Monday, July 2, 2012

Twit on a Road Trip [Part 4 : Day 6 and 7]

Day 6 (Wednesday, June 27th) started as a bit of a blur. The day before was a long drive that ended with copious amounts of alcohol. Even the craft beers of the Cheese Belt hurt the next day. Still, I wanted to see as much of Madison as I could before I had to get on the road.

The library mall at UW
I returned to State Street and walked much the same route as the night before. This time, though, I walked through the UW campus. It's well laid out and has an abundance of green spaces. I found myself trying to picture what the area looked like in the middle of January and had little success. Still, in the bright sunshine of summer, it was a beautiful campus. I walked through much of it and made sure to make my way over to Camp Randall Stadium to see where the Badger football team plays. The stadium and surrounding land gets its name from the camp that was located on the spot where Union troops met and trained during the Civil War, so it really struck my 'military history' leanings. Even walking through this small section of Madison, I passed dozens of runners carving up the pavement around the city. It was clear that Madison was a very healthy, outdoors-focused city.

Following my trip through the campus, I made my way to the Capitol building at the far end of State Street. The noon sun was beating down on the asphalt by this point (the entire region was experiencing near-record highs), but it made for a nice walk. I ducked into college stores to grab a shirt and grabbed a quick bite.

I eventually pulled out of the city but faced my first real decision. I had toyed with the idea of driving northward a couple hours and watching a minor league baseball game with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers followed by a look at Lambeau Field. Instead, I cut south and aimed toward Chicago. The Windy City wasn't my final destination, though, so I steered clear of the downtown area. Still, the 3PM traffic stretched to the outer rings of the bypass. As such, it took significantly longer to get around the city than I would have liked. Then, the very Yankee practice of treating the interstates as toll roads began irritating me. But, I digress...

Coveleski Stadium: Home of the MidWest League's Silver Hawks
I made my way across Illinois and into northern Indiana. As a Florida State fan... and a normal person... I despise Notre Dame. Still, I respect what the program has done for sports - and college football in particular. I had hoped to get some evening shots from around campus, but the Chicago traffic forced me to put that off to the following day. Instead, I hit up a single-A minor league game with the South Bend Silver Hawks hosting the (Dodgers affiliate) Great Lake Loons. The stadium was small and attendance was thin. It made for a great atmosphere, and I've come to realize that this is the way to see a baseball game. It reminded me of my own games where few spectators showed up and the food/services for fans was slim. It was great. I watched the game, toured the shop, and returned to my hotel for a long day the next morning.
Touchdown Jesus
With a lot planned for Thursday (my birthday, by the way), I awoke early to go jog around Notre Dame's campus. Instead, I chose to delay my run until that night. I packed up the car and hit campus. The layout is amazing and the land very inviting (I still found myself wondering what it was like in the frozen dead of winter, though). I made my way to Notre Dame stadium and grabbed some pictures of the mammoth structure. The buildings around Notre Dame - including the football stadium - were actually rather bland. I'd suspect that comes from its rather austere beginnings as a strict Catholic school. In truth, it has more the look of a monastery than a college. Still, the history is palpable around South Bend, and the city's growth and even presence owes much to the school.

Having experienced Notre Dame, I jumped on the interstate (more tolls!) and made my way to Akron and then Canton, OH. My goal was the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and it was truly a memorable experience. It's clear that designers had much respect for the game and their subject, but there isn't actually much at the HoF. The first atrium with a history of the game is interesting (and has several Redskins highlights), but the room of HoF busts is the real tour stop. The scope of what you're seeing as you turn the corner into the room is breath-taking, but I can only imagine how bored you'll be if you're a Jags or Seahawks fan. There aren't a lot of things to get excited about with respect to those two teams. Fortunately, the Redskins have years of history and were one of the original 6 teams to be developed for the NFL. The back room exhibits on modern interests are good, and the Super Bowl recaps are nice.
The Pro Football HoF members... in bust form

The Super Bowl film struck a chord with me, because it reminded me that I didn't even watch the game last year. Yea... that's right. I went for a run.

I enjoyed my birthday at Canton, spending three hours touring the Hall, and then drove up to Akron for the night. I was still able to fit in an Akron Aero's AA minor league game, however. I am really ticking off the ball parks.

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