Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Rewind: St Louis in September, Part I

This past weekend's rewind will be coming to you in three installments due to the sheer amount of awesomeness experienced by us (me and C) this weekend. Charles will be helping me write it as there is so much to remember and he's better at remembering Cardinals stats then I am. So here's how we are going to do this. This post will recap Friday, tomorrow's will touch on Saturday, and Wednesday's will cover Sunday. Capeesh?

Before I begin let me explain why we were in the StL this past weekend. As you remember, Charles graduated from law school in May. Graduations require presents and good presents require some thinking. Originally I purchased a painting of Mt. Pleasant as my gift to Charles. While I did still give this to him, I also thought of something better and couldn't resist.

While traveling to Chicago the first weekend in April for my cousin's college graduation we went to a Cubs game. As everyone knows, the Cardinals and Cubs do not get along. I'm not entirely sure why Cardinals fans get hung up on the Cubs and let them cause so much anxiety when the Cubs obviously haven't shown a threat to the Card's ability to go to (and win) a World Series in 100+ years, but they do and this includes Charles (Editorial note from Charles: Uhhmmm...I wouldn't call it "anxiety" so much as unadulterated, unqualified hatred. Back to your regularly scheduled programming). So while I (back to Rachel) was taking in a Cubs game (against the Marlins) with my dad and siblings, I got the bright idea to get some Cardinals/Cubs tickets as a second graduation gift for Charles.

At first I checked games in Chicago, since we went to school there and all, but that didn't pan out. Thus I got tickets for this past weekend and on Friday off we went...

We arrived in St Louis around 6 (or we should have at least). I was driving and had made friends with a few fellow travelers who decided our little caravan could easily go 80 mph (don't you love when that happens?) so I had every intention on pulling into our hotel by 6 (and we would have had we not gotten stuck in traffic). Needless to say we didn't pull in to the hotel until 6:30ish? and were rushed to get to the Cards game.

Before I mention the hotel, I should let you know that while the tickets to the game were Charles' gift for graduating, the hotel I chose to stay in was very much my gift to me as well. We arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the valet who already had luggage tags to mark out bags. He addressed me at all times as "Ms. Elsea," and, despite not technically being a "Ms.," the formality made me happy (and I didn't notice it wasn't really "Mrs." until Charles just pointed it out) so I let him do it. Anyway, we carried the bags upstairs ourselves since we were in such a hurry. We got up to the 8th floor (because what hotel doesn't have their lobby on the 8th floor?) and were warmly greeted at the check in desk (also formally), but were also told they did not have a smoke-free, king room available yet. They offered to take our bags for us and put them in our room that would be ready once we returned from the game. I made a not-so-quick change out of my work clothes into my game clothes (I took time to look around the spa while I was changing - I have never felt that putting my bare feet on the bathroom floor was sanitary, but I had no concerns about this bathroom floor, which I would have eaten raw egg off of) and we started our walk to the new Busch Stadium.

Our hotel was connected to the Lumiere Casino so per the concierge's instructions we had to walk through the casino to get to the park. As a resident of the Great Smoke-Free State of Ohio we definitely take our tar free air for granted. We passed many a smiling gamblers who looked as though all their dreams had come true despite having not won a dime. Once we made it out of the casino and our internal oxygen levels were back to normal we completed the mile long walk to the stadium.

The tickets I purchased for Charles were for the Sunday game, but as you have read so far we went to a game on Friday night as well. As it turns out, Charles' cousin was getting married the same time we would be in the St. Louis area, so Charles' parents were in town for the wedding and had purchased tickets for us to join then at the game on Friday night (this was unknown to Amilia, Charles' sister). She saw us sitting in front of her and came down to find us, only to get lost and literally walk right by me and Charles while we stared at her. It was funny.

This is Charles writing now. Rachel wanted me to commentate on the game. I'll keep my analysis limited to 40,000 words and try to not pontificate on how much true Americans hate the Cubs. John Smoltz was starting for the Cards. His is a good story this year: a 42-year-old workhorse, hall-of-fame bound, who, unlike Bret Favre, knew he loved the game too much to quit in the first place. Unfortunately, a 42-year-old arm isn't a 22-year-old arm, and he wasn't much wanted by the big boys anymore (read: Boston). We gave him one more shot. He's been up and down, but you can usually tell in the first inning if he's going to have a good outing (six innings, a run or two total), or...a typical 42 year-old's outing (8+ runs, hopefully, not before the 3rd).

He started Friday and quickly gave up three straight doubles (2 runs). Uh-oh...Rachel and I may have rushed for nothing (like, "Hurry! We need to get there so I can experience the pleasure of the Cubs routing the Redbirds at Busch, a sensation which, I'm told, is akin to bamboo shoots running up your fingernails). To make a long story short, Smoltz recovered, and going into the ninth we had a 2-2 tied game. Very exciting! The first batter, Matt Holliday (also acquired this year, and an excellent addition if I may say), watched the first pitch pass for a strike, then stared down three more balls. The fifth pitch he liked, apparently, because he gave the bat a swing. And what a swing it was. Home run. Walk-off. Cardinals win!

I'm WAY over my word limit here, so let me just finish with this: if you've never seen a walk-off home run, it's a sight to see. At Busch, the roar of the crowd is almost overwhelming. Practically before the ball cleared the Cardinals' bullpen, the Cardinals' signature siren-sound (kind of like a huge tornado warning system) was heralding the win, and soon thereafter fireworks lit the sky (you could see reflections of the flashes in the Arch's steel). But the roar. Whether at Busch or anywhere else (except Wrigley, where they celebrate wins by sacrificing puppies and adorable children to their devil gods), the jubilant noise is the payoff for the long, sometimes agonizing marathon of the game. It's cool, and it was cool. Very cool. I'll never forget it.

Back to Rachel. After the game was over we returned to the Four Seasons and decided we were starving, or at least I was. First we briefly looked at the room service menu, then tried the bar in the lobby, but their kitchen was closed, so we ended up at the Burger Bar in the casino. We ordered our drinks (rum and coke for him and Malibu Bay Breeze for me) and a burger to split. Our drinks were fantastic and when the bar tender brought our burger it was cut into two and on two separate plates, with fries split equally between them. At this point I knew we we'd be well taken care of all weekend. Charles liked his drink so much he had to ask what type of rum was used. I only got a glimpse of the label and innocently thought it was Ron Paul Rum until Charles told me the correct name was Ron Rio. Ooops.

(see how I easily misread this, especially at an angle?)

We returned to the room to catch Sports Center while I enjoyed a bath in the sunken tub. Oh, and I too was able to watch Sports Center as there was a tv in our bathroom mirror. Yeah, in the mirror. Wild.

Tomorrow: the Seminary, Iron Barley, Spa, Wedding, and Starbucks.

Nota Bene (from Charles): Ron Paul Rum. Haha I actually like the sound of it. You can see the ad now: Ron Paul Rum - Join the Ron Paul Revolution. Drink Responsibly.

Nota Nota Bene (from Rachel): Sorry for the lack of pictures, we took most of them on Saturday and Sunday.

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