Looking Toward the Next Trip Before Returning to the Last

Today’s post will finally, once and for all, mark the end of my Florida road trip content. And it’s about time, right? I returned from the Sunshine State more than three weeks ago, and next week I’ll embark on my next journey of the 2012 campaign.

Yes, another MiLB road trip! Let’s focus on that for a moment.

From pink to orange to Missouri to dark green and then back to orange.

Here’s where I’ll be going. (As usual, chime in with suggestions regarding places to go, people to meet, establishments in which to eat, etc.)

June 7 — Oklahoma City RedHawks

June 8 — Tulsa Drillers

June 9 — Northwest Arkansas Naturals

June 10 — Springfield Cardinals

June 11 — Travel (should be in Memphis that evening)

June 12 — Memphis Redbirds

June 13 — Jackson Generals

June 14 — Arkansas Travelers

So, there you have it: Eight days, seven teams, four states, two leagues, one making-it-up-as-he-goes-along writer. Any ideas on what I should call this trip? Some pithy name that nicely represents the general region? Let me know.

And now, without further ado, it’s time to put a wrap on Florida. The previous, and penultimate, post of this “Return to the Road” series ended in DeFuniak Springs. From there it was just an hour drive to the final destination of Pensacola, a short trip that included my final appearance at a Florida rest stop. This boldly emblazoned truck was in the parking lot:

Soon enough I was in Pensacola, a city that felt unlike all the others I had visited on this trip. In a word, it felt distinctly “southern,” and my immediate reference point, Minor League market-wise, was Mobile (where I visited in 2010, to see the opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum). (One piece of wisdom I heard during this trip was that “in Florida, the further north you go the more southern it gets.” I would concur.)

I arrived in the early afternoon, and spent an hour or so wandering around the downtown area.

Free parking, so long as you back in at an angle.

St. Michael’s Church, serving the Catholics of Northwest Florida for over 230 years.

Cannibal Corpse had played Vinyl the night before (!), with Steve Earle scheduled for the following evening. (It was an eclectic venue, as Lil Kim had an upcoming show as well. I wish all of the aforementioned artists were together on one bill, and then went on to record an album produced by Rick Rubin).

This barber shop had all sorts of memorabilia in the window, and I made a (failed) promise to myself that I would get a haircut there the next day. But the only picture of mine that really came out features this wonderful sign.

Downtown’s Palafox Place was lined with bars and restaurants…

For lunch, I followed a reader recommendation and stopped in at a dark and spacious bar and restaurant called Hopjack’s. They have a lot of beer.

I had a sense of deja vu as soon as I looked at the menu, with the emphasis on artisanal pizza and duck-fat fries bringing to mind a place I’d been to twice when in Mobile. That place was, in fact, another Hopjack’s. There are three of them total.

Blackened shrimp and peppers fold, with duck fat frites.

I spent that evening at the Pensacola Blue Wahoos game, and you can find my post on that HERE.

But you know what? I spent the entire next day in Pensacola as well, and still have a lot left to share. So rather than let this post get more unwieldy than it already is, I’ll renege on my oft-repeated claim that the Florida content will end today.

It’ll end tomorrow. Promise.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

7 Comments

I worked as an intern with the Arkansas Travelers 3 seasons ago. When they built Dickey-Stephens Park they built an apartment for the 6 interns to live in every season. It is located down the 1st baseline by the maintance area. Make sure you get a tour of these digs. It was and should still be a sweet set up.

Also, make sure you ask for Reggie Temple when you’re at Dickey-Stephens Park. He’s the Assistant Park Superintendent. His claim to fame is that he cleans and details players and fans cars during games in the maintance area for a reasonable fee.

Thanks for these suggestions, TJ. I plan on following up on both of them.

When you go to Springfield, check out the Springfield Brewing Company. They brew thier own stuff and have great food. Just down the road from Hammons Field. I also was just at the Naturals in Springdale. AQ’s Chicken House is pretty good eating.

Pingback: Return to the Road: Panhandle with Care « Ben's Biz Blog

Okay, I am being lazy here, but here’s my direct wording from last year’s visit to Memphis’ AutoZone Park from my ballpark blog. And I still feel this excited about those damn nachos today!

“Oh my goodness this is great ballpark food! Unlike other parks, AutoZone is all about the local community and showcasing different food options. On the 3rd base side is the Corona Clubhose with every kind of Margarquita, Daquri, and international beer you have seen. Located on both sides of the concourse are food stands and storefronts (built into the stadium) offering everything you would need. However, you will only need two things – Rendezvous BBQ Nachos and Ghost River’s “Home Run Red” beer….
So far the shredded BBQ Nachos – that come with cheese, sauce, spices, and delicious BBQ – are the BEST unique food at a ballpark I have ever eaten. Couple that with a red ale, the Home Run Red, and you are speaking baseball food heaven!”

Have a blast and cannot wait to see your posts Ben! You’ll love AutoZone (got some pictures/advice on my blog viewfromhomeplate.wordpress if you need locations to view from). Make sure you hit up the left field hill, its actually quite serene!

Thanks, Nick! I appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise.

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