We told you that we were staying in a "family resort" hotel one night, right? With a full-on water park, MULTIPLE go-kart tracks, mini golf, and batting cages? No? Then I can only surmise that I was too full of anticipation to be able to blog coherently about it.
It's been many years since I swung a bat, so I wasted no time in getting into the cages, and selecting the fastest speed pitch they had, 70 mph. If that's really only 70, I can't imagine what 90 looks like. Needless to say, I was a little slow, a little rusty -- and I simply cannot hit the high heat. But after making a few Kevin Long-style adjustments to my swing and concentrating on keeping my eye on the ball (it sounds so simple!) I made more and more good contact with each round of balls. My hands, which are now pretty well torn up, are testament to my dedication in the cages. I could do this every day.
What else happened in Eau Claire? Ah, yes, for the first time in many months, I walked out of a record store with a veritable arm load of vinyl. Cool shop, just opened. Really cool owner. Hope he makes it. His place is everything an independent record store should be! Probably nothing too noteworthy in my purchases, except to say that I picked up Lulu's first record (she of "To Sir With Love" fame). I looked hard for it 8 or 9 years ago, then moved on to other obsessions and basically forgot about it. So when I found it at Revival Records, it felt like a discovery -- but I also wasn't sure I still cared. Billy the owner and I started talking about it; he brought up some online listings showing that it's a sought-after collector item that usually sells for a lot more than he was asking -- but he hates selling online. Now, it's always nice to buy a collector's item, but the music's still gotta deliver. So I had Billy put it on for me and was blown away by the amount of soul in the first song, and the purchase was made.
And finally, at the recommendation of my friend Andrew, who spent a good portion of 2004 working in northwest Wisconsin, we bellied up to the bar at this place called The Joynt. When Andrew was there, beers were 35 cents. Times are tough now, though, so they're all the way up to 75 cents (!!!). From the formica bar top to the posters on the wall and the prices of drinks, this place was basically frozen in time -- and it was awesome.
This is what the heartland is all about!