Written by Wildcat Dianne on 25 Mar, 2009
"Trying to get a fastball by him was like trying to get a sunbeam by a rooster." Bob Feller--Cleveland Indians Pitcher.After we got our Boston Red Sox program, Mom was flipping through it casually as we waited for the game to start. Mom…Read More
"Trying to get a fastball by him was like trying to get a sunbeam by a rooster." Bob Feller--Cleveland Indians Pitcher.
After we got our Boston Red Sox program, Mom was flipping through it casually as we waited for the game to start. Mom saw a photo of a statue of Ted Williams in front of the park and looks at me in wonder how we missed it. Ted Williams was Mom's hero during her childhood and adulthood, and when Ted Williams died on July 5, 2002, she called me in Slovakia, where I was visiting a friend, and was in tears over the loss of one of the best baseball players ever.
Ted Williams spent his entire baseball career from 1939-1960 with the Red Sox. Known as "The Kid", "Teddy Ballgame", and "The Splendid Splinter," Williams hit a career 521 home runs and a career .344 career batting average. Williams also won two Triple Crowns, two MVP awards, and is the last ball player to hit .400 when he hit .406 in 1941. His career was interrupted twice during WWII and the Korean War when he volunteered to become a combat fighter pilot leaving many fans to wonder how many more home runs Teddy Ballgame could have hit in his career. Williams retired from baseball and the Red Sox with a bang in 1960 when he hit a home run in his last at bat. His #9 jersey is among the seven (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 27) numbers retired by the Boston Red Sox.
As much as the fans adored Ted Williams, he didn't like the press or many fans and had several run ins with reporters during his career. Never one to tip his hat to the Boston Faithful, Williams got all of Red Sox Nation in a tizzy when in the 1980's during a Ted Williams Appreciation Day at Fenway, he finally tipped his hat to say thanks to his fans. Another of our favorite Ted Williams moments was during the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park when Ted Williams was honored by all of baseball as the best leftfielder ever. Teddy Ballgame, being ill, came out on the field in a golf cart and received handshakes and hugs from the All-Stars, and Mom and I were left in tears of joy at this site.
"Yep. Putting his hat on the little kiddie's head. Cute. And out of the side of his mouth: "Now get outta my way, you little rat bastard." Stephen King--Faithful (2004).
Cut to March 2009, Mom and I go to the front of City of Palms Park to see Ted Williams statue. The statue is a replica of the statue of Ted Williams at Fenway Park with Mr. Williams holding a bat in his left hand and placing his ball cap on the head of a young boy with cancer. The Boston Red Sox wanted a statue of Ted Williams the Philanthropist and honor his work with the Jimmy Fund, the Boston cancer fund that the Red Sox has sponsored for decades. Some critics like authors Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, co-authors of the Red Sox 2004 Championship season book Faithful said the statue doesn't do Teddy Ballgame justice and should have been one swinging at the ball.
Like the statue or not, Mom and I felt we were in the presence of a god when standing next to Ted Williams's bronze likeness as were several hundred other fans paying homage that day after the game. Mom and I posed for a few shots before the statue and read the plaque below. I thought Mom shed a tear or two before we headed back to the car and back to the hotel. Being at the ballgame, meeting one living legend in Johnny Pesky, seeing our boys hit four home runs and win the game 9-4, and paying homage to Ted Williams. What more can a girl ask for?! I'm in baseball heaven!
After all of the excitement of the pre-game festivities before the Red Sox/Twins game on St. Patrick's Day, Mom and I finally got seated on the grass of our right field lawn seats to watch the ballgame.The Red Sox players had gone into their clubhouse…Read More
After all of the excitement of the pre-game festivities before the Red Sox/Twins game on St. Patrick's Day, Mom and I finally got seated on the grass of our right field lawn seats to watch the ballgame.
The Red Sox players had gone into their clubhouse to change for the ballgame and come out dressed in white home uniforms with green lettering and numbers for St. Patrick's Day. Mom and I think they are very nice looking, but later, my sister Erika thinks they aren't so nice. "It's St. Patty's Day, sis, get into the spirit!", I joke later that week when I show her the pictures on my camera. Erika later said that Jason Varitek's red socks (he wears his pant legs hiked up unlike most players these days wear them down) make him look like a big Christmas tree (Miss Blackwell, we presume!).
The pre-game festivities start on the field with the National Anthem sung by a local gospel singer and the ceremonial first pitch. There is a little person dressed up like a lepruchan on the field with the Sox, but Mom and I are too far away to get a close look at what Big Papi is doing with him. Later on, Mom and I look at photos on-line and discover that Big Papi, who can be a joker, put #15 on the lephruchan's back as a joke for vertically challenged teammate and 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, who says he's 5'9" but is a little shorter.
Johnny Pesky brings the Red Sox line up to the umpires getting the crowd to cheer, and the game is about to begin. Mom and I are thrilled that 2003 World Series MVP (with the Florida Marlins) and 2007 Cy Young Award Runner Up Josh Beckett is the starting pitcher for the Red Sox, and most of the first stringers are starting except for Pedroia, who left the US team and World Baseball Classic injured, and Kevin ("YOOOUK" to fans and "The Greek God of Walks" as Stephen King calls him) Youkilis, who is still with the US team. JD Drew, the 2008 All-Star Game MVP is still hurt and not playing, but we are thrilled to see "The Pride of Woonsocket, Rhode Island", Rocco Baldelli, who has been with Tampa all of his career, starting in rightfield in a Red Sox uniform.
The Red Sox take and early lead 1-0 when Captain Varitek hits a solo home run, but Beckett gets shaky in the 3rd inning and the Twins take a 3-1 lead. But before Mom can say the day is ruined, our boys come through in the bottom of the 3rd. Big Papi hits a two-run home run, and Mom and I are thrilled. I am more thrilled because this is the second game in person I have seen Papi bomb one out. The first one was a monster catwalk shot in Tampa in 2005, and I still think the ball is still among the catwalk in Tropicana Field today!
The 4th inning is the Red Sox big inning when Jacoby Ellsbury, who was third to Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year voting, hits a two run home run bringing in second baseman and Pensacola native Nick Green, who used to play for the hated Yankees. Papi has another base hit when he singles and comes in when another Canada native and former Pirate star Jason Bay bats him in with the Red Sox fourth home run of the game. The score is 8-4 by the end of the fourth, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire start taking out the starters and putting in the Spring Training invitees and minor league players. Beckett is done after three innings of strong work.
But Francona doesn't put in a minor league pitcher into the game, and we are greeted by the Dropkick Murphy's hit Shipping Up To Boston from the Oscar winning movie The Departed. This can only mean one thing, Jonathan Papelbon is coming into the game. YIPPEEE! Papelbon is a hard-throwing reliever and our closer who was third in the AL in saves last year and has a piercing stare and ferocious delivery to the plate. Pap is also known for his post-game dancing after the 2007 ALDS and ALCS when he did a jig to the Dropkick Murphys both times, the first time in his undershorts which almost gave Red Sox TV analyst Jerry Remy a coronary. After the Sox clinch the 2007 World Championship, Pap tells the press that his dog Boss ate the ball he used to strike out the Colorado Rockies' Seth Smith for the last out of the World Series. Pap gives up a run in his one inning of work, but it's Spring Training, and he is getting the kinks out before the regular season begins.
The next 4 innings, we see our Japanese pitchers in the game. Daisuke Matsuzaka is at the World Baseball Classic for Japan, but we get the honor of seeing Hideki Okajima, a lefty with a whiplash-like blind delivery, Takashi Saito, a 39-year-old veteran from Japan and LA Dodgers, and 22-year-old prospect Junichi Tazawa, who is to start the season in AA Portland, but what Mom and I see at this game has us thinking Tazawa will be up in the bigs soon.
Some of the Minnesota Twin players cool down after playing by jogging in right field. We have a great seat to see this and some fans try for autographs. A couple of the Twins players oblige the fans, and I clammor down from our spot in the grass to take to get Centerfielder Carlos Gomez's autograph on a piece of note paper from Mom's purse. I thank Carlos for the autograph and he quietly nods at me. I run back to our seats like a happy kid and make sure the autograph is safely in Mom's purse for the trip home. Jose Mijares, a Twins reliever, signs some autographs and waves and smiles at everyone in the stands.
While Mom and I were worried about sunburn or sunstroke at the beginning of the game, our worries are eliminated by the second inning when the sun goes in and we enjoy an overcast and breezy time watching the game. My face got a little red from the first few hours at the game, but I am glad that was the only sun I got. By the end of the game, the field is full of Red Sox Minor League prospects, but they do a good job holding off the Minnesota Twins and the Red Sox win the game 9-4. Happy with the win, Mom and I get up to leave the ballpark but not before going to the front of the stadium to have our picture taken in front of the Ted Williams' statue. Seeing the Red Sox play in person was a great experience for Mom and me, but seeing them win made the day extra special!
Sitting on the right field lawn at City of Palms Park was an awesome experience for Mom and me, but my advice to those who want to do this is to bring sunblock and a blanket. We brought the sunblock but no blanket. Also if you get up during the ballgame to go to the bathroom or the concession stands, you will not be allowed to return to your lawn seat until the batter at the plate is finished hitting in order to prevent people from getting hurt by foul balls. While Mom had to wait one time in the tunnel, a man asked her if she was hot and needed to remove her Red Sox shirt. Turned out he was a big collector and liked Mom's shirt. Mom turned him down and they had a good chuckle together.
Post game festivities to be continued in the last entry of this journal. Please read more!
Mom and I left the shade of the shops and food court, we went up the stairs to walk around ballpark itself. Mom and I had gotten to City of Palms early and were able to see the Red Sox and Twins take batting…Read More
Mom and I left the shade of the shops and food court, we went up the stairs to walk around ballpark itself. Mom and I had gotten to City of Palms early and were able to see the Red Sox and Twins take batting and fielding practice. City of Palms Park is a smaller park than Fenway and it's more intimate allowing fans more contact with the players and other activities that are going on before the game. Mom and I pose for photos with the ballpark in the background before starting our pre-game adventures.
The Boston Red Sox have the field first for practice, and Mom and I keep our eyes peeled for our favorite players. A familiar figure comes out of the dugout, and I focus on the back of his uniform. It's #33, Jason Varitek, our catcher and captain. "OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!", I moan. After a rough 2008 at the plate, Varitek was still chosen for the All-Star Team for his defensive prowess. All winter, fans like Mom and I waited with baited breath to see if the Red Sox would re-sign our captain, and come January a collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout Red Sox Nation when he agreed to a one-year contract with an option for the following season.
After seeing Jason, Mom and I keep our eyes open for more players. "There's Jon Lester over there!", I exclaim to Mom. Jon Lester is one of our young left-handed pitching stars who battled Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma from 2006-2007. Last year was Lester's first full year back from cancer treatments, and he stunned all by pitching a no-hitter against Kansas City. Dad was over the day that game was on TV, and he kept channel surfing saying the game was a blowout and not interesting. When I put the game on, it was the 7th inning, and Lester was going strong with his no-hitter. "Blowout my butt!", I said to Dad, "Lester has a no-hitter going on!"
The batting cage is set up at home plate, and several Red Sox are there waiting their turn to take batting practice. Another familiar site is at bat, and I pant in anticipation. It's one of my heroes, David Ortiz. Affectionately known as "Big Papi" throughout the league and Red Sox Nation, Big Papi got me through a horrible time in 2004 after I was assaulted by an ex--boyfriend's son. His heroics during the 2004 ALDS against the Anaheim Angels and in the 2004 ALCS against the hated Yankees were stuff legends are made of, and I have proudly worn his number (#34) jersey and t-shirt with pride since. Mom and I watch Big Papi put on a show by hitting several balls out of the park before letting someone else take a few swats of the bat.
The players on the field are not signing autographs and run into the dugout when they are done fielding and hitting, but people try to get their autographs. Mom and I get a spot near the Boston Red Sox dugout, and the usher tells me it's OK to stand there but not to put anything on the dugout. No problem, I just want to watch my boys practice and be smell the grass on the field and enjoy being oh so close to my Red Sox.
Mom and I look around the field and watch people filing into the park as we are near the dugout and spy an elderly gentleman sitting in the stands dressed in the Red Sox St. Patrick's Day green uniform talking with fans. I hear someone say "Is that Bobby Doerr?", a Red Sox legend and infielder, but Mom says he doesn't travel because of a really bad back. Another glance, and it hits us. "That's Johnny Pesky!" Johnny Pesky came into the league about the same time Ted Williams started to play ball in the late 1930's. Johnny's career was a lot shorter and not as storied as Ted's, but Johnny's legend in Red Sox Nation continued when he stayed with the Red Sox on and off for the next 50+ years as a coach, minor-league manager, and good-luck charm for the team. Up until some lame-butt rule by MLB saying that Johnny Pesky couldn't be in the dugout because he isn't on the official coaching staff, Johnny was sitting in the dugout next to many Red Sox managers and players.
There was a small line waiting to get an autograph and pose for pictures with Johnny Pesky, and Mom and I feel this is too good of an opportunity to pass up and climb up the stairs to the line where Johnny Pesky is. As we get closer to Johnny, we can hear him talking with the fans who are clamoring for his autograph and photo op and see what a charming man he is, talking with the guys and flirting with the women.
Finally it's our turn, and Mom and I get next to Johnny Pesky. I climb over his legs to get to his left side not wanting to jar his bad leg that he broke a few years ago, and Mom sits on his right side. Johnny says, "Hello, Kiddo!" to me and I am thrilled to be called that at my age. Mom tells Johnny he looks great for a man who will be 90 on September 27, 2009, and we chat with the legend for a couple of minute. Johnny asks Mom and me "Which one of these men are your husbands!?", and Mom and I tell him we don't have husbands, and Johnny tells us he's been alone since his wife Ruth died a few years ago, and we tell him we are sorry. Mom and I pose for a couple of photos with Johnny Pesky, but in all of the excitement, I forget to have him autograph our ticket stub. Oh well! Just sitting with Johnny Pesky and taking a picture with him is enough for us, and we leave him smiling and vowing not to wash our Red Sox shirts again (OK, we did wash them afterwards)!
After seeing Red Sox Third Baseman and 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell near the dugout, and other players take batting practice, Mom and I head to our seats on the right field lawn. We forgot our blanket in the trunk of the car thinking that we wouldn't be allowed to have it in the park and have to sit on the grass. It's hot and sunny by noon, and we are grateful for having sunblock on, but no hats. Oh well we can go in the shade when it gets too bad, we say. The Minnesota Twins have taken the field now and are batting and fielding. After one player fields, he stops by the stands to sign autographs. It's Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP and 2008 All Star Game Home Run Derby Champ. From Canada, Morneau is fresh from playing in the World Baseball Classic and back after Canada was eliminated in the first round. I get up to attempt to get an autograph, but the line is long. Poor Justin is suffering from allergies, and I want to tell him to take a Claritin, but it might be a banned substance. I get very close to getting Justin Morneau's autograph, but before I do, he has to return to his dugout to get into his game uniform. Oh well! It's not the end of the world as I return to our seats.
More Red Sox Spring Training game fun to be continued in another entry! Please read and enjoy!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 24 Mar, 2009
"Hello, world, I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. For better for worse, I'm a Red Sox fan. . . .Same as it ever was. So bring on the Yankees, and may Alex Rodriguez bat .240." Stephen King--Faithful (2004).Mr. King's words hit the…Read More
"Hello, world, I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. For better for worse, I'm a Red Sox fan. . . .Same as it ever was. So bring on the Yankees, and may Alex Rodriguez bat .240." Stephen King--Faithful (2004).
Mr. King's words hit the nail on the head when describing our addicition to our beloved Boston Red Sox. My sister and I thought we would have to perform CPR on Mom Christmas Day 2008 when I first surprised her with Spring Training Tickets for St. Patrick's Day against the Twins, and Erika gave Mom a really expensive Red Sox jersey. Mom and I were really excited to be going to the ball game, and Mom joked about not having any trouble to find something to wear for the game. Me?! I had to figure out which of my eight Red Sox t-shirts would be making the trip south for the game. I finally settled on driving down to Fort Myers in my gray 2007 World Champions t-shirt Mom's family gave me followed by my red 2007 World Champions t-shirt that has all of the players' names on the back followed by my "Size Doesn't Matter! Dustin Destroia" t-shirt for the ride home. Addicted to the Red Sox? You betcha! Take away our Red Sox games during the season is like taking booze from a drunk. Just ask that representative from Direct TV when Mom eviscerated him for cutting off Bill Buckner making his triumphant return to Fenway Park for Opening Day 2008 after his self-imposed exile in Idaho after the 1986 World Series Gaffe Heard Round Red Sox Nation!
After a good night's rest after the hellacious ride from Pensacola to Fort Myers, Mom and I were ready for action the next morning. I wanted to get an early start to the ball park to get good parking, watch batting practice, and the possibility to get autographs from some players. I was like a little kid jumping up and down with nervous energy, and Mom was excited in a calmer way. After the easiest ride on the whole trip to City of Palms Park, we spent a little time looking for free parking. Not going to happen. Many businesses had their parking lots blocked off, and the neighborhood the park is located in is a little shady. Not wanting to walk too far on a hot March day, I bit the bullet and paid $7 for parking right next to City of Palms Park. Being St. Patrick's Day, Mom and I took a razzing from the parking lot attendant for not wearing green (we didn't think our Celtics shirts were appropriate for a Red Sox game), we were on the way into the ballpark.
The ballpark didn't open until 10:30 a.m., but there were several Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins' fans waiting to get inside. The usher at the gate was very nice and chatted with us while we waited to get inside. One family was from Connecticut and had been to the day before's game and the husband was wearing a St. Patty's Day t-shirt with the Boston Red Sox on it.
HOA! The Minnesota Twins team bus pulled into the parking lot coming in from their facility across town, and we see Justin Morneau (their first baseman and 2006 AL MVP) saunter into the visitors' locker room with other members of the team. People called out to them, but they weren't signing autographs then.
10:30 comes, and the usher lets us in. Mom and I look around the outside of the park at the many shops and food stands and decide to do some window shopping and browzing before braving the sun and heat of the field itself. We stop at one stand for a Red Sox program. For $5, it's well worth it with several stories of the Red Sox past and present and a comprehensive listing of the 40-man roster and Spring Training invitees. I had forgotten my scorepad at home and scrambled to find the program's lineup sheet before giving up to browze more. The program salesman says "Enjoy the game!" and I say "You, too!" "I wish!", the guy said, and bummer, the poor guy doesn't have a TV to watch the game in his stand!
Mom wants to get a Boston Red Sox license plate for the front of the car, and I want a bumper sticker for the back of the car and maybe a patch for my jacket if they aren't too expensive. We find the plates in the smaller Boston Red Sox shop and at $11, it's cheaper than on-line. SOLD! I get a $3 bumper sticker but pass on the patches because they are too much for this time around. "Check on-line", I note to myself. After paying the lady, Mom and I look around the shop more. A TV is playing the highlights from the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees. My heart does the mamba watching it all over again, and Mom and I leave the shop to look around more. "They will have no problem finding my car in the parking lot at work!", I joke to Mom.
We were interested in Red Sox earrings, but we couldn't find any in the larger Red Sox shop further down the concourse of shops and look for something to eat before making it up the stairs to the park to watch batting practice. Man! The price of food and drink is pretty expensive with bottled water being $4.75 a bottle. I am glad I brought a couple of bottles with us because I spend that much on a 24-pack of Dasani at the grocery store! Mom and I are not that hungry and settle for vanilla ice cream cones and happily lick those while walking around a little more. We spy the lineup on a chart before the stairs to the field, and Mom writes it down in her notepad she keeps in her purse for me to copy into the scoresheet whenever I find it in the program. After one more lap up and down the shops, Mom and I make our way up the stairs to the field itself and to see "our boys" taking Batting Practice.
Dianne has to run now and go watch the Red Sox/Yankees Spring Training game on TV. This journal will be continued in a few more entries in this journal! Enjoy!
After having a great time at the ball game and not wanting this experience to end, Mom and I returned to our hotel room to freshen up and headed back towards Downtown Fort Myers to find an inexpensive sports bar to have dinner and enjoy…Read More
After having a great time at the ball game and not wanting this experience to end, Mom and I returned to our hotel room to freshen up and headed back towards Downtown Fort Myers to find an inexpensive sports bar to have dinner and enjoy ourselves among several of the "Faithful" as Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan call the thousands of devout Red Sox fans.
I am not a big fan of driving in downtowns, and Fort Myers turned out to be another frustrating place to drive around in. The map we got from the ball game showing where many of the restaurants were located was not drawn out right, and after driving on Cleveland Avenue (SR 41), I turned around to get back towards the downtown and was able to do so onto McGregor.
So Mom and I are in the downtown looking for Dean Street, which is home to one of the bars that is one of the Red Sox Spring Training sponsors. The ad said it had food and drink and a good time, but after driving around the downtown looking for Dean Street (a little side street) and free parking (there is a big parking lot on McGregor), we finally walked over to the bar which was packed with Red Sox fans and St. Patrick Day revelers. The only food on the menu that night was Corned Beef and Cabbage (UGH!). When I finally flagged down a waitress to ask for a menu, she said there wasn't a menu for food. GRRR! Mom and I left, and I told Mom that my store manager was right about customer service. Even though you are busy as a one-armed paper hanger, you have to take a second to acknowledge new customers, and we were pretty much ignored.
After we left Dean Street, we went further into the downtown to look at other restaurant options, but they were way out of our budget range. I am more like Rachael Ray's $40 A Day and would rather pay $20-$30 for two meals rather than that amount for one meal. By this time, I was resigned to the fact of getting out of the Downtown and heading back towards North Fort Myers to a restaurant near our hotel. Hell! I would have been happy having food brought to the hotel, but Mom and I wanted to have at least one meal in a restaurant.
Once again getting back to SR 41 was a pain in the butt with one way roads and crappy signage. Mom and I did catch a glance of Thomas Edison's winter home on McGregor in our adventure, but it was too late for a tour. Maybe next year, I thought to myself. I just wanted to get out of the Downtown and be near our hotel.
Mom and I finally got back onto SR 41 and stopped for gas at a Sunoco station where the manager said that there are a lot of nice and inexpensive restaurants across the bridge and wouldn't have trouble finding one. I was so happy to be across that bridge and after 7 p.m., Mom and I had the luck to find Jerseys Sports Cafe and had one of the best meals of our life with great service and a cute owner named Burt to flirt with.
Next year, Mom and I will be better prepared for Fort Myers and I don't care, I will eat in Jerseys every night we stay in Fort Myers just to avoid the traffic!
I gave Mom a pair of Red Sox Spring Training tickets for Christmas and made plans to drive to Fort Myers on March 16, spend the next day at the ballpark before heading back home to Pensacola on March 18. I pulled directions from…Read More
I gave Mom a pair of Red Sox Spring Training tickets for Christmas and made plans to drive to Fort Myers on March 16, spend the next day at the ballpark before heading back home to Pensacola on March 18. I pulled directions from Mapquest and thought we had the best route to Fort Myers from Pensacola. Boy was I wrong!
Mom and I got an early start from our home in Pensacola. The first leg of the trip on I-10 East was a piece of cake, and after a quick gas stop near Perry, Florida, we were ready to get onto SR 19/98 or so we thought it was SR 19/98. Mom and I were pretty relaxed for the beginning of the trip talking, listening to CD's, and checking out the scenery. There was a Confederate flag in front of one place on the route followed by a church with three wooden crosses in front of it. "Are those crosses for decoration or burning!?", I cracked to Mom, who thought the "Stars and Bars" was outlawed for its racist undertones.
Come lunchtime, and we are ready to pull over in High Springs, Florida, and Mom, who had been dozing on and off throughout the ride, wakes up and says, "I think we are on the wrong road." "WHAT?!", I say, and I look at the map and realize we are on SR 27 and not SR 19 South. After a few curses against Mapquest for crappy directions again, Mom and I go into the gas station we have pulled into for a potty break and bring the road atlas with us. Bladder empty, I find room on one of the counter to look at the atlas to see where we can get back to SR 19. The girl behind the counter asks where we are heading, and I tell her we are heading to Fort Myers and need to get back to SR 19. After cursing Mapquest, she agrees with me that Mapquest sucks and proceeds to get me in the right direction towards SR 19, which meant heading back into High Springs and turning left onto 441 to SR 26 which will have us on SR 19 in 30 minutes. Mom and I thanked the girl and after eating a quick lunch in the car, we were off to SR 19.
We made good timing to get back onto SR 19, but this lovely little gaffe caused us a couple of hours of travel time, and we were not looking forward to hitting the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and I-275 at rush hour. As we got closer to Tampa/St. Petersburg, SR 19 became more congested with towns along the way and more traffic lights that you can shake a stick at. Luckily, rush hour traffic was pretty light getting onto I-275 South, and Mom and I thought we were scot-free for the rest of the trip!
Wrong again! After circling I-275 around St. Petersburg, we get onto I-75 South and hit the cruise control button. Then we hit a traffic jam that we think is because of road construction, but before we can curse the Florida Department of Transportation, we realize it's an accident causing the jam. As we got closer to the accident site, we see that it's a pretty bad accident, and one car is in the woods near the interstate while the second car is on the side of the road in bad shape. The worst of the accident was the third car, which has rolled over and on its roof. An ambulance was just shutting its doors to take the injured parties to the hospital, and this scene will be in our minds for the rest of the trip.
After a while of riding onto I-75, we get off the Interstate to SR 41 which is smooth sailing considering we have to stop at red lights every few miles. By this time, I am vowing to look for an alternate route for the ride back home to Pensacola in two days not wanting to deal with stop and go traffic the whole time.
Mom and I finally hit Fort Myers about 8 p.m. and over 13 hours on the road. The sight of the Motel 6 sign on the right side of the road is a welcome sight for both of our tired and numb bodies, and after checking into the hotel, we cleaned up and ordered take out food from Pizza Hut to be delivered to our room.
Two days later the ride home was a lot better with us getting onto I-75 North at Punta Gorda and hitting Tampa/St. Petersburg before 8 a.m. With a couple of extended stops at Wal-Mart in the morning and a lunch break, we make it home safe and sound with numb legs and butts by 4 p.m.
I told one of my co-workers about our adventure, and he said it would be a lot faster to go further down I-10 East into Central Florida to I-75 South and follow it all the way to Fort Myers avoiding red lights and traffic. Mom and I are going to take Eddie's advice very seriously for next year's trip to Spring Training. The trip for us was very daunting, but we will not let it stop us from seeing our beloved Red Sox next year!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 23 Mar, 2009
I gave Mom a couple of tickets to a Red Sox Spring Training game in Fort Myers, Florida at Christmastime. Fort Myers is about 550 miles from Pensacola, but it's still on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but it's a long ride no matter…Read More
I gave Mom a couple of tickets to a Red Sox Spring Training game in Fort Myers, Florida at Christmastime. Fort Myers is about 550 miles from Pensacola, but it's still on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but it's a long ride no matter how you put it. Mom and I could only afford two days for a hotel and accepted the fact that I would have a very long ride to Fort Myers. Luckily we didn't have to contend with snow as if we were still in Idaho, and we didn't have the zoo in the back seat. We thought it would be a nice long ride down the coast to Fort Myers, but Mom and I were wrong!
The ride east on I-10 towards Tallahassee was a piece of cake and took us about 3 1/2 to ride. Then we had to get onto SR 19/98 South from there. After stopping for gas, Mom and I thought we had gotten on the right road heading towards Tampa/St. Petersburg and were driving, talking and listening to CD's and relaxing. Mom relaxed too much and had dozed off for a minute, and somehow we drifted off of SR 19 and were on 27 South which is more towards Central than Western Florida.
When we got to our lunchtime stop in High Springs, Florida, Mom said, "I think we are on the wrong road. None of the towns are the ones that are supposed to be on 19." After checking the map and cursing a bit, I realized we drifted off our path and needed to get back onto SR 19. Luckily, Mom and I had stopped in a gas station and after a quick potty break, I asked for directions from the nice girl behind the counter of the gas station. She told us to head back towards town and backtrack towards 19/98 via SR 26 through Newberry. By the time Mom and I hit 26 and were near Newberry, the name of that town was being called Mayberry by me, and I haven't seen an Andy Griffith Show rerun in years!
By the time, Mom and I got back on the right track onto 19/98, we had lost a couples hours travel time but thought it was going to be smooth sailing to Fort Myers. As you get closer to Tampa, many of the towns along the way get bigger and bigger and due to many businesses being on the route, it's stop and go until you hit I-275 S. Mom and I hit I-275 around rush hour, but we got around St. Petersburg rather quick and hit I-75 towards Fort Myers thinking we would be in at our hotel by 7 at the latest.
You've heard the expression, "Trouble comes in threes!" Well, more trouble on I-75. Mom and I get stuck in a traffic jam. Thinking it's road construction crews, we curse the fact that they have to close roads and make it hard for one to travel on the Interstate, but it wasn't road crews. A horrible wreck had happened on I-75 S and reduced the road to a two-lane road. As Mom and I got closer to the accident site, we saw how bad it was. One car was off the road heading into the woods along the Interstate while another car was on the side of the road badly damaged, but the worst of the accident was the third car. It had rolled over and was lying on its roof. An ambulance was just closing its doors in anticipation of the ride to the hospital, and Mom and I couldn't get this sight out of our minds for the rest of the trip.
After a while of smooth driving on I-75, we got off of the Interstate and onto SR 41 South. It was more red lights and towns, but being later in the night, we got through smoothly, but I vowed to look at my map for a way onto I-75 N back home in two days from Fort Myers. Last time I follow Mapquest to a T! Mom and I finally dragged our tired and numb bodies into our hotel room about 8:15 and had food delivered from the local Pizza Hut. The entire trip that was supposed to take about 9 1/2 hours took us 13 hours to complete, and it was a learning experience for both Mom and I.
Fortunately, the ride back to Pensacola two days later was a lot smoother, and we left Fort Myers about 6:15 a.m. and were out of Tampa/St. Petersburg by 8 a.m. After extended stops at a Wal-Mart near Tampa and lunch in Chieftown near the infamous 19/27 turn, we made the trip home in 10 hours exhausted but happy to be home and to have enjoyed one day at the ballgame! Next year, we are bringing my sister Erika so we have an extra driver!
Written by beach_lvr on 04 Oct, 2004
Before ever venturing out to Florida for anything other than a layover at the airport, I wondered why so many people referred to the southwestern coast of Florida as the Texas Riviera. I hoped to find out once we arrived.
Once we blew into the Ft.…Read More
Before ever venturing out to Florida for anything other than a layover at the airport, I wondered why so many people referred to the southwestern coast of Florida as the Texas Riviera. I hoped to find out once we arrived.
Once we blew into the Ft. Myers airport, we speedily picked up our rental car and were on our way to the resort. It was around 9:30pm and we had not eaten since breakfast; hunger embraced us. So we stopped off at The Waffle House located just off of the main beach strip. The waitress looked at us and said, "Ya'll just have a seat anywhere." My husband and I looked at each other and surmised that she was a Texas transplant because of her accent. We then began noticing that almost everyone here had a Texas accent. Ultimately, we realized that, in fact, the locals here sounded like us Texans, but were actually native Floridians. Their good hospitality was much like ours as well. This was a plus as far as we were concerned! These people were neighborly, genuine, warm, and kind.
The next morning, I found myself gravitating toward the balcony of our high-rise condo to get a good look at what has to be one of Florida's widest, white sand beaches. Just beyond the sparkling, white glare of the sand, I can see the resplendent, emerald ocean; unlike any I have seen anywhere else. The closest thing I have seen to the color and clarity of these waters is in the Bahamas. That makes sense because the Bahamas are only about 60 miles off the coast of Florida.
Soon, we were zipping down the elevator to the pool; later finding ourselves beachcombing in this serene area of Ft. Myers. The quiet bliss of this beach (just north of Naples, FL) is a rare find indeed. For the week that we were here, there was never a crowded beach. It was in fact, quite the opposite. Generally speaking, there were 10 to 20 other people here daily. If you stay at the Gullwing (or anywhere south of this resort), you will find expansively wide, uncrowded beach areas.
Just yards away from where we stood, my husband and I watched pelicans dive for fish. I thought, Heck, in Texas the pelicans will often wait around by the pier we are fishing on and count on us to catch fish for them; leaving the caught fish laying on the end of the pier for the pelicans to eat. I have to admit that it is fascinating to catch a fish, remove it from the hook, place it at the edge of the pier, back up a few yards and then watch a pelican swoop down right in front of you, stab the fish with its bill, and fly away - leave it to a redneck to pull such a stunt.
I realized pretty quickly that in this area of Florida, it is quite hot and you can expect winds here to be to one extreme or the other. You will find that you have no breeze at all, or winds strong enough to bend palm trees almost all the way over. The landscape here is flat. Hence, when those afternoon rain storms come in (about 4 or 4:30pm alost every day in the rainy season), there is really no barrier within the terrain to block those high winds. The resort we were in was built to withstand hurricane force winds - and it's a good thing since some of those afternoon storms had hurricane force gusts. The rain was often a gratifying relief from the stagnant, high heat we were experiencing early each day. We stood on our balcony to watch these fascinating storms every afternoon.
There is really more here to do than I expected, such as daytrips to near-by Sanibel Island, visiting the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge (like alligators and snakes?), shopping at the open-air Times Square Shops (conveniently located on the beach), taking a drive to one of the Naples beaches, touring the Edison-Ford Estate, checking out Lover's Key State Recreation area, seeing the endangered West Indian manatees at Manatee Park, taking an airboat day safari, and so much more.
If you're young, young at heart, or simply love to party, I highly recommend booking your hotel in the party zone at the northern end of the Ft. Myers beach strip near the Holiday Inn somewhere. By all appearances, this is where all the nightlife and action is. This area is also very convenient to a large, open-air shopping complex (including some designer fashions) as well as within walking distance to many restaurants. If you seek more solitude and romance in an uncrowded beach area, book yourself somewhere more southernly on the strip such as The Gullwing resort.
For many years, I didn't believe that Florida was as wonderful as advertisers were leading us to believe - after seeing it for myself, I'm sold!
Written by kathyjohanna on 13 Aug, 2007
We went on vacation as a group of eight and we decided to rent a Bowrider Sportboat to explore the endless islands near Fort Myers. I had rented the boat months in advance and committed to all of the rules and regulations. We put down a…Read More
We went on vacation as a group of eight and we decided to rent a Bowrider Sportboat to explore the endless islands near Fort Myers. I had rented the boat months in advance and committed to all of the rules and regulations. We put down a deposit and I signed my life away. While on vacation I called the day before we were suppose to pick up the boat to just reconfirm everything. Then I found that our boat wasn’t available so we were forced to use the boat for ½ on our final day of vacation instead for a whole day like we had planned. Two days later when we went to the Cape Coral to pick up our boat we had to wait for the staff to finish cleaning our boat. When we finally got on the boat and we were ready for a little fun, we went about 1/6 of mile and the boat just stopped. We used a cell to call the staff, which came to put gas in our boat. Apparently they provided us with a boat that had no gas. We had to take the boat to the gas station and finish filling it up. Then we were finally able to enjoy the boat. We stopped at Cabbage Key and were enjoying the boat, when we realized something had to wrong. The boat compartment was filling with water. We rushed to shore and had to let the boat empty out. That was the final straw. We returned out boat early and had a miserable experience.After some discussion they did reimburse us the cost of the boat; however we did still pay for the gas. Julius (the owner) did send me an email to apologize for the problems. Exploring the islands (many of which you can only get to by boats) is great way to spend on day, however I strongly recommend that you take your business else where for a more professional and reliable experience. Close
Written by 72112696 on 09 Nov, 2006
My wife and I have rented houseboats from several different facilities in the past and always had a great time. Those previous rentals were on lakes, so when we saw your television show on houseboating on the Gulf with Holiday Cruises, we thought this would…Read More
My wife and I have rented houseboats from several different facilities in the past and always had a great time. Those previous rentals were on lakes, so when we saw your television show on houseboating on the Gulf with Holiday Cruises, we thought this would be a similar experience. We recognized that house boating on lakes and the Gulf are very different, but thought this would be a great experience . Since we had years of house boating experience, we thought it would be challenging, but rewarding.
We rented from Holiday Cruises in Ft Myers, Fla upon recommendation of The Travel Channel. However, our experience was quite different than the one portrayed on the show. We rented our boat from Holiday Cruises with the anticipation there would be some unique differences and challenges, however, we did not anticipate the minimalist equipment on the boat and the difficult navigation requirements. Part of our first day was spent with the owner learning about the equipment (i.e toilets, battery charger, generator, etc.). We first learned that the food we purchased could not be cooled in the refrigerator because the boat did not have an inverter and you can not run the generator while cruising (I have never heard of that). This is disconcerting as we had just purchased food and drinks for four people and it was 90+ degrees outside. Because there was no inverter, the only items that worked on the boat were the bare essentials. Dave then began to state the boat did not have a regulator, so you must turn on the shore power for 2 1/2 hours every morning and evening and if you did it longer, you would burn up the battery. He then stated you must hold the generator button for 30 seconds and then the starter button for 3-4 seconds. If you held it longer it might suck salt water in the engine and as the owner mentioned with every nuance of this extremely sensitive and limited boat; "you will be liable." He then went on to show how you must slide your foot off the toilet pedal or it would dry out the seal and (you guessed it) we would be liable. This went on and on with most items on the boat making us feel we had rented a boat with extreme sensitivity, no options, outdated technology and a very finicky owner.
The lack of GPS on the boat made navigation difficult, but were able to adapt to the maps for the limited channel width of the intercoastal waterway . I had brought with me a small portable GPS which was extremely helpful in navigating. Mind you, this is an inexpensive unit ($80) with a Marine data base. We had a nice time at our first port but found the forward berth was about 3 feet tall and the toilet height that of a bar stool, so that was not a comfortable place to stay. To complicate the low ceiling and high toilet height of the forward berth, the air conditioner would not cool off the berth, so it was always hot and uncomfortable.
Despite all the complexities and concerns about the boat care we tried to have a nice time and were ready to leave the marina to return the boat and Dave called to say we could not leave due to small craft warnings. We listened to the radio and they said 15 knots. We did not feel it was an issue, but the owner said if we left and there was a problem "WE WERE LIABLE". So, he gave us the option of staying another night (at our cost), or paying for a captain to return the boat. It was our next to last day, so we hired a captain. We were told the captain would be there at twelve and to wait till he arrived. We were sure it was purely coincidental that the Captain was delivering another Boat and needed a way to return. Upon leaving the dock we felt the winds were not an issue (they were not even 15 knots) and did not know why we had to cover the extra cost of a captain. We thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed as we have always done with rental boats with no problem.
When we returned to the point of origination we discovered the owner had kept part of our deposit. He kept $150 for a toilet malfunction that we had operated properly per the instructions, and $50 for cleaning the already clean oven. All in all it was not a pleasant experience and we were all happy to return the boat . On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the pits and 5 being great, it was a 1.5 experience.