Sunday, July 31, 2011

Places to go visit–Seattle, WA

I have been thinking a lot lately of the places I have been to over the years. My first blog was on New Orleans. It does hold a special place in my heart as the town is where my dad grew up and have been there many times in my life. The following town does not have any sentimental reason on why I like it. It was just a lot of fun.

I have been to Seattle, WA twice in my life, six years apart. The first time I met a buddy who was doing a trip along the coastline and we met up there. We stayed close to downtown and did three days of all touristy things. We hit up the Space Needle. We went to Pike Place Fish Market and watched them throw fish right past our heads. We ate a lot of good seafood while we were there. We attended a Seattle Mariners game and had AWESOME seats thanks to a family friend.

The second time I went to Seattle was to visit some friends who I had not seen in years. They lived just outside of Seattle in a town called Bothell. During my time there, we did not even come close to downtown Seattle and loved it! It shows the variety of things to do in the city. The only real similar thing from the previous Seattle trip was the awesome seafood that we had. We drove all around and saw some great scenery. We “toured” Red Hook Brewery and by toured, we sat in a room with 50 other people and sampled some fresh adult beverages. I got to see watch salmon attempt to swim upstream. What this trip was teaching me was that there was so much more to this town than downtown.

I went to Seattle in May the first trip and August the second time. Both times, the weather cooperated for me (which I was told was a tad unusual). The first trip, I would not recommend the hotel; however, the second trip, I stayed at the SpringHill Suites in Bothell. Great hotel. If you do go to Seattle with someone who has never been, look for a hotel in downtown. That way, you are within walking distance of so many places. Weather you want to take a ferry trip or check out the night life downtown, it is very accessible. Downtown was very clean when we were down there. People care about their town up in Seattle.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Baseball Means So Much to me

I woke up yesterday like it was any other morning during the work week. I was checking on work from the night before when I overheard something on the television that a fan had died after he fell at a ballpark. Automatically, I get cynical and think, oh he was drunk and hit his head. A few minutes later, I was in tears.

Shannon Stone was a 39 year-old husband and father to a 6 year old son. He loved to play catch with his son and loved going to Texas Rangers games with him. On that fateful Thursday evening, he took his son to a make-up game. That is correct, the game was not supposed to have even been played; however, due to rain, the game was pushed back from its’ earlier date. Anyway, on the way to the game, he stopped and bought a brand new glove for his son hoping to catch a ball. The look on his son’s face must have been electric. I know the feeling of a brand new glove, holding it down to try and break it in as soon as possible. Wrapping it in 800 rubber bands while sitting on it so that it works right for you sooner.

While at the game, there was a foul ball that ricocheted back onto the field near Josh Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP. As he has done MANY times in the past, Josh saw a fan he wanted to give the ball too and tossed it his way. Mr. Stone lunged for the ball and caught it. However, as he lunged he began to lose his balance and he fell 14 feet directly on his head. That electric look that his son had a few hours earlier turned to horror.

As paramedics rushed to him, he told the paramedics to make sure they got his son to go to the hospital with him and that he was alone. In his last few breaths, he was not worried about himself, but his son. Mr. Stone, as he was rushed to the hospital with his son in the front seat, went into cardiac arrest and died.

I am not sure how many games I went to with my dad growing He has taken me to many games and dealt with a crazy baseball fan. He is not a baseball nut like me, thankfully. But you know what? He is a dad who loves his son, just like Mr. Stone was. He would do anything to bring joy to his son’s face.

I pray for Mr. Stone’s widow and 6 year old son. I pray for Josh Hamilton, who has suffered through many demons in the past and keeps fighting them through his strong faith. As my son, who has attended his first game with me grows up, I hope that I can provide the same smile to his face the Mr. Stone’s son felt when he got the brand new glove. Whether it is a new glove or just by having a catch with him. That is why Field of Dreams is my favorite baseball movie. The line at the end where Ray asks his dad for a catch and he responds with “I’d like that.”

Remember to enjoy as many catches with your sons and daughters today. Enjoy those moments and treasure them. Remember there is a son broken heart in Texas that cannot enjoy those moments again and keep him and his family in your prayers.

To read a great perspective on this, click here.

Picture taken by Kristi Yehling in September 2007.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Towns to Visit–New Orleans

So I wanted to write a few blogs of towns I have visited and enjoyed or places I would like to go visit.

This first one is kind of biased, due to the fact my father is from New Orleans; however, I have now been there twice without going with my parents and loved the town. The culture and history just has led to an overall great impression of New Orleans.

Yes, they have hurricanes down there. And no, not just the drink. I understand that the city is in a bowl and when it floods, well, we saw what happened in 2005. Here in St. Louis, we always refer to a serious flood as 1993. To the people of New Orleans, their 1993 was 2005 and then some. What they experienced in that town, I will never know. It is heartbreaking to relive that time every year near the end of August. I remember it like it was yesterday as I waited to hear from my dad about his family down there. It breaks my heart even more that four and a half years later, my wife, a buddy of mine and myself travel the lower ninth ward and STILL SEE DESTRUCTION. We did not take one picture of the destruction because it is not something you want to remember.

However, the town is coming back. Most of us have heard about New Orleans wining the Super Bowl back in February of 2010. Yes, I cheered them on as well as all of America did, minus Indianapolis. Companies are beginning to go back there and do their annual conferences there. I was apart of a company that we had our annual General Manager meeting down there. There is some sort of structure in the rebuilding process.

Things to do in New Orleans include the French Quarter (Bourbon Street), WWII Museum, plantation homes outside of New Orleans, Jackson Square, and food, food, and more food.

I was going through our pictures of our trips to New Orleans. WeLouisiana 005 went to the WWII Museum, mainly to see the bricks of my grandfathers who served. I found several pictures of food in our selection. Now my wife and I do love good food; however, when you take pictures of the food, now that is something special. When we flew into New Orleans, we got our rental car and before driving to my grandmother’s house, we went to Comeback Inn to get an Oyster Po’ Boy. I grew up on these when we went to New Orleans. After spending some time before my conference with family, we moved down to the Ritz Carlton in the French Quarter. Then the wife heard about the restaurant place near Jackson Square. She wandered that direction while I had opening meetings and tried their specialty, a beignet.  She had to take a picture of that too. Good thing she did, they did not last that long. Louisiana 018Normally, you enjoy the beignets with coffee. Now that the wife drinks coffee, we will make sure she enjoys these properly next time we are there. Beignets are similar to a doughnut, just not as heavy as one. They are coated with powdered sugar once they come out of the fryer. Of course, we did find some of the mix in a box down in New Orleans and have tried it several times at home. Still not the same as going down there and enjoying one down there.

Other food recommendations when you go down there: any étoufée combination (shrimp, crawfish, etc), Gumbo, and of course, oysters. If I must recommend a restaurant for Oysters is called the Acme Oyster House. There is a line to get into the restaurant when it opens daily and is worth the wait. The wife did not want to get raw oysters, but you can get the chargrilled oysters, which were awesome!!

I know a lot of things you can do at home or find at a local restaurant, at least you think you can. You have to visit the city to get the full effect of everything. Take a trip on the trolley on Canal Street. Go take a stroll through the French Quarter and see all the old shops and many, many daiquiri huts. Jackson Square is another great spot, highlighted by Jackson Square. Then, after stopping by Café Du Monde, go down to the French Market and see all the great deals you can get on souvenirs of the great town.

This is a great town with a lot of history behind it. Go experience New Orleans and you will see why it holds a special place to so many people from that town, or those who still reside to bring it back!

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