“John, where have you been the past two weeks?”
Good question, website. The short answer is traveling.
Back in June, my Front Porch Soccer cohost Ian invited me to join him at the MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta, where he would be one of many MLS and MLS-adjacent media people in attendance. When he’s not staying up late drunkenly discussing soccer jerseys with me, he’s doing video-related work for MLS. While we were recording, I found a flight to Atlanta from Dallas for $109 round trip. That’s basically unbeatable. At that point, my mind was made.
I flew to Atlanta last Monday night (30 July) having used the weekend prior to make progress on a few ongoing projects and actually take a break from my normal schedule grind. Monday night I met up with Ian and his wife Kelsey at the hotel in Atlanta, which was actually the first time he and I had met in person. We’ve known each other for literally years, but only through the magic of the internet. I always love it when I meet an internet friend in person and the sorts of conversations and antics pick up immediately, and we spent the evening drinking rum and cokes and talking. The next day was the primary media day at the MLS All-Star Game digital HQ in downtown Atlanta, so we spent a few hours there. I got to meet Simon Borg along with a number of MLS digital media people who I’ve followed online. Very fun. That night was the Special Olympics Unified game, Homegrown All-Star game, and the big crazy party. Due to the continuous thunderstorms in Atlanta coupled with typical Atlanta traffic, I elected to watch the two games online instead of in person, and went to the party. What. A. NIGHT.
Here’s a brief list of people I encountered or talked with at that party: Alexi Lalas, Claudio Reyna, Jason Kreis, Diego Valeri, Dave Sarachan, the guys at American Soccer Analysis, Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt, and of course, Matt Doyle. We (Ian, Kelsey, and I) ended up playing mini-golf in this theme park party venue with MLS’s top immigration lawyer. Very, very cool. There was also an open bar containing jack and coke slushies, wine slushies, and all sorts of other amazing inebriants. By the end of the night, I stumbled out of the car back at the hotel and Ian escorted my drunk self to my room. I woke up the next day at 2pm.
Wednesday was the All-Star Game itself. Honestly, while I enjoyed the hell out of the game, and would definitely go to another one, it wasn’t the best part of the experience. But I must say, what a lovely stadium, and the rumors about concession prices are true. Just for signing up as a designated driver, I got free soda for the entire game.
Thursday is where things went awry. I was feeling the exhaustion of a very busy week, but my flight back to Dallas was leaving at 7:25. For some reason, I had that down as 7:45, and scheduled accordingly. Long story short: I missed my flight, paid $75 to Delta just to get past security, called my dad in a panic, and wound up on an entirely different flight plan. Instead of flying Atlanta to Dallas to Grand Rapids, Michigan, I would be flying from Atlanta to Chicago and then to Grand Rapids. I spent a little over three hours in the Atlanta airport. In Chicago, the gate agent informed us, the gathering masses, that the airline would be offering vouchers worth $360 for anyone willing to take the next flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids. Ten minutes later, that number jumped to $750 and I took it. That voucher alone more than covers the cost of my panic flight in Atlanta and the entirely new flight plan. I felt like the god of air travel was giving me some positive karma back. I then spent around 4 more hours sitting around O’Hare waiting for that later flight, and didn’t arrive in Michigan until 6:30PM (more than 6 hours later than intended). Whatever.
We were in Grand Rapids for two nights for my cousin’s wedding, which was another excellent day, and we spent the rest of our time there touring their unusually prolific and exceptional craft breweries. I found one particular beverage, the Nitro Rubaeus from Founders, incredible. It’s technically beer, but doesn’t taste like beer, and I normally hate beer.
From there, it was on to Chicago for Saturday through Tuesday evening. In Chicago, we saw Hamilton, did some shopping, ate pizza at Giordano’s, and did the typical tourist things. I particularly enjoyed the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institvte, and I went and lectured Anish Kapoor’s shiny metal bean on abuse of intellectual property agreements. While in Chicago, my body decided to being rebelling against me in stages. My preferred walking/hiking shoes (Salomon brand) had nearly three years of life on them, and the thunderstorms in Atlanta were the final straw. I ended up chucking them in a skip downtown and told my family to pack a pair of Van’s for me. This was a mistake. In Chicago, those Van’s were absolutely murder on my feet, ankles, and knees, and the strain of the excessive walking inflamed my hips to the point where I had to loosen my belt. I also managed to contract some sort of plague. Chicago started getting a fair amount of rain on Monday, and our flight back to Dallas on Tuesday was delayed from 8:45 to 9:59. We didn’t land at DFW until after midnight.
I woke up Wednesday morning still feeling that plague. A quick check with a thermometer revealed a fever right around 100 degrees to go along with my aching bits, cough, headaches, and sinus nonsense. I spent all day on the couch in front of my new birthday present TV (post on the new setup coming soon). This is actually the first I’ve written since my layover in O’Hare last Friday. I’m definitely not back to 100%. Maybe somewhere around 66? Regardless, I’m not going to attempt much work for the next few days while my body properly recovers.
Anyway, that’s where all I’ve been.