Travelling The 50 States – Wisconsin

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we wrap things up today with the 30th state to be added to the Union: Wisconsin.

State: Wisconsin
Joined the Union: 1848
Visits: 15

Over the years, I’ve made fifteen trips to the Badger State, first in 1993 and most recently in 2019, the majority revolving around sports.

I made my first trip to Wisconsin, and my only visit to County Stadium, with Scott and Joe for a White Sox/Brewers tilt on July 18, 1993.  Back in the days before cell phones and GPS, we were left to our own devices as far as directions.  I remember one of the signs for the highway saying it would take us to Madison, and, not wanting to go to Madison, Scott decided to get off the highway.  Which put is somewhere in Milwaukee with no idea of how to get to the ballpark.  Eventually we made it in time to see the White Sox pull off the victory thanks to a 2-run single by Bo Jackson in the 9th inning.

At some unknown point, I made a trip up to the woods of Wisconsin with my friend Mike, his father and brother, and Scott to clean up an old family cabin.  I have no idea where we were or how long we were there, but it was certainly an experience.

My next trip came in April of 1995.  When Michael Jordan returns to the NBA and every game in Chicago is a sellout, the next best thing is to take the long drive 90 miles to the north to see the Bulls battle the Bucks at the Bradley Center.  Despite 33 points from Michael Jordan, Glenn Robinson led the Bucks to a 104-100 victory, scoring 36.

With the opening of their new ballpark in 2001, the Brewers drew me back to Milwaukee in May.  In a pitching battle, the Cubs outlasted the Brewers 7-6 as closer Tom Gordon picked up his first save with the team.

I returned to Milwaukee in April of 2022, when Tina and I drove north to see The Kids In The Hall reunion show at the Riverside Theater.

My next three trips to Miller Park came in May of 2003 and July of 2004.  On May 12, I saw the Cubs, behind home runs from Damian Miller, Moises Alou, and Troy O’Leary, beat the Brewers 11-5.  The next July 5, Ben Sheets outdueled Matt Clement as the Brewers topped the Cubs 1-0.  Three weeks later, the Brewers topped the Cubs once again, winning 6-3.

After nearly a decade away, I returned to Wisconsin in October of 2013 for Keith Longwell’s bachelor party.  I travelled to the faraway land of Kewaunee, where the festivities included nights of video games and cards, nine holes of golf, where I mostly sat in the cart, and a trip out to some local bars, until we were asked to leave due to some drunken tomfoolery.

In July of 2014, Danny, Michael, and I stopped in Madison on our way to Minneapolis to do some miniature golfing at Vitense Golfland.  The highlights of the stop include Michael falling into one of the water hazards and plenty of picture opportunities, like with the Bucky Badger figure above. Continue reading →

Fitbit IX – Week 5

A disappointing week through and through, as I failed to break the 4000-step plateau any day of the week.  Things got off to a poor start on Sunday as I managed to record 3800 steps despite traversing downtown Lafayette to attend Danny’s band concert.  Monday was easily the low point of the week, finishing with just 2700 steps.  Tuesday saw a slight improvement, jumping up to 3500 steps.  Wednesday saw another improvement as I ended the day over 3900 steps.  A slight decline on Thursday due in part to a morning of PI Planning put me back down to 3400 steps.  The high point of the week came on Friday, as I finished 7 steps shy of 4000.  Despite a trip out to get the car washed and my hair cut, Saturday finished just over 3000 steps.

Total steps: 24,443

Daily average: 3491.9

Fitbit IX – Week 3

After a decent start to the week, things kind of fizzled out.  Things got off to a good start on Sunday as I managed to record 5600 steps thanks to my walk to and from Mackey Arena to see Danny perform at the basketball game between Purdue and IU.  Monday lost all of the momentum of the weekend, falling to 2700 steps.  Tuesday saw a nice improvement, as I not only left the house but also went in to the store for lunch, finishing just 21 steps shy of 5200.  Another downfall on Wednesday, despite a trip out to get my taxes done which left me with just 3100 steps.  A slight jump on Thursday put me over 3300 steps, before falling back on Friday to 3000 steps.  Adventures on Saturday saw the week end on an upswing, with 4100 steps.

Total steps: 27,190

Daily average: 3884.3

Once Upon A Time There Was A 10,000 Step Club

My world was very different three years ago, as I was finishing up my fifth year using a Fitbit.  I had just added 45 new 10,000 step days, my third best year to date, and, with upcoming trips to Boston and California already on the docket, things were looking good to add a good number more and add some new tales to this list of my Top 25 step days.  Then, the corona virus happened, the world basically shut down for the next year or so, and I stopped needing to leave the house.  I’ve worked from home since March of 2020, which theoretically gives me plenty of free time to go out for walks, but, in practice, leaves me homebound more often than not.  All told, I managed only thirteen 10,000 step days for the just completed eighth year of Fitbit usage, which, granted, is better than the prior two years combined, and gives me a total of 283 since I started keeping track back in 2011.  With that in mind, here’s the list of my Top 25 step days, which has now stayed static for three years.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first full day of 2019’s summer trip to Washington DC spent most of the day at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

Late in the summer of 2019, I spent two weeks in San Francisco for a work trip.   On my last full day, I went out after work, walking to Pier 39 and then back the other direction to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  My totals would have been even higher, but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

My first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference, the day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a late night trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

Travelling The 50 States – New York

Over my 48 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the 11th state to be added to the Union: New York.

State: New York
Joined the Union: 1788
Visits: 3

I’ve made three visits to the Empire State, two to New York City and one upstate.

My first visit to New York came in March of 2003, when the Cubs were scheduled to open their season in Queens against the Mets.  After arriving at our Newark hotel, we took the train into Manhattan, meeting up with a friend of my traveling companion and grabbing a late dinner at the Tick Tock Diner across the street from Madison Square Garden.  During the meal, plans were made to meet up again the following day for a tour of the city.

After a morning in Jersey, it was back to Manhattan, where we ditched the rental car at a church and headed out on foot for a tour of the city.  Our first stop was Ground Zero, where we saw what remained of the World Trade Center a year and a half after 9/11.  From there, we headed to Chinatown, where we hooked up with our friend from the night before, who scored box seats for Monday’s opening day tilt from the nuns that lived in her building, a welcome upgrade from the upper-level tix we had scored on eBay prior to leaving home.  The rest of the day was spent walking around and seeing the sites, including a trip to St. Mark’s Comics.  Eventually, we found our way back to the car and headed back to the hotel.

Monday morning was the big day and meant traveling from New Jersey across Manhattan, and then onto Long Island and into Queens to get to Shea Stadium.  We listened to Howard Stern on his flagship station while working through traffic.  Eventually, we arrived at Shea Stadium, where the newly acquired Tom Glavine, a future Hall of Famer, was on the mound for the Mets.  He made it through 2 pitches before the crowd turned on him.  Things quickly turned south for the Mets as the Cubs scored 4 runs in the top of the first on their way to a 15-2 victory, behind two home runs from Corey Patterson.

Following the game, it was time for the long drive home.  Unfortunately, we were stuck in Queens and had to work our way west again with the afternoon’s traffic at its peak.  We passed through the Bronx and Yankee Stadium as the hosts on sports radio WFAN were discussing the new YES network and the attempts to get picked up by cable networks in New York before the Yankees opened their season the next day.  Eventually, we made it out of New York and were on our way back to Illinois.

My second trip to the state of New York came in 2015 as part of my vacation to Toronto.  After a morning jaunt along Niagra Falls, my travelling companion and I headed back to the good old US of A, towards Cooperstown, NY, where the Baseball Hall of Fame beckoned.  After heading to the center of town and parking at fabled Doubleday Field, we entered the museum.  There aren’t enough words to describe all that was seen at the Hall of Fame.  All of the baseball history you could shake a stick at, except for the portion covering the 70s through the current day, which had closed down for renovations that very day.  Finally, we entered the Hall of Fame Gallery, housing the plaques honoring each player voted into the Hall.  My first destination, after the centrally located first class, was the previous year’s electees, where I found both Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux. Continue reading →

2022: The Year In Live Performances

During 2022, I managed to get out three different times, taking in my first post-pandemic concert and play and my second comedy show.

In June, I attended my first concert since 2019.  Garbage was opening for Tears for Fears at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre and I made a last-minute decision to attend.  I hadn’t been to this particular venue since 2017, despite it being the closest to my house.  After a nice set from Garbage, I stuck around for the first part of Tears for Fears’ set.  The songs I knew from them were evenly split between the beginning of the show and the end, so I stayed for the first five songs they performed, hearing Everybody Wants to Rule the World and Sowing the Seeds of Love before leaving.  Without the crowds, I was able to get from my seat to my house in about a half hour.

For my birthday, I received tickets to the stage version of Clue.  In November, the night before Thanksgiving, Angelina, Danny, and I headed into the city for what was my first trip to the theater since 2018’s trip to Broadway.  The production of Clue is based on the movie, which is one of my favorites.  A good time was had by all.

To wrap up the year, I headed to the Chicago Theatre to see John Oliver on New Year’s Eve.  It was the perfect New Year’s Eve for someone my age, with the show starting around 7:30, wrapping up by 9:00, and allowing me to drive home and be in the house by 10:00.

2022: The Year In Travel

After two years of limited travel due to COVID, things opened up once again in 2022 and I actually found myself on an airplane or two throughout the year.  I thought it would be nice to look back at the trips I took this year.  Things started in late January, when I went to Hawaii for two weeks.  Things were still pretty locked down on the islands at the time, so I didn’t do a lot of activities, but a week relaxation at the beach and the pool followed by a second week of working remotely followed by afternoons at the beach did the body (and the mind) good.

The next trip came at the end of May, as the family headed to Boston for Angelina’s graduation.  The boys and I arrived late Friday night, where we basically went straight from the airport to the hotel to sleep.  On Saturday, we did some sight-seeing.  Sunday was graduation, followed by a celebratory dinner.  We all headed home on Monday, save Angelina.

At the end of July, I headed out to Denver for a quick trip to add a new stadium to my collection.  I arrived on Tuesday and high-tailed it out to Coors Field for that evening’s game, which the White Sox won against the hometown Rockies.  The follow-up the next afternoon was not as pleasant, after which I headed back to the airport for the flight home.

August brought a road trip to Indianapolis, to see Danny perform with the Troopers drum corps at the DCI World Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium.  What was supposed to be a two-night stay turned into three, when the Troopers unexpectedly made it to the finals. Continue reading →

2023 Calendar

Now that Christmas has come and gone, we can unveil the cover to this year’s calendar gift, given annually to my mom and sister, and made up of pictures I have taken throughout the year.  It is getting harder and harder to get enough pictures to flesh out the calendar, especially with Angelina spending more and more time in Boston and Michael being homebound for the most part.  Danny, on the other hand, is an embarrassment of riches, between his different band activities.  As in year’s past. the calendar was produced by the good folks at Shutterfly and we will unveil each month’s photo(s) on the first day of the month throughout 2023.

This year’s cover features Angelina, Danny, and Michael masked up outside of Agganis Arena on the BU campus from our visit this summer for Angelina’s graduation.