The plan was simple – enjoy ourselves, see a few baseball games and relax this summer. While the summer isn’t over yet, we have so far attained those goals.
For phase one, we started with some home town games. We managed to see the Toronto Blue Jays, who were nesting in Buffalo as a result of the COVID pandemic. Watching Major League Baseball in Buffalo was a great experience. Really, it didn’t matter who won the games. It was exciting just to see the “star” players and to enjoy the time at the games with Sue. We saw the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox and really enjoyed the games – we even ran into some old friends at the ballpark.
I’m not saying that Sue would win a baseball quiz show. Then again, neither would I. But it’s fun to be able to talk a little strategy, join in singing during the 7th inning stretch and to watch her throw out her player signs for her favorite players. The X goes up for Xander Bogaerts, the mini finger dance for JBJ – that’s Jackie Bradley Jr and don’t even get me started when Mookie Betts is up to bat.
So phase two was a weekend trip to Washington, DC to see the Nationals and the Cubs play. Three games with excellent seats, plus a little bit of sight-seeing was planned as a perfect way to finish off July and start August. It was fun, but it wasn’t without some drama.
Let’s start with the easy one. A week before we were scheduled to leave, there was a shooting outside of the stadium. Nothing like a little urban action to shake up the area. We were watching the game on TV, so we were watching as panic and confusion hit the crowd. Not enough to scare us off though – one week to go!
Friday, July 30th was the MLB trading deadline and it would remove a few of our favorite players from the line-ups. Life goes on: we’ll catch them again somewhere down the line. Three days before that, however, word would come down that 12 people within the Nationals organization had tested positive for COVID, with four of them being players. So our first concern was: would the games be postponed or cancelled?
As we sat waiting to hear any updates, we had to check in for our flights and hotel. We decided that we would head to Washington and if the games weren’t played, we’d just be tourists for a few days. We’d see some monuments, eat some seafood and enjoy the change of scenery. Oh yes, I forgot but won’t whine… my back pain flared up again.
Off we went…
This was our first trip in almost two years and I forgot how much I enjoy the airport experience. The Buffalo airport was “jammed” with tens of people. We were literally able to walk right up to the desk to check-in and then walk straight up to the TSA Check-in without having to wait behind anyone.
We flew into Reagan National on a direct American Airlines flight and then hopped a cab to the hotel. The hotel was only a fifteen minute ride from the airport and there wasn’t any traffic to speak of.
We stayed at the Residence Inn – Capitol Hill / Navy Yard and it was not only convenient, but was also a nice hotel. We had a corner room on the sixth floor and it was both spacious and quiet. It was also very clean and well maintained, nicely appointed – including a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator and stove. Everything for check-in and check-out was handled over the Marriot Bonvoy phone app, which really made things easy.
Since our flight was in the late afternoon, by the time we checked in, it was dinner time. We decided to try one of the restaurants near the hotel called Circa at the Navy Yard. Inside was crowded and noisy, but we wanted to sit outside – which was much more civil and relaxing. Plus, we felt better not being crammed in with so many people.
We just wanted something light and tasty, and the menu had just what we wanted – a nice scallop risotto and a pasta primavera. Coupled with a nice bottle of Rosé, we enjoyed our meal and relaxed while doing a little people watching. The best part was the fifty foot walk back to our hotel. We grabbed a couple bottles of water and some snacks and then relaxed for the remainder of the evening – watching to see who was going to be traded.
You’ll see the word relax many times, as that is exactly what we wanted and what we did. No running all over the place, no chasing down tour buses and no worries!
A post-pandemic change we encountered was the hotel only serviced the room if you asked for the service. You could use the phone app if you needed towels, amenities or toilet paper to be sent up, but otherwise it was hands off. While some might complain, we took the opportunity to sleep in without being disturbed. The system worked fine, especially since they didn’t skimp on the supplies to start.
So Friday morning comes and most of the dust has settled from the trade deadline. Final inventory had eleven players that we enjoy and hoped to see being traded away from the two teams. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little disappointed, but we made the best of the situation. We went for a later lunch and then returned to the hotel to get ready for the game.
The walk to the ballpark took about ten minutes. It would have been five, but we were walking slow. The security line was short and in the blink of an eye we were in. Nationals Park is a great venue to watch a baseball game. Before we headed to our seats, we went over to get our Victor Robles bobbleheads, which happened to be the giveaway for tonight’s game. We kept one and gave the other one to a guy and his daughter who wanted an extra for their uncle (sort of reminded me of the Charlie Brown Halloween Special).
Not quite ready to head to our seats, as the highlight of the trip for Sue was about to take place. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you George, Abe, Tom and Teddy! Mount Rushmore coming to life !!!
Finally, we made our way to our seats. We had what they call ‘Diamond Club’ seats for the game, which meant we had really good seats, plus we got free snacks and drinks delivered right to our seats. Inside they were slicing rounds of beef, turkey and ham for sandwiches, plus they had pizza, hot dogs, nacho chips, ice cream and peanuts. Soft drinks and Budweiser beer was also available for free along with other adult beverages and beers that you could purchase. Not a bad deal at all.
Despite the absence of many of the star players, the game was enjoyable and it was a beautiful night for baseball. The Nationals won the game and Thomas Jefferson won the Geico Presidents Race.
The race was on and Tom took the victory. Great entertainment between the innings.
It actually took us longer to get out of the stadium than it did to walk back to the hotel. Lots of people were stopping at the bars around the area and there was much joy in Muddville.
We relaxed back in the room for a while, watching the game highlights before heading off to bed. All that relaxing left me tired!
Saturday was a repeat of Friday. We slept in, then went for a late lunch, cleaned up and then off to the ballpark for game two. We had seats four rows behind where we sat the night before, but they were still Diamond Club seats so we knew what to expect. Nice sight lines, good snacks and another good ball game. The winners on this evening were Abe and the Cubs.
Another nice stroll back to the hotel. Since the Cubs won, their fans were a bit louder but it was all in good fun. We cleaned up and went to bed a bit earlier as tomorrow’s game was an afternoon game starting at 1:05 pm.
So our first mission upon waking was to check the weather. The forecast called for some potential rain showers, and the dark clouds were a reminder that sometimes the forecasters are correct. Though the skies looked ominous, we took a nice walk to the ballpark with the sun actually peeking out at times.
Our Sunday seats were our best. We had field level seats and entrance to the National Club. While the Diamond club was nice, the National Club was even better. There were food stations with some delicious choices like grilled shrimp over rice, roast chicken, sliced beef, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, a big selection of desserts and beverages. Before heading to your seats, there was a selection of snacks to take with you as well as the bar and beverages. At your seats, you could request beverages and snacks to be brought to you whenever you wanted them. Wow!
So we settled into our seats and it started to drizzle. By the second inning it was no longer drizzling – it was pouring! Before the heavy rain started, the ushers came around and distributed plastic ponchos that kept us reasonably dry. The shower didn’t last too long and the grounds crew was working very hard to try and keep the field in playable condition. Once the rain stopped, the sun came out and the remainder of the day was beautiful.
There was some good action and plays at home plate that made for a good game including a game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Nationals the win. It was a perfect way to end our baseball weekend.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a restaurant and made dinner reservations for the evening. We had some time to take a shower and change clothes before heading off to dinner. It was a little muggy and a little warm, so since the restaurant was not crowded, we decided to eat inside and make use of the air conditioning. We had an enjoyable meal along with some nice wine to complete our holiday.
Checking out in the morning was a non-event. We dropped off the room key and then went down to have the valet hail us a cab. Our cab driver was an older guy, who looked like a Deadhead and drove a compact Kia. Despite first impressions, we hit minimal traffic and arrived at the airport in fifteen minutes. The airport was empty and we were able to get our boarding passes, get through security and find a place to sit by our gate in no time at all.
The flight home was good and seemed to fly by (yuck, yuck). We grabbed the car from the parking lot, stopped for a bite to eat and arrived home before it even got dark outside. All in all, it was a perfect way to get back to traveling. Now we just need the world to calm down and next year we can step up our travels.