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July 10 - Salt Lake Bees vs. El Paso Chihuahuas, Smith's Ballpark
July 13 - Billings Mustangs vs. Grand Junction Rockies, Dehler Park
July 15 - Omaha Storm Chasers vs. Salt Lake Bees, Werner Park
July 16 - St. Paul Saints vs. Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, CHS Field
July 17 - Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians, Target Field

Remaining States




By the time we finished our 2014 trip, DC had been in every one of the 48 contiguous states. Dave was still five states short so we decided to visit those in 2016.

The five states were Utah, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. There are minor league teams in Utah, Montana and Nebraska. We're always looking for cultural attractions to see on these trips and Wyoming and South Dakota certainly had those so when the baseball schedules came out we were able to put together a trip that would let Dave check those last five states off his list.


DC models the official Way Out West Tour shirt

2014 Shirt



Day 1

Remaining States

On Sunday, July 10 we left at the crack of dawn for Salt Lake City. Upon arriving in Denver, we discovered that scheduling issues would keep us from getting to Salt Lake City in time for our 1:00 PM game. We were able to find a connecting flight to Salt Lake City on Boutique Air, a small airline that exists because of the EAS program, which subsidizes flights to small markets that lost air service when airlines were deregulated. Our flight was designed to service Vernal, Utah and then continue on to Salt Lake City. We got the last two seats on an eight seat aircraft.

Dave loves small planes. DC is ... okay with them. There were a few bumps along the way but we made it into Salt Lake City and hustled out to our first game of the trip, a Triple A contest between the Salt Lake Bees and the El Paso Chihuahuas.

Smith's Park was built in 1994 and is a nice enough ballpark - nothing wrong with it but not a whole lot distinguishing it either, other than a nice view of the Wasatch Mountains beyond the left field wall. It holds about 15,000 people and was about a third full on this day. We got a smile from their seventh inning stretch song, Two Guys fave 'Build Me Up Buttercup'. Because they are both 5'6" tall, DC latched on to El Paso shortstop Alexi Amerista, who rewarded him with 3 runs and 2 hits including a home run. The home team didn't put up much of a fight, losing 11-2 to the Chihuahuas in their last game before the Triple A All-Star break.

After the game, we headed out of Utah and into Idaho. We'd been in Boise two years earlier but this was our first time in Idaho Falls. After a long day of travel we were pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the Le Ritz Hotel have a complimentary breakfast, they had a complimentary dinner as well. We had a friendly chat with one of the hotel staff, chowed down on soup and salad and then called it a night.


Verlan, UT

Smith Field

El Paso SS

Refueling in Verlan, UT

Smith Field, home of the Salt Lake Bees

5'6" Alexi Amerista


Days 2 and 3

Remaining States

The next morning we made the relatively short trip from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone, Montana. That gave Dave the second of the five states he needed to complete his quest for all 48 contiguous states. He quickly got his third new state of the trip when we crossed the state line into Wyoming.

As soon as we crossed into Wyoming we were in Yellowstone National Park. Visiting there is an amazing experience. We saw Old Faithful, various mud volcanoes, other geysers, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park, bison, elk, gorgeous landscapes, a beautiful lake - it certainly reminds one of the wonders that exist on our planet. The weather was a little rough Monday - mid 30s in the morning, overcast all day with temperatures never getting above the low 50s - but we still had a great time. Tuesday was better - still cold in the morning but warmer and brighter the rest of the day. That was a relief as we did a tremendous amount of hiking that day.

These pictures barely scratch the surface of the wonderful things we saw in Yellowstone National Park. (With most browsers, if you right click on the photo, you can see a larger version.)


Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

We saw many bison.

Part of a 300+ step staircase to a waterfall

Old Faithful



Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

A river runs through it

The Lower Falls - note the rainbow

The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone



Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone

I'm walkin' here!

NOT Old Faithful - there are geysers all over the place




Day 4

Remaining States

After two great days in Yellowstone, we headed north, then turned east. We drove past Billings, Montana and on to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site of Custer's Last Stand. This is where, in June of 1876, the Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes wiped out the U.S. 7th Cavalry forces in their last major victory of the Great Sioux War.

We took a bus tour run by the Apsaalooke tribe. They were pretty even handed in their descriptions of the opposing sides in the battle, as was the Visitor's Center's display. That is a relatively recent turn of events - the Peace Through Unity Indian Memorial wasn't unveiled until 2003. Before that there was much more emphasis on Custer than the Native Americans.

After that, it was heading back the way we came, to Billings, Montana. We had a very good dinner at an Italian restaurant and then walked over to Dehler Park. This was probably the smallest professional baseball park either of us has ever been in. It holds about 3,000 fans and is a very nice little park for the local Single A team. Dehler opened in 2008 and has a statue of Billings native Dave McNally outside the main gate. The sellout crowd was treated to a big win by the Mustangs, who rode consecutive 6 run innings to a convincing 13-2 win over the Grand Junction Rockies.


Peace Through Unity

Siri

Dehler Park

The Peace Through Unity Memorial at Little Bighorn

Think this guy gets asked a lot of questions?

Dehler Park, home of the Billings Mustangs



Day 5

Remaining States

Thursday, July 14 was the first of two consecutive days of long drives. We had originally considered going to Devil's Tower, a National Monument in South Dakota famous for its appearance in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind but it would have added several hours to an already sure-to-be long day. So we decided to stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial instead.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a privately funded statue of the Cheyenne warrior Crazy Horse that is being carved out of a mountain in South Dakota. The ambitious plan is to carve Crazy Horse's head, torso and his horse. It's a daunting task - Crazy Horse's head alone will be 87 feet high and in nearly 60 years, only the front of his face has been carved. In contrast, the heads of each President on Mount Rushmore are 60 feet high and the entire monument was completed in about 14 years so it is highly doubtful that Crazy Horse will ever be finished.


Crazy Horse Memorial model

(left) The vision for the Crazy Horse Memorial

(right) The Crazy Horse Memorial after 60+ years of work

Crazy Horse Memorial


After viewing the Crazy Horse Memorial, we drove about twenty minutes and arrived at Mount Rushmore. It looks exactly like all the pictures you've ever seen of it but is still incredibly impressive when you are looking at it in person.

We spent a few hours staring at the monument, going through the visitor's center and hiking the trail that takes you a little closer and also to the studio of the monument's sculptor, Guzton Borglum.

In the visitor's center, we learned about the history of the memorial. Borglum chose those four particular Presidents to honor the founding of the country (Washington), the expansion of the country (Jefferson), the preservation of the country (Lincoln) and the modernization of the country (Roosevelt).

At the sculptor's studio we heard a lecture about the monument's construction from a Park Ranger and saw Borglum's model of his original vision for the memorial. It would have taken a lot longer to complete if he'd tried to do his original plan. Fourteen years into the project, Borglum died. That, and the beginning of World War II, convinced the powers that be to declare it complete. It was a wise decision - Mount Rushmore is awe inspiring just as it is.


Mount Rushmore

2 Guys, 4 Presidents

Original Vision

So, we realized that every picture of Mount Rushmore
looks the same unless you're in it...

Two Guys and Four Presidents

Borglum's original vision



Day 6

Remaining States

Friday, July 15 was our longest day on the road - we needed to be in Omaha, Nebraska in time for a 7:00 PM game, a distance of 550 miles from Keystone, South Dakota, where we started the day. We both tend to wake up early when traveling and that habit served us well this day - we were on the road by 4:00 AM.

Our route took us from far western South Dakota to the eastern end of the state. It is a flat, somewhat monotonous drive. But it wouldn't be a Two Guys trip without an unplanned stop and as we were approaching Mitchell, South Dakota we saw a sign for the McGovern Legacy Museum, located on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University. Mitchell is the hometown and Wesleyan is the alma mater of George and Eleanor McGovern, who are the subjects of this museum. Given the fact that 2016 was a Presidential election year, we thought it was an appropriate stop. It's a small, but interesting, museum.

Dave was driving as we approached the southeastern border of South Dakota. We would shortly enter Nebraska, the final state in the 48 contiguous state quest. As we passed Exit 1, the last one in South Dakota, DC got his camera ready to take a picture at the state line. We saw the state sign ahead, he raised his camera and we arrived in ... Iowa. After a moment of panic, we realized that the highway ran along the Nebraska-Iowa border on the Iowa side of the Missouri River. An hour later we crossed the river and Dave had his 48th state.


McGovern Museum

The McGoverns

Welcome to Nebraska

The McGovern Museum

George and Eleanor

Made it!


Because of our early start, we had time to go somewhere other than the ballpark for dinner. Nebraska is a large producer of beef but Dave's wife had suggested we dine at Modern Love, a vegan restaurant owned and operated by one of her favorite cookbook authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. DC was a bit skeptical but after finishing we agreed that it was by far the best meal of our trip.

Omaha is the home of the Storm Chasers, the Triple A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. It is also the site of the College World Series and every year the Storm Chasers were forced to take a two week road trip to accomodate that event. In 2011 they moved into Werner Park. Eliminating the long road trip was only one reason for the move - the site of the College World Series is too big for a Triple A franchise so the Storm Chasers are better served by having their own very nice 9,000 seat stadium.

Like Billings, there is a statue of a famous ballplayer native son, in this case the great St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Bob Gibson. Werner is very family friendly - it's possible for disinterested kids to play Whiffle Ball, basketball, ride a merry-go-round or participate in all sorts of other activities throughout the game. (Hopefully some of them are actually watching the game.)

The Storm Chasers opponent was the Salt Lake Bees, who we had seen as the home team of the first game of our trip. Unlike that game, the Bees jumped out to a big lead when they put up four runs in the top of the third and were ahead 5-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. Then they completely fell apart as Omaha scored five in the bottom of the ninth to win, 6-5.


Werner Park

Dinner at Modern Love

Storm Chasers vs. Bees

Werner Park

"Vegan food - who knew?"

Storm Chasers vs. Bees



Days 7-9

By this time we'd driven 2000 miles, from Salt Lake City to Omaha. At this point we changed modes of transportation and flew to Minnesota. Dave has a number of close friends there and Sharon was waiting for us when we arrived.

The Minnesota Twins are not the only professional baseball team in the Twin Cities. Across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis is St. Paul, home of the St. Paul Saints of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Unlike most minor leagues, the teams in this league are not affiliated with any Major League Baseball organization. They have to go out and find their own players to compete at roughly a Single A level.

Despite the low level, the Saints have a great little home in CHS Field. It opened in 2015, is environmentally friendly and fan friendly. Capacity is 7200, about half as large as the biggest minor league park we visited on this trip (Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City) and about twice as big as the smallest (Dehler Park in Billings.) We went there with Sharon and were joined by Jon, Molly and Sara. Sara, at the age of ten, was attending her third Two Guys game. Her first baseball game ever was on the 2006 Life on the Mississippi Tour.

Unusual promotions are an integral part of minor league baseball. This is particularly true of the Saints, whose ownership group includes Bill Murray and Mike Veeck, whose father Bill was known for his unique approach to marketing baseball. July 16 was "Atheists Night". While neither of us cares much about ballpark promotional giveaways, we agreed that this night's giveaway was worth holding on to (see below).


The quality of play in the American Association, at least this night, was not exactly top notch. The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks pitcher was pulled from the game even though he had a no-hitter going - you can see why in the box score line shown here. That's not a misprint - he walked 11 while getting 7 outs. That turned out to be just enough - despite a great 5-2/3 inning shutout relief performance by Fargo's next pitcher, the Saints held on to win by a score of 3-2.

11 Walks!




Get Out of Hell

Frosty Malt!

CHS Field

Useful promotional item

DC loves Frosty Malts!

CHS Field


The next day we went to the only Major League Baseball game of our trip. We'd visited Target Field in 2010, the year it opened. It's a nice park - not in the same league (literally or figuratively) as the ballparks in San Francisco, San Diego or Pittsburgh, but still quite nice. For more about our impressions of Target Field, see the 2010 Riding In Ron's Car Tour page.

Sharon's husband Bill was out of town on a family matter so we were joined by two of her friends, Jan and Mark. In addition to them, we were joined by Dave's cousin's husband. Marcy was out of town but Frank, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, was able to join us after taking part in the flag raising ceremony before the game in support of his friend Bernie Lieder, a 93 year old World War II veteran and former member of the House.

The Twins were playing the Cleveland Indians. Mark's home town is Cleveland and he's a die hard Indians fan. He showed up in full Indians regalia and boisterously rooted for them. Sharon told Mark that if the Indians ever got up by five or more runs in the game, she would join him in singing the team's official song, Hang On Sloopy. Given the disparity in the team's records at that time (the Indians were in first place, the Twins in last), this was perhaps not the wisest of choices. The Indians won the game 6-1 and when the sixth run scored, Sharon (a veteran ballpark singer), made good on her promise.


Two Guys posse

Target Field

Sara, Molly, Jon

DC with Mark, Jan, Sharon and Frank

A better shot of Target Field than we got in 2010

Molly, Sara and Jon


It was Sharon's birthday. While we were sorry to have missed Bill, we took advantage of his absence to take Sharon out to a restaurant that Bill didn't particularly care for where we all had walleye, a local fish favorite.

Mark's wife had made Sharon a special birthday cake so she headed home to have that with friends. The two of us headed downtown to Brit's Pub, a local bar that celebrates Bastille Day each year with a performance by the great British singer Graham Parker. (We haven't figured out the Brit's-Bastille Day connection yet.) For several years running the annual celebration had also included The Belfast Cowboys, a local band fronted by Terry, one of Molly's brothers. They specialize in the music of Van Morrison as well as other covers and original material.

It took us longer to get downtown than we'd anticipated so we missed Parker's solo set but we saw most of the Belfast Cowboys set, which included Parker sitting in on some Van Morrison songs and one of his songs as well. (Here's a sample of the show, Van Morrison's 'Real Real Gone' and 'Tupelo Honey', the latter with Parker sitting in.)

Molly's brother Jim was there. We chatted with both brothers after the show, then headed back to Sharon's where we sampled the birthday cake and turned in. The next day was spent hanging out with Molly and Sara (and briefly Jon) including Sara's hockey clinic and a drive by Paisley Park, home of the late, great Prince.

And then - home! Discussions about 2018 were already underway.


Terry and Graham

Belfast Cowboys

Paisley Park

Terry with Graham Parker

The Belfast Cowboys

Paisley Park



This is our most recent trip. For a complete list of parks we have visited, check out our Two Guys and a Map Ballpark Scorecard.

Return to Two Guys & a Map Home Page

Prelude - The 1979 World Series
1990 - The Windy City Tour
1991 - The Lost In Cleveland Tour
1994 - The Great Lakes Tour
1996 - The Midwest Tour
1998 - The Two Guys & a Mapholder Classic Ballparks Tour
2000 - The Y2K Southern Tour
2002 - The Midlife Crisis Tour
2004 - The Days of Awe Tour
2006 - The Life on the Mississippi Tour
2007 - The Sunshine State Mini Tour
2007 - The Close To Home Tour
2007 - The Midwest Mini Tour



2008 - If It's Tuesday, This Must Be The Giants Tour
2008 - The Big Apple Mini Tour
2008 - The Touch 'em All Tour
2009 - The Empire State Tour
2010 - The Riding In Ron's Car Tour
2012 - The Jazz Fest Tour
2014 - The Contiguous Completion Tour
2016 - The Way Out West Tour You are here

Two Guys and a Map Hall of Fame
Two Guys and a Map Ballpark Scorecard
Two Guys and a Map Cultural Landmarks

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