Nothing like including a little sports in your vacation.
After two weeks off - with most of the first one on the road -I guess it was good to get back to work this week.
But that came after our planned excursion to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon had to be put off for the second straight year.
So my grandson Brice and I took a little trek to Abraham Lincoln country (birthplace and early years) in Kentucky, followed by a stop at Mammoth Cave, a brief look-see at Fort Knox and then it was on to the Louisville Slugger bat factory and baseball museum in downtown Louisville.
On the factory tour, it was particularly interesting to me to see the way they make bats now, using the technology of computers to program the lathes to produce a bat electronically from bottom to top in just about a minute, precision-made down to 1/100th of an inch of the dimensions requested by the picky major league hitters.
We each got a miniature bat stamped with the Louisville Slugger logo at the end of the tour, but I still got Brice a personalized full-sized bat with his name written in script - just like the big-leaguers do on theirs -to mount on his bedroom wall.
Cincinnati was the next destination for the traveling duo as the Reds were in town after the All-Star break for a three-game weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The two games we went to Friday night and late Saturday afternoon were both tight with the Reds notching victories as they went on to post a series sweep. Cincy came from behind to win 5-3 Friday as we watched from upper-level seats, but at least they were straight up from the near end of the third-base dugout to home plate.
And after the game, the fans were treated to a big-time fireworks show in sync with music picked out by Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Saturday, though, we were down low - right behind home plate, probably no more than 12 to 15 rows back and just to the left - so you didn't miss a thing going on. The Cards rallied late to force extra innings, and the Reds won 3-2 in the 10th on a leadoff home run hammered down the left-field line and over the fence by Ryan Ludwick.
We got to see 100-mph Reds closer Aroldis Chapman come in to pitch the ninth inning in both games.
Saturday, with the score tied, the Cardinals were just trying to get a runner on base against him. They got a walk, then -of course - tried to bunt him to second. Good luck with that! Rafael Furcal tried, but just fouled three pitches back to the screen for a strikeout, including one fastball that about smashed his finger. Then the next batter also fouled back Chapman's heat twice before whiffing.
But alas, other than a visit to Kings Island the next day, we were on our way home by Sunday night. But as an early birthday present for Brice, we are going back to the Queen City Monday night to attend the live WWE Raw show on the USA Network.
Having seen them both play in person a number of times, they were more than deserving of such a honor.
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org