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  • Timothy Bruce

Back to Atlanta and a time to be (a) Brave

It would appear that I am fast becoming something of a baseball fan! On my previous 3 rides with the Fuller Center for Housing I had attended 3 games (in Seattle, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati). On this trip, however, whilst on the tour and relaxing with my friend Mark Murphy back at this home in Atlanta, I have now attended 2 more games, one in New York and one in Atlanta, thus building up a love for these sporting spectacles. I have also booked tickets for a further Braves game on Sunday when temperatures are predicted to be hot (+100 degrees Fahrenheit) - my naivety!

Unlike attending a soccer game back in England, which can be somewhat tribal with two sets of rival supporters, often goading each other and using profanities towards opposing players and coaches; baseball is a far more of a social event where fans mix, develop friendly banter and have an excuse to eat not so healthy food and drink chilled beer! The size of some fans clearly demonstrates the love of this national pass-time with many people at home joining in on the feasting whilst sitting on their sofas and watching on TV!!

One of things I have noticed since my first visit to America in 1994, there has been a surge in the development of micro-breweries, so there are now plenty of beers to choose from and more and more people are moving away from the traditional/ weak beers like Budweiser, Coors, etc.. In fact, these traditional breweries are now struggling to attract the public to their beers and their share of the market is rapidly diminishing.

Before Mark and I attended the first game with the Atlanta Braves, we had to endure a two-day marathon drive from Portland in Maine, back to Georgia. In fact some others in the van also then had to drive home from Americus in Georgia to both Ohio and Texas, adding yet further days to their journeys. This country is massive so as we crossed each State line, we celebrated together as the miles were clocked up. Adding to this ‘adventure’ was the weather, with, first my phone, and then others’ warning of potential tornadoes and dangerous driving conditions. Sometimes the rain was coming down in bucket loads, so that visibility was very tricky and everyone slowed down on the interstate highways but, thankfully, no tornadoes were encountered. Seeing the occasional accident added some rubber-necking opportunities, but not so exciting views along the motorways/ interstates, the rumbling of the van and trailer across bumps in the road made the journey was soooo long. However with the need to refuel the vehicle, the journey was pepper-potted with visits to MacDonalds and other ‘non-health food’ providers.

I spent quite few hours studying my eyelids as my body recovered from the lack of adrenaline, now that the tour had finished. Mark did not have so much of this as he was one of the drivers and spent many hours behind the wheel and making sure we did not have ‘close encounters of the vehicle kind’ - Not easy given the weather and behaviour of other drivers!!

Eventually we arrived back at Mark’s home and we not only unloaded our bikes and things but we had other’s stuff to unload - 3 bikes and linked luggage. Wayne was met by his wife Jan to travel back to Tennessee, fellow-Atlantans David and Carol came by to collect their things too. This only left 5 people in the van to make the final part of the journey back to the Fuller Center’s headquarters in Americus where the whole adventure had started.

Day 1 back in Atlanta consisted of the first of the Braves‘ games and a delightful meal in the evening with Geraldine Carr and her husband, Andrew, who were from Belfast and Yorkshire respectively. Geraldine rode on the week into New York from Virginia Beach. (Finally, some others speaking English!!) They have lived in the States for some years now, but, having said this, they were travelling back over the pond the following day to watch the Ashes cricket series in England.

As part of going to the first baseball game I met Mark’s friend Bill and his son Will who are massive baseball fans and collectors of baseball memorabilia. On the second night we spent a wonderful few hours sipping bourbon/ whiskey at Bill’s fantastic home and meeting Wallace, a beautiful white retriever, who made me homesick for my similar dog Hank, back in England - only a few days now.

Day 3 was relaxed and, strangely, I did not participate in a two-mile run with Mark but stayed at home to write this blog. It felt good to be exercising my fingers of a keyboard given the lack of a piano!

More to follow as events unfold!

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