After having driven across the country in less than a week, I knew I wanted my first adventure to be a short distance away. Spot I picked? Cooperstown.
Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which was, of course, my target.
The drive out was absolutely gorgeous. Sun shining, beautiful rolling hills completely covered in greenery, and a nice enough breeze. Not heavy or strong – in fact, barely noticeable But present. The state highways bend and wind amidst the hills, creating a maze of confusion to the foreigner. I managed to navigate my way to Cooperstown without getting lost too many times.
I have accepted that as a person who drives to places, I am likely to get lost, to get turned around, to be uncertain of where I am and which direction I need to head. I dated a girl once who became so inexplicably frustrated when we figured out that we were off course. She almost wanted to cancel our plans and just head back. It completely perplexed me. This is, after all, why people have maps and GPS and preparations for all uncertainties. Being lost happens. It’s natural. It’s a part of the experience.
I arrived in Cooperstown and parked in a lot on the edge of town. It was a lot serviced by a trolley. The parking was free, but the trolley was $2. I didn’t want to be vulnerable enough to have to rely on a trolley schedule in an unknown place, so I decided to drive into town and scope things out. Right off I found a spot to park. In fact, it was right in front of an old bookstore, the likes of which I haven’t seen since London.
It’s strange being in a place where “local reading” doesn’t have anything to do with the Pacific Ocean, or missions, or the Bear Flag or Hispanic history/culture. It’s strange to look at that section not see Greg Sarris or Californian Native American tribes in the authors and titles.
I decided to move my car due to uncertainty of whether I was in a 15 minute parking zone or a 2 hour parking zone. After driving around the town, I ended up parking on a random sidestreet just outside of the downtown area.
I walked to the Baseball Hall of Fame and saw that the library across the street was having a booksale. “Okay,” I said to myself, “this is worth checking out.” I did not actually think that I would buy anything. Which was my first mistake. My second was seeing that trade paperbacks were $1.
I perused the tents that held non-fiction books for awhile, before moving under the awning of the library and viewing the extensive fiction section. I quickly discerned that there was some amount of mix-up. After making my way up and down the aisles twice, I realized that there were boxes under the table.
I left with the likes of “Seinfeld and Philosophy,” “Fight Club,” “The Devil in the White City,” and a few others for less than $5. I was even mistaken for a local!
Then I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame. With my stack of books. Which was somewhat heavy. This was possibly an instance of bad planning. And life goes on.
Ones journey into the Hall starts with an exhibit on the history of the Hall, followed by a film on the history and importance of baseball in the United States, followed by the main parts of the Hall. There was a cool exhibit on the history of African-American’s in the sport, and tons of cool historical objects. One of my favorite parts was the statistics area where they had displays of things like the longest and shortest games, the most innings, the most home runs, etcetera.
After going through the exhibits, one can see the actual Hall of Fame. My knowledge of baseball is limited to how one plays the sports, who Johnny Damon is and little else outside the San Francisco Giants being the best team in the states – besides the fact that the Red Sox won the ’04 world series (which is a big deal). Nevertheless, I walked around and stood in awe of the history. Also, the room is very well designed and lit.
Following the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I decided to check out a local brewery. After doing a tasting of their beers, I bought a couple bottles, drove home and read for the rest of the day.