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Photo Friday: The Strangest Mascot in All of Sports

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Missions baseball

Yeah, I’m speechless too, and I took this picture almost a month ago.

That’s my daughter with Henry the Puffy Taco, one of the mascots of the San Antonio Missions minor league baseball team.

After a Sunday afternoon game, E. got to run the bases. She high-fived Ballapeño (the other Missions mascot) as she rounded first, and was brave enough to pose for a picture with Henry after she reached home plate.

Is it just me, or is he a little creepy?! Oh well, we love him anyway.

To see photos from other travellers, stop by the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

Catch a Silver Stars Game Before the Season Ends

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WNBA: Silver StarsOn Friday night, we went to our first WNBA game. San Antonio’s Silver Stars play at the AT&T Center, and tickets start at just $10. This game really reminded me of the Missions game we went to earlier this summer: sports-related family fun that isn’t too expensive.

I was particularly excited to take E. to the game because she has been saying for months that she wants to be a basketball player when she grows up. She has said this despite the fact that every sporting event we’d taken her to so far had revolved around male athletes. I was thrilled to show her that YES, girls can play sports too!

You can still catch a Silver Stars game this season, although you only have three chances left: Tues August 17, Fri August 20, and Sun August 22. For a complete schedule and other information, stop by the Silver Stars website.

San Antonio to Arlington: A Texas Road Trip

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It was a perfect storm…in a good way. Nick noticed that the Cubs would be playing the Texas Rangers in Arlington, and my friend Andrea sent me an article from the New York Times about sights along U.S. 281. We put the two ideas together and *poof* a Texas road trip was born.

We left Saturday morning, not quite as early as we’d hoped. As soon as we got out of the suburbs, I could tell we’d chosen wisely when we decided to take 281 instead of I-35, the busy interstate that runs north and south through the center of the state. U.S. 281 is definitely the scenic, rural route. We saw lots of old abandoned gas stations, fields filled with wildflowers, and small Hill Country towns.

Our first stop: the Hill Country town of Burnet. We stopped for lunch at Storm’s, a burger joint that I had read about in the New York Times article. The portions were generous, the prices were reasonable, and the food was average. However, it was certainly better than stopping for lunch at some chain restaurant. We got to enjoy our lunch outside on a wooden deck, in the shade of a few large trees. Definitely not the kind of scene you’d find along an exit ramp off the interstate.

We got back in the car and continued north on U.S. 281 until we decided it was time for some caffeine. Luckily, we spotted Kool Beans, a small coffee shop located in Hamilton, Texas. Nick and I enjoyed some coffee–the house blend for Nick and the special vanilla bean coffee for me–while E. had a lemonade. The woman working at the cafe that afternoon was so friendly. We had a nice conversation before it was time to get back on the road.

Kool Beans

We reached Arlington just in time to check into our hotel before taking the trolley to Rangers Ballpark. The trolley, which takes fans to and from area hotels to the stadium, was certainly a convenient way to go. However, taking the trolley back after the game is extremely inconvenient, but I’ll get to that later.

The baseball game was great! As I’ve mentioned before, we’re Cubs fans, so Chicago’s 10th-inning win was a thrill to see in-person. E. hung in there for all ten innings, and we were thrilled that she seemed to enjoy the game.

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Afterwards, we walked out of the stadium to catch the trolley and noticed that there were no trolleys waiting to transport fans…but plenty of fans waiting for the trolley. After waiting and watching two trolleys come by, barely making a dent in the number of people waiting to return to their hotels, we decided it was time for plan B. We spotted a cab and hopped in. About ten minutes and $12 later, we were back at the hotel.

Sunday morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and hit the road, this time taking I-35 back to San Antonio. We definitely missed the scenery we had enjoyed the day before. However, there were a few advantages to taking I-35. For one thing, it cut about 90 minutes off of the driving time. Also, it allowed us to stop in Waco for lunch. Thanks to Twitter, we were directed to Ninfa’s where we chowed down on some Tex-Mex.

We had a wonderful time, and I’m so glad we were able to explore some new places in addition to seeing the Cubs play. Country roads, good coffee, baseball…what could be better?

Ninfas Waco

 

Four Reasons You Should Go to a Minor League Game

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Our family loves the Chicago Cubs. And by “loves,” I mean that I cry while watching We Believe and E. knows all of the words to Eddie Vedder’s song “All the Way.” Wrigley Field is one of our favorite places to visit, and we try to head north at least once a year to watch a game.

However, we recently went to a San Antonio Missions minor league baseball game and were a little shocked. It was so…convenient! And cheap! We will definitely be going back to another game this summer. Here are four reasons why minor league games are more convenient, and therefore more child-friendly, than major league baseball games.

1. Better mascots: I suppose Fredbird, the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals, is o.k. But what could possibly be better than the San Antonio Missions’ mascot, Ballapeño, and his sidekick Henry the Puffy Taco? Here they are in action:

2. Cheap tickets: Tickets to a minor league game are pretty affordable. For the Missions games, tickets start at just $7 and even the best seats can be yours for only $10 per ticket.

3. Cheap and convenient parking: Many minor league venues are located either in smaller cities or outside of town. Therefore, parking is not only less expensive but also less of a hassle. For the Missions game, we parked in the lot right outside the stadium for $5. No driving around a busy downtown area looking for a spot!

4. Smaller venue: Why is this important? Well, for one thing, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. You don’t have to worry about sitting in the nose-bleed section because there isn’t one! Plus, leaving at the end of the game is a much shorter process than it is at a large major league stadium.

Want more minor league fun? Check out this post at Midwest Guest: Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Three Sports Nuts Go to Their First NBA Game

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Our family is obsessed with sports. My husband has been obsessed with the Chicago Cubs since he was a kid living in the Windy City. I figure skated competitively for about eleven years and have been a fan of the University of Kansas basketball team since before I can remember. So, it’s a little strange that until Friday night, we’d never attended a professional basketball game before.

Walking into San Antonio’s AT&T Center to watch the San Antonio Spurs take on the Golden State Warriors, we were a little hesitant. Our daughter, E., is very sensitive when it comes to loud noises, and she’s shy around strangers. How would she react to all of the cheering and yelling during the game? How would she feel to have strangers sitting in the seats near ours? Would the game hold her attention or would she grow restless and ask to leave?

The outcome? She loved it! And Nick and I had a pretty good time ourselves.

E. enjoyed the music that plays throughout the game. She danced and clapped to the music. She also enjoyed taking a cue from the other fans and cheering on the Spurs. E. understood enough about basketball to know that getting a basket is good and missing is not good. A few times, she looked at me and said, “Aw. They not get the shot.”

A few tips for parents who are planning on taking a young child to a Spurs game:

1. Eat dinner before you arrive. Like you’ll find at many sporting events, the food is pretty expensive and not particularly special.

2. As you drive towards the AT&T Center, you’ll pass a parking lot that charges $10. Skip it and turn onto the road that goes past the front of the arena. Across the street from the arena, you’ll see another lot that also costs $10. Unless you’re arriving late, there should be room in this second lot and you won’t have as far to walk. (Parking prices could vary. These were the prices we encountered for a Friday night game.)

3. Encourage your child to notice the different participants in the game. Point out the dancers, the mascot, the players, the coach, and anyone else you find interesting. Clap your hands to the music, cheer when a player makes a free throw, and check the scoreboard. There are lots of interesting sights and sounds at big sporting events!

4. Don’t feel like you need to get your money’s worth and stay for the entire game. We stayed for three quarters and quit while we were ahead. We wanted to leave while everyone was still having fun, instead of leaving carrying a tired, crying child.

 

Why Allen Fieldhouse is My Favorite Place on Earth

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This is my heaven.

In case you don’t recognize this arena, it is Phog Allen Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Kansas. I could write an entire book on Kansas basketball and the role it has played in my life. It reminds me of history and tradition, family and friends. One of my earliest memories is my parents teaching me the rock chalk chant when I was about E.’s age.

But this is Photo Friday. Let’s get to the images!

(James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball, served as KU’s first coach. How’s that for history?)

I love visiting Allen Fieldhouse. In fact, I feel nearly giddy everytime I walk through the doors. It’s so fun to be surrounded by 16,000 people who love the same team you do, understand the goofy student rituals that take place during the game, and are knowledgable about basketball.

The following video is played at Allen Fieldhouse before they introduce KU’s starting line-up. As I watch this history of Kansas basketball, I recognize so many of the players from my childhood, my young adulthood, and my time as a student at KU. That’s why, to me at least, it is much more than just a game…I’ve watched this stuff for as long as I can remember! Some people might think that’s silly, and that’s fine. However, I can say with certainty that Allen Fieldhouse is my favorite place on earth.

For more Photo Friday fun, check out the family travel blog Delicious Baby. For more on our Missouri and Kansas road trip, read my posts on Food and Drinks in Columbia and Cunetto’s in St. Louis.

P.S. Guess what? This is my 100th blog post!

Missouri and Kansas Trip: Pt. 1

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We just returned from a road trip through Missouri and part of Kansas. It always takes me a few days to gather my thoughts when we return from a trip. Where should I begin? What is worth writing about here on the blog? Which photos are the most fascinating?

We flew in and out of St. Louis and then drove from St. Louis to Lawrence, Kansas with a few fun stops on the way.

Highlights of the trip included visits with family and friends, a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game, and a surprise birthday party in honor of yours truly. Stay tuned for more on all of this in the coming days.

But like every trip, it wasn’t perfect. E. got sick on the plane coming home and it was quite an adventure. Luckily, she seems to be feeling better. The incident has solidified my love for Southwest Airlines; the flight attendants were very kind and helpful.

Since my head is spinning with recent memories of St. Louis, Columbia, Kansas City, and Lawrence, I won’t be writing a Texas Photo Tuesday post this week, but please stop by next time.

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