Red Sox vs. Rays Spring Training Game

Wednesday March 21st 2018

After yesterday’s cold front today was a much cooler and windy day. The temperature only reached the high sixties to low seventies. It very much depended on where you were located. The wind was out of the north all day.

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Empty field and batting cage at Charlotte Sports Complex waiting for the Red Sox to take batting practice.

Today I was back in spring training baseball game watching mode. The game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays was at the Charlotte Sports complex about forty miles south in Port Charlotte FL. I arrived in plenty of time to watch the Red Sox take batting practice, but they had other ideas. The Red Sox completed their pregame preparations at their home park in Fort Meyers before boarding the bus to Port Charlotte. The grounds crew had already removed the batting cage from the field by the time the Red Sox’s bus arrived.

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Red Sox at bat.

My seat for the game was high in the stands on the first base side. This is a good location. It would have been terrific if it wasn’t windy and cool. With the wind swirling under the roof in the seating area it felt like it was in the low sixties. Most of the people around me were in jackets and sweatshirts. I was in a short sleeve shirt. I really should have paid more attention to the weather forecast. There was a lot of action in the game that kept my attention off the weather. The Red Sox got off to a quick start and lead all the way. The final score was Red Sox 8, Rays 3.

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My friendly neighborhood bunny rabbit stopped by for another visit this evening.

I warmed up in the car on the drive back to my RV home. It was comfortable in the sun, but not in the shade. Once the sun set the wind calmed down considerable. The temperature also dropped. It is forecast to be in the forties once again tonight.

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Sky to the south just before sunset tonight.

Tomorrow I will see the Red Sox again. They will be playing the Orioles in Sarasota. Hopefully they will take batting practice at Ed Smith stadium rather than two hours away at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers.

Crazy Cardinal

Tuesday March 20th 2018

The temperature went up quickly this morning. It was a hot and humid day in the low 80s by noon. The wind was blowing from sunrise, but got very strong shortly after noon. A squall line was approaching the area from the northwest. The TV started announcing sever weather and tornado warnings north of here. The sky got darker as the line of thunderstorms approached. As the line passed through this area, it was largely anticlimactic. We got a few brief showers that barely wet the ground. Less that an hour later the wind died down and the sun started to break through the clouds.

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Crazy Cardinal after making the first of several attacks on the side of my RV (picture taken through window glass).

This morning during breakfast I finally got a picture of the cardinal that has been taking out his aggression on the side of my RV home for the last few days. For some reason the bird has been trying to fly through the glass in the windows. It doesn’t make a difference if the shades are up or down. The bird attacks the side of the RV three or four times then sits on a branch and gives it the evil eye. This gets repeated several times before he goes away for the rest of the day.

Today was an off day in my marathon of spring training baseball game watching. Instead I did some shopping, some cooking and more exploring in the park. The cooking was the result of the shopping. I found a piece of corned beef that was on sale after the holiday. It was about a third of the pre St. Patrick’s day price. I put it in the slow cooker along with onions and carrots to cook as soon as I got home from grocery shopping. The potatoes were cooked separately. In addition to today’s meal, I’ll get a few sandwiches and some hash out of the brisket.

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Great Blue Heron taking flight in the strong wind.

Before the storm font arrived I got in a short bicycle ride to the river. The alligators were all at the bottom of the river to stay out of the wind and approaching storm. All I saw was a couple of birds. For the added effort of riding the bike in the wind, I didn’t get much reward. I got a better animal sighting right at my campsite later in the day. A bunny rabbit stopped by to visit.

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This rabbit came to visit this evening.

Overall, I didn’t get as much accomplished as I wanted. The decision to cook the corned beef brisket and the weather got in the way of running additional errands. Tomorrow, I’m back in spring training game watching mode.

Twins vs. Pirates Spring Training Game

Monday March 19th 2018

It was foggy and warm overnight. The day started very cloudy and was slow to clear. It was mostly sunny with high temperatures in the low eighties by late afternoon. Tomorrow a front is due to pass through the area with the possibility of thunderstorms and wind.

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LEMCO Park from left field during batting practice.

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Twins taking batting practice,

I went to Bradenton FL for a spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburg Pirates. A historic old park now called LEMCO park is the spring training home to the Pirates. The park has been significantly updated with a boardwalk around the outfield. Watching the kids young and old scramble for balls during batting practice on the boardwalk is a lot of fun. I just duck when I see a ball coming.

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Twins at bat late in the game.

The fans saw the Pirates come from behind in the eight inning to beat the Twins 11 to 8. The game had a mix of long balls and grind it out baseball. I was seated in an area with a tour group from Minnesota cheering for their team. They were riding a high until the eighth inning. The Twins scored first and remained ahead until the Pirates rallied in the bottom of the eight. The tour group left very disappointed in the outcome.

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Terns hydrating before the game. They circled the field most of the game.

Tomorrow I’m taking a day off from spring baseball. I need to stock up on some groceries and run a few errands. If the weather cooperates I’ll explore a few more areas of the Myakka River State Park.

Mets vs. Orioles Spring Training Game

Sunday March 18th 2018

Today’s weather was another incremental improvement from the day before. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze. The temperature topped out around eighty from a start in the fifties.

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Mets taking batting practice at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota Fl.

Today I went to another spring training baseball game in Sarasota. The New York Mets were in town to play the Baltimore Orioles. More players from the major league roster started this game. The prospects weren’t brought into the game until the late innings. To the delight of the New York fans sitting around me, the Mets won the game five to four. The Orioles had the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth, but that’s where the player was at the end of the game. This was one of the better baseball games I’ve seen this spring training. It wasn’t the most entertaining though. Home runs, errors and strange plays make a more entertaining game.

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This evening I caught up on some of the chores around my RV home. I got lucky and the washer and drier here at the state park weren’t being used. I managed to get a load of wash done. I have clean clothes to wear again. The laundry hamper was getting full to over flowing.

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Great Blue Heron eating lunch.

Tomorrow I’m going back to Bradenton FL for another game. The Minnesota Twins will be playing the Pirates.

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Mr. Gator swimming in the Myakka river.

Birds Play Baseball

Saturday March 17th 2018

Happy St Patrick’s Day

The warming trend continued today. The day began a few degrees warmer than yesterday and ended with a similar increase in temperature. The high for the day was around seventy five degrees with barely a cloud in the sky.

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Batting practice before the game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota FL.

My spring training baseball watching marathon continued. Today was a game in Sarasota between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. For St. Patrick’s Day the Orioles wore green hats in place of their regular orange or navy hats. They also painted a shamrock behind home plate.

There was a good amount of action in the game. Most innings had runners on base to keep things interesting. The most unusual play was a balk by one of the Orioles pitchers. Without instant replay, I can’t tell you what happened. All I know is that the runners on first and second advanced after the home plate umpire called the balk. I continue to see lots of interesting baseball play. The Blue Jays won the game 5 to 2.

The theme for the day in the stands was sunscreen. Without any clouds in the sky and limited cover from the stadium, direct sunlight poured in. I had plenty of sunscreen on and I’m somewhat hardened to the sun having been living in short sleeve shirts and short pants for several weeks. Some of the Toronto Blue Jay fans fresh from the frozen north were passing the sunscreen around like a cherished elixir. Sunscreen sales at the stadium seemed to be brisk. Last March, in Arizona, they had free sunscreen dispensers at the spring training games. Florida parks and teams should look for a sunscreen sponsor.

Tomorrow is another spring training game. This one will have the New York Mets traveling across Florida to play the Orioles in Sarasota.

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Braves vs. Pirates Spring Training Game

Friday March 16th 2018

It was a few degrees warmer by the end of the day today. The temperature peaked in the low seventies, but the day started in the low forties inside my RV. Once again it was necessary to turn on the heat to comfortably eat breakfast. Considering that the sun will bring the temperature inside up into the eighties or nineties, it seems like a wast of energy to turn on the heat.

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LEMCO park in Bradenton FL. The Braves are taking batting practice.

Today’s spring training game was in Bradenton FL. While technically only the next town north of Sarasota, it is still a long way with many traffic signals, or a longer way away using the highway still with traffic lights. It took almost as much time to get to LEMCO park in Bradenton as it did getting to the Charlotte Sports Complex in Port Charlotte yesterday. Coming home had the added complication of Friday end of the work week traffic.

LMCO park in Bradenton is the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are celebrating fifty years of spring training in Bradenton. Today they were playing the Atlanta Braves. The game was a home run hitting exposition by both teams. There was also a triple and a couple of doubles. The final score was 12 to 9 in favor of the home team.

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The parrot mascot of the Pittsburgh Pirates waking in front of the visiting dugout before the game.

The park was last updated in 2013 with the addition of a boardwalk around the outfield. Fans can sit or stand along the boardwalk to watch the game or enjoy a drink and some food from one of the many vendors. The biggest problem with the park is its location in downtown Bradenton. Most of the available parking is in the parking lots of businesses in the surrounding area.

The park also has an avian family living at the top of one of the light poles. I couldn’t get a good picture, or a close enough view to be sure, but I think a family of bald eagles is living in a nest at the top of the center field lights. A family of big birds are definitely living there and I think I could see a white head and dark body at one point during the game. I never caught a bird entering or leaving the nest. I was there to see a ball game after all.

Tomorrow’s game is back in Sarasota. The Blue Jays are in town to play the Orioles.

Twins Vs. Rays Spring Training Game

Thursday March 15th 2018

It was cooler than normal again last night. It was in the forties when I got up this morning. Once again I was forced to turn on some heat to be comfortable while I ate breakfast. The temperature peaked around 70, but if you were in the direct sun out of the wind it felt a lot warmer.

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Minnesota Twins taking batting practice

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Charlotte Sports Park from right field.

I drove about forty miles to the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. The Minnesota Twins were playing the Tampa Bay Rays. The sports park is the spring training home for the Rays. I attended a game between the Red Sox and the Rays at the sports park last week. There wasn’t a sellout crowd today, so the parking situation was a little better. It still was a challenge getting out of the parking lot after the game. I ended up cutting across the parking field on the diagonal to bypass a few lines of cars. This was the very behavior I muttered a few choice words about last week watching others.

The Twins won the game. They took advantage of some sloppy play by the Rays. There were only a few errors, but poor execution, lack of hustle and a few times that the fielders were in the wrong position made the for the overall outcome in the Twins favor. It was an enjoyable game, but really can’t be called a good game.

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Twins at bat. The Rays are in light blue and the Twins are in dark blue uniforms.

At spring training games there is a mix of fans for both teams along with people like me that don’t have a team of preference. Listening to the cheers and commentary in the stands around you is fun. You can hear the “experts” on each team describing the situation with a very biased position. Some people sound like coaches or parents of little league players. The good thing is that the outcome of the game doesn’t matter, so most people don’t get overly excited about the play on the field.

When I got back to my campsite at Myakka River State Park, I checked in on the resident alligators in the river. The group on the bank near the bridge had a more menacing appearance tonight. Two of them had their mouths open showing their teeth. I wonder if that means their bellies were full?

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The alligators in the Myakka River late in the day.

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Close up of the alligators with their teeth showing.

Yankees vs. Orioles Spring Training Game

Wednesday March 14th 2018

Weather wise today was a clone of yesterday. The temperature topped out around seventy with lots of breeze. Activity wise today was a complete opposite of yesterday. I spent the day out of the State Park at a baseball spring training game.

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Yankees taking batting practice before the game.

Today was the first of a series of days that will be filled with baseball. I went to a New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The Orioles have called Sarasota home since 2010. They seem to have a strong local following. There were also more than a few Yankee fans in attendance at the sold out game.

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The game lasted three hours. There was a lot of action on the base pads. I think only one half inning was a 1-2-3 out inning. The Orioles won 7 to 4. Both teams used a lot of prospects along with a few veteran players. The Orioles prospects, particularly the pitchers, had better results.

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Getting to and from the stadium required dealing with Sarasota traffic. It is not for the faint of heart. The city streets are pretty much a grid of long straight roads in a checkerboard pattern. Every two or three blocks has a traffic light that always seems to be red. Four major east west roads bring traffic in from Interstate 75 about five miles to the Tamiami trail (US41) which is the main north south route along the Florida gulf coast south of St. Petersburg. Gross level navigation is easy once you know these roads, but the devil is in the details. The stadium isn’t on any of those major roads.

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It was a full house.

My biggest problem is that I don’t drive in traffic as much as I used to. It takes patience and attention that I need to turn on. Driving in open country particularly out west is such a different experience. The traffic I experienced today was not as bad as Las Vegas was earlier this winter. I didn’t see as many aggressive, impatient acts by other drivers. It just takes a mindset change that I need to make.

Tomorrow is another spring training game. This one is back in Port Charlotte at the spring home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be about a forty mile drive.

More Exploring at Myakka River State Park

Tuesday March 13th 2018

This area of Florida is at the southern end of the weather system that is dumping lots of snow on New England. Down here it’s just unseasonably cool. It was in the forties when I got up this morning. My campsite has trees to the east, so it doesn’t get full sun in the morning. I was forced to turn on the heat for a little while. The sun warmed the RV later in the day, but the outside temperature didn’t even reach seventy.

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Nature walk through the Palm and Oak hardwood hammock.

I spent most of the day continuing to explore the Myakka River State Park. A short bicycle ride up the park road from my campsite is a Canopy Walkway and nature walk. That is where I started my exploration today. The nature walk is through a high area in the surrounding wet lands known as a hammock. There are both palm trees and hardwood trees in this hammock. The surrounding wetland is not very wet this time of year. During the rainy season the water often invades the area of the nature walk, but right now even the wetlands are pretty dry. It was a quiet walk, with lots of nice scenery. The only thing I missed was seeing some wildlife. I saw a squirrel or two and heard a few birds, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Marsh area that is dry now, but would be flooded in the rainy season.

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Canopy walk bridge.

The Canopy walk was interesting, but seemed to be a pointless use of donated money. There are two wood towers about a hundred feet apart with a cable bridge suspended between them. I’d estimate the bridge is thirty feet off the ground, but it is still well below the top of the trees. One of the towers goes up an additional twenty or thirty feet above the trees. There was a line waiting to go up the additional distance on the taller tower and I didn’t wait. It is a narrow stair case that people have to come back down. I wonder if the facility was designed to be a zip line that didn’t get completed.

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Tram loaded up getting ready to start the tour.

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Boat tour heading out into the river/lake.

From the canopy walk area I continued my ride out to the concession area on the lake. The tour boat and tram were loading up when I arrived. Today I remembered to take some pictures. The parking lot was full and overflowing. Cars were also parked along the entry road. Both the tour boat and the tram were full and many people were in line at the ticket window for the next tours. Other than the cool temperature it was a beautiful sunshiny day.

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Great Blue Heron out in the middle of the river/lake.

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Great Blue Heron walking across part of the Myakka river.

I made one other bicycle ride late in the day to the bridge over the Myakka River. I wanted to see if the visible wildlife was any different late in the day. The only thing different that I noted was more alligators were in the water rather than on the bank.

 

Turtle Traffic Jam

Monday March 12th 2018

The cold front arrived as rain with the dawn. It remained cloudy and windy most of the day. Late in the day the sun broke through, but the temperature peaked around seventy.

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Quiet water on a tributary of the Myakka River.

I got the day started with a Walmart run after breakfast. This was an older Walmart that had things in different places. It was a challenge to find things. This goes against the very reason I shop at Walmart. I like being able to find things in familiar places in the store. There is something comforting about the similarity between a store in the middle of Utah and a store in Florida. I don’t want to have to wander up and down every aisle just to find the things I want.

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Great Blue Heron with the tree above reflected in the water.

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Great Blue Heron standing still watching the water for lunch.

This afternoon I explored the state park on my bicycle again. I doubled my travel distance on the bike today even though a few of my muscles are complaining. I traveled out to the lake and checked out the services offered by the concessions. There is a boat tour of the lake and a tram tour of the inland areas. The boat tour is one of two “worlds larges covered air boats”. One had left the boarding area shortly before I arrived. It was very loud and it was having a hard time making headway against the wind. It might be an interesting tour on a better day.

I met the tram tour on my bicycle. It didn’t look impressive. A pickup truck driven by a guide with a headphone mounted microphone pulled two trailers full of people. They moved slower than my bicycle pace and about six cars were stuck behind the tram on the park road. I don’t anticipate taking the tram tour. Neither the boat or tram were very expensive. Either one was only $14 per person with both going for $21. Of course, you have to pay to get into the park too. The daily rate is $6 per car.

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Gator conserving energy on the riverbank.

There weren’t as many alligators visible today. The cooler temperature and lack of a visible warm sun was probably keeping them in the water. It was nice to see the Great Blue Herons were still out looking for food. They are a very proud looking bird as they stand with their neck at full extension watching the water ahead.

The new animal on today’s exploration was a Florida Soft Shell Turtle. This one was thinking about crossing the road. Many cars and people had stopped to watch the turtle cross the road. It was located right around a sharp bend in the park road. A park ranger was on the scene either to direct traffic or protect the turtle. I’m not sure which. Mostly he was just talking about the park.

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Florida Softshell Turtle thinking about crossing the road.  I don’t understand why it’s out of the water.  

Today’s bike ride was around 10 miles round trip. Some of the pedaling was into the wind so I got a good workout. I still haven’t reached the areas at the north end of the park. Maybe I’ll get there tomorrow if I don’t have to many aches from today’s ride. Of course, I could always drive out there.