If you have not seen my Instagram or Facebook accounts in the last 30 hours, you may not know I stopped on top of Interstate 435 at the Kansas-Missouri state line yesterday between Wyandotte County and Platte County.
Here are a couple of pictures I took:
It took a bit of courage for me to get out of my car and take those photos. I am afraid of heights.
There were so many things I missed out on when I was a child because I was too scared to go up.
Now I did ride a gondola suspended over the Mississippi River with my father and brother during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. How I convinced myself to go, I still don’t know. Of course, the only cameras around back in 1984 used film, and most were quite bulky, so it wasn’t practical to take photos. Too bad, because they would have been breathtaking.
A few months after hovering over the Mississippi, my family made the infamous trip to Disney World, one which I’ve discussed ad nauseam in this blog. I had no desire to go on any roller coasters or other dangerous rides, even though I met the height requirement.
Four years later, the Steinle family went to Astroworld in Houston. My father and brother went on a few high-rise rides, but my mother and I wussed out and stayed on the ground.
In 1992, again, my father and brother went to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. My mother and I were not having it. I was very tempted to go up in the Arch when I was in the area for Lisa’s wedding last October, but since I was staying in St. Peters, 35 miles west of downtown, I didn’t do it. If Lisa and Jeff would like to take me up in the arch, I’m game.
I could not stand sitting in high seats at outdoor sports stadiums. I was just fine sitting at the top of the Superdome, simply because there was a roof and I had no idea the sky was above. But outdoors? Forget it.
In 1992, my father, brother and I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium. The first night, we sat in the outfield bleachers, about 440 feet from home plate. The second night, my father bought tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. I couldn’t do it. I walked around the concourse all night while my brother watched the game. My father stayed with me much of the time, and I feel terrible. Really terrible.
My fear of heights was a reason we sat in the ridiculously hot bleachers at the Texas Rangers’ old Arlington Stadium instead of the upper deck behind home plate. I feel bad for making my family accommodate my fear of heights.
I am very glad I never sat in the upper decks of LSU’s football stadium. I went up there one Saturday morning a few hours before a game, but I got scared. Really scared. I ran down the ramps as fast as I could.
Some of the high school football stadiums I covered games were harrowing.
University High, a laboratory school on the east side of the LSU campus, played its home games on one of the fields at LSU’s practice facility when I was covering games in Baton Rouge. The “press box” was actually an open-air shelter which was only accessible by a rickety old ladder. While some could climb the thing in 30 seconds, it took me more than one minute, sometimes two or three, to make it all the way up there. I was shaking like a leaf every time I was up there.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have covered the games from the field. I proved I could do it just fine when I moved to Kansas, writing down the information then feeding it to the computer. But I was on a deadline in Baton Rouge, and doing stuff on the field would have cost me 20-30 minutes, which could have been very bad if a game ran late.
Today, University High plays at a modern stadium with a real press box nowhere near as high.
Memorial Stadium is Baton Rouge’s largest high school stadium, seating over 20,000. It was once a home for Southern University’s football team, and hosted many small college bowl games and playoffs. It was once home to numerous teams in Baton Rouge, but now only a handful of teams use it, since the rental fees charged by the Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) are too high for most schools to afford. Many of the public schools, especially those in more economically depressed areas, can’t make enough off ticket sales to pay the rent, plus officials and security.
In November 1999, I covered a high school football playoff game at Memorial Stadium between Eunice and Capitol, which is about a mile from Memorial Stadium. I was also asked by the local cable company to provide color commentary for its tape-delayed broadcast in place of Rob Musemeche, the usual color man who could not be there that night due to a family commitment.
About 45 minutes prior to kickoff, the play-by-play man, Dennis McCain, and myself went to the top of Memorial Stadium’s press box.
I did not fare well.
I was very unsteady, and I could feel my knees quaking. Dennis was very patient with me and helped me a lot, and we made it through the opening spiel before returning to the press box for the game.
I wish I had a camera to take a picture from the top of the Memorial Stadium press box. You can get a great shot of the Louisiana capitol, the tallest in the United States, as well as traffic flowing on nearby Interstate 110 and other state government buildings.
My biggest fear of driving in Louisiana was breaking down and/or getting into an accident on one of the numerous bridges over the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The I-435 bridge in western Kansas City is high, yes, but nowhere near as high as the structures in Louisiana, most of which are more than 100 feet over “Old Man River”.
I would like to stop on the Kit Bond Bridge in Kansas City and get a shot, but there is too much traffic to do it safely.
As for high places in Kansas City, I have gone to the top of Kauffman Stadium to take pictures. I have considered watching a game from there.
We all have our fears. Maybe I need to conquer some. Heck, I’m going to be 42 later this year. Gotta start sometime.
The high today in Baton Rouge was 40 degrees according to the stupid scale Americans use for temperature (4 Celsius according to every other nation on earth). That was much warmer than it was in Hays, where it was -8 Celsius (17 above on the stupid scale).
COME ON, AMERICA. THE TIME TO CONVERT TO THE METRIC SYSTEM PASSED BEFORE I WAS BORN. GET WITH THE WORLD. AND YOU WONDER WHY MANY THINK AMERICA IS BACKWARDS.
FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, I WILL REFER TO FAHRENHEIT AS THE STUPID SCALE.
Few in Hays battled an eyelash at it being that cold. It’s winter. It’s Kansas.
I found it to be quite nice this morning. There wasn’t much wind, and it was not too bad for me only in a sweatshirt and turtleneck underneath in the minus teens Celsius. As long as I had my head covered, I was just fine. The wind makes it brutal when it blows, but it wasn’t blowing much today.
Had the high in Baton Rouge been the high in Hays today, many in these parts would have put on shorts. Most would have gone out in short sleeves without a jacket.
Yet in Baton Rouge, they were bundled up more than they were here.
On January 12, 2017, the high in Baton Rouge was a ridiculous 27 Celsius (82 on the stupid scale).
One of my high school classmates, Steve Caparotta, is a meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge. On his Facebook page, he asked whether those in “Red Stick” preferred hot or cold.
Most said they liked it hot.
What is wrong with those people? Do they not realize it is WINTER, even if it is at a subtropical latitude?
To me, any winter temperature above 7 Celsius (45 on the stupid scale) is too hot. And don’t get me started on it being that ridiculously hot in January.
Those who like it so hot in January need to move to Rio de Janeiro or other equatorial climates. That way they can have it hot and humid for 12 months a year.
I don’t know how ANYONE likes living in hot and humid weather 12 months a year. I wouldn’t last 12 minutes in Brazil. Or any other climate between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
I hate hot weather. I really hate it. I despise going outside in the summer when it’s so hot you can fry eggs on the sidewalk. In western Kansas, it’s really bad when the wind starts blowing. You might as well stick your head inside an oven.
Do these people who love the heat not realize you can layer up in the cold, but in the heat, you can’t strip down to your birthday suit? I lived in the damn heat and humidity of Louisiana for 29 years. It’s one of the many, many, many things about the Bayou State I do not miss one bit, and the main reason I would never, EVER consider moving back.
To me, Kansas is way too hot as it is. The only reason I would not live in Alaska is because it’s isolated, but if I had my druthers, here are the states I would most like to live in:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
- Vermont (I don’t care if Bernie Sanders is a Senator)
My least favorite:
- Florida (if you couldn’t have guessed that, you don’t know me)
- Arizona (I love you, Raymie, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to live there)
- Louisiana (how did I live there for so long? And I will never forgive my dad for marrying a New Orleans native)
- Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina all tied
- Arkansas EXCEPT the northwest corner
- Texas EXCEPT the panhandle
I feel very, very, VERY sorry for those who are going to be living long after I pass away. They’re going to have to deal with the severe consequences of global warming. It’s bad enough now. I can’t imagine what it will be like at the beginning of the 22nd century.
I cower in fear for the summers in Kansas. I’m seriously considering adopting a new sleep/wake pattern for days when I don’t have anything going, and that’s to sleep during the day and not do anything until after sunset. That would have to be altered on days I have appointments and want to do things out of town, but maybe it’s worth looking into.
At least I have two, maybe three, months of good weather still ahead. Then there’s tornado season, then the summer. Kansas sucks.
I’m off to another late start on Monday, bu then again, not really. I had my column done before 6 a.m, and then I went back to bed for a couple of hours. I’m trying to get out so I can go back to Kansas City, but the good news is I’m already packed except for the computer, and I have all of my crib notes ready for tonight’s edition of The Pulse.
The top score in The Pulse last week was 29,894, which is 106 points short of perfect. However, I discovered the high score had help; the next three scores came from the same Buffalo Wild Wings in Minneapolis. And then four of the next six were from the famous Walsh’s Sports Bar and Grill near Chicago, where it seems like there are always large groups playing together. There was a group of three last week trying to take me down. Not a chance.
Today is Bill Franques’ 51st birthday. Bill was my mentor when I worked in the sports information office at LSU. I helped him out with publicity for the Bayou Bengals’ baseball team during my undergraduate years, and I came back after my graduation to do it on a volunteer basis while I was doing freelance work with The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper.
Bill deserves sainthood for putting up with me all those years. He saw me at my very worst much of the time, and I’m sure he was frustrated with me on at least 500 different occasions. He could have easily cut me off and told me to hit the bricks, but he didn’t. I think he realized I needed LSU baseball badly, and there a lot of things I could do really well he would miss without me.
I came in very handy for Bill during my second stint working with him at LSU. He does not like to be away from his family, and since I was driving to all of the away game, he often rode with me so he didn’t have to leave until Friday morning. We would get to our destination a few hours before game time, and then would make the return trip Sunday night. We made it from Baton Rouge to Gainesville and back in under nine hours each way in 2002.
Bill and I spent an awful lot of days at Ivar’s, the great sports bar one mile from the LSU campus. Ivar’s is located on a corner of Perkins Road, with Interstate 10 rumbling along only a few feet to the west. I worried sometimes if an 18-wheeler lost control, it would flip and ram into Ivar’s. Bill and I spent many an afternoon before an LSU baseball game munching buffalo wings before getting back to the business of the day. Most of the time, we were joined by assistant baseball coach Jim Schawnke, and we would have a spirited discussion of college baseball and whatever else was on our mind.
By 2001, Jim was living in the Dallas area and Bill was married with a family, but I continued to spend an awful lot of time at Ivar’s, albeit alone, although on many occasions, I would run into someone I knew. There were weeks where I would go to Ivar’s four days a week for lunch, playing the jukebox and reading The Advocate while watching TV. The wings at Ivar’s are still the best I’ve ever eaten. They were coated with this bright orange sauce which is somewhere between Buffalo Wild Wings’ medium and hot. My fingers would be coated in the sauce by time I was done, and before I ate anything else, I had to run to the restroom to wash my hands.
Another great thing about Ivar’s was it served Barq’s root beer in the glass bottles and with frozen mugs. The only bad thing was no free refills, which meant I was mostly drinking Dr. Pepper in those days. Today, it would be Diet Coke.
The funny thing is I never played Buzztime trivia at Ivar’s. There was this one patron, Steve, who would come in and play during his lunch break. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t play Buzztime at Ivar’s. I might have spent an inordinate number of 13-hour days (11 a.m.-2 a.m.) there. I really miss Ivar’s, so much so that when I went back to Baton Rouge in 2010, I went there four times.
Okay, enough about the past. I’ve got to get a move on it. Next post will be from Kansas City.