Monthly Archives: May 2013

My mom sends me messages through Cardinal birds

male cardinal in tree

Some people will think this is crazy, just a string of coincidental occurrences that I’ve bent into having larger-than-life significance. Others will understand, probably because something similar has happened to them.

I think seeing a Cardinal bird is a sign from my mom that she is still with me spiritually even though she died in 2006. Not every Cardinal, just the ones that talk to me. KIDDING. I’m not that kind of crazy…yet.

Here’s why I connect Cardinal sightings and my mom:

First of all, my mom was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and loved birds, especially hummingbirds and redbirds. FYI: while she was in the hospital trying to overcome pneumonia in both lungs in the fall of 2006, the Cards made a late-season run and then less than a month after she died on Oct. 6, St. Louis won the World Series.

Secondly, since she passed away I’ve had several sightings of redbirds at moments when I needed a connection to my mom. If this happened every other month or if I lived in an area where lots of Cardinals are always flying around, I’d be willing to chalk it up to coincidence. But it happens only a couple times of year and at eerily appropriate times.

I started keeping a journal – sporadically at best – a couple years after my mom died so that I could jot down memories of her as they popped into my head. I was (and still am) worried about forgetting things about her.

The first entry I have about a Cardinal sighting is from late spring 2008:

One morning not long after Mother’s Day – a time of year that makes me miss her more than usual – I was getting ready for work. I’m not a morning person so I am not one to just meander around in the a.m. – I get up in time to hurry to get ready and get where I need to be. So it was unusual that on this day I took the time to pull back the bedroom curtain and actually look out into the yard. On our fence sat a redbird. It stayed for a good 5-7 minutes, flipping its feathers around sorta like it was showing off. I thought to myself: maybe this is my mom saying that she was much happier now that she is without the limitations of living with emphysema.

A couple of months later, I made an entry that while Lee and I were walking our dog and talking about my mom, a Cardinal flew by us. We take a lot of walks and this isn’t a common occurrence.

Here are other entries.

August 2008:

My Aunt Linda, Uncle Skip and my stepdad Charles came to visit me in Wichita the weekend after my birthday. It was the first time my aunt and uncle had visited me in Wichita since helping me move here in December 1994. It was the first trip my stepdad had made without my mom. While they were here, I saw a Cardinal right outside my dining room window.

July 2009:

I was in Kansas City just for a couple of hours today. I was driving by a building that use to be a restaurant where I once ate with my mom and Charles (KC Masterpiece). I got really sad thinking of that memory. Then, I drove around the building to get to a fast food drive-thru and a Cardinal was sitting there while I ordered.

December 2009:

I went all fall wishing I would see a Cardinal but I didn’t. It was Christmas Day at my Uncle Skip’s when I finally did. It was our first Christmas without my Aunt Linda, who had died in October. My Grandma Ann had called to talk to everyone and when I got up to get the phone and take my turn to talk to her, I saw a redbird perched on the fence right outside the dining room. It was there the entire time I was on the phone.

December 2010:

Another redbird sighting at Christmas. I had just told Lee that I had really been hoping to see a Cardinal while we’d been driving through the countryside to see my dad and stepmom. We were back in Columbia and heading over to my stepdad’s house when I said that. Within five minutes and just a block from his house, Lee spotted a Cardinal in a bush on the side of the street.

(I’m pretty sure there was a Cardinal sighting or two in 2011 and 2012 but I didn’t make a journal entry and I can’t remember any at the moment.)

male cardinal redbird in a tree

This is the photo I took of a Cardinal visiting on Lee’s birthday, April 27. Three weeks later I realized there’s a Cardinals nest in our backyard.

April 2013:

When Lee got up on his birthday today (April 27), he went to the kitchen to get breakfast. He saw a Cardinal in the backyard. He came to the bedroom to tell me. When I got up to look out our window, I watched the redbird fly to the tree we had planted just a few years ago in my mom’s memory. The bird stayed there long enough for me to get my camera and get to the kitchen to snap a photo.

OK, I’ve always said that I think the Cardinal sighting thing is cool because “it’s not like we have Cardinals living in our backyard and see them all the time.” Well, for the first time EVER we do have Cardinals living in our backyard!

Lee was laying in the hammock in our backyard this past Saturday, and after I got home from the gym I went out to talk to him. While sitting there, I noticed a female Cardinal, then a male … I sat there long enough to notice that they were pretty interested in the bush growing on our fence. After they had flown away, I went over and peered in to see a nest of babies. This has been a great opportunity to take some beautiful photos of the parents (see images below) and it’s been awesome to get to see Cardinals so much.

So I guess I’m not going to connect having this family nesting in our yard to a sign from my mom, and there are a few other times when I’ll see a redbird but it doesn’t necessarily feel connected. But it’s hard for me to write off the sightings I’ve shared above to coincidence.

If you think I’m crazy, keep it to yourself ;-) If you’ve had something similar happen, please share in the comments!

male Cardinal redbird

 

female Cardinal redbird

male female Cardinal redbird

male female Cardinal redbird

male Cardinal redbird

male Cardinal redbird

female Cardinal redbird

Posted in Family, Photography, Weird shit that happens

Trip pix: The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas

I’ve lived in Kansas for 18 years now {oh my god what I have done to myself} and in my frequent travels I’ve heard a gazillion Dorothy comments or questions about tornados. The Wizard of Oz and killer weather: these have to be the two things that come to mind most often when I tell someone I live in Kansas. {Notice that I say I live in Kanas, I’m from Missouri. There’s a difference!}

Honestly, the Dorothy and Toto stuff can easily become cheesy so when I heard some 10 years ago about a new museum dedicated to Oz, I was skeptical. This is a cheese-free museum, people! Seriously, it’s one of the best-done museums I’ve ever visited. Not only is the collection unique but the museum documents the artifacts and tells a great story of the commercialization that occurred after MGM released the movie in 1939 (L. Frank Baum wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1900).

The problem is that The Oz Museum is not exactly on the way to anything else for me, so I’ll admit that I haven’t been back since I visited right after the museum opened 10 years ago. For anyone going to Manhattan, Kan., or Topeka, Kan., or traveling along I-70, make the detour to the tiny town of Wamego. It’s worthy of an on-purpose road trip, too.

So in honor of L. Frank Baum’s birthday today, I’m sharing a photo from my trip and an endorsement to go visit The Oz Museum. To read my article from the museum’s grand opening that was published in the Wichita Eagle back in 2003, visit my online writing and photography portfolio at melindaschnyder.com.

Travel article and photography Dorothy's ruby slippers at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas

 

 

Posted in travel

Tripping: an experiment with Hotel Tonight & Hotwire for discount hotel rooms

screen shot of the Hotel Tonight app

Lee and I were early adopters when Priceline came out in the late 1990s with the name-your-own-price concept for booking a hotel room, so we’d been not-so-patiently waiting for a chance to try the one of the newer discount options, Hotel Tonight.

In fact, more than a few times we played vacation from our couch in Doodah, Kansas – selecting a city from the list of offerings on the Hotel Tonight app on our phones to see what our options would be if we were there and in need of a room.

If you’re not familiar with Hotel Tonight, here’s how it works: it’s only available through a free app on your mobile phone and there’s no planning ahead — at noon (Pacific Time) each day, you can start shopping to see what last-minute deals are available for that night. They call it impulse booking.

The number of cities where it’s available is limited (but growing) and only a handful of different properties are offered in each city. For hotels, it’s a chance to fill empty rooms through an app that limits its offerings to give hotels prime placement. For us, it’s a chance to get steep discounts said to be up to 70 percent.

hotel tonight app

screen shot of the Hotel Tonight app

You see the name of the hotel, the original price alongside the discounted price and an approval percentage from past users. Hotel Tonight also labels each property with descriptions like basic, solid, hip, charming, luxe. You can click on a property to get info under headings: why we like it, need to know, the hotel, the room, the food & drink.

So finally, in February of this year, we tried it out in Ft. Lauderdale.

I had a client meeting there on a Monday, so Lee & I flew in on a Saturday to squeeze in a few days’ break from the Kansas cold. The client had coordinated a hotel reservation for Sunday and Monday at a convenient hotel for the meeting on Monday, so our Saturday stay was up to us. We decided it would be nice to stay in a different area and to try our luck at the discount roulette for a room at a 4-star or better property.

Until the past couple of years (after we both had Marriott credit cards that gave us quite a few points and free nights), we’ve never been particularly loyal to a hotel brand. So Expedia and TripAdvisor are where we typically start to get an idea of hotel reviews and prices/availability for our dates/location. We then check in with Hotwire and Priceline.

So as we stood in the line to get our rental car in Ft. Lauderdale, we started with Hotel Tonight. We pulled up the list of about six properties and cross-checked them with Expedia. The prices for that night weren’t any better than we could find on our own at Expedia, and none of the properties wowed us. We next went to Hotwire, where we saw a 4-star hotel for $138 INCLUDING taxes and fees. Hotwire doesn’t give you the hotel name until your purchase but it said it would be in South Ft. Lauderdale’s Hollywood Beach area. We got the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, which if booked directly with Westin that night would have been about $350.

screen shot of the Hotwire app

We had to pay $25 for parking, which was pretty much the norm at every hotel in the area. And, probably since we didn’t book direct, we got a room that did not have a balcony but it did have a partial ocean view and was on a high enough floor for a nice view.

We loved the room, the property and the hotel’s location.

The room had one of their signature Heavenly beds that was pretty divine, plus a huge soaker tub and a very nice rain shower. The room was memorable enough that we chose a brand new Westin a few months later in another city; it was nice but not as nice as this room and bed.

The Westin Diplomat had two large pool areas that were oceanfront, and lots of places to sit poolside. We walked to the Hollywood Boardwalk but I will warn you that it was a pretty good walk — we got to the very south end of the boardwalk with a 20-minute walk at a very quick speed. To the middle of the boardwalk where shops and restaurants can be found was more like 30 minutes. However, there is a trolly stop right at the Westin so you could opt for that route to get around.

Our night at the Westin spoiled us and the next two nights at the Doubletree Bahia Mar in Ft. Lauderdale couldn’t compare. The change in location, though, did give Lee a new place to explore while I was in meetings on Monday. He could walk across the street and be on the beach, and he also was in walking distance to the pier, the water taxi or departure points for sightseeing excursions.

So we’ll keep our Hotel Tonight app on our phones and check it out the next time we’re room-less in a city they offer, but we’ll also check in with our usual booking agents like Expedia and Hotwire.

We still use Priceline from time-to-time too. Often, it’s when we are planning to stay near an airport for an early departure or late arrival, or when we have a pretty good idea of the pool of possible hotels by narrowing down the part of a city where we are bidding to stay the night.

Posted in travel

2013 Final Four: lessons learned on buying tickets for big games

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers

This is the second of a two-part guest post from Lee about our amazing road trip to follow one of our favorite teams to the NCAA Championship … something neither of us were sure would happen in our lifetime! Read his first post if you missed it.

~~~~

Yes, I was disappointed when Wichita State lost to Louisville in the 2013 NCAA national championship semifinal but the ride had been more than I ever expected. Five months of all the ups and downs with the Shockers can be frustrating but when they made it to the Final Four I had to go.

When your team finally makes it to a big game, you want to be there to feel the excitement and if you’re a big fan like I am, you also want to see the game. That can be difficult to do without going into debt, because events of this caliber are played in 80,000+-seat domes that are built for football games.

Maybe sharing what I discovered this year will help if you ever decide to go to a championship-type event.

I’ve bought tickets through many different avenues over the years: Craigslist, ebay, StubHub, Ticketmaster, directly from the team/venue and from individuals outside the venue right before the start of a game. MeLinda once bought tickets from a guy named Chicken outside the dome in St. Louis to see a Rams game, but the tickets were only $20 bucks so there wasn’t much of a risk.

But when the stakes are this high and the tickets are going for crazy amounts, you want a little security that you will actually have a ticket that is legit after forking over hundreds of dollars.

From the moment the Shocks made the Final Four, I started looking at ticket prices online and trying to decide when to buy them. I have been going to Shocker games for more than 25 years but the tickets have always been in my uncle’s name. I’ve also traveled to watch the team play in tournaments in Las Vegas, Orlando and Puerto Rico but I bought tickets from the venue not WSU. So I have no clout when it comes to SASO (the athletic scholarship organization that uses a points system to award tickets to its most loyal and generous fans).

When I called the WSU ticket office on the Monday after the Shockers won the Western Regional to advance to the Final Four, they couldn’t tell me what sections I could end up in. I was worried that if I bought tickets through WSU, I would end up in nose-bleed seats. I at least wanted to be able to see the court without using binoculars.

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers Georgia Dome

This shows the enormity of the Georgia Dome when it’s set for a basketball game rather than the usual football game. This was right before the Final Four game started and there are still quite a few available seats, partially because many of the fans of the second semifinal matchup waited to enter the stadium.

At the beginning of the week, ticket prices on StubHub were crazy: most tickets were going for at least $1,000 apiece and that was for seats behind the basket or in the highest sections of the enormous Georgia Dome, which is where the Atlanta Falcons play. We know a Wichita State fan who bought tickets on StubHub right after the Shockers won to advance to Atlanta, and she paid $1,100 per ticket for lower-level seats that were sorta on the corner/behind the basket. These were for both games Saturday and the championship game on Monday. She wanted to buy early because she needed six seats together. We actually considered buying seats in this same section the day before the Final Four game and the prices were about $700 per ticket.

Because of those early prices, I branched out my search from StubHub to ebay and Craiglist and found something that I immediately wondered if it was too good to be true. I should have known when that happens it is a scam.

Scam #1

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers Georgia Dome

The actual Craigslist ad we saw.

I traded emails with this person in Canada who listed on Craigslist lower level, corner tickets for $350 total – that included both games on Saturday as well as Monday’s championship game. While the seat location wasn’t perfect, the price was just barely over face value.

Canada is the place you say your girlfriend lives when you are a loser, right? But this person gave me her name and she told a good story about how she got the tickets in the first place. She even gave us an email address that was connected to a website. We checked out the website and it existed, and among the staff bios there was even a bio of the woman I was told I was corresponding with.

This played out for about a day until we saw the light and were certain this was a scam. There were several things that triggered our skepticism besides the reasonabe price – including the fact that when MeLinda looked at the website registration, the site had only been in existence for three months. The final straw was a request to send money to an Ethiopian prince through Western Union.

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers Georgia Dome

The person who placed the Craigslist ad claimed to be this person and had a matching email address.

So I went back to the drawing board. It was the middle of the week and we were heading out for the road trip to Atlanta.

I was starting to get a little panicked but I also knew prices would go down. Still, I didn’t want to miss out on getting a ticket. Each day I continued to look at the options (I once took over a year to buy a car so I do have patience) and with every day we got closer to Saturday’s game, more tickets became available and the prices continued to drop.

Scam #2

Once again, Craigslist tickets popped onto my radar on Thursday and we traded emails with a guy in “Texas.” He had a great story about how he had started going to Final Fours a few years back whether his team was there or not, just because they were so much fun. He said he’d be sitting in the seats right next to the ones he was selling. After repeated attempts to speak via phone failed, we again decided he was a scam artist.

We continued to get texts from this individual on Saturday even though we saw the very tickets he was trying to sell us for sale on Ebay. Amazingly, he always told us he just happened to have a friend who also needed to get rid of some tickets.

2013 NCAA Final Four Georgia Dome Wichita State Shockers

I finally decided buying from an individual had too many drawbacks and would only buy from a reputable outlet. This was a tough decision because I love getting a bargain and the tickets on ebay were going for lower prices.

We arrived in Atlanta on Friday and still didn’t have tickets. After checking into the hotel, we headed down to the area around the Georgia Dome where there were free concerts and all sorts of activities and festivities. We ran into some Shocker fans who bought their tickets through the school, so we figured out a few of the sections that would be full of WSU fans.

MeLinda had a good idea of going to the Georgia Dome to watch a free concert by Gym Class Heroes and part of the college all-star game. The events were free and it gave us a chance to see what the view was like from several sections we had seen for sale online. With venues made for football, like the Georgia Dome, it can be tough to look at a seating chart online and really know what view you will have during a basketball game.

There was a very small crowd and seating was general admission for the all-star game so we could pretty much walk around anywhere we wanted. I’m sure any onlookers were wondering why a couple was walking around the arena trying out seats. We finally had a good perspective of what view we would have and we also learned which sections had padded seats. I headed back to the hotel knowing the end was near and tickets would soon be bought.

I had narrowed down my search to StubHub and Ticketmaster with the help of a website called Seatgeek. Seatgeek shows you a seating chart of the venue and a compilation of seats for sale from many different ticket outlets. It also rates the ticket prices, letting you know if it considers the purchase a good or bad deal.

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers Georgia Dome

Here’s an example of what Seatgeek looks like — this is for a Falcon’s game because we didn’t capture a screenshot when we were shopping for Final Four tickets. Notice the legend in the bottom left corner. If available, it also shows you a photo of your view from the section you’re looking at (see below for an example from the Kansas City Royals). However, this wasn’t much help because the view during a football game was drastically different than when the stadium is set with a small basketball court.

seatgeek

Finally about 11 p.m. on Friday I had made my choice and I went to buy two tickets for Saturday’s games (some purchases were for Saturday’s two games, some were for Saturday’s two games PLUS Monday’s title game). But when I went to check out on Ticketmaster, they added a 20 percent service fee (that would be $100 per ticket). I hate service fees and they are right up there with my distaste for paying for ice or getting a pizza delivered and paying for that service.

So once again I changed my course and decided to go through StubHub. They still had a service fee, but it was half of the Ticketmaster fee. Plus, I would be able to pick up actual hard tickets at a convenient site near the arena. The other good thing about these seats was that they were in the Shocker section we had identified earlier in the day and had padded seats.

Being patient definitely saved us quite a bit of money (I’d estimate around $400 for the seats we bought) though if I would have waited until Saturday morning there were even more tickets at better prices out there.

Initially all the tickets were at least a $1,000 that weren’t in the nose-bleed sections but by Saturday morning you could buy some lower level tickets toward the end of the court for around $700 a piece (once again that was only for Saturday’s game). To buy mid-court lower level like our season tickets at Koch Arena, you were still looking at the choice of buying a new Kia or two seats.

I will say the whole StubHub pickup process for tickets was very easy and convenient. I recouped some of the service fee by grabbing free popcorn and pop at StubHub’s pick-up center.

I was happy with the seats and really liked being in the Shocker section. Though I think if we had joined SASO, which was about a $500 fee on top of the ticket price of $150 each, we would have been sitting in the same area most likely. So another lesson learned, but I wasn’t willing to risk it since the WSU ticket office would never specify where the seats would be if I purchased through them.

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers StubHub

Lee at the StubHub center picking up our tickets.

I had only purchased tickets for Saturday’s game figuring I would pick up Monday’s tickets, if necessary, from some dejected Louisville fan on the way out the door. Even though the true championship game is on Monday, the tickets for that game were relatively easy to obtain and at a price closer to face value. As the Shocker game was over the Louisville vultures were circling and asking anyone wearing black and gold if they had tickets for sale. You probably have half of a stadium wanting to get rid of tickets so the prices bottomed out but it still would be at least $200 for a ticket. The WSU fan behind us wanted to sell his championship tickets for $350 but most likely he would get $150.

The main lesson learned is be patient and don’t be too cheap so you can enjoy the game. I believe our seats were a happy medium. I’ll be better prepared for 2014 if the Shockers make it to play in the Final Four at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas!

2013 NCAA Final Four tickets Wichita State Shockers Georgia Dome

Lee and MeLinda in Section 243, Row 12 of the Georgia Dome.

Posted in Lee, Sports, travel

2013 Final Four: a tale of two road trips

talladega alabama 2013 Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

This is the first of a two-part guest post from Lee about our amazing road trip to follow one of our favorite teams to the NCAA Championship … something neither of us were sure would happen in our lifetime!

~~~~

The road trip to Los Angeles was 25 hours – and I had seriously considered making the drive to watch the Wichita State Shockers in the NCAA’s Western Regional. So when the Shockers won that regional and advanced to the Final Four, I had no qualms about driving 15 hours to Atlanta. I’ve always enjoyed driving and we would have enough time to break it up and not drive all the way in one day.  Unlike my charming wife, I can’t sleep in a car so we usually limit our driving days to no more than 12 hours.

2013 NCAA Final Four following Wichita State Shockers

View of Georgia Dome from next door.

The Final Four game at the Georgia Dome was the pinnacle of our trip but I will say we packed as many things into five full days as physically possible. This post is about the road trip.

Day 1

road trip to the 2013 Final Four to follow the Wichita State Shockers

It was a rainy road trip to the 2013 Final Four to follow the Wichita State Shockers.

The first day our driving path wasn’t very far. Just going from Wichita to Fort Smith, Ark. We didn’t leave until after work on a Wednesday and the first hour of our drive was actually in Wichita – we grabbed dinner at Sonic, looked around Wichita stores for WSU flags or shoe polish to paint windows (the entire city had been pilfered of anything black or gold) and returned to our house when we realized we forgot the camera!

Once we were on the road it took about 4 1/2 hours to get to Arkansas, with most of the drive in a constant rain so we were both happy to get to our destination. I had only been to Arkansas one other time, which was 2011 when we went to see a minor league game in Springdale and visit a wildlife sanctuary near Eureka Springs. That trip had been purposely planned to continue my quest to visit all 50 states (to count on my list, I have to spend a night in the state). For almost a decade I thought I’d already checked Arkansas off the list, but MeLinda informed me that our stay at Tablerock Lake when we went on a boating trip was close (Missouri) but no cigar.

Day 2

stop in Fort Smith Arkansas during road trip to the 2013 Final Four to follow the Wichita State Shockers

Miss Laura’s is a former bordello turned visitor’s center in Fort Smith, Ark.

memphis bbq on 2013 NCAA Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

Road Side BBQ …. literally. West Memphis.

Rickwood Field Birmingham on 2013 Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

Rickwood Field in Birmingham.

The next morning we planned to make several stops beginning with a visit to the local bordello. Of course, MeLinda left out the part that it hadn’t been in operation since the early 1900s. Though my disappointment was short-lived; we planned to stop in Memphis for lunch for BBQ.

Those who know me, know that my lunch might fall at the latest around 12:01 so I shocked MeLinda when I said it was OK if we waited until 2:30 p.m. to eat when we reached Memphis. She spent a good portion of the morning picking out a place but as we got closer to Memphis she thought it might be smart to call ahead and make sure they were open (this is the result of a closed Dunkin Donuts fiasco in Detroit a few years ago). It turned out the BBQ restaurant didn’t open till 4 p.m. so she resumed her search and I was really starving so we settled for a place along the highway in West Memphis. Seriously, on the highway. It was called Roadside BBQ for a reason.

We drove for 13 hours that day and the rain had followed us all the way — even to the hallowed grounds of Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Miss. I’m not a big Elvis fan and probably have learned the majority of my knowledge on this subject from the Don & Mike Show. Though most of the conversation on their radio show began with the weight of his colon when he died.

Day 3

The full day of driving on Thursday had ended in Birmingham, Ala. (FYI – this meant I could add Alabama to my list of states I’ve spent the night in.) That left us with only a short drive to Atlanta on Friday, to be highlighted with a trip to Rickwood Field before we left Birmingham’s city limits.

This is the oldest ballpark in the country and MeLinda posted about it already. It was awesome to see the list of all the players who had stepped on this field and the history that had occurred in the stadium. I always enjoy going to minor league ballparks with all their different designs and tastes of the past.  We just had a few more hours to drive and other than one little hiccup in the crazy highway system of Atlanta, I avoided any detours to Mexico.

Georgia Dome during 2013 NCAA Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

Lee outside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for Wichita State’s Final Four game.

The Final Four and the trip home

Chattanooga Choo Choo on 2013 Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

Outside the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

missouri lambert's on 2013 NCAA Final Four road trip to follow Wichita State Shockers

Lambert’s in Sikeston, Mo. Home of the throwed rolls!

Once we got to Atlanta, it was all about basketball. We stayed in the Buckhead area of the city and took the Marta train system down to the Georgia Dome and spent our time either outside the venue watching concerts or inside watching games.

The Shockers lost on Saturday but instead of hanging our heads in Atlanta, the consolation prize was a road trip home with a different route this time – through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. We could have stayed in Atlanta with plenty to do there, but we wanted to see some new cities and spend some time on the drive home so we left Sunday morning.

Having a wife who loves to do research is quite the benefit when going on a road trip. I had never even read anything about Chattanooga, Tenn., but MeLinda had done quite a bit and found out they had a nice downtown area, great aquarium and easy access to a national military park. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and then we made the quick drive to Nashville for dinner. I hadn’t been to Nashville and we headed to the downtown area and got a quick taste of the city and once again had some more BBQ while listening to live music.

We had planned on spending the night in Tennessee but when I saw how close Kentucky was, it all fell into place to spend the night there and add it to my list of states. The only other time I had been to Kentucky was on a baseball trip in Ohio where we just drove across a small area of the state but didn’t spend the night. So when I saw Paducahville {editor’s note: Paducah is the name of the town but Lee kept incorrectly calling it Paducahville} was only two more hours of driving after Nashville we had to make the trip. I’m sure there is a reason people visit Kentucky but from the area we drove through I can’t figure out why.

The highlight of our second day of driving home was the much awaited trip to Lambert’s in Sikeston, MO. I have wanted to go to Lambert’s ever since I saw it on The Travel Channel about five years ago but the timing never worked out on any of our trips. How can you beat when you are at a restaurant and before, during or after your meal all you do is put your hand in the air and a waiter throws you a hot roll? If I ever own a restaurant I guarantee we are throwing something at our customers. In fact, MeLinda and I spent most of the meal talking about what that item could be.

After having lunch at Lambert’s it was a stop-free drive – except for gas – as we finished the trip back to Wichita in time to root against Louisville in the championship game.

Here’s video of Lee getting roll-blocked by a lady in the booth next to us at Lambert’s.

Posted in Lee, Sports, travel