Sunday, July 24, 2011

In Need of Rest after Rockford

I picked Laura up from work in Princeton and we headed up to Jeff & Nichole's Friday afternoon.  The Iadipaolos and Cokers soon joined us in Rockford.  Five huge meals and five hours in inflatable bouncy house water slide contraption we all resembled Frank: "dog tired".

Who's ready?!?

Saturday started with Jeff as eager as a kid on Christmas morning.
Oh, and and the outfit.  I can't fail to mention the outfit.

There was a HUGE water fight.  There were squirt guns, Max Liquidators, a five gallon bucket, and the mini pool at the base of the slide. No one was safe. I repeat, no one.

I'm not sure who fired the first shot.  But my money is the little guy holding the Max Liquidator below.  Don't let his boyish good looks or charms fool you.

The blow up bouncy water slide
Santi caught red handed.

All-in-all, it was a fun weekend, with good food, and great friends.  Many thanks to Jeff and Nichole for orchestrating and hosting the weekend.  It couldn't have been easy to plan, but said plan was executed without a hitch.  Well done.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I had never been to the movie site for "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville so I borrowed Laura's car Tuesday morning and took off for Iowa.  The weather has been absolutely brutal the last few days, evidenced by the picture.  So, I pulled a golf umbrella out of the trunk to shade myself as I toured the site.

There is a decent sized parking lot and a souvenir stand, but everything else is as it was in the movie and in pristine condition.  I walked out to the corn fields (taller than me) and waited for Shoeless Joe Jackson to come meandering out, but atlas, all I got for my efforts was a good sweat.  Pretty neat overall, but a few degrees cooler and a run-in with an apparition would have been awesome!

Afterwords I made the drive over to Des Moines and was able to buy a ticket, in the shade, at the top of the stands so that I could catch the breeze.  Didn't matter.  Game time temperature was 98 degrees and I was dripping wet the entire nine innings.  The I-Cubs lost 4 to 3, but that didn't stop me from being me: hot dog and beer were consumed, program was bought, park was documented by pictures, and score was kept.  BONUS:  It was bobblehead day at the ole ballpark!

Bob Feller

The next morning I made the short trek to Van Meter, Iowa, home of the Bob Feller Museum.  The Bobblehead I received the night before was in the likeness of Feller in a Van Meter American Legion uniform.  Coincidence?  I think not.  See, I could go on these trips anytime during the summer, but I try to get the best bang for my buck, and timing is everything!  Another baseball park and add another bobblehead to my collection.  Score!

I spent a good forty minutes in the museum, which is ran mostly volunteer senior citizens.  I can easily compare the exhibit's quality to that of Cooperstown, just on a smaller scale.

Overall, it was a great trip.  My one regret is going alone.  But what am I going to do?  Ask someone to take two days off of work to drive 700+ miles, sit in 98 degree weather for 3 hours, sleep in a cheap hotel, and partake in nothing but baseball activities?  Yikes!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Laura and I took a trip to Hawaii.  We left on Saturday, July 9th, and we returned on Sunday, July 17th.  It was a wonderful vacation and much of that can be attributed to the gracious generosity of Aunt Julia and Uncle Bob, who housed us, fed us, and loaned us their SUV for the week.  All the amenities of a 5 star bed-n-breakfast, and then some!  Thank you so much, Aunt Julia and Uncle Bob!

On to the trip and some pictures!

Ocean, palm trees, and clouds... ahhh...   Hawaii is so beautiful!  Temps were in the mid 80's and the winds were consistently 15-20 mph.  Just gorgeous weather!

A rainbow!  Hah!  It rained on and off pretty consistently, but we didn't see our first rainbow until the second to last day!
Chinaman's Hat with palm trees whizzing by.  So many things to see and so little time!

Here's a diagram of the memorial that rests atop of the USS Arizona.  We visited the memorial and were able to see parts of the ship beneath the water.  Quite an educational and humbling experience.
We visited the Bowfin, a submarine at Pearl Harbor.
Seamen used to sleep on torpedos?  Whoa.

FYI: submarines are not meant for anyone over the height of 5'6".
 A few lines of "Go Cubs Go" scribbled on a baseball.

The other side of the ball: A plea to Alexander Cartwright to have some good fortune fall upon my Cubs.
The ball was placed at Cartwright's grave next to numerous other baseballs.  For those not in the know, Cartwright is given credit for inventing the great game of baseball.  I figure if anyone has pull with the baseball gods it would be this guy.  Worth a shot, right?
Cartwright Field in Honolulu.  Not exactly pristine, but pretty cool nonetheless.
Stand Up Paddleboard... quite a work out!
I did great in the channel, but I fell FIVE times in the ocean.  Laura only fell ONCE.  She has mad paddleboarding skills. 

 Shave Ice - better than snow cone... no kidding!

We tried the Shave Ice at Aoki's (my favorite), Matsumoto's, and Island Snow (where Obama gets his shave ice).

It is served with ice cream at the bottom with azuki beans upon request.  Laura's not a fan of the azuki beans.
 Temple!  Not one nail was used in its construction.  It was surrounded by a moat filled with... wait for it... koi!  You thought I was going to say 'alligators', didn't you!
Aunt Julia volunteers her time, as a tour guide, at the Hawaiin Cultural Center in Honolulu.  She gave us a tour of China Town.  We stopped in a few bakeries, shops, and markets.  We did not stop here; the sign is protected by the historical society.
 I'm sorry we stopped here.  Man, China Town has it all.
 For the bird lovers! You know who you are!

A Brazilian Cardinal.
A Black Swan.  This one was patrolling the moat at the Temple.

Those are just some of the highlights of the trip.

We also enjoyed food at a Korean restaurant, went to two botanical gardens, climbed to the top of Diamond Head, traversed a trail to a fantastic waterfall, visited Punch Bowl, got stuck in traffic on the North Shore, had fish tacos, ran on the beach (4.65 miles barefoot!), had jumbo shrimp sold out of a van, got stuck in Shark's Cove, saw a blow hole in the rock along the ocean, dabbled with kimchee and Spam Musubi, drove through Dole's pineapple fields (not literally), and generally had more fun than a couple should be allowed.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Night at the Ole Ballpark

Hitting Coach - Tommy Watkins
So, Carlos Zambrano pitched four innings as part of his rehab assignment for the Chiefs tonight.  I was able to score four front row tickets for the evening and was joined by Jane, Jeremy, Vince, and Santi.  Santi, flashing his cherubic smile, conned the Clinton hitting coach (pictured) out of a baseball before the game even started. I couldn't get him to flash the pearly whites in the below snapshot, but trust me, his smile is just as forceful as some Jedi mind tricks. 

Big Z was less than impressive, but I guess that's what you get sometimes when a guy is working his way back from injury, in this case a lower back injury.  He allowed 3 hits and 3 walks, struck out 4, and induced two double play grounders.  The fastest pitch he through on the mound was 91 mph.  Not exactly bringing the heat.  Zambrano left the game tied at 1-to-1 after pitching just four innings, and I'm assuming he drove back up to Chicago to catch a flight to Guatemala to start his All-Star break a little early.  I hear he's in the process of adopting a son.  Congrats, and good luck, Z!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day Weekend

I had nice helping of fun over the weekend.  I could write for ever, but let's just look at the highlights:

- I coached my basketball girls from last winter at a tournament in Monmouth.  We won two and lost five, but it was fun nevertheless.
- Saw the Cubs beat the White Sox on Sunday, never mind that the Sox won the series.
Tom's Favorite: Shoots Flaming Balls!
- Played some yard games and enjoyed a good barbecue at Mom & Dad's. I was ladder golf champion!
- Lit up the sky in Bartonville with the help of Dad and Jeremy.  The cheers and comments from the audience were priceless.
- Survived the frisbee golf course at McNaughton Park in Pekin with Jim and Jane.  Found a lost disc and witnessed an instant classic: Jane's disc slamming into the front of Jim's SUV from over 100 feet away. That course is the toughest in the area and we won't be returning anytime soon.
- Won a $50 gas card while participating in a trivia contest at the Chiefs' game. No worries, I concealed my identity from any Dunlap students in attendance by using a slick Independence Day themed alias: Honest Abe. George Washington (Jim), Betsy Ross (Jane) and Susan B. Anthony (Laura) also came away winners!
- Witnessed my first ever live no-hitter at the same game. Congrats, Austin Kirk!  I don't know how many games I've watched in person at the professional level, but that one will stay with me for a long time.
- Watched the Peoria riverfront illuminate with great company: Jim, Theresa, Jane, Sarah, and Laura. Purportedly, the Methodist Red, White, and Boom fireworks show was the largest in Illinois.

All-in-all, it doesn't get much better.  I hope you had a fun weekend, too!