Sunday, January 19, 2014

VISITING VIRGINA BEACH

SANDBRIDGE ISLAND, VA - Virginia Beach is a lovely area, and I'm sure it's even nicer in the summer. However, I found myself there last week in the middle of January, with my family, for a very special event. We were in Virginia to celebrate the retirement of my brother-in-law Ken. He retired as Master Chief in Navy after 30 years. What a celebrated career, and I'm truly appreciative of his long service to our country. Ken was active duty on several tours at sea, and on several different ships, mostly aircraft carriers; including the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush and the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt (where his retirement ceremony was held).

It was so neat to be given a tour of the Roosevelt. I was amazed at how huge that ship really is. We only got to see a small portion of the ship, but even at that it seemed we walked for miles. The ship normally employees as many as 4,000 sailors for each tour/cruise. It is literally a small city at sea. I was awe struck while standing on the flight deck and seeing how massively large the deck area really is, but at the same time, how small of an area is really is when you have fighter jets landing and taking off in quick succession, one right after another. We saw the catch wires as well as the catapults; pretty impressive. For something that I've only seen in photos or on television, it was pretty cool to actually be on a working aircraft carrier.

In regard to food; we found a great little seafood joint right down the street from where we stayed. If you're ever in that area, I highly recommend Sandbridge Island Restaurant, Raw Bar & Pizza. We liked this place so much, we went there twice. I had the same thing both times; the steamed combo platter on the "Blue Plate Special" list. This included steamed shrimp, crab legs, clams and oysters. I loved it. Others in our party really enjoyed the fried flounder, the fried calamari, and the She Crab soup got rave reviews from all that tried it. I didn't try the pizza, but some family members did and they said that was even pretty good. The restaurant is located at 205 Sandbridge Road, Virginia Beach, VA. Find them online at: www.sandbridgeislandrestaurant.com

Monday, December 30, 2013

RICHMOND, VA - Reporting in from Richmond tonight, as the first week of the Harlem Globetrotters North American tour is winding down, although it is far from over. This is, after all, the 2014 Fan's Rule World Tour. However, I do get to go home for a couple weeks in just a few days.

This is how the tour has gone thus far; Christmas day I flew into Pittsburgh, PA, and we had a full practice that evening at the CONSUL Energy Center. The next day we practiced all day, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., then had the game there that night. On Friday, we bused to Indiana, PA, and went straight to the arena for practice and the game. After the game, we traveled to Baltimore and got to the hotel at around 2 a.m. Following a short 5 hour sleep, it was off to the arena for a double-header, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. games.

It was great getting to see my cousin Todd, his wife Calla, and their three boys at the day game in Baltimore. It's always nice to see family or friends along the way, when traveling with the Globetrotters. I get to go to a lot of cities all across the U.S. and Canada, and I have family and friends almost every where. If we're coming to your town, I hope to see you at an upcoming game.

Following the night game in Baltimore, we traveled on to Atlantic City, NJ. It was another short night of very little sleep, as we had a 2 p.m. game on Sunday at Boardwalk Hall. That evening, my ORU roommate, Mike Phelps, came over to the hotel in Atlantic City to visit me. We watched the Eagles/Cowboys game on television and had the opportunity on catching up on family news. We hadn't seen each other in almost 20 years, and we only talk on the phone about once a year.

Monday (today) was a travel day from Atlantic City to Richmond, where we play a day game on Tuesday. I guess that's so the local fans can come to the game and still enjoy ringing in the New Year in the evening.

I did have a good meal today; delicious tamales from Sabor Latino. We stopped for a quick break in Dale City, in Northern Virginia, off I-95.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I am reviving this blog, as soon I'll be hitting the road again with the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters. I will share stories from the road, traveling across the U.S.A., Canada and Puerto Rico. Also, great places to visit, sights to see, and some of the great restaurants and food along the way. I will also keep you up-to-date on our tour itinerary, so hopefully I'll be able to see you when we come to your city. My next blog post will include tour dates and locations, so check back in the next few days.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

If I Were to Lose My Salvation; It's Not What You Think



[This post doesn’t have anything to do with travel, but bear with me; I promise you’ll find it quite humorous. Note to my employers: regardless of the title, this has very little to do with religion, so don’t judge until you’ve read the whole essay.]


If I were to lose my salvation it would happen while mowing the lawn. (What did you think it would be?)
Today I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, and it’s not a task I enjoy. For those that know me, you know it would be extremely rare that you would hear a curse word come out of my mouth.  However, there are several reasons why mowing the lawn can get me to spew a few “darns” and “craps” from my filthy vocabulary.
Here’s my list:
1) I hate mowing the lawn. I think this stems back to my childhood when I was forced to mow my parent’s yard with a push-rotary blade mower. As a kid, I thought that was my father’s way of torturing me. All the neighbors had these fancy gas mowers, and here I was going back and forth, back and forth, with these dull blades. Eventually, my father relented and we graduated to an electric mower. Now I was scared to death of cutting the cord and electrocuting myself to death. So, I have this engrained disdain for mowing the lawn.
2) Several years ago I bought a rider mower for about $700. We have about a quarter-acre lot, and there’s an empty lot next to us, so it just made it easier to mow all this in the 100-plus degree summer heat. However, after only two years of operation, the transmission went out on the rider and I was told it would cost $500 to replace and repair. I couldn’t see spending almost as much as I paid for the mower to fix it. So there it sits in our shed.
3) My father gave me a practically brand new mower last fall; I guess he feels guilty about the old rotary mower days. Today I tried to use it. It wouldn’t start. I went to the shed and got out our old mower, and after only a few pulls of the cord – it started. Ugh! The new one was supposed to make life easier.
4) For the past several weeks we have had an armadillo digging all over the backyard. He has systematically dug a hole in every square foot of the yard. My wife said, “It’s no big deal.” Yeah, right. Mowing out there was like mowing on sand. The wheels of the mower kept hitting holes, and my feet kept sinking every-other-step. What a mess the backyard is now. I’m going to have to drive our SUV all over the yard to try to flatten it out and stabilize the turf. If I see that armadillo again, he better have his heart right with God, because it will be his last digging expedition.
Some people have these big grandiose goals of making millions of dollars; me, I just want to make enough money to be comfortable with paying someone to do my yard work for me. That would indeed be a glorious day, and will help to keep me happy, healthy and holy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It has been way too long since my last post, and to those that care; I apologize. We have done a lot of traveling and little time in hotels.

While in Phoenix (over a week ago) I had the opportunity to see my old friend Kenny Evans, who happens to be a former Globetrotter mascot (Globie). He took me to get some laundry done, I badly needed to get some clean clothes back into the mix. We got lunch and spent some time together just talking and visiting.

The weather was beautiful in Phoenix and a big difference from the freezing weather in Calgary. We played a Friday night game and a Saturday afternoon game at the US Airways Center, the home of the Phoenix Suns. It's a great arena downtown, just a few blocks from our hotel. and right near the arena is the Arizona Diamondbacks' ballpark. Close by is a restaurant owned by sports fan Alice Cooper; "Cooperstown." I didn't get to eat there but would have liked to. I opted for the Hard Rock Cafe one night, and a pizza joint another day. While in Arizona, we also played games in Prescott Valley and Tucson. We also had a day off, which was nice, that was the day I was able to get laundry done.

We then flew to Spokane, WA, and bused to Kennewick for a game there last Thurs. (2/23), then on to Eugene, OR, on Fri. We had a double header on Saturday, in Portland at the Rose Garden (home of the NBA Trailblazers). That was a long day! It was nice to see my cousins Priscilla and Leroy Moody. They came to the afternoon game and we had a chance to visit and pose for a photo after the game. Right after the night game we bused to Yakima, WA, for a day game there on Sunday. That night, it was on to Seattle to get a little sleep and head to the airport early in the morning.

Monday we flew from Seattle to Denver, and now I'm enjoying a couple days off in Denver! Looking forward to seeing friends and family in the area this week. More later...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This has been a crazy week and obviously I haven't had much time to post any news recently. We began the week by flying to Calgary on Monday. We had an off day, so I was able to get a press pass and go to the Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs NHL game on Tuesday night. Ever since the Saddledome hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, I've been wanting to go to that arena and actually see a hockey game there! That was awesome, although the arena is definitely showing its age.

Wednesday night the Globetrotters had their game at that same arena, so there I was announcing the game at the Saddledome. Pretty cool! (See the photos in this blogs' photo album)

While in Calgary, I ate one night at The Palomino (109-7th Avenue SW), right down the street from our hotel. This place is similar to many Barbeque joints in Texas or Oklahoma, except for one thing; they serve poutine. What is poutine? This is an amazing dish that originated in Quebec and has spread throughout Canada. It is layers of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. The hot gravy melts the cheese, and The Palomino adds their own twist by topping the whole thing with barbeque pulled pork. It was fantastic, and I couldn't eat the whole thing. This is certainly one dish barbeque restaurants in the U.S. need to pick up on. How can you go wrong with fries, cheese and barbequed pork?

We flew from Calgary to Phoenix on Thursday, and I'll tell you more about the Valley of the Sun in my next post...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunday afternoon, the Globetrotters played in the Rimrock Auto Arena, in Billings, MT. This arena may have had the best sound system we've worked with since I joined this tour. After the game, we jumped on the bus to head north. We made a stop in Great Falls, MT, just to spend the night in the hotel, and on Monday morning we left for Canada.

The border crossing customs process went very smoothly and considering we had two buses full of players and staff, it didn't take very long; no inspections, and no individual questioning. As we were getting off the bus in downtown Calgary, it began to snow. It has snowed quite a bit here, 10cm in some areas, and the city is dealing with covered streets and over 40 accidents in the area. Not sure what I was thinking, but I walked four blocks from the hotel to the Chinese Village Restaurant this evening, in the blowing snow and 20 mph winds. I got my order to go and took it back to the hotel to eat. The wonton soup was some of the best I've ever had. It had pork stuffed wontons in it and large chunks of zucchini, mushrooms and other vegetables.

I was fortunate enough to get a press credential for Tuesday's Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game, so I'm looking forward to see an NHL game at the Saddledome. Then Weds. night I'll announce the Trotters game at that same arena. Pretty cool!

By the way, check out the photos from the tour that I've posted on the new "Photo Album" page on this blog. I'll try to add more photos soon. Also, please subscribe to this blog, and don't be afraid to make comments and keep in touch.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It has been very difficult to find time to actually post something new on this blog. It has been a whirlwind tour of Montana with the Globetrotters over the past four days. We played games in Butte, Missoula, Bozeman and Billings. After the game in Billings today, we bused four hours to Great Falls. We are only spending the night here on the way up to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Are game in Calgary isn't until Weds. night, so we'll have a couple of days off.

I've had the opportunity to be on the mic now for five games, and although some of the players and staff have told me that I'm catching on and learning the show relatively quickly for someone who just joined the tour, I'm a bit upset with myself, because I thought I would have it memorize and flawless by now. I'm not trying to put any undue pressure on myself, but I just didn't think it would take this long to learn it all. There are just so many elements to the game; between the music cues, the comedic bits the players do, the sound effects that I have to play at the right time (not early or late - that's happened a few times), the sponsorship copy that I have to some how squeeze in, etc. I'm also a bit stressed because we only have one game this week (in Calgary) before we do four shows in Arizona. The Globetrotters headquarters is in Phoenix, so I know the brass will be at the games and they'll be checking to see how I do.

Dizzy is one of the veteran players on this squad and he has been kind enough to befriend me. We have met in the past, but we never really got to know each other. He has been very helpful and supportive of my learning curve, and is just a fun guy to be around; on and off the court.

I'll try to add some photos to the blog during our day off in Calgary, so until late, safe travels...



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I just found a great steak in Butte, Montana!

This evening, our sound engineer (Carlos) and I went out for a steak dinner, and the place recommended by the ladies at the front desk is called Casagrande's Steak House. Be prepared, it's a bit pricey with steaks starting at $20, but they are served as a four-course meal with a wonderful Red Wine Beef Stew (soup), salad and ice cream. The soup was phenomenal! Great flavor with chunks of mushrooms. I ordered the top sirloin and it was cooked just right and didn't have much fat on it at all. It was a 16 oz. cut that was very thick, and I honestly couldn't finish it. My side was their famous twice-baked potato, which also was very good. Then I topped it off with a complimentary bowl of blueberry cheesecake ice cream. My total bill came to $30.

It was nice having the day off in Butte, but I'm looking forward to getting back behind the microphone tomorrow night!
Wow, how do you pack for a three or four week trip? I guess you really don't, you just have to minimize the amount of clothing and stuff you take and plan to do some laundry along the way. Sunday, Feb. 5, I packed and it wasn't an easy chore. On this trip with the Harlem Globetrotters we are going to the frigid northwest and then down to Phoenix, and back to the northwest. Not easy to pack for.

Monday, I hopped on a plane and flew to Boise, ID, where I met up with the team. That evening I didn't do the P.A. announcing, I just watch Kickz (Anotnio) and observed while he gave me some training. Boy do I have a lot to learn, but it's great working with Kickz because he's a five-year veteran with the Trotters, and he's being doing both the P.A. and M.C. jobs alone, until I got here. He knows the show inside and out!

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, we bussed to Pocatello, ID, and on this evening it was my first time on the microphone. We rehearsed the "Magic Circle" during the team's practice, and the players each wanted to make sure I yelled their name out the way they wanted to hear it. I was very nervous at game time, but with Kickz sitting next to me and doing a lot of the M.C. talking and pointing to what song and what play was coming next, it made things a bit easier for me. I wasn't flawless, but we got through it, and most of the staff said "not bad for your first game."

Now on to Butte, MT, and I'll have more time to write later. Go to jump on the Greyhound bus, it's "Go time..."