July 26 was the halfway point of the trip.  Half way through as far as days go as well as the day of the 15th game.  I had intended to write up a “State of the Trip” post then, but travel days in the south west were booked with parks and 6 hour drives.  I’ve now returned to the homeland: The Midwest.  Everything is a comfortable 4 hour drive… for the most part. I’ll soon be back in the Eastern Time Zone.  And, finally, on the way to Kansas City from Denver, I crossed the 10,000 mile mark on the trip.

Olympic National Park

So, it seems like a chance to rectify my prior missed opportunity.  Here’s where things stand, with 18 days, 11 games and just around 4,500 miles of driving to go.

Baseball is still fun.  Despite how exhausted I am at times, I am still thoroughly enjoying every game I have been to.  More so than I would have thought.  I’ve been fortunate to be joined by friends on 14 of the 19 games.  Yet, even those five games that I’ve had to hit solo have been extremely entertaining.  Plus, when I’m on my own – as I was yesterday in Kansas City – I get a bit more freedom to explore and check things out that might not be super interesting to others.  For example, I missed the top of the eighth inning yesterday because I wanted to checkout the Royals museum. It was worth it.

Ranking Stadiums is tough for me.  If the fans are into it and it’s a good game, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the game.  Yet, everyone is constantly asking what the best stadium is… here’s my current rankings:

  1. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
  2. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)
  3. PetCo Park (San Diego Padres)
  4. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)
  5. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)

I hear you north-siders aghast.  Don’t care.  Wrigley is great… it’s also kind of a dump, though a charming dump.  It’s also probably going to fall to 7 after Fenway and PNC.  DEAL WITH IT.  SafeCo, Kauffman, Target, The Jake, the SkyDome and even Comiskey all live in this same area of “great stadiums that aren’t quite unbelievable,” among others.

Then there’s Oakland and Arizona.  They are at the bottom. They are not worth discussing. Luckily for them, I go to Tampa this week.

Being interviewed by a legendary radio host is a trip.  The Drew and Mike Show was the #1 morning radio in Detroit for decades.  I learned from my friend in San Francisco that since going off the air a few years ago they have begun podcasting.  I promptly downloaded and binged through a dozen shows before catching up.  I shot Drew an email saying how psyched I was that they were doing the podcast and that it was making the long drives a breeze.  Next thing I know, I’m being interviewed.  Check out the 1h19m mark (the show is uncensored and certainly “R” rated… my interview is pretty tame, though an F-bomb is dropped).

McDonald’s is impressively popular among older folks all throughout the country.  It’s crazy.

I’m inching closer to the week that is a bucket list type trip itself… Two subway series games and Yankees at Red Sox.  I’m starting to get hyped.

The National Park swing out west was amazing, but also draining.  I’m actually pretty psyched to be able to spend non-game days catching up on the blog, getting a little school year prep done, and not rushing to figure out the next part of the trip.  I’ve got two Park posts back-logged that I’m hoping to get to this week.

IMG_4750I saw Trump’s Wall.  Okay, no, it’s not Trump’s wall… but it was pretty surreal driving within a thousand feet of the US-Mexico border and seeing the black fence that separates the two countries along I-8.  It also makes me realize how foolish spending any money on any wall would be.  The desert is big, yo.  Also, the desert is not my bag.  I don’t understand people living in such crazy summers.  I’m sure they say the same about the north and winters.

Final Trip Costs are also coming into view.  At the halfway point, I was averaging spending about $75 a day, for a projected cost of $4,350.  That’s ticked up over the last week, but I’m also at a point where there’s only so many days to drastically change my final costs.  I should end up safely under $5,000.

  • Even accounting for my upcoming Yankees ticket ($48, vs. Mets), Mets ticket ($57, vs. Yankees) and Red Sox ticket ($71, vs. Yankees), I’m averaging just over $10 for the 23 tickets that have been purchased.  I’m looking at a $7 ticket for the Braves game. The remaining games likely fall in the teens.  I think I can safely put the final ticket costs at about $400, a whopping $500 below the original estimate.
  • Game day costs have also reached a point where it’s easy to predict where I’ll end up. Even if I spend $30 at each remaining game – counting parking – I come in $100 under my game cost estimate.  More likely, I end up around $200 under.
  • Food costs have remained steady at near the high end estimate.  My goal this week is to bring those down significantly.  With a full cooler and a sharper focus, that should be doable.
  • Gas costs will also come under budget.  I’m currently at $614, making for an approximate final of $921. I think I’ll even come under that as I don’t anticipate a ton of side trips from here on out and don’t have expensive West Coast gas to deal with. Should come in $300 less than my ceiling estimate.
  • I haven’t spent a ton on random crap!  My miscellaneous costs sit at $354.  Once I get up to the New York area, that’ll see a small spike, but I still should come in safely under the $800 budget.
  • The real remaining question mark is lodging costs.  I have 17 nights left and about 8 nights I don’t need to worry about finding a roof to stay under.  At this point, I’m not going to crazy extents to avoid motel rooms for those other 9 nights.  Even if I spend $60 a night on 9 motel rooms (hopefully a high estimate), I don’t surpass my high end lodging estimate.  Given how far I am under in every other category (a total of over $1000), I’m not going to be picky on this.  I’ll still search for the cheapest places I can find, but I’m not going to bend over backwards and give myself an uncomfortable night just to save $20.

There you have it… A State of the Trip as I approach the final two and a half weeks.  I’m driving to Nashville tonight before hitting Atlanta tomorrow for the Braves at SunTrust park.  Once I get to Washington DC this Sunday, then I’ll truly feel as though I’m in the home stretch.

Kansas City recap up tomorrow morning.

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Posted by Tom Ward

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