Sunday, February 1, 2015

Two Days in America, Part 1: America's Pastime, Unspoiled
August, 2014

I travel a great deal, though not always far from home. As much time as I spend in different parts of the country, two recent stops served as reminders of what it means to be an American, at least for many of us. This entry will detail the first...

Traverse City, Michigan, is a great small coastal town to visit, at least in June. I had the good fortune to visit there in that small window of Northern Michigan summer, and had the first of two truly “Neo-Americana moments.”

I arrived and checked in around 3:30 PM, having left home just after 7 AM. Surprised that the 8 1/2 to nine-hour billing was so advantageously incorrect. I decided to drive all the way to the end of Old Mission Peninsula to see the lighthouse, even though I had already spent the whole day driving. Being able to drive up on a warm June Sunday with the top down most of the way made the driving less tedious.

Old Mission Point Lighthouse
The extra 25-minute drive was worth it, if not for the light itself. Its lamp was long gone and it was overrun with visitors, like ants on a once living carcass. It was hard to get any decent photos; thank goodness for photo editing apps!

The drive to and from was quite entertaining, with many beautiful homes lining the shores of the west and east sides and no less than eight vineyards with promises of tasting and local pride to would-be consumers.

I noticed one of about a half-dozen restaurants also boasted an on-site brewery and distillery. I thought that would be my answer to a long overdue meal, but seeing it in person made me question whether my attire was suitable. I was reaching the conclusion that I should try this place out later in the week, perhaps while still dressed in my conference appropriate garb, when the local radio station I had on began doing pregame programming for Traverse City's own baseball frontier league entry the Beach Bums.

Townhouse complex or stadium?
I used my trusty smart phone to see if the stadium was within a reasonable distance. It was another 8 miles and 20 minutes away. Stadium food for dinner and a semi-professional baseball game sounded like it would be worth every bit of the drive, so I plugged in the coordinates to the Garmin and headed to the uniquely designed Wuerfel Park .

From the main road out of town, the stadium looked like a townhouse complex guarded by six giant, luminous sentinels. I have to find out if they are really dwellings overlooking the diamond or just a new design. With cap on head, brat in bun, and beer in hand, I found myself in a most unlikely of settings.

Minor League baseball at its best!
It was an idyllic setting. Late afternoon sun shining, light breeze blowing the flag gently in centerfield. Smaller flags distributed to veterans who were asked to stand and be recognized by the inning filling mascot and his court jesters so common at minor league games. A dad overheard asking his son, "Isn't this better than sitting at home playing video games?" Another sharing a laugh with his preteen daughter. The home team leading one to nothing in the seventh inning.

The crowd of hundreds singing along with "take me out to the ballgame." Although I don't think I'll ever understand why the Village People hit "YMCA" is still a staple at such events, it was one of those moments in time worth slowing down, if not freezing.

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