America's National Pastime
I timed my visit to Cleveland to coincide with a visit by the Toronto Blue Jays were being hosted by the Cleveland Indians. Baseball was at one time considered to be "National Pastime" or in other words, it was the most popular spectator sport in America. I think that would be difficult to make this claim in 21st century as television ratings are in decline and attendance diminishing. I still find the game intriguing of not exciting when compared to hockey or football. Unless you were raised on the game (my father was a very good player) it is a hard sport to understand as the rules are complex. To the uninitiated there seems to be little going on the field. I tried to explain the rules of baseball to a very intelligent Romanian immigrant. By the time I was finished he thought I was crazy. The game just seemed too dull and there were too many difficult nuances to the game for him to appreciate. Baseball has never really caught on in Europe but it is now very popular in the Caribbean (The Dominican Republic are the reigning World Classic champs) and East Asia. It is also reasonably popular in Canada where there is a long history of baseball being played going back to 1837.
Regarding the two games I took in while in Cleveland, I found the tickets reasonably priced and easy to get as the Indians are not really that popular these days. One quarter of the crowd was from Toronto cheering on the Blue Jays. Both games were almost rained out as they do not play baseball in heavy rain and especially when there is lightening. I enjoyed the games as I thought that Cleveland had an excellent ballpark.
Equipment: Baseball is a popular participation sport in America as it is a relatively easy sport to play when your young. You need a baseball field which can be found in any school yard or park, a baseball glove and a bat or two. Running shoes help but Dominicans play in their bare feet back home.
backpacking is a great sport
Backpacking is a great sport and there is no better place to do it than in one of the great National Parks of the USA. With no shortage of incredible scenic beauty and an extensive network of trails traversing them, there are trails to suite all levels of backpackers.
You will need to carry everything you need for the trip with you and also everything back out. A good backpack makes that easier so don't scrimp on that part of your equipment. Make sure to get one that fits your body too. We are all different and so are the packs. Get yourself a good pair of waterproof boots and break them in before the trip. Thick cushiony socks are a blessing when hiking long distances over rock terrain. When you buy boots, wear the same socks you plan on hiking in so they fit together. We never hike in shorts. We prefer very light long pants which dry easily and provide protection from not only the sun but also bushes, rocky surfaces, and biting insects. Likewise, a light long-sleeved short helps up top. Synthetic layers are the key to keeping warm and dry. Rain gear is essentials no matter how dry it is when you start. It can rain at any time, especially in the mountains. Long underwear is great for chilly mornings and evenings if you plan on spending any time out of your sleeping bag. Warm hat, warm hat, warm hat, warm hat. Don't forget one.
What types of food should you be carrying? Dried food is the lightest though it comes at a cost. We find Mountain House to make a good product. It is not gourmet food but it's tasty enough, light to carry and very easy to prepare. You basically boil water, pour it into the plastic pouch the food comes in and close it for ten minutes. We eat some nuts while we're waiting for extra protein. The two-serving pouches from Mountain House are a bit meager. It might be enough for two small people but when you are carrying so much weight over passes, you need more calories. We generally add some starches to the pouch to flesh them out: instant mashed potatoes for the stews and instant rice for Asian style meals. We follow up the meal with a liquid soup like ramen noodles which provides warmth, liquid, sodium, and also helps clean out the cup we just ate our meals from. Breakfasts are either cereal bars or oatmeal. Tea is easier to deal with than coffee and hot chocolate seems to taste great in the mountains on a cold morning. It's also less to carry back as wet tea bags can get heavy. You will need a small camp stove as fires are not permitted nor practical for cooking in the backcountry.
Equipment: Bring a sleeping bag appropriate for the temperatures you will be sleeping in. If it will get down to 0F, don't count on staying warm in a 32F bag. I cannot stress how important a good sleeping mat is. It will go a long way in keeping you warm and comfortable: two things you do want after a long day of backpacking. A good quality tent will round out what you need to be comfortable in the mountains. Get a light one but one big enough for the number of people who will be sleeping in it. We find we need a three-person tent even though we are just two people. It's a bit heavier but we enjoy our time in the tent more with the extra space. It is also our car camping tent and we would not go with a super small tent for a six-month trip like we were on. It would be nice and ideal to have two tents.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
In the beginning, volleyball was just something girls had to do in P.E., and people did it at beach picnic. NOW it is not only an Olympic Sport but TWO Olympic sports.
I hated volleyball when I was a girl. The balls went so fast and they seemed aimed right at my head and I could never hit them in the right direction. But it is a sport that people seem to feel that they also could play. You don't have to be particularly tall (although sometimes it helps). And it doesn't need a lot of space or equipment. It can be played both indoors in the gym and outdoors.
Although, it does seem a little perverted to me to put sand in places that has no beach, just so that a beach volleyball tournament can be played.
William G. Morgan (1870-1942) has gone down in history as the inventor of the game of volleyball in 1895 when he was at the YMCA. In 1896 the first league was organized. Until the early thirties volleyball was for the most part a game of leisure and recreation. In 1952 when I was in HS, the first Women's World Championship was held in Moscow and won by the USSR. And Volleyball was included for the first time in the XVII Olympiad in Tokyo, 1964. Beach Volleyball was admitted as a gold medal discipline to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Equipment: Morgan said: "In search of an appropriate game, tennis occurred to me, but this required rackets, balls, a net and other equipment, so it was eliminated - but the idea of a net seemed a good one. We raised it to a height of about 6 feet 6 inches (lm.98) from the ground, just above the head of an average man. We needed a ball, and among those we tried was a basketball bladder, but this was too light and too slow, we therefore tried the basketball itself, which was too big and too heavy".
He had a ball made by Spaulding.
For a pick-up or family picnic game, that's all you need. The ball and a net.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Auto racing (also known as automobile racing, motor racing or car racing) is one of the world's most watched television sports and is really big in the US. In addition to drag racing, kart racing, and off road racing, there is stock car racing. Stock car racing is the North American equivalent to touring car racing. The big name in that sport is NASCAR.
My son who has his CDL really wanted to drive a race car. Richard Lee Petty (born July 2, 1937 - just 4 months older than me!) is a former NASCAR driver who raced in the Strictly Stock/Grand National Era and the Winston Cup Series. "The King", as he is nicknamed, is most well-known for winning the Nascar Championship seven times. He has a place where people can experience driving a race car.
So when we went to Orlando, my son called the Petty number, and set up to go on the Rookie experience. It was 11 am the day he was leaving Orlando. He had to be there in advance to get instruction and suit up. The address and phone information below are for the Orlando Petty track - there are others in other places in the US.
There were two possible programs. One was a ride-along program for about $89 where you just ride with an actual race driver, and go really fast a couple of times around the track. But the program my son wanted to do was the Rookie Experience - that was about $349.00. In this one, each participant gets into a car by him/herself and an instructor is in a chase car with communication via headset from the instructor to the student. The student gets to drive 8 laps of the 1 mile; 7-10° banking track in this fashion. I think my son went about 125 mph.
They take your photo with the car (and I took my own of him while they were taking theirs) and then you sit under a tent and are called to the cars one or two at a time. Afterwards they give you a certificate to show that you did it, and also your framed photos.
Equipment: Their website says that you need a valid driver's license and the ability to drive a standard transmission plus must have the ability to climb through a 15" high by 30" wide window that sits 36" off the ground. (the car doors don't open)
It further indicates:
All participants are provided a regulation helmet and neck guard. Participants of the driving programs will also be issued a drivers suit and will need to wear socks, closed-toe shoes and clothes that will be comfortable under a drivers suit.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Hiking is really amazing in US. Despite i was a little bit disappointed about the marks in all paths i enjoyed a lot. All national parks, major and minor deserve a day or two for hiking. Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier National park probably are the best for such activity, others like Canyonlands or Arches in Utah are more touristy and with lots of signs like "keep off" or "dont go further"
Specially Hetch Hetchy area that belongs to Yosemite is so isolated from the rest of the park and less touristy.. so i hiked absolutelly alone for hours and hours amidst the nature..
National passtime: Baseball?
Playing a game of baseball (or softball --same game, larger ball) might be difficult to arrange for a tourist but there are enthusiasts who have made seeing all the teams a theme for travels around the USA. If you are from Japan, Taiwan or Latin America this might be appealing. If you play the game look to parks especially on weekends and holidays.
It used to be said that baseball was the national sport of the USA. It was called the American pastime. It is a pastoral sport with no time clock. It was originally played in the commons areas in towns or villages, or fields in the countryside. (Thus the idea of it being "pastoral" as in from the pasture.) It has spread to Japan and Latin America where the fans are perhaps more intense.
When I was young I loved to play baseball, but at least in America it is not for me a great game to just watch. On the other hand it does allow lots of time to talk with your friends or with the people sitting around you. I would certainly recommend for a serious visitor to the USA to experience at least one game, mostly to experience the people. (see tip)
My father who was an engineer deeply involved in mathematics and the physics of structures and materials seemed to really enjoy meeting all the people sitting around him at a game. He somehow would get them to open up and tell him all about their lives. People responded to his curiosity. It always surprised me how well he connected with people considering how little his work had to do with people. As a foreign visitor, I am sure you would find it easy to connect with Americans at a game. All you would have to do is ask someone how the game is played.
Equipment: Why buy gear when you can always borrow what you need?Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Ride the Dunes in California
The part of the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area in California south of State Highway 78 is a fine place for riding dune buggies, motorcycles or other off-road vehicles. The price is $25 per week or $90 for a season pass. Do not try and use the facilities without a pass, the rules are strictly enforced.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Adventure Travel
Vegetarian Eats at Ball Parks
I ran across this list of the Top Ten Major League Baseball stadiums, in terms of vegetarian and vegan offerings! I just had to share it.
I've been to two of these parks, Safeco in Seattle and my own city's new Busch stadium, of course. I was real impressed with the size and taste of the veggie burger at the later. And the price was very reasonable, better than the meat version, if you can imagine!
I predict more and more people will go veggie in the next five years, or we face further environmental destruction. Read up on this topic and you'll know what I say is true.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
cycling through pebble beach golf course.
if you are cycling in california and have any interest in golf then you might wanna know that there is a bikepath going through the famous pebble beach golf course just south of monterey.
it´s a very nice ride that takes you from monterey to carmel, mostly along the rocky coastline.
Equipment: a bicycle is surely handy if you plan to go cycling.Related to:
- Road Trip
There is a whole cable TV channel (OLN - Outdoor Life Network) which devotes a large part of their programming to fishing shows. In addition ESPN2 (Walker's Cay Chronicles ESPN2's highest ranking angling outdoor television show. Each week, Flip and his guest travel to exotic locations in search of a variety of trophy species) and TNN also show some fishing shows.
Some shows include:
* Sportfishing with Dan Hernandez - Sport fishing show. Dan also offers sportfishing charters and exotics trips for all ages.
* Fisherman's Heaven - hosted by Mike Wasch and Kevin Erickson.
* America's Outdoor Journal - television show shot in many locations featuring sport and fly fishing.
* Jimmy Houston - information on this champion angler.
* Fishing with Roland Martin - includes tips, news, show schedule, and more.
* Offshore Adventures - an ocean oriented, documentary style travel chronicle. Join four adventurous young people aboard the "Go Fisch," a 72-foot fishing yacht.
* Adventures in Fishing with Captain Ray Kelly - television show with a focus on getting children involved in fishing.
* Captain Jim Hammond - a weekly television fishing show and charter services based in Jacksonville, Florida.
* Quest For Adventure - A high-adventure outdoor fishing program with hosts Glenn Lau and Flip Pallot.
* Fishmasters, The - features fish tales, fish brew, fish gals, links, and more.
* Bill Saiff's Rod & Reel - Public Television fishing program. Bill fishes for salmon, trout, bass and walleye. Produced by WPBS TV, Watertown, New York.
We even have a weekly program down in our county on the local cable.
This photo shows various fishing boats off Virginia in the Chesapeake. You can go fishing even if you don't own your own boat. Photos 3, 4, and 5 show docks with charter boats in Swansboro NC, Key West, FL, and Oregon Inlet NC
Equipment: Fishing Tournaments are Big Business. Sometimes there are prizes of $25,000.00 or more. There are all kinds of tournaments in almost every area of the US. If you see a lot of fishing boats out in awful weather, it may be a fishing tournament. The second picture shows the Morehead City turning basin during a fishing tournament when the weather 'outside' in the Atlantic was too boisterous for these small boats. The Coast Guard sometimes has to clear a channel for the vessels transiting the ICW such as we were.
The kind of tournament it is determines the kind of equipment that you need.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Little League Sports
I help coach the Mechanicsville Cyclones little league baseball team. Baseball has been my passion all my life. It is so much so that if I didn't have an injury, I would have gone to college on a baseball scholarship. You know what they say: "If you can't do, teach." In sports, it's, "If you can't play, coach." Being a little league coach is an interesting experience. It is usually a pleasure to deal with the kids and challenging them not to give up no matter how bad things get and, at the same time, teaching them to be humble when we win. The parents can also be interesting to deal with as David and I sometimes have to remind them that the kids are there only to have fun and they make mistakes like everybody else. In May, 2006, the Cyclones were invited to two tournaments. The first one was in Martinsville when Jessi went with me. The second one was in Covington when Nat went with me. The picture shows the second game on Sunday, May 28 in Covington when we were winning over the Chilhowie Rattlers. Nat was trying to teach my kids how to speak Spanish including calling me tontísimo (really stupid) and feísimo (really ugly). There is no telling where a stray baseball may end up when Nat goes with us again!
Equipment: Bats, catchers miss, and maybe a little duct tape for Nat's mouth.
Be a fan, even if just for a day...
I'm one of those people who loves to watch sports live and have little interest in seeing them on TV. There are a few exceptions but to me, baseball on TV doesn't at all show you the energy and excitement of the game. However, getting a ticket and seeing it live is entirely different. Here in Alaska, we have a couple little teams but by far, the best game I ever attended was a New York Yankees game. I was living in Sitka, Alaska at the time and visiting the lower 48. When a friend offered me a ticket, I wasn't sure this was how I wanted to spend my valuable vacation and limited actual summer weather. But, I agreed. We took a ferry over, got to the stadium and since it was a weekday afternoon, it wasn't horribly crowded. While the game was good itself, it's the people who make attending this worthwhile. Say, like me, you're not particular to either team playing. It doesn't matter...you'll find yourself completely into the game! People are so passionate and it brings cities together.
Baseball, though maybe not as much as it was, is a true American pastime.
If you're here in the summer, try to catch a game. It doesn't matter if its major league or not--some of the better games are the minor league/farm league because they aren't playing for a ton of money.
Hiking in AMERICA
You do not need a guide, or pack horses. There are lots of well marked trails some in national parks, other in state parks and some through other public lands. The dangers are limited because of the relative benign nature of the wildlife. There are exceptions in some areas where one can find are rattle snakes, grizzly bears or ticks, etc. There are lengths and difficulties to match almost all abilities and interests.
Equipment: Light weight gear is readily available as is light trail food. Buy what you need before you get to the wilderness areas to save a lot of money. Even the large discount stores like Wal-mart and K-mart have pretty extensive selections of gear at good prices.
Folks, bowling is not yet up my alley. How Lee talked me into going here in August, 2005 is beyond me, but I won't let some heavy ball make a monkey out of me any time soon. Games are normally $6 and bowling shoes are about another $5. (There is a reason why I often say uglier than a rented bowling shoe: see third picture.) They have it written on there security device embedded. Who would want to steal something that ugly? It is often more economical to go as a large group to rent out a lane for a period of 2 hours. Lee and Bill bowled well, but as for me, well, that's something else. I am getting better over time. I would have done better still in March, 2006 if Lee and the other clowns in my group didn't put their balls on the alley when I was trying to bowl and if Lee didn't put ice in my shoes.
Equipment: You can bring your own ball and shoes, but they have that stuff there already.
Little League Sports
In the USA, various sports form leagues to cultivate youthful interest in that sport. My friend Lee coaches a baseball team called the Cyclones. They were invited on 27-28 May to the state tournament in Covington, Virginia. Almost any sport has a type of little league, but the most popular sports are baseball, softball, basketball, football, and soccer. Pictured is the Mechanicsville Cyclones versus the Franklin County Elite. They lost 3-9 in that game, but went on to win 13-2 against the Chilhowie Rattlers. The game was stopped in the 4th inning because this league has a slaughter rule which ends a game where one team is winning by more than 10 points.
Equipment: A baseball bat, a ball, and a glove are needed.
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