Monday, June 6, 2011

Cooperstown and Buffalo

Alternative title: "Baseball and Buffalo Wings." Both great things!

So, are we all rested and refreshed after the weekend and ready to get to recapping? I think I am! As I said last week, this week's posts will be made up of day-by-day detailed accounts of our Memorial Day weekend road trip. I talk a lot and love pictures, so this week's posts will probably be lengthy. Brace yourselves!

Our vacation together actually started Thursday night, after I dropped Achilles off at "camp" and Eric left work a little early. We met up for some shopping in NYC then came back to Hoboken to pick up our rental car, a brand spankin' new Hyundai Santa Fe. We found street parking for our new ride, then went to the movies to see The Hangover 2 (funny!). Then it was back home to frantically pack and try to get some sleep before hitting the road the next morning.

We left Hoboken around 7:00 on Friday morning. Eric did all the road trip driving, something for which I will be forever grateful. I hate driving. I navigated, which was more my speed. We were happy to be on our way!

Our first "welcome to..." sign of the trip! Although if we're being welcomed to New Jersey, I'm a little confused as to where we started out.

Entering New York state, where we would do the bulk of our driving!

As we continued into upstate New York, our true "city folk" sides started to come out. It's just so different up there - there are deserted roads, and hills, and lots of trees, and red barns and silos and cute farmhouses, and cows, and just lots of nature. We even saw a hawk fly by with a squirrel in its talons and both nearly lost our minds. I mean, we just don't get a lot of that sort of thing in the Big Apple. We were amazed. How is all this really in the same state as NYC? It was awesome - a great change of pace.

I don't think we're in NYC anymore, Toto.

Where are all the cabs?

After about four hours of driving and one back-road detour, we arrived in Cooperstown. As promised, it was an utterly adorable little town.

Welcome to Cooperstown!

It just looks like America would be portrayed in a movie.

Shops on Main Street

Sounds like fun.

More Main Street


We drove around a bit looking for parking, then made our way to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the whole reason for our Cooperstown stop.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

In front of the Hall of Fame

We started off in the Hall of Fame Gallery, where they have plaques for all the Hall of Fame honorees. We spent some time wandering through the gallery and picking out notable baseball greats.

Eric was so excited.

Hall of Fame Gallery

Eric with Babe Ruth's plaque

Fun with statues (Eric with Babe Ruth and me with Ted Williams)

Plaques from the Hall of Fame Gallery (click to enlarge)
Top row: Mickey Mantle, Cy Young, Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan
Middle row: Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb
Bottom row: Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig

Next up was a "Baseball at the Movies" exhibit, which included memorabilia from great baseball movies such as A League of Their Own, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams.

Baseball at the Movies

Memorabilia from A League of Their Own (left) and Bull Durham and Field of Dreams (right)

We then wandered around the grounds a bit, where they had some fun statues and a baseball scoreboard. I was psyched to see my Cleveland Indians listed in first place there on that scoreboard! It's been a great season so far. Go Tribe!

Fun with statues in the courtyard

I loved these pitcher/catcher statues in the courtyard, made even more awesome by the four little boys "playing baseball" along with them

Yeah! Go Indians!

We then went back inside to explore some of the upstairs exhibits. On the second floor, the displays basically followed the history of baseball, complete with lots of fun memorabilia to check out. They had a section that looked like "lockers," with one for each team. I thought that was nice that everybody got their own little display! On the third floor, there was an exhibit about the fans of baseball, which was my favorite part. It talked about the stadiums, mascots, songs, cheers, superstitions, and all that fun stuff that makes each team's fans a little different from the rest.

Display of equipment in the museum

Eric in the Babe Ruth exhibit

Women's uniforms

Souvenir apron commemorating the Cleveland Indians' 1948 AL penant and World Series appearance.
I realize this probably makes me a terrible feminist, but I think that's awesome and kind of want one.

Honus Wagner baseball card, the most valuable card there is. It sold for just under $3 million in 2007. Wowsa.

Eric says, "Go Rays." I say, "Go Tribe."

Baseball fans

High five for the giant green Phillies guy

When we were finished in the Hall of Fame, we stopped for burgers and chips at the American Cafe, and Eric spent some time looking handsome.

Cute guy in a cute town

After lunch we walked over to Doubleday Field and the Doubleday Batting Range. Eric has been trying to get me to go to a batting range forever, so I figured that being in what is essentially The Land of Baseball was a good enough reason to give in. We only made a quick stop, but Eric hit the batting cages and threw a few pitches. He also convinced me to pitch once. To my surprise, my throw actually reached the backdrop thing, so that was good. Turns out I can throw 22 mph. Who knew? Eric threw a 60 mph pitch, tying the week's record for his age range. He's such a stud.

Doubleday Field

In front of the Doubleday Batting Range

Here you can see the subtle differences in our pitching mechanics.

Both of us are pleased with our pitching speeds

Eric in the batting cage

After the batting range we stopped in a cute little local craft store, then did some souvenir shopping. Baseball souvenirs abound in that little town, that's for sure. We spent some time walking around Main Street, commenting on how nice the weather was. The forecast had called for rain, but it was an absolutely gorgeous sunny afternoon.

That is, until we got back on the road. Not long after bidding farewell to Cooperstown, the rain started up and didn't stop until the next morning. It was never really terrible rain, but just pretty constant. It rained the whole four hours it took to get to our next stop: Buffalo.

Eric did a great job with the driving!

Buffalo: An All America City. Whatever that means.

Buffalo wasn't really a sightseeing stop, but rather just a food stop. When Eric told some of the people at his firm that we were planning a trip to Niagara Falls, restaurant recommendations for Buffalo were quickly offered up. We hadn't planned to stop in Buffalo at all, but several people suggested we eat at Anchor Bar, the original home of Buffalo chicken wings. When we were planning our course, we realized that on our way from Cooperstown to Toronto, we would be passing through Buffalo right around dinner time. Perfect! So, we pulled off in rainy Buffalo for some chicken wings at Anchor Bar.

Anchor Bar

An "All America" side of the building

Care to learn how Buffalo chicken wings got their start as a regular menu item? According to the folks at Anchor Bar, this is the story in a nutshell:
On a Friday night in 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the now famous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, NY. Late that evening, a group of Dominic's friends arrived at the bar with ravenous appetites. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat. 
They looked like chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into the stock pot for soup. 
Teressa had deep fried the wings and flavored them with a secret sauce. The wings were an instant hit and it didn't take long for people to flock to the bar to experience this new taste sensation. From that evening on, Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu at the Anchor Bar. 
The phenomenon created in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo has spread across the globe. Although many have tried to duplicate Buffalo Wings, the closely guarded secret recipe is what makes Frank & Teressa's the proclaimed "Best Wings in the World."
I don't know that I'm quite qualified to say if the wings were the best in the world, but I can say with certainty that they were quite tasty. Between our double order of wings and the Anchor Chips (seasoned potato wedges), we were stuffed by the time we were ready to get back on the road.

Yummy dinner!

After dinner we made our way over to the Peace Bridge, where we stopped briefly at the duty free shop to stock up on wine for the weekend. Then, we crossed through customs into Canada!

Welcome to Canada!

We spent the majority of our trip in Canada, starting with a day and a half in Toronto. That recap is what you have to look forward to tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Note: I'm putting all of our trip pics on my Shutterfly share site, and I will be sure to link them here for you each day. There are lots more pictures to be seen from our time in Cooperstown/Buffalo, so be sure to check them out here!


KSK said...

Looks like a great time so far!!!!

Dad said...

Looks great, but sometiems I wonder what you two would do on your trips if there were no statues...and secondly you better be careful posing like statues if you go to Italy ;o)

Jena said...

Looks like a fun trip! Love all your poses by the statues ;-)

KT @ KT's Refinishing School said...

I've always wanted to go to Cooperstown! One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was A League of Their Own so to see all the women's baseball stuff would be really neat :)