I really miss having minor league baseball in town. The last two places I lived before Kalamazoo (Peoria, IL and Lansing) both had Midwest League teams. I spent a lot of time at the ballpark in Peoria and even more in Lansing (I worked for the team for a summer) and loved every minute of it. It’s low A ball, but I watched quite a few players who have moved up to the Majors.
Without driving to Grand Rapids, Lansing, or South Bend, the next best thing would be the Northwoods League teams. It’s not great baseball, but there have been some huge names come out of the college summer league. Max Scherzer and Chris Sale both played for the LaCrosse Loggers, Curtis Granderson played for the Mankato Mashers (now the MoonDogs) and Ben Zobrist played for the Wisconsin Woodchucks. It’s one of those things. You never know who you’re going to see.
We had just gotten home from our long vacation and wanted to do something with L. We hadn’t seen her for a week, so we were trying to find something fun to do out of the house. Our plan was to take in a Kalamazoo Growlers game, but the stadium was underwater and they had to cancel. We were still in the mood for baseball and I noticed the Battle Creek Bombers were at home, so we headed over there instead.
The Bombers play their home games in C. O. Brown Stadium in Bailey Park on the northeast side of Battle Creek. The entrance to the park is right at the intersection of Capital and Eaton Street near the Battle Creek River. The park is quite visible from the road and is surrounded by parking lots and smaller baseball and softball fields.
The park was built in 1990 and actually hosted Midwest League teams from 1995 to 2006. Minor league baseball left Battle Creek when the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays relocated to a new stadium in Midland and became the Great Lakes Loons. Read more…
And it’s over. Our trip came to an end back at the Salt Lake City airport after 1100 miles and six days of traveling. It’s the first time in well over a decade that I actually had a week long paid vacation and it felt so good to get away and explore for a while, but reality was calling and J and I both had to get back to work.
We took a pretty late flight out of Salt Lake City International Airport on the last day of our trip, so we really didn’t get in to much of a hurry getting there. We drove down from Idaho Falls and went and returned our rental car then headed to the Frontier counter to check our bags.
A week earlier, when we arrived at the airport, we hurriedly walked past a brewery in the terminal on our way to pick up our baggage. We had talked about finding someplace in Salt Lake to eat before leaving, but we were both tired and just wanted to get in the terminal so we could relax. J suggested we just eat at the brewery inside the airport.
Gordon Biersch Brewery is inside the airport in the terminal right past the screening area. It’s on what they call the third level and can be reached by either escalator or elevator. The layout is pretty open as the restaurant overlooks the terminal and has a great view of the runways and mountains through the large windows that look out in to Salt Lake City. Read more…
It had to come to an end sometime. We woke up on the last day of our vacation in Idaho Falls and needed to make the three hour drive back to Salt Lake City to catch a flight to Chicago. We did that intentionally. J wanted to see how Idaho Falls has changed in 10 years and we had a late flight out of SLC, so we didn’t want to get back to town to early.
Our hotel check-out was at noon and we waited right up to the last minute to do that. We didn’t want to get on the road hungry, so J suggested eating in Idaho Falls before we left. She didn’t have any place in particular that she wanted to go, so I started searching the interwebs for something that would please both of us.
J wanted a good salad. That was the only direction I was given. I looked at several websites before I found something that she thought sounded good.
The restaurant we chose was Stockman’s Restaurant on the west side of the Snake River south of downtown Idaho Falls in what’s known as the Snake River Landing Area. The whole area looked pretty new and J said it was not there when she lived there a decade ago.
The restaurant has a cowboy theme to it, but it’s not one of those cheesy cowboy type places. It pushes towards the upscale dining while maintaining the comfort of a ranch style steak house.
The lunch rush hadn’t started quite yet when we walked in. There was only one other table of diners in the main dining room area, but that changed rather quickly after we sat down. We were shown to a booth along the back wall of the space and handed menus while our server took care of the other table.
I passed on beer for this meal because it was lunch and I drank quite a bit over the course of this trip. I stuck to Pepsi and J ordered an Iced tea. Read more…
After dinner in West Yellowstone, we drove down to Idaho Falls to stay one more night before heading back to Salt Lake City. This was a special part of the trip because J’s first job out of college was in Idaho Falls and it’s where she met a group of ladies that she still calls friends to this day.
We had a hard time finding a hotel deal and ended up at a Motel 6 on the west side of town that had pretty good reviews for a Motel 6. The price was right and we really just needed a bed for the night.
We got to town just before sunset and J wanted to go explore her old home. We drove by her old place of employment, her old apartment, downtown, and some of the shopping districts….and surprise, things had changed quite a bit in ten years.
We got back to the hotel a little after 10. We thought we were in for the night, but there was a Jack In The Box that shares a parking lot with the hotel and it was just mocking us…begging us to come get some late night fast food that we really didn’t need.
Surprisingly, this was not my first Jack in the Box trip. I have actually had the opportunity to stop at a drive through once before in the St. Louis area. J and I went there for a weekend not long after we started dating and passed one on the way home. She went on and on about the $.99 tacos so I turned around and went to get a couple to see what the hype was about.
Idaho Falls has two Jack in The Box stores. One was right next to our hotel on Broadway near I-15. The other is on the east side. We went to the one we could have walked to, but the inside was closed so we actually had to drive so we could go through the drive thru.
Jack in the Box is pretty typical for a fast food joint. You could easily pull up at any one of their 2200 locations and mistake them for any of the other thousands of fast food restaurants in this country. Read more…
After seeing everything we wanted to see in Yellowstone, we needed to head down to Idaho Falls, ID for the night. We wanted to get closer to Salt Lake City so we didn’t have a 4+ hour drive before getting on to a plane plus, J worked for two years in Idaho Falls ten years ago and wanted to go see how the place had changed.
We left Yellowstone through the West Entrance and headed back in to West Yellowstone, MT. Before getting on the road, J wanted to grab dinner. We didn’t have Internet to do any sort of research, so we just headed to the place we noticed the night before on our way to dinner at The Buffalo Bar.
The Slippery Otter Pub & Eatery is on the main street running through West Yellowstone on N. Canyon Street right at the intersection with US-20. It’s hard to miss this place with a large, cartoony sign and stone columns out front. It was actually right next to the hotel we stayed in the night before and we walked past it based on Yelp reviews. Big mistake.
There was a little bit of a wait when we walked in to the restaurant, but we were the first people on the list, so we knew we would get the next available table. We stuck around and took a seat on a bench near the main dining room area. A few minutes later, we noticed a family getting up and sure enough, that table was cleared and we were taken to it.
I grabbed the beer menu as soon as we sat down. I was so excited to actually see a beer menu because they bragged about their large craft beer selection. I didn’t have to rely on a waitress who didn’t know what the beers were like we did the previous night.
I don’t remember what I asked for first other than I know it was an IPA I had never tried. Whatever it was, it must be pretty popular as the waitress said they just blew the keg on that one. I ordered the IPA from Big Sky Brewing Company instead. After a week of drinking very mild beers, the IPA’s I had the last couple nights tasted real good. This offering from Big Sky was pretty average, but it tasted oh, so good at the time. Read more…
After a good night’s sleep in West Yellowstone, we got a somewhat early start on day two of our sightseeing trip through Yellowstone National Park. Our plan was just to stay on the west side of the park. We were going to head up to Mammoth Hot Springs then back down to Old Faithful and call it a day. Doing that meant we would miss out on Tower Fall in the northeast corner of the park, but didn’t really want to backtrack through both Canyon Village and Norris. That was the plan anyway….until we got in to the park.
We actually got quite fortunate. There was construction on the Grand Loop Road for about 11 miles north of Norris. Grand Loop is a two lane road…one in either direction, and there’s no room to make another lane when they need to repair the road….so there were delays of over 1/2 hour while one direction was shut down so the other lane could slowly make their way through. As we were heading north, we were lucky enough that the road was open for us, but we didn’t want to take the chance of it being closed for a while when we headed back.
As an alternative, we decided just to head over to the Tower/Roosevelt area of the park and loop back to Norris before heading to Old Faithful. Along the way, we thought we would stop at the Roosevelt Lodge for lunch, but many, many other people had that same idea. Even though there appeared to be open tables in the rustic, log cabin restaurant, we were told there would be a 30-45 minute wait….so we just kept driving. Read more…
After an amazing day in Yellowstone National Park, we headed back to civilization and our hotel in the small town of West Yellowstone, Montana. The West Entrance to the park is right on the edge of town, so the town serves as a hub for tourists wanting to explore the park but not camp in it.
We spent pretty much the whole day in the car, so by the time we got to our hotel at the Best Western Desert Inn right on the edge of town, we were ready to grab dinner and relax before getting to bed early so we could get up and get back in to the park early and hopefully see a little more wildlife.
We got back to our hotel a little after 6:00 and once we got settled, I started looking for something to eat. There were no breweries in town, so I started looking for bars that had a good beer list. I found two and the better reviews were for the one a few blocks away.
The Buffalo Bar is on US-20 west of the main downtown area. We decided to walk because it was a nice night and we just wanted a casual, laid back dinner and walking to the restaurant was the best way to do that.
It took about ten minutes to get to the bar and we were a little shocked to find it packed. There’s a large dining room and bar area as well as a casino area. All of the tables were full except for one large table near the door that hadn’t been cleared from the previous party. J wasn’t too excited about taking this table, but I was hungry and wanted to eat, so I moved all the dirty glasses and the checks from the previous party to the end of the table and started wiping it down.
Shortly after that, a waitress grabbed a bar rag to wipe the table down and took the rest of the dirty dishes away. She didn’t bring us menus right away though and that was almost enough to make us leave. We were already hungry and really just wanted to order. Read more…