Top Ten for 2022

This year turned out to be a relief, mostly a relief from the pandemic. It was also rather uneventful.

  1. The year began with the receipt of paperwork making me an Irish citizen. I immediately sent away for a passport which arrived in early May. I don’t really need a second passport but it is my understanding that it’s good for a discount at the Guinness brewery in Baltimore.
  2. January brought a whopper of a snowstorm, the first in many years. The magnificent maple tree next door split near its base and landed an impressive tree chunk inches from Mrs. Rootchopper’s car. A few weeks later, the neighbors had the tree removed. We missed its blazing colors this fall. On the plus side, we now have a sunny kitchen.
  3. We travelled to St. Charles, Missouri to attend my niece Irene’s wedding. After the wedding the bridal party came down with Covid. We were spared. For the next two months I managed to avoid the virus despite travelling among the great unmasked out West. Alas, my luck ran out when I got back home. I came down with Covid and had strange symptoms. My ears were stuffed up for a week. Otherwise, I had a very mild case and, with the help of four Pfizer vaccinations and Paxlovid, I recovered in a few days.
  4. After a two-year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, I launched on another bike tour. This one began in St. Charles, Missouri and ended nearly 3,500 miles later in Portland, Oregon. The first half was solo and included an epic day fighting 50-mile per hour crosswinds in Kansas. In Canon City, Colorado I hooked up with Corey and Mark, whom I met on my 2019 bike tour, for the second half. The highlight of the trip was the final mountain climb up and over McKenzie Pass in Oregon. Definitely one of the top ten rides of my life. I managed to intercept Keith Adams, whom I met on my first 50 States Ride, in Eastern Oregon (or maybe western Idaho, it’s all a blur). Keith was riding from Bend, OR to Cody, WY. A few days later I met up with Rachel Cannon, another 50 States posse alum, and consumed talk, nachos, and beer in Redmond, OR.
  5. When I got home from my bike tour, I found that all my pants fell off whenever I put them on. My first physical in three or four years confirmed that my weight had dropped over 20 pounds on the trip. Thankfully, I have some stretchy belts to keep me from flashing the neighbors.
  6. My physical included some blood work results that were rather upsetting. I started eating more sensibly, avoiding junk food, eating less red meat, and such. I also started eating almonds and Brazil nuts which are supposed to lower cholesterol. My cholesterol fell from the 270s to the 220s in three months. My weight also fell another eight pounds. Dang. In retrospect, having all my slacks altered in the spring was not such a great idea.
  7. For the 14th time, I gathered a posse of friends old and new and rode the 50 States Ride in DC in September. We had a stellar time and I only fell once. (I got a boo boo on my elbow.)
  8. Most of the posse returned for the Cider Ride in November, during which I learned that celery is a bodacious dentrifice. This info will come in handy whenever I need to brush my teeth at the farmer’s market,
  9. Earlier this year I couldn’t walk a half mile without back pain. At the end of the bike tour, I needed to walk around Portland and found that I could walk a mile without pain. Alas, schlepping my baggage through National Airport brought the pain back. After much hemming and hawing, I decided that rather than have surgery, I’ll live with the pain and accept that I am now officially old.
  10. Tickets to Washington Nationals baseball games were dirt cheap. This had something to do with them trading away Juan Soto, their last star player, and others, and ending the year with the worst record in baseball. On the plus side, we attended a minor league game at The Dunk, Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford.
  11. I managed to ride 11,355 miles, my fifth 10,000-mile year in a row.

Take Me Out to The Dunk

Over the weekend we travelled to Hartford to hang out with our daughter who is attending her first year of law school. On Saturday night we caught a minor league baseball game at Dunkin Donuts Park, known to all as The Dunk. It’s a new ballpark, very well designed and maintained. Minor league baseball is a trip. This was fireworks night so we could only get standing room tickets. Not a problem at $10 a pop.

The AA game pitted the hometown Hartford Yard Goats, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, against the Somerset Patriots, the oddly named New York Yankee farm club. The teams were competitive. The play was competent. What was more interesting was the endless and creative marketing that went on during the game. After every strike out for example, the announcer said words to the effect “That’s another strike out for addiction” referring to some local program related to drug addition recovery. What a weird promo!

In between every inning there was a contest pitting kids against each other. One contest featured to two two teams of two. One player, with his back to his teammate, would toss a chicken wing up in the air and his partner had to catch it in a bucket he held on his head. No lie.

Another contest was a race between two kids who raced to put on fire department pants, jackets and helmets. Then run to the finish line.

The best was the Baby Goat Race. A bunch of cute little kids dressed up in what looked like pajamas raced around the infield on the outfield grass. They had little goat heads attached to their PJs. Total sports excitement.

The post-game fireworks were quite minor league in keeping with the scope of things. They were still entertaining though. Ooh. Ahh.

The whole night had a joyous, small town, middle class, feel to it. The crowd was whiter than Ivory soap which was a bit of a shock considering the city of Hartford’s ethnic diversity. The stands below our SRO perch were filled with grade school kids. They had a ton of energy. Not one of them watched the game.

The game featured a pitch clock. Once the pitcher got the ball, he had 12 second to throw it. Otherwise the late pitch would be called a ball. When a runner was on base, 18 seconds were allowed. In between innings the clock was set to 2 minutes. Relievers had two minutes to throw their first pitch. The game lasted a bit over 3 hours but the pace was noticeably brisker than a major league game. It would have been shorter but for numerous pitching changes. If you ever see a major league game played in the 60s or 70s you’ll notice the pitchers and batters don’t mess around. Batters stay in the batters box. Pitchers don’t go for long contemplative trips around the mound. This minor league game was like that.

As for the refreshments, The Dunk has pretty much everything. It has a very popular barbeque vendor in left field. We stood near it and there was a long line throughout the game. There were local craft beers on sale as well as the usual baseball munchies, hot dogs, popcorn and such. And, of course, coffee and donuts because Dunks.

Oh, did I mention the highest point in the ballpark has a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup on it.

For those of you unfamiliar with southern New England Dunks are everywhere. It’s insane. Of course, we managed to eat breakfast at one in West Hartford. When in Rome…