July 25, 2008

An infidel at the Cathedral


A wet infidel

After two futile years of Red Sox "virtual waiting room" limbo, I was finally able to score a ticket to a game. Well, actually, that's not entirely accurate--Andrew, our Yankee-fanatic chef-friend from NY, managed to finagle tickets through his restaurant/hotel contacts and generously invited us down to the Bronx. In the final year of existence of Yankee Stadium, Part I, I was going to witness Yankees vs. Red Sox, on July 4th, no less.

One of these smiles was fleeting...


We parked Andrew's car, "H8RDSOX" emblazoned across the plates, in Manhattan, and walked across the bridge to the Stadium. I had heard rumors of assorted assaults, drubbings, beer-dowsings, etc. unleashed on the fans that dared pass through the gates with little red "B's" on their hats or clothing, but was reassured that those days had passed. Yankee Stadium had apparently gone soft since the Red Sox started winning important games a few years back and now Sox fans, emboldened by their success, feel pretty comfortable showing up in full uniform.


In fact, Red Sox Nation was well represented at the game--"Let's Go Red Sox" chants starting up and going for a few rounds before they were eventually overtaken by the Yankee equivalent. I managed to go the entire game with only one "nice hat, asshole" directed my way while waiting in line for a hot dog.


Big tarp on a wet field


With the visiting team up by several runs in the 7th, an extended rain delay caused the place to clear out and us soaked to the bone. Poor timing, as alcohol sales had just ended and I could have used a couple more $9 beers to take the edge off.




When play resumed an hour or so later, my friend was noticeably irritated by the predominance of red in the crowd that remained. It was surreal to look around the half-empty "Cathedral" dotted with red and to hear Red Sox chants go unchecked.


However, Andrew's irritation eventually got the better of him, and he started a one-man "Boston Sucks!" chant directed at the vocal Red Sox majority in our section.


In spite of this effort, the Good Guys eventually won and we made our way back across the bridge to Manhattan and on to Peekskill...

July 17, 2008

Leah and Pete Go to White Castle

Yay, Chicago!

The weather looked bad. Thunderstorms, flood warnings, etc. - the usual June weather patterns in Chicago. Considering that O'Hare ranked second worst in U.S. News and World Reports' "Misery Index," we prepared for the worst.
But alas, the clouds parted, or at least relaxed their wrath, and allowed us to take off and land, only an hour later than scheduled. Our visit to Chicago (and Tinley Park, IL) had begun.
We were visiting Leah's Aunt, Uncle, and Grandmother in the outskirts of the city, but also had plans to kick around downtown and catch a White Sox game. I had prepared for the trip by reading The Devil in the White City, and studying up on the goings-on in the AL's Central Division.
We got off to a slow start on Friday--spending a few hours wandering around Chicago, in search of deep-dish pizza. Inexplicably, we got off of the free trolley at Navy Pier--which has the biggest collection of restaurants and food stands in the city--then wandered away through various neighborhoods looking for a place to eat, before settling on Pizzeria Due, which as the name suggests, is the 2nd restaurant opened by the Pizzeria Uno guy.
On Saturday afternoon, we headed to the Southside, or more specifically, the "Cell," to catch the White Sox/Rockies game. We had great seats, right behind the home dugout (and the masses of kids who would spill into the aisles after every inning to beg Paul Konerko for baseballs).

The Cell

In spite of all of the efforts of the management to entertain--cheerleaders in tight t-shirts and tiny shorts dancing on the dugouts between innings, loud music blaring at every possible opportunity, firework displays after each homerun hit by the home team (there were none) and at the end of the game (there was one), vendors with Margarita backpacks wandering the stands, and an attempt by an airforce skydiver to drop unto the field that was foiled by the wind (damn you, Chicago!)--the game was pretty boring. Very low scoring, but without the mound-mastery and usual intensity that would characterize a "pitchers dual." Probably the most impressive part of the experience was the pre-game tailgate scene. In the walk from the car to the ballpark, we passed buffets, elaborate grilling equipment, and full bar set-ups (complete with several different types of rum and blenders).

Homeplate from the famous Comisky Park-ing lot
Our post-game activities started with my admission that I had never been to White Castle before (which later prompted an amazed friend to comment, "Has the man never been drunk?"). Luckily, there was a WC (interesting abbreviation, considering...) on the way home and I experienced my first authentic Slyder.

July 15, 2008

Part III: The end of a crayfish obsession and hip hop fatigue

Rise and shine

Sunday morning found Hugh in the kitchen, doing whatever it is Hugh does. In this case, crafting a feast of leftover meat so wondrous that it brought tears to our eyes.

Hugh cooks / the Pope silently approves

Okay, perhaps our watery vision was caused by the greasy meat cloud that enveloped the cabin. At any rate, it is always good to start your day with a breakfast of "meat, 5 ways" (okay, maybe: "5 meats, 1 way")

Basically, Hugh filled the electric skillet with hot dogs (3 different kinds), kielbasa, Croghan Bologna, onions, tomatos, and potatoes; smothered it with cheddar cheese; and served it on top of biscuits.

Really nasty, amateur food porn.

After breakfast, we all found our own ways of saying our long goodbyes to the VanDerosa:

"I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow"

Chris spent some alone time with his crayfish friends, while the rest of us tried to "shower" in the cold creek (essentially, carefully balancing on slick rocks why trying to splash as much frigid water on your head and torso).


After that, we burned stuff. Yeah, this is one of those strangely incongruous and slightly shameful parts about my normally eco-friendly, conservationist family. As there is no dump nearby, we always spend the last day at camp burning our garbage. While we do make an honest effort to separate the burnable (napkins, paper plates, etc.) from the un-burnable (glass, toxic plastic, etc.), which we bag and take home, I do have fond childhood memories of watching plastic cups melt into cool shapes--toxic black smoke be damned.

After the Burning, we packed up and headed out.

We made a few stops of course--actually, 3 in the first 20 miles of our trip. We had to get the most out of our cultural experience of the near-Adirondacks by picking up souvenirs. First, we took a slight detour to Indian River, where we stopped at a church-turned-general store, complete with neon beer signs in the formerly-stained glass windows. We marveled at the assortment of beer, guns, lawn ornaments, and knives before buying our obligatory cheese curds.

Church of Beer, Guns and Sundries

After Church, we headed toward Lowville and the erie sight of the hundreds of giant windmills dotting the Tug Hill Plateau.

War of the Worlds

We made another stop at the P&C in Lowville to buy maple syrup, more cheese curds, and several rings of Croghan Bologna, as well as discretely deposit our unburnables in the garbage can out front.

We climbed piled back in the car, made a quick stop at a local produce/cheese/maple syrup store on Route 12, and then resumed our long trip home, South (in an Easterly direction).

South (East happened later)

I don't know when it was exactly that Dan and Chris took control of the iPod--30 minutes into the trip? An hour?--but, somehow, we listened to about 9 hours worth of hip hop in 5 hours. I'm not sure what it was that paralized Hugh and I, but for some reason, we sat in the back seat in a silent stupor, unable to change our musical course, no matter how excrutiating it became. Don't get me wrong, I like hip hop and was a huge fan of Yo! MTV Raps (with both Fab 5 Freddy and Doctor Dre/Ed Lover) back in the early 90s, but I can only take so much and seem to have repressed the memory of much of the trip home. Though I do have a slightly blurred image in my mind of leaving Hugh in his brother's driveway, holding his two rings of Bologna.

Hugh and his souvenirs