From a personal standpoint, I had just one objective during last weekend’s trip to the West Coast: dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean.
I’d actually been to California several times before and had even visited the beach to see the Pacific, but had never actually set foot in the water. It seemed like something I needed to do.
So on Saturday afternoon a small group of Revolution staffers hopped in a cab and told the driver to take us to Redondo Beach, which was the closest to our hotel.
“Redondo, huh? Everyone else is going to Hermosa, but you want to go to Redondo,” he said.
It seemed like a not-so-subtle hint that we were making the wrong decision.
“Should we go to Hermosa instead?” I asked.
“I would,” the cabbie responded. “It’s only five minutes further and there’s a lot more action.”
Never one to pass up a good tip, I told him to take us to Hermosa Beach.
We certainly didn’t end up disappointed with our decision. We arrived in the midst of a beach volleyball tournament – an incredibly underrated sport – and immediately made our way down to the water to get our feet wet, literally. The water was cold, but refreshing. And it was the Pacific.
After spending a bit of time on the pier watching the surfers – including one older, overweight gentleman who did a full headstand while riding a wave – we retreated to the boardwalk for a bit of lunch on the water.
Now if only we could’ve picked up three points against Chivas USA that night, the trip would’ve been perfect …
Have you ever felt like a powernap in a cozy log cabin setting would give you just the boost you needed in the middle of a long, productive workday? Ever wished your office staff would hold meetings inside dimly-lit tents instead of bland conference rooms? I’m sure many of us have daydreamt about enjoying a cold beer straight from the tap at the end of a long workweek … while still in the office.
This is all reality for those who work in the Vancouver offices of HootSuite, which I had the pleasure of visiting during our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest.
HootSuite describes itself as “a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard.” Some of the social networks HootSuite integrates include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and new Google+ Pages, plus social content apps for YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr, among others.
We here at the Revolution and several other MLS clubs use HootSuite for managing the teams' social media postings and monitoring. You can find more info here: https://hootsuite.com/company
The folks at HootSuite were gracious enough to show myself and Jason Dalrymple around their office space this past weekend – special thanks to James, Scott and Sandy for the hospitality – and it is absolutely wild.
There’s a quiet, log-cabin themed room which contains nothing more than a few cots for napping. Adjacent to that space is a yoga room and full fitness facility, open for employees to use as they please. The kitchen – a massive space fully equipped for sustainability – is complete with taps for both beer and wine, open to employees for a late afternoon drink on Fridays.
Oh, then there’s the tents. That was my favorite part. There are tents liberally scattered throughout the office space, just in case you’d rather hold a quick meeting there instead of in a conference room. And it’s not like the conference rooms were too shabby – they were all decorated with elaborately themed murals.
It’s not only employees who enjoy the facilities at HootSuite … it’s their pets, too. Employees are invited to bring their dogs into the office and based on the number of canines (all incredibly well behaved) we encountered on our tour, it would appear as though many take advantage of the opportunity.
Reading about the space won’t do it justice, but hopefully the pictures give you a feel for the atmosphere, which was incredibly relaxed. Obviously the folks at HootSuite feel that the environment is particularly conducive to creative thinking and a productive work ethic, and the rapid growth of the company seems to back up those assumptions.
While our visit to HootSuite was the highlight of our Road Trippin’ adventures, we also had the chance to go for an extensive walk around Coal Harbour on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately we missed the orca whales which swam through the harbor on Friday, but it was still an incredibly scenic walk which perfectly highlighted Vancouver’s contrast of major city with a mountain backdrop.
Probably the coolest part of the harbor walk was the seaplanes constantly landing and taking off from the water. Apparently they’re available for tours so long as you have the foresight to plan ahead. Perhaps if we’re still doing our Road Trippin’ series the next time we’re in Vancouver …
Before the Revolution entertained us with an impressive 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo last Saturday night, fellow road tripper Jeff Wroblewski and I got a bit of culture with an afternoon visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
To be honest, I didn’t know quite what to expect as we hopped in a cab and headed toward our destination on a hot and humid afternoon. On our previous Road Trippin’ adventures I’d been relatively familiar with the cities and had general ideas what to expect on our journeys, but despite four previous trips to Houston, I hadn’t taken in many of the local attractions.
We settled on the Museum of Natural Science after consulting with the guys from The Rebel Alliance Podcast – thanks Josh and Renny – and we were not left disappointed by our decision.
I get that museums aren’t for everybody, but we’re into that kind of thing. We also figured any extra knowledge acquired might help us in the upcoming Midnight Riders trivia night at The Banshee. Watch out for the Far Post Podcast team on May 30. We’re coming for you.
There are 11 permanent exhibits at the museum and as you can ascertain from the images I captured (in the gallery below), I was most fascinated by the paleontology and gems/minerals exhibits. We were informed that the Morian Hall of Paleontology – which opened recently – is the largest paleontology exhibit in the country, and I have to say they did a fantastic job with it.
I was particularly fascinated by the bones of a large turtle which looked like it was approximately the size of the kitchen in my apartment. JWro was most intrigued by a fossil which captured a fish choking to death on another fish. Seriously. It even said it on the plaque.
Our only disappointment was that the Ancient Egypt exhibit wasn’t yet open. We missed it by days. What can you do? Guess I’ll just have to come back to Houston some other time.
I realize this isn’t the most riveting of Road Trippin’ blog posts, but sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and take in some history or the arts. With that said, we’ll be looking for some action or adventure the next time we’re on the road …
The result of this past weekend’s meeting with the New York Red Bulls was utterly forgettable, but the trip itself was rife with memorable moments.
It all starts, of course, with the many tributes to the victims of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. The New York Red Bulls deserve huge credit for putting together a touching pregame ceremony which included both teams walking out onto the field with Boston-sports favorite “Dirty Water” (by the Standells) playing over the Red Bull Arena sound system. It was pretty special.
But most special, by far, was the pregame march into the stadium. Groups of supporters from both clubs met at the top of Riverbend Drive and exchanged heartfelt messages of support before marching together toward Red Bull Arena, chanting and singing the entire way. It can’t fully do it justice, but we captured the march in this video.
Before Saturday’s emotional events in Harrison, N.J., I had the chance to get into New York City for a bit on Friday afternoon along with fellow Far Post podcaster (and yes, my boss), Jason Dalrymple. Because our hotel is located in New Jersey, this was actually the first time I ever had the chance to visit NYC while on a Revs trip, although I’ve been to the city many times before.
Considering we were on a road trip as the Revolution’s digital department, we figured it only made sense that our first stop was at the MLS Digital offices, where neither Jason nor I had ever been. It was great to see their office space in NYC, but even better to visit with the brains behind MLSSoccer.com.
From the MLS Digital offices we popped over to the next block to visit MLS headquarters, where we made the rounds with another set of league staffers whom we hadn’t seen in a while. The offices, I must say, are really impressive, especially for someone like me who geeks out at anything MLS related.
With a couple hours to kill between our visit to MLS and dinnertime, we made our way through Times Square – I get why it’s annoying to people who live in NYC, but it’s still cool to me – and weaved our way over to 30 Rock, where one of my closest friends, Matt, works for NBC Sports. He’d told us that if we wanted to stop by for a tour of the studios he’d be more than happy to be our guide, so we obliged.
After checking us in as guests, Matt brought us on a private tour, with stops in the studios for Saturday Night Live, Football Night in America and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Cool, right? It never hurts to know people.
I can tell you that every studio was way, way smaller than I expected, mostly because the building was originally built as radio studios. Camera tricks just make everything seem much larger on TV. Hopefully the pictures below convey the size.
All in all, our Road Trippin’ experience in New York City was a massive success, especially since we eventually made our way back to Jersey in one piece. Now to start brainstorming for Portland …
As we neared the end of a rainy stroll through Seattle last Friday afternoon, fellow road tripper Jeff Wroblewski declared that he had enjoyed his first glimpse of the Emerald City, but only wished he could’ve seen it in the sunshine.
“But why?” I asked. “This is Seattle in its natural state.”
For the all the jokes about the rain in Seattle, apparently there’s good reason. It did rain for a good portion of our three-day trip to the Pacific Northwest – including a downpour during Saturday afternoon’s game – but it couldn’t put a damper on our Road Trippin’ experience.
While I already had a pretty good idea what I wanted to see in Seattle – full disclosure, I’d been there twice before – I took to Twitter and asked the masses for suggestions. While I did receive a variety of tips (thanks, by the way), the consensus was clear. When in Seattle, go to Pike Place Market.
Everyone associates Pike Place with the fishmongers, which is understandable. There are quite a few and they’re easily the most entertaining (and most vocal) of the local merchants. But there’s so much more to Pike Place. There are endless amounts of stands selling fresh produce, specialty foods, flowers, art, jewelry, clothing … pretty much anything you could imagine.
I could’ve walked through Pike Place Market for hours, but I probably would’ve gone flat broke. Check out the quick video we put together of our stroll through Pike Place down below.
So people associate Seattle with rain and Pike Place. Oh, and Starbucks. We stopped by the first-ever Starbucks (right at one end of the marketplace) to catch a glimpse. I’m not a coffee drinker, but apparently a lot of other people are judging from the line stretching well outside the door. Of course, if all they really wanted was coffee they could’ve stopped by another Starbucks 50 feet down the road.
We had one last stop on our stroll – a skate shop called 35th North, which JWro wanted to check out – before making our way to Safeco Field for that evening’s baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. I’ll admit it was a bit cold to sit for three hours watching baseball, but it was still a fun experience, especially since Safeco’s state-of-the-art retractable roof had been deployed.
We likely won’t be back to Seattle for a while with the way the MLS schedule works, but I was satisfied with the recent journey. It’s a unique city which I’d recommend everybody visit … so long as you can stand a little bit of rain.
Twice last season we visited the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. And twice I made the walk from our hotel at Penn’s Landing down a few blocks to the Liberty Bell with the intention of seeing the iconic piece of American history. And twice I was deterred by an incredibly long line.
But with a bit more time at our disposal on Saturday morning, Digital Content Assistant Jeff Wroblewski (JWro to listeners of the Far Post Podcast) and I made a promise to ourselves that we’d finally see the Liberty Bell this time around. After all, this was our only scheduled visit to Philly this year.
So we strolled over toward Independence Mall around 11 a.m., fully prepared to stand in line for however long it took to see the Liberty Bell. But we caught a bit of a break because of the weather (it was bitingly cold and it snowed/rained/sleeted off and on through most of the day) so we only ended up waiting in line for 10 minutes or so.
It was a bit of an odd experience actually approaching the bell itself. There’s a long corridor filled with historical artifacts and informational posters, and at the end sits the Liberty Bell. You simply walk right up and wait for an opening so you can take your picture next to it unobstructed. Of course, both JWro and I made sure our Revs jackets were proudly displayed in our pictures.
Upon exiting the glass pavilion where the bell is housed, we wandered around Independence Mall for a brief time, stopping to take some pictures of Independence Hall (where both the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were drafted and signed). On another trip I’d love to take a tour. I’ve never been a huge history buff, but I find visiting historical landmarks fascinating.
Down half a block from Independence Hall was this statue of “The Signer.” But he kind of looks like he’s holding a microphone and singing, right? Just rocking out. So my initial thought was, “Oh no, they spelled ‘The Singer’ wrong!” Sometimes it takes me a while.
As lunchtime approached, I suggested we indulge in Philadelphia’s most coveted food spot. You’re probably thinking cheesesteak, but you’re wrong. I’m talking about Wawa.
Many a Pennsylvanian has raved about Wawa, which is essentially a convenience store chain. But the subs (which you order fully customized through a touch screen) are delicious and the coffee is award-winning (although I wouldn’t know since I don’t drink coffee). For those of you who’ve been, I was the idiot who didn’t realize you had to pay for the sub in advance and get your receipt stamped before they’ll actually give you the sub. Nothing like making it obvious you’re a tourist.
So that was our Saturday morning. The Liberty Bell and Wawa. Doesn’t get much more Philadelphia than that.
The 2013 season could not have gotten off to a better start for the New England Revolution as the club spent this past weekend in Chicago.
Most important was the result, of course, as Kelyn Rowe came off the bench early in the second half to inspire the Revolution’s 1-0 win over the Fire. It was the first time the Revs won a season opener since 2009 – when they did it in San Jose – and it was their first regular-season victory in Chicago since July 2006. Any time you take three points home, it’s a good trip.
But I, along with a few other Revolution staffers, had the added bonus of experiencing a bit of the Windy City on a chilly Saturday morning as the players rested ahead of the evening kickoff.
From our hotel on Michigan Ave (in the Loop) we journeyed toward Millenium Park, passing the Art Institute of Chicago along the way. Perhaps on another trip I’ll have time to wander inside and explore the exhibits, but on this occasion we had other destinations in mind.
Our first stop was at the Crown Fountain, which features a pair of five-story glass brick towers using LEDs to display digital videos, primarily of Chicagoans faces. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, considering the chilly temperatures) the actual fountains are only operational from May to October, so there was no water spouting out the front of each tower. Still, it’s a fascinating interactive piece of artwork and attracted onlookers even in the snow.
Next we made our way down another block or two to one of Chicago’s most recognizable landmarks, Cloud Gate, more affectionately known as “The Bean.” It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s so special about The Bean, but the sheer size (33 x 66 x 42 feet and more than 100 tons) certainly has something to do with its magnetic appeal. The effect created by walking underneath the archway and looking up at the warped reflection is remarkable.
Because the most common activity at The Bean is to have your picture taken in the reflection, I naturally did just that with the Flag of New England displayed on my jacket; my own little way of representing the Revolution in Chicago.
As we continued our stroll, we passed by Buckingham Fountain (also noticeably lacking water), the centerpiece of Grant Park. Music fans will note that Grant Park has been the home of Lollapalooza since 2005 and having walked through the massive lawns, it’s easy to imagine why it’s such a popular festival.
Having worked up a bit of a hunger – and a bit of a chill after standing on the banks of Lake Michigan – we decided it was time for lunch. And we were in Chicago. So there was really only one option.
We headed toward Lou Malnati’s, which many a Chicagoan has recommended for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Admittedly, it was my first time having authentic Chicago-style deep dish and it didn’t disappoint. I went with “The Lou,” which included spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and three types of cheese. Sounds healthy, right? As healthy as deep dish gets, I suppose.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel satisfied with our first Road Trippin’ adventure. Was it touristy? Yes. But I am a tourist. I’m just looking for the experience. And I’m already looking forward to Philly …
During the Revolution’s preseason trip to Tucson, Ariz., staff and players had the luxury of an off day approximately halfway through our two-week stay. Many in our travel party (smartly) used the day to sleep in, relax by the pool and generally recharge for the week ahead.
But I, along with four other Revolution staffers, decided to experience a bit of the local landscape by hiking through Sabino Canyon. We’d talked about a hike the year before, but never had the time. Now was our chance. We took a short guided tour through the canyon to the base of the mountains before hiking our way back, keeping our eyes peeled for rattlesnakes and mountain lions along the way.
Luckily we avoided interaction with any such wildlife, but what we did encounter were some of the most stunning views I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing firsthand. With the backdrop of a clear blue Arizona sky, we hiked through a canyon punctuated by rolling mountains, cacti and … well, lots of cacti.
As our hike finished, I was overjoyed that I’d taken the opportunity to experience something I could’ve only experienced in Arizona. I definitely had one of those “what a beautiful country we live in” moments and decided immediately that I wanted to experience as much of it as possible.
As it happens, my job provides plenty of opportunity for travel. We’re on the road approximately 20-25 times a season, visiting spots all across North America from Texas to California, from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, from Colorado to Canada.
Convenient, I thought. I’m typically afforded a bit of free time in the mornings and early afternoons on game days, so I set a rule for myself that I would experience something unique to each city we traveled to this season. Then, as I do with most thoughts which pop into my head, I posted it to Facebook. Because that’s what people do.
In the comments section, a Revolution supporter (thanks, Eric!) made a fascinating suggestion. Why don’t I document all of my experiences and post them to the blog? It would interest him, he said, and perhaps a few others, as well.
After a quick discussion with my boss (Far Post Podcast social media master, Jason Dalrymple), the “Road Trippin’” blog series was born. On each road trip this season I’ll use my free time to experience something unique to that destination, and follow up with a quick blog post (with pictures and perhaps video) to keep fans up to date. Perhaps my experiences will even prompt you to travel to an MLS city to catch a game and experience the sites.
I’m assuming many of you have already traveled to some of the cities we’ll be visiting this year, so I could actually use your help. Any suggestions as to what I should do in any specific cities? Anything I can’t miss or you’d like to see? Let me know …