  And Comerica was the final piece for visiting all 30 current MLB stadiums.  Checkmate.

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After leaving the game, the hubby insisted we see one more sight before heading on.  It is a great one and well worth the short detour — the birthplace of Motown.

 

We set out on the 4+ hour drive which traverses the lower part of Michigan through Ann Arbor, Battle Creek and then Kalamazoo.  But the traffic Gods were not on our side with road closures, so we diverted south.  Sorry, mom.  I’ll have to come back another time to see the city of your birth.  We proceeded through the northern part of Indiana (South Bend) with a stop for dinner in Michigan City, Indiana, and then on to an all-time favorite city — Chicago.  Stay tuned.

Things I LoveU.S. Travel

HOMETOWN ROOTS

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If it’s summer, then there’s likely a road trip happening — mostly baseball related — as was the case for a recent trip.  The significance of this particular trip was a personal milestone — visiting the two remaining current MLB parks on my list.  The list is now complete together with a slew of older ones and foreign ones.

This is the “third time is the charm” for me when it comes to seeing a game in Cleveland.  I was at the original (Municipal) stadium eons ago, but is the first time at Progressive Field (formerly “the Jake”).  Not to mention seeing the Indians before they become the Guardians.  (I keep wanting to add “of the Galaxy” onto that name).   Since the hubby grew up in nearby Shaker Heights before his mom moved the family to Southern California, it is likewise an opportunity to meet up with some remaining family and friends as well.

Homes along Shaker Lakes

Our first lunch was with an elementary school friend of the hubby’s, Stuart Muszynski.  After a successful career in the insurance business followed by a health scare in the early 90’s, Stuart recognized that having a sense of gratitude played a significant role in his recovery.  This led to he and his wife Susan founding a remarkable organization called Values in Action where the focus is on teaching kids and adults kindness, anti-bullying, gratitude and love.  Please click on the link to see the remarkable work being done.  viafdn.org

Lunch with Stuart

Two other significant get-together’s happened, the first strictly by chance.  While showing me the various places he lived, the hubby invoked “nothing ventured; nothing gained” and knocked on the door of a duplex his family (parents and two brothers) lived in for three years — more than 60 years ago.  A very nice woman graciously invited us in to take a look — she lives there with her two sons.  Her mother has owned the duplex for 30 years and occupies the lower level.  She commented what great schools there are in Shaker Heights, then and now.  The duplex will pass to her when the time comes, hopefully many years from now.  Below, as Bruce knocks on the door.

With hospitable Kareemah

The second gathering was at Geraci’s, a Cleveland landmark established in 1956.  We had lunch with Bialosky cousins and one relative who has traced the Bialosky/Shapiro family back to the late 1700’s.  Amazing conversation and a deep dive into how small the world is.  Below from left: Bob (family historian) and Sandy Barnes; Jack and Ronnie Bialosky; and us.  Jack is a second generation Cleveland architect whose firm has worked on innumerable structures.

Speaking of homes there, this So Cal native is always stunned at the enormous difference in cost of homes elsewhere (SO MUCH LESS) compared to my state.  Like the magnificent property below.  Most condos in Los Angeles and certainly San Francisco cost more.  I’m reminded each trip to Cleveland that the weather — mostly the humidity — would be a deal breaker.  But that won’t keep me from always wondering, “what if …?”

Next stop:  My first trip to Michigan — specifically the Motor City.  And baseball, of course.

Perfect baseball weather at Progressive Field
U.S. TravelWining/Dining

DEEP IN THE HEART (AND SOUTH) OF TEXAS

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The recent trip to Texas for the glorious World Series was not just about attending the games.  There was more to do and enjoy in the Lonestar State, starting with some pretty great meals.  I know; that’s shocking.  First in Dallas followed by a couple days with our Houston friends.

Sightseeing:  Highland Park and Preston Hollow for spectacular homes; SMU Campus including the George W. Bush Presidential Library (currently closed)

Dallas digs:  AC Hotels by Marriott, a new brand (to me) — upscale, modern and very reasonable! Under $1oo per night for spacious king.

Dallas restaurants:   The Mercury and Yardbird (first grid); Terry Black’s for excellent BBQ in Deep Ellum — a very hip area located near Baylor U (second grid).

Terry Black’s food and outdoor smokers

Next, we hightailed it down to Houston to spend a couple days with our longtime friends there (Kay & Fred Zeidman). For the Houston dining, highlights were Kenny & Ziggy’s deli (“We Schlep Nationwide” via Goldbelly), Killen’s BBQ (fabulous!) plus Porta’Vino and somehow DQ always seems to pop up and we can’t resist.

Ziggy (in mask) makes terrific food!
Killen’s BBQ killed it!
Porta’Vino

We’re always sad to leave our Texas friends — especially after this particularly spectacular visit.  We even loved seeing Fred’s WS ring from the Nats organization — we “countered” in our Dodger gear.  Can’t wait to see y’all again!

 

Lapdog Willa felt just like home.

 

 

Things I Love

A VERY LONG TIME COMING

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The last time the Dodgers won the World Series, I was literally a newborn fan.  If someone had told me that during the course of 35 years with the hubby I would become this avid baseball person, I would have said “there’s no way.”

I grew up attending countless games of two local basketball legends — the UCLA Bruins and the Los Angeles Lakers.  The action is literally non-stop.  That there might be a transition to baseball who some (non fans) liken to watching paint dry, is arguably a stretch.

I can tell you the exact day it took place.  October 15, 1988.  You all know it — Kirk Gibson’s historic walk off in Game 1 of the World Series.  Was I there?  No.  In fact, the hubby and I had a bit of a “disagreement” about going.  We had “other plans” that night — a dinner party with friends from our synagogue.   He went to the game and I went to the dinner party.  It didn’t take long to “get it” thereafter.  I went to Game 2 and the rest is history.

In the early 90’s we became Dodger season ticket holders. I swore off the NBA and UCLA has crushed our hopes for way too long.  We celebrated in Seattle with them in 1995 and in San Antonio for their near miss in 2008.  Kansas winning there was terrific as son Sam was headed to KU for college.

What’s happened in the interim?  Visited 40 MLB stadiums (old and new parks).  Someday I’ll get to my 30th team park (Detroit).  Had fun road trips visiting stadiums.  Seen games in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.  Then there’s the many All-Star games, NLDS, NLCS and, yes, the painful recent WS games.

Then this remarkable, unforgettable, unpredictable 2020 season happened.  When the hubby sent me the MLB email announcing tickets were going on sale Oct 6 for the NLCS and WS at Globe Life Field, I said “let’s go.”  With all games sold out in 90 minutes, we could only get 4 seats for Game 6 of the WS.  The craziest travel plans ever were booked, including separate airfare for Sam who was only going if the Dodgers were in.  Fortunately, daughter Hannah (a non-fan thus always missing from the photos) is holding down the home fort and watching the dogs while we go on our baseball journey.

October 2019 playoff game at Dodger Stadium

Game 5 seats were purchased via StubHub’s resale market.  That was a tense evening.  Oh, that we could shed pounds from the angst of a baseball game.  I was hiding my eyes, gripping my seat, holding on to the hubby and bursting into screams at a run or strikeout.  Had we all recovered from the Game 4 stunning loss?  Our team put it in their rearview mirror and took care of business.

Globe Life Field, 10.25.20
Pre-game

Food pricing was pretty reasonable.  Drinks?  Not so much (see below).  Parking was cheap at $30 ($100 at Dodger Stadium for the World Series).

With one of our LA ticket partners for the big night

We tried to keep busy, but were really just counting down the hours until Game 6.  We sat through nearly six painful innings until scoring our first runs to take a tiny lead.  But that was all that we needed, with our stellar pitching, another Mookie home run and a World Series championship.  Screams, tears, hugs, high fives, dancing in the aisles and pure joy.  We did it.  We finally did it.