Cooperstown is on the Way to Everything

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Canada, is a treat. I’ve had several experiences in Canada now and all of them have been very enjoyable. This last one, in Toronto, was way more than we could have asked for. And we crammed it into such a short time frame!

It started with us staying with a guy we met on Twitter…. @JohnSharkman. He and his family lived in Greek Town, on the east side of the city. A formerly all-Greek community, Greek Town has succumbed to the very diverse blend of the big city in a desirable fashion. Beautiful family homes line street after street perpendicular to The Danforth as kids walk the streets, day and night. I’d always heard about how safe Canadians made their cities, but we could really feel it.

We spent a night enjoying lamb gyros, local brews and a bit of The Danforth with Sharkman. Sharkman does a bit on a radio show from time to time, and he talks like it. He has a great way of telling a story in a relatable, interesting and whirlwind of information that always culminates at some point that makes you think, “ahhhhh yeah, good point.” He’s great at it. We really enjoyed hanging with him.

Unfortunately, we only had ONE day to spend in the city of Toronto, but we took advantage of it. We walked around the CN Tower ($35 to go up in it! No thanks!), around a couple parks throughout the city, and through our favorite spot… the Kensington Market. We took the metro throughout the day and it got us everywhere we needed to. The longest walk we had from metro-to-destination… was from the metro to the Rogers Centre! That was a bit sad. Probably why the attendance might be poor at a game. If there were a stop that dropped you off right at the stadium then that would be a nice addition. But the homey feel, the nice people, the diverse culture, and the great biking opportunities made us put Toronto on the list of “Places we could live after this summer.”

We visited The Meat Department as well as per the recommendation of Sharkman. They have a chalkboard of “Athletes who can eat for free” and “Athletes who are NOT welcome.” You can debate the list and add someone new to the list or have someone removed, if your argument is valid enough for the owner. We started talking to the manager behind the counter about the list, she started asking us about Biking for Baseball, and next thing we know… she was throwing our sticker up on to the board!

We left Toronto on a Thursday morning, September 6th. Rain showers were forecasted to darken our day, but we said, “Get that trash out of here!” and it was gone! Riding alongside Lake Ontario through Canada made for a peaceful ride. Until this PIRATE SHIP!! ARGGHHHHHH!!

We thought that riding across the border was going to present a problem. Yeah, it didn’t. At all. Sorry to disappoint, but border patrol between the US and Canada is fairly straightforward. They ask you where you came from, where you’re going, what you’re doing, how long you’ll be there and what you’re bringing. Then you’re on your way! Hi5!

At least we got another sweet view of this bad boy – 

Once we were back on American soil, we found another one of those fantastic Rails to Trails that we’d spent so much time on recently. The Ohio and Erie Canal trail led us from just east of Rochester all the way east to the Hudson River and Albany.

But we didn’t spend all of our time on the trail, even though we were heading to Albany. We had a couple matters of business to attend to.

First, Cooperstown was a stone’s throw off of our route to New York, by way of Albany. Well, being that Chase and Adam are the biggest baseball fans not in the MLB Fan Cave, we HAD to go. This had been a dream for us since we were little kiddos. Watching and playing baseball growing up, we thought, “What better time to bring it full circle than on a bicycle ride to all of the Major League Baseball teams??” Answer = none.

We planned to stay a whopping two nights in the same hotel so that we could make sure that we would spend a full day at Cooperstown, home of Major League  Baseball’s Hall of Fame. We would need it. 

We woke up and headed straight for the Hall of Fame. Parking was an issue with our giant trailer and suburban. We parked several blocks away and hoofed it through the town. We passed through Doubleday Field. Doubleday Field is the reason Cooperstown is the home of the Hall of Fame. Doubleday was the first baseball field EVER!

We watched a wood bat league game take place between some older dudes as we admired the birthplace of baseball.

Hearing the crack of a wooden bat was nice but the cruddy play would have been better if it wasn’t there.

We had had enough of the shenanigans and decided to hit the Hall.

The entry is a shade under $20 ($19.50 to be exact) and it’s worth every penny. You instantly walk in and learn all about the actual history of baseball. Where it started, who started it, why did it start, what influenced it and why it’s called baseball. Interesting information there, but the real important statistical records and the history behind the men that created them are where it’s at.

But first, there is a ~10 minute long Experience Baseball video that pumps you up and gets you excited about the history of baseball and the legends that made it into what it is today… which gave me the first round of goosebumps of the day.

Then it was off to the eras of baseball. Players, teams, and significant moments decorated the next few rooms. This was amazing. I love reading the stories of each star player and why they were dominant for their team during the team’s excellent years.

I could live in that room. And it’s absolutely nuts the artifacts and equipment they have in there. They have a pair of copper-coated cleats that Lou Gehrig wore in his last game ever. Which, as you know, was a pretty momentous occasion… and he wore copper cleats. Who knew?

*Note – I’m not going to spoil these rooms for you too much. As a baseball fan… you need to see it yourself.

The next couple rooms were about how different ethnicities and women had effected the game of baseball. Joakim Soria leads all Mexican-born players in saves. Sweet!

FInishing up the third floor, the last room chronicles the happenings of the current season. Matt Cain’s cleats, Paul Konerko’s bat, Philip Humber’s glove, and Jeff Weaver’s hat. Radio/TV clips of the announcers calling the important games play as you look at lockers detailing the successes of each MLB team. 

Then, it’s through the stadium room to the records room. Admiring the stadium novelties from yesterday’s game all the way up to the present game is always something I’ve enjoyed. I mean, that’s why we’re on this trip. But Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and The House That Ruth Built are ones I wish I would have been able to see. My one qualm, is that there was a definite period (70s – 80s) when stadiums were being built, that they all seemed to fit a cookie-cutter shape. Multi-use facilities that the sports world loved. However, these stadiums are now the ones being replaced, because they suck. But, the Hall details most of the stadiums that were being built… except Kauffman Stadium! There is nothing in there about Kauffman! Gimme a break! And it was such a progressive stadium. During the time of cookie-cutter stadiums, Kauffman Stadium was built. It has survived and, after its renovation, is easily one of the best stadiums in the country. You can’t leave that one out! 

After calming down from that travesty, we were greeted by the records room. Every record ever. Pictures, paraphernalia, numbers, digital format, amendments, asterisks… it was all there. There was even a giant computer where you could digitally look up every single record ever… and then even compare it to today’s stars. Rockin’.

The final stage was the famous Hall of Fame busts. It was nice to walk around and see the legends that made the game it was today. It was best to see George Brett’s in there. You have to go and find your favorite player. It’s fun. And, you’ll probably cry….             I said probably!

It was a downer to leave, cause they kicked us out cause they were closing, but we’ll be back someday. This was just a teaser. Even though we spent 5 hours in there. There is SO much to see. It is without a doubt the BEST museum I have ever been to. Nothing will ever beat it either. 

We rested another night in Cooperstown at a Best Western and then took off the next day on the Ohio & Erie Canal once again. But we were bored with riding on a Rails to Trails. It’s soooo flat. And the view is basically the same. It’s walls of trees on each side of the trail. And to add to it, the crushed limestone slows you down about 2 or 3 mph. Would you like some french cries with your wamburger?? Yeah, we would!

Well, we headed to the road. It took some cyclo-crossing to get there as we climbed up the side of a hill with our bikes on our shoulders and hopped the guard rail to get to the road. It was worth it. We instantly climbed a steady 2-mile long hill. Felt good to get a climb in and it was a precursor for the rest of our ride. Rolling hills and a good speed brought us all the way to Albany. 

Once we got to Albany, another capital city stop for us, we had one destination in mind. Hooters! Adam wore his CHIEFS red on the ride to show support!

It was the NFL Kickoff Sunday and our Chiefs opened up with their first game of the Sunday v. the Falcons in Kansas City. We had to watch it. And there happened to be a Hooters on our route into Albany. OK, we’re convinced.

It was too bad though, because that was our most exciting moment, cause the Chiefs couldn’t stop the Falcons if their lives depended on it. They ended up losing and we were now disappointed that our Chiefs were 0-1 to start the season. What a bummer. But, we still had plenty of baseball to look forward to, so we quickly forgot about the dumpy Chiefs.

As we neared our host’s home in Greenwich, CT, we began some VERY hilly riding.

Some of the steepest hills we’d seen since, dare we say, Atlanta?? We hadn’t had that sort of climb in so long, that when we got to the top of the hill, we were so out of breath that we felt dizzy! It was a steep hill, we’ll give us that, but come on! we were a bit surprised at how difficult it was for us. We hadn’t had hills in soooooo long. 

The ride was very pretty and surrounded by beautiful houses and those enormous and famous northeastern trees I’d heard so much about. The neighborhoods became progressively more wealthy as well. This one had a horse jumping course in its yard!

It felt great to reach our host’s home, the Roberts’ and Rex’s extended family, because we knew that we would be here for nearly a week! Wow! 

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