Royalty Tours USA

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Royalty officially opens the 2013 Major League Baseball season in Houston, Texas on Easter Sunday!

Live Peacock on Easter Sunday morning
Sunday morning after getting a much needed good night sleep, the King, Bryan Gilligan & I checked out of the Motel 6 we stayed at in Cedar Park, Texas. We were 175 miles from our final destination for the day that being Houston. We made some pit stops along the way before we arrived there.

Being it was Easter Sunday, I thought to myself earlier in the week that maybe I'll see a bunny hopping around for the occasion. Much to my chagrin, we had no such luck. Ironically though as we were walking out of the hotel to go to the car in the parking lot, all of a sudden we saw a peacock with a very long tail wandered around. We were in disbelief. What a way to start the day.

After we took pictures of it, we lost track of it as it disappeared into grassy area which was somewhat hilly. It was quite a scene to say the least.

After that thrill, we put our luggage into the car and we went on our way towards Houston. We drove down the road about 7 miles until we got to Interstate 35. Once we got on there, we saw an IHOP so we stopped off to have a royal breakfast. We weren't alone as there were a bunch of people waiting to be seated. We went inside and I gave them my name. They said it will be a 10 minute wait and that's what it wound up being as we finally got a table. I decided to have their split decision breakfast which consisted of two eggs, bacon, ham which I was able to substitute for sausage, a few slices of french toast and a few pancakes. It turned out to be a sound choice. It was excellent. After we finished eating we got back on the road. Shortly thereafter, we stopped again because we were right outside of Round Rock which is where the Texas Rangers' Triple A farm club plays. They're known as the Express of the Pacific Coast League nowadays. They play at a ballpark called the Dell Diamond. Back in May 2000, the King and I saw a game there. At that time, the Express was in the Texas League which was Double A ball.

After we took a few pictures and looked around, we got back in the car and we continued towards Houston. We arranged to meet up with our pal Steve Fekete aka the Padre Punk Punk who was already there because he went to the Rocket game after we met him in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon. We told him we'll meet him around 4PM by Minute Maid Park which is the home of the Astros who now play in the American League. They spent their first 50 years of existence in the National League.

As we were driving we decided to stop off at our hotel, Days Inn, which was located in a town called Humble which was 4 miles from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and about 20 miles from downtown where the ballpark is. We wound up getting there around 2PM. Luckily our room was clean so we were able to check in early. It worked out well. We were able to get situated. Once we were done we got back in the car and we drove to downtown. Steve said he was already there hanging out in the center field area where a fan fest was being held on the street right the ballpark. They had different stands set up and there was musical entertainment for everybody to enjoy.

We wound up parking the car on the street for free like Steve did. We were a short walk from the ballpark. We went to the box office first to see if they had any tickets available for the game since we decided to wait until we arrived there since the ticket prices were rather steep online. Steve had bought a ticket online from Ticketmaster for $50 he said a month in advance. We wound up getting three tickets for $20 each that were way out in right field. They were also selling standing room for the same price which was anywhere on the first level. All we cared about was getting into the ballpark as cheap as possible.

We were all excited & relieved once we had our tickets in hand at 3:30PM. We got in contact with Steve and we met up with him. We all decided to take a walk around to see if we could get something to eat for dinner before we went inside the ballpark.

Royalty collides with Qualty Tours
After passing up a few places, we wound up going to a restaurant called the Hearsay Gastro Lounge. We all decided to get burgers for dinner. It turned out to be a sound decision after all.

Once we finished we had to dodge some rain drops as we walked back to the ballpark to go see the game. We split up once we got inside. I decided to hang out with Steve who calls himself, West Coast Quality Tours. He lives out in Anaheim, California. He's in the midst of trying to get to all 122 current venues in the four major sports that being baseball, football, basketball and hockey. He just went passed the midway mark during the week while he was in Texas. I was happy to be apart of his quality experience. We walked all around the first level and Steve took numerous pictures which he's going to share on his Facebook page. He also likes to tweet on Twitter. His handle is @rstones199 in case you want to follow him as he continues to complete his quest for 122.

Prince looking out from Crawford Boxes 
After taking the quality tour, we went upstairs to the upper level where we met up with the King. Steve went to his seat in section 420 row 1 and I joined the King who found a few empty seats in row 11. We lucked out as people didn't show up for the seats so we got to sit behind home plate like we always do.

National Anthem
We got settled in just in time as they announced the players during a special pre game ceremony, J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Shortly thereafter, American Country singer Lyle Lovett sung the National Anthem. He later sang God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch which was followed by a Lone Star State favorite called Deep in the Heart of Texas. I love hearing that tune when I go to Texas. It's a local tradition.

Bud Norris delivers first pitch at 7:08PM CT
As for the game we saw, the Astros got off to a good start as they beat the visiting Texas Rangers, 8-2 to win their first ever American League game which was historical in more ways than one as the Astros also got their 4,000th franchise win before a sellout crowd of 41,307 which was comprised of fans of both teams as people made the trip to see their Rangers play.

Some of the highlights for the Astros included Bud Norris picking up his first victory. He allowed two runs in five & two thirds innings of work. Erik Bedard got a "real" save, the first of his career as he wound up pitching the last three and a third innings of shutout relief to help secure the win. Center fielder Justin Maxwell led the way as he hit two triples & he drove in two runs. Rick Ankiel made his Astro debut in style as he hit a pinch hit three run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning which put the game away right after the Rangers cut the lead to 4-2.

Stay tuned for the next installment as we made our way back home Monday morning in order to get to Citi Field to see the Mets open their season against the San Diego Padres in their home opener. Please bear with me as I try to find the time to recap the adventure in detail. It will be worth the wait.

Thank you for reading and following along.

Yours truly,

 Gary Herman

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