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5.31.2014

It's Getting Hot, Hot, Hot!

My Grandma Joan's strategy for life is simple: you have plan A and if that doesn't work, then you best have a plan B (and C, D, E, etc). The more plans you have, in theory, the more prepared you are for when life comes at you and changes must occur. 


At the beginning of this trip, we had thought yesterday would be a travel day. We would stop by the Grand Canyon and end up somewhere near Phoenix, AZ. Then, the next day (aka today), we would head to the city, catch our night game and then afternoon game the following day and then take about a day and a half (with two time zone changes) to get to Houston for our next game. 

However, upon looking at our trusty atlas, we discovered there's a lot of land between LA and the Grand Canyon and although the group enjoys a good long car ride, the thought of several long car rides in a row (the stretch from Phoenix to Houston is nasty) persuaded us to skip the Grand Canyon this time around and spend another day in Pasadena. With another night booked at the Saga Motel, we thought it might be fun to check out another park, like where the Angels or Padres play. However, both stadiums weren't offering tours so instead, we found ourselves back at Dodger Stadium for some Friday night baseball. 

I have to say, Dodger Stadium really grew on me. There was something about the place, how it's built into a hill, how it really hasn't changed structurally since being built in the 1960s, or maybe it's the pretty blue throughout the stadium that gives it a magical sort of feel. Whatever it is, we nabbed seats on the second level, first base side. 


It was a beautiful night for baseball. We saw the Dodgers play the Pirates and unfortunately, the Dodgers just couldn't pull together a win. They started with pitcher Josh Beckett, who about a week before had just pitched the Dodger's 21st no hitter in Pittsburgh. The jumbotrons showed a nice recap of the game and how excited the team was for Beckett's success. 

Beckett and the Dodgers kept things under control until the third inning, which started off with a hit by pitch, a walk and two singles (one bringing in one run). The Pirates continued to hit the ball and a solo home run by Davis in the fourth made the game 2-0, Pirates. However, the Dodgers just couldn't score, leaving up to three men on base (fifth inning). In the eighth, it looked promising for the Dodgers, a single by Chone Figgins to start the rally. Figgins advanced to second on Puig's (the big name for the Dodgers) sacrifice fly and eventually scoring on Hanley Ramirez's single. The crowd really got excited when Figgins came in. But the Dodgers couldn't bring Puig in. We hoped for a spark in the bottom of the ninth, but the Dodgers were at the bottom of their order and couldn't put anything together, the three outs coming all in a row. 

Post game, Denny's sponsored a fireworks night at the park. It was a nice display, accompanied by music about California. While fans could take the field to watch, our group chose to stay in our seats. It was pretty incredible how many people actually stayed for the fireworks and how many chose to watch from the field. 

This morning, the group hit the road about 7 AM, headed for Phoenix. It was only about a five hour drive and once again, we saw the topography change as we got closer to the California/Arizona state line. We arrived at our hotel safe and sound and let me tell you, it's hot out there. No humidity (which is quite weird for this Wisconsin chick!) but lucky for us, the stadium is a dome that is air conditioned. Looking forward to more baseball tonight! 
  

5.30.2014

A California Home Run

It's day two in Pasadena, and I really can't complain. Beautiful weather, a nice hotel (good location and a BEAUTIFUL pool), and night baseball.

This morning I got a little swim in before class. Our class period was devoted to book reports over the third book we all chose. Everyone picked some different so it's fun to hear what other people read. The books we selected also help to fill in some of the gaps that our history book might gloss over or not dig into as much detail. The trend is for our conversations to be long so it was a little after noon once we finished three reports. Lunch was a group lunch and we walked about a mile to a place called Blaze Pizza. It was recommended to us and as soon as we walked in the door, we knew we had come to the right place. The restaurant is a build your own pizza. Essentially a Subway of sorts, just for pizza. They throw your individual pizza into a large brick oven and it cooks in only a couple of minutes. We were stuffed but it was so good!


The rest of the afternoon was spent on our own working on reading and writing. Instead of staying in the hotel, I chose to walk across the street to the Pasadena City College Library. It was a beautiful library, with large windows and a gorgeous routunda. I studied on a quiet floor and got a good amount of work done. When I returned to the hotel, it was time to go back to Dodgers Stadium for another game. This time, the Dodgers were facing the Pirates. Our seats were in the bleachers, on the other side of the stadium than we were last night.


Definitely a little bit different atmosphere. We were early enough to watch batting practice and then the game got under way around 7:10 PM. What began as an even match turned a little lopsided by the final innings. The Dodgers scored first in the first with Ethier's triple getting him to third followed by Puig's double. The Pirates answered in the top of the second with a home run from Alaverez yet the Dodgers scored again in the second from an RBI off Gordon's single. Another Pirates home run in the sixth tied the game up until Puig scored in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, the Dodgers replaced their starting pitcher, Haren, with League (who we had also seen the night before). The top of the seventh saw nine batters go to the box, resulting in three more runs. With the score 6-3, the Dodgers just couldn't find a way to score in the remaining three innings. 

Tomorrow's game plan includes class, reading/writing, and spending an extra day in Pasadena. I know originally the schedule said a Grand Canyon detour but it just wasn't in the cards this time. Nevertheless, an extra day at the Saga Hotel means another day of swimming and using the library across the street (I can dig that!).

5.29.2014

California Paradise

Yesterday, we were up early and on the road. Our destination was Los Angeles to see the Dodgers play. While Route 101 was highly recommended (it goes along the coast), the additional two and a half hours that it would add to our travel was not appealing to our group. We instead took Route 5, which took us through central California, which was also beautiful. We saw huge, rolling hills and as we got closer to LA, the highways started to widen to accommodate all the traffic.

Our hotel is in Pasadena, and on the Rose Bowl Parade route. For me, the Rose Bowl brings back some heavy Wisconsin pride (despite the fact the Badgers haven't been too successful there the past couple of years). The hotel is beautiful and our room overlooks the outdoor pool. The girls decided to go for a quick swim before heading to the game. Excellent life choice.


The group made our way to the Dodgers Stadium. As I wandered the stadium with one of my classmates, Ryan A., I learned lots of neat history about the place. This stadium was built in the 1960s when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. It was built into the hill, so our upper deck seats were actually at ground level. The other neat thing was the stadium felt incredibly modern, although no major renovations have been completed since it was first built. Ryan said the team has just done a stunning job of keeping up with continual changes to keep the Dodgers Stadium to peak perfection. 

Our seats were up in the nosebleeds, the fourth balcony. Despite being so high up, they were pretty decent seats.


A few observations about the Dodgers Stadium. First, it's the place for celebrities. George Lopez was at the game, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by a Korean superstar named Suzy, and their code of conduct video featured all sorts of stars (including Hilary Duff [throw back to my childhood]). Second, most fans enjoy coming to the game for the second to eighth inning. It was weird but definitely part of the culture. 

The game was pretty exciting, especially at the end. The Dodgers were playing the Cincinnati Reds. Both teams started with their stronger pitches, Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Bailey (Reds). However, the Reds scored early in the first, a homerun from Phillips bringing in Fraizer (who doubled) and then Phillips himself. The Dodgers couldn't put a run on the board until the bottom of the fifth when Turner got a base and scored on a wild pitch. Reds answered in the sixth with a passed ball allowed Fraizer to come in. As the Dodgers made a rally at the end, a homerun from fan favorite Puig in the sixth gave the crowd hope. The Dodgers even brought in their best closer, Wilson to help finish off ninth. However, the Reds closer, Chapman (who can pitch 100 mph fastballs) kept the bats quiet on the Dodger side and helped his team keep their lead, 3-2. 

We return to the park tonight to see the Dodgers play the Pirates, so it should be another interesting matchup. 
  

5.28.2014

Waffles, Exploring, Free Pizza, and Baseball

Tuesday was our "free day" and I made sure to jam pack my day with things to do. In some way, the exploring began on Monday night. We are staying in Alameda, CA, an island which is about an hour and a half east of San Francisco (and a great city). Monday night, a few of us walked down to the local movie theater to see the newest X-Men movie. What we didn't fully realize was how historic the movie theater was. When we walked in, we were greeted with an ornate and beautiful theater. The movie was excellent and I won't forget that theater any time soon!

Tuesday morning, my day began with meeting up with my great aunt and uncle (and avid readers of my blog), Doug and Debby, for breakfast. They live about an hour away from San Francisco and stopped by for a visit. Our hotel is in Alameda and so for breakfast we went downtown to a cute diner called Ole's Waffle Shop. Not only were the waffles delicious, it was also amazing to see and catch up with Doug and Debby. We had a wonderful time and I was so glad things worked out.

Post breakfast, I spent some time wandering Alameda, checking out some of their shops (including this amazing bookstore and another vintage/used store with books, movies, and records), spending some time laying in the sun on the beach looking out at the bay, and even a little swim at our hotel pool. All in all, an excellent day. The group regrouped and before heading to the coliseum, we needed dinner. At yesterday's game, the grand slam by the A's meant a local pizza joint would give us a free personal pizza. We stopped by, ordered pizza and ate it on the way to the stadium. Our seats this time we in the bleachers and we sure had a different perspective on the game.


We ended up seating behind some bleacher regulars who brought all sorts of noisemakers to the game. While I thought we had great seats (a nice perspective of the whole field and especially of the batter) the people around us were sure distracting. The most distracting was this couple in front of us where the woman clearly had no idea what was going on in the game, being more interested in the man she was with and what food she had recently ordered. 

This game was very different from the one we saw on Memorial Day. First, O.Co was not sold out and we probably saw one of our lowest attendance yet. No grand slams and this time, the A's did not get a victory. Coming into the game, I was told to expect a good game between both the A's and the Tiger's number one pitchers -- Sonny Gray (A's) vs. Max Scherzer (Tiger's). While the pitching was good (both Gray and Scherzer lasted six innings), there was definitely an offensive front I was not expecting. The Tigers scored two runs in the first inning and the A's answered back with two runs in the second. Cabrera's homerun in the third put the Tigers in the lead and an RBI double from Avila brought in another run for the Tigers in the fourth. When the A's were up in the bottom of the forth, it was Jaso's homerun that gave the A's a 5-4 lead. From there, the Tigers kept coming back with a homerun from Hunter in the seventh and good base running in the eighth to bring in one final run.  

We return to our hotel late (it was a three hour game and typical CA traffic) and went straight to bed. We have a long drive ahead of us today to get to LA in time for our night Dodgers game. 

5.27.2014

Toasty Day at the O.Co

While we didn't relocate our housing, we did change our ballpark yesterday. Instead of the grueling, stand still traffic into San Francisco, the group instead had about a 10 minute commute to the O.Co Coliseum. This giant concrete structure serves both the Oakland A's and the Oakland Raiders (football). We got to the stadium pretty early and found ourselves surrounded by a lot of families celebrating Memorial Day at the ballpark.

O.Co was unlike any stadium we had been in previously. The seats were extremely close together and the way the sun was coming in made our 75 degree day feel like we were in the 90s. These hot conditions really changed how the fans participated in the game; the stadium was sold out and we saw a lot of movement as people in the direct sun (like us) moved into the shade every once in the while for some water. Thank goodness for sunscreen -- I did get some sun, but didn't burn too badly.


In our group discussion later that night, we decided we had some of the best seats on the entire trip. We were on the second level, on the third base side. Our view was great to see the whole game and the two big screens in either outfield. O. Co was also by far the most simple stadium we have been at (not a lot of flash mainly due to their lack of a jumbotron and screens built to showcase baseball, the screens were definitely more suited to football). 

The A's played the Detroit Tigers and the Tigers didn't stand a chance from the start. In the bottom of the second, the A's got their first runs with two solo home runs from DH Moss and first baseman Blanks. They followed this up with two more solo home runs in the third from third baseman Donaldson and left fielder Cespedes. More scoring for the A's continued in the fourth with three singles and a walk that helped to bring in two more runs. Then in the eighth, we witnessed a grand slam home run from the A's catcher Norris. Not only was that exciting (the ballpark went WILD), but it also meant that every fan in attendance can receive a free personal pizza from Round Table Pizza, a pizza chain in Western USA. Our group plans to take advantage of that later today for dinner. 

Our day ended with a group dinner of tacos and then a class discussion about both the stadiums we have been to and some more reading from our baseball anthology. Today is our free day and then we return to Oakland for a 7:05 night game. We wake up tomorrow and head to the LA area to see the Dodgers play. 

5.26.2014

Another Sunny California Day!

The crew headed back to AT&T Park for another game of the Giants vs. Twins. We had already discussed how different this ballpark felt from the others. Sitting in the bleachers the night before, we felt that the fans were there for the social aspect, not necessarily for the baseball. At our afternoon game, we got a much different feeling from the third tier.


It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and our seats had a gorgeous look out on the water. We were surrounded by lots of families (although they left by the seventh or eighth inning). These were some of my favorite seats simply because I had such a nice view of the field (I really like the more arial perspective). 

For another sold out crowd (supposedly 42,590 in attendance), the Giants had a strong showing. With a quick top of the first, they got the bats going in the bottom with three hits scoring two runs. While the Twins answered with a run in the second, the Giant's right fielder Hunter Pence delivered a home run in the third to increase the lead to two. From there, the Twins were unable to score again, while the Giants put five more runs on the board (one in the fourth, three more in the fifth, and one in the eighth). 

The star of the game was definitely Giant's pitcher Madison Bumgarner who pitched for seven innings, struck out 10 batters, and only allowed three hits. For the Giant's offense, Michael Morse had three doubles and four RBIs. 

What was the most interesting was the announcement of Dodger's pitcher Josh Beckett who had just pitched a no hitter at Coors Field during the middle of the game. While I clapped (because come on, a no hitter is a big deal), all the Giants fans around me booed. It was incredible to hear over 40,000 fans boo a player who most definitely deserved applause. But a little bit different spin on Giants fans (at least for me).

Post game, it was back to the hotel. We walked next door to pick up some groceries and made dinner in the kitchen in Dr. Bob's suite. After dinner was class and we discussed some of the readings from our baseball anthology. It was a little weird getting some class time in, but it was nice to discuss baseball on a more academic level after seeing so many games. It was funny though, because sometimes the guys got into intense conversations about baseball players (past and present) and the four girls just looked at each other wondering how the heck the boys could remember all those stats! 

We have class tomorrow morning and evening, with a trip to Oakland to see the A's play as our afternoon break. Should be another nice day!  

5.25.2014

Hello California!

After another six hour or so drive, our group finally ended up in California. The sun was shining as we pulled into the parking lot of our hotel. We'll be in the same spot for four days (our longest stretch) and this hotel has more of a suite style set up. We have our own living room, kitchen (if we need to use it), and then a bedroom and bathroom. The girls even have a deck!

We grabbed our stuff and headed out for the ball park. Traffic into San Francisco was horrible, I have never been in such stand still traffic. Slowly inching along, we passed the tolls and hit the open road. Our travels took us across the Bay Bridge and into the city. Finding parking, we walked several blocks to AT&T Park. The stadium was packed, filled with a sea of orange. Our seats were in the bleachers, behind left field. Over 41,000 people attended the game and the air was filled with energy.


The game moved along quickly, with a home run on the Giants side in the bottom of the second. Then in the bottom of the sixth, a sacrifice fly brought in a second run for the Giants. Their opponent, the Minnesota Twins, rallied in the ninth with a homerun but ultimately, they couldn't mount the offensive needed to force the Giants to bat in the bottom of the ninth. Game over, it was back to the van and back to the hotel. We're headed back to the park this afternoon to watch the two teams face off again.  
 

5.24.2014

When we travel, we travel through three states

Yesterday, the group got up early and hit the road by 6:30 AM. We have a night game tonight in San Fransisco and needed to make the approximately 20 hour drive between Friday and Saturday. As we began the drive, I knew topography would be the theme of the day. Colorado stretched out in front us, with high mountains and beautiful cuts through the rocks. Then we entered Nevada, "Life elevated" (motto on their welcome signs). We stopped at a rest stop to go to the bathroom and play a little catch. Took this beautiful picture of the landscape around us (very different from Colorado)


The road trip continued, filled in good music, good (or bad) puns, and lots of laughing. I got some reading and writing done as well, so heyo for productivity! 

We kept plugging along, took the wrong exit and saw the Salt Lake City airport and eventually crossed another state line into Nevada. As soon as we crossed, we picked up an hour and also saw our fair share of casinos. Even the Arbys/Pilot gas station we stopped at had a giant room of slot machines for people who were interested. 

Around 10 PM, we got to our hotel, tired and cranky. I think we all pretty much just fell into our beds and passed out. Have another earlier morning today (7 PM departure) but sunny San Fran is in our sights! 

5.22.2014

Raining Rockies

It was day two in Colorado and as I ate breakfast in the room off the hotel lobby, it seemed like a perfect summer day. The sun was out and the hotel's outdoor pool was being serviced to open up for visitors this weekend. While our group had seen the possibility of rain in the forecast, it seemed impossible based on what we could see out our windows. Nevertheless, I still threw my raincoat in my bag before hopping in the van.

We arrived at Coors Field about two hours before game time. Before going into the stadium, we had hoped to visit a museum about a block away from the field which featured different ballparks and items from these ballparks. However, the front door was locked and the lights were off -- apparently they weren't open today. We ended up in Coors early, which gave us the ability to wander around the park, snap some photos and enjoy the bright Colorado sun.

The game got under way and all seemed fine. Our view was from the third balcony, on the third base/left field side.


The game was slow. About an hour into the game, we still hadn't left the second inning yet. The group was groaning about the slowness, yet still enjoying the sun (and crossing our fingers we wouldn't get burnt too badly). We started to see clouds roll in, but thought little of it. Then, the wind picked up, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, we were all felt a chill. Must just be a little shade, we thought to ourselves, fully expecting the sun to reappear. 

It didn't.

Instead, the rain came and I was happy to have my raincoat to throw on. Lightning and thunder forced the third balcony to evacuate our seats and head to some shelter. As we left, the third inning ended and they threw a tarp over the field and the rain delay began. The group found ways to entertain ourselves until the rain eased up and we were told we could return to our seats.

By this time, the smart phones had been pulled out and radar checked. It appeared we were in a middle of a large storm cell, stretching farther than we could imagine. The rain was only going to stop briefly. Wiping the rain from our seats, we settled back in, hoping to see a few more innings. In the fourth, the Giants scored two and the Rockies couldn't answer until the bottom of the fifth to tie the score up at 2-2. By this point, the rain had started again, but nothing we couldn't handle. As the inning continued and went into the sixth, the rain got harder. The boys and Dr. Bob had abandoned their seats for drier conditions while the females stayed strong and held out. One by one, we got picked off until when there were two outs in the bottom of the sixth, I had to call it quits. As I was leaving, the third floor balcony was asked to leave and another rain delay began. By this point, the group decided to cut our losses, leave the game, and look for dinner. The game wasn't called until about 6 PM and they will start this game again when the Giants return to Denver in September. 

We ate dinner at a local pizza place and you could tell we were all a little tired from the all the rain and travel. An hour long class session followed dinner and we leave bright and early tomorrow to start our trek to California. We'll attempt about half of the 20 hour drive tomorrow and then the rest of it on Saturday. Never a dull moment here! 

Royals, Road Tripping, and the Rockies!

Tuesday we were still in Kansas City. Our day began with a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the jazz district of the city. It was a great museum and as I wandered through the exhibit, I was reminded of my May Term last year when I spent two weeks exploring museums. Kansas City took a lot of pride in their role as supporting the Kansas City Monarchs, a team that was part of the Negro Leagues. The exhibit was full of photographs, quotes, fun facts, and even a few videos.

The Negro Leagues Museum sat on one side of the lobby and on the other was the American Jazz Museum. Our tickets got us into both and the jazz museum and the contrast between the two was large. The Negro Leagues Museum had the Americana theme running throughout, focusing on the timeline as a whole, both in the United States and for the league. The jazz museum was flashier and focused more on the greats, such as Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. However, both museums were proud of both their accomplishments and that these events occurred in the United States.

With facts floating in our heads, we walked a few blocks down to Arthur Bryant's BBQ. We couldn't be in Kansas without having authentic BBQ. The place was hopping and we all waited in anticipation for our sandwiches. There wasn't much talking as we ate, BBQ sauce getting everywhere. For me, eating at Arthur Bryant's was sentimental because my great aunt and uncle live in Kansas and every Christmas a Kansas Sampler would arrive with this BBQ sauce. It was neat to see the home of the sauce!

We headed back to Kauffman for game two. This time, we got a little closer to the action with seats on the third base line.


It was a beautiful night and an exciting game. The White Sox came away with another win against the Royals, 7-6. We saw yet another game when the bottom of the ninth was needed to decide the outcome of the game. Many of the Royals fans left early, so we kind of had the place to ourselves by the ninth. 

The next day, Wednesday (all the days are getting mixed together), we were up early to hit the road. We had about a 10 hour trip from Kansas to Colorado. It was our longest ride and by the end, I think we were all ready to stretch our legs and give ourselves some space from each other. The drive was pretty nice, up until about 40 miles from Denver. It started raining and then hailing. Dr. Bob pulled off at the nearest exit and we sat in a parking lot, watching the small balls of hail pile up on our windshield wipers. When it subsided, we made the final hike to Denver, arriving around rush hour. Finding $10 parking a few blocks from Coors Field, we piled out of the van, our legs happy to walk. 

It was beautiful both in the stadium and Colorado weather in general. Warm with a breeze that made everything right. Our seats were on the second deck, between the right and center fielders. 


It was a pretty view, although any long doubles or triples hit to to right or center field were obstructed by the balcony we were sitting on. The Rockies were unable to pull out a win, with the Giants taking the first game, 5-1. With the game over, we struggled through more Denver traffic to our hotel a little ways from the city. It was right to bed for us, the past two long days were catching up with us! 

5.19.2014

"And We'll Never Be Royal..." Kohawks at Kauffman

Just for the record, I'm quoting a music lyric from Lorde's song, "Royals."



This joke was cracked several times during our trip today, especially once we got to Kauffman Stadium. Our hotel was pretty close to the stadium so we didn't have to suffer through Lorde jokes for too long.

It was a pretty good game as well. Some odd things happened (like when Chicago White Sox player Ramirez slid into first base, well actually he slid but missed the base by several feet) or when the Royals attempted a stolen base in the ninth only to be picked off as the runner made his way back to second base (although he had no hope of making it there). The Royals were up until the fifth when the White Sox brought in three runs with a homer from Konerko. It was definitely unexpected but hey, that's why you play the game.

The weather was also beautiful. No rain and no freezing temperatures made all of us very happy campers.


We also had a Coe alum at the game, Jordan. He graduated when I finished my sophomore year and I got to know him through the Writing Center as well as Coe Review. It was nice to see him and catch up.

Tomorrow, we are off to downtown Kansas City to see the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, eat some classic Kansas bbq, tailgate at Kauffman, and see the Royals and White Sox face off again. 

Back on the Road!

Arriving back in Cedar Rapids late Friday night, I had the chance to catch up on sleep, laundry, and even get some packing in. The weekend went by way too fast and suddenly, it was Monday morning and I was in the van ready to head west. I'm still struggling to wrap my head around the fact I'll be road tripping for three solid weeks. It's going to be fun no doubt, but also a lot of time in the car.

Today our trip was relatively easy: Cedar Rapids to Kansas City. It was fairly good weather (other than on odd rain storm near Des Moines). We had a picnic lunch at a rest area somewhere between Des Moines and Kansas City. I even got a nap in and I was *lucky* enough to have one of my peers capture my...gracefulness.


Let me tell you, it was a good nap. 

We arrived at our hotel and as we stepped outside, the temperature had increased. It's sunny and 80 some degrees. #glorious 

Currently the group is relaxing and soon we'll head to Kauffman Stadium. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll end up on TV game like we were at the Cubs game.
Can you pick me out in my red Kohawks hat?

Also, I want to direct your attention to two other Kohawk May Term blogs (you know, in case you get bored with hearing about baseball or just want a change of pace). My buddy (and avid reader of this blog) Bryce is visiting Serbia and fellow Writing Center consultant, Felicia, is with a group in Vietnam. Both have excellent blogs and are worth checking out.

All right, I should probably get some reading done. Don't forget to check out our group blog, we've got regular posts going and it's going to be an awesome addition to our trip! 

5.17.2014

Nothing Like a Little Rain to Keep Things Interesting

Lucky for us, it does not take five hours to get from our hotel in Germantown to Wrigley Field. We actually got to sleep a bit, eat breakfast, and comfortably pack our bags before heading out. On our trip, we have three students from the Chicagoland area and they knew the route to Wrigley well.

Arriving a little after 10:30 AM, we had the biggest task of finding parking near Wrigley. After a few failed attempts (and Chicagoans politely telling us we couldn't park there), we found a street with parking regulations we could obey. And it was free! Since Wrigley didn't open until 11 AM or so, we ended up grabbing lunch in a McDonalds across the street from the stadium. The McDonalds was hopping, with Cub and Brewer fans. It was fun to watch everyone interact; each fan was more than willing to pronounce their love for their team (and for Cubs fans, they were more than willing to proudly say, "Next year is our year!").

I also might add that it was overcast, rainy, and only about 40 degrees outside. Our group was pretty well bundled up, and I know for me, the hope of warm sunny California weather in the coming week kept me internally warm (it will ALL be worth it, I kept saying to myself).

Our seats at Wrigley were in the bleachers in the outfield. The group decided that center field was our best bet. Since we were there early, we got good seats and had fun dancing to the pre-game music and watching the groundskeepers prep the field. Since Wrigley is celebrating 100 years this year, we also got Babe Ruth bobbleheads (another reason we made sure to come early).


As the 50-50 raffle man told us, "This isn't rain, it's a pre-game blessing." While the rain did stop before the first pitch, it wasn't quite enough of a blessing for the Cubs to win. The Brewers took the game 4-3, but the Cubs did put up a fight.

What was even more interesting was to listen to the fans around us. I knew Wrigley could get pretty rowdy and I know for a fact I did not see the rowdiest Wrigley. They loved to heckle the center fielder (especially Logan Schafer playing for the Brewers). Logan took the heckling all in good stride, ignoring the fans most of the time and when he thought about throwing us his warm-up ball, the largest grin spread across his face as he faked throwing it to us and then threw it back to the right field side. It was priceless.

Once the game ended, it was back to the van and then back to Cedar Rapids. Dinner was at Portillo's, a Chicago favorite. I had never been and I will say that the expectations set for this restaurant were exceeded. Good food and good atmosphere. On top of that, I even got to see an old friend. The Portillo's we stopped at was only a few blocks from my friend Krista's house. Krista and I were fast friends freshman year at Coe and I hadn't seen her since freshman year. I don't think words can express how wonderful it was to see her and attempt to catch up in a short period of time. We made plans for adventures in the near future and with one final hug, it was back to the van.

The group got back late Friday night and it was glorious to go back to my apartment and fall asleep. We have the weekend off. Lots of laundry, reading, blogging, and writing to do! We hit the road 9 AM on Monday, headed for Kansas City.

5.15.2014

I Love 3:45 AM Wake Up Calls

Blogger up!

Yes, this blogger was up pretty early this morning, 3:45 AM to be exact. Also factor in that I went to bed around midnight, so that's not even four hours of sleep. Am I ever thankful for Kwik Trip cappuccino in Black River Falls, the ability to sleep in 15 passenger vans, and the complimentary coffee at our hotel in Germantown, Wisconsin.

The night before we were at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. It was chillier than expected (or wanted). The stadium was beautiful and we had seats in the upper decks where we could look down on home plate. These were great seats as seen by this photo I nabbed.


However, it was a pretty low attended game. The Twins squared off against the Boston Red Sox and from the get go, the Twins didn't stand a chance. Top of the first, the Soxs scored two runs and kept the momentum until the ninth inning. David Ortiz had two homeruns along with a double. The final score ended up being 9-4. 

While the game was interesting to watch (and I was keeping score by hand), what was great about this game was our class bonding. I sat next to Rachel, Brendan, and Katie and we sure had a good time. Our dinner consisted of excellent $1 hot dogs, which for a baseball park, is a pretty good deal. 

In the middle of the game, we realized that the Milwaukee game began at 12:10 PM instead of a later night game we had gotten stuck in our heads. It was going to be about a five and a half hour trek to Milwaukee, which meant we needed an early start. When the game finally ended a little after ten, it was back to our hotel and straight to bed. 

The first part of our trip to Milwaukee began with sleeping, which is always difficult in a van. You can't really sleep for long periods of time, normally just 20 minutes here followed by rearranging your body for another restless 30 minutes or so. But sleep is sleep in this case and when we woke up around 7 AM, we were in Black River Falls at a Kwik Trip. While my classmates aimlessly wandered around this gas station, I knew exactly where to go and exactly what I wanted.

Cappuccino. 

The Wisconsin roads we took to Miller Park today where all extremely familiar to me. These roads symbolize Fargo summers and remind me of countless adventures I've gone on to scout camps, Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee, and more. On top of that, Kwik Trips are a Fargo road trip staple. Cappuccinos are always a given as a way to keep the drive (and our stomachs) interesting and happy. 

We arrived at Miller Park with plenty of time to explore the stadium once we were inside the park. Our seats were very different than at Target Field. We were sitting in the bleachers behind right field (aka we had a nice view of Ryan Braun). 

It was a completely different atmosphere at Miller Park. There were way more people and the crowd was roudier. All these distractions made it a little harder to keep score, but I managed. This game was also not quite the blowout we saw the day before. The Brewers pulled out a 4-3 win in the bottom of the ninth.

Post game, we checked in at our hotel and went out for dinner. The hotel had recommended this great restaurant called Brisco Country. We were full and had great conversations. It was dinner like this that made me excited for the next several weeks. A short class period occurred post dinner and now I'm here, in the hotel lobby, catching up on some blogging and making sure the group blog is fully functional. 
 
We take off early for Chicago tomorrow and arrive back in Cedar Rapids tomorrow night. And that will conclude our Midwest tour. Cannot wait for game three seeing the Cubs and the Brewers face off at Wrigley.

5.13.2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Let the 2014 May Term begin!

So the day after graduation, I began my next month-long adventure. MAY TERM! I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in my third May Term. It's another Writers Colony, like the one I participated in May 2012. Except no Lake District or sheep, instead, baseball.

Here's our schedule, slightly altered now, but relatively accurate.


Our first class meeting was Monday morning. We chatted about baseball memories we had, the writings we would complete, assigned jobs for the trip, and read some box scores. We were suppose to see the Kernels play on Monday night, but the rain and lightning canceled the game. 

Today, we got up and headed to Dyersville to see the Field of Dreams. You know, that movie with the phrase, "If you build it, they will come?" Yeah, that field. 

It was a chilly day in Iowa and stepping out of the van we were met with quite a chill. The wind was what really made the day nasty. Lucky for us, the only other people at the field actually had a Coe connection. There was a couple who had been Admission counselors for Coe in the late 1970s, early 1980s. We had a lovely chat with them and even got our first group picture with them!


We then ran the bases, played catch, and tried to stay warm. I even got this nice shot of the field.
 

It was a little odd to not have any corn on the outskirts of the field. Kind of changes your perception of the field. I remember the last time I was there with my family, we attempted to take the classic "walking out of the corn" picture. There was no way to do that this time. 

With chilled hands, we jumped back into the van and ate lunch at a local spot in Dyersville. It was delicious and we even saw our Field of Dreams friends.

Warmer and no longer hungry, it was time to head back to Coe. While we had talked about seeing a Kernels game tonight, the cold weather prompted us to just watch a baseball movie in the Writing Center instead. We saw The Rookie, a classic baseball movie that just warms your heart. 

Now, I better finish packing and then get to bed. We take off for the Twin Cities tomorrow morning. While I'll blog on this blog during the trip, our class also has our own collaborative blog to share our experiences. I happen to be the blog manager for our class blog, so you should check it out! 

The Diploma is There...Graduation 2014

At Coe, graduation is a full weekend event. I was lucky enough to have my dad, grandparents, aunt, brother, and sister attend the weekend festivities. On Saturday, the day began early with Honors Convocation. I formally received the Charles Cannon award as the distinguished English major, as well as the Delta Eta Book award for my hard work both in and out of the classroom.

The weather was great on Saturday and it was nice to casually walk around campus, running into many of my friends. I showed off the caf cuisine to the family before we headed to the library for the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony. As soon as I walked in, I saw my good friend Ashley, who had arrived earlier in the day for graduation. Ashley and I are English major buddies and we also roomed together in NYC. She graduated in December and moved out to New York. I hadn't seen her since December so needless to say, we were thrilled to be reunited. The initiation ceremony was very nice, complete with signing the Phi Beta Kappa member book and learning a secret handshake. After the ceremony, my family and Heidi's family got to chat and take photos. Haley joined the bunch and bam! it was like we were back in freshman year. It was so good to see both of them and celebrate graduation together.

The day didn't stop there. The next event was Baccalaureate. We donned our robes and motorboards and lined up behind Sinclair. It was the first moment where it really felt like, yeah we're graduating. Baccalaureate itself was very nice. Our speaker was Reverend Wayne Meisel. He was an excellent speaker along with the student speakers. They all talked about all the potential our futures have and all the good memories we have from our time at Coe.

Then the day gets a little crazier. My dad, brother, aunt, and I hopped in a car bound for Mt. Horeb. My younger sister, Hannah, was on the junior prom court. The prom just so happened to be graduation weekend (because that's how my life works, everything happens at once). We got back just in time to watch court walk and to see my sister crowned the prom queen! I was one proud sister.

The Queen!
Post-prom pictures, we hopped back in the car and went back to Coe. It was totally worth it. 

The next morning, it was graduation. It was surreal to put on my robe and head to the Victory Bell. As I stood in line, waiting to ring it for the second time, I kept thinking about my past four years at Coe. I thought of all the friends I made, the mentors I gained, the things I learned, the papers I wrote, and the experiences I had. It was overwhelming, so many good memories contained on and off campus but all related to my time at Coe. When it was my turn to ring the bell, I stepped up, got into a stance and rang it with as much gusto as I did four years earlier. I rang the bell with a smile on my face knowing that this end was the start of a new beginning.

From there, we walked to our seats on the library quad (and I'm so thankful it didn't rain during our ceremony). When the Dean read my name and I walked across the stage, the same sorts of feelings I had at the bell rushed through me. On stage, there is a large duct tape arrow directing you towards President McInally. I felt all my Coe memories being directed towards the President. Here I was, finally accepting my diploma and the best part was, I helped picked the man I was shaking hands with. The moment lasted only a few seconds, but it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had a huge grin across my face.

I did it.

After the ceremony, we got about 20 minutes of photos before the rain started. Here's a sample of some of the photos, more to come! 

English majors unite!
Angela and I
Hayleigh, Hailley, and Kyle
Heyo Wisconsinites!  
Ha(il)leys
Ryan and I
Alison P. and I
Ariana and I
Hailley and Heidi, roommates for three years! :)

While I didn't have to move out because of my May Term, it was tough to see many of my friends move out. Millie especially. But, as everyone kept telling us, this wasn't the last time we were going to see each other. 

What a weekend, right? Hard to see my undergraduate time at Coe come to a close, but so glad I could celebrate it with my family and closest friends.   

5.12.2014

Finals and Senior Dinner

The last time I wrote, I was hard at work preparing for finals. Since then, lots has happened. I spent the first weekend in May studying for my stats test, working on my final French project, and finishing off my English seminar paper on Jane Eyre. It was a hairy weekend, with nice weather and using my study breaks as a way to sneak out and enjoy the sun.

My stats test on Monday went by without a hitch. My clarinet jury Tuesday afternoon went well and it was hard to believe I won't be taking lessons again this fall. I worked for my final shift in the Writing Center, a bittersweet moment as I took my mug back to my apartment, the label on the side proclaiming, The girl who never leaves, now inaccurate. I can't tell you how much I am going to miss the Writing Center (that's probably one of the hardest things to let go with this whole graduation thing). Tuesday night was my final French class, where myself and my peers presented our individual translation projects. Post class, myself, Millie, Angela, and Chloe got off campus to camp out at the Perkins. We ordered coffee, eggs, and pie and got to work. We all had things due on Wednesday and our study breaks consisted of more coffee and having life chats. Hands down, my favorite part of finals week.

I worked late in Tuesday night/early into Wednesday morning. I made the decision to get a couple of hours of sleep, then woke up early to finish off my final English paper by 8:30 AM. As I sent the email to my professor and realized that I was done with my senior year and time as an undergraduate, it didn't quite hit me. A very anticlimactic moment. However, it did feel good to be all done. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and it was time to relax and celebrate my impending graduation!

The celebration began on Thursday with the annual Senior Dinner. It was held at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, the space place I had my Clark Merit dinner earlier this school year. Everyone got to dress up, eat a fancy meal, and hang out with fellow seniors. We had many speakers at dinner, such as Janet from Financial Aid to discuss paying back our loans and Professor Kensky, a religion professor who had been awarded the Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award the previous year. The other exciting part of the dinner was the announcement of the Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Awards. A male and female win the award each year and are selected by faculty and staff on campus. I'm happy to announce that I selected as the outstanding female. I feel honored by the award and am proud of all the things I've accomplished on campus. Overall, it was a great night and definitely a perk of being a senior!

L to R: Sarah, Hailley, Kat, and Millie. 

Holding my fancy Outstanding Senior plaque
Hailley and Millie. What a duo! 
Hailley and Ariana looking good in blue! :)

5.01.2014

The Last...

In some ways, I'm sort of surprised I haven't been more emotional this week as I complete my "last [insert thing/event/item here]." I've maintained composure and probably some of this "cool" front is due to the fact that a) I'm going on May Term so I'm not moving out on graduation day and b) I'll be working on campus this summer since I have a few month gap before graduate school.

Overall this week has been great, both filled with stress yet also reminding me of all the reasons I love Coe and all the people who have made Coe wonderful. I think the best example of this occurred on Monday at my final Writing Center staff meeting. We deemed this meeting our Writing Center Talent Show meeting, which was probably one of our all time best ideas.

Earlier this year, I realized that not many of my writing center peers knew I played the clarinet (which of course you readers knew). When the talent show idea came about, I said to myself, "I should play the clarinet."

Which I did. I resurfaced the Brahms piece I played my sophomore year because it's probably my all time favorite piece to play and I think it really shows off my tone and talent as a clarinet player.

I was first up at the talent show and I had quite the set-up. I had forgotten a music stand and taped my music to the movable whiteboard. Next to me, I had my laptop to play my accompaniment.

It was a good performance. In that moment, I could feel all the support from my peers. They applauded for quite some time when I finished and I had my classic wide grin spread across my face. It was one of those nights where everything felt right. That the past four years led to that moment and the feeling of a community and family. It was pretty incredible.

Well, better get back to studying. Finals are almost here!