Thursday, September 2, 2010

Trip Video

For those of you didn't get a chance to follow all the posts, you can now watch our trip condensed into 6 minutes:




Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 40: Home Sweet Home

Number of Days: 40
Number of Kms: 8,484
Number of Hours in the car: 120

We are home!

We left Detroit this morning and, after crossing the Ambassador Bridge, we were back in Canada!

7 hours later, we were back at home eating hamburgers from The Works.

As you can see, we have a lot of unpacking to do so I'll sign off for now!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 39: Detroit

It's our last full day in the U.S.!

Too bad Detroit did not have much to offer, but we had so many great experiences it's all good! We're both ready to head back home.

Today was probably the most unremarkable day of our 40 day trip. We went to the
Detroit Science Centre, which is an uninspired science museum with numerous broken or removed exhibits.

We finished the night with a romantic dinner and have set our sights back on the true north strong and free!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 38: Detroit

We ventured out into Detroit today and discovered that there's really not much to see. We boarded the "People Mover" which is an elevated rail system used not only for commuters but also by tourists like us to see the city. The whole trip takes about 20 minutes and costs 50 cents per person. You can read between the lines...

Once we got to the south end, near the financial district we were able to see some larger buildings and, of course, immediately across the river, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

The People Mover quickly went back northward through some dingier areas until we were back near our hotel. Here's a nice picture of the Central United Methodist Church.
Finally, just as we came full circle, we arrived in the area of Ford Field and Comerica Park.

We were slated to take mini tours of each but due to a high school graduation in the case of the former, and misinformation in the case of the latter we could not tour. We might try again tomorrow.

We're now off to dinner at the Coach Insignia restaurant located in the Renaissance Center. Stay tuned as tomorrow is our last full day in the U.S.

Tam and Dave

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 37: IL, IN, OH, MI

And we're coming down the home stretch...

Yes folks, what has been a very fun and interesting trip is now winding its way down. We left Chicago, drove through Indiana, Ohio and into Michigan jumping back into the Eastern Time Zone. In 4 full days, we will be home.

Our arrival in Detroit tonight means that we are in our last American stop. We have so far visited 26 States and the District of Columbia.

So what did we do and see today? As with most "on the road" days not as much as we'd normally see. But as always, there are still things of note. Bizzare billboards (such as the 80 fireworks ads in 1 mile or the "Butt Hutt") were the norm as usual.

We were able to rescue a turtle who was trying to cross the busy highway.

The picture doesn't necessarily do justice to the fact that this turtle was about 2 feet long. After we escorted him off the busy roadway he thanked me by nearly biting my hand off.

Before too long we were into Michigan and headed towards Detroit.

So that's it! We're here in our last destination with a lot planned for the next few days. Tomorrow we tackle the day!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 36: Chicago

As you can tell from reading last night's blog post, we didn't have a very exciting day yesterday. Mainly ran errands and snuck up on sheep and donkeys. Today was going to be different. We set our alarm for 7am in order to take part in a citywide guided tour.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. We woke up to a very rainy morning and decided to go back to sleep to see if things would improve.

We decided to change plans a bit and do our own self guided tour.

Our starting point was lunch at
Ditka's. For those of you who aren't familiar with the running gag on SNL, Mike Ditka is a Chicago icon as a former football player and coach. The gag is best summed up in the following video:

In any event, we had a great lunch at Ditka's.

After lunch, Tamara kept taking pictures of the lovely architecture as we drove around the city. One place we decided to drive to was Steinmetz High School which was featured in the movie
Cheaters which happens to be one of my personal favorite movies.

We then drove by Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, the Cubs weren't in town but we got to take a quick peek at the famous ballpark.

And finally we walked around the waterfront.

We're now back at the hotel so I'm going to wrap up this post - this of course being our LAST Saturday night for our trip :-(.



Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 35: Chicago

We had a really slow start to the day - woke up at noon, drove to a different hotel in the 'burbs and had an oil change.

On our way to dinner, we drove by a Children's Farm and saw sheep and donkeys. A little further down the road we saw a deer.

Tomorrow we'll be doing the tourist thing and visiting all that Chicago has to offer.

Bonne soirée!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 34: Chicago

Here we are in Chicago - ironically on hometown boy, Barak Obama's 500th day in office as President of the United States.

If you read yesterday's post, you will remember that one of the first things we noticed about Chicago as we drove in was the massive
Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower prior to 2009). Accordingly, this was a good place for us to start our day today.

The 108 story tower is 262
Michael Jordans tall so says the sign in the lobby after we purchased tickets to the SkyDeck located on the 103rd floor.

The view is spectacular, which is what one would expect 412 meters (1,353 feet) above the ground.

There is even a place on one side of the SkyDeck where there are reinforced glass boxes which extend outward from the edge of the floor allowing you to see straight to the street level.

Back downstairs of course we we directed to walk through the giftshop which sold all the usual things as well as some more unusual items.

After Willis we walked around the city a bit. We stopped at Millenium Park which is on the east end of the City.

The park contained a variety of performers, artwork, horticulture, interesting architecture and local iconic symbols. One of the performances was a puppet show featuring stuffed animals who specialize in irony.

By this point in the afternoon, I had become saturated of walking around and I returned to the hotel. Tam continued exploring although I understand she didn't find much else interesting and decided therefore to go shopping.

I had bought a ticket to see the Chicago White Sox host the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey Park), so I donned my Montreal Expos sweatshirt and hopped on the L-Train. (Tam wore her Montreal jersey back at the hotel room in solidarity).

Relative to the two other MLB games I saw, this one was fast - only 2 hours and 27 minutes long. It was a much more low scoring affair (4-3) and fewer exciting plays but there was still enough action to keep me interested.

On the subject of baseball, I feel the need, yet again (for the second time in two nights) post a brief editorial comment.

Last night there was an unfortunate incident in Major League Baseball.

Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was slated to throw a "perfect game". For those of you who are not familiar with baseball - a perfect game is the most difficult thing to accomplish in baseball - possibly in all of major professional team sports. It is a game where a pitcher confronts all 27 batters on the other team (3 outs x 9 innings) and retires them (either himself or through his team) successfully without any batter reaching base legally.

It has only been done 20 times in the history of major league baseball.

Last night in Detroit, 26 of 27 batters were out of the way when a ground ball was hit to the first baseman. He fielded it and threw it to Galarraga who was covering the base. Galarraga stepped on the base a clear split second ahead of the runner which should have ended the game. Jim Joyce, the 1st base umpire, quickly signalled "safe".

This would have been the first perfect game for Galarraga and the first for the Detroit Tigers franchise.

Following the game, Joyce, still in his umpire's uniform did what very few professional umpires have ever done: he found Galarraga in the dressing room, hugged him and apologized.

Today, as virtually all sports media were covering this story, attention quickly turned to Bud Selig (the commissioner of baseball) to see if this would be overrulled. Sadly, it appears as though Selig will do nothing more than 'look into the possibility of expanding the role of video replay in baseball' [me paraphrasing].'

As someone who has umpired baseball for over 17 years, I can state authoritatively that the issue is much simpler than it seems.

A judgement call in baseball is final and is not subject to any review, argument or protest formal or informal. To quote the official rules of baseball "9.02(a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions."

Moreover, video replay has been largely resisted in Major League Baseball - only recently has it been added to a very narrow set of circumstances (obviously not including the present situation).

So at first blush it would appear as though Selig would have no choice but to deny any request to allow the call to be reversed.

But ending the analysis there neglects to fully understand the rules of baseball. There are two factors which must be considered:

1. The umpire agrees he made the wrong call
2. Reversing the call would not change the outcome of the game

I agree, reversing this call opens the door to potentially creating a precedent which is very bad. There are countless calls every year which upon review of a replay it is clear the umpire made a mistake. I am not suggesting that we should create a precedent for revisting those calls. Rather, baseball already has a precedent for revsering calls where the umpire who made the call is satisfied that the wrong call was made.

This is founded in the rules. At the very end of the rule book it says under the heading "General Instructions to Umpires": "Each umpire team should work out a simple set of signals, so the proper umpire can always right a manifestly wrong decision when convinced he has made an error. If sure you got the play correctly, do not be stampeded by players’ appeals to “ask the other man.” If not sure, ask one of your associates. Do not carry this to extremes, be alert and get your own plays. But remember! The first requisite is to get decisions correctly. If in doubt don’t hesitate to consult your associate. Umpire dignity is important but never as important as “being right.”"

An umpire is never overrulled by his partners but he may, after consulting with his partners reverse his own call. Although it would be highly unorthodox, why not allow this umpire to reverse his call in the day or two which follows.

Secondly, there are situations where a call simply cannot be reversed for practical reasons. Consider a situation where a batter hits a long shot down the line but the umpire calls it a foul ball. The batter, despite being angry, stops running. Other runners stop running. The defensive fielders stop pursuing the ball. Perhaps a ballboy throws the ball to a spectator. In such a situation there would be no way of undoing the result of the bad call. The current incident is not one of those situations.

I am not suggesting that Selig allow the call to be reversed because it is the only right answer - obviously maintaining the status quo is a safe, non-precedent-setting approach but it is not the only way this situation could be handled, as I have explained above. Reversing the call would be similar to the 1940 college football game where the referees incorrectly gave the winning team one extra play which resuled in the win. When it was discovered, the team that benefitted from the mistake forfeitted the game.

In short, I am not suggesting that Selig allow the call to be reversed because he has to; I am suggesting that he do it because (1) it can be done, both practically and according to the rules, and (2) it is the right thing to do.

* * *

Tam and I are going to be changing hotels tomorrow and moving about 10 miles to the suburbs. Still in a Hilton but a more reasonably priced one. This was a pre-planned decision; apparently our current location downtown jumps from about $150 a night to $560 per night on Friday and Saturday nights.

Keep following as we continue to experience the windy city...


Day 33: Chicago

On to the windy city today. Despite essentially crossing one state (Illinois) the trip was about 5 hours. The scenery - as with most legs of our trip - was always interesting and unique. Whether it was the numerous wind farms or bizzare billboards we had a lot to catch our attention.

Before long we were upon the city. The Sears Tower, (which I just discovered, as typing this post, is now called the Willis Tower since about a year ago) as seen below really stands out from the city skyline.
We checked in to our Hilton Hotel amid Palestinian protesters blocking the way. Not sure what Hilton did to warrant their protests but as most of you know, there is an international controversy brewing.

Given how much press coverage this has garnered and given the overwhelmingly anti Israel slant that most news coverage has had on the subject, I feel the need to clarify a few facts.

Beginning of David's Editorial
Since June 2007, Hamas has governed the Gaza strip region of Israel. There are two indisputable facts about Hamas. First, it is a terrorist organization. Second, it has as part of its mandate the goal of destroying Israel.

In response to this, Israel has had an ongoing naval blocade which affects the Gaza region. Instead of permitting transport directly to Gaza, Israel's blocade requires such transport to dock in Israeli ports which gives Israel a chance to screen shipments for things such as weapons.

Another indisputable fact is that Israel has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks over the past decade particularly. These terrorist attacks have had the specific intention to deliberately kill unarmed civilians. Accordingly, screening for weapons is a logical step in Israel's self defence which is precisely what this blocade accomplishes. It is also important to note that such blocades, even in international waters is a normal tactic that has been employed by numerous nations and it is permitted in customary international law.

The current controversy occurred when a flotilla departing from Turkey specifically gave Israel a big middle finger and said "we are going to defy this blocade".

Israel's response was to simply enforce its blocade. It started with clear verbal warnings which were received by the flotilla to stop and turn back. These early and low impact measures were responded to with disdain, profanity, and disregard.

As the video shows, the next step was Israeli troops boarded the flotilla - again in order to enforce the blocade and inspect the contents of the flotilla. If you watch the video it is clear that from the moment the troops arrived they were met with violence.

I personally find it difficult to reconcile the way that many media outlets have covered this incident. It is regrettable that people lost their lives in what ensued, but we have to stop and think: virtually all other nations, in a similar situation would have reacted in a similar manner. If any country had a legal blocade and a foreign entity attempted to defy it, it only makes sense that the country would first try to warn the entity and then attempt to stop it through reasonable meaures which might include boarding the vessel. If in boarding the vessel the country was met with violence, isn't it reasonable to understand that force would be used? I think it is.

* * *

Okay, back to the day at hand. After checking in we went to a restaurant called Moto. Tamara and I first saw this restaurant on the Food Network. It features a 20 course tasting menu that includes numerous novel and creative food presentations including the use of fire, lasers, liquid nitrogen and other interesting combinations.

The whole meal took 4 hours to complete, hence the late blog post.

Okay and with that, I'm off to bed!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 32: St-Louis

Today we ventured out into St-Louis. Our starting point was obvious: a 630 foot tall hunk of stainless steel and reinforced concrete shaped into an arch which also happens to be 630 feet wide at its base. The Gateway Arch - also known as the "Gateway to the West" - is the tallest monument in the United States.

The Arch has a tramway built inside each side which travels to the top in a similar manner to a ferris wheel. Once at the top, you get a spectacular view of the city.

Here you can see where we have been staying in relation to some other major buildings:

After taking in a few other minor sights and sounds of St-Louis, we made a quick trip to the local Target to stock up on some beverages for the baseball game we had tickets to see tonight.

Tonight's matchup was a rematch of yesterday's game, pitting the hometown Cardinals against the Reds of Cincinnati.

At the start of the game, both teams were tied for first place in the Central Division of the National League.

The game was an exciting one. No particularly memorable scoring sequences, but lots of close plays and fast action which is not always the case for baseball.

In the end, the local heroes fell 9-8, dropping them one game back for tomorrow's rubber-match. There was some activity in the 8th and 9th inning, but no dice for the Cards.

We're on the move again tomorrow, inching closer to the end of our voyage. See y'all soon!


Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 31: St-Louis

Today was just destined to be one of those lazy days. We woke up late and just never really got going for the day. Part of having a vacation is having days like these.

From our hotel room we could see people marching like ants to Busch Stadium for the afternoon game between the St-Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.

From our room, we were able to see part of the game going on. With the radio broadcast it was a relaxing way of enjoying the afternoon.

Of course, tomorrow, we will be going to Busch Stadium for the real thing as Cincinnati and St-Louis (both close contenders for the
Central Division of the National League).

Hopefully the bad weather which interrupted this afternoon's game, will not show up tomorrow.

After a lazy afternoon of watching baseball and ordering room service, we decided to take a drive around the city just to see what's happening.

Aside from the beautiful architecture, saw some of the interesting people - like this guy having a conversation with the garbage can in front of him.

That's all for now!

PS) This blog post was brought to you by EZ Cracker - a product that could only be advertised in the United States.