Have you found your vacation-length sweet spot? When planning a big trip, I often find myself landing on 9-10 days. Fly out Friday or Saturday, come home the following Sunday. Leaving Montana is expensive no matter where you’re heading, so I always feel like that’s the best way to make it worth the money. At this point we’d done a couple 10-day-ers, namely Mexico for our honeymoon and Boston and New York for our first big Red Sox Road Trip, and the signs were there that I had started playing with fire. I love Joel and always love doing fun things with him but going from hopefully seeing him for a few hours at night during a work week to spending every moment with him in an unfamiliar city and, more importantly, unfamiliar bed, things tend to get a little dicey around day 9. This is exacerbated by my obsessive need to plan every moment of the vacation and irrational anxiety around straying from said plan. Mexico had ended with a less than fun sushi dinner, and Boston/New York ended with tears at the airport, albeit not from Joel or me. Still, I probably should have known that a 10-day trip spanning 4 cities and 11 games (plus a bunch of other stuff) was too much. But if my inner voice was trying to warn me, I didn’t listen and instead proudly handed Joel our jam-packed itinerary at the beginning of the trip without a thought of anything going any way but perfectly.
To be completely honest, the trip was great. We saw great games, great cities, and ate great food. By Sunday, however, we were exhausted, missing our own bed and shower, and comparing every living creature to at least one of our dogs. Add in the fact that the breakfast place I’d planned had a 2-hour wait by the time we got there so we had to adjust our schedule (blasphemy!) and the Raiders (Joel’s team) lost an absolute heartbreaker on Sunday Night Football, and you had all the ingredients for a crappy last day of vacation. Still, though, we got to make our third trip to Little Caesar’s Arena and see how they dressed it up for the pre-Blake Griffin Pistons during Star Wars Night.
In our travels, Joel and I have been to quite a few doubleheaders. Depending on the time of year and size of the city you’re in, it can actually be pretty simple to find a way to double up on sporting events (if you’re trying to spend all your time watching sports like us). A tripleheader, on the other hand, is downright hard. You need the right time of year, perfect timing, and stadiums in fairly close proximity to each other. Fortunately, we lucked upon just that in our second to last day of the Midwest Sports trip. Little Caesars was hosting its first ever college basketball games with a doubleheader featuring both Michigan and Michigan State up against some smaller local teams, and the NFL was having a random set of Saturday games, with Detroit playing in the late afternoon. The stadiums were within walking distance of each other and the college basketball slate started early, so we embarked on our full day of sports with gusto!
One thing that people always rave about when it comes to Billings, Montana is how safe it is. We’re regularly on lists of best places to raise a family because our crime rate is low for as decent sized as we are. People like to complain about a recent uptick in crime, but I think it’s more of a matter of us seeing the bad things get more airtime via social media than a real spike in bad peeps. One man’s safe is another man’s sheltered, though, and a lot of people in Montana have an irrational fear of big cities. My irrational fears fall more in the “that could never actually put your life in peril, you idiot” category, so I can’t really relate, but Joel was more than a little worried about spending a few days in Detroit, and the people we talked to who had been there didn’t do much to ease his distress. But he begrudgingly agreed to go (like he had a choice), and we started our Detroit stay off with a Friday night Red Wings game in their fancy new arena. I did my best to make Joel feel comfortable by getting a nice AirBnB and reading him articles that said Detroit only has the 10th most murders per capita, so it’s practically safe. Plus, similar to how calories don’t count on vacation, scary people don’t come out in the winter, right?
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.