SteveMRyan's Blog

October 14, 2016

36 Hours On the Road in Three Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 9:19 pm

On Friday morning, September 30 at 6:27am EST, my wife and I left for Maple Grove, Minnesota.  I had just completed a 12-hour shift (at 6:00am) and not slept particularly well the day before.  My wife started the drive because she was better rested.  The idea was that I would sleep and take over later in the afternoon.  We were traveling with Honey, Coach had been dropped off at our Vet – for the reasonable price of $24/night, and Diane and Carla were left at home with two large bowls of food and a couple of large water bowls.  We put a pillow by Carla’s bowl of food because we suspected she would guard her bowl all weekend while we were gone.

The purpose of the trip was for me to meet some new APBA Friends while competing in the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament VI.  (Click on the link for an awesome recap and pictures!)  Darrell Skogen was the gracious host and Jim Fraasch organized the event.  The odd numbered TCABT events are held on the first Saturday in April while the even numbered events occur on the first Saturday in October.  My wife had started a new job in early August.  She was still in her 90-day probation period but had notified her boss that she needed this particular weekend off for our trip.  I can’t say enough about our relationship and the lengths to which my wife goes to prove her devotion to me.  I am truly a very fortunate man!

On the drive, my excitement and opportunity to spend time with my wife prevented me from sleeping much.  I work a lot of hours.  With my wife now working this was an opportunity to spend time together.  We talked and generally enjoyed the trip.  We laugh a lot when we are together.  Most of our amusement comes from sharing thoughts before we even speak them.  We hit Nashville smack in the middle of morning rush hour but there seemed to be a little less construction than usual for the Music City.  My boss had been touting Waze as an exceptional navigational app.  My boss’ previous recommendations have been questionable due to a couple of poor movies.  After watching one of his recommended films, my wife’s feeling was that we would never get those two hours back and I agreed.  By the end of our trip, my boss was further vilified by his suggestions – now expanded to the app arena.  I’ll just say we used Google Maps for our return home.

We were amused by the number of people participating in distracted driving, mainly phone use, but also eating and grooming.  We did encounter one driver looking at the paper.  We did do a fair amount of eating in the car during our trip.  We tend to limit our driving food to items that require less effort and one-handed maneuvering.  We brought some protein bars and some crackers along with other snacks.  We had our Yeti cups with ice for our beverages.  We also visited gas stations frequently to walk around, stretch our legs and bathroom breaks.  Even with a lengthy trip, we wanted to stay as fresh as possible.  We kept the gas tank from getting too low and kept an eye on our tire pressure.  We both like to travel slow and steady.  We resemble the turtle much more than the hare.

During our trip, we observed that Missouri, especially around St Louis, doesn’t have any type of vehicle inspection or other requirements for a vehicle to be considered road-worthy.  Iowa is one big God-forsaken cornfield with a lot of two lane roads.  Kentucky has signs that say the left lane is intended for passing slower vehicles which is mainly for a tractor-trailer going 50 to pass another tractor-trailer going 45 in a 65 MPH zone – forget using cruise control.  Minneapolis/St Paul, MN has some of the most dangerous construction zones with the shortest on/off ramps and the worst detours ever!  Other than that, Minnesota has the best roads.

We arrived at our destination around 12:30am CST.  Around 10pm, while we were in an area of Iowa between cell phone towers, the place where we had reservations for Friday & Saturday nights called to see if we still planned on keeping our reservations.  I called them back and assured them we were in route.  I had called Wednesday evening to confirm our reservation and make sure they still accepted pets.  This was confirmed along with the pet rate.  The Ryder Cup was being held the same weekend in the area and we probably got one of the last remaining rooms.  So I imagine the hotel was looking to make sure our room would be used.  More on this establishment later.

We got to the room, brought our stuff from the car, set our alarm and went to sleep.  My alarm was set for 6:45am since we were only a five-minute drive from Mr Skogen’s house.  The shower rod was falling down and there was a unique smell in the hotel so I didn’t have any faith that the water would offer any refreshment properties.  My wife is made of much sturdier stock so she actually took a shower and survived.  I used deodorant and a fresh change of clothes and went down to check out the free breakfast.  Free is a misleading word since the breakfast was included with our room but you get what you pay for.  Have I mentioned that we called another budget-type hotel chain after calling Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn and discovering there were no rooms available at the more trusted options?  The budget option wanted $240 a night so that was when I researched local events and discovered the Ryder Cup conflict.  We were paying $80 a night plus $15 a night for our dog.

I checked the breakfast and tried a bagel but I must have accidentally picked one of the rubber display bagels.  That was the most visually appetizing item in the breakfast room so we checked Google and discovered a Chick-Fil-A on the way to the tournament.  Breakfast was wonderful and since Chick-Fil-A is a Southern chain, they offer sweet tea north of the Mason-Dixon line.  (I am not sure but I believe sweet tea north of the Mason-Dixon line is like Coors Beer east of Colorado – or a Smokey & The Bandit situation!)  This was not lost on me due to a previous experience in Lansing, MI 25 years ago.  My wife had some of her breakfast combo left over and decided she would save it for later.  I had nectar remaining, which would come in handy for sipping on the rest of the day.  She dropped me off and headed back to the room for more sleep.

I knew several people at the tourney and it was good to meet new friends as well.  We went inside and mulled around for a few minutes before things got underway.  There were several people I specifically wanted to meet that I feel I know from either their blogs or YouTube channels.  There was one guy there who I didn’t get to meet but we are in at least one BBW email league together.  My division was in Mr Skogen’s office area so we were a bit isolated from the other divisions.  My second series was against Beau Lofgren, who writes the Minnesota APBA blog.  He uses the iScore app to score games on his iPad and I was able to ask him a few questions about that during our games.  He was a big help and I have since entered all of my TCABT VI Divisional games into iScore.  (I somehow lost them and only have the first two playoff games in iScore.) I also got to play George Adams who has been featured in an APBA’view by Mr Fraasch.  I was fortunate to win seven games while only losing three and qualifying for the playoffs as the 2nd Place finisher in my division.

The playoffs were held in the basement after a well done Announcement Show.  I was the beneficiary of good rolls and hot dice and matched up with Darrell Skogen’s 2014 Baltimore Orioles in the first round.  The dice were with me as I rolled to an 8-1 victory in the opening game.  My dice stayed hot in the second game with a 4-2 win.  I faced Leroy Arnoldi’s 1977 Philadelphia Phillies in the semi-finals and my luck ran out along with facing a very good team and manager.  I am pretty sure if managing ability was more important, I wouldn’t have made it out of Divisional Play.  That is one of the things I like about APBA.  Hot dice are usually the most important thing which reflects the baseball dictum, “That how baseball go,” as uttered by the wise baseball sage Ron Washington.  Mr Arnoldi swept me 3-1 & 4-2 but his hot dice failed him in the finals as Bruce Tyler’s 1930 St Louis Cardinals were crowned TCABT VI Champions.  Mr Arnoldi had won the two previous October Twin Cities Tournaments.

My wife picked me up and I shared the days’ events and proclaimed that this was one of the two greatest days of the year, along with the APBA Convention in June.  We headed back to the hotel to pack our things and hit the road.  My wife said she had to leave the room to finish her breakfast as the smell was ruining her appetite.  She tried to sleep but since our room didn’t include a Do Not Disturb door hanger, she was disturbed by housekeeping before she could get much sleep.  While we were packing, the girl at the front desk called our room and asked if we had an animal.  I replied that we did and when we booked our room as well as when I called to confirm our reservation I had made sure pets were allowed and reminded her we had also checked the fee.  The front desk clerk told us that pets weren’t allowed and we hadn’t been charged.  I told her we planned to pay the fee.  She was a bit rude but if I had to smell that smell all the time, I would be a bit rude too.  I reviewed the hotel on and it shouldn’t be too hard to pick out mine or my wife’s reviews.  We checked out around 8:15pm CST and hit the road.

My wife drove since I was going on about seven hours sleep since I had woken around 2:30pm EST Thursday afternoon.  My wife probably had about twice that since she went to bed Thursday evening.  Maple Grove is a nice community and the weather was great.  I even wore a hoodie I had bought on a clearance sale from the shop for $17.  We are a month away from hoodie weather in Tennessee but Minnesota was brisk approaching chilly.  The MLBShop site will have items with previous year’s Playoff/All-Star patches on sale for very good prices.  My hoodie was a 2013 Red Sox World Series Championship item for 75% off.  I also got a Twins hat with a 2014 All-Star Patch for $15 along with some other items.  I love baseball so I will wear almost any team item within reason.

The trip home was much better since we went through Wisconsin and Illinois.  There were many more construction zones and even a toll road, but most of our trip was at night and there wasn’t much traffic at all.  We did encounter one deer but that was more of a monster sighting/wake-up call than anything.  We like the Illinois roads continued our stops every hour and a half or so for fuel, bathrooms, and other pit stops.  We stopped at a Denny’s in southern Illinois for breakfast Sunday Morning and it was very good.  We arrived home around 3:30pm EST, unpacked the car and I was in bed by 5:30pm.  I had to be at work the following morning at 6am and needed some sleep.  My alarm woke me up around 4:20am and my routine started over again.


Custom APBA Envelopes from Jim Fraasch!


When I finished that stretch of work days on Thursday evening at 6pm, I had a few things to do and was busy pretty much until I returned to work Sunday evening at 6pm.  I wasn’t even able to play any APBA but more importantly, I got the lawn mower tuned up for what would be one of the last yard cuts of the year.  We have even looked at different APBA Tournaments and hope to maybe return to Minnesota in April or possibly try another event in Michigan.


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