Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 25 - From Motown (AKA Tiger Town) to the Emerald City


You know, I had a really good time on my trip. It was lots of fun and I met a lot of people. I learned that Michigan has really nice and cute girls - of all ages. I learned that people are so friendly when talking with sock monkeys. I learned how to shoot pool, and I ate a lot of really good food. I met Big Boy, and Uncle Sam, and Bike Monkey, and The Outlaws Motorcycle Gang from Kalamazoo, and Ken's friends and cousins. I LOVED seeing Frannie and Jesse again. AND I met Wendy's very cool son-in-law John and his very cool cousin Tom. What a treat seeing Aunt Dale and Uncle Rod. I hope the next time I go on a plane, I can meet people as nice as my new plane friends Jeff, Nico, and David. (I also want to get a Hero Exit Row seat again. And I'll ask the Captain if he or she will let me play on the slide after we land.) 

I met a lady named Cupid at Comerica Park, and Mickey and the Statue of Liberty there, too. At Starbucks, the Starbuckians were fun to play with, the coffee was nummy, and Terri was very smiley! There were lots of girls all over the place - Carrie, Audrey, Marissa, and the super sweet ladies from Mercy Class of '91. Howard and Mindy were way too fun - and I'm glad that Howard played with me and taught me how to shoot pool. I am really happy that I got a chance to go to Frankfort and to Corktown!

Sue and Emeline were so nice to me - and I was sad that Sue could not come to the Tigers game that she got us the tickets for! She's one of my heroes, and I can't wait to spend time with her soon.

It was so exciting when I woke up today and got dressed in my new Tigers uniform! I asked Mr. Potato Head to play ball with Puppy, Baby, and me. He has a Tigers uniform, too! We looked like real ball players and we were pretending to be watching the other team STRIKE OUT!
I told Mr. Potato Head all about the Tigers game, and I taught my friends all about how to do a wave. The four of us tried to do a wave, but they all wanted to raise their arms as soon as I put mine down. We have to work on the timing. Then we played catch for a while. One time I threw the ball and all three of them shouted, "I GOT IT! I GOT IT! I GOT IT!" but it ended up falling in the middle of them! We all laughed really hard, and Baby even fell over backwards laughing!
Traveling is fun, especially the Frannie and Jesse part because they are my oldest friends. I loved when they cuddled me, because it made me feel so loved. When I got home and was playing ball with my new friends, I realized that home is where you hang your Tigers cap. And right now, that's Seattle.

So stay tuned for my Odyssey in the Great Pacific Northwest! Maybe Wendy and Ken will take me to a Mariners ballgame, and I can have some garlic fries. And a hot dog, too. I understand that the Mariners could REALLY use an Authentic Rally Monkey this season. Maybe they will hire me and I can play with The Mariner Moose, who is their very funny mascot!

July 24 - Part 2 - Up Up and Away Back to Seattle


You may recall that my trip on the plane out East was a little boring. I was not looking forward to another almost 5 hours on a plane, and I told Wendy and Ken that I would try to be a good sport, but that they need to remember that I'm just a little sock monkey. Ken told me that he would do his best to make sure that I was more comfortable this time. And WOW did he come through!

We had the coolest seats! It was like we had our own playroom! Ken smiled his way into the heart of the gate attendant, and she gave us exit row seats. Not only were we bound to be the heroes of the flight in case we were going to crash, and I could be there yelling (in a very deep and grown-up voice), "Be calm! Single file! Women and children first!" and maybe put my hand on some nervous person and say, "There, there. It will be all right!" just like I've seen in the movies, but if we didn't have to be heroes, there would be room on the floor to PLAY! The man who let us get on the plane asked if we would take our Hero job seriously in the exit row, and I said that I most definitely would. Wendy showed me the folder that had lots of pictures that told me what I had to do in case of an emergency. Do you know that they have slides on the planes? How amazing is that? I wish I had known that on the trip to Detroit, because I was bored and that would have been fun.

Once we fastened our seatbelts and took off, I started to look for things to do. Soon I was able to spread out on the floor with my toys and play for a really long time. Baby played "Rescue Time" with me (Baby makes good siren noises). The flight attendant, Nico Fuentes, was so cool! Not only was he one of the nicest flight attendants EVER (Wendy told me that), but he could sing! Nico used to be a back-up singer in Las Vegas, and he said he sang with Tony Orlando and Dawn for a while (I wanted to ask him to sing "Knock Three Times" but Wendy pointed out that he would just be singing the back-up part...). Nico liked me a lot, and I liked him. He even gave us a copy of his CD to listen to! Oh! My friend Jeff from the flight to Detroit was also on the plane! It was really great to see my old new friend again! 
The exit door had a sign on it saying "DO NOT SIT" - and it reminded me of the "No ANIMALS!" sign in Beulah. So I hopped up there to sit. I had a hard time balancing, and this nice guy sitting behind us - his name is David - helped out by holding me with his foot. It was very friendly and simian-like of him! Made me feel like he was a good friend and cousin! He offered to take me mountain climbing and to China too - but Wendy told him that I couldn't go. I was relieved, because I didn't want to be so far away and he didn't say if Puppy and Baby could come with us. Then I got very excited when I saw where they hide the slide!!! I love slides. 
Some of the time on the plane, Ken gave me pony rides on his leg because he could stretch out all the way with no seats in front of us. Then he gave me his iPod to listen to. I like his music. All Wendy wanted to listen to on her iPod was show tunes, which I like, but I wasn't in the mood for Ethel Merman and she was. After a while, Ken wanted to take a nap, so I looked at GAMES magazine, trying to find something to do. HOORAY! They had some "kids stuff" pages and those puzzles were easy. Then I asked Wendy what I could do next, and she let me read her Craig Ferguson book. I liked that A LOT! He's very funny, and I think he would like me as a friend. He has puppets on his show a lot, and they sing and dance, and he is very cool and fun. His book was pretty interesting. I don't know if he has any sock monkey friends yet. It would be fun to sing on his show with the puppets.
I looked over at Ken and he was dozing. I asked if I could join him in a nap, and he said that I could if I would stop talking and just be still. After a few minutes of me asking Ken lots of questions and if HE would sing "Knock Three Times," he asked Wendy to settle me into the little suitcase to take a nap. She let me use her really soft red pillow to cuddle up in, and I have to admit that it was very peaceful and comfy all snuggled in there. I fell asleep singing "Knock Three Times" with Puppy. He pretended to be Nico, and I was Tony Orlando. And that's how I spent the rest of my plane trip!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 24 - Part 1 - As the trip winds down...


The last day of our trip was here. I was pretty sad when we got all packed up to go, and part of the reason was because Spider-man was on TV and they made me turn it off. I really like that movie, and the only reason I didn't pout was because Wendy and Ken told me I had a surprise coming very soon. 

We went to this big mall and they bought me a Detroit Tigers uniform and a Tigers t-shirt for my souvenirs! I couldn't wait to wear it, so we put it on - and they even got me a bat, a ball, and a mitt! I've been singing John Fogerty all day, "Put me in, Coach... I'm ready to look at me... I can be... Centerfield!" I would have also clapped at the right places, but sock monkey hands don't make much noise so it seemed silly to do. Anyway, I looked very official - just like the guys I saw the other night at the game! I love baseball! I am a sock monkey of summer, that's for sure!

Aunt Dale and Uncle Rod met us for sushi. It was great to see them again. It was also great to get some sushi! I had been practicing my chopstick skills all vacation, since Ken LOVES sushi and he had already had a couple of coney dogs, so I knew we'd be chowing down on some sushi soon! I even shared some with Puppy. He is not a good sharer, and he wanted to put wasabi on everything so that I wouldn't eat it. AND he kept saying in a really deep voice, "Wasabi, Ernie? Wasabi, Ernie?" over and over, and thinking he was really funny, and it was so annoying. That's the last time I go to lunch with Puppy!
As if Wendy and Ken didn't have enough to eat, they decided they had gone a full week without visiting Starbucks. Luckily there was one right near the sushi place, so in we went! It was so cool! I mean, really too cool - it was 90+ degrees outside but inside it was like when they put the word COOL in those icy letters... I wished I had my sweater with me, but it was packed in the car.

We all know that Starbucks has great coffee, but I gotta tell you, those yummy baked treats looked good! I hadn't had any sweets since my chocolate chip cookies in Beulah, and I wanted a brownie! Wendy suggested we start with coffee and then see if we were still hungry (I think she meant ERNIE when she said "we"...). Then she said I still had some doughnuts of my own in my backpack, and that if I wanted sweets, I could have a couple of those.  

I met these really nice baristas - Jen, Sophany, and Parker. They let me sit back by the cups and pretend I was a barista, too. Jen is a Coffee Master and it said so on her pretty apron, and so I thought she might have some wise things to say like Yoda. When Parker started making my coffee, I dashed around to the other side of the counter - so I could be a barista AND a customer... the total Starbucks experience! A really nice lady, Terri, held me up so I could get my coffee. Then I helped her get her order. 
While I had my coffee and doughnuts, I read the packages of coffee and learned a lot. I also learned that Wendy and Ken split a brownie... the exact one I had been looking at. I asked them how it was, and they said that the real food was, in fact, simply delicious - just like the napkin says it is! 
I love Starbucks. The people are so friendly - on both sides of the counter! Next time WE go to Starbucks, though, WE are getting a brownie for OURSELVES!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 23 - Meetcha at the Big Boy... and other fine Detroit establishments!


Wendy, Ken and I were hungry. It wasn't just me this time. We are in Metro Detroit, we've done the coneys already - where can we go now? I suggested the Big Boy we passed in Livonia. I saw The Boy (as I used to call him) as we drove past on the way to the gas station because the car was hungry. It took me back to the days when little Frannie and I used to go - with Bert and Ernie (the other Ernie in her life) - to another Livonia Big Boy. I asked Wendy if we could go there, and she asked Ken, and he said yes because he wanted a Big Boy. He wanted one because he hadn't had one in 37 years. Then Wendy said she wanted a Slim Jim. It made me think. I wonder if Slim Jim makes Big Boy feel pudgy. And I wonder if Slim Jim ever flirts with Big Boy's girlfriend Polly...

I was so excited to see The Boy again! He came over to our table, and we played a game of hide and seek with Wendy and Ken. I could not stop GIGGLING! Then I got to use some of the coloring skills I learned with Shayna and Seth yesterday. They have these cool placemats that have some boring words on one side and all sorts of fun things to do on the other. I worked on the maze for a couple of minutes, but it was too hard. I decided to color all over the place! WHAT FUN!
Our waitress - Audrey - was super-duper nice! She had such a friendly smile. She even let me sit on her tray and pretend that I was Slim Jim. On the way out, we stopped so I could visit with The Boy. When they say he's the Big Boy, they MEAN it! He's HUGE! He was very friendly and smiled a lot - I'm not sure if he remembered me or not, but he sure is very hospitable. He let me sit on his shoulders, and I felt GIANT! People passing by couldn't hardly tell that I was up there holding on for dear life! By the way, it's not a real hamburger that he is holding. I thought you might want to know.
Okay. I know you know that I'm stuffed, and that I am a sock monkey and I should always be stuffed. Wendy and Ken keep complaining that they are stuffed on this vacation, and I think they don't realize that this is a choice that they are making. They are not really stuffed - they just can't stop eating! After some more visiting with family, we headed out to West Bloomfield to Deli Unique, to meet up with cousins Mindy and Howard. Howard said he doesn't like sock monkeys very much, and that he was going to leave because I was at the table. Turns out that he was just joking... I think. Anyway, I shared a Deli Unique Deluxe #8 sandwich with Wendy. It was HUMONGOUS! I'm glad she shared the pickle with me. Mindy is a good sharer, too. She let me drink some of her ice tea. It really hit the spot, because I was pretty thirsty after that corned beef! On the way out, Howard and I read the big menu board. I have a lot of ideas now of what I can get to eat the next time I'm at the Deli!
The night was still young, but Mindy had to go home. I was really sad, because she's really fun to be with and she said she was going to teach me to tap dance. Howard suggested we go to Roosevelt's in Farmington Hills to shoot some pool. My disappointment about Mindy having to leave almost disappeared with this exciting news! This was going to be SO fun! I really loved floating around in Aunt Charlotte's pool the other day, and this would be even better since it was getting dark and I have never been in a pool at night time (because that's when I'm usually sleeping). 

Well, it turns out that Howard had a different kind of pool in mind. He gave me a cue (I kept calling it a stick), and I said I'd sit this out for a bit to see how they play it. When I decided it was time to learn, Howard and Ken showed me how to line up the cue with the balls. My arms are a little short, so I got to use another cue - but this one had a thingy on the end that looked like Shayna's tiara. It was SO amazing! I have to admit, I wasn't half bad! 
My favorite thing about Roosevelt's was that I got to meet some more cute girls. Carrie, the waitress, held me up so that I could watch sports on the TV. Then I saw a bunch of very happy ladies, and they let me be in their group shot. They were having a reunion of some buddies from Mercy Class of '91. They were really very adorable, and I tried to smile really big like them for the picture.
What a happy end to a very filling and fulfilling day! I started out the day as Slim Jim and ended it as Minnesota Fats! Does it get any better?

July 22 - Sitting at the Kids' Table


One of the best things about this trip is that I have had play time with little kids! I had pizza and fun with my little cousins Shayna, who is 3, and Seth, who is nearly 2. They are GREAT players! While we waited for the pizza to be delivered, Seth made sure that I had my fill of toppings from Shayna's play pizza. It actually worked out pretty good because I was pretty hungry, and I'm a sock monkey, so pretend eating is A-OK with me! And Seth was a very good server.

Then Shayna decided that I would look beautiful wearing her crown. I tried to be a good sport about it, even though headbands give me headaches. I also got a ride around the living room in a stroller. I was pretty exhausted by the time the doorbell rang and the pizza arrived.

After dinner, I sat down at the kids' table with them. WOW! Are they good artists! I didn't know how to hold a crayon, and Shayna was very nice and showed me how to color. I liked my artwork a lot. I asked Wendy if we could take it home and put it on our 'fridge. Shayna is a very good teacher, and Seth is a very impressive artist.

I love little kids. They remind me of playing with Frannie and Jesse when they were little. Those were the good old days. And these are the good new days!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 21 - Take me out to TIGERS ball game!!!!


All the fresh air and playing in the morning kind of tuckered me out, so I slept all the way to Detroit! It was a MUCH better ride for me than the first trip!

We were going to go see the Detroit Tigers! I was so excited! I had never been to a ballgame, but I had watched them on TV and listened to so many games called by Ernie Harwell on the radio over the years. Wendy kept talking about how sad she was about Tiger Stadium being just an open, desolate field right now. When we drove by there, I saw what she meant. It is sad. Very sad. Only the fence along Michigan Avenue is still there.

We stopped at Nemo’s to get some burgers to take to our good friend Sue and her 4 year old granddaughter Emeline. (Emeline has another sock monkey that Wendy made, but that sock monkey was not with her at Sue’s.) Sue lives in Corktown, which is a very cool area of Detroit. Sue was so wonderful – she got us the tickets to the game – and then was not even able to go herself! So we came over with burgers to eat. Well, THEY ate burgers anyway. I just watched them. I'm not big on burgers.

After chowing down, Emeline introduced me to some of her friends. First she put me in the same outfit Amanda did – my overalls and glasses! We all posed for a picture, and then we played. I got a little tired, so Emeline had me take a nap with Barney. It was supposed to be a nap, but Barney kept singing about how he loves me and I love him and all that, and it was weird because he didn’t even know me until that day, and love is a strong word to use with a stranger, and I was a little creeped out, so I just stared at the ceiling while he sang!

Then it was off to Comerica Park! WOW! There are these giant roaring tigers at the entrance that were scary a little, but they were AWESOME! The best part of that entrance, though, was the giant banner of Ernie Harwell. I was so excited to see him! Wendy and I posed for a picture under it, and I wanted to hold the tickets so everyone could see them!

I had no idea how fun this day would be! I met a lot of friends of the Tigers there. I kept looking for Paws - their mascot - but I couldn't find him. I did find Mickey Mouse and the Statue of Liberty. Both were very quiet, but they seemed very happy to play with me for a few minutes. Then I took a ride on the Tiger-Go-Round! These really nice ladies let me take a ride for free - I liked them a lot. One was named Cupid - I think I have a crush on all three of them. They smiled and laughed a lot. My kind of friends! I also got to pretend I was riding on a see-through tiger! I love adventure, you know!

The absolutely most exciting part of the game was anything to do with Ernie Harwell, for whom I am named! They loved Ernie here in Detroit, and that love really shows all over the park! Here are some pictures I was able to take with Ernie...

We were amazed by our seats! 11th row, down the 1st base line! It was so exciting to be in the ballpark! Sue is the best friend a little sock monkey could have! I sat next to Frannie's-husband-Wendy's-son-in-law John and his cousin Tom. They were very fun and we enjoyed taking in the sights. Sometimes we could each look at different things all at the same time!

Being so close to the field was fantastic! I could see the players right up close and personal, and if they were sock monkeys, I could have seen their stitching. The vendors were yelling (but not at me), and they had two kinds of hot dogs, and even some frozen lemonade, and ice cream, and you know how hungry I get... it was so fun to hear about food so often. The only thing that worried me was that Ken told me to watch out for balls that might come into the stands, when right-handed batters were hitting. While that was an exciting thought, I worried that it would be trouble for me. I was sure that Wendy would by accident throw me into the air if a ball came at her, and I think Ken is too old to catch one (you know, he's a tall guy with long arms, but he wears bifocals and all). While my pals were very disappointed that no balls came to us, I personally was relieved!

It was a beautiful day, with pretty little fluffy clouds. One of them looked just like Barney Rubble in profile, or so Wendy told me! I loved the giant screen - they played games on it, besides telling us about the ballgame. Sometimes there are pictures up there. Sometimes movies. Sometimes donuts and cups of coffee racing with bagels. I KNEW the cup of coffee would win! It's a pretty exciting thing to look at! If you put your head in just the right place, you can pretend it's a crown when you have your picture taken! I loved doing the Wave! It was so exciting to see all these people jumping up and shooting their arms up! It was like this morning when I was in the spring, but I asked Wendy to hold me so I wouldn't fall down this time. 
I thought I saw Paws' paw and that he must be in the row in front of us. But it turned out to be a kid! There was this really nice family - the name on the back of Dad's shirt was Cabrera, so I guess that's his name - was happy to pose with me for a picture. I liked them a lot. Mr. Cabrera was very nice and friendly to me. The mom was super-friendly, and the daughter was a real cutie. I meet a lot of cute girls in Michigan!
One man there asked if I was a Rally Monkey. I was hurt that he didn't realize I'm a sock monkey! But as it turned out, I WAS a Rally Monkey! It was the top of the 9th inning, the Tigers pitcher had thrown 9 straight balls, and the Tigers were in the lead. The excitement and tension grew because the Tigers were on a losing streak. What would happen? I was pretty tired so Wendy was putting me in my knapsack, when John said, "Why are you putting Ernie away? We need him!" So Wendy took me out and I stood with the thousands of other Tigers fans for those final few pitches...

I love baseball. I love the Tigers. I love orange. I love Detroit. What a game, what a team, what a color, what a town!

What a vacation I'm having!