From the Minors to October

 Ah, autumn. A nip in the air, the trees are changing, football is back, but mostly… October baseball.

I’m a sports fan. I grew up on minor league baseball. The Wichita Aeros were a big part of my youth and the first professional sporting event I ever attended. That sticks with a guy, I was hooked. Back then the minors were a bit different than today. Of course you had the young prospects fighting to make the bigs but there were also some old vets playing out their string. You don’t see that anymore. The parent club won’t pay the freight and wants the roster spot for a possible future “player to be named later”. I saw some good ones coming up and going down. Vida Blue as a teenager throwing… CONTINUE READING

Ah, autumn. A nip in the air, the trees are changing, football is back, but mostly… October baseball. I’m a sports fan. I grew up on minor league baseball.

The Wichita Aeros were a big part of my youth and the first professional sporting event I ever attended. That sticks with a guy, I was hooked. Back then the minors were a bit different than today.

Of course you had the young prospects fighting to make the bigs but there were also some old vets playing out their string. You don’t see that anymore. The parent club won’t pay the freight and wants the roster spot for a possible future “player to be named later”. I saw some good ones coming up and going down.

Vida Blue as a teenager throwing hundred plus smoke, Buddy Bell and Chris Chambliss on their way to stardom, veteran Cookie Rojas playing out the part of coach as much as player, and on and on.

As a young adult in Nashville, we had The Sounds. The minors were changing by then but it was still a great way to spend a cheap night out. Nothing says family night like free tickets from Kroger and a six pack hidden in the bottom of a diaper bag. Funny how that one beer I bought lasted the whole game.

Great moments can happen in the minors with superstars doing rehab assignments or trying a new sport. Michael Jordan came through Nashville as a Birmingham Barron during his brief baseball career. As the Yankees farm, some good ones came through Nashville. Don Mattingly, Buck Showalter, Otis Nixon and Willie McGee all wore a Sounds jersey. I got to see Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Lou Piniella, Goose Gossage and Tommy John in an exhibition game. Even George Steinbrenner was there to harass Yogi Berra as he managed the Yanks.

Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo, Michigan

The stadiums are a huge part of the charm of the minors. From the old concrete and steel classics like Lawrence in Wichita or Greer in Nashville with their splintery wooden bleachers (unfortunately, not any more) to typical aluminum and bright colored plastic seat fields like Homer Stryker in Kalamazoo (could there BE a better name for a baseball field?) or beautiful new parks like AutoZone Park in Memphis and Louisville Slugger Field.

Perhaps the best park in minor league baseball, Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George on Staten Island, overlooks the Statue of Liberty and New York skyline. What a fantastic way to spend a summer evening… free ride on the ferry and a bit of America’s pastime.

Labatt Park in London, Canada

At any park, one of the beauties of minor league baseball is the ability to be heard by players and umpires due to the lack of crowd noise and close proximity to the field.

They can hear your words of encouragement and constructive criticisms. This was put to good use recently by my daughters, 23 and 21, yelling “Happy Birthday” to one of the hunky young players. They were greeted with a smile and a wave. Try that at a big league park.

As a former volunteer middle and high school baseball coach at a tiny Caribbean school, I feel fully qualified to shout out valuable coaching instructions to the players, as well as much needed direction to the coaches and men in blue (aka umpires). Gems like, “Throw strikes”, “Wait for your pitch”, “Have you lost your mind?” or “Yo Blue, the strike zone is like an imaginary box, try to picture it in your mind next time!”

You know, really helpful stuff like that. It’s also a good idea to know the name of the city that has the next lower club in the system so you can yell that at some unsuspecting player who has just done something really boneheaded. That really gets their attention, they love it. This works well in the majors too.

Watching the fans can be as much of a show as the action on the field. It’s Veronica’s favorite part of the game, other than the nachos with extra peppers. Along with the purists and scouts who just want to watch a game or see some prospects, you’ll find some true die-hards for the local club.

In our new lives as Gypsynesters, going to a game is a great way to get in touch with the city, whether you’re just visiting or it’s your hometown. Each game, the park, the fans and the feel are a wonderful reflection of the home town.

Of course the goal of every single player in the minors is to make the majors and play in a World Series, so enjoy the post season, root for your team, and remember, every one of those guys on the field was once banging away in the minors with big dreams.

David, GypsyNester.com

Digging Up History in Porto Torres, Sardinia

Can you imagine? You are building a new train station, and every time you put a shovel to the ground you dig up an ancient statue, vase or Roman coin. This is the case in Porto Torres–a working dock city on the island of Sardinia.

Like a great many cities in Italy, Porto Torres was built and rebuilt, each civilization one on top of the next. Geography played a huge part in the development of this colony, as ships came to the harbor directly from Rome. Prior to the Romans, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians used the harbor as a seaport. The harbor now is serviced by ferry boats shuttling people and goods back and forth from Genoa, Italy and Marseille, France, as well as the island of Corsica.

Invading hoards and malaria have both plagued the… CONTINUE READING >>

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia

Can
you imagine? You are building a new train station, and every
time you put a shovel to the ground you dig up an ancient
statue, vase or Roman coin. This is the case in Porto Torres–a
working dock city on the island of Sardinia.

Like a great
many cities in Italy, Porto Torres was built and rebuilt, each civilization
one on top of the next.

Geography played a huge part in the development
of this colony, as ships came to the harbor directly from Rome.
Prior to the Romans, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians used the
harbor as a seaport. The harbor now is serviced by ferry boats shuttling
people and goods back and forth from Genoa, Italy and Marseille,
France, as well as the island of Corsica.

Invading hoards
and malaria have both plagued the history of Porto Torres, making
the further inland city of Sassari the more significant, but in
our entire stay there we saw neither hoard nor mosquito. It had
come to our attention that, in fact, malaria had been wiped from
Sardinia in the 1950s. We hope the hoards stay away as well.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia There
is a important excavation happening at this moment of the
ancient Roman colony of Turris Lybisonis. Having to fulfill
the needs of the Roman people, the Turris Lybisonis was equipped
with thermal baths and temples, the most significant of these
dedicated to Fortuna, goddess of luck,
chance and, you guessed it, fortune. The Antiquarium Turritano houses
many of the artifacts found by citizens of the city, many times
during

their work and everyday lives. We were most impressed by
the many mosiacs painstakingly reassembled by the patient historians
assigned to this important project. Those guys are crazy patient.

Roman Ruins in Porto Torres, Sardinia Because
the excavation is an ongoing venture, the city does not allow
bumbling tourists to crawl about on the ruins, so we had to
be satisfied to keep our big, clumsy feet on the outskirts,
sneaking over the tracks of the
nearby train station to get the best views. We were helped greatly
by a sly old man who knew the best trail for our covert actions.

One of the
most fascinating attractions of Porto Torres is the 1st century
Roman bridge, spanning the Mannu River, that has stayed in use
through the centuries to this day. The bridge was the key reason
we decided to venture to Porto Torres and although we were unable
to walk across due to renovation, we were able to hike down and
see its seven arches from the river below. The length of these
arches are asymmetrical and the blocks of stone used were enormous,
giving the structure an impossible, unwieldy air. Fantastic.

Porto Torres
is also home to the most amazing cookies we’ve ever seen.
They are literally works of art. Upon entering the bakery of Trincas
M Chiara, a charming Sardinian man laden with freebies, we were
surrounded by the scent of fresh baked deliciousness and the lacy
artistry of cookies for all occasions.

Wedding Cookies in Porto Torres, Sardinia

The most beautiful of these were the traditional wedding cookies
of the region called dolce della sposa or sweets of the bride.
The proprietor explained to us that each of the cookies were handmade,
that there was no factory involved. The time and attention put
into each one of these little masterpieces was astounding, we
felt as though we were in a gallery. How could we leave without
some newly purchased goodies to take with us to the beach?

Balai Beach in Porto Torres, Sardinia Ahhh…we
were the beautiful people. Seriously, don’t they all
hang out on Mediterranean beaches? Our white-sanded beach,
Balai, was shared by our fellow beautiful people basking in
the sun, sailing little boats and fishing off of the interesting
rock jetties (venturing out on the rocks was a bit painful on the
feet–the little children running on them had convinced us to

come
out barefoot, but shoes would have been a better choice). Blue water,
a fabulous view, sun kissed red noses and warm sand between our
toes–life would have to work pretty hard to improve on this.

Fortuna had clearly smiled upon us.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Headed to The Grand Canyon!

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram

Jump Up! St. Croix

Four times each year the people of St. Croix take to the streets of Christiansted for Jump Up, a Caribbean flavored festival showcasing music, art, food and dancing.

The town is packed with revelers on the oceanfront boardwalk and throughout the narrow, 18th century Danish streets as native and tourist alike “jump up” and celebrate all things Cruzan.

Traffic is closed to vehicles as pedestrians visit the shops, drink in the bars and streets, eat local dishes and, at every turn… CONTINUE READING >>


Mocko Jumbies on St. Croix Virgin IslandsFour times each year the people of St. Croix take to the streets of Christiansted for Jump Up, a Caribbean flavored festival showcasing music, art, food and dancing.

The town is packed with revelers on the oceanfront boardwalk and throughout the narrow, 18th century Danish streets as native and tourist alike “jump up” and celebrate all things Cruzan.

Traffic is closed to vehicles as pedestrians visit the shops, drink in the bars and streets, eat local dishes and, at every turn, find themselves awash in the sounds of island music.

Christiansted St. Croix street festival Jump UpThe highlight of any Jump Up are the Mocko Jumbies, the fa
mous stilt walkers known for their distinctive dancing.

The meaning comes from Moko, an African god and Jumbi which is a West Indian term for spirits or ghosts, so they are “Good Gods” or “Good Spirits.”

This art form originated in Ghana, West Africa and was adopted by the people of the Caribbean.

It is said by many that Mocko Jumbies ward off the evil Jumbie spirits that roam the St. Croix rain forest by night. History aside, the Mocko Jumbies carry on the tradition of an art form that is pure joy to watch.

Along Queen’s Cross Street are vendors selling pates, (a local dish of fried bread stuffed with beef, chicken or saltfish), kebobs straight off the grill (go for the local lobster ones), and rum drinks with sugarcane juiced right before your eyes.

It’s delicious and educational.

A hint to the newbie…at the bars, order your drinks “stateside” or you may find yourself not remembering your Jump Up experience
at all. On St. Croix, rum is cheaper than everything else in your drink, so it is poured liberally. Ask for the Cruzan Rum, it’s local and it’s exceptional.

Nothing evokes the Caribbean mood like the lively Calypso of a steel pan orchestra and at Jump Up you may have the pleasure of seeing three or four different groups.

Quelbe, the official music of the Virgin Islands, is always in the air. Just look for the Quadrille dancers in the street and there
you’ll find a scratch band keeping Quelbe alive.

Quadrille, an ancestor to traditional square dancing, was once popular throughout the Virgin Islands but now, on St. Croix is perhaps your only chance to see it.

There’s always a Soca or Reggae band or two to scratch that street dancing itch when your feet just have to jump up.

Jump Ups start at 6 PM “island time” and are celebrated in February near Valentines Day, the first weekend in May in conjunction with the Half Ironman Triathlon, just after the fourth of July to commemorate a local boy who made it big, Alexander Hamilton of ten dollar bill fame, and Thanksgiving weekend, a great time to visit St. Croix and to shop for unique Christmas gifts.

Pick something up for family or friends or just give yourself the gift of a great time on St. Croix.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com

My Dirty Little Secret

 David and I have one chick left in the nest. He graduates from high school in June. And I am marking the days. I keep a gigantic calendar and mark a red X each day. For my son’s sake (and to avoid horrified looks from house guests), I keep the calendar between the mattresses of my bed.

I’m fully aware how bad this looks, so I will explain myself. I LOVE MY KIDS! But, when June 8 rolls around, I will have spent almost twenty five years of my life raising them. I deserve this dirty little secret.

This callousness does not make me impervious to the emotional milestones along the way. I recently received my son’s cap and gown picture taken at his school. My heart literally … CONTINUE READING >>

Dirty Secrets

David and I have one chick left in the nest. He graduates from high school in June. And I am marking the days. I keep a gigantic calendar and mark a red X each day. For my son’s sake (and to avoid horrified looks from house guests), I keep the calendar between the mattresses of my bed.

I’m fully aware how bad this looks, so I will explain myself. I LOVE MY
KIDS! But, when June 8 rolls around, I will have spent almost twenty five years of my life raising them. I deserve this dirty little secret.

This callousness does not make me impervious to the emotional milestones along the way. I recently received my son’s cap and gown picture taken at his school. My heart literally stopped when I saw it. I have spent many moments in the privacy of my bedroom looking at them and wondering how my baby has gotten so big. And in time I will be strong enough to take the photos down from the ceiling above my bed. Maybe when we put the house on the market.

I have learned that it pays to plan to avoid random emotional outbursts. My oldest daughter, The Piglet, will never forgive me the coyote-like howling from the front row aisle seat that occurred at her graduation ceremony. So I have resolved that on June 8, I will not sit at my son’s graduation in the vicinity any of these people:

1) Other mothers graduating their youngest child
2) Single mothers graduating their only child
3) My husband

The school community at large will thank me (I’m kind of notorious).

I have similar plans for my son’s last Tuesday with us, the last macaroni and cheese dinner, his last Dentist appointment and, of course, the last time he throws his shoes and socks off in the middle of the living room floor. Trust me, it pays to have your bases covered when you have the tendency to be an emotional wreak.

If all else fails, I can just take a peek under my mattress…

Veronica, GypsyNester.com