Monday, August 13, 2012

The Kinsella Baseball Field: peacefully timeless

Now to our third an final stop of 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower': The baseball field from "Field of Dreams" located near Dyersville, Iowa.

We decided before our travels to make a side trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota. But I'm going to write more about that in a separate post.

In order for us to enjoy a full afternoon at the baseball diamond in Iowa it was necessary to take a very early flight out of Rapid City. So we had to catch a 6am departure to Cedar Rapids followed by a one hour drive to the ball field. This meant putting a lockdown on going to bed the night before.

We'd be getting up between 3:30 and 4am so I wanted to make sure we were in bed between 8 and 9 Wednesday night. As it turned out, by the time we got back to the hotel after Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, we didn't close our eyes until going on 10pm. Yikes! The last thing I wanted was to be seriously exhausted as we drove up to the Kinsella Home.

Quickly I pulled the covers over my head and drifted off. I actually slept pretty well considering. The alarm sounded five and half hours later and we were up right away. I'd smartly made sure my bags were in order the night before so there'd be no delays, as did Rebecca. So as the sky began to brighten ever so slightly in the east, we got in our rental car and headed for the airport.

Luckily we were able to sleep during the flight and by the time we arrived in Cedar Rapids I was feeling very rested and ready to go!

The ball field was still an hour away, but it was nice to just take in the countryside as we went. The exactness of the Iowa road grid we saw from the plane was now spread out in front of us, once again yielding only flat horizon. We'd certainly seen our share of farm land on this week long trip, yet it was still beautiful to behold.

Our flight got in at 11:30am which would put us at the ball field around 12:30. The site was open to the public from 9am to 6pm and I knew that a nice, full afternoon would be more than enough time to explore everything and relax amongst.

Coming from the private land of the Kent Farm to the national park of Devils Tower, the fully acknowledged filming location of "Field of Dreams" was a big change.

As the drive up from Cedar Rapids went by at a pretty good clip, we decided to head to the hotel first to check in and drop our bags. We were now in Dyersville proper. The ball field was about four miles away and it was obvious to the woman at the front desk where we were going. Of course it didn't hurt that we both wore 1918 Chicago White Sox baseball caps.

I'd been playing the soundtrack during our drive from the airport, but now it was time to crank up the selects I'd chosen for our arrival at the location. Originally I wanted to have the end credits track guide us towards our first sighting of the house and ball field. But as I'd just finished listening to that on our final drive to the hotel, I decided to start 'The Place Where Dreams Come True'.

This is the climactic piece of James Horner music beginning with James Earl Jones being chosen to walk into the cornfield, continuing through Kevin Costner seeing his dad, playing catch and the slow helicopter lift shot to show the line of cars coming up the road.

Once again we were on our way to see a coveted movie location for the very first time. And once again I felt that wondrous sensation of anticipation come over me. The rush of connection to a place so special.

The soundtrack cut began to build as we turned the last corner before seeing the house and field in full sight.


This would be one of the most emotional moments of the entire trip, as 'The Place Where Dreams Come True' track suddenly burst into it's finale, almost as if I'd perfectly timed it!

I cried. I really cried.

And as the car came to a stop in the parking lot, the track finished. It couldn't have been a better arrival!!

Then something random happened that was the best 'welcome' and connection with a fellow fan of the movie. A guy in an SUV called out to me as I was closing the trunk of our rental car. He said 'hey' a couple of times until I realized he was speaking to me. As I turned, he said " this heaven?" And in perfect response I said "'s Iowa." Just the way Kevin Costner says the line in the movie. We nodded at one another and smiled as he drove off. I truly was in heaven.

Right off of the parking lot is a souvenir stand which sells all things "Field of Dreams". T-shirts, hoodies, baseball jerseys, caps, baseballs, bats, books, DVDs....everything connected not only with the film but with the history encased in the story; Shoeless Joe and the White Sox.

The first thing we did was walk onto the field and just let it all soak in. BEAUTIFUL!! There, by first base, stood the original bleacher from the movie. The Kinsella house, the ballpark lights high overhead and of course...the corn stalks. I was seriously appreciating the height and the healthy husks surrounding us. This was definitely the best time of year to be here. Temps were around 90 degrees and I suddenly realized it might have been better to be wearing my shorts. No matter. I was just glad to have finally made it to this hallowed place!

We walked out to the corn stalks and looked in. Just as so many other people were doing when they arrived. There was a steady rotation of around 20 visitors present at any given time. Rebecca and I stepped into the husks for a few photos and then walked around the outer row of the outfield.

It was magnificent! The whole place is so incredibly peaceful and utterly timeless.

I continued to listen to the movie soundtrack on my iPhone with earbuds in. We made our way over to the bleacher and found the original engraving on one of the steps which read 'Ray loves Annie', carved into the wood for the scene in the movie by Kevin Costner himself.

Some of the people there, adults and children alike, were playing pitch and catch, hitting balls into the outfield and running the bases. But at this point the sun was beating down on us and we had to find some shade. A small picnic table area sat under an overhang off of third base so we settled in to just relax and watch people play on the field.

It was another moment where we both felt great emotion about this place from one of our favorite movies of all time.

Rebecca put on her glove and I put on Allen's glove which he'd been so gracious to loan me for this trip. Something he'd grown up with and shared with his son...and I felt honored to be bringing it onto the "Field of Dreams" baseball diamond. The glove's return would include a little remembrance: to have actually been played on this field.

We decided to buy an official baseball from the souvenir stand. However it was not to be kept in it's plastic bag until we returned home, but brought out onto the field and thrown about, skipping into the dirt and grass occasionally. It became the best souvenir from our entire trip because in the end it had dirt and grass stains from our game play.

We began thinking about coming back the next morning for a bit. Our flight to San Diego and Comic-Con wasn't until 2:30pm so we had a little bit of time. As closing time neared, we got ourselves together and drove back to town for some wonderful dinner at a local steak house and then into bed at a reasonable hour. The weather would end up being a factor because, as we learned at the hotel, there were scattered thunderstorms predicted for overnight and the next day.

Friday morning we woke to somewhat overcast skies and the concern that we may have to deal with a bit of rain which would kind of ruin our return trip. But luckily the rain never came and there was only a 70% overcast sky. The sun flickered out and about briefly here and there. Still a good day to return to the field.

This time we knew we wanted to hit a few balls into the outfield. So when we drove into the parking lot and got out we immediately went to the souvenir stand to purchase a bat. They carried two different types and I opted for the Louisville Slugger. Mainly because it was the only size of the two that would fit in my checked luggage. The bat, as well as the ball we picked up the day before, are official MLB gear with the "Field of Dreams" movie logo and Universal logo imprinted on them.

Rebecca and I took the field once more as we switched off batting and pitching. We each drove one into the outfield and had fun running the bases and trying to tag one another. It was another perfect day and a good couple of hours to really appreciate where we were once more.

The Kinsella House was not open to the public but we'd been told the day before that they intend to open it up soon with props, costumes, photos and memorabilia from the movie. I would absolutely love to see the inside and I'm sure they'll outfit it to look like Ray, Annie and Karin's fictional home.

Soon it was getting near time to head to the airport. I really didn't want to leave! We took a few more photos on the way out, savoring those last moments as we'd done in Wyoming and Canada. I played more of the soundtrack as we drove out the main dirt driveway.

It was the end of our movie location trip...and yet I wasn't feeling melancholy. The entire week had been seamless in it's execution and beyond compare. As we arrived at the airport and boarded our flight for San Diego and two days at Comic-Con, I began to realize that this was the best vacation I'd ever had! Probably in my entire life!

Once again, you can check out the entire set of photos from the "Field of Dreams" baseball field, as well as the full collection of photos from our entire trip RIGHT HERE!


At September 9, 2012 at 8:48 PM, Anonymous Robert said...

Thanks for the nice write up on Field of Dreams. I'll be making my first trip there this next week. Can't wait. Your pictures definitely have me excited to go.


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