West Palm Beach – Day 3

Tuesday.

I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning or like adult me on Opening Day. It was too soon for either of those days. Instead, I was beyond hype because it was finally my day to take in a Nats spring training game and my sister Cassie was coming to join me!

img_2024She would be driving almost 3 hours from Longwood, Fl to my AirBnB in Boynton Beach, just to spend the day with me. Although we keep in touch via phone and of course Instagram, it had been far too long (October) since I actually saw her.

Needing to get in a workout before we started our day, I decided to take that energy to YouFit Health Club in located at Boynton Beach Mall. There I worked biceps/triceps/legs and spent a little time on the treadmill. 


Cassie arrived a little before 1p. After many hugs and a few approving looks, we hopped in the Jeep and decided on lunch. I had wanted to take her to a vegan spot in Delray Beach but when we realized they were closed on Tuesdays, we settled on pizza for lunch at Pizza Rox in Boynton. Another spot I had on my list of places to eat while here. Their website said that they had both vegan and gluten-free options but we remained skeptical…at first.

We both went for identical 12-inch pies with gluten-free crust. A crust which surprisingly didn’t taste as distinguishable from regular crust like most gluten-free crusts/breads or that imploded as soon as you touched it. I nixed the cheese (although they had various cheese options including vegan cheese) and loaded up my pie with BBQ sauce, vegan chicken breast, red onions, spinach, green peppers, and pineapple. Washing it down with a bottle of Acqua Panna spring water.

For a minute, and only half way through the pie, I thought about picking up another before my return flight home the next day.

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However, I erred on the other side of gluttony and instead saved the other half for later.


After lunch, we made our way up 95 North to FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to watch batting practice before the 6:35p game against the Astros. It was the first time I would be attempting to catch spring training BP and boy did I get it wrong. I assumed BP would actually be in the ballpark. Instead, it appeared to happen in one of the practice fields to which we really didn’t have access to or visibility of. We arrived around 3 and found the gates wouldn’t open until 4:30p. So we chatted about everything under the sun, took some pics, and did a lap or two along the walking trail.

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We also managed to spot Justin Verlander (‘Stros starting pitcher that night) arriving on campus in a sort of grey muscle car with Virginia license plates. Full disclosure, it was only after Googling rosters did I realize that’s exactly who that was. You know what they say about hindsight.

They opened the gates promptly at 4:30p and we went straight for the giveaway table to collect our Nationals hoodie, a freebie we weren’t even aware we were getting until we were standing in line. Interesting how the Universe works in your favor.

To my surprise, a familiar face was at the table: It’s Mike! Mike was at the table doing Mike things…handing out hoodies and later tossing t-shirts into the stands. Quick intro: Mike (Ploger) is the in-game host of Inside Pitch Live and in-game promotions at Nationals Park. I asked him if he’d take a selfie with me and he jumped right in!

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I later posted this pic to Instagram to which he commented, “Your energy is contagious!” Oh Mike.

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I hit the team store next, determined to stick to my budget by sticking to the plan of picking up my must-haves: a Sprint Training-themed magnet for my fridge (I guess that’s becoming a thing) and this year’s Spring Training hat. Have you seen it?!

You’re welcome.

After making our way around the concourse a couple of times to kill time, grab some water, and snacks…we made our way to our seats. Well the section our seats were in. We chose to sit 10 or so rows back (out of the sun) from where we were supposed to sit and remained there until we left.

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I ended up walking over by the bullpen to take a couple of pics and vids of Strasburg and Gomes warming up before first pitch. This would be my first time watching Gomes catch since the Nats acquired him back in November. I was excited about that but mostly just excited to finally see some baseball!

Astros were the first to go out in front. Until 21-year-old Carter Kieboom launched a 2-run home run in the 2nd putting us in the lead. Carter is our No. 2 prospect and while he struggled a bit at second base, he killed his at-bats. Going 2-for-2 and hitting another home run in the 4th…scoring both those home runs off the Astros’ ace pitcher, Mr. Muscle Car himself, Justin Verlander. 

We would eventually remain in the lead, beating the ‘Stros 5-3 in 9 innings.

Stephen Strasburg pitched 4.67 innings, striking out six and allowing two runs, five hits and four walks.

Our No. 1 prospect, center fielder Victor Robles went 1-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases,  and a run scored.

 

 

West Palm Beach – Day 2

Monday.

Yesterday was my first full day in the West Palm Beach/Boynton area. Although I’m actually staying in Boynton Beach, WPB is just a 10-15 min ride on 95 North from Boynton.

One of my goals for the 3-ish days I’d be visiting, was to workout at least 2 of those 3 days. And I knew I wanted to get those workouts in and out of the way before I truly started my day. I dropped in at Fitness Hub Studios in WPB after finding them on

ClassPass. There, I took a 45-min virtual cycle class. It was my first time taking a virtual class and I must say, it was great! Now I was the only person in the class, but it didn’t stop me from challenging myself or from having a good time.

*UPDATE* How could I forget that I paid TEN DOLLARS to park for 45 minutes near Fitness Hub?! However, they do validate parking if you park in the parking garage behind Duffy’s (Olive and Banyan Streets) and in the City Center garage (Banyan and Dixie Streets).

Knowing that Tuesday would mostly be spent at the ballpark and I would be heading back home on Wednesday, I wanted to make sure I also got in some time at the beach to read and recharge. So after a much needed shower and change of clothes, I headed straight to Oceanfront Park. Last year, I spent a few hours at Oceanfront Park and really enjoyed the amenities and cleanliness of the beach. There, I laid out a towel, spread across it, and dug further into Becoming. I occasionally looked up to see and listen to the sounds of the other beachgoers, and let my mind wander at the meditative sounds of the waves crashing ashore.

I also wanted to catch the sunset. However, Oceanfront Park is East facing so I hopped in the Jeep to travel just a mile down N Ocean Blvd to Ocean Inlet Park. I don’t know why, but I am rarely aware of the sun as it sets back home. Maybe it’s because I’m too busy trying to meet a deadline or run from one place to the other (geez I should really should do better). But watching the sunset on the water was something  I did every evening while here last year and it’s become a must-do. It’s almost as if my body needs it by the time it happens. SOLITUDE and PEACE To sit peacefully with nothing but my own thoughts. To reflect on the day’s events, the year-to-date, life so far, as the day ends with hope to live another one.

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FEED ME!

I scoped out a few places I wanted to try before arriving to WPB. One of those places was Prime Catch right here in Boynton, to where I headed just after the sun set. However, please DO NOT confuse Prime Catch with Prime – Delray Beach, which in full disclosure, is exactly where I made my reservations. The hostess was cool though…apparently I wasn’t the only one that’d made that mistake before and after about a 10 minute wait…I was seated.

I was greeted and taken care of by Andrew. Because I’m fancy, I ordered a glass of Malbec and an order of Veggie Fries for starters. Man those veggies were delicious! Tempura-fried asparagus, eggplant, and zucchini, drizzled with honey, and a lemon garlic aioli for dipping. It was like a dance party on my taste buds.

I went all in on the seafood for my main course, opting for the Prime Mixed Grill of lobster tail, scallops, jumbo shrimp, in a garlic herb butter. For sides, I chose the mashed potatoes and substituted the grilled asparagus it came with for sautéed garlic spinach.

I also didn’t skip dessert. My eyes zoomed in on the menu at the Flourless Swiss Chocolate Tort and it did not disappoint.

I didn’t eat all of my dinner or dessert but I wasn’t left feeling hungry or miserably full. The meal truly hit the sweet spot. Signaling the end of my meal, I was offered a slice of lemon and warm towel to rid my hands of the seafood smell. 

I’ll definitely be back and I would highly recommend Prime Catch…in Boynton…not Prime – Delray, to anyone looking for good seafood, welcoming environment, and outdoor seating.

West Palm Beach: Day 1-ish

Sunday.

You guys…

I MADE IT!

After a delayed flight, an inflight holding pattern so the President could depart the area, and an hour wait to pick up my rental at Budget, I finally got settled in somewhere after 7p last night.

My AirBnB host is a sweet Jamaican lady that lives not far from the airport in Boynton Beach. She’s already made me feel at home ensuring I have everything I need and things I didn’t even know I needed, including her homemade stove-top hot chocolate.

After grabbing a few things I needed from Target like OFF! Wait. Let’s pause here for a moment. I’ve been to Florida enough times to know that mosquito repellant is E-SSEN-TIAL. Those little bloodsuckers can’t wait for you to slip. Buzzing around, buzzing passed my ear, making buzzy noises. If OFF! isn’t my selected scent for the day, I’m screwed and itchy.

As has been a tradition for the past 2 years, obligatory stop for dinner on my first night in WPB was the Havana restaurant for some good ass Cuban food.

Table for one please!

Speaking of, my favorite things about traveling alone are that: 1) you’re on your time and can navigate the day however you please, and 2) no one’s eyeing your plate leading to the obligatory offer to share.

So I sat back, took in the sights of other diners, eavesdropped a little on their conversations, and enjoyed my own intermittent conversations with the host and wait staff.img_1932

I indulged on a glass of Tempranillo and ordered the camarones al ajillo (shrimp in a super garlicky garlic sauce), with a side of arroz amarillo (Cuban-style yellow rice), frijoles (black beans), and maduros (sweet plantains).

The combination of good food, welcoming staff, and a “when you’re here, you’re family”-like environment makes for a great dining experience. I highly recommend you make it a necessary stop as well. While the restaurant closes at 10p, Havana’s carry out window is open 24/7….even on Christmas people.

The place kinda gives me vibes like the Columbia Restaurant located in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. Also highly recommended if you’re ever in Tampa.

After a longer than planned (or necessary) travel day, I took my leftovers and called it a night not long after dinner.

-Nika

You can take the guy out of DC…

https://deadspin.com/bryce-harper-at-his-phillies-press-conference-we-want-1833012464

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/sports/nationals/bryce-harper-on-the-first-day-of-the-rest-of-his-life-didnt-seem-ready-to-leave-dc-behind/2019/03/02/db03d9b8-3d34-11e9-a06c-3ec8ed509d15_story.html

😏

My $0.02: Harper to Philly

It happened today and not nearly how it played out in my mind. My guy sent me a message as I was leaving work that said “Uh-oh. Don’t look at the news.” I didn’t have to. I immediately knew what happened. That gut feeling you know? Harper had finally signed a contract and it wasn’t with the Nationals. It hit me and hard. But I’m a G, so I kept it moving…walking down the stairwell from the 3rd floor to the ground floor, out the door, and to the garage. Stopping periodically to jump on social media to take a temperature reading and to scan the details about this deal…

Bryce Harper had signed a 13-year (damn that’s a long time), $330 million dollar (cool) contract having no opt-out and trade clause (interesting), with the Philadelphia Phillies (F@*$!). Yep…that’s the part that stung.

Nats ownership had offered him 10 years for $300 million at the start of his free agency to no avail. So I had concluded and was quite resolved that he wouldn’t be back at Nationals Park in a Nationals uniform. But the Phillies? The F!@#$%* Phillies?!?! That’s the part that I took the hardest. That’s the part I couldn’t let go.

In the almost 9 years of going to Nationals Park, I have yet to experience a game against the Phillies where our players, including Bryce, aren’t heckled and boo’ed or some reduction in fan experience due to their unruly fans. Don’t believe me? Just peep this article. It just didn’t make sense. Bryce…you were there! Did you forget?!

I was fuming with disappointment. I finally made it to the car, started it and as usual WTOP News (a local radio station in the DC Metro area) came through the speakers. With breaking news at that. Great…now I get to hear about it. I was already overwhelmed and when WTOP offered their comment line to hear fans’ opinions…I…RAN…WITH…IT!

I might have pulled the car over or maybe I was still sitting in the same spot, I don’t remember, but I dropped them the best 30 second synopsis of my raw feelings that I could muster. I wasn’t sure they’d even listen to my comment so I proceeded to drive but kept tuned in. And then I heard my voice on the radio:

OMG! OMG! OMG!

At the next stop, I readied my phone to record this sound bite:

 

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Full WTOP article: https://wtop.com/mlb/2019/02/bryce-harper-heads-to-the-phillies-and-social-media-has-a-field-day/

I don’t dislike Bryce because of this. I won’t be burning or otherwise destroying anything with his name on it. I continue to stand by my hopes that he made the decision that he thought was best for him. However, as a Nats fan that has watched this guy from his MLB debut through the 7 seasons he was a National, I’m disappointed. Big disappointed. I don’t know what my response to him will be when he returns to Nationals Park in a Phillies uniform. Perhaps he’ll get booed or be met with a standing ovation…perhaps nothing at all. At the end of the day I thank him for his part in making baseball fun to watch and I’ll ultimately wish him the best.

But until then…F**K Bryce and F**K Philly!

-Nika

5 Random Facts About Me

1.

First and foremost: I LOVE food! Good food. Especially food with an experience like at the reservations-are-booked-months-in-advance-but-so-worth-it Barmini, or eating Moroccan or Ethiopian food, or like that one time I ate teriyaki cicada. Okay that last one wasn’t that good but it was an experience. And yes, I am also “one of those people” who takes pics of their food. Yet I don’t have pics of any of the food I mentioned above. Hmm…

2.

I believe my purpose in life is to give in hopes of helping others, especially through volunteering when children benefit. So after work each week, I read with a 3rd grade student in DC through Reading Partners DC, a program designed to address below grade-level reading. Honestly, if I could work from anywhere and be on own time, I’d spend more time pursing philanthropic interests just like this and traveling (of course). 

3.

I’m an indoor cycling queen! Not really, but I do take about 3-4 classes a week. I’m in the market for a nice dual sport bike so look for me on a street or trail near you!

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To help conquer my fear of heights, I once flew (excuse me, I was the co-pilot) a single-engine Cessna 172 over my hometown of Annapolis, MD (Go Navy!). Yep, I’m still afraid of heights but the experience was breathtaking!

5.

I like being in the great outdoors. No, not roughing it but…you know…out (close to an electrical source and running water) enjoying nature. I grew up near, on, and in the water so it will always be where I feel most grounded. However, hiking has become one of my favorite ways to disconnect to reconnect, and get my heart rate pumping.

Bonus:

I am a HUGE fan of The Office. One of my favorite episodes is titled Product Recall. The 1 minute and 26 second intro seals the deal early on:

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

There you have it! Five random facts about me. Feel free to like or leave a comment if you share similar interests or want to invite me to dinner.

-Nika