Saturday, June 6, 2015



The hardest part of keeping up to date to with this blog is when I don't have internet connection. After leaving Alabama last month we have had no internet or questionable connections. I have been lucky enough to have a short window of an internet single to post my teasers and keep you somewhat in the loop. If you have been following me on Rvillage, Twitter or Facebook you have some ideas of where and what we have been up to. Now comes the hard part to post detail stories of those events. 

For the past four weeks we have been out a lot visiting the cities we were in. As you might have guessed we have been to several baseball games, National Parks and spent five days with family. I will more than likely keep each post to the city we were in, so the title and post are the same and it's not to much to read in one sitting. Now, comes the hardest part thumbing through thousands of pictures and hundreds of videos to place in the coming post and future YouTube video. 

4 - 9 May

Three years ago we spent our first winter in Alabama at Azalea Acres where we enjoyed our stay and told the owners if we ever found ourselves back in the panhandle we would call Azalea Acres home once again. The first night we arrived the owner saw us and it was like meeting a friend you have not seen is years. This time around it was the summer with a few more open spaces and very quite. After two days on the road it was nice to open the awning and just kick back in the lawn chair. We have scheduled our stay for four days with two baseball games in two states and a few hours visiting with one of Hiromi's Japanese friends. 

After spending a few day with Hiromi non stop I kind of felt she want a few hours to herself. I decided to drive into Mobile AL to watch a Southern League AA baseball game with Mobile BayBears (DBacks) vs Jacksonville Suns (Reds). This game turned out to be my best game ever with eight baseball including two that were game used. Oh, and my first ever Tshirt tossed into the stands. All this was possible as there was not very many fans in the seats. Hank Aaron Stadium is backwards to most other stadiums. The suits and box seats were on field level as the general admission was in the upper decks. Protective netting surrounded almost all the stands making it almost impossible to get a foul ball. 
Hank Aaron childhood home stands next to the 
stadium that hold his name.

When I entered the stadium I made my way to the left field grass hill looking for bating practice balls. I found my first Southern League ball and was happy I would go home with at least one ball. As I made my way to the right field the stadium stopped as this was the location of players clubhouse. There was a small grass area so I walked over to the wall to see if I could see any players coming out of the clubhouse when I looked in the corner and saw the ball collectors dream five balls just sitting there. Before the starting pitchers even took the field to warm up I had six balls. Satisfied with m haul, I made my way to the team store to get the teams mini bat and teams sets. They still had the 2013 sets with Kent State Alumni Andrew Chafin (my second favorite player). As I was walking out the team shop I saw all the game used baseball they were selling for $5. I had $30 worth of baseball for free in less than 15 minutes.

I made my way to my seat in the upper deck area. Around the third inning the Tshirt girls made her way around the field looking for fans cheering. From home plate all the way to third base I was the only fan in that area I was screaming and waving my hands hopping she would see me chasing her around the stadium. As she ran along the wall I ran too. As I could go no further she looked up and said, "I don't think I can throw that far". I replied, "at least try". As she threw her arm back and released the Tshirt it landed in the upper deck in the second row. I climbed over the seats and got my first stadium Tshirt toss.

At the 7th inning I made my way to the lower level and stood beside the visitors bullpen as the reliever was getting warmed up to enter in the bottom half.  Once I arrived the first batter fouled a ball down the line and into a players glove who was protecting the catcher as his back was to the playing field. I asked for the ball and he threw it to me,  number 7.  

By the ninth inning I was in the front row of the last section of seats where there was no net protecting the fans. A foul ball rolled past the third baseman and was heading my way, I reached over the padded wall and the ball rolled right into my glove, number 8.  

My best game haul ever of 8 balls. (one ball not pictured)

The next morning Hiromi and I crossed the state boarder and drove into Pensacola, FL to stop at the Pensacola Naval Air Station to do some shopping at the base exchange and wast some time before she had to met one of her friends. But, first we had to stop at the Florida Welcome Center to get some free orange juice and played with the video picture board. After, talking with her friend for over an hour we departed and made our way to Pensacola Blue Wahoos stadium.

Not sure why Hiromi is smiling when she is getting eaten
by an alligator... no worries, I'm there to save the day.

We arrived a few hours early, but it was worth it as this waterfront stadium is one of the best minor league ball parks I have ever been to. We walked around the stadium and I noticed that the score board is outside the stadium so I walked up to it to see if I could see into the stadium. The visiting teams was having batting practice and a ball rolled all the way to the wall where I was standing. As one of the players came to get the ball, I asked if I could get the ball, "please and thank you" and he threw it to me. 

We went to get in line to enter the stadium as tonight would be a very special day in the stadiums history. With the stadium opening just over three years, tonight someone would be the 1 millionth fan. We made our way into the stadium and went to the third base line as there were several balls laying on the field. I ask Hiromi to ask the player for a ball, as she asked he threw the ball to the ball boy. Hiromi looked sad and told me she will never help me again to get a ball. That's fine with me because she has better luck getting players autographs for me. I hope she don't quit helping me with that.

As the team was still having batting practice I made my way to right-center field grass hill, hoping to get a ball thrown up to me. As I walked down getting ready to ask for a ball, all the players on the filed yelled out "LOOK OUT". I looked up with my glove on one hand with my arms raised trying to get help on the flight of the ball. Lucky for me it land a few feet to my right. I picked up ball number 2.  I turned around to get read for another practice ball, but the players were leaving the field as batting practice was finished. 

I then headed to the team shop for my mini bat and team set. They had all three years of the teams sets since the stadium opened so I got them all. No more baseball, Tshirts or the 1 millionth fan winner, but we still enjoyed the game and had a great view of the waterfront stadium. Stadium-give-away for tonight was Blue Wahoos carry bag and millionth fan coins.

Our last day at Azalea Acres was laundry day. We found a cat walking around the park following us where ever we went. The owner pasted away and the wife did not want the cat any more and when she left the park the cat was left behind. Hiromi fell in love with her and we ask if we could take it with us. The day we left they said we could take it. We put the cat on a rope leash and went shopping for a cat cage and food. When we got back the cat escaped from the leash. Anyone looking for a new, never used cat cage......?

What's Next:
Jacksonville, FL

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