July is a time for a little less running and a little more relaxing, and taking a few road trips. The weather can be a bit hot and humid, and with school out for the summer, it is a good time to hit the road. I actually find it easier to run in the cold of winter (and believe me, it gets cold up here) than in the extreme heat and humidity of summer.
But before we hit the road I welcomed in July with a June 30 night race in nearby Parc de la Cite – Longueuil. The organizers did a good job in setting up a Zumba stage for some post-race activities but unfortunately the weather didn’t play along. It was like running in a sauna that evening, the mosquitos were out in force and right after the race at about 7:45pm the sky opened up and there was a monsoon of a downpour. Like most everyone, I headed straight for my car. A few days later, I had the clan over to my house for a July 4th BBQ, and then off we were.
First stop was Pittsburgh PA to catch the Padres taking on the Pirates. We got to see another monsoon of a rain storm and a long delay as we attended the “tarp incident” game when a groundskeeper had to be rescued from underneath a flying tarp. Luckily we could pass the time well covered in the main concourse of the excellent stadium complex that is PNC Park, no surprise it is consistently voted the best ballpark in America to see a game. Also, we could pass the time enjoying a Yuengling or two, or three, or four; and a Primanti sandwich.
After the rain delay, believe it or not I got my hands on a foul ball in the top of the 8th inning, although I didn’t actually catch it out of the air. It was a scramble in the seats along the first base line, and no, I am not “giving it to the kid” as I got it for my own sons! They will be more impressed by this as they get older, I think.
The next day we were off to Canton OH to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is only one fan of a Super Bowl champion amongst us as we have a Bills fan (that’s me), a Lions fan (Raf) and a Seahawks fan (Russ); but he is not a “band wagoner” I can swear, it’s the name he shares with Russell Wilson that made him a fan. At my age I find the historical part of museums the most interesting and Canton does not disappoint, it is an excellent place to visit, and provides a great overview of the history of the game. It kept my sons interested as well with plenty on display, and the best gift shop for NFL merchandise anywhere. Go Bills!
Next we were off to Cleveland OH to see the Astros take on the Indians at Progressive Field, another beautiful downtown stadium. Our hotel was in a converted old bank building right downtown and within walking distance to everything. It is true what they say, Cleveland really does rock; the food and beer around the stadium were great. We stopped for a pint at the Tilted Kilt after the game; this is a kind of pub you would get from crossing Ye Olde Orchard with Hooters.
These two cities and their ballparks remind me how sad all of us Expos fans will continue to be in the future. No matter what anyone thinks, unless we get one of these types of stadiums built in downtown Montreal, I don’t think MLB will be back anytime soon. PNC Park in Pittsburgh sits less than 40,000; and wow, what a great place to see baseball, smack downtown, with a walk across the bridge, beautiful views of the cityscape, and filled with fans on game day.
We spent the next day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, another great museum to visit. I have nothing official on this, but by my estimate the show-stopper attraction there remains the King himself, Elvis Presley! Young and old, and everyone in between spent plenty of time at the Elvis exhibit. C’mon guys, we need more Led Zeppelin! On our way out I was glad to see we even made the cover of The Rolling Stone with our new boy band. Later that evening, after a few pints and some careful deliberation and discussion, we decided to call ourselves – Center of the Earth. This was inspired mostly by the thought of hot molten lava but perhaps a little bit by the waitresses at the Tilted Kilt; I am not sure as it all got a bit fuzzy for me by the end of the night.
Road trips are a little like long runs, you stay close to the earth, and get to enjoy the sounds and sights of the journey. And when you are with others you care about, you get to chat and connect in a way you often cannot manage when you stay around the house. And just like after a long run, the eating and the beer are pretty good too.