Sunday, July 19, 2009

TBG Travel Diary: Cooperstown, NY (The Prequel)

I'll be spending next weekend in Cooperstown watching Rickey Henderson and some other guy get inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Bootleg "surprised" me with the trip as a Christmas gift. And, by "surprised", I mean that I'd stumbled across various HOF-related (museum, travel/lodging rates in Albany, NY) website windows my wife left open in the weeks leading up to Jesus' most recent birthday. I was still able to pull of this reaction when I opened my gift on the morning of December 25:

But, my wife is just one little oft-annoying woman. For an upcoming TBG Travel Diary of this magnitude, she's joined forces with an outfit called
Sports Travel and Tours. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with this. Mrs. Bootleg is the one who took on American Airlines AND Mother Nature to ensure I made my flight to see the A's play in old Yankee Stadium. She's been my non-work related travel agent for over a decade. I know her…I trust her.

Ooh, but Sports Travel and Tours sent me a pre-trip package last week! Mrs. Bootleg never did that for any of my long flights to the Bay Area. Let's crack this box open:

Host Profile: My "host" for the weekend will be Mr. Anthony (The Antman) Incampo. His one-page profile includes such need-to-know nuggets as his hometown ("Easthampton, MA – via Brooklyn"), his favorite player not in the Hall of Fame ("Don Mattingly/Derek Jeter") and one derogatory shot at the Red Sox. I'm setting the over/under of "number of players he can name from any team NOT in the AL or NL East" at 5.5. Place your bets.

Hotel: The enclosed information sheet tells me that my hotel is approximately seven miles from Albany International Airport with a courtesy shuttle that operates from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. This'll work out fine when I arrive, but my return flight to San Diego leaves Albany at 6:20 AM, so I'll have to arrange for a taxi. Since no one really uses taxis in California, I never know what to tip the driver. Three percent? Five?

Tip Envelopes: Speaking of which, there are actually a pair of "voluntary gratuity" envelopes included for both the host and the tour bus driver. I can't decide if I should treat this as
NFL off-season workout "voluntary" or my job's charitable payroll deduction "voluntary".

Tour Bus: I've been assigned to Bus #2 which Sports Travel and Tours have nicknamed "Babe Ruth". Quaint. Then again, I'm the guy who named every table at his wedding reception after baseball players – with the blessing of my soon-to-be bride. The highlight of the wedding planning experience was finalizing the seating chart:

"I don't want 'Willie Mays' [Mrs. Bootleg's family's table] anywhere near us.", my fiancée complained.

"Well, I want my groomsmen right next to us at 'Dave Stewart'.", I declared.

"Fine. Just make sure we've got enough room at 'Deion Sanders' for the eight or ten of my co-workers who always get obnoxiously bombed at weddings.", Mrs. Bootleg said.

Good times.

Itinerary – Friday, July 24: I won't get into Albany until 5:00 PM, so it looks like I'll miss the "meet your tour host" reception at my hotel. Damn. On the plus side, I've got plans to meet longtime TBG reader/infrequent poster "NY Jon" at a place called
Bombers Burrito Bar. I've never met Jon and, as of this writing, I only know three things about him: he's 6'6", African-American and gay. Six feet, six inches. People will be staring at him all weekend. Freak.

Itinerary – Saturday, July 25: The tour bus leaves Albany for Cooperstown at 8:00 AM and shows an "approximate arrival time" of 9:30 AM. Through my own independent verification, I've found a
ringing endorsement of this exciting journey.

The rest of the day – from whenever the hell we arrive in Cooperstown until 5:45 PM – is earmarked for amusing ourselves. The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum is the obvious destination, but…eight hours?! I'm the biggest baseball fan any of you know, but even that is tamped down by the word "museum".

And, there's even another trip reception at
Jillian's of Albany that evening. Really, I can't think of better place to be on a Saturday night than sardined into a sports bar with a busload of fanny packs, socks-n-sandals and Jim Rice jerseys.

Itinerary – Sunday, July 26: Another 8:00 AM "90 minute" bus ride to Cooperstown, but this time with only FOUR hours to kill. The formal Hall of Fame induction ceremonies start at 1:30 PM and guests are directed to head straight to their buses after their conclusion.

Hmmm…I got two pages in MS Word from this post and I haven't even left yet.

This should be fun.


Tom said...

Definitely go with the Texas Chili or the Jerk burrito. Also, I highly recommend the "Disco Fries" which are a plate of gravy and cheese lathered goodness. Sucks, I was up in Albany for work all last week. I'm half-tempted to train the train back up on Friday now.

Jillian's wouldn't be my first choice at a party location on a Saturday night, but if you're looking for a strong supply of drunken, fresh-out-of-college whores, go next door to the Bayou. Also, if you want low-key, there's a small place across the street near the Hampton Inn called the Victory Cafe. Good food and a bit quieter than Jillian's... and no cover. If you see the building on the corner of Pearl and State with the giant IBM on the side, that's my office building.

Also, if NY Jon knows the area, have him take you to the Harbor House in Clifton Park (about a 20 minute drive north) so you can get the fish fry I mentioned to you before.

That Bootleg Guy said...

That's a lot to digest, Tom. I probably should make an attempt to at least memorize the key points:

"...fresh out-of-college whores..."

'K, got it.

Food recommendations are appreciated, too, since the Bombers' menu page wouldn't open up for me.

The Bombers' "rolling fatties" t-shirt IS coming back home with me, though.

CrazyCanuck said...

I ran through a wide gamut of emtions, from amusement to incredulity to extreme envy, at the tale of your wedding reception arrangements. It's true, Mrs. Bootleg was cool from day one!

acctg.sean said...

Wait, what? Deion Sanders? Willie Mays I get. He was one of the greatest ever. Dave Stewart I'll even buy cuz youre an A's fan. But, Deion? You had a Deion Sanders table for his baseball career??? Was there a Michael Jordan table, too???

Michiewah said...

Honey, you gotta tip 15% for a cab ride, yo...

SHough610 said...

15% at least, but I tip high (the former waiter in me).

Also, what's the over/under on your host insisting you call him "Ant-Man"?

that mexican guy said...

Do NOT get Cam started on Deion Sanders, Sean. Just...don't.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Too late, Mex! I *loved* Deion the baseball player, just because EVERYONE hated the guy. He had personality, he was fun to watch and he didn't conform to the game's inherent stuffiness.

Also, I know the appropriate tip etiquette. I always joke about it, though, cuz Black folk are universally known as the world's worst tippers.

I dated a girl who'd NEVER heard of the "15% rule" and always left $2, regardless of the bill. My 60-year-old aunt HAS heard of the 15% rule, but still leaves only a buck or two. Sheesh.

Anthony said...

No worries - the trip will be lots of fun. ANd I am pretty sure I can give you at least 7 names for most teams - even your A's...I would probably be better with teams fromthe 80's or 90's but I will give it a try when I see you...

(but you can just call me Anthony0

That Bootleg Guy said...

NICE~! I'm officially throwing you on the pile of "celebrity readers"!

Looking forward to getting out there.

that mexican guy said...

Might wanna make sure you bring Antman's tip envelope with you, Cam.

And hope there are a few other Black baseball fans on the Babe Ruth bus so that he can't identify you.

Translation: you're screwed.

Joe Reid said...

Eleven comments in and I'm gonna have to be the first to say it? Okay. I request -- nay, demand a TBG Eats entry on steamed hams.