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American Samoa – Travel Logistics

We struggled to find a lot of information on visiting American Samoa, so in an effort to help other people who also plan to make the journey to this remote place, we are happy to share some travel logistics here.

Flights — Flights to American Samoa are limited, departing the U.S. only a couple of times each week.  We flew American/Hawaiian Air from Los Angeles [LAX] to Honolulu [HNL] to Pago Pago [PPG].  We chose to spend a full week here but would have happily stayed longer if our schedule had permitted.  Given our limited time, we got to the island of ‘Aunu’u — more about this below — but we didn’t have the time to venture to the islands further away.  It should be noted that visits to these really remote islands are dependent on the local plane at PPG being operational, which was not the case when we were there, so in the end I’m rather glad we hadn’t booked lodging on Ta’ū or Ofu!

View from our balcony at Sadie's by the Sea
View from our balcony at Sadie’s by the Sea

Lodging — There are only a couple of hotels on the island.  We chose Sadie’s by the Sea because of its beautiful location next to the harbor and the additional amenities we saw on the website, and we were very happy with our decision.  Hosts Tee & Tom were incredibly kind, gracious and accommodating, making suggestions for us and helping us get to places we otherwise wouldn’t have known to visit.  The little lagoon was a wonderful place to swim and relax, and the swimming pool was nice, as well.  From here it was an easy walk into town [2k; about 20 minutes] which we made pretty much daily.

Tom & Tee also own and operate the Sadie Thompson Inn which offers lower priced rooms but doesn’t have the amenities of Sadie’s by the Sea.  This hotel is a few minutes closer to the town area, but it’s not on the water which is what we wanted.  The Tradewinds Hotel appeared newer and fancier and convenient to the airport, but this area is a 25-minute drive from what we wanted to do and see and I’m glad we didn’t choose that one.

Meals — We ate most of our meals at the restaurant at Sadie’s — the Goat Island Cafe — where we enjoyed delicious food (fresh tuna & fruit to die for!) and drinks and wonderful island service.  Another popular place is the DDW Beach Cafe which an easy 5-minute walk from the hotel and we had a nice lunch there one day.  The Sadie Thompson Inn does house Sadie’s Restaurant, arguably the best restaurant in the whole of the region, and dinner here one evening was a delicious treat.  There are a few other restaurants on the island [including two McDonalds which we did not frequent] but we were quite happy with Goat Island Cafe for the views, flavors, variety, hospitality and convenience, so didn’t feel the need to go find something else.

 

Tisa’s Barefoot Bar — This place deserves a special shout out because it’s such a wonderfully cool place.  If we had a car we would likely have frequented it every day, but because it’s 12k east of Pago Pago and the harbor — it’s in the little village of Alega — it took a fair amount of effort to get to.  Still, as the photos show, this place is dreamy and relaxing; Gilligan’s Island has nothing on Tisa’s!

 

Tisa’s Umu – An umu is an earth oven, and this is the traditional island way to cook.  Tisa’s Barefoot Bar features a Samoan feast cooked in an umu once a week and it is not to be missed!  Once you get to the island, find out what night Tisa’s Umu is and make your reservation to be treated to delicious food in an idyllic setting on an evening you won’t soon forget.

 

‘Aunu’u [ow-NOO-oo] — About a mile southeast of Tutuila’s eastern tip is the volcanic island of ‘Aunu’u, the smallest inhabited island of American Samoa.  A chance meeting of Pica “Peter” Taliva’a in the barber shop lead to an invitation for us to join him and his family at his home on ‘Aunu’u where we had the honor of sharing the morning with him, his son Sam, and a few other members of his family.  Peter is the chief of his village so the experience we had with him showing us his island and preparing us local foods in an umu (our second umu experience of the week) was uniquely special; one we still think about and cherish.

 

Navigating the Island —  As there is really only one primary road [Route 1] that winds east-west and sticks mostly to the southern edge of the island, navigating the island of Tutuila isn’t too difficult.  The airport is about one third of the way in from the western end of the island; the city center of Pago Pago and the National Park are about two thirds in; you access ‘Aunu’u from the eastern end — check out a Google Map.  There are a few other inward roads [Route 5, Route 6] that lead up into more remote little villages up from the coastal road, but these felt almost private and there was really no good reason to go up into them other than to see what life in those little villages is like — i.e. no cafes, shops, restaurants anywhere other than along Route 1.  We are walkers so found the ~2k|20-minute walk into Pago Pago very easy from our hotel.  Sadie’s has a shuttle van that took us to/from the airport, and when available (which it mostly was), to other destinations like the park’s trail head and some coastline destinations.

Aigas are the little buses that help islanders get around the island.  They are not really buses as we know them; they’re actually locally-converted trucks with a cab & some seats atop the truck bed area, but they’re great fun and island visitors need to experience at least one ride in them.  Some aigas are fancier and nicer than others, but all will take you “somewhere” on the island.  There’s no printed schedule or map of where each goes — just the village name on the front windshield [but that didn’t really help us as we had no idea of where these small villages were!] — and it didn’t appear that they were on a set time schedule.  We’d simply go stand by the sign that indicated a stop, and when a bus pulled over that was heading in the general direction of where we were going (basically east-ish on Route 1 or west-ish on Route 1), we’d pay the nominal fee and hop on.  We felt very safe on the few we took, if not all that entirely comfortable as some of them were pretty old and didn’t have much padding!  But they were, indeed, fun, and everyone was very nice to us and helped us get to our destination, for we clearly stood out as tourists!  Aigas were a really fun way to observe the locals riding with us.

 

Overall — We really enjoyed our time in American Samoa!  We researched in advance as best as we could, but unlike many of our other JollyOutThere adventures, we didn’t have very many of our logistics nailed down when we arrived at this far-away place.  But from the moment we were greeted by our driver following a very long flight and late-night arrival at the airport to the time we were dropped off to fly back a week later, we had a most wonderful experience.  We enjoyed the laid-back island atmosphere.  We always felt safe.  We enjoyed meeting and interacting with all those who were helping us enjoy their island.  We appreciated the kind hospitality of everyone, particularly Tee and Tom of Sadie’s, the NPS rangers, and Pica/ Peter a village chief on ‘Aunu’u.  We loved the food and the weather and the views and the hiking and the island tales and everything else.  We approached our stay with a sense of adventure and with an “explorer’s spirit” as instructed, and because of this we were most genuinely rewarded with an awesome experience!

 

National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa our 59th and final national park!
Receiving our 59th park certificates from NPS Ranger Pua Tuaua

Our 59th and final park!If we didn’t save the best for last, we certainly saved one of the best for last!  Nearly two-and-a-half years after we began our journey to visit all of the national parks, we have finally visited our last one — The National Park of American Samoa.

This was our last park primarily because it was the most difficult to get to.  It is south of the equator in the South Pacific Ocean; closer to Australia than to the United States.  Hawaiian Airlines flies there just twice a week from Honolulu, so our routing took us from Los Angeles to Honolulu for an overnight, and then on to Pago Pago [pronounced PAHNG-oh PAHNG-oh] the next day.  Elapsed travel time to reach this island chain was just over 24 hours for us, 12 of which were in the air.  Clearly, traveling to this national park requires commitment!

Because we had some difficulty trying to find out how to best visit this final park, I am going to provide more logistical details in this post for those readers who plan to tackle American Samoa at some point.  In fact, I will write two separate posts — this first one will focus on the geography and our experience in the park itself; the second one will share more of the fun, cultural things we did during our week-long stay in American Samoa, and provide some hopefully helpful information and links for travelers who plan to make the trip here themselves in their own quests to visit all 59 [at the time of this blog post] of our incredible national parks.

Samoa IslandsHistory and Geography — The Samoan Islands are part of Polynesia, and while they have been populated for over 3,000 years, they have only been known to the western world for a little more than two centuries.  Samoa is referred to as the Heart of the South Pacific, and it is believed to be where all Polynesian people originated.

The Samoan archipelago includes the independent nation of Samoa (formerly called Western Samoa) and American Samoa, a US territory approximately 60 miles to the east.  While both share a common language and culture, each has distinct natural features, and fun fact: because the international dateline separates these two nations, American Samoa is one hour earlier than Hawaii and Samoa is one entire day earlier.

Matafao Peak, at 2,142 feet, is the tallest peak on Tutuila
Matafao Peak, at 2,142 feet, is the tallest peak on Tutuila

American Samoa consists of seven primary islands: five rugged, highly eroded volcanic remnants and two uninhabited coral atolls.  Visitors fly in to Pago Pago [airport code PPG] which is located on Tutuila [too-too-EE-lah], the main island, and this is where most of the 70,000 residents of American Samoa make their homes.

The view from atop Mount Alava of Pago Pago Harbor
Pago Pago harbor and the villages of Pago Pago and Fagatogo as seen from the top of Mount Alava (which we climbed!)

Pago Pago Harbor is a collapsed volcanic caldera and it is one of the largest natural harbors in the South Pacific.  A steep mountainous spine runs the 20-mile length of the island with a few notable peaks including Tutuila’s tallest mountain, Matafao Peak (2,142′); Rainmaker Mountain (1,718′); and Mount ‘Alava (1,610’) looming over the harbor.  There are a couple of main villages with hotels (just four on Tutuila), restaurants (maybe a dozen, including two McDonalds that, like in mainland U.S., are a favorite of all the children), markets, office buildings, banks, etc., around the harbor, and then many smaller, more primitive villages scattered around the perimeter of the island.

National Park of American Samoa — The National Park of American Samoa consists of 9,500 acres, virtually all of which is rainforest, on three islands.  Tutuila is where the Visitor Center and the largest tract of park land can be found.  Ta’ū (tah-OO) and Ofu (OH-foo), 60 miles east of Tutuila, are sparsely populated islands where a couple of villages have only a few hundred people.  American Samoa’s tallest peak, Lata Mountain (3,170′) can be found on Ta’ū, and Ofu features sand beaches and coral reefs with a mountain backdrop.  In addition to the steep cliffs and rainforest area, another 4,000 acres of the park are offshore and under water.

Visitors to the National Park of American Samoa see land that is largely undeveloped, and the facilities found in most national parks are lacking here.  A few park information kiosks and placards can be found, but by and large, this park is enjoyed “with a bit of the explorer’s spirit” as the park brochure suggests.

NP of American Samoa Visitor Center
The Visitor Center – closed on this day, but we posed with the poster I made and came back on another day

As is always the case when we visit national parks, we attempted to make the Visitor Center our first stop, but after walking a mile from our hotel (in temperatures in the high 80’s and with lots of humidity) we saw the sign on the door that they were only open Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  But not to worry, we took photos of ourselves by the front door, then using our “explorer’s spirit” meandered around the town some and hopped on one of the “aigas” — the unscheduled buses (more about these in my second post) — to go explore around the town.

A couple of days later when we came back to the Visitor Center, we were very impressed with the educational content on display, and very pleased that a school with 5th – 8th graders had come on this day to learn more about the park on their island.  We engaged a bit with the students, and the teacher,  Faia’i Vaeao, and made a plan to stay in contact with all of them at the Peteli Academy.  And as a very nice surprise, once the rangers knew that this was our 59th park, they asked us if we could come back the next day as they would have something for us.  We obliged and were absolutely thrilled when Rangers Pua Tuaua and Pai Aukuso-Reopoamo presented us with special certificates proclaiming that we had been to all of the national parks!

I’ll conclude this first post by sharing some of the photos we took while hiking on one of the few trails in the park area; this one took us 3-1/2 miles up through the rainforest and along the ridge line to the top of Mount ‘Alava where we enjoyed incredible views of the island before hiking the 3-1/2 miles back down.  We were joined by several new friends we made at our hotel, Sadie’s By The Sea — I’ll be writing more about that in my next post; this one is long enough!

A Couple of Weeks in the Rear View Mirror

The posts we are sharing here on our travel blog are on a delay with our current location; in other words, we’re behind with posting about our adventures once again!  I’m writing this from Flagstaff where tomorrow we pick up Claire & Kyle from the airport to commence our rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  But a lot has happened between our last post and today that we’re trying to capture because this travel blog also serves as our personal trip journal.  Fred has some great photos and is finalizing a couple of posts on our visits to Great Sand Dunes NP and Rocky Mountain NP — places we’ve been in the past two weeks — but before we get to those, let me share a few of our other adventures, albeit viewing them in the rear view mirror.

Fort Laramie NHS — Yet another fort we have had the pleasure to visit, this one in eastern Wyoming, Fort Laramie’s history dates back to 1834 when it was established as a fur-trading post bringing trappers and traders together.  By the mid-1800s, as weary westward-heading pioneers followed the North Platte River along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails, they found Fort Laramie a good place to rest, repair their wagons, and resupply for the next portion of their journey.  The fort was acquired by the U.S. Army in 1849 as tensions with Northern Plains Indian tribes grew.  Finally, it was abandoned in 1890 and homesteaders took over the upkeep of the little settlement until local public agencies came along to protect it permanently.  Today, Fort Laramie National Historic Site tells the story of commerce, westward expansion, and the Indian Wars; it is a blend of beautifully-restored buildings and foundations of what once was.

Continue reading

Glacier National Park

Glacier NPSo often people ask us what is our favorite national park.  Fred has a good answer to that question, “The next one,” for he really does relish in the anticipation of what he’s going to see and photograph in the next park we’re visiting.  My answer has fluctuated over these past couple of years, as we keep discovering new parks that vault to the top or near the top of my list.  Acadia National Park in Maine comes to mind — our visit there in the fall of 2014 was fabulous and for awhile that was my favorite park.

With our visit to Glacier National Park, I now have a “Top 3 for sure” park… although it’s funny, because I don’t think I could name #1 and #2 — there is just so much beauty out here in all of the parks and it’s honestly too difficult to pick a favorite.

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Bill, Lisa, Fred and I on the famed Grinnell Glacier Trail

We were supposed to visit Glacier NP last year when we were in the Pacific Northwest, but the region’s forest fires and smoky, hazardous air conditions kept us away from this area at that time.  But lucky for us, our friends from Chicago, Bill and Lisa, had Glacier NP on their bucket list, so we coordinated a visit to Glacier together this year. Continue reading

A Daughter’s Marriage

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Claire and Kyle – The Happy Couple


When you’re happy you smile. When you’re really happy, your eyes smile.                                 

Unknown

 

October 23, 1954: The wedding service was held at a modest wooden church in the country a few miles outside of Chenoa. It was a simple, tasteful ceremony that was attended by friends of the couple and many family members from the area. There was no elaborate reception at a large hotel or event center, but rather a gathering at the family homestead. After the wedding reception, the young couple said their goodbyes, received a long hug from their parents, and climbed into their car. With one last wave Russell Jolly shifted the car into gear and he and his new wife, Gwendolyn, began to move down the gravel drive toward a new life together. They had their entire lives ahead of them and a little over a year later, their first child, a son they would name Frederick after his Grandfather Jacobs was born. His birth was followed by the birth of three other sons, and their lives would all flow forward, as described by Carl Sandburg, like “a river on which we all drift down, through an unexplored country.”  

February 22, 1990: It is a Thursday afternoon and my wife, Elaine, and I are headed north on US 294 toward Lutheran General Hospital in a driving snowstorm. I try to recall what the weather forecast was for today and hope that whatever is coming holds off just a bit longer. I glance at Elaine and see that she is breathing slowly in and out…in and out…. We pull up to the hospital and direct ourselves to the emergency room entrance, where I drop Elaine off and then look for a parking spot. After parking the car I walk into the emergency room and see that Elaine is sitting in a wheel chair in front of an admission station. A nurse comes up to us and asks why we are there. “My wife is having a baby.” I respond.

The delivery was not a particularly easy one. Pain medication was administered too late, and it became apparent that the baby was in some distress. We both watched as the baby’s heart rate dipped with each contraction. The doctor said that they needed to move the delivery along and asked Elaine to push harder and longer. Finally, our new baby was delivered and we could see the cause of the distress: a knot in the umbilical cord. We did not know the sex of the baby before this moment, but were so pleased to learn from the doctor that it was a girl and that she was in perfect health. We would name her Claire Fleming Jolly and she was absolutely beautiful.    

June 3, 2016: The two of us stand at the end of the aisle and watch as those in attendance rise as one. My daughter, Claire, is holding my left arm and we just pause here a moment as the first notes of Edelweiss begin. Claire has chosen this song for her wedding march as this was a song that I would sing to comfort her when she was a baby. We can see her future husband, Kyle, standing at the informal altar looking very serious and then he smiles. I know that Claire is nervous (glad to have her as part of the club) so I look at her and quote a funny line from one of our favorite films, The Princess Bride: “Mawwiage…ohhh mawwiage, is what brings us together today.” Claire laughs and then I say, “Let’s light this candle.” She smiles and replies, “Let’s do this.” And takes the first steps into her new future.

The planning for this shindig began well in advance of this day. It had been almost 18 months since Claire and Kyle became engaged and started planning for the wedding. Finding just the right venue was the first priority and after much research and many visits to prospective locations, they landed on a very unique place called Salvage One, which is an antique complex in Chicago by day, and a beautiful event setting at night. However, there was a bit of a complication when it came to securing hotel rooms for those traveling from out of town like ourselves, as the wedding was the same weekend as the international oncology conference which filled up almost every hotel in the city. But Claire’s mother and her husband came to the rescue and found rooms out by O’Hare near the CTA Blue Line and arranged to have buses shuttle guests to and from the wedding site.

Since we are on the road, we were not able to participate as much in the planning, but the kids did a great job of fully analyzing each aspect of the wedding, keeping us apprised of their progress, and providing a running tally on the cost. Ouch. Laura volunteered to coordinate one of the most important elements associated with the evening, the bar offerings. She also arranged for us to have 100 tickets at the Cubs game the day after the wedding and a message welcoming the wedding group put up on the scoreboard during the game. I was very proud of how much noise the group made when our greeting flashed up on the board. And to top things off, the Cubs came from behind to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3.

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The wonderful rehearsal dinner hosted by Kyle’s parents at a Mexican restaurant really set the tone for the weekend of activities – marguerites and a fun wedding party and family certainly did not hurt any. All of this was preceded by two lovely showers that we were able to attend when we came back for my birthday in March. With every occasion and event I had the same reaction: I could not believe that all of this, everything, was for my daughter and her future husband. It seemed somewhat surreal that they were at the center of this and everything was revolving around them. I know that Claire felt the same way as I asked her many times about it. Not to check her level of gratitude, but rather because all of this was happening to the little girl to whom I had sung Edelweiss so many years ago.

Finally, we come to the wedding celebration and it was everything that we hoped it would be: a beautiful and heartfelt wedding ceremony that was written by Claire and Kyle and officiated by Kyle’s identical twin brother, Andy; a joyous reception party with family and friends dancing until we were kicked out of the place at midnight; plenty of wonderful food and drink; delicious assorted pies instead of the traditional cake because the bride does not like cake; and love, much, much love. My role in all of this was really pretty straight forward: get my daughter safely down the aisle, and later that evening, deliver a father-of-the-bride toast.

The former responsibility was fairly easy as all I had to do was keep us between the pews on either side of the aisle as we made our way to the altar. On the other hand, I did fret a bit about my toast as I wanted to do it as well as I could given the importance of the occasion. I did research on suggested approaches to my comments and toast, and managed to pull together something that did not drone on too long, and conveyed my thanks to all who joined us on the blessed occasion and my heartfelt feelings about the bride and groom. I also thought about how proud my mother and father would have been of the wonderful person that Claire had become. I concluded my toast with a quote I had once heard, “When you’re happy you smile. When you’re really happy, your eyes smile.” And on this day, in this place, both Claire’s and Kyle’s eyes were beaming from ear to ear.

From this day on their lives will flow forward guided by past generations just as they will guide future generations. So it is with families, those who come after us are in many ways simply a collective being of those who came before.

  …To be continued by future generations…


A New Life Together: Russell and Gwendolyn (1954) and Claire and Kyle (2016)

A wedding and an anniversary

Something really big happened to us this past weekend — our daughter got married!  Our hearts were overflowing with pride, joy, and love as Claire married Kyle.  From the moment we met him we could see the sparkle in her eyes and knew that he was special.  He’s truly the man of her dreams.

I’ve elaborated on Facebook for our friends so I’m not going to share much more about this family event here on our travel blog, but suffice it to say that our weekend back in Chicago was dreamy!  The ceremony was short, sweet, funny, and meaningful, and the reception was one for the decades!  And now Kyle and Claire are Mr. & Mrs.!
Claire's Wedding Collage
That shared, we had another big event this past week but our time commitments with the above-mentioned wedding prevented me from posting about it.  But now we are back from the wedding festivities and almost fully recovered from all of the hullabaloo, so now it’s time to go back and mark our big anniversary — WE HAVE BEEN ON THE ROAD FOR TWO YEARS!!  My next post will share some reflections and photos from these past two years….

Meet-up in Moab

Kristen & Frederick
Fred and I enjoying a little frozen yogurt and conversation with Kristen & Frederick

It’s so much fun to meet up with friends on the road, and when your friends aren’t available, then their kids are a good substitute.

So here we are killing some time in magical Moab when we get a text from Fred’s Navy buddy, Perry, letting us know that his daughter and her husband are going to be passing through Moab the following day en route to their new jobs and the start of their new life out on the west coast.  [Theirs is a great story: they met in Spain when they were both studying abroad.  They kept their relationship going as they each finished their studies; Kristen then joined Frederick in his native France where they got married and have been living for the last couple of years as they sorted out green cards and the other complex paperwork associated with two individuals from two different countries getting married — they both get an A+ for believing in love and for their perseverance and making it work!  We had heard all about these two and their life adventures from Perry and Dee Dee as it was all unfolding beginning a few years ago.]

So even though we have never met Kristen, that didn’t stop us from reaching out to her to see if she and Frederick would be up for meeting up with us in Moab.  They were game, so we met for lunch at our favorite little cafe here in Moab, Eklecticafe, and then went across the street for some frozen yogurt at Moyo, another of our favorites out here.  We gave them guidance for their afternoon visit to Arches NP, then sent them on their way to enjoy the beautiful rock formations found here.

Although our time with Kristen and Frederick was brief, it was lovely meeting up with the two of them as they are making their way out to Napa Valley with everything they own in Kristen’s old SUV for new jobs and a new life together in California.  As we drove back to Charley we both voiced what we had each been thinking… we couldn’t help but be excited and thrilled and perhaps even a little envious of them.  The world is their oyster, and even though they have been together for a few years now, they are still writing the very first chapters of their lives together — how exciting is that?!!  Good luck Kristen & Frederick!  We wish you all the best as you get settled….

April Showers

Claire & Kyle
Claire & Kyle… soon to be Mr. & Mrs.

We’ve been in and out of Chicago for the last three weeks to, among other things, attend a couple of showers given for our favorite bride and groom, Claire and Kyle.  With the nuptials just seven weeks away and nearly all of the planning and details taken care of, we are all now just enjoying the countdown.

Don & Tracy M., long-time friends of Claire and her mom Elaine, hosted a couples shower where guests rallied around the Stock the Bar theme and helped the happy couple build out their bar.  Glassware, plenty of liquor and some other fun presents — it was a great shower with a great theme, and a great time was had by all!

Aunt Cathy and Aunt Laura, Elaine’s sister and sister-in-law, and cousin Beth, hosted another shower for the ladies only that included the women in Claire’s big, extended family as well as her seven bridesmaids.  Set at the elegant Omni Hotel in downtown Chicago, we all enjoyed a very nice luncheon during which we pampered Claire with gift certificates and girly girl items to get her ready for her big day.

 If you click on a photo, you can see a larger version of it.  You can also use the arrows at the bottom (click on the photo if they disappear on you) to scroll through all the photos in the photo series.  To close the series, click on the ‘X’ in the top right corner.

There will be one more shower later in the month where Claire, Elaine, and their very artistic friends are going to work on some decor to be featured at the wedding venue on the big day, then it’s just four more weeks until we all shower the happy couple with our love and best wishes on their big day — 06-03-16 — it’s almost here!

The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field

Fred with his brickToday is Opening Day for the Cubs!  Actually the game is this evening, but that’s just getting technical now, isn’t it…?  The Cubs are back at Wrigley after a very successful spring training season out in Arizona [we went to opening day out there; see my Spring Training post] and today begins what is going to finally, after more than a century(!!), be our big run to take it all and become the World Series Champions of 2016!  For the time being, let’s just leave aside the fact that our best power slugger is out for the season; the rest of the team is surely going to rally behind him and tally the hits and runs we were expecting from Schwarber this season.

Going to opening day is a tradition of ours, but due to terrible planning on the part of this CLO, we flew down to North Carolina to visit Daddy and Joan and Kelsey one day before opening day back up in Chicago where we have been spending time on and off for the last three weekends — how could I have been so sloppy in my planning?!?  Surely I should have paid more attention to the Cubs schedule, planned to join our friends for the game tonight at Wrigley, then flown down here tomorrow.  But alas, I didn’t, and so we’ll hopefully be watching on TV tonight and then look forward to attending a game when we get back to Chicago.

Fred's brick from Claire & KyleBut alas, all is not so terrible.  We were up in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on Friday and found the paver that Claire & Kyle had created for Fred in celebration of his recent birthday.  And with a little help from a friend, they were able to have it placed right next to the memorial brick of his all-time favorite baseball hero, the legendary Ron Santo.  Ron was the third baseman for the Cubs back when little Freddie was third baseman for his Little League team in Chenoa.  How special is that…?!?  

As of yesterday, we have decided to stick around Chicago for another weekend, our fourth now, so we can take in the Cubs vs. Diamondbacks game on Saturday afternoon before heading back west to meet back up with Charley and continue our Out There journey….

Fred with his hero
Fred with his baseball hero, the late, great Ron Santo, who played third base for the Cubs from 1960 – 1973.  Ask Fred about his Ron Santo memorabilia collection sometime…!