Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Out west

Wife and I were home from our quick beach trip about three days before boarding a plane for California for a vacation we had planned before we even knew about the beach wedding. 

Some background is in order. 

As I have previously shared, Older Son and I set out on a quest in 1994, when he was eight years old, to visit every Major League Baseball home venue. This was after our first visit to see the Atlanta Braves play, at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, two ballparks ago for the Braves. 

There are 30 MLB parks and we have been gradually closing in on them, with much joy in the journey. As of last summer, when we visited Los Angeles and saw the Dodgers play at their home field Dodger Stadium, Older Son had made it to 29, lacking only Seattle. I was a little bit behind him, also lacking Seattle but also Oakland and San Francisco, which Older Son visited during a trip to that area a few years back. 

Along the way, Younger Son and my son-in-law started joining the trips. They still have to gain some ground to cover all the parks. 

Anyway, after last summer's visit to L.A., Older Son urged me to somehow knock out Oakland and San Franciso, so he and I could be set up for the grand finale in Seattle this summer. It has been 30 years since we made the first trip -- 30 parks in 30 years if we mark off Seattle's T-Mobile Park this year. 

When I floated the idea of a California trip to Wife, it was not long before she had a weeklong (plus a couple of days) adventure planned that would include, in addition to the baseball games, the wine country, and Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. 

We flew out of Nashville Friday night, May 24th. We arrived in Oakland late and saw the A's play the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon the 25h. The ballpark, Oakland Coliseum, is old and, unlike the classics like Fenway and Wrigley, has not been kept well and very little updating has taken place.

The team has been fighting with the city for years, and after this season they will pack up and move. Their eventual home will be Las Vegas, but they'll have at least two seasons in Sacramento as they await construction of their Vegas home field. But, as the saying goes, they're getting the H out of Dodge! 

It certainly ranks near the bottom for me, but we still had a great time. There is simply never a bad day at a live MLB game. And getting to see Houston play was a big bonus for me. 

From Oakland we drove to just outside Sonoma in the heart of the wine country. We spent the next day, Sunday, enjoying the scenery, visiting wineries and sampling wines from the region. Monday morning, we drove down Highway 1 and across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, and that afternoon saw the Giants play the Philadelphia Phillies. 

It was at the San Francisco game, at Oracle Park, that I had my best meal of the trip -- a crab sandwich on buttered sourdough that was, well, to die for! A Coors Light came with the "meal deal." Certainly not my beer of choice, but still a good accompaniment to the delicious sandwich. Later in the day I tried one of the local favorites that was much better. 

The setting of Oracle Park is breathtaking, right on the water, with home runs sometimes making a splash -- both literally and figuratively. 

From San Franciso, it was on to Yosemite. I think we hit it at the perfect time, before the huge summer crowds. Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the country and while there were certainly plenty of folks there, it was manageable. 

The mountains and rock formations in Yosemite are beautiful, with stunning vistas and waterfalls. We spent a couple of days exploring on our own and went on a guided tour one day, which was well worth it. There were 15 of us on a small bus. All the other people were great, and the guide was informative and personable. 

Two highlights of the day with the guide were watching climbers scale El Capitan, the 3,000 wall of granite that's an icon of the park; and seeing a bear! 

On Friday morning we drove to Sequoia National Park, where the trademark sequoia trees were stunning! We spent the night in nearby Three Rivers. Saturday morning, we drove over to beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch and drove the famous 17-mile drive along the Pacific Highway 1, which includes the Pebble Beach Golf Links. 

We spent the night in San Jose Saturday night, June 1st, and caught a plane home early Sunday morning the 2nd. 

Another trip, another great time, and MLB #28 and #29 are now in the books. The stage is set for Seattle. 

Oakland baseball

Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants

Looking over the outfield wall at Oracle Park

Welcome to Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge, where we stayed near Yosemite

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite



"Tunnel tree" at Sequoia Nat Park: can't go around it, gotta go through it! 

Sherman tree, world's biggest by volume, in Sequoia NP

Pebble Beach


Ed said...

Maybe a day or two ago I watched a news brief on a father son duo setting out to do what you are accomplishing but only in less than 18 years. The father died suddenly but somebody helped the boy attend the last two unvisited stadiums just days before he turned 18. I thought of your quest when I saw that.

I really loved Sequoia National Park. But what I loved the most was just seeing how big some of the "normal" trees were like oaks and maples. Even they were nearly incomprehensible in Midwestern terms but fit right in among the Sequoias.

Kelly said...

I saw that same report Ed did and thought of you at the time. This sounds like a wonderful trip, Bob. I guess when they build a new stadium in LV you'll have to add that one to your list. An ongoing challenge?