Tag Archives: Finn MacCool

My Week in D.C.

9 Oct
Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

*Note: To try to avoid any confusion, here is a warning. I will be using various 1st person pronouns as well as using specific people’s names throughout this piece*

Thursday: My flight out of Seattle was supposed to take off at 8:20am pacific time. It was the following sequence of frustrating events that really made me think back to the recent luck I’ve had while flying. Once all of the passengers were seated and strapped in, the cabin doors were about to close when it was announced that there was a water leak in one of the lavatories in the back of the plane. 5 minutes later the captain got back on the intercom to announce that we had to change planes. We all got off the first plane at Sea-Tac’s C20 gate and had to make the trek all the way to N2 in the north satellite. After standing in line again we re-boarded with no organized order so basically we boarded in the order that we had arrived to the new gate, which easily pissed off those in first class and those who had priority boarding the first time. We pulled back from the gate and after almost a two-hour delay we were in the air and on our way to Baltimore.

Due to thunderstorms in the Midwest our plane was forced to do a “V” around the country. Instead of flying directly to Baltimore we flew south all the way to Dallas before turning back north into Baltimore. Of course I was seated next to an elderly couple. Just my luck. Luckily I was able to listen to music without interruption for most of the flight. There was also a family of four sitting in the row in front of me. The mom and dad were sitting in the aisle seats and every once in a while they would lean into the aisle to either seductively rub each other arms or briefly kiss. Kind of weird but whatever I guess. Total flight time was roughly 6 hours, almost one full hour longer than scheduled. After landing we headed to a shuttle that took us to an offsite Amtrak station where we would take a “MARC” train into downtown Washington D.C. After nearly an hour long wait on the train platform, we got on the train and rode it about 45 minutes into Washington D.C.’s Union Station. Upon arriving at Union Station we needed to ride the red subway line three stops to get to our hotel. After struggling for almost 15 minutes trying to figure out how to buy a subway pass, we rode the subway to Metro Center, and did about a 5-block loop to get to our hotel. After almost 11 hours after leaving Seattle, we were finally able to settle in at the hotel.

After unpacking my Dad and I went down the street to eat at a restaurant called “City Tap House” and although the food was pretty good (I had a pepperoni pizza with sliced Chile peppers), the menu was somewhat sophisticated and I had a hard time landing on something I thought I would enjoy. After dinner we headed back to catch the end of Thursday Night Football between the Vikings and Packers and after the game I headed for bed in preparation for a hectic, busy, and fun touristy day on Friday.

Friday: I woke up relatively early and headed down to the first floor for a full breakfast buffet that included classic options such as hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage, and French toast. After breakfast my dad and I headed out and hit many of the sites most people go to Washington D.C. to see. In order we saw the White House, the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Museum of American History Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History Smithsonian, and the Capitol building. It was a long day on my feet but it was very fun. If you were only able to see a couple of these things I would recommend the Lincoln Memorial and the American History Smithsonian. My favorite exhibits at the Smithsonian included “Food: Transforming the American Table” which showed the evolution of food in the United States, “American Stories” which was a timeline of important faces, artifacts, and inventions in American history, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” which included the original American flag from the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song which became our National Anthem.

Upon arriving back at the hotel my Dad and I awaited the arrival of my uncle and my two cousins who were also coming into town for the Seahawks game. Once they arrived we went out to dinner at the Capitol City Brewing Company which was just a couple blocks away from the hotel. Capitol City’s beer selection reminded me of the Ram, as they only had four house brews and they also cycled in seasonal beers. I enjoyed the baby back ribs with a pint of their “Amber Waves Ale” and a pint of their Oktoberfest. Following dinner my friend James arrived into town and since he had not eaten since leaving Seattle we trekked to the only quality restaurant still open past midnight, a “Five Guys” about 15 minutes away from the hotel. We randomly ran into my cousin Chris who was coming back from a night out with his friends and convinced him to join us on our burger adventure. After we ate we walked back through the pouring rain to the hotel.

Saturday: I woke up early on Saturday morning to work out before heading down to breakfast. Following breakfast James and I did many of the things I had done with my Dad the day before. The only new thing I saw on Saturday was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial which was very spacious and beautiful. After walking around the Mall a little bit more we decided to stop for lunch at Shake Shack. We had Shake Shack for the very first time back in New York in February at the Super Bowl so when we learned that Washington D.C. housed a “Shack” it was clear we had to make a stop. After devouring a double smoke shack (my personal favorite menu item), fries, and a s’mores concrete (blended custard dessert) we headed back to the hotel to rest up for what would become a very eventful night.

Late Friday night James and I had bought tickets to game 2 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals so in the late afternoon Saturday James and I hopped onto the green subway line to head to Nationals Park. I had not been to a playoff baseball game since the Mariners played the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Championship Series so I was really excited to be a part of postseason baseball again. We then got swagged out in red at the Nationals team store before taking a lap around the inside of the stadium. Nationals Park is a relatively young ballpark and I was very impressed with the amenities it provided, the quality view from every angle, as well as the food selection. I highly recommend the pulled pork/brisket combo from Blue Smoke BBQ in right-center field. We sat in the very last row of the upper deck down the left field line and we only stayed at our seats for 4 innings because I was drastically underdressed and an intense cross breeze made it uncomfortably cold to stay in my seat as the game wore on. The game ended in 18 innings with the Giants winning 2-1 but due to plans we had made later on that night we only stayed for the first 10 innings. Even though it was disappointing we couldn’t stay, this experience was the best part of the trip other than the Seahawks game.

Upon arriving back at the hotel we met up with our other friend from high school Brent and the three of us walked up 14th Street to meet our friend Amy for a night out at a bar called Café Saint-Ex. Let me say first that 14th Street in D.C. gives off a feel similar to Capitol Hill in Seattle. There are several bars and other nightlife options in the area, bringing a varied range of groups of people into the area. Café Saint-Ex reminded me of two different places in Seattle. The main bar reminded me of the front room at Finn MacCool on the Ave. The entire room was filled to capacity and it was difficult to find an open place to stand. The downstairs room was much more fun as it was a dance floor reminiscent of the top floor of Grim’s on Capitol Hill. After a long, wild dance party that included a few shots of Fireball and a few Miller Lite’s, James and I headed back to the hotel.

Sunday: Thanks in large part to my late Saturday night out, I slept through breakfast on Sunday morning. Oh well, at least I was able to get a cup of coffee and a scone at Starbucks across the street once I finally got going. The bulk of our Sunday was spent at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history and evolution of news across all media platforms. As a sports blogger with a passion for learning about news and media I found the Newseum to be the most interesting and most fun museum I went to on this trip. Among the exhibits on display were these three that I found to be the most interesting and noteworthy. The “Berlin Wall Gallery” which included a portion of the Berlin Wall along with a timeline which told the story of how television among other media covered the events surrounding the take down of the Berlin Wall. The “FBI Exhibit” had artifacts of some of the most famous cases the FBI has ever worked on stretching from the manhunt for John Dillinger to the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. The last exhibit that really got my emotions going was the “9/11 Gallery” which presented the September 11th terrorist attacks through the eyes of the journalists that covered them around the world. The gallery included a picture timeline of the day’s events, a theater that played a documentary of interviews from some of the media that covered the attacks up close, a wall of newspapers featuring the front page of every major newspaper published on September 12th, 2001, and a tribute to photojournalist William Biggart who was the only journalist who lost his life covering the 9/11 attacks. The tribute included never-before-seen pictures from his cameras as well as some of Biggart’s personal effects that were found in the World Trade Center rubble.

We spent three hours in the Newseum which was more time than I spent in both Smithsonian’s on Friday combined. Upon leaving the Newseum and grabbing a quick lunch we headed on the subway to see the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery. Although we did not get to the cemetery until after it closed, we were able to walk around the Pentagon and see the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. The memorial consists of a wide gravel space along with trees and includes 125 benches in honor of the 125 people who lost their lives at this site. I found the benches to be interesting, as those that were pointing towards the building represent those who were on the plane that crashed. The benches facing the opposite direction represent those who were inside the Pentagon at the time of the crash. I am always intrigued to learn more about 9/11 as it is American history that I remember, unlike other memorials recognizing events that I have no personal memory of.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to catch the last quarter-plus of the late afternoon NFL games. The three of us then went out to dinner and following the completion of my fish and chips at Gordon Biersch we decided to head back and call it a night. We had a busy day ahead of us on Monday and we needed to get as much rest as possible.

Monday: When it comes to Seahawks gameday, I am the kind of fan that treats the day like a holiday; there is nothing that I want stopping me from having a football-filled day. When the group of 6 of us decided to take a short day trip out to the Air and Space Smithsonian close to Washington-Dulles airport, I was worried that the time spent at the museum would interfere with any other Seahawks-related activities I was hoping to do prior to heading out to the game that night. If we had gone to see this museum on any other day I would have loved it even more. Although I found the Space Shuttle Discovery exhibit, the Concorde, and the various military planes to be very interesting, the fact that I was worried about being late to the game on Monday night made me kind of a pain to be around as I felt my body language made it seem like I did not want to be there. What added to this behavior was that it took two hours to get there, as we had to take the silver subway out to the end of the line with a 30 minute bus ride on top of it. Talk about frustrating. After spending only about an hour at the museum we headed back to the hotel to get ready for Monday Night Football.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the Capitol City Brewing Company one more time, the entire group of 7 of us headed to the subway station to take the ride out to FedExField. Upon arriving out in Landover it was about a mile walk through a new residential complex to get into the stadium parking lot. We decided to head immediately into the stadium.

FedExField reminded me a lot of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The stadium is a simple three-deck bowl that had interior decorations that were the colors of the FedEx logo (purple, orange, and green). The seats were all orange but I stood for the entire game so I have no gage to determine if they were comfortable or not. The concourses are wide but they show signs of aging. It is all concrete that gave off a vibe of older stadiums I have visited such as the Oakland Coliseum or Candlestick Park. The 12th Man showed up in full force this week. While walking around I heard several moans and groans from Redskins fans about how their stadium was being invaded by opposing fans once again.

There are also a few points that need to be made about Redskins fans in general. First, Redskins fans seem to fully understand that their team is struggling and any banter between them and fans of the defending Super Bowl champions, they knew they did not stand a chance. Therefore there was almost no smack talk hurled my way throughout the game. Secondly, Redskins fans are very quick to give up on their team. After the Seahawks took a 24-10 lead with 6 minutes left in the game the majority of the crowd started to head for the exits. The game was not over by any means and the Redskins were able to quickly drive down the field to cut the Seahawks lead down to 7. A few loyal fans stuck around while showing clear anger that other fans were choosing to leave. That is something that you almost never see happen in Seattle. Lastly, it is amazing how few people I saw wearing Redskins gear around the city from the time I got in on Thursday night. I do not know if it has something to do with the fact that the Washington Nationals were in the playoffs and most fans had their full attention on baseball. I do not know if the Redskins name controversy has scared fans away of wearing Redskins gear in public. What I do know is that I walked close to 100 miles in my first 4 days in D.C. and I could count the number of people wearing Redskins gear on one hand. I found that number to be absolutely stunning.

After the Seahawks sealed the win we decided to head back to the hotel. We got back around 1am and I decided to crash. Monday night had been one of the more memorable Seahawks road experiences I have had.

Advertisements

My Weekend in Arizona

12 Sep

Friday: My flight to Phoenix left Seattle at 3:20 Friday afternoon. I was in an aisle seat about 25 rows back and to be honest my flight could have gone a lot better. Let me touch on the one bright spot; there were at least 20 Seahawks fans on my flight and when we started to descend towards Phoenix, most of them started to get riled up. That was a lot of fun to be a part of. Now to the annoying part of my flight. The guy sitting next to me was wearing a Seahawks shirt and Seahawks hat, which was nice. About an hour into our flight while I was listening to music, he wanted to start a conversation about Sunday’s game. I told him about my annual road trip and what my outlook on the game was and he told me about his thoughts. While he was talking I remembered one of my least favorite things about talking to strangers about football; I ALWAYS seem to know more about the game than they do, so I had to listen to amateur analysis that either didn’t make sense or was completely irrelevant. To make things even worse, he was boozing throughout the entire flight. As the drinks went down, the more annoying and belligerent he got. I tried to make it clear I wasn’t in the mood to talk by putting in my headphones but he just would not shut up. The icing on the cake was that he would try to get up to use the lavatory at the most inopportune times including right when the beverage cart was in front of our row, and once the flight landed and everyone seated on the aisle was standing and grabbing for their bags in the overhead storage bins. At least I can say I didn’t have the most frustrating flight, as one of the other guys I traveled with got a condensed life story from an elderly woman he was seated next to.

After getting off the plane we headed for the rental car shuttle. Once we stepped outside it was like walking into a sauna. 90 degree temperatures at 6:00pm is uncomfortable but also add in the smelly Phoenix air and you are miserable, at least to start. I got used to it by the end of the weekend. After getting our car we drove about 20 minutes to Glendale, the site of both University of Phoenix Stadium and our hotel. We checked in to the Glendale Renaissance then drove to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I took a self-guided tour of the place. Let me tell you, I have never stayed in a more luxurious hotel than this place. Unfortunately I was only there for the weekend and since we were busy for most of the trip, I was not able to take advantage of any of the amenities the hotel offered which includes a beautiful outdoor pool with bar, state-of-the-art workout room, or the spa.

We then walked around what is called the “Glendale Entertainment District” which includes our hotel, University of Phoenix Stadium, Westgate shopping center, and Jobing.com Arena (home of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes). All of these buildings are within walking distance. We spent the rest of that night at a pub called McFadden’s. If I had to simply describe McFadden’s, imagine if Finn MacCool in the U-District had a baby with a place like Coyote Ugly or Cowgirls Inc. The women are incredibly attractive and the beer is expensive. All in all, the four of us had 12 Guinness’s total which racked up a tab close to $80. To a college aged man, McFadden’s is a place to go drink and observe the people around you. Our bartender may have had the most clothes on of any bartender and she was only wearing a bra-type tank top and shorts that were so short her buns were drooping from the base of them. I’m not going to lie though it was fairly awkward being at a place like that with my dad. This bar became a talking point among the four of us for the duration of our trip because each night we pondered the thought of going back to drink there. When we got back to the room we called it a night. Even though we had landed at 6 at night, we definitely made the most of our first night in Arizona.

Saturday: After pounding a coffee and a cinnamon roll, the four of us headed to downtown Phoenix to tour Chase Field; home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. We have done a baseball stadium tour for the past three road trips and this one was one of the best. Among the stops, a pool located beyond the right-center fence, the club level, a suite, the visitors’ clubhouse, and the Diamondbacks dugout. After the tour we had an appetizer and beer at TGI Friday’s which is located in the second deck in left field. It is a similar setup to the Hit it Here Café at Safeco Field but because this restaurant is a TGI Friday’s, the food is leaps and bounds better than what is served at the Hit it Here Café.

After leaving downtown Phoenix we headed towards Peoria. I stayed in Peoria for my three trips to Mariners spring training so it was nice to see how the area had changed in the last ten years; the last time I went to Arizona. We killed some time at a mall (the same mall I had bought Pokémon cards at in 1999) before heading over to Buffalo Wild Wings for the Washington Huskies game against LSU. After some bickering (by my dad) about which televisions the Husky game was going to be on, I enjoyed some classic buffalo and spicy garlic wings while watching my Dawgs get pummeled by LSU. We left at halftime because the game was so bad. On the way back to the hotel we stopped to get beer for Sunday morning and to get a poster and pens so I could make a sign for the game.

When I got back to the hotel I made this sign:

Image

And then I called it a night in preparation for a HUGE day on Sunday.

Sunday: My alarm went off at 6:30am and I was immediately alert with adrenaline flowing through my veins. I pulled back the curtains on the window and witnessed a spectacular view of the stadium and then I turned on NFL Network to watch NFL Gameday Morning. After watching Warren Sapp make his “bold” prediction that the Kansas City Chiefs would beat the Atlanta Falcons 41-0, I took a shower and got in my gameday attire. I went down to the lobby to get another cup of coffee and cinnamon roll, not before I high fived two young girls who were wearing Seahawks jersey’s. The prefunction started in my room at 9:30am. While flipping back and forth between the Colts/Bears game and the Redskins/Saints game, I drank a 6-pack of Bud Light and then at 11:30 we headed across the street to the stadium.

Imagine walking into Costco on a 100+ degree day and walking straight into the frozen produce section in the back corner of the building. That is the only example I can think of when comparing the difference in temperature between outside the stadium and inside the stadium. There was easily a 25 or 30 degree difference and it really hits you once you open the doors and enter the stadium. I held my sign for the duration of pregame warm-ups, hoping FOX would get it on camera to use when the coverage of the game started on TV. Unfortunately I was not informed that my sign made it on TV by any of my friends watching back home so I just assumed all of the work I had put into it came short of my ultimate goal. The Seahawks had a great turn out in Arizona. I had several Hawks fans around me and I saw many 12th Man flags around the lower bowl of the stadium. After the Seahawks ran out of the tunnel, it was the Cardinals turn to be introduced and the building went absolutely crazy. I can easily say that it was the loudest environment I have been a part of on the road. Of course the noise level was not even close to CenturyLink Field, but it definitely came the closest of all the places I have been. Add in 50,000 white rally towels and it felt like a playoff game. The game had its ups and downs. I can’t remember the last time I screamed so loud after Sidney Rice’s touchdown. I wanted to make sure Cardinals fans knew I was there representing the Seahawks. After Braylon Edwards’s dropped pass on 4th and goal, I immediately slipped into a state of frustration, anger, and disbelief. I went back to the hotel and sat in a chair upset while listening to the broadcast of Sunday Night Football. After grabbing another burger at In-N-Out for dinner, I returned to my chair and sulked until I fell asleep about an hour after the Sunday Night game.

Monday: I woke up at 6:30am again in order to get ready, pack up, eat breakfast, and drive to the airport. Because one of our group members was heading to Detroit instead of back to Seattle, we had to get to the airport early because his flight left an hour before ours. I sat at the gate for a little over an hour before boarding my flight and I tried my best to get over the painful loss from the day before and to start focusing on Dallas next weekend. I noticed that there were some media members on my flight home; Ian Furness of Sports Radio KJR sat in the fourth row of first class and the cameramen and production team from Q13 FOX sat three rows behind me. I sat in row 19 by the window. This time around, I sat next to another Seahawks fan returning home but we did not communicate at all. Upon our descent to Seattle, I had a breathtaking view of downtown Seattle. Unfortunately my camera was not working on my phone so I could not get a picture. If I could have taken a picture, I’m confident I would have gotten likes on Facebook that would tally into the 30’s or 40’s haha. I made it home just in time for the Monday Night Football doubleheader and told my roommates all about my great but painful weekend.

I had a ton of fun on this trip. I highly suggest going to Arizona to see the Seahawks play. It is a trip that is easy to make with friends especially if you are staying in the Glendale Entertainment District. I hope my friends and I can put a plan together so I can make that trip once again next season!