Today’s Easter leg (not egg or even leg of lamb) of our cross-country trek takes us from Utah into Wyoming with an overnight stop in Burlington, Colorado. My wife continues to battle a painful kidney stone, but made it through her two driving shifts. The scenery through Oregon was spectacular as usual and not as burnt-out in the Eastern section as it was seven years ago when we first crossed the state line. Idaho was short and sweet while Utah had some long stretches of boredom as the day wore on. We did catch a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake just before arriving at our hotel about 9 p.m., despite an hour loss from the Time Zone change.
I was monitoring the UCLA vs. Gonzaga NCAA Final Four match-up, hoping to get in front of a TV for the overtime. There were unfortunately too many hassles getting checked-in and hauling all our luggage to the room. As a result, I just missed the Zags buzzer-beater to remain perfect. I still have mixed feelings about their quest to tie the unbeaten 1976 Indiana 32-0 National Championship, but with the fortune of that final bank shot, all they have to do is beat Baylor Monday night. From the beginning of the 2020-21 season, this pairing has been on everyone’s radar since it was cancelled back in December due to the pandemic. We’ll soon have the answer. I did watch the White Sox blow an 8th inning lead against the Angels before I turned in for the night on a sour note.
The Sox have started an ominous 1-2 despite some record breaking performances by Yermin Mercedes – 8 for 8 in his first two games and the first grand slam of 2021 by Jose Abreu. Mercedes has filled in “perfectly” at DH for injured slugger Eloy Jimenez, who could be out of the line up for most of the regular season. Basketball, baseball, and the map app kept me occupied while I navigated 1-84 from Portland to Ogden/Layton. Today, as we cross the Continental Divide, it’s I-80 through Cheyenne, I-25 into Denver, and I-70 to our Burlington bed – the Easter Leg!
“Dodgertown” in Vero Beach was closed and extensive renovations are being done by MLB, so the closed I could get was the front iron gates. Our friend grew up there, her dad a pitcher for the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. He set a rookie record for 27 strike outs in two successive games before an injury ended his career. The park’s historical significance also reflects the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson. Corona also affected visits this year to Cubs/White Sox Spring training in Phoenix and a Cardinals/Rangers exhibition game at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington.
I found myself in front of the TV again last night with the Chiefs and Buccaneers headed to the Super Bowl. I also monitored another IU Basketball loss, this time to Rutgers after the surprising Iowa victory. The game against Michigan State this weekend has already been stomped out by the pandemic, so we’ll have to live with this disappointment for at least a full week before Illinois comes to town. That game will then likely lead to further despair, as tourney chances once again have been sadly derailed.
We returned our rental car to the airport last night only to find a dent in the hood. I remember parking at a Cracker Barrell restaurant the other day under the shade of a coconut tree. Could one have fallen and caused this costly damage or was it like that when we picked it up? It’s just another hassle we’ll have to deal with on this journey. I’ve run the beach path and street in front of our hotel the past two mornings past all the Art Deco hotels in our area. The once heavily congested Ocean Avenue has been shut down to traffic, so the restaurants have all expanded into the streets. It’s now a much more pleasant atmosphere on the beach front if there’s such a thing as a plus-side to the Coronavirus outbreak. Running near the water and in the sun is always a nice distraction from the dreary streets of downtown Portland.
This morning was about as exciting as it gets these days. The money was deposited in our savings account to cover all the closing costs on our new Florida home and the builder took us on a detailed tour of the exposed wiring, plumbing, and structure. Our new home is slowly coming together based on the model we selected and the modifications that we arranged. Ten-foot ceilings, eight-foot doorways, a larger garage, upgraded appliances, and a pool are gradually becoming reality. I will share the floor plan and some photos with my friends shortly in a Zoom “Leadership Meeting.”
This afternoon, I will then put together a plan for to tomorrow’s baseball card show. I want to fill in some lineups for the 1954-1972 White Sox teams. I also added some photos to my Sherm Lollar collection this past week with some E-Bay purchases. Switching back and forth between hobbies keeps things from getting too routine. Card collecting, genealogy, and writing have been the mainstays of retirement. It’s been frustrating not being able to travel, as well, but at least a trip to Florida is only a week away. We’ll check out the house in person, visit with friends & family, drive down through The Keys, and spend a week in Miami. Florida is the one place that has been consistently open this past year, so we’ve managed three visits, including the cross-country drive.
It was another frustrating finish for I.U. basketball last night. A chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time in 23 years fell short in double overtime. We were on the verge of winning in regulation and overtime, but the second extended period was all Badgers. The next game is Sunday at Nebraska, with must-win expectations. The new year has not been kind to the Hoosiers with key losses in both football and basketball. At least, I have a new home to look forward to in March since Madness may not happen again for this very average BIG team. Today’s home inspection, however, has lifted my spirits about the future.