Thursday, June 23, 2011

We're going to Omaha!!! (part 3 of 3)

Continuation from the last post
see for previous
and for part 1

Day 4 - Monday, June 20 - Continued

After the zoo we took it easy at the hotel, but Olsen didn't nap, of course.  We decided to go eat in town while the second game of the day was going on.  We ate at Rick's Boatyard which was right on the Missouri River and looked like a nice place.  I do not recommend it.  It wasn't that great, very expensive, not the best wait staff, and the service was sub-par.  Anyways, we decided to leave the car in the parking lot and walk around.
Rick's Boatyard
The Missouri River was flooding
Big walking bridge to Iowa from Nebraska
We decided to go for a walk and take a big walking bridge into downtown.  Before we left, we heard the air raids go off (the tornado sirens) and started panicking to get back into the car.  We were in the parking lot when we heard this but we saw a family get out of their car all casually and go into the restaurant.  They told us that the sirens happen all the time and made it sound like it wasn't a big deal.  So we decided to proceed and the sirens stopped soon after.  But as we got a little ways on the bridge, we saw a group of people running to get on the other side.  Then the sky started turning black and the wind picked up a lot.  Lisa started getting a little nervous so we turned back.  The sirens came on again and we started running to get to the car.  Lisa was not happy with this since she was 8 months pregnant...

Once we got to the car, we tried to get back to our hotel.  It was a mess with cars everywhere.  The baseball game that was going on got postponed.  We got about a quarter of a mile and police officers were making everyone stop their cars in the street and get into the Qwest Center, which is a large arena in downtown.  It was full of people just waiting for the storm to pass.  It was pretty scary and we weren't happy because we just wanted to get back to the hotel and go to bed.
But luckily, after about almost an hour, they let us go.  We got in our car and went to the hotel.  No real damage anywhere and nothing really happened.  Olsen had fun in the hotel wearing his Dadda's baseball jersey.
Oh, and for the record, the t-sips lost to UNC, so they were eliminated!  Vandy and Florida will have to resume their game later

DAY 5 - Tuesday, June 21

Baseball schedule today
     Game 6 (continued in 6th inning) - Florida vs Vanderbilt

     Game 7 - Texas A&M vs California

     Game 8 - South Carolina vs Virginia

Before we headed out to the game (since we had the early one), we decided to get to downtown early and walk around a bit.  We went into the ballpark area where they had a lot of things going on.  Olsen got to do some tee-ball and some other things (but most stuff was for older kids)
Today's game had a slight threat of rain but it helped cool it down a little bit (you can see Olsen wearing his jacket).  Amy wasn't going to be at this game because she had to go back to Texas to teach a class.  Bret was there though.  This game was very low attended and wasn't a problem at all to get in (no line and no wait).

We had higher confidence for this game to beat Cal vs beating South Carolina (or USC East as they hate being called).  The outfield wasn't near as fun this time (I guess South Carolina fans are a lot of fun!) and the lower attendance made it a little less fun.  There were still beach balls and some waves.  The weather wasn't looking too good; dark clouds and sprinkles of rain here and there.

We hit a homer in the 4th inning and things were starting to look up.  The sun came out and Olsen put on his sunscreen

Then, of course, our team starts to screw up and completely throws the game away.  They ended up scoring 6 runs in the next 2 innings and our team never recovered.
All relief pitchers running to bullpen
It starting raining again and everyone ran out of the stands to find cover.  But there is no cover in that stadium (at least where we were in the outfield).  We lost 7-3 and our season was over.
Olsen said his goodbye to Bret (and gig'em)
College World Series photos
As soon as the game was over, we got in the car and started driving back to Utah.  We drove as far as we could before everyone got too tired.  We ended up stopping in Sidney, Nebraska.

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On the interstate (near where the original Cabelas store is) they have tons of big chain hotels.  It was a Tuesday night and every single one was sold out.  There was nothing around for miles and no town for at least 100 miles.  Our trust GPS smartphones couldn't get any service in rural Nebraska but somehow we found our way into the actual town of Sidney and found a piece of junk American Best Value Inn.  It was gross and had no pool (poor Olsen) but it had vacancy.

Report for the day:
Florida beat Vanderbilt
A&M got eliminated by Cal
South Carolina hammered Virginia

DAY 6 - Wednesday, June 22

We got up and hopped in the car again and drove into Wyoming.  This time we drove through Cheyenne and stopped in Laramie.

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We drove around town a little bit and found a nice park to set up for a picnic.  Olsen played on the playground.

Laramie pictures
After Laramie, we drove until we got to Evanston, Wyoming (I think we made a quick stop in Rock Springs, WY as well).

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We stopped at a little park that we had stopped at before, when we were on our way to Estes Park, Colorado 2 years ago.  Olsen had a great time kicking the soccer ball around and eating french fries.  But the most exciting thing was there were some guys playing basketball nearby and they had this dog that liked checking Olsen out.  He would come near us, and Olsen would chase him back to the court.  This went on for a very long time.
Olsen chasing the dog.  It's not the best video but he likes to watch it.

Evanston pictures

After the Evanston stop we drove straight home!

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It's good to be home and it was a super fun trip!  I hope to make the trip in the future.

We're going to Omaha!!! (part 2 of 3)

Continuation from the last post
see for previous

DAY 3 - Sunday, June 19 continued

Finally in Omaha!  Before I talk about this, I want to list the schedule for the College World Series.

Saturday, June 18
     Game 1
     Vanderbilt vs
     North Carolina (Vandy won 7-3)

     Game 2
     Texas vs
     Florida (Florida won 8-4, which is awesome)

Sunday, June 19
     Game 3
     California vs
     Virginia (Virginia won 4-1)

     Game 4
     Texas A&M vs
     South Carolina (will discuss later)

We showed up in the middle of Omaha right before the first game of the second day was starting (Cal vs UVa).  It was fun seeing all the chaos and people milling around.  We had to grab our tickets at will call which wasn't easy.  I got out of the car and Lisa scooted over to drive it around.  We purchased a 10 pack of General Admission tickets.  We would use 6 (3 per day) and give the other 4 to Bret and Amy who we were hoping to see for the games.

This year, the CWS moved from Rosenblatt stadium (where it was for 50+ years) to the brand new TD Ameritrade Park in the middle of downtown.

Once we got out tickets we went to our hotel (which was actually in Iowa near the Omaha airport).  Olsen didn't nap but we rested and watched some of the UVa and Cal game.  We then started reading some info tickets and learned that you had to get in line 2 hours early for GA since they're all first come first serve.  This made us really nervous so we tried to upgrade our seats (for $20 each) to seated seats.  We had to make a trip back into downtown and Lisa dropped me off at the ticket window.  They didn't have seats together for us so we decided not to upgrade.  Well, 2 hours before the game we took out hotel shuttle to the ballpark area and got in the very back of the tremendously long line.  We were really nervous on getting into the game since the line was so long and it was hot and Olsen was hot and Lisa was hot (and 8 months pregnant...).
Somehow we found Bret and Amy in the line and gave them our tickets.  We didn't want to cut so we got in the back (you can see Bret in the above picture).  Well, it turns out that the late game on Sunday (the game we were going to) wasn't the highest attended game so we got in just fine and got pretty good seats in the outfield, though it was really hot and humid.

I forgot to mention that Sunday was Father's Day!  It was a fantastic Father's Day present to be able to be in Omaha and see our Aggies play baseball in the College World Series.  Somehow the local news station found us (channel 6 NBC) and interviewed us.  I thought it was pretty cool but then started thinking, every time we've been on TV for a sporting event, we've lost (Super Regionals in Baton Rouge in June '04, Cotton Bowl in Jan '05, and there are probably others I'm forgetting).  But either way, it was cool

Our first game was against the South Carolina Gamecocks.  They were the defending national champions and looking to repeat this year.  Sitting in the outfield, in General Admission, we were surrounded tons of Aggies, Gamecocks, and locals.  It was actually pretty fun with all the commotion.  Olsen LOVED seeing the beach balls being hit around and he thought the wave was super cool.  I can't remember the last time I participated in a wave since at Olsen Field, it's "not cool" to do things that are trendy or popular, plus the stadium doesn't wrap around (no outfield seats).  It was also really funny hearing the right field seats yelling at the left field seats:

The game started off GREAT!  We were batting first and scored a wopping 4 runs!  We were super excited to see us dismantle their stud pitcher (with a super low ERA).  And, of course, "Texas A&M" happened and they equaled our scoring route with 4 runs on their own against our "number 2" pitcher (since "number 1" was injured for the rest of the year).  Then, nothing happened.  It was a fast game since no runs were scored for the next 7 innings.

The CWS camera guy put us on the jumbotron
Olsen doing the Wave
Olsen really got into saying Gig'em
Olsen saying Gig'em (he liked to use his finger and say "that's Olsen Gig'em").

Well, we got to the 9th inning and couldn't produce a run, so, for some strange reason, RC decided to pull our pitcher and put in a reliever.  We all knew this wasn't going to end well.  Immediately he got the bases loaded with no outs and the next guy up hit a screaming double and that was that.
Don't look at the image -- just showing the score
Father's Day picture
And for whatever reason, Bret and Amy were dancing.
Pictures from the College World Series

Day 4 - Monday, June 20

Games today:
     Game 5
     Texas vs North Carolina (elimination game)

     Game 6
     Florida vs Vanderbilt (winner's bracket)

We decided to take a day off of bsaeball (not going to watch the Longhorns and UNC play) and go to the famous Henry Doorly Zoo.  We had heard lots of good things about this zoo and were eager to check it out.  It's supposed to be a hot day but we had heard that they had a lot of indoor, air conditioned exhibits.  The zoo is right across the street from Rosenblatt stadium (where the College World Series was played before):

The most exciting thing at the zoo was the lion's area.  The male lion was really active and wanting to eat the kids.

Olsen got to feed some birds.  He had a lot of fun doing that.

Olsen liked seeing the gorillas
This gorilla was staring at all the people
We saw a lemur sitting on a turtle
The little guy was exhausted after the zoo.  He was still holding his magnet in the car

We're going to Omaha!!! (part 1 of 3)

In college baseball, the ultimate goal is to get to Omaha, Nebraska (and, of course, to win it all).  Omaha is the site of the College World Series every year and only the last 8 teams left in the tournament make it.   This year, after a 12 year drought, the Aggies finally earned their berth and we wouldn't miss it for the world!  We got tickets and booked hotel rooms as soon as we had beaten Florida State University on Monday, the 13th.  I took off of work early on that Friday and we headed on our way.  We were a little weary of how long this trip would be (Google said 14+ hours) since we have an 8-month pregnant Momma and a 2 year-old little boy, but we were determined to make it and to have fun!

It may be easiest to tell this story in pictures but I'll do my best with both (words and pictures).

DAY 1 - Friday, June 17

Since we left sort of late in the day, we had hoped to make it to Laramie, Wyoming which is about a 6 and 1/2 hour drive from our house.  We made our traditional stop in Little America, WY.

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I don't know what it is but we always stop here.  They have billboard signs all up and down I-80 for this place and I think the "50 cent ice cream cone" is the one that gets us the most.  Olsen got to sit on the Sinclair Dinosaur
And got to see a stuffed animal penguin that was larger than himself
Little America Pictures

We didn't make it to Laramie.  We got all the way to Rawlins which is about 100 miles short of Laramie and stayed at the Best Western there.

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DAY 2 - Saturday, June 18

The next day, we ate at the diner inside the Best Western.  It was weird and not very good but it was free.  Then the boy and I went swimming in the pool.  He had a really good time swimming.  Until he really had to pee.  So I ran him out of the pool and into the public bathroom which was super nasty.  We then ran to our room and he was able to go...  We drove on through Laramie.  I wanted to stop but decided not to since we needed to make up missed time from yesterday.  Though we did stop right past Laramie at the Lincoln Monument that overlooks the highway.  I've always been curious to stop here but I'm usually in a big rush for time so I never have.
Apparently this spot on the highway is the highest point of any coast to coast highway and Lincoln had some aspiration for manifest destiny (I think is what it was...).   Olsen had fun running around here but we needed to get going.

We drove to Cheyenne to have lunch and see the capitol building.
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We found a nice little area to set up a picnic blanket.

Olsen had fun chasing the squirrels there.  We then walked around the area of the capitol building.
We saw a bronze calf and people were riding it.  It was pretty funny and Olsen wanted to put his hand in its mouth
We then had to be on our way into Nebraska, finally.
Cheyenne Pictures

We stopped in Sidney, Nebraska; home of the original Cabelas store.  It really wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be (I think the Cabelas in the Salt Lake area is more fun and nicer).  We saw an elephant that Mr Cabela killed and Olsen sat on a four-wheeler

After we left, we went through the scariest hail storm I have even been in.  It wasn't safe driving on the highway.  It lasted for what felt like an hour but it had to have been shorter than that.

We stopped in Kearney, Nebraska (home of the famous Great Platte River Road Archway) to eat and then decided to stay the night in Lincoln since it wasn't worth driving an extra hour to get to Omaha.  It was nearly impossible to find a hotel in Lincoln because of the College World Series going on in Omaha.  It was ridiculous.  Somehow we got the last room in the "airport" Holiday Inn and had to settle there.  It was a pretty nice hotel.
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DAY 3 - Sunday, June 19

We ate the continental breakfast in the morning and the boy and I decided to go for a swim again.  Well, it was an indoor pool and apparently wasn't heated because it was super cold.  We didn't even get in past our legs...  Before heading into Omaha we made the obligatory stop at the state capitol building to walk around and check it out.
We probably stayed a little longer than we needed and it was getting hot so we decided to get on to Omaha.  I kind of wanted stop and walk around the University of Nebraska campus but Lisa wanted to get to our hotel in hopes that Olsen would take a little nap before the game.

This blog post will be continued...