Because of the display ads that graced the pages of the Kodiak Daily Mirror from late April to early May, the entire island knew that members of the Clarkston Zoo went on vacation.
I survived my first trip to the Eastern Time Zone, visiting Lady Human’s family in rural Pennsylvania.
What a trip.
The seed for the two-week adventure to the Keystone State was planted when the 2023 MLB schedule was released in August 2022. On the calendar, I circled April 25-27, the days the Seattle Mariners would be in Philadelphia playing the defending National League champion Phillies.
Scheduling a trip to visit Lady Human’s parents around baseball games was genius. I just needed Lady Human to buy in. I let the idea marinate for several months before digging in. She bit the first week of February.
I couldn’t have been happier. Why? I have a new goal in life — visiting every MLB stadium. My only rule is that the Mariners have to be playing in the game.
That seed was planted last summer when — while waiting outside T-Mobile Park to watch the Mariners play the Braves — I met a couple from Atlanta who were nearly done completing their 30 ballpark tour. I was envious. I wanted us to be like them.
I only have 28 parks left (I’m not counting stadiums no longer in use, which scratched the Kingdome off my list). Lady Human also has 28 left but has already checked historic Fenway Park off her list. Again, envious.
We attended two memorable games at Citizens Bank Park while avoiding having hot dogs — the first game was dollar dog night at the park — thrown at us for wearing Mariners gear. I expected us to leave with mustard and ketchup stains on our shirts after the Mariners held on for a 5-3 victory. At least two fans — seated several rows below us in the same section — did not make it to the final out as they were ejected by security for flinging dogs at other fans. Seattle center fielder Julio Rodriguez, who had relatives in attendance a section over from us, even had to dodge dogs being tossed at him.
That prompted fans behind us to shout, “We were in the World Series last year and we act like this.”
The Phillies rebounded to take Game 2, but we witnessed Seattle’s J.P. Crawford — Lady Human’s favorite player — launch a grand slam, which was followed by a solo shot from Rodriguez.
We cheered loud from our 300-level seats, and by the end of the game, we were the only ones left cheering in our section as the other fans seated next to us ran for cover when the rain came. We didn’t travel 4,000 miles to let a little rain dampen the experience. We are Kodiak tough.
During our four days in Philadelphia, we dined on cheesesteaks, got our photo taken in front of the Liberty Bell, ran up the steps Sylvester Stallone made famous in “Rocky” and visited Independence Hall and Eastern States Penitentiary. We must have logged 20 miles walking around the tiny streets of Philly, marveling at the city’s architecture.
The second leg of the trip was spent in Shunk, PA, the childhood village of Lady Human. Think Chiniak. There is only one stoplight in the entire county.
Getting to Shunk involved a 5-hour bus ride, which took us through the town of Jim Thorpe before reaching our final stop in Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series. I might have to make a return trip in August to scratch another item off the bucket list.
For the next seven days, we hung with Lady Human’s parents, siblings and nieces. I even met Uncle Ken, a man in his 90s who cornered me and told me about his trip to Alaska and informed me that he had a career as a painter without a painting background. Every family has an Uncle Ken.
We cooked a ton of food, ate a lot and were entertained by many games — Fuzzies, marbles and the card game hand and foot, which I hadn’t played since my summer childhood days visiting my grandparents in Anchorage.
I heard childhood stories of Lady Human’s shenanigans (I’ll omit them from this space), found out her dad is the deer whisper and her mom is the county fair exhibit queen.
As soon as we recharge, I’ll start plainning our next ballpark vacation.
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