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 http://fedje.shutterfly.com/. 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!