Editor’s note: Paul Muth is an Army vet who tends to talk a lot, so when his friends tell him to stop, he either writes or talks to a microphone and calls it a podcast. He writes better with a beard and looks better with a beer. Or something like that. Follow him on twitter at @abumnamedpaul
By Paul Muth
This is Part II of The Great Baseball Stadium Tour. Part I can be found here.
May 11, 2017
When your alarm goes off at 8am in a 14 bed hostel room full of tourists who were all out drinking the night before, you’re bound to make some enemies. When you spent the entire night drunk snoring on top of that…well…maybe you should leave soon.
That’s just what we did. All I needed to do was grab some lock cutters from the front desk to claim the rest of my belongings thanks to a faulty lock Other Paul loaned me the night before. If they didn’t hate me by then, I’m sure a sudden metal snap in the midst of a morning slumber could change that.
Our next stop was Washington D.C., and the plan was to arrive as early as possible so that we could show Other Paul the sights before the game. Barring weather and Traffic, we would be there in 3 hours.
By 10:30 we had arrived in D.C.
“Hey Paul, look. It’s the Capitol,” I exclaimed as we caught a brief view between buildings while we drove down the highway.
No response. I turned around to see Other Paul buried in his phone. A proportionate scolding ensued.
“You damn Canadians come to my nation’s capital, you will look at everything we point at.” A modest request, in my opinion.
We parked the car near the National Mall and made a quick pit stop at our first tourist attraction: the closest CVS. It was windy, rainy, and miserably cold; unlike any of the weather forecasts I had obsessed over prior to the trip had predicted. We all bought umbrellas and figured we’d suck it up.
That plan lasted about 15 minutes.
I learned quite immediately how terrible of a decision it was to wear wool Tom’s in the rain. As we approached the National Archive (about three blocks from where the car was parked), my feet were drenched and I caved. I admitted defeat, grabbed the keys from Erik and sloshed my way back to the car to swap out what were essentially outer-socks for my all-weather Converse–something I should have done in the first place. I also tossed my Astros jersey on for good measure, and met back up with the other two to grab a quick look at the Declaration of Independence.
As we made our way from museum to museum, one thing became very apparent: we had unknowingly walked into the middle of what seemed to be every junior high school in the country’s end of the year D.C. trip. All of them. Every damn one of them.
This was conflicting for me, because long ago I, too, was a participant of one of these week long trips. Was I this annoying? Did literally every non-junior high student resent my presence as much as we three resented theirs?
Yes. Very much so, yes.
This was my penance.
I made it a point as we journeyed from the National Museum of American History, to the Air and Space Museum to walk as stout and broad chested as possible. All of these stupid little kids were too busy running around staring at the ground, so I figured as long as i kept my heading and moved at a deliberate pace, I’d be able to justifiably check one of these little chumps into some museum carpeting. Alas, they’re peripherals seemed to be tuned just enough to pull up at the last second. That said, no pre-teens were injured in the making of this road trip. Unfortunately.
We managed to block out the pre-pubescent cracking voices long enough at the Air and Space museum to stop and marvel at the displays of rockets in the space section. Other Paul lent a few words of profound brevity:
“Gravity’s a bitch.”
We exited the Smithsonian daycare and headed over towards the Capitol as I had mandated for our obligatory group photo. A foreign couple obliged after I had gestured something they correctly interpreted as “Please take our photo.”
It was at this point, after 6 hours of non-stop rain and wind in 50-degree weather that my umbrella decided to personify me and give up. A sharp wind caught it at just the right time and angle and split the top from its base.
“That’s it. I’m over it. Let’s go to the hostel.”
We headed back to the car and drove north of town to check into our hostel where they were just about to, you guessed, have pasta night. Pass again. We’re dropping our bags and then baseballing, as long as the weather clears up.
We settled in, and grabbed an uber. I don’t remember the ride because I fell asleep on the way there, and presumably snored. We arrived at exactly 7:15, just as first pitch was scheduled. As we exited the vehicle, both mine and Erik’s phone simultaneously notified us that the game had been delayed due to weather.
Now we had expected a delay. We were ok with a delay, because that just meant the game would start later and a late baseball game would have been an awesome story to tell. So we moseyed into a nearby container bar called The Bullpen to wait it out. No sooner than when we got our wristbands did it stop raining completely.
Fifteen minutes later we watch from the balcony as the street leading from the ballpark just down the road floods with fans headed our way.
“What’s the call?” We asked.
“Game’s postponed. Go home.” The crowd replied.
Now, I’d be bummed if my home team cancelled a game. But to have made this trip and come this far for a game to be cancelled AFTER IT STOPPED RAINING? We were salty. Very, very salty.
After suffering that huge defeat, we figured we’d salvage what was left of the evening and get a few more landmarks under Other Paul’s belt. We grabbed an uber and headed straight for the Lincoln memorial, just as the Rockets and Spurs kicked off what would ultimately be the last game of the series.
I had my head in my phone and started trashing the Spurs, as a red-blooded Houstonian ought. About halfway to our destination I look up, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t pick the one damn uber driver within the District of Columbia with a damn Spurs hat on.
“I want you to know sir, that I made those comments with my head down and unaware of your team affiliation,” I told the driver. “That said, I stand by all of them. I do not like your team.”
That had to have been the first time in a long time that he had received some justified vitriol for being a Spurs fan in New England. When we found out he had never even been to Texas, we really let him have it. He laughed it off like a good fan. Cool guy.
We arrived at the Lincoln Memorial to, yet again, a sea of pre-teens. They ran around gleefully shrieking in the early evening as they scurried up and down one of America’s most hallowed shrines. All I could think of was going back in time and violently shaking some respect into my 13-year-old self. We abbreviated our stay and opted for food and booze instead. The children had won their claim.
We got back to the hostel and headed across the street to a swath of bars on the cross street. We wandered into the nondescript Ventnor Pub, where the bartender was gracious enough to switch 6 different TVs to either the Astros/Yankees game, or the Rockets/Spurs blowout. It was a 4:2 Astros:Rockets ratio.
While we were watching the Astros game/suffering through the Rockets defeat, Erik–in a markedly Texan knee jerk fashion–ordered chips and salsa from the bartender. She responded with a confused expression, but her manager/cook (I guess?) assured us it was no problem and headed to the back. What we received, was certainly chips, but certainly not salsa. Now while their definition of salsa may not have been on the same page as ours, Ventnor Pub was hands down the most gracious bar we visited the entire trip.
We decided we’d check out one or two more bars, and if we didn’t find any signs of life, we’d head back across the street and go to bed. At the last minute, Erik suggested we head inside to a spot called Town Tavern.
We found the party.
We realized then, that we were right next to a university. We also realized that it was college night. Oh yeah, and it was graduation weekend. The place was a zoo. So much so that once we got our beers we just sat out on the patio, since there was no room inside. It was on that patio that we met an army sapper from Boston. I know this because he wore a shirt that said “Army Sapper,” and he told me he was from Boston. Eight times. We told him we were headed there and his eyes lit up. He gave us about 5 different bar suggestions around Fenway, got drunk, and then started repeating himself again.
At this point, we were tired, defeated, and salsa-less. It was time to call it. Tomorrow, we’d be heading to New York.
The TL;DR D.C. Wrap Up:
The Ballpark: WOULDN’T KNOW BECAUSE THEY CANCELLED IT DUE TO RAIN…WHEN IT WASN’T RAINING.
Where to go: Ventnor Pub. Avoid all of D.C. in early May apparently, however.
Part III can be found here.