For the better part of the afternoon, I watched the security guards fumble with the table at the gate…
….priorities, I tell ya. Today turned out to be a gloomy, raining, wet day at the ballpark. I bought the cheapest tickets possible ($26.00) which put my seats up in the 300 level of the stadium. I wanted to spend the majority of my time in The ‘Pen. Today’s goals seemed simple enough: snag a bunch of baseballs, get a picture with Dave Valle, get Jose Mota’s autograph and snag a home run ball during the game.
Being that it was Kyle Seager bobblehead night, I figured it would be a sold out game. It came close. 42,687 showed up and I’m assuming 3-5 thousand probably left after they got their bobbles because while I walked around the stadium, it didn’t feel like a capacity crowd. During batting practice, it wasn’t that bad. I snagged my bobblehead and glove tricked my first ball out of the bullpen. My second ball came by just leaning over the railing and picking it out of the bullpen after it was hit into there and rolled around for a little bit. I made my way across the seating bowl securing my third ball that I picked out of a cup holder (put there by an usher) and my fourth and fifth balls came bouncing into the stands; one on the third base side and one on the first base side.
After BP I set up near the Root Sports broadcast table and I waited and I waited and I waited some more for Dave Valle to show up. I checked his Twitter and found out that a new ice cream machine was placed up in the broadcast booth and I suspected that’s where Valle was at. Getting ice cream:
By then it was too late to run down to the Angels dugout to get Jose Mota’s autograph. My night was slowly falling apart. If you’ve never been to Safeco Field and have never experienced The ‘Pen (on College night or any other night for that matter) you aren’t missing much. It usually gets overly crowded full of drunk people and the music is so loud you can barely hear the person next to you. So after about the 2nd inning, I made my way up to my seat to watch the game from there…
…of course when I bought my ticket, I forgot to buy the one without the “obstructed view” warning.
I watched the game from my seat for a few innings and then I wandered the stadium. I actually got up close and personal with the new timer that was installed last year in all of the stadiums…
…and the premise behind this new addition is to attempt to speed the game up. Ever since Manfred took over from Selig as baseballs Commissioner, he’s been doing everything in his power to speed the game up. He’s told the players that they have to keep one foot in the batters box at all times and if they don’t they could receive a fine. Then they installed the timer which gives pitchers two minutes between innings to get ready. Now I’ve been hearing that intentional walks will be changing. The batter simply takes his base. Along with that, the umpires are enforcing shorter mound visits.
I understand that games can be long and lack action and excitement. The game I attended yesterday lasted over three hours. And I didn’t stay for the whole game, either. I don’t agree with changing these little things about the game. I don’t agree with the Manfred era of baseball. I don’t agree with the netting in front of the dugouts and down the first and third base lines in an attempt to “keep fans safe”. These rules where the catcher can’t block the plate and late slides into second base have become illegal take away so much from the game. I think there needs to be some level of fan accountability where the fans who attend games should have some reasonable expectation of a game that might last longer than anticipated. I also think that fans need to be more alert and provide safety measures for themselves instead of relying on Major League Baseball to keep 35,000 people safe. If you can’t stay alert during play or can’t stay off your cellphone for two minutes during a game, maybe the outfield seating is best for you.
Going into the ninth inning, the Mariners were holding on to the lead 7-6. Steve Cishek came in to close out the game and left a pitch over the plate for Albert Pujols. He hammered a 3-run home run and the Angels went on to win the game 9-7. Final.
Cishek later posted this one Twitter…
…he receieved plenty of support, there were still many nay-sayers. The Mariners have never really had a successful closer since I’ve been a fan. And I’ve been a fan since 1989.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 121
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 9
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 343
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
Willie Bloomquist is one of my favorite players and when he announced his retirement it made me sort of sad. I was never able to get any memorabilia signed by him or meet him at any of the games while he was active on the field. But I’m happy he’s retired and doing the things he wants to do. He recently accepted a job with the front office with the Diamondbacks so there’s still a chance I can catch him at the ballpark to get something signed.
I recently connected with him on Twitter and asked him how retirement was going…
…seems like everything is going well at the moment.
The Angels were in town this weekend and I always try to make it out to the stadium to see them. Mainly I like heckling Albert Pujols because he seems to make it a point to ignore the fans. So whenever he takes his at-bats, I like to obnoxiously yell “Puuuujjjjoooolllls!”. On a positive note, I like to wave and cheer on Mike Trout because he always responds to his fans, and I like seeing that from him.
My girlfriend, Alexandra accompanied me for the game and we stopped at the Pyramid Ale House prior to game time. I ordered the beer battered fish, which by the way, was awesome but the service wasn’t so great…
…we’ve been here before and our last visit the service was sub-par as well. We both decided this would be our last visit here.
When I entered the stadium, I spotted my first baseball of the day on the ground near the Root Sports set up. Once the rest of the stadium opened up, I managed to find three more baseballs in the right and center field bleachers and one was hit my way and I was able to snag it on the carom.
Alexandra and I headed down to the Angels dugout and once at our seats, we found this stuck to the front of my seat:
Here’s a closer look at what it says:
This was the view from our seats during the game:
By the bottom of the fourth, the game was tied 1-1 until Nelson Cruz hit a high drive out of the park in the bottom half of the fifth. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Angels pitcher, Joe Smith walked Norichika Aoki and then literally tried to pick him off at first base several times. The crowd became extremely restless and then on about the sixth or seventh attempt, Mike Scioscia challenged the play:
It was the first time I’d ever witnessed a live challenge and so it was interesting to watch the umpires put on the headsets and watch the video over and over again. The call stood; Aoki was safe at first. It was still pretty cool to see.
The game had lasted well beyond three hours so we left after Robinson Cano belted a double into the gap. The Mariners had the lead at this point by one run. Steve Chisek would be in to close the game out and by the time I got home and checked the score, I learned he blew the save. The one thing I was happy about was the fact that Robinson Cano had extended my Beat The Streak game streak to 16 with his double to the gap. The Mariners losing in the 9th? Not so happy about that but it’s baseball.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 120
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 4
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 339
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
The main goal was to attend this fan fest and get Jay Buhner’s autograph on a baseball bat. I had purchased a nice wooden bat from a sports retailer the night before, packed up the camera and headed into Seattle.
The last time I attended a fan fest was a few years ago and I really had a good experience. I wasn’t trying to mirror this experience to last times but I was imagining some quality time with Buhner. After all, it’s fan fest!
When I got to Safeco, the lines were already wrapped around the stadium:
The rules for autographs were pretty simple: the first 200 people in line that claimed vouchers upon entry would get that players autograph of their choice and so on and so forth until there were no more vouchers for that player. The players were staggered at various times so all you had to do was enter the ballpark, walk to the banner with the players name on it that you wanted, grab the voucher from the staff member and beat feet up to wherever the autograph session was taking place. Make senses? Okay, good.
Jay Buhner was signing autographs right at 10:30am so as soon as I got inside, I grabbed the voucher with his name on it and I just followed the signs that led me up to this hallway:
There were all kinds of cool things to look at waiting in line but all I really wanted to do was meet Jay Buhner.
I have been a Mariners fan since 1989 when my Mom took me to my very first Mariners game in the Kingdome. We sat up in the 300 level near the 3rd base side and the Mariners played the Baltimore Orioles. That was the first game I witnessed Cal Ripken Jr. play and all of my Mariner favorites. Since then, I’ve attended handfuls of games growing up with my Dad and we always sat where we could see Ken Griffey Jr.
Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of players and I wanted to start meeting my childhood favorites like Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson. I met Edgar Martinez a few seasons ago by being in the right place at the right time.
Anyway. When Buhner finally arrived I had a question in mind that I wanted to ask him. And when I got up to the table to have my memorabilia signed, the staff member who was with Buhner was handing him so much stuff so fast for him to sign, I think Buhner was a little flustered. He even made a comment to the guy, something along the lines of “you’re handing me stuff and I don’t even have time to sign it!” Something like that.
When I handed my bat to the staff member, I stood in front of Buhner…
… and asked him, “Jay, when do you think Ichiro will hit his 3,000th hit?” He immediately replied with. “How many hits does he got?” I think at the time Ichiro had 2,919 or something like that. I was soon cut-off by more fans walking in front of me to get their picture taken with Buhner and the staff member kept piling on the memorabilia for him to sign. So I just picked up my bat and sort of walked away. I turned back once or twice more to watch but I was soon greeted with, “Have a nice day!” from another staff member which sort of meant, “please exit this way”.
Wow. I stood outside of the doors and just watched Buhner scurrying to sign balls and bobble heads and cards and all sorts of stuff. He had his head down and was just signing away.
Occasionally he would look up and laugh or whatever and shake a hand or two, but it was all business getting everything signed in front of him. I felt bad for him and I felt bad for the fans. Buhner had 200 autographs to sign in an hour and a half and I guess the point of the whole thing was to just get something signed and move on. But I wanted to at least talk to him for a minute or two like I got to talk to Edgar Martinez. I got to tell Edgar how I went to games as a little kid, and cheered for him and chanted, “Ed-GAR! Ed-GAR!” with my Dad and we drove home that night smiling after a M’s win. I shook hands with Martinez and took a picture and all was right in the world.
All wasn’t right in the world on this day. Buhner was a mad man signing autographs. I don’t blame him, though. It’s all about making the fans happy, I suppose. And if it’s just spending two quick seconds getting something signed from a baseball player and not having much interaction, then I guess that’s what makes people happy.
I feel fortunate as a baseball fan, though. I have a decent sized collection of signed baseball memorabilia from some of the greatest baseball players who’ve ever played the game. I’ve met and took pictures with many of my favorite players, I’ve traveled to 14 different MLB stadiums, I’ve seen MLB games in both Japan and Australia, I’ve caught a foul ball and I’ve shook hands with Nelson Cruz in Macy’s in down town Seattle. So over the years it’s been fun.
I walked away from Safeco today feeling happy that I got Buhner’s autograph on a baseball bat that’ll forever be in my collection but at the same time, I felt a little frustrated. I sort of put myself in Buhner’s shoes for a moment, too. He gives a lot of his own time to the fans. He raised the 12th man flag at the Seahawks game and he seems to be pretty involved in the community around the area, plus he goes to these fan fests just about every year. My only wish is during these autograph sessions, the process could just go a little slower.
I picked up a new hobby. It’s called “Geocaching”. Some of you may heard of it and some of you probably won’t know at all what I’m talking about. I’ll tell you all about it in a minute.
This year, I really didn’t do a whole lot of baseball related stuff. I went to a couple of Mariners games and my girlfriend and I traveled to the Cayman Islands for a week. I also flew to Chicago and met Jake Arrieta during the Catch in the Confines event. You can read all about that here.
As the result of not going to many games obviously my “ballhawking” stats have slowed down quite a bit. I’ve snagged 334 baseballs in 119 games (which averages about 2.81 a game) at 15 different stadiums. I have focused more on getting pictures with different players and getting good autographs from my favorite players. I’ve gotten two bats signed; one by Eric Davis and one by Miguel Olivo, I caught Dustin Ackley’s batting glove a few years ago and I have signed baseballs from Mark McGwire, Will Clark, Jake Arrieta, Brandon League and a few others.
In 2016, I would like to snag my 400th baseball but that might be a stretch. I have tentative plans to see the Pirates play at Hiram Bithorn stadium in Puerto Rico in May, as well as taking a trip to Europe and Hawaii later in the year. And I would like to travel to Los Angeles to see the Dodgers and possibly get to Arizona next year.
So back to this geocaching thing. While sitting in the lobby of a shop waiting for my motorcycle to get some work done, I overheard a couple people talking about geocaching. They were saying how they’re from England and came to Washington State to geocache. Since I’m a big fan of traveling, I thought I could get into this when I’m bored when visiting other countries. So I Googled it and found it to be truly interesting. There are 2.7 million caches hidden around the world and since February of this year, I’ve found 193 of them. So far I’m on an active streak of finding at least one cache per day for nine days straight right now. My numbers seem minimal and that’s fine. I just started caching this year.
There’s a lot of different caches and I tend to like the traditional caches and the Earth Caches the best. Earth caches are defined as finding a historical land mark or a type of geological find and taking your picture with it and logging some questions to the person who placed the cache there. I’ve found a handful of these and have learned a lot about glacial erratic rocks. Since I’m living in the Pacific Northwest, there are a lot of these. Traditional caches are just a container (big or small) hidden somewhere in the landscape both urban or rural. Urban caching, as I like to call it, makes me feel like a weirdo stalking around and acting suspicious. Rural caching is much better because I usually take my dog with me and we are hiking back trails and digging around in the bush. So it looks pretty normal.
I do miss the baseball stadiums, though. In 2013 I traveled a lot and saw a lot of different cities and stadiums. It was a lot of fun and I think this is a much needed break from the daily grind of going to as many games as possible and trying to catch as many baseballs as I can. I’ll probably never snag 1,000 baseballs within my lifetime and, really, I don’t intend to. I probably won’t even catch 500. My goal is to get to all the stadiums and catch at least one ball. Sadly, Turner Field is going to get demolished at the end of 2016 and I may not make it there.
So to conclude 2015, I had a great year. 2016 will probably be better and I hope to blog a lot more.
I hope everyone is having a great holiday!
It has been forever since I last attended a baseball game in San Francisco. AT&T Park is one of the most interesting baseball stadiums I’ve seen so far in my journey to see all 30. The last time I came here I snagged a bunch of baseballs and took lots of photos. You can check out that entry by clicking this link.
Here’s a picture of me inside:
It was Hunter Pence bobble head night so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to snag a bunch of baseballs like last time. To my surprise I was literally the first one into the lower seating bowl and found one baseball sitting in the seats. I thought I saw two but I couldn’t find the second one. Moments later a stampede of fans started filling the rows and I then started to wander the stadium.
Here’s a picture of McCovey Dave:
Dave is a huge Giants fan and attends nearly every home game in his kayaker. He goes after home run baseballs that land in the cove out behind AT&T Park and he is pretty successful at it. He has multiple methods of catching the baseballs but the real trick is just being at the right place at the right time to catch them. If you follow Dave on Twitter you will learn so much about all the “splash hits” and all the players that have hit one into the drink. He’s seriously worth a follow on Twitter and if you’re a baseball nut/fan like him, I’m sure he will follow you back.
Before the game started I noticed something. Take a look at the next picture and look at the bottom left corner…
…they’re kind of hard to see but…are those medal detectors? There weren’t any at the front gates of the ballpark when I came through. I thought it was sort of odd. I heard about Major League Baseball putting them in every baseball stadium but I wasn’t entirely certain it was a true. I guess it is true. What a pain in the butt this is going to be. I wonder how strict security will be or what will happen? Will they make us take our shoes off or our belts? Maybe an official TSA pat down? I’m kind of curious of everyone’s opinion on this. If you’re a ballhawk, please take the extra time it takes to leave a comment and give your opinion; pros and cons of how this will help/hurt your chances of getting a baseball.
Stay tuned for my adventure on Alcatraz Island…
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, also affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons.
You can have a close hand look while you are in Sydney by visiting the South Eastern Pylon. It is a walking trip and recommended for the fit only. It is a longish walk to get to the base of the Pylon and then there are 200 steps to the top. Entry for adults is now $8.50 (23 June 2003), kids between 8 and 12 years three dollars and under 8 years its free. (Prices valid until 30 November 2003).
The views and photo opportunities are fantastic. (If you can make it, we’ve got to say it is tough). There is a great display on how the thing was built. It has a similar place in Sydney history to the Statue of Liberty in New York as far as many migrants to Australia go. In sight of the bridge you knew you had made it.
The displaced peoples of Europe who came to Australia in the days of the grand ships can get very misty when you ask them what they felt when they saw this grand old arch on their arrival in Sydney from the aftermath of World War Two as they sailed up Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). The old Bridge has been replaced as “the” landmark of Sydney by the bold architecture of the Opera House.
But a grand old bridge it is, and one you will remember whenever you think of Sydney after your visit.
When it opened it cost a car six pence to cross. A horse and rider was 3 pence. These days a return trip (for some reason the only kind) costs two dollars twenty (gst). Horses and riders are banned, that’s the changing times. You can walk across free and you are allowed to bicycle in a special lane.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest as thats the New River Gorge in the USA) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia.
Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world.
It’s taken me a long time to get this entry completed because I just spent about five days in San Francisco. I’ll have those blog entries up sooner than later, I promise.
This was my last day in Australia so I wanted to make it count. I heard rumor (and also saw some videos from baseball players) that people could climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I’m deathly afraid of heights and I have a fear of falling off high places as well. So when I first heard these rumors the whole thing was out of the question for me. I wasn’t about to climb four hundred and thirty something feet on a bridge in Australia.
When I left my hotel for the day I stopped at the Westfield Tower and rode the elevator all the way up to the top. It was a spectacular sight…
…and you can read all about the details of this day on this entry. When I got done looking at Sydney Australia from that vantage point, I headed out to do some more sight-seeing and eventually found myself at the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
For those of you who ever visit Sydney Australia, this is something you’ll certainly at least want to look into. It’s pretty expensive to climb the bridge but on a good day it’s worth every single penny spent. From start to finish the climb took about three hours. Here’s the entrance:
Not only do you get complete 100% safety training and a chance to climb some ladders before going up, but you also get a great tour guide and a thorough history lesson on the bridge and the surrounding area of Sydney. I thought it was going to be a quick 45 minute climb-up-the-bridge-and climb-back-down sort of thing. Nope. The tour guide was awesome and he told us how the bridge was made, why it was made and the details of the different jobs that helped create the bridge.
He told us this one story of how the rivets were made. One guy grabs the rivet with tongs and places it in a cooker on the bridge while another guy waits. This guy is called the “catcher”. Once the rivet is red hot, the guy with the tongs pulls the rivet out of the cooker and tosses it to the catcher. The catcher then catches the red hot rivet in a bucket of sand and then grabs it with his set up tongs. He then climbs into the bridge through an access panel and hammers the rivet into place. The tour guide told us that there were hundreds of thousands of rivets at the bottom of the river due to the catcher missing red hot rivets. Wow.
At one time actor and comedian Paul Hogan was a rigger on the bridge before finding fame and fortune.
In June 1976, the one-billionth vehicle crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The first 500 million crossings took over 33 years while the second 500 million took less than 11 years.
In 1932, the annual average daily traffic volume (in both directions) was about 10,900.
In 1943, with a wartime shortage of vehicles and petrol rationing, there was a drop in traffic to about 8,600 vehicles a day.
A total of 13 deaths happened from men falling off the bridge while being created and only one man survived a fall. Turns out the guy who fell off the bridge was an expert high diver and when he realized he was falling, his instincts kicked it and he was able to dive feet first into the river below and only break a couple of ribs. There were tons of stories like this that the tour guide had.
We weren’t allowed to take anything up during the climb like cameras or chewing gum or any other loose items. They were very strict about this and we received a quick pat down, we passed through a metal detector and they waved a metal detector wand over us prior to heading out. It was about the equivalent of passing through a TSA checkpoint.
So here are a few pictures that were taken of me by the tour guide once up on the bridge…
…that’s the entire group after we reached the top. See the old guy in the first row, second person in? That man immigrated to Australia the year before the bridge was built into completion and he’s 80 years old. The day of the climb was his birthday and his daughter climbed with him for his birthday present. How awesome is that? I’m in the second row, first person on the left.
This next picture if of me as we were heading back down:
So you’re probably wondering why we have headphones and why we are wearing those silly blue jump suits. The headphones were for so the tour guide could talk to us and tell us stuff while we climbed around on the bridge. And the blue jump suits is what we changed into prior to climbing the bridge. We all had to take off as much clothing as we were comfortable with and then change into them. They had no pockets and then we wore a belt with a four foot strap that was secured to the bridge as we climbed so in case we fell, we would not fall completely off the bridge. It was 100% safe to climb. So needless to say my fear of falling was put to rest while climbing around on the bridge.
This is probably my most favorite picture. It has a great shot of the Sydney Opera House in the background. Yes, it was windy and it started to rain on us just as we were reaching the top so we had to put on our authentic Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb rain gear. Despite a clear sunny day, it was still pretty awesome to be up there. The worst part about the climb as climbing three 25-step ladders to reach the platform to actually climb up the bridge. They were vertical, it was wet and like I said; I hate heights. But once I made it onto the platform to start walking up the bridge, it wasn’t so bad.
Another great picture with the Opera House in the background.
And after we got back down to ground zero, we changed out of our jump suits, drank some water, sat down for a little bit, returned all of our gear that they loaned out to us, we got one of these:
Boom, baby! My Climber Certificate!
I realize my blog entries went from “day one” to “day two” and then jumped to “day eight”. Simple explanation. Day three and four were spent at the Sydney Cricket Grounds watching baseball (and you can read all about that by clicking this link) and five, six and day seven were spent just kind of kicking around town and not doing much. So it really wasn’t blog worthy. I have a ton of pictures though and I might do an extra blog entry kind of like how I did when I visited Japan a couple of years ago.
Hopefully I can get my San Francisco trip blogged about within the next couple of weeks before I start going to a lot of Mariners games.
My last day in Australia. I’d fly out tomorrow evening and I had to check out of my hotel quite early (10am). So that pretty much left today to make the best out of my trip.
The games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds were amazing. If you didn’t get to read about any of that, don’t worry; just click here. I wrote up one entry into a two day spread about the games. It was pretty intense and the Australian fan base was really supportive and awesome.
I started my day out just walking aimlessly towards down town Sydney. I figured I’d run into something and make the most of the day. When I got to Hyde Park, I saw this:
That is the Sydney Tower. And yes, you can go all the way to the top for a low, low price of $69 dollars (if you get the family value plan). There are two types of tours you can take up the Sydney Tower. One is called the Sky walk. It’s a motorized platform that you get on and it takes you all the way around on the outside of the tower. Or you can just take a ride up to the observation deck for $26 big ones and mill around in the souvenir shop and look around outside. I was able to spot the Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbor and my hotel from the observation deck. I took many photos from inside the tower and this one is my favorite:
Once I got back down to ground level, I sought out something to eat…
…that would be Emu jerky, Crocodile jerky and Kangaroo jerky. Each bag was reasonably priced but the Kangaroo was cheapest so I bought one of those. The consistency of the jerky was much like beef jerky except it was a little more on the chewy side and a little more moist. Plus it had little grey fat pockets in the meat. It wasn’t bad but I think the idea of eating Kangaroo was a little on the weird side. I’ve had crocodile meat before and I did not like it.
I headed down to the Darling Harbor where I ran into the Hard Rock Café, some other shops and a whole mess of restaurants. It was very exquisite and all outdoor seating. It made me nervous to eat outside because the seagulls were thick. They all seemed to behave themselves and never really got close to anyone eating, but the off chance that one decided to get brave or poop in my lunch was a little bit more than I could bare.
Like I mentioned in Day #2, I continued to find these painted Black Rhinos placed all around Sydney. There were 125 of them and I set out to find all 125. Unfortunately, two of my days on this trip were wrecked due to heavy down pour and bad weather. I did find a few more around the harbor, though:
I think this one is number eight and here’s number nine…
…and here is number ten:
That’s about all I could find. So yeah, I’m 115 off from my original goal. If you’re interested in knowing why these Rhinos were placed all over Sydney, here’s the link to the website.
Next, I headed towards the Sydney Harbor bridge. Take a look how mammoth this bridge is…
…and yes, it is climbable. And yes, I climbed it. And yes, it was awesome. And yes, I’d do it again. The Sydney Harbor bridge spans 435 feet skyward and has nearly 190,000 cars pass over it daily. 16 confirmed deaths took place while constructing the bridge and only one person has ever survived the bridge after falling off of it.
The tour took roughly three and a half hours to complete and it was the most amazing view of Sydney you’ll ever lay your eyes on. It overlooked the Sydney Opera House, John Travolta’s house, the Darling Harbor and Nicole Kidman’s top floor apartment. I have many pictures that were taken professionally from the tour guide that cost about $50 bucks to get (plus the $235 to climb the bridge) but it was worth every damn penny and I’d do it again in a heart beat. I’m deathly afraid of heights but this bridge is so well constructed and you’re well strapped in (tethered to the railing by a safety strap) that even if you did fall, you’d only drop five feet at best.
I don’t want to spoil my next blog entry, though. I’m going to do a full-write up of my bridge climb experience in one long entry (or as long as I can make it) with pictures and everything within the next couple of days! So if you’re a faithful reader, sorry I couldn’t get all the pictures of me on the bridge in this entry. They’ve been printed out so I have to scan them in to upload them into a blog entry. Trust me, though, it is well worth the wait! This experience was awesome and if you’re ever going to make a trip abroad, I suggest you travel to Sydney and do this bridge climb!
To be continued…
Oh. My. God. Look at this:
I found this spider while walking around in the forest around the Taronga Zoo. I’m not kidding when I say this; it was larger than a silver dollar coin. And I saw a lot of them. And seeing them kept me on the sidewalk. Yikes!
Further up the walkway I heard lots of birds chirping and singing and mimicking each other. It was really great to hear all of that. It was around 8am when I arrived to this area so the sun had just come up and the forest was alive with critters. I saw lizards and birds and spiders and rodents- such a sight! I love birds and when I saw these little guys, it was just breath-taking:
They were super-friendly and they allowed me to get really close to get some good pictures. I think they were just as curious about me as I was about them. They would chirp and whistle at me-such a great experience because I usually see these kinds of birds in pet stores.
Now for a little bit of a history lesson regarding the area I was in today.
“Bradleys Head is another place where military history and stunning landscapes combine to offer a complete harbour experience.
Just next to Taronga Zoo, the convict-built battery at Bradley’s Head was built after four American warships arrived in Sydney Harbour undetected in 1839. Sydneysiders were feeling uneasy so a circular parapet was later installed to enhance Sydney’s protection. Today, the mast of HMAS Sydney (I) towers over the parapet as a striking monument to the WWI warship.
Defence ditches, added in the late 19th century after British troops left Sydney and remnants of earlier fortications are other features of this unique harbor side location.”
Here’s a picture of me in front of one of the cannons that was built in the 19th century:
Here’s a website that you can look at to see more of the military relics that I visited down at Bradleys Head. It was very interesting to learn about Australian history and to take in all of this on such a crisp early morning at the harbor was really awesome. I just had to be careful not to run into anymore of those spiders. The most interesting military relic I saw was the rifle wall.
On my way back towards the zoo (which opened at 9:30am) I found a very small patch of beach that was right across from South Sydney:
Australia is coming up on fall season so the water wasn’t warm like I thought it would be. It was still nice to walk in the sand and wade around in the water. Australia has a lot of interesting creatures that I’d like to stay away from so I didn’t venture out too far. I learned about lots of these crazy little critters that like to bite and sting when I was at the museum yesterday.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what I saw inside the zoo too much. If you’ve ever been to a zoo you’ve pretty much been to all the zoos. I’ve probably seen lions and bears and Komodo Dragons at just about every zoo I’ve ever been to. This zoo did have Koala bears, though and I think those are just the best bears in the world! Check it out:
After I left the zoo I learned from seeing one of Clayton Kershaw’s tweets that you can actually get your picture taken with a Koala bear! How cool would THAT be?! I was totally bummed that I didn’t pay more attention to the unique experiences that the zoo offered. While I was walking around I passed a guy who looked awfully familiar, though. I had to do a double-take and I then turned around to follow him to get a better look. I swore it was Brian Wilson. I mean, he has that god-awful, hideous beard that can not be mistaken, right? But the hair kind of threw me off. When I entered the Platypus House, he was getting a picture taken with a couple of Diamondback fans so I approached and quickly asked for a picture as well:
He was very soft-spoken and nice, and I think he was just trying to enjoy his time at the zoo with his lady friend (she’s in the back ground looking on) so I didn’t want to really engage in conversation. I just thanked him for his time and left it at that ( I secretly followed him around the zoo for another 15 minutes just because he’s Brian Wilson).
I left the zoo and snapped a quick photo as I exited…
…and headed back to South Sydney. On foot. It was approximately 6.6 miles to the historic Sydney Opera House and I managed to walk about 4 miles of that in 80 degree heat with a massive blister on my right foot. The only reason why I didn’t complete the 6.6 miles to the opera house was because there was a bridge connecting South Sydney to North Sydney and pedestrians are not allowed to walk on it. A real bummer. I had to flag down a cab to take me the rest of the way (which cost me $17 AUS dollars). Cabs are very expensive in Australia, by the way. So if you ever come out this way, avoid them if you can.
Once I arrived at the opera house, I was ready to end my day anyway. I was STARVING. One thing I noticed about Australia (and I don’t know if its just because I am so active or because its hot) is I can’t seem to eat enough. And food out here is pretty expensive as well. Dinner cost me about $20 AUS dollars. I got a lot of food but like I’ve said, it’s not filling me up. It’s kind of weird.
Anyway. I made it to the opera house and it was basically the epicenter for tourism:
And then of course I had to get a picture of the historic Sydney bridge across the way (and also learned you can climb to the top from Tony Campana’s Instagram video)…
…I might actually have to go back to the bridge to do the infamous bridge climb. I’m deathly afraid of heights so I don’t know if I will be able to handle it. We will see and I’ll definitely blog about it if I go for it.
Yesterday, I ran into this guy:
These are actual life-sized Black Rhinos that have been painted up and placed all around Sydney in an effort to raise awareness of this endangered species. There’s approximately 125 of them and I found one (this one) yesterday and I found about seven or eight more today. Here’s the website in case you want to see more about what these are about. I’m going to do my best to find all 125 of them while I’m here and I’ll post every single one of them on my blog. Here’s the ones I found today:
Annnnnddd number six:
Tomorrow is Friday so I hope to make it out to Bondi beach or maybe head back to the Sydney Bridge to climb up it. I really don’t know what I’ll be doing. Baseball games are coming up this weekend, though, and I am thoroughly stoked and ready to start the 2014 season! After all, it’s what I came out here for to begin with!
What would complete my day without having seen a giant game of chess, right?
If you haven’t read what I did in Australia on day number one, check it out here!
Also, check out my other blog here! It’s all about the Seattle Mariners!
I woke up this morning at 5am. Super early, I know. I wanted to get a head start on the day because I needed to find my way into down town Sydney to pick up my game tickets for this weekends games at Sydney Cricket Grounds. My friend, as some of you may know him as “PadreLeigh” had them in his possession from a friend who was selling them to me who could no longer make it to the games.
Last night I took a cab from the airport to my hotel. It was approximately 5 miles which included one toll road. I asked a few locals about how much it would cost in AUS currency to make it to my hotel and they all said “around 30-40 dollars”. No problem, I thought to myself. I can handle that. After a 35 minute cab ride and $67 AUS dollars later, I knew I had been taken for a ride. This morning, I took a cab into downtown Sydney to kick around and I told my story to the cab driver and he told me I had been ripped off. The tolled road should’ve been about $4 dollars and the actual cab ride should’ve cost me about $45. So fair warning to anyone who has a trip to Australia coming up. Pick your cabbies wisely. This cab driver was not an Australian.
Today wasn’t as eventful as I had hoped it to be. I wore my flip flops around town and walked roughly 4 miles in them. I ended up with a nasty blister on my right foot which pretty much made walking really not-so-fun. I eventually made it back to my hotel, put my walking shoes on and headed back out but with this blister, I really had to limit my walking and I was done with cab rides. I had brunch at a place called Salad Works. All healthy food and really good. I eventually found “PadreLeigh”, scooped up the tickets and walked back into the city.
First stop? St. Marys Cathedral:
I didn’t go in (couldn’t take pictures inside, anyway) but the Cathedral was absolutely gorgeous.
Here’s a closer look:
After taking in the pure beauty of that iconic structure, I hustled off to the Australian Museum:
I learned all about rocks and the Australia gold rush and I also learned about wombats! Did you know the first wombat to ever walk the country of Australia was called a Diprotodon? Here I am with one:
The Diprotodon was around millions of years ago. Pretty interesting, yeah? I also saw a baby crocodile:
On my way back to my hotel for some dinner, I ran into this statue of some naked dude grabbing the one-horned dilapidated Mongaloid. It was pretty badass:
I tried this Mexican cantina restaurant called Guzman Y Gomez and it was pretty good! It reminded me of a Qdoba or a Chipolte from the Americas. Most places, I’m finding are pretty healthy to eat at. Plus, I’ve been drinking a ton of water because the humidity is a little high out this way.
Bathroom selfie time:
Welp! That concludes day one in Australia! Tomorrow I’m going to make it out to the Tangora Zoo in North Sydney and then I have tickets to the Team AUS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game at the Cricket Grounds.
Friday, I’d like to make it out to Bondi beach but all of this is subject to change. Hope all is well back in the States!
It’s almost baseball time! Guess where I’m at right now? I’m in Hawaii! I’m in Hawaii because I’m on my way to Australia to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks open the ’14 MLB season at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds! Awesome, right?!
I am so jet lagged, though. I didn’t get any sleep Saturday night and I slept a rough four hours on the six hour flight to Hawaii and now I’ve gotten something to eat and looking to rest up in an attempt to take on this 18 hour flight to the Outback! I went to Japan the year before last and met up with Zack Hample and had a freaking awesome time! This year we are meeting up again and hopefully we will be able to do some other stuff besides baseball while we are there.
Hawaii isn’t what I expected it to be. The airport is a little confusing and the $40 dollar cab ride smashed a huge hole in my wallet. It was actually poor planning on my part; I could’ve got a closer hotel to the airport. Live and learn and it’s all about the experience. You know how when you watch Tv and you see Hawaii on there and there’s all these lush palm trees and blue waters? I suppose I’m in a crappy location (Waikiki) but there isn’t much of that. The area is pretty run down and trashy.
Anyway. I’d take a bunch of pictures and upload them on here but Australia is going to be so much better. So I want to save all of my picture taking for that. Besides the Australian trip, I plan to make it to San Francisco a couple of times this year and I had the All-Star game all figured out but I don’t know if I will make it because I want to see the 25th Anniversary 1989 World Series Oakland Athletic reunion at the Coliseum this year. So we will see.
I hope all of you are doing well out there! I’m having a blast now that baseball season is back!