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Monday, September 24, 2007

Last Game Ever at RFK

We went to the Nats/Phils game yesterday to watch the Nats try to spoil things for the Phillies, and to say "goodbye" to dilapidated, antiquated Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. I don't see myself going to a DC United game in the next couple of years, so it's probably the last time I step foot in the place.

I'll start off by saying that I've been rooting for the tenants of that building for 35 years, give or take. That's a long time for anything. I have many, many great memories of all the Redskins teams, good and bad but mostly good. The last three years of the Nats, while the product on the field hasn't been the best, it's certainly better than not having them, and RFK has served it's purpose...simply existing so that MLB had an excuse to move them here from Montreal and give the franchise an actual chance to survive.

The day was great, with the Nats actually winning, and we had a great time with some of our baseball friends, during and after the game at the players lot. We stuck around long enough to be treated to the costume parade of the rookies--10 of them in all, with everything from Aladdin to French Maid to Justin Maxwell in a Ladybug Stripper outfit. You had to see it to believe it. They came out to the fans gathered and Jason Bergmann made sure they signed autographs for every fan left that wanted one. When I asked Bergmann for his, he said, "Sorry, today is all about the rookies". Good stuff.

I'm not going to get emotional about the Nats moving out of RFK though. The problems with RFK as a "Major League Facility" are well documented, including the locker rooms being BEYOND substandard, but I'll list just a few here as far as the fans go.

1) Aramark. Perhaps nowhere better to start than the food "services". Hot dogs but no buns. Advertisements for selections not available (salad, anyone?). Warm beer, cold dogs. Money takers that can't make change for a $10. Fewer choices than Republican Presidential hopefuls. Even fewer food stands actually open.

2) Security. There was precious little of it. No lights in the parking lots for the first two years. Players cars stolen out of the "secured" lot. Forget trying to walk back to Capitol Hill.

3) Ambiance. The concourses are narrow, dark and grimy. The few tvs on the concourse looked like they were installed when George Allen coached the Redskins. The bathrooms were unstocked and crumbling, not to mention without audio. If you left your seat for any reason, you had no idea what happened while you were gone. Coupled with long lines for food, this was a real problem.

4) Amenities. Cupholders? Nope. Informative scoreboard? Nope. Supplemental statboards? Nope. Continuous out-of-town scores? Nope. Restaurant services? Nope. Cushy club-level seating? Nope.

RFK outlived it's usefulness, but it was in the right place at the right time for DC to secure a franchise to move here, so that is it's final legacy. But for me, it'll always be the best football stadium in the country.

See you in "Nationals' Park" in April!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Greetings From Alaska

The wife and I are on vacation in Alaska; we arrived Sept 1 and are here through next Tuesday, Sept 11. Having a great time. I thought I'd have the time (and required tools) to update on our trip in this space, but we haven't had the internet connections as frequently in our accommodations as we would have hoped. But here is Part 1 anyway.

Saturday 9/1: Rise at 5 am, on a plane from DC at 7:45 am, fly through Chicago and land in Anchorage at 1:15 pm local, which is 5:15 pm DC time. We ate and walked around Anchorage after dinner, then back to the B&B we were staying, and took a soak in our private outdoor hot tub and enjoyed a bottle of champagne. Lights out at 9:30 pm.

Sunday 9/2: Rise at 8 am, breakfast from the innkeeper (fritatta and omelet) and on the road at 10 am for the trip to Seward in the Kenai Peninsula. The drive down was awesome-we checked out the ski resort and took the tram to the top of the mountain. Ridiculous view. Stopped several times at pull-outs on the road to just check things out. Saw a dall sheep ewe and calf on a rock ledge above the highway. Got into Seward around 3 pm and went straight to the fish cannery for a tour. A friend of Cheryl's used to work on a fish boat. After the tour, we checked into our B&B and had dinner on the water.

Monday 9/3: Rise at 7 am, report to the tour company at 8 am and on the tour boat pulling out of the marina at 9 am for our all-day cruise around the Peninsula, out into the Gulf of Alaska, and back in to Northwestern Fjord to see a glacier close up. The trip was indescribably incredible, and we saw whales, orcas, otters, sea lions, seals, bald eagles and dozens of other birds. When we made it to the glacier, we saw a big chunk calve off into the bay. The boat captain actually started the engines to high tail it out if he'd had to. Again, words can't do it justice. Back to the marina at 6:30 pm, and we freshened up at had dinner at The Salmon Bake, a place so cool I had to buy a sweatshirt.

Tuesday 9/4: Rise at 7:30 am, headed back up to Anchorage for provisions, and across the state to Copper Center, in eastern AK. Saw the Matanuska River and mountain range, Matanuska glacier, which is a valley glacier so we got to walk up to and ON it, and Sheep Mountain, where we ate at the lodge owned by one of the top Iditerod sled dog mushers. The rest of the drive was made in the dark, but we got to see eastern AK in the morning. Got into Copper Center around 10 pm and checked into the resort we got for half price.

Wednesday 9/5: Rise at 8:30 am and after breakfast checked out the view at the resort. WOW. Four of the six highest peaks in a Alaska were practically staring at us in the back of the resort. These mountains are part of the Wrangell-Elias National Park. After pics we loaded up for the drive north to Fairbanks. Several hundred miles later and more mountain and river views we go through a small town and come upon several cars alongside of the road. A MOOSE!!! We had out first terrestrial wildlife sighting! We completed the drive and met up with Cheryl's college friends, where we're staying for the next couple of days.

So that's the quick and dirty version. I'll update and add pictures later. And maybe we'll come back. It's going to be difficult. Not like I'm missing out on anything with the O's and Nats.