Friday, August 10, 2007

Luggage Update

I wanted to give everyone an update on my dad’s luggage. Those who have read this blog were more interested in the status of my dad’s luggage than the games themselves. How boring would this trip have been without the case of the missing luggage?

The last we heard the luggage was supposed to be flown to Boston and then driven to Worcester (pronounced “Wooster” as we all learned) last Wednesday. When it wasn’t there, we attempted to contact both American and Northwest and neither had any idea where the luggage was. At one point my mother was told the file locator number we had been giving all week was not a valid number (even though every other time we called with it, they were able to find my dad’s file). We had given up hope it would ever be found and my dad filed the claim form to get reimbursed for his items. He wasn’t hopeful about that either since the form mentioned he would only be reimbursed if his flight started and ended with American.

This would be an amazing story if that were the end of it. But alas it is not. I was getting ready to leave work Wednesday night when my cell phone rang. It was Mark from the American Airlines baggage claim area at Newark. He said he had a suitcase with my dad’s name on it and was wondering what it was doing there!?!?! I explained that was now a nationally famous piece of luggage and he would become a national hero for returning it. He explained in great detail the steps it would take to get the luggage back to Minot. Unfortunately he had no control over any of it. He would tag the suitcase and send it over to Northwest baggage handling. Before it got there though it would go through 3 or 4 other people including an x-ray machine (I guess in case some disgruntled baggage claim person planted something in it). If it made it Northwest he could only hope it would be on a flight the next day to Minot. He said he would send instructions to contact me when it got to Minot. This was not the first time we had been told it would be sent somewhere so we wouldn’t believe it until we saw it.

About 11:00 that night I got a call from a woman at the Northwest baggage claim office saying my suitcase had arrived and we could pick it up. I explained that she needed to send it to Minot and she said it just arrived from Minot! I explained dad was already back home and the luggage had been in Newark since last Saturday (only 12 days prior!). She looked quickly at his file and then said that since he had arrived in Newark on American that she would have to route the bag through American. I explained again that suitcase had just come from the American baggage claim and they were the ones processing. She claimed there were no instructions on what she was supposed to do with it (apparently the instruction to call me was just a wild guess on her part). I told her to just get the suitcase back to Minot. She told me to quit telling her how to do her job. I immediately thought of Case’s suggestion to drop a “C” bomb on her but my wife was at the table. She finally said she would send the suitcase to Minot the next morning. When I asked her for her name, she hung up the phone. Apparently she didn’t want me to tell her manager what a great job she did helping me.

Even with that, there was no guarantee the suitcase would ever make it Minot. I am happy (and somewhat surprised) to report that it did make it and is currently in the possession of my dad as you can see from the picture below. All is well!! This would have been just another boring 10 day baseball tour if not for the case of the missing suitcase.

Please send a thank you to Mark at American Airlines in Newark for finally resolving the case of the missing suitcase. His e-mail address is The more people he hears from the more he will realize how famous this suitcase is. Thank you Mark!!!

The Fedjes pose in front of the Harry Caray statue

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Home Again

We made it back to Indianapolis this evening. We were in no hurry to get up since we only had to drive back to Indy today. My dad was up and gone by 5:30 but we slept in until about 8:30. Dad made it home safely and for obvious reasons did not check his new Colorado Rockies duffle bag purchased in Cooperstown. BTW...we now have no idea where his luggage is. My dad is completing a claim form for the airlines to reimburse him for the contents of his suitcase.

The boys and I took the hotel shuttle to the O'Hare Hilton where Jean and Kristofer stayed. We were packed up and ready to go by about 11:00 and headed for downtown Chicago. Our favorite breakfast place in Chicago is Lou Mitchells and we were able to find it. It was another hot, muggy day in Chicago and we were all a little tired. The food was great and we hit the road for Indy. There was a lot of traffic on the Dan Ryan so it took us nearly 4 hours to get home. We rescued Lilac from the kennel and headed home to unpack and settle.

I passed out the souvenirs and played with the boys. Kristofer got an airplane/airport set I purchased while waiting for my dad at the Newark airport. Kylan got 2 new t-balls to add to his collection and broke them in tonight with some catch and hitting practice. Erik got a Yankees t-shirt and the Josh Gibson statue we got in Pittsburgh.

In hindsight, I think my favorite part of the trip was Yankee Stadium. I had been to Wrigley and Fenway before but had only driven by Yankee Stadium. There is so much history and the tour really made it special. It also helped that we were able to get better seats about halfway through the game and it was exciting with 8 Yankee home runs. It was also great to do the trip with my dad and see him experience Yankee and Fenway for the first time and also his first visit to Boston. We made due without his luggage and it made for a great story to tell as part of the trip.

Tomorrow is back to work and the regular routine. Football season is upon us and our first scrimmage is Friday night! The boys start school next Tuesday so there is no rest for the weary. I do hope to take another one of these in the future but hit other parks. The trips really are about the parks and the cities and not so much the teams. I would love to see Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC (especially when their new stadiums are done) or return to NYC when the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Stadium are done (2008).

Thank you again for reading. I hope you enjoyed your own version of the trip.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Day 9 - Wrigley Field

Today's Photos

We ended our last day by driving from Detroit to Chicago. It rained the first half of the drive but cleared up by the time we got to Chicago. It was a very hot and steamy day in the Windy City (we learned the real source of the famous Chicago nickname and it has nothing to do with wind velocity). We ended up driving up Lakeshore Drive in Chicago so we got a good view of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. The Bears were having an open practice at Soldier Field and Grant Park was hosting a Lalapalooza concert so downtown was packed!

We parked about 4 blocks from Wrigley and walked to the park. Dad and I walked around a little before meeting Jean and the boys near the Addison train station. We visited a little and took some pictures near at the Harry Caray statue. They headed back to the hotel and we went into Wrigley.

The Fedjes pose in front of the Harry Caray statue

The seats were decent but there was a column blocking our view of home plate depending on the seat. We made due. It was a very hot, muggy night. The game was broadcast on ESPN and Tom Glavine was going for his 300th career victory. The Mets built a 5-0 lead through the top of the 6th before the Cubs got back to 5-3. They left a runner in scoring position but it felt like they were back in the game. Glavine was out and Kerry Wood made a return appearance. Unfortunately 4 of the first 5 batters for the Mets got on base in the top of the 8th and put the game away. We saw Glavine win his 300th game which was a great way to end the trip.

The view from our seats

Erik and Kylan did pretty well. I got out a few times with them to get food and souvenirs and visit the restroom so that helped break things up. Kylan got a Derrek Lee t-shirt so he has a second favorite player (in addition to Ken Griffey, Jr.). They also both got stuffed Cubby Bears.

The other funny thing that happened at the game was seeing my friend, Mark Dittmer. Mark is also a Theta Chi from North Dakota State and lives in Indianapolis. He was at the game with a group from his church. He had been reading the blog but didn't realize we would be at this game. He recognized my dad from the pictures and ran into him on the concourse. They were sitting about 3 sections from us. What a small world!!

Dad and I at the last game

The boys enjoyed their first game at Wrigley

I think they enjoyed the bus ride to the hotel just as much as the game itself. Since the trip was originally supposed to end with a day game, there was no lodging arrangement for Sunday night. Many people made their own reservations at the O'Hare Excel Inn and had Monday morning flights. Throughout the trip, the hotels pre-assigned all the rooms and gave keys and room assignments to the hosts. As we came off the bus, we were handed our key and could go directly to our room. Since this hotel wasn't officially part of the trip, each person had to check in individually. Since three different trips ended with the game at Wrigley there were probably 50 people checking in. It took about 45 minutes of waiting in a very small lobby to get our room. It was 1:30am CT before we got settled and in bed. My dad's flight was at 7am so his wake up call was at 4:30.

It's hard to believe the trip is over and we are getting back to the real world. Although we were always on the move and got limited sleep, I had an amazing trip. If you have read and enjoyed this blog, I encourage you to consider a trip like this with Jay Buckley. There is only 1 trip with open seats yet this year. Next year's trips will probably be available in January 2008. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Last Day

I am sitting in our hotel near the Detriot airport listening to planes fly over. Today is the last day of the trip and we are heading to Chicago about noon. We were going to have a whiffle ball game in the parking lot but it looks like it will be rained out. It's our first rain out of the trip. There is a small chance of rain in Chicago tonight but hopefully it will stay dry for us. We've had great weather so far so we feel the Gods will shine and make it a beautiful evening at Wrigley.

I hope you have enjoyed my daily blogging. I haven't heard from too many people so if you have been reading it, please add a comment using the Comment link below. This will definitely be a great journal for me to remember the trip. I highly recommend Jay Buckley tours for the person who loves baseball and wants to see a number of parks. The bus can get a little crowded and you don't always get a lot of sleep each night (there was never time to relax at a pool), but you make good friends and see a lot of baseball. Visit for more information.

We will be getting to our hotel pretty late tonight and I'll have the boys with me so I doubt I'll get a blog entry in tonight. I'll probably wait until I get back to Indy tomorrow to wrap it up. Until then, thank you and I hope you enjoyed the trip vicariously through this blog.

Day 8 - Detroit Comerica Park

Today's Photos

We are wrapping up our trip. The second to last night was in Detroit as the Tigers hosted the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers are reeling and a win by the Twins over the Indians earlier today brought them closer to the leaders. If Chicago could win this game, the Twins would be only 5 1/2 games out of first and 5 games out of the wild card.

We started the day in Pittsburgh and received a walking tour of the former Forbes Field site from a Pittsburgh native and friend of our escort. It was near our hotel on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Home plate is in the law school building and part of the original outfield wall is still intact. There are several plaques highlighting key moments in the history of Forbes Field. The tour guide attended many of the games and was a wealth of information. It was a nice bonus on the trip.

We then drove to Detroit arriving about 4:30. After a quick stop to check in at the hotel (we are very near the Detroit airport and there were several jokes from others about seeing my dad's luggage), we moved on to the old Tiger Stadium. It is in one of the worst areas of Detroit with several abandoned buildings. When they closed it a few years ago, the team left everything behind. We noticed the computer monitors and keyboards were still in the old ticket offices. We weren't able to go inside but we got some photos from the outside. There is a battle over what to do with the location but it will likely be torn down in the next year.

The bus then took us to Comerica Park, the new stadium for the Tigers. It is one of the new, beatiful stadiums built with character and amenities. It is on the edge of downtown and next to Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. We learned the Lions were having an open practice this evening so we made a quick stop there before going to the game. I was amazed at how small the football stadium appeared. It holds 60,000 but it felt much smaller. There was not a bad seat in the place.

A view from our seats

My first impression of Comerica Park was that several sections were assigned to different designers and they did not collaborate at all. It is an odd mix of spaces that don't necessarily look like they go together. It is very a nice stadium with great detail outside the park especially. There are tigers everywhere and lots of baseball incorporated into the architecture. We caught part of batting practice before the game started. I was able to connect with Cheryl Herzog, a friend and former co-worker at EDS. She's a huge Tigers fan and attends several games each year. She sat with us the first part of the game and I joined her in the upper level for the 8th inning. They were in the second row of the upper level behind home plate. Our seats were far down the left field line but were close to the field.

Chicago scored 4 runs off Tiger ace Jeremy Bonderman in the top of the first. Every time Detroit would get a little closer, the White Sox would add an insurance run. Chicago eventually won 7-5 as Bobby Jenks shut down the Tigers in the 9th. There was a fireworks show after the game and it was more of a noise maker show than a fireworks show but I'm glad we stayed. The weather was beautiful and it was fun to catch up with Cheryl.

Dad and I at Comerica Park

I'm looking forward to seeing Jean and the boys tomorrow. I talked to her tonight and she made it safely to Chicago. They had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Woodfield Mall. They also went to the Lego Store and the boys were each able to buy something. They are going to the Field Museum tomorrow and will then meet us at Wrigley when we arrive. Erik and Kylan will join me for the game and Jean and Kristofer will head back to their hotel. I've really enjoyed this trip but it will be good to get back into the normal routine and see my family again. Thank you Jean for a great gift!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Day 7 - Pittsburgh and PNC Park

Today's Photos

We returned to the stadiums today with a visit to PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It has become known as one of the best new parks and I have to agree. I was in Jacob's field so many years ago I don't remember much. I've been by Camden Yards in Baltimore and Safeco Field in Seattle but never attended a game. I will get to see Comerical tomorrow. Especially after having been at Shea, Yankee, and Fenway, we really appreciated the space and amenities at a new stadium.

We drove from Wilkes Barre this morning and arrived in Pittsburgh around 3:30. We were able to check into our hotel before heading downtown. We dropped off at a shopping plaza across from downtown and took a boat shuttle to PNC Park. My dad and I went directly to our seats and found our best seats by far. We were between home and first base about half way up the lower level. I took a walk out to the right center field area in hopes of getting a baseball. The Reds were hitting BP and nothing came close to a home run. I decided to take some pictures instead.

This is taken from the last row of the upper deck near the left field foul pole.  You can see the Pittsburgh skyline and the Allegheny River beyond the stadium.

I then walked back around to the first base side and found an empty chair in the front row above the Reds dugout. I got a few more photos but mostly did people watching. There was a family that must have had a contact with the Reds media people because they were handing a TV guy a bunch of t-shirts and hats. When Brandon Phillips came off the field, he signed the items. Then someone else came over and threw a couple balls into the stands at these same kids. They were already getting autographed shirts!! I sat there until all the Reds players were in their dugout. As I was getting up, another ball popped up from under the dugout. I had my souvenir!!

I then sat in the top row of the farthest section from home plate. It was a great view but a horrible walk. I was able to get some good scenery photos up there. The game itself was not close as Cincinnati scored 4 in the top of the first on their way to a 13-4 victory. There were several home runs including Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn.

We had our best seats of the trip at PNC Park

We play a couple games on the trip. One is the square game often used in the Super Bowl. We each put in a dollar and get a square that actually includes 2 numbers for each team. If the score at the end of the 3rd ($5), 6th ($5), and 9th ($15) inning matches your numbers, you win the associated prize. I was close Wednesday night at Fenway but Tejada hit a late home run to take the money away from me. I didn't get my numbers tonight so I have no idea if I won.

The other game is a batter selection. Each participate picks a card and that card is applied to the batter number for the team identified. For example, when I was drawing today, I was drawing for the Reds. I got number 9 which meant the number 9 spot in the order is me today. It was a National League game so that meant the pitcher would hit 9 and I would need to pray for a lot of pinch hitters. Going into the 9th, I was the only person on the Reds who did NOT have a hit. Fortunately Jeff Conine got a hit so I at least get some of the money back I would have lost. For every hit, every other player gives 25 cents to every other player for that team. Even though my guy did get a hit, every other member of the Reds had aleast two hits compared ot my 1.

We got lost in downtown Pittsburgh so we didn't get to the hotel until about 11:30. Our room keys didn't work so we had to go back downtown. We have a 10:30 start tomorrow so we can sleep in a little. We can join a walking tour down to the original Forbes Field, and I may do that.

Friday, August 3, 2007

All Photos Updated

I have updated all the photos from the entire week. There are a total of 263 photos to view. I have figured out how to modify the titles and descriptions but have not completed them all yet. You'll find them on some days but not others.

You can view the pictures from links within the individual daily blogs or go to the entire collection.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day 6 - Cooperstown II

Today's Photos

We returned to Cooperstown today. It was a much smaller crowd and we were able to enjoy the Hall of Fame much more. There was still a pretty good crowd in this small upstate New York town. Dad and I were able to see most of the exhibits in the museum although we ran through some quickly. There was so much to read we could have been there for several days.

There were several display cases throughout the museum.  This one featured the Baltimore Orioles.

I have now been to all three major sports halls of fame; football, basketball, and baseball. Like most other people. The baseball hall of fame blows them away. My favorites were some of the really old equipment and stories and the more recent displays of teams and events. I thought a lot about my Grandpa Fedje today as I know he would have loved to see all the artifacts from his era.

We spent about 4 hours in the museum and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown Cooperstown. Dad needed to get a new duffle bag to carry all the new t-shirts he's had to pick up. We also grabbed a quick bite to eat before gathering for a group photo at Doubleday Park. We were then back on the road and headed to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania for the night.

It was a relatively relaxing day with several hours spent on the bus. It was a nice change from the last few days of go-go-go. We had about 31/2 hours to Cooperstown and then just under 3 hours to Wilkes Barre. We watched the movie, "For the Love of the Game." It was allegedly a baseball movie/chick flick to appease everyone on the bus. The general consensus from the guys in the back of the bus (now known as the bario gang) was that is was mostly a chick flick.

The trip is now over half over. It has been a great trip as expected! We are with a fun group and everyone is getting along well. Several of the people are from California and were motivated to pick this trip to see Tony Gwynn inducted. There's one family from the Portland area, 1 guy from the Ozarks in the Missouri, a couple from Rockford, Illinois, a father and son from Wisconsin, and 2 recent high school graduates from Phoenix. We have a total of 30 people on the trip.

This is the group on Trip 19

We are getting ready to wrap up the final 3 days. Tomorrow night is Pittsburgh, Saturday night is Detroit and Sunday night is Chicago (Wrigley Field). Jean and the boys are driving to Chicago on Saturday and will do some sightseeing Sunday before joining us before the Cubs game. Since the game was changed to the ESPN game on Sunday night, a couple people are going to miss the final game. I should be able to get 2 tickets for Erik and Kylan to join us. They'll also get to ride on the bus back to the hotel.

I'm having a blast but I miss Jean and the boys and look forward to getting home. Football season starts next week and my crew has our first scrimmage Friday night.

Day 5 - Fenway Park in Boston

Today's Photos

Another day, another city, another baseball game. Today was Boston! A city I visted twice last year alone but my dad had never been. My familiarity helped as we had a limited amout of free time. We stopped on our way to the city at Northeastern University. There was a site on the campus that was the location of the first World Series in 1902. It contained a statue of Ty Cobb (who pitched in the series) and a home plate plaque that was in the location of the original plate.

The bus dropped us off near Quincy Market and we had about 3 hours to do what we wanted. Dad and I grabbed lunch at the Quincy Market (he got his clam chowdah as the locals say) and then hopped on one of the trolly tours. Our first stop was the USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides". We took a quick walk around the ship deck and then toured the nearby USS Caisson Young, a Navy destroyer from WWII.

We got back on the trolly and took it back into downtown and got off on the other side of Quincy Market. From there we walked through the government center to the King's Chapel and Paul Revere's grave. We realized we were already running short on time so we headed for Boston Common, Beacon Street and the famous Bull-n-Finch. You know it better as the exterior shot used in the show, Cheers. We walked through and dad got a Samual Adams and a golf ball to add to his collection.

Dad goes looking for Norm!

Rather than try to rush back to Quincy Market to catch the bus to the game, we hung out in the park area and saw the swan boats and beautiful swans. We got on the Charles Street trolly stop which took us directly to Fenway Park. We got there early enough to grab a sausage sandwich at the Cask 'n Flagon. It is apparently a tough table before games but we got lucky and found one in back. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was electric.

We headed into the park about 5:30 and were able to get into the first row behind home plate during batting practice. I met one of the kids selected to be an honorary bat boy (I got his autograph!!), the wife of Red Sox manager Terry Francona's college roommate, and was near Bob Lobel, Boston Channel 4 sports director, while he did is 6:00 reports from the stadium. Our seats were OK but not great. We could see the entire field (no columns in our way) but we had to look directly in the sun for the first 2 innings and it was difficult to pick up the ball. Once the sun went down behind the stadium wall, we could see fine.

It was a great game. The Red Sox scheduled starter, Kason Gabbard, had to be scrapped since he had been traded the previous day. Julian Tavarez started in his place and struggled trough each his 5 innings. He left down 3-1. Steve Trachsel was pitching a great game for the Orioles but he started to struggle with control. He was replaced in the 6th inning and things fell apart there. The Red Sox scored 4 in the bottom of the 7th and held on for a 5-4 win. Eric Gagne was traded for and he arrived to a standing ovation when he ran out to the dugout. We also got see new Celtic, Kevin Garnett, throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Dad and I near the field after the game

It was another great night for weather although it was a little stuffy under the upper level hangover. We are in Worcester, Mass, tonight. We get to sleep in a little before heading to Cooperstown for a casual tour. Tomorrow night we are off to Wilke's Barry. I'm hoping we get a little more hotel time so I can get pictures uploaded. Thanks!

P.S. Howard...I'm sorry your Orioles did not win. They played well although they should be a little more careful with their relief pitchers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day 4 - All About Yankee Stadium

Today's Photos

The highlight of today was definitely Yankee Stadium. We made 2 trips to the Bronx; 1 to tour the Stadium in the morning and 1 for the game tonight against the White Sox. On the tour we were able to see Monument Park, the press box, and the Yankees dugout. It was incredible to be standing on the same field as all the Yankee greats.

Near the Yankee dugout

Between the two visits we returned to Manhattan. We got off the bus near Rockefeller Center and walked around the area and ended up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. What an amazing building!! We were given about 2 hours to get dinner and tour on our own. Dad and I walked down 5th Avenue to find a legitimate electronics store to buy a charger for my camera battery. We were successful at Best Buy (familiarity isn’t always a bad thing). One of the guys that helped me was a Richmond, Indiana native!

Dad and I then walked over to Grand Central Station since he did not get there on his first visit to NYC. The main terminal was pretty quiet when we first got there but of course I had to say “this place looks like Grand Central Station!!” We grabbed some lunch in the lower level before heading back to the bus. As we walked back up to the main terminal, we noticed a large crowd. As we got closer, we realized we were having our first true celebrity sighting. Can you tell who the person below is from the fuzzy picture?

It is Tyra Banks

The bus then took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or “The Met.” It was an amazing place but we only had an hour to walk around. I particularly enjoyed the impressionist collection with Van Gogh, Monet, Gogin, and Matisse. I also stumbled across a baseball card exhibit in the American Hall. One of the cards was a Ty Cobb card.

After the museum it was back to Yankee Stadium. We arrived about an hour and a half before the game and walked around. It was a mad house with street vendors, small shops, bars, restaurants, and even a bowling alley on River Street and 161st just beyond left field. We walked around for awhile but then decided to head to our seats. We took a quick detour into the lower level seats in left field for batting practice. Jim Thome of the White Sox was hitting shots into the left field seats but they were all below us.

We then headed up to our seats which were just a few feet from the moon. Like at Shea we were 4 rows from the top but this time we were in right field. We could not see most of the right field fence so we hoped all activity would be in left field. We also had a chance to see A-Rod’s 500th career home run. The sell out crowd settled in late but those arriving on time got to see Bobbie Abreu hit a three run home run followed by Hideki Matsui hitting a solo shot in the bottom of the first. Chicago got back in the game in the top of the third with a 3 run shot of their own by Juan Uribe. From then it was all Yankees.

They set a franchise record with 8 home runs in a 16-3 victory. The amazing part was that A-Rod did not hit one of them. He was 1 of only 2 Yankees without a hit, 1 of 2 without an RBI, and the only one without a run scored!! Matsui hit 2 home runs and Jorge Posada had 4 hits and was 1 short of hitting for the cycle. Ozzie Guillen was ejected on the second batter in the bottom of the first arguing a check swing that was not called a strike. Paul Konerko was ejected later in the game for arguing balls and strikes. The plus for us is it allowed Darin Erstad to get in the last couple innings on his return from the disabled list.

Because of the late arriving crowd, we kept our eyes open for unused seats closer to home plate. After the fourth inning we noticed there were 4 seats in the upper level section behind home plate so we went for it. Nobody else claimed them so we enjoyed the last half of the game in excellent seats!! It was well worth the extra walk.

These are close to our seats for the second half of the game

We are definitely getting our walking in! Hopefully it’s helping to offset all the nutritious food we are getting at the stadiums. I’ve behaved myself pretty well but have taken advantage of the great Nathan’s hot dogs at both Yankee and Shea. Although I would never eat 63 in one setting like the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest on Coney Island, they are definitely the best in hot dog fare.
Tonight we are in Meriden, Connecticut, and will leave late morning for Boston. We will have a couple hours in the afternoon downtown and then head out to Fenway for a game against the Orioles. It sounds like our seats are pretty horrible tomorrow night too so hopefully we can scope some better seats. I hope to get pictures uploaded from the past couple days as well.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Luggage

We found out this morning my dad's luggage had not actually been found. The agent just assumed it was there. They claimed to send a message to the Newark airport but no luggage had been delivered. We called again this morning to find out why the American baggage claim counter had not gone to get the bag from Northwest and found out the American counter had never received a message. The message was sent to my dad's FILE and the American counter had no idea the message was there. We just heard back from the American counter and they found his luggage and it is now at the American counter. We apparently don't have time to stop on the way to the city today so my dad is just going to have the luggage delivered back home and will get along with what he has.

He'll use my clothes and/or buy shirts on the way. Northwest Airlines and American Airlines have really screwed this thing up and their service in resolving this has been horrible. Comments have been made by reps of both airlines that eventually proved to be false. People have been both rude and incompetent (i.e. sending the note to the file rather than the counter so they can actually do something with it). Having an experience like this helps you realize why airlines are having such trouble making money.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 3 - Manhattan and Staten Island

Today's Photos

Today was an intense tour day of Manhattan followed a minor league game on Staten Island. We left Kinston this morning and met our step-on guide in Manhattan about 11:00. We drove around Midtown through Columbus Circle and up Central Park West. We got out around Tavern on the Green and walked through the park up to Strawberry Fields, the memorial for John Lennon. It is located across the street from the Dakota, the apartment home of John and Yoko. Our guide explained it was called the Dakota because it was out of the city when it was built and seemed as far away as the Dakotas. It was built in the late 1870s when the Dakotas were being settled.

We got back on the bus and drove through the city down to Rockefeller Center. We had a chance to grab lunch in the area and I tried to find a place to buy a battery charger for my digital camera. They tried to charge me $300 for a charger kit in addition to a $400 wide angle lens and a filter that I already own. I eventually got him to $50 for the base charger, but I didn't want to spend any more than $25. It was fun to haggle but I walked away without a charger. Lunch was at a classic New York deli near Rockefeller Center and the sandwiches were excellent.

Dad and I on top of 'The Rock'

We met back at Rockefeller Center and went to the top for a great view of the city. We were on the 70th floor. It was a clear but hazy day. We got to see the enormity of Central Park and could also see Yankee Stadium and the Statue of Liberty. We went back down and caught the bus to Ground Zero. They have all the debris removed and have rebuilt much of the subway station below the towers. They have started construction of the Freedom Tower and we saw renderings of the new reflecting ponds they will build in the footprint of the towers. They are also building a huge transportation hub to connect all the subway tunnels. From there we headed to the Staten Island Ferry to go to our game for the night.

Our tour guide has been great all week. He points out very interesting bits of information about several buildings. We have learned a lot of interesting history and facts about of the city. We learned Macy's department store has more square footage on 4 floors than the entire Empire State Building. We drove through Time Square, around Madison Square Garden, through Grenich Village, SoHo (South of Houston), and Little Italy. We saw the Ed Sullivan Theater and the oldest Catholic Church in the city. He pointed out several buildings and identified their famous residents. We saw the NBC, ABC, and CBS studios, the home of the new Sports News Network, ESPN Zone, CNN, and all the financial centers.

New York City is truly an amazing city. The number of people is overwhelming and we thanked our bus driver often for taking care of the driving. There are so many other things pointed out by the tour guide that I forget most of them. This has been an unexpected suprise of the trip. We have had a lot of tour time and the escort and bus have been a nice way to do it.

We took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Oneonta Tigers take on the Staten Island Yankees. It's a beautiful park with an outfield view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It was still hazy tonight so our view was a little hazy. We enjoyed a cookout before the game and were able to sit in the front row behind the visiting team dugout. Two members of our group were able to participate in the promo activities of the game and several people picked up foul balls. We went back in time as the scoreboard did not work. It was struck by lightning so we had no reference during the game. Staten Island fell behind 2-1 in the top of the 8th but retook the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th and held on to win. It was another great game and another great night.

Dad and I with the Staten Island mascot, Huck

The good news was my dad's luggage has been found. The bad news is we still don't have it. We don't know if it is still at the Newark airport or if the contracted delivery firm has picked it up. We plan to call the airport in the morning to see if it's still there. If it is, we may ask the escorts if we can stop by to pick it up on our way to Yankee Stadium in the morning. We are doing a tour of Yankee Stadium in the morning and will return to the city for our final Manhattan tour. The plan includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Grand Central Station. We may also return to 5th Avenue. Our game tomorrow night is Yankee Stadium and then we are off to Meriden, Connecticut.

It's very late so I won't post any new pictures until tomorrow or Wednesday night. We have several new photos to add. Hopefully my dad will get his luggage/camera or I get a charger for my battery. Thanks for reading. Let me know if you stopped by to visit.

Photos Now Available

I now have all the photos from the first 2 days uploaded to a Shutterfly account. You can also go there directly at For those of you at Carrier, you may need to view the photo album at home since our proxy servers block most parts of Shutterfly. I need to figure out how to change the titles of the photos but for now you'll have to live with the file names (at least day 1). To make sure they were loaded in the right order, I just left the default title on them for Day 2. I'd also like to add comments without using the comment functionality.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 2 - Cooperstown Hall of Fame Induction

Today's Photos

We had a very early morning with a bus departure at 6:00am. It was a nice, quiet drive to Cooperstown and we arrived about 10:45. The crowd was already packing the induction field. They anticipated 60-70,000 people which would be the largest ever. We talked to someone who had been at the last 7 inductions and said this was 5 times the crowd as last year and half again more than the Puckett-Winfield-Mazeroski induction.

Here we are in front of Kirby Puckett's plaque.

We wondered around downtown for awhile and got a preview of the museum (we are returning Thursday afternoon). We also checked out some shops and headed back to the induction field. The ceremony lasted about 2 hours but went very fast. Both Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken spoke very well. There was a definite majority of Ripken fans since he was so loved and Baltimore is only about 5 or 6 hours away. It was also neat to see all the current Hall of Fame members introduced. A record 53 of the 62 living members were there.

I was able to call my good friend, Howard Luchinsky. He grew up in Baltimore as a huge Orioles and Cal Ripken fan. I wished he could be here as well. Hopefully he can do a future trip.

Because of the crowd we were so far away from the stage we could hardly ses anything. We did get a good view of the jumbo screen and the sound was great. We could also pick them out using my binoculars. I was able to get a decent photo and crop it so you can see barely Tony Gwynn.

The fuzzy guy in the middle is Tony Gwynn

We are looking forward to getting back on Thursday to see it when it is less busy. We learend a lot about Cooperstown and the history of baseball today both in town and on a video we watched on the bus. We are having fun getting to know others on the bus. It's a nice mixture of age and backgrounds. There are a couple families and 2 young guys who just graduated from high school.

If you are enjoying this blog, please drop me a note in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you!! I'm talking to Jean and the boys every day and hear the boys aren't always behaving well (especially Kylan and Kristofer). I look forward to seeing them next weekend in Chicago!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 1 - New York City and Shea Stadium

Today's Photos

Now that all the travel stuff is out of the way we can finally talk about the fun part of the trip. This morning we spent some time at the South Seaport which is on the East River side of lower Manhattan. I walked on my own up to Wall Street (I ran into a wrestling coach from Fowler, Indiana) and then Ground Zero. I was able to get the New York pizza I didn't get last night.

We returned to the bus about noon and with a "walk-on guide" headed over to Battery Park. He was great at pointing at several sights and historical markers on the short trip. The line to the ferry took about an hour. We had about an hour at the Statue of Liberty and 90 minutes at Ellis Island. Both were quick but we had enough time to see the highlights. My dad was able to hook up with us at Ellis Island!

We headed to Shea Stadium and got there about an hour before the game. The stadium is in the same complex as the Tennis Center so we saw Arthur Ashe Stadium. It is definitely not a nice area of Queens. Our seats were about 4 rows from the top of the upper deck but behind home plate. They weren't that bad and we had plenty of room to spread out. This is one of the worst stadiums on the league and it's earned it's reputation. You can see the new Citi Field being built just beyond center field. We spent a few innings in the top row to get the cross breeze and also get a view of Manhattan. Dinner was a Nathan's hot dog, famous for the hot dog eating contest. I stuck with 1 rather try to do 60+ in 12 minutes!

Our seats at Shea

The starting pitcher for Washington was making his major league debut and had a great start. He was leading 3-0 on a one hitter into the 6th inning. He struck out the first 2 batters of the 6th before giving up a single, double and home run in about 6 pitches to tie the game. The Nationals added a 3-spot in the top of the 8th and our group headed to the bus. We need to be on the bus by 6:00 am tomorrow so we needed to get the driver back to get his rest. The Mets did rally in the bottom of the 8th but only got 2 runs. The game ended 6-5.

Prior to the game they were doing an exhibition with some slow-pitch softball players hitting. Those guys were crushing the ball out of the park. The normal fences in softball are 275 feet and they were hitting it over the 371 feet sign in left center. We also saw a fight between a Yankee fan and a Mets fan. The Mets fan kicked the Yankee fan in the nose and a shouting match ensued. Eventually security came and took the Mets fan away and the Yankee fan dealt with his bloody nose.

We're on the bus to Cooperstown at 6:00am tomorrow and should get there by noon. We'll stop to grab a bite to eat and traffic will be high. They are expecting a record crowd of about 70,000. Should be fun!! Until tomorrow....

This photo is blurry because the camera focused on the stuff behind us rather than us

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Day 2

Dad walking off the ferry at Ellis Island

The good news is my dad made it to Newark today! Unfortunately we don't have luggage yet.

I checked his flight status this morning about 8:30 and the only morning direct flight from Detroit to Newark had been cancelled. Uggh!! I tried calling his cell phone but it was off. I called his hotel and he had already checked out. He called me about 9:00 as he was boarding a plane in DALLAS!!! I won't get into the details here but the flight he was booked on last night actually didn't exist and there was no evidence of his reservation. They did find him a 6:00 am flight through Dallas that got him to Newark about 12:45.

He tried to track down his luggage but had no luck. Since his flight today was on American Airlines, he has to file his lost luggage claim with American even though they never touched his luggage. He submitted that tonight on the way home from the game. He got to the hotel about 2:00 and was going to catch a cab to a train station to meet us at Battery Park in Manhattan. The train would need several changes so he just asked the cab driver how much he would charge to go to Battery Park and he said $75. He negotiated it down to $65 and then explained where he was going. The cabbie told him there was a ferry on the New Jersey side that also went to Ellis Island. That worked out great as my ferry and his ferry landed at Ellis Island about 2 minutes apart!! We were finally together!

Now hopefully they can track down his luggage and then somehow get it to us. We'll be a moving target so I'm not sure how they will do that.

Pitching Matchups

The pitching matchups for the rest of the weekend have been set. Aaraon Harang was scheduled to pitch the Pirates game but was scratched due to an injury. Although we did not see A-Rod's 500th home run, we can still see Tom Glavine's 300th win.

Saturday: Washington (Joel Hanrahan 0-0 MLB debut!) @ New York Mets (Mike Pelfrey 0-7)
Tuesday: Chicago White Sox (Jose Contreras 5-13) @ New York Yankees (Mike Mussina 5-7)
Wednesday: Baltimore (Steve Trachsel 5-7) @ Boston (Julian Tavaris 6-8)
Friday: Cincinnati (Matt Belisle 5-8) @ Pittsburgh (Ian Snell 5-7)
Saturday: Chicago White Sox (Javier Vasquez 8-6) @ Detroit (Jeremy Bonderman 10-3)
Sunday: New York Mets (Tom Glavine 8-6) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Marquis 7-6)

What a Start!!

My primary topic today was going to be the irony of our first hotel. Those of you who knew me at the time may remember when I was traveling for Theta Chi and my car was stolen in New Jersey. That was at a Holiday Inn near the Newark airport. When I pulled into the parking lot of the Doubletree (our first hotel), I thought it looked very familiar. The lobby was very different but I asked the guest clerk and she confirmed it had been a Holiday Inn!! I was back at the scene of the crime over 14 years later!!

The real story for today is my dad's flight. He was supposed to leave Minot at 11:00 but his flight was delayed because last night's flight into Minot did not get in until 3:00. That meant the crew was not allowed to fly until 1:00pm today. Fortunately my dad had a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis so he still had time. It turned out to be a glimpse of what he would exerience later.

His flight out of Minneapolis was delayed about 20 minutes so it would be a little later than its 7:00 arrival time. I checked the status later in the afternoon and it was now scheduled for 7:30. I got the airport about 7:30 and decided to drive around the terminal in hopes he could just meet me at baggage claim. By 7:45 I had not heard from him so I decided to park and go in.

When I got in, I found out the flight had been delayed until 8:05. That seemed odd since the flight was already on the way. How could it be delayed so much while in flight? I did some shopping (I can't tell you what I got since my kids are reading this as well) and then checked the board again. Now it was delayed to 8:15. What was going on?!? I decided to wait rather than go find the Northwest ticket counter. About 8:30, the board was updated to say the flight was now cancelled. How can a flight that in route suddenly become cancelled? My heart sank as I thought of a plane crash.

The Northwest ticket counter was stacked about 20 people deep for each line so I knew I would not get an answer from them. I went to baggage claim to see if the "lost luggage lady" would know what was happening. Just as I got back down there she announced the flight had been re-routed to Detroit due to thunderstorms in the area. That didn't sound right since the skies were clear over the airport. She also mentioned they would be in Detroit by 9:00 so I realized the weather must have been somewhere between Detroit and Newark.

I then decided to take my rental car back and just take the shuttle to the hotel. The rental drop off went fine but the tram that goes between the terminals and parking lot was out of service for about 25 minutes so I had to wait for it. When I finally got to the hotel shuttle center, the Doubletree was not listed as one of the hotels. I walked outside to the pick-up area and the Doubletree van pulled up. I later learned the airport had removed them from the list of hotels for some reason, but they do run a shuttle every 20 minutes. I finally made it back to the hotel about 9:45.

Back to my dad. He waited in line to get re-booked and found out the earliest he could leave was Sunday afternoon. There was not one flight into any of the 3 New York airports with an open seat. I encouraged him to talk to the agent again and mention the word "code sharing". It's an agreement between the airlines to move passengers to different airlines if there are issues exactly like this. If he used the word "code share" it would make the agent think he knew was he was talking about. He also found out the airlines alotment of hotels was sold out so he would have to find his own hotel. He did find someone who was renting a car and driving through the night but he decided he didn't want to do that.

They were told to go to baggage claim to get their luggage so everyone waited there. After awhile, another Northwest person came out and let everyone know luggage from cancelled flights would NOT be pulled and would instead be sent ahead to the destination. Apparently they could fly luggage but not passengers to Newark!!

He did get a hotel room and a voucher from Northwest to get reimbursed up to $125. That was the first bit of good news. When he got to the room he called Northwest directly and they were able to find him the only available seat on a flight getting in around noon tomorrow. It was probably just good timing that a previously reserved seat became available.

I'm not sure yet how we will hook up tomorrow. We are supposed to leave the hotel at 9:00 to tour Southern Manhattan in the morning. We then take the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty at noon. When we get back to Manhattan, we will leave for the Mets game. It supposed to rain off and on tomorrow so hopefully we don't get rained out. I will either wait for him to get on the SOL ferry or meet up with him after that tour. I'm just glad he will be able to make it! I was finally able to eat dinner about 11:30 tonight.

I have been very impressed with the Jay Buckley folks so far. They greeted me in the lobby of the hotel tonight. I then met our escorts, Jim and Sue Olson, who took me back to the Buckley Store. I was given my credentials with name tag as well as a packet of information. In the packet were tokens to purchase Jay Buckley merchandise. I had enough to get a nice pull over, polo shirt, and visor. Since my dad wasn't here yet, I got him a few items as well. I got to meet Jay and talk to him a little about his business. He definitely loves what he does (I would to!). There are going to be 7 or 8 of the tours going through here this weekend and I got to meet a couple others from other trips.

I apologize for the long first post but it was one of those days! Hopefully the others won't be this long. Northwest is not really high on my list right now but they will get him here tomorrow(hopefully). I did figure out how to get pictures downloaded and posted quickly so I will be doing that starting maybe Sunday night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost Here

Our trip is almost here. I've started to check schedules to see who the scheduled pitchers are. The Mets don't have a starter named yet but the Nationals look to have a pitcher make his major league debut - Joel Hanrahan. It could be Orlando Hernandez (who started Sunday) or John Maine (who starts tonight). They do have a day-night doubleheader on Saturday so I could see the Mets starting some rookie as well.

Since a couple people have stumbled across this blog already I thought I would see if I could stumble across others. I didn't find many but I found one newspaper article and a single page with some photos. Here are the links.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Two Weeks Away!

It's hard to believe the trip is just over two weeks away! We were hosting a Fedje family reunion over the weekend and I received the itinerary and other participants. I was sharing the information with my cousins and they want to do one of these trips next year!

We have about 30 people on our trip and most of them are from California and Arizona. It looks like they are flying in and out of Chicago and taking the bus all the way to New Jersey. My dad and I will join in Jersey and leave from Chicago. My wife is planning to drive up for the weekend and pick me up after the last game.

I got a taste of the trip last week. My dad, 6 year old son, and my cousin drove to Cincinnati on the 4th to see the Reds host the Giants. When I bought the tickets it looked like we could see Bonds break the record. As it turned out, he didn't play (it was a day game after a night game). We did see 4 home runs including a grand slam (all by the Giants) in a 9-5 Reds loss.

Being at the park got me excited for what I'm about to do. It also made me realize I'm probably not going to be eating very healthy. My wife got me on to Weight Watchers and it's worked great so far. I've lost nearly 15 pounds in a month and I just hope I don't gain it all back in one week!

Friday, May 11, 2007

What a great wife!

My wife is the greatest! I've been working on my MBA for 2 years and will finish on June 9. The school's graduation was last weekend so she gave me my graduation gift. When she asked me a couple months ago what I would want, I jokingly told her she could get me one of those baseball tours.

Knowing about Jay Buckley tours, I went to his site ( and looked at this year's tours. If I were to be crazy enough to get one, this was the place to go. I looked through several of the tours and found a couple that were interesting. The challenge was finding one that fit my schedule and hit the cities I wanted to hit. I know my wife wouldn't want to go and that I would love for my dad to go. He's never been to Boston or Yankee Stadium so I was trying to find tours that hit both of those.

I finally found one that fit all those requirements but it was too expensive. It also included a game at Wrigley and the Hall of Fame induction cermonies for Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. I printed the schedule to show Jean but never thought she would actually do it. Guess what? She did! She made arrangements with my dad and they reserved the seats. We go July 27 - August 5 and you can see all the details by looking at Trip 19 on the site.

I may try to post some updates here between now and then. My primary intent is to post updates and possibly photos during the trip. This is my first attempt at blogging so we'll see how it goes.