Two Guys & a Map
Midlife Crisis Tour
May 12 - Anaheim Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, Edison Field
May 13 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets, Dodger Stadium
May 15 - Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants, Pacific Bell Park
May 16 - Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants, Pacific Bell Park
In 2002 we both entered our mid-forties. Having reached the age where many people have their midlife crisis, we decided it was appropriate to head for California. We met in Nashville on Saturday, May 11 and flew on out to L.A. The alternate name for this trip was "The Rogaine and Convertible Tour" -- neither of us is using Rogaine (yet) but we did try to rent a convertible. Sadly, there were none available.
From there we headed north on California Highway One. This is the Pacific Coast Highway and it is one of the most beautiful drives you can imagine. The road is one lane in each direction, winding along the mountains with a steep drop down to the Pacific on one side. We spent much of the day oohing and aahing as we came around a tight curve in the road to see another gorgeous view. We love our ballgames but this might have been our favorite day of the trip.
A couple of views of The Pacific Coast Highway; the next day: Alcatraz
We spent the night in Santa Cruz and then were up early the next day to make the 75 mile drive to San Francisco. We got into town and spent some time down by Pier 39, where hundreds of sea lions hang out. Then it was onto a ferry boat for the ride out to Alcatraz. We arrived on "The Rock" about 24 hours after reaching San Simeon. It was quite a contrast in living conditions - whereas guests at The Hearst Castle had drinks before dinner in a room large enough to house a regulation sized basketball court, the convicts of Alcatraz spent 16 to 23 hours a day in tiny 5 foot by 9 foot cells.
After that we walked down to Pacific Bell Park. What a wonderful place to see a ballgame! It's right on the water which allows people to arrive at the ballpark via ferry boat as well as rail. The original plan was to have the open part of the ballpark face downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. But they discovered that would result in wind problems similar to their old stadium, Candlestick Park (which was notorious for it's high winds and cold temperatures) so they built it facing the Bay Bridge instead. Still a great view and that allowed them to include McCovey Cove, an area right beyond the right field fence where home run balls can land in the water. No one hit a ball into the cove during the games we saw -- Barry Bonds waited until a couple of days after we left and then hit two into the water in one game.
We went inside and met Dave's friend Lisa who lives in San Francisco and is a big Giants fan. This was the least competitive game of the trip but we saw a masterful performance from Greg Maddux as the Braves beat the Giants 6-1. After the game we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County and drove to Sonoma where we spent the night with Dave's friends Darlene and Bob. We would have liked the chance to tour one of the vineyards surrounding Sonoma but the Giants game was scheduled for 12:30 the next day.
Thursday morning we headed back into San Francisco. There is an area underneath the rightfield bleachers at Pac Bell where the only thing separating people outside the ballpark from the field is a chain link fence. You can't see everything but you can see enough of the field to make it worth hanging out down there, especially since it's free to everyone. If there is a big crowd, the Giants clear the area every three innings so more people can experience this view. We spent the first inning watching from there, then went in. This game was a tight pitchers duel until the top of the eighth when the Braves scored four runs to take a 5-1 lead. The Giants beat up on Braves closer John Smoltz in the bottom of the ninth to make it a one run game but their rally fell short and the Braves won 5-4.
After the game we wandered around for awhile and eventually visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Some of it was pretty cool, some of it was beyond us. Our favorite thing there was a room in which the audio from four films being shown simultaneously mixed together into a (semi) coherent sound collage.
After a nice dinner, it was DC's turn to make a concession to Dave. While our musical tastes converge on a lot of things, there are areas where we differ. That night The Knitters were playing at a place called The Great American Music Hall, which (from what we've heard) is, well, a great American music hall. Dave likes The Knitters, DC had never heard of them. They'd put out one album in 1985 and since all the members are in other groups, The Knitters rarely do shows. We headed over there and found ourselves walking from the garage towards The Great American Music Hall with a bunch of sci fan fans - the latest Star Wars movie had opened that day and there was a line down the street for it. The Star Wars fans were milling about with the Knitters fans and the customers of the other big attraction on the block - The Mitchell Brothers Theatre which is apparently a world reknowned porn palace. All in all, an interesting mix of humanity. DC was shocked to find that a band which had released their only album 17 years earlier could sell out a show but they had - we didn't get in.
While DC was prepared to bite the bullet and see The Knitters, missing the show didn't bother him since his plane was scheduled to leave at 7:00 AM the next morning. So we headed across the Bay Bridge to Oakland (passing the home of the Oakland Athletics) and settled in for the night. The next day we went to the Oakland Airport bright and early and headed home.
By that time we'd already started thinking about the next Two Guys and A Map trip - by 2004 there will be new parks in Cincinnati and Philadelphia and neither of us had seen Pittsburgh's new park so next up is a tour east of the Mississippi River.
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