Sunday, August 4, 2013

No. 305 – Across the Universe

Performer: The Beatles
Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Original Release: Let It Be
Year: 1970
Definitive Version: None

I went to Denver for the Society for American Baseball Research convention in the summer of 2003, but it wasn’t the same as Boston the year before. I didn’t connect with as many people. Consequently, I don’t have the same memories I do of Boston, and perhaps not coincidentally I haven’t gone to another SABR convention.

But, as I mentioned, the SABR convention was only part of the impetus behind the trip. Another part was to see Andy in Wichita, so on Sunday, I checked out of my fleabag motel—I had only so much money, you know—and began the long drive from Denver.

For all the denigration that the breadbasket states, like Kansas and Nebraska, receive as far as dull driving, I’d put East Colorado right with them. The big secret of Colorado is that it gets scenic only after you hit the Rockies. The rest of the state is a whole lot of nothing going for it unless you’re into open prairie.

I like to break up my driving trips so I can see things, but my drive to Wichita was going to be a straight shot in one day—520 miles. It had to be highway and nonstop.

I actually remember more about the drive to Wichita than I do the SABR convention, including the game I attended at Coors Field. The first thing was when I drove past the highway sign noting I was leaving the Mountain time zone and entering Central time. I flipped on my phone just so I could see the time change.

The second thing was as I got closer to Wichita. I was listening to sports talk radio, and it was all about the Royals and how they—the freakin ROYALS—were in first place and could they hang on? Already, the Royals had lasted longer in first place than anyone had expected, but I knew they still were on borrowed time.

As this went on, I drove under a few bridges, which had road and exit signs mounted on them, like most city bridges do. What was notable was that a cop aiming his radar gun around the edge of the sign, like a sniper. Fortunately, I saw cop cars with cars pulled over both before and after the bridge in question, so I had an inkling something was up and had slowed just in case.

Originally, I was going to stay with Andy, but in talking with him, he made it clear in tone if not words that he didn’t want me to stay with him in his one-room apartment, so I got a hotel. He was appreciative and even more appreciative that I went out of my way to see him at all.

This is literally true, I suppose, because Wichita isn’t along I-70 from Denver to Kansas City. But I knew he was missing Holly and everyone back in Columbus, so it would be good for him to see a friendly face, even though he had done a stint in Wichita years before and knew people there.

We went to a pool bar downtown, and one of his coworkers from the Record-Eagle joined us. We shot a few games, loaded up the jukebox—it didn’t have this song, like the one at the Thurman did—and hung out for a while before calling it a night sometime around midnight.

The rest of my vacation week was left to my own work. I spent the next day at the downtown Kansas City library. The next day, instead of driving to Cincinnati to see Scott, Shani and my new niece as I had planned, I went to Louisville for more library work. I figured, why not, given how close it was and that I was in the zone anyway.

I got a lot done and cemented at least one relationship, so it definitely was a worthwhile trip. Best of all, this drive to Colorado didn’t cost me my transmission, unlike the last such trip 14 years earlier had. Then again, I didn’t go up to the top of Pikes Peak this time either.

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