Posts tagged good times

Rex-Goliath’s First Baseball Game! But Enough About That, Let’s Talk Trains.

It as a sunny, beautiful June day in good old St. Paul, big time Minneapolis. I spent my morning hustling with Uncle Dave hearing about the latest communist plot being perpetrated by the black man in the White House, all while sweating into some salsa. I cut out early, because this particular day was a big day. Today I would be bringing Rex-Goliath to his First Baseball Game. Significantly – his First Baseball Game at Target Field. But, even more significantly, we would be taking the light rail commuter train to the game. Wait, I should, in an appropriate Victorian Style, capitalize an essential word; let me try that last sentence again.

But, even more significantly, we would be taking the light rail commuter Train to the game.

Train. This is a big deal.

Rex-Goliath dying, going to heaven.

Yes, Rex-Goliath was intrigued by the baseball game proposition. It held his interest, but his interest was in a vague thing – baseball is on T.V., and is allegedly a thing that Daddy had been involved in before, but a baseball game isn’t a rock-fucking-solid Important Thing like trains. A boy can wrap his imagination wholly around riding on a train as a whole body experience. Trains after all, are very useful, and communicate real ideas, and have faces, and literally actually talk.

Daddy is cheeky and is a troublesome engine, courtesy of Sean Olene.

The ball game was a 12:15 start, which was just about the time we left the house for the Fort Snelling light rail station. By the time we drove, parked, walked and began our wait at the train station, a couple of innings had passed. The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing, and we were all by ourselves at the station, as if the entire train was coming, specially, just for the good little mister and his old man.

A few minutes passed, and lo and behold , a train arrived. Now, the idea of a train and the reality of a train do not necessarily share the same shape, and I could tell from Rex-Goliath that the meeting of these two versions might be a bit at odds. The train was a little too large, a bit too fast, way too loud, and Rex-Goliath was a smidge intimidated. We boarded (although nobody said “All aboard!” as one might expect.) and had to quickly find a seat, because the driver certainly wasn’t waiting for us to sit down to start chug-chug-chugging along the track. Rex-Goliath and I took a seat at the front of the train, and soaked it all in.

A wonderful panorama of surging people, cars, and buildings!

One nervous boy.

Rex-Goliath was in quiet shock and awe for the entire trip, and was admittedly a bit happy once we arrived at Target Field, i the heart of the fourth inning. Rex-Goliath’s reaction to the spectacle of the field was of mild acceptance – the entree of the ballgame was certainly dwarfed by the first course. He was a excited that they were playing baseball, but only when I pointed it out to him, at which point he promptly lost interest in the whole affair. We walked around a bit, pausing briefly to score a $85 beer, went up a couple flights of stairs to our seats, and settled in for the fifth inning. We had a frozen lemonade, a juice box, cotton candy, umm yum yum.

We saw a Justin Morneau blast to the plaza in right field, watched Johnny Damon complete botch a routine fly ball, cheered a bit, clapped a bit, and even heckled the umpire (from the third deck, I’m sure it stung) a bit. By the time Rex-Goliath was getting antsy (and began his incessant request to go back on the train), it was the bottom of the eighth inning and a perfect time to cut out.

Joe Mauer's statue and the boy whose statue will eventually supplant Joe Mauer's statue.

Rex-Goliath was more than ready for the train ride back, but neither of us was prepared for the severe clot of people on the train. Seriously – we could barely get on the damn thing.

Where do these people all come from? Oh yeah, Twin's game.

A tired boy, a busy train ride, a good day.

– Mr. Wonderful


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Raptors and Children and Parks Oh My

This past windy, windy May Day we spent a few hours at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve. The crew has been planning this little excursion for a bit, a month plus, which for our lil’ family is a fairly long-term goal.

You see, a fellow student in Leah’s Microbiology class (“Smart Girl”) mentioned something about a bird release that would be happening thanks to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. The gal wants to be a bird trainer, which I hadn’t really known was something you could be, but I don’t really think about birds, per se, especially not in any career sense. Apparently it is a tough nut to crack – the bird discipline field. Who knew? Well, who cares; moving on. Smart Girl told Leah about the bird release, and this seemed like a perfect trip for the family, especially because of this one.

None of us have much experience with releasing birds, and I was expecting driving up to the park, and asking around to find out where this little thing was going to occur. I was afraid it’d be in some obscure corner of the park, down a wood-chip trail, with a dozen or two folks gathered around some scruffy dude. Man was I wrong.

Raptor releases are a BFD. This is a full-scale event, with cordoned parking, attendants, tents, informational booths and people. Flocks of people.

And a host of birds, which shouldn’t be surprising, but I was basically picturing a scruffy dude getting out of a busted-up van with a couple of eagles under his arms, saying “Howdy”, chucking the eagles into the air and sparking a smoke. There were actually quite a few volunteers with a low scruff factor, and quite a few birdies on display, in addition to the birds that were specifically there to be set back into the world. This was a pretty big thrill.

Well, there were other sights to see, so we tootled around for a bit while we were waiting for the big release.

We eventually migrated to the staging area, and deliberated about where to perch while we waited for the main event. They had some of the area roped off, but it didn’t seem to signify much of anything as people were sitting everywhere. So, we walked around, lost Rexgoliath a couple of times, and eventually found a nice spot to sit. We settled, started in on our lunch, then promptly had to get up and move behind the roped off area. The birds needed some space to fly, I guess, and even though they have the entire sky the big shots are so important they need some terra firma available as well.

Finally the little presentation started, and there were four birds released in total. A couple of red-tailed hawks, and a couple of Cooper’s hawks. There was a modest amount of fanfare – some spiel about the Center and their work, a bit of introduction on each bird’s particular story of rehabilitation, honorary releasers (including our gal Betty McCollum!), and a countdown for each bird’s triumphant reëntry into the greater world.

A good time was had by all, and although the crew was starting to get a little owly by the time we were on our way out, the kids loved the whole thing up.

(Bonus game: Count the number of ornithological references I tried to drop throughout the post!)

– Wr. Monderful

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