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Saturday 31st May, 2003

Northwoods, Here I Come 19:30 CDT by ike

I made it: four days, seven states, and over 2000 miles after leaving San Francisco, I arrived safely in Rochester, MN to sunshine and brisk mid-50's temperatures.

The drive went more or less according to plan. Ken B. and I departed early AM Wednesday and spent night #1 outside of Salt Lake City (Sandy, UT, for those keeping score) after quick visit to Mormon Temple (right) downtown. En route, we also witnessed vast roadside salt residue (left). From SLC, we headed (via Provo) to Denver, where we took the opportunity to visit the Berlroses, old family friends that moved from the Bay Area several years ago. In the interim between last seeing the Belroses, the family has added an older son, Steven, and younger twins, Michael and Brian. Needless to say, that trio provided some antics, including a session of relentless jumping on me, the 'Bronco', and an incident where Steven approached Ken B. with a loaded water gun, stopped at his Dad's warning not to squirt guests, then turned to face Ken B., and slowly, steadily, squeezed the trigger leaving a generous wet spot on Ken B.'s shirt. Perfect.

From Denver, we aimed for Omaha, where Ken B. was due to fly back to the Bay Area. Crossing eastern Colorado and all of Nebraska went smoothly, and the fearless duo (right) then broke up as Ken B. caught his flight and I pressed on solo heading to Des Moines. Cruising through DM, though, things got a little hairy, as I discovered that seemingly EVERY hotel room in Iowa was occupied, and I was not enjoying the prospect of driving much further through the falling darkness and howling wind. At last, I located a secluded Best Western, hooked up a room, and crashed for the night. All that was left in the morning was the quick ride up I-35 to Minnesota.

In time, the rest of the guys trickled into the hotel. In all, there are 10 umpires, including eight from the Wendelstedt school and two from the Evans school, and all are around my age. My partner is Ryan Stockdale, who comes from Seattle and finished high enough at the Wendelstedt school this past winter to earn a spot at the PBUC course, although in the end he wasn't offered a Minor League contract.

Well, the league opens with one game Monday in Mankato, and Ryan and I are working the game (I've got the bases). Am I nerrvous? Hell yeah, I am...

Wednesday 28th May, 2003

Heading Out 06:00 PDT by ike

It's 6am, and Ken B. and I are making our final preparations before leaving the Bay Area behind and heading out for the Midwest. The plan is make it to Salt Lake City tonight, then Denver, Omaha and Rocherster, MN the following three nights...

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