So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis. But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip. This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer. On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis. It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.
Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:
Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.
Top Right: Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets. Pretty cool.
Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.
Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa. This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.
There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area. My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:
That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room! It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine). Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.
Good work, Pa!
So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.
But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.
I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us. They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:
I made that picture from 13 different photos. It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip: Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals). It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo. Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game). Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).
I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip. People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day. So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.
We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch. I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.
We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…
…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch. The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.” When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch). The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats. It is essentially like a ferris wheel car. You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod. Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls. The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top. And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal. When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch. We were in pod 7 on the way up. Hopefully that all makes sense.
Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:
In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck. The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).
I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope. It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:
As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city. Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!
The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape. To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall. It is well worth it. Check out this view:
When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth. We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch. Like these:
And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:
Way to sell it, Tim!
With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity. We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.” I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.
She was right!
The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids. It is a like a huge playground. Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.
It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:
All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!
Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:
We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum. Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.
Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game. We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:
We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):
Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour. So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.
That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.
We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner. Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168. So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.
Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot. Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF. There were no players even remotely near the ball.
And then something ridiculous happened. I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis. He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball. Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!” Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.
That was the first ridiculous part. The second ridiculous part was that it worked.
Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:
That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture. He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball. He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!” And then he tossed it to us.
Holy cow! Thanks, Rafael!
I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball. It was very much appreciated.
With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…
…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).
Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:
Tim and my dad headed out to CF. Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.
Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner. Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes. But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.
Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line. We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration. All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings. I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.
I screamed, “HEADS UP!” Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.
I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats. I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.
Here is where we were when we caught it:
A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!” “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.
Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished. We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!
That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot. It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed. Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.
After getting our picture, we visited our seats. They were great!
But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…
That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.
Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.
Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:
The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York. So I have no clue when these scores were last updated. That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.
We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady. But it was for little kids only so we kept walking. Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:
For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately. So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.
Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row! We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.
We reported to our seats…
…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):
The game was entertaining. Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…
…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning). By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.
Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win. Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded. For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.
For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday. I just don’t like how he carries himself. Maybe I’m completely wrong. But he just seems a bit smug to me.
So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:
Hey, the guy can mash. But his glove leaves much to be desired.
Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket. I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible. Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free. That’s great!
But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:
…or standing in front of you – like this:
But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…
…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…
…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.
The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…
…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4). By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.
After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures. Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa. Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!). He always wants to be with me. It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller. What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.
Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.
Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.
First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…
…and “jumping for joy” poses!
He did more jumping for joy…
…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.
As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:
I couldn’t tell what year it was from.
In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels. This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans. We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:
And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…
…and Tim and the outfield.
Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:
If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.
After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture. Of course, we did:
And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:
Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.” Ronald thought that was just *great*!
From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats. We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
Then we continued on toward home plate. As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.
Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium. Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing. Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.
Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…
…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.
Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:
Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:
[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]
Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:
Is that a great looking ballpark or what? I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.
We continued walking around the stadium toward RF. This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:
As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted. His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.” My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.” I meant, “Hold on! We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”
We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:
We ended up meeting in the LF concourse. Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me. The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand. This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s. We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:
Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream. This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared: NO MORE COTTON CANDY!
It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.
We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:
LaHair is having himself quite the season so far. This was his 9thhomer of the season. Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.
Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats. In fact, he was straight up lounging:
After a while, Kellan got restless. So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B. The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp. And it worked. We got one more panorama up there:
Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…
…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse. And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.
As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:
It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.
While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:
Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…
…but no one, not even David Freese…
…could find us in the stands
A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.
After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.
After the game, we got another group shot…
…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost. At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.
On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):
And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:
And that was all she wrote. Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1|
|28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|