Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The End of Days -- Trip Report (Part 1)

It's the end of days summer, and I'm trying to close it out with a bang.  It's Tuesday afternoon as I take a break from work to start this write up of the past week or so.  In a word, it's been . . . fantastic.  It began two Friday's ago, with a Friday night concert, Zac Brown Band with the Avett Brothers, at Nationals Park, and ended three days ago, 6 miles deep down a trial in the middle of Yellowstone Park.   And I've got pictures of it all.  Like, lots of pictures.  Therefore, I plan to do this "trip report" in a series of blog posts.

As mentioned, the festivities began two Friday's ago with ZBB at Nationals Park.  It was the fourth time in three years that I had seen Zac Brown, and, as usual, he did not disappoint.   A great mix of originals and covers, from Metallica to Queen, over the course of a 2.5 hour set.  In addition, while I had never heard so much as a single song from the Avett Brothers, they were amazing.   Great songs and incredible energy.  The next morning, I downloaded a few of their live albums, which became the soundtrack for my later stay in Yellowstone. 

Saturday, I drove out to The Yard for what I thought would be my last two Orioles games of the year:

However, the Mets were in Baltimore Tuesday and Wednesday, and, as luck would have it, I was able to sneak out of work a bit early to Catch Thor throw the latter of the games:

Then, Friday, it was off to Denver to start my last real vacation of the year.  I arrived at DIA at 11:30 am, and waited around for my buddy Chris to arrive from Boston.  Then we headed over to Thrifty Rental to pick up a Chevy Tahoe, which we intended to abuse over the course of the following week. We arrived at our hotel in Denver around 3:00, grabbed some lunch, and headed over to Coors field for game 1 of the Mets / Rockies series:

Our buddy Jimmy was suppose to meet us just after first pitch, but he somehow missed his flight, and ended up arriving around 11:30.  He blamed Uber for fucking up his trip from Midtown Manhattan to Newark Airport.  Still not sure I believe him!  Anyway, once he arrived, we went out for a romantic late dinner at Tom's Urban (I believe they opened a location at NY, NY on the strip).  After some mediocre food and a single adult beverage, we called it a night.  Getting old sucks.

Saturday morning, I drove out to Boulder to see my nieces. We played some hide and seek, then went to the local pool to catch some rays, and had a late lunch. A solid, albeit brief, visit.

Saturday night, it was back to Coors Field for game 2.  The entire series could best be described as a shit-show.  The first two games were won by the mets 14-9.  I mean, come on.  Those aren't baseball scores.   Saturday night, we had the pleasure of sitting next to the "Seven-Line Army" -- a group of Mets fans that travel to away games, and sit together, raising hell.  It was pretty cool seeing an entire section of Coors field in Orange:

After the game Saturday night, we went for a late dinner at the Denver Chophouse.  While there, I ran into Mets Legend, Keith Hernandez.  Now, while I've had many such run-ins in the past, and I usually just leave these folks be, this time, I figured I'd at least say hello.   So, the exchange went down like this:

Pete: "Keith, how are you?"
Keith: [no eye contact] "good" [fleas the scene].

Yeah, maybe he was extra salty from broadcasting the nearly four hour game, but he was sort of a dick.  Afterwards, I wished I had kicked this one on him instead of my pleasant greeting: "Keith, loved you in those Just For Men commercials . . . your finest work yet!"  I mean, his response really would not have been any less pleasant.

Sunday was suppose to be "Harvey Day," but the Mets skipped his spot in the rotation, and threw a rookie.  Mets ended up winning 5-1 in the best pitched game of the series.

One of these three guys doesn't drink.  Can you pick him out?

Sunday night, we finished our stay in Denver in style with a trip to Sushi Den, perhaps the best sushi restaurant I've ever been to.   Afterwards, Jimmy and I hit up a Whiskey Bar, and drank local whiskey served by a big-breasted vixen.  It was delightful.  Ultimately, however, we were back at our hotel by midnight.  In fact, while the weekend was fun, it was very low key.  Not like the old days of these Mets trips.  No one made an ass of themselves.  No one puked.  We slept 7 hours a night.  I even worked out.  Old age.

Monday, Jimmy flew back home, and Chris and I set out on the second leg of the trip, which began with a 7 hour drive to Rapid City, South Dakota.  We stopped by Rushmore on the way:

Rushmore is sorta . . .  "meh."  I mean, it's iconic.  But, its mostly underwhelming.  We got out of the car.  Looked at it from the main viewing area; then "hiked" the Presidential Trial" which led to a closer viewing area, and looked at it again.  My favorite part was watching all the parents dragging their young kids through the trail.  The little brats appeared to complain to a person.  Some refused to move down the trail . . . their parents coaxing every step.  There were tears from some.  Then, when it was over, they begged for ice cream at the gift shop and, apparently, most of the parents relented.  I assume this was less reward for having navigated the trail and more just to shut them up for the drive out of the park.  Regardless, it felt liberating being kidless!  And, while Chris might never admit it, I think even he was happy to be away from his two kids for a few days!

Monday night, we rolled into Rapid City.  Although, I'd hesitate to call it a "city."  It appeared more like a giant, amorphous, truck stop -- just cheap hotels, gas stations and shitty restaurants spread over some square miles.  We checked into the Fairfield Inn, and I immediately hit the gym.  As I entered, some 20-year-old-ish chick in spandex pants and a tight tank top was sitting on a weight bench, apparently taking selfies.  I startled her, and she giggled.  It was awkward.  Apparently, she was not expecting any other guests of Rapid City to be work-out-inclined.  So, I start up on the treadmill, hoping she'd leave so I could use the bench to lift for a bit.  Instead, she continues taking selfies and pictures of herself in the mirror.  Like, posing . . . stretching . . . flipping her hair.  There was even an outfit change at one point.  The photo session lasted a full 25 minutes.  It was, in a word, "fuckenstrange."  Is this what young people think is acceptable these days?  Is this what Instagram and Tinder (TBC, if you are reading this, Tinder  is like your Grinder account) has done to the youth?

In any event, after a quick 4 miles, Chris and I headed out to Rapid City's finest restaurant.  A little place called Appleby's.  Chris had a burger.  I had the "chicken-n-shrimp." Simply grilled to perfection.  A delightful end to a long day.  While there, we asked the bartender were the "action" is in Rapid City.  He pointed us towards "downtown."  After diner, we took a drive to explore.  "Downtown" appeared to be a 3 or 4 block stretch of some shops and restaurants.  Perhaps a little park area as well.  We drove by it all in about 30 seconds.  It was fucken depressing.  I wondered what the hell people did for work/fun in Rapid City.  This, in fact, became a running theme for most of the places we'd see on this trip . . .

[Next Up --> Tuesday at The Badlands]


  1. I mentioned to you on Twitter that our show choir was planning to arrange and perform a Zac Brown Band song. I guess I find it ironic that his live show features several covers of other groups since they wouldn't give us permission to cover theirs. My fandom of ZBB was very short lived.

    1. Really? Very surprising. Their live shows have featured multiple covers since, like, forever. Hell, their live album contains a bunch.

  2. 1) At least you held back when talking to Keith Hernandez, as opposed to Newman in that tasty Seinfeld episode. You didn't call him a pretty boy too, did you?

    2) The gym @ Fairfield Inn story started out great. Very disappointing ending. Where was the "I never thought this would ever happen to me, but ..." part of the story? And no picture of her? Unforgivable.

  3. Love your posts PPP - now this is a trip report - not like ScowlCharles who thinks he is writing a "trip report" by telling us what casino he played in and how much money he won or lost.

    Thank you for sharing an actual trip report that is interesting and diverse.