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Day Twelve: Once Around the Bases

26 Jun

Today was an eventful day off the creek. I have been wanting to take the kids to a minor league baseball game, and what better time than a glorious day in late June, when the temps are moderate, and the sky is blue and cloudless? The Portland Sea Dogs, a double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, happened to be playing a 1:00pm home game, and it was time to seize my chance. A quick jaunt into Portland, and cheap garage parking available a block from the stadium, had me in good spirits as we stepped up to the ticket window. The stadium is small, but they had lots of different seating options. I suppose if I had known how many balls were going to get tossed into the stands, I might have gone for the box seats just off the field, but I liked the slight elevation of the reserved seats. When I go to Jacksonville Suns games, I always sit on the first base line, but Hadlock Field in Portland is oriented differently than Bragan Field, so it doesn’t actually have seating on the first base line. Today I chose a section at the end of the visitors dugout on the third base line. A clear view of the batter, and most of the action on the field, with only deep left field being a blind spot. I was chagrined to discover that one of the huge holes in my parenting is that my girls have never been to a baseball game, and, in fact, know nothing about baseball or how it is played! As the game unfolded, I set about attempting to remedy that. Harper had a keen interest, and seemed to easily be picking up the intricacies, including the deeper strategies of things like advancing the runners on a sacrifice bunt. The game had gotten off to an exciting start with the Sea Dogs scoring 3 in the first inning. But the Reading Fighting Phils answered with 3 of their own in the second, another 3 in the third, and 2 in the fourth. The Sea Dogs answered by adding 2 in the third, and 1 in the fourth, but remained behind by 2 through 3 dry innings. On a humorous side note, Harper was finding it hard to root against the visiting team until I advised her that the “Reading” on the scoreboard indicated the team’s home town of Reading, Pennsylvania. Pronounced “RED-ing”, and in fact had nothing to do with books. Once she discovered that she wasn’t actually having to root against reading, her loyalties rested easily with the Sea Dogs. In the bottom of the eighth, the 6’8″ (Talk about a stretch!) first baseman for the Sea Dogs ripped a 3 run homer over the fence, giving the Sea Dogs the lead, and ultimately a one run victory.

Today happened to be a kids run the bases day at Hadlock Field, so we went down and lined up behind the left field grandstand. Holy cow, there were a lot of kids there! But it was a very well-organized event, with them using cones and tape to make a chute to direct the kids down the foul line, and around to home plate. (Basically just keeping everyone off the infield grass.) They split them up by age groups, with 9-16 running first, then 8 and under. So, they lined the little ones up against the outfield wall on the warning track, before turning the bigger kids loose in heats. Which was nice because then it wasn’t too crowded on the base path, and kids weren’t getting run over or bumped. I didn’t even get to see my older two run from my position in left field, but after running they directed the kids back out through center field and I caught a glimpse of Harper running through short center field. Then it was Avery’s turn, and I walked with her down to home plate, and managed to get a few photos of her rounding first and then coming home. It was fun being down on the field, taking some pictures from a player’s perspective. Hadlock Field has their own minor league version of Fenway’s Green Monster (Monstah?), and I got a pic of the kids lined up in front of the scoreboard. On a delicious side note: Hadlock Field also sells Fenway Franks, and man are they good! I love the New England hot dog bun, which essentially resembles a slice of white bread folded and smooshed around the dog. Good, good stuff. Overall, I think our first minor league baseball outing was a success. It was a good game, the weather was perfect, the stadium was small enough that I felt perfectly comfortable letting my kids go to the restroom or wander the concourse together without me as slight boredom set in. Not to mention that the home team won, and the kids got to run the bases after the game! I would, without a doubt, catch another Sea Dogs game the next time I’m in Portland. They have a really well-run organization, at least as it seems from a fan’s perspective, with nice facilities, and a fun minor league feel (their mascot, Slugger the Sea Dog, was very entertaining, and there were lots of between innings games/entertainment.)

After the game I insisted that we track down a restaurant that had come highly recommended in Portland, the impossibly cool and totally hipster, Duckfat (which my computer keeps auto-correcting to “ducat” – which to the best of my knowledge is just old/vintage slang for money. Even my computer is cooler than me.) In keeping with its hipster mystique, Duckfat is a tiny little restaurant; we managed to secure a table outside, but as space is limited, and outdoor tables are meant to seat 6, they sat another couple with us. How delightfully communal. I’m pretty sure they were on their honeymoon – and I’m pretty sure they were super excited about being seated with three children. A French woman wearing a traditional, folded at the waist, black apron delivered a carafe of water and four jelly jars as glasses, before taking our order. Hipster!! Anyway, I was told that Duckfat had amazing French fries, served traditionally in a paper cone, with an array of dipping sauces to chose from. But, no!! They in fact do NOT serve French fries, they serve Belgian fries! Belgian. Get it straight! Listen, I don’t care the true national origin of these sliced potatoes fried in duck fat, I just wish I had ordered more of them. They. Were. Delicious. The garlic mayo, very tasty. The truffled ketchup, sinful. Beau, never a fry fan, abstained, but the girls and I put a quick hurtin’ on that large order (which wasn’t actually so large). As they were savoring the last few fries and licking salt from their fingers, I recommended that the next time Mommy suggests we try a new restaurant they forego the whining and complaining, because there might be something just this delicious waiting for them. I also ordered a panini to go, with the intention that I would eat it later, while the kids were having something else for dinner, as the fries were meant as a snack, or an appetizer, of sorts. As it turned out, despite my saying I wanted the sandwich later, it came out just after the fries, and as it sat still warm in it’s wax paper wrapping, I thought, hey, maybe I’ll just take a few bites now, you know, since it’s still warm. Just to see how it is. Oh. My. Meatloaf panini. Let me just cut and paste here the description directly from the panini section of their menu:

HOMEMADE MEATLOAF 11.5

horseradish pickled onion • cheddar • smoked poblano mayo

They had me at meatloaf. But horseradish pickled onion and smoked poblano mayo? It was tangy, and creamy, and melt in my mouth delicious. I could not stop eating it. Could. Not. The upshot being that as I drove away from Portland, I was incredibly grateful I had worn my stretchy pants. I was sporting a Duckfat food baby, easily a second trimester level food baby. And I would go there again tomorrow to try the Cuban panini, or the tomato soup (with grilled cheese croutons!) I would recommend that anyone and everyone who has ever had a tender thought about French fries go and experience their Belgian fries. Truly. It was that good. And to the friend who suggested it, I quote the Princess Bride, “I will never doubt again.”

Headed back into town I picked up a cheese pizza from Atlantic Pizza for the kids. And I didn’t even have a single slice, despite how much I love Atlantic Pizza, because I was still too full of Duckfat goodness. The kids ate their pizza and watched some tv, while I ran the tireless Remy into the waves for his ball, over and over again. Overall, it was a wonderful day. Full of new discoveries, delicious hipster food, and All-American fun.

 

EDIT NOTE: So, my local friend, Mandy pointed out that I had made the humorous error of calling it “Haddock” Field instead of the properly ascribed “HADLOCK” Field. I’d say that’s a time when autocorrect, and my lazy proofreading made for a rather funny mistake. She suggested I leave it be, but I just couldn’t leave the error once I knew about it. However, in my heart, the Portland Sea Dogs will always be at home on the delicious Haddock Field…

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim