Main Streets and baseball. What could be more American? More importantly, can you have a bad day when these two things converge? Not in my book. But how did the rhubarb crisp replace apple pie? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out.
We began our first Tuesday – Day 5 on the Not All Who Wander Are Lost cross-country tour – in tiny Spring Green, Wisconsin. For a town of 1400 (I love town signs that post the population), Spring Green had much to offer. The downtown has a variety of interesting shops and services, and my friend Oakley Pearson – who drives through this area each year on his way home to Minnesota – recommended the Spring Green General Store for breakfast. Claire and I took him up on that recommendation, and after a great bowl of oatmeal (see, we can eat healthy food), we’re glad we did. Business was hopping with a great mix of patrons. I stopped by one table to tell the guy wearing the 1952 Vincent Black Lightning t-shirt that I was glad to see a Richard Thompson fan here in Spring Green. When he looked at me quizzically, I quickly said, “Oh, you must like the Del McCoury version” to which he replied enthusiastically, “Yes! Del McCoury!”
Suitably fortified, we hit the road to Minneapolis – but sticking to the back roads and the small town Main Streets along the way. We passed through Viroqua – a Wisconsin Main Street community – and we crossed the Mississippi at La Crosse, a winner of the 2002 Great American Main Street award. Oakley had suggested we take the river road up the Minnesota side, and so we drove through the fantastic Main Street along the river’s edge at Winona, and stopped for lunch in the thriving Main Street community of Red Wing.
The St. James Hotel (pictured above) is a Historic Hotel of America, but we had our sights set on another Red Wing institution – Bev’s Cafe.
As Claire declared at the end of another satisfying meal, “The rhubarb crisp (with ice cream, of course) at Bev’s makes any stop in Red Wing worthwhile.” Amen. Amen! Amen!! Can I have an Amen!?!
Oh, and did I mention that we passed through the town where water skiing was invented (Lake City, MN) and the birthplace of ski jumping (Red Wing)?
We ended our day in Minneapolis – tired but satisfied. And yet, another adventure awaited us. One of my former assistants and a dear friend – Liz Welsh McGonagle and her husband Dave – joined Claire and me for a night of Minnesota Twins baseball at Target Field. On my scorecard, where it asks for the weather at first pitch, I simply wrote “Perfect!”
The hometown Twins – in front of almost 35,000 fans – played smart baseball and beat the Padres 3-1 in a crisp game (especially by American League standards). Kennys Vargas hit his first major league home run for the Twins, and it just happened to be the game winner. Along the way it was great to catch up with Liz and Dave, and it was also terrific to check another ballpark off my bucket list.
This was also a landmark day for Claire. Earlier in the day she texted her friend Kyra to ask about fried cheese curds. Kyra replied, “They are like mozzarella sticks, only better.” So tonight, Claire got some at the ball park, for the first time.
Here’s the text exchange between Claire and Kyra that followed:
Claire: My life has been forever changed!
Kyra: You can now divide your life into two parts: pre-cheese curds and post-cheese curds.
I will say that the stadium is wonderful – a great place to watch a ballgame. While I still prefer the Nationals scoreboard for detail, the information at Target Field was an improvement over Cleveland’s Progressive Field scoreboard. But the mascot race was lame. They were too nice. (Imagine that, in Minnesota Nice.) Heck, at National’s Park Abe Lincoln would have cleaned the clock of Wanda the walleye well before she reached the finish line.
So I’m down to an even dozen! Woo hoo!! For those keeping score, here’s the ballparks visited list:
- Atlanta Braves – Fulton County Stadium (multiple visits in 1980s; still need to visit Turner Field before they tear it down, but this counts given my rules)
- Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards (multiple visits in 1990s and 2000s)
- Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park (1988)
- Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field (1964, 2007, 2012)
- Chicago White Sox – US Cellular Field (2013)
- Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field (2014)
- Colorado Rockies – Coors Field (2008, 2013)
- Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium (2009)
- Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park (2005)
- Minnesota Twins – Target Field (2014)
- Oakland A’s – Oakland Coliseum (2008)
- Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park (2008)
- Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park (2013)
- San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park (2012)
- Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field (2009)
- St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium (old – 1993; new – 2012)
- Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field (2012)
- Washington Nationals – RFK (multiple times) and Nationals Park (multiple times + part of a season ticket group since 2012)
And here are the ballparks remaining to visit list:
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field
- Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park
- Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park (Another park I’ve seen but haven’t made a game.)
- Houston Astros- Minute Maid Park
- Los Angeles Angels – Angel Stadium
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Dodger Stadium (This is the only park that a family member – Claire – has seen before I have had the opportunity. That’s just not fair!)
- Miami Marlins – Marlins Park
- New York Mets – Citi Field (I think this is an easy one to do, but it never works out.)
- New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium (I know – how can I not have made it to Yankee stadium yet?! Just goes to show I’ve never been a big Yankees fan)
- San Diego Padres – Petco Park
- Texas Rangers – Texas Stadium
- Toronto Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
That’s it for the ballparks on this trip, but it was great to share my passion with Claire and with Liz and Dave.
On Wednesday, we’re off to see the world’s largest ball of twine (rolled by one person). Be still my heart!
More to come…