Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Twit on a Road Trip [Part 2 : Day 3 and 4]

My personalized bat
I've officially hit my stride on the road trip. Yesterday morning, I awoke in Nashville feeling much better, though the walls of the hotel were seriously thin. My goal once I hit the road was Louisville. I had visited the city once before but was looking forward to stopping at the Louisville Slugger Museum. They've really put together a nice exhibit there, but the big draw for me was the factory tour. It's not reinventing the wheel, but watching how accurately and quickly a bat can be carved out of a billet was impressive, as was learning how they tailor bats to individual players. Good stuff. I even picked up a personalized bat for my wall and a defect bat chosen specifically for my illustrious protagonist, Shawn Kidd. As a fan of baseball, tradition, and good craftsmanship, it was really a nice couple hours in downtown Louisville. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a long drive ahead of me.

Jumping back on the road and pointing the car north, I quickly crossed into Indiana. Honestly, I did feel a bit different crossing into the 'North.' The land and people's attitudes changed. I made a note to look up the Civil War history of the area - and Louisville in particular - since it seemed as if it would make for an interesting education given its proximity to the dividing line.

Harry's Chocolate Shop near Purdue
I made it up to Indianapolis, a city that I had never visited but hadn't heard anything that would make me want to, and cut northwest toward Lafayette. I had a specific reason for the rather strange detour, as the city serves as the opening scene for my novel, Number 181. The goal when I pulled off the interstate was to find an internet connection to reserve a hotel room and get a couple pictures. As I drove past Purdue, though, the city came within a sip of beer of convincing me to stay there for the night. I had a long drive the following day; though, and I didn't want to tack on another 2 hours.

But, I was able to grab a couple pictures that my readers might find interesting. The first, a shot of the door to Harry's Chocolate Shop, was a really nice view and just how I pictured it. The second one is a shot of Founder's Park where Bolu is killed.

I wanted to spend more time in the Purdue University area but jumped back in the car for a couple hours and crashed at a hotel in Bloomington, IL.

This morning, I woke up early and made it four hours down the road before reaching the first, real destination that I had put down on paper months ago: The farm used in the movie, Field of Dreams. It was... Un. Be. Lievable. I took about a hundred pictures of the field and farmhouse, and I spent an hour sitting on the very bleachers used in the movie and staring out at the field, corn husks pressing their way skyward in the outfield. The movie may be my favorite of all time, and I may be a huge Kevin Costner fan, but only true baseball fans can understand what I felt sitting there. It had very little to do with the movie. It was all about the history of the game and how its tradition brings us all together. All baseball fans are embodied in the film by James Earl Jones character, Terrance Mann... we are rough and distant, but we believe in the spirit of the game and what it means. Everyone that visits that field feels that way, and it was nice to be around people that shared my passions.
"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."..... ..... Can't it be both?
The experience made the trip worthwhile, and I'm nowhere near the end of it. Still, I had a place to be for the night. I continued northward through small Iowa towns, and they made for a memorable drive. Corn stretched for miles, and little towns like Postville and Guttenberg marked islands in the green seas. Very cool experience. I made it to Minneapolis in time to get settled at my hotel and slip downtown to Target Field for some Twins-White Sox baseball. (Youkilis' first game in a White Sox uniform!)

Target Field is a great setup with plenty of parking, but its atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired. Food choices are slim, and there isn't much community around the stadium. It's all parking garages. And, worst of all, after Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch, they play that painful, "Red Solo Cup" song that makes me want to murder my ears. Inexcusable. But, I was able to watch former FSU QB recruit Joe Mauer play some baseball and cross one more stadium off my list. By my count, that leaves only 9 left, and that list will be halved by the end of the year.

Days 3 and 4 went well, and I expect the next three days to be interesting and slower paced as I make my way across the Great Lakes area to the northeast section of the country. MUCH more to come... Best Blogger Tips

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