Every year since I retired in 2012, I have taken a road trip to Phoenix, AZ to watch spring training baseball, specifically to watch my San Diego Padres play meaningless exhibition games while sitting out in the desert sun. I wrote about the experience of those games in a piece called The Hope That Only Comes in Spring. But, part of the fun every year is getting there–road trippin’.
300 miles–no problem; I got this. Car is loaded up with enough stuff for four people, 4 snacks, and two water bottles. It takes me an extra 10 minutes to do all of the paranoid house checks I do–lock windows, check the doors, make sure the water is turned off. Hit the road.
Buckman Springs Rest Stop–9:05 AM
First available rest stop. Necessary because sometimes my bladder is the size of a teacup. Hoping this gets me through to Yuma. Ironically, I pack plenty of water and then force myself into a state of dehydration so I don’t have to stop to go pee.
John Lennon (Imagine) and then Jackson Browne (Running on Empty) get me through to Yuma. Imagine is OK because I haven’t heard it in a while, but Running on Empty is one of my standard traveling discs, just full of great road songs. I let it run all the way to Yuma.
Making good time when I stop at the Arco on 16th St. and discover that gas is 78 cents cheaper here than in San Diego. 78 cents a gallon cheaper. Of course, you have to live in Yuma to enjoy those prices. I find that I’ve gone through all my snacks already. Do you know that there is virtually nothing edible at gas station mini-marts if you care at all about your health? I mean, I have plenty of bad habits, but I can’t eat any of that crap. The bathrooms are nice though.
On the road again–11:15/Soundtrack
I’m halfway there, but there is road construction everywhere slowing things down from Yuma to Gila Bend. I pull out Michael Franti and Spearhead’s Yell Fire CD which seems much more relevant now than it did a few years ago. I haven’t listened to him for a long time, and I just let it run all the way to Gila.
Gila Bend–1:00 PM
Time for lunch at my all time favorite greasy spoon, The Space Age Restaurant. It is part of a motel there and has a mock-up of a space ship sitting on top of the restaurant. It has been there for over 50 years, and I can remember stopping there when I was a kid and we were on a family vacation to Oklahoma City (relatives) and to see the Carlsbad Caverns. I stop here every year for lunch on the way in and breakfast on the way home. Gila Bend–population 1,917 souls.
On the road again–2:00 PM/Soundtrack
Neil Young. Neil Young the rest of the way. The more desolate the desert, the better his reedy voice sounds. I play Only Love Can Break Your Heart over and over and over again.
The upgrade to a Cabana suite that they tempted me with in an email I got yesterday (depending on availability) is not available. Fuck! I was imagining having my own sitting room with a fold-out couch and separate bedroom with a king bed AND promised access to the Sun Deck, and I don’t even know what the Sun Deck is, but I decided that for only $20 more a night, I wanted it. Forget that I didn’t actually need any of those amenities. They had dangled a sparkly thing in front of me, and I wanted it.
I get into my standard room, which now seems shabby to me, and discover that the cabinet that houses the fridge is minus one fridge. I am told that the fridges are for customers “as available.” I point out to the young lady that my reservation says that I get a fridge, and if I’m not getting the goddam Sun Deck, then I’d better be getting my own goddam fridge. I don’t actually say any of that out loud. She says she’ll work on it, and I get my fridge within 30 minutes.
One of the top ten best naps ever. Just time enough to get showered and ready for the game.
Game–7:10-10:00 Peoria Sports Complex
It’s a balmy evening–shorts and t-shirt weather. I allow myself not just one, but two hot dogs during the course of the game. Padres give up 2 in the first and then tie it in the eighth on a home run, win it in the 9th on another homer leading off the inning. I discover that despite the hotdogs, the victory has made me ravenous, so I stop at the Safeway on the way back to my hotel and buy a salad, some yogurt, and a fruit bowl which I eat when I get back.
Hotel–11:00 PM-2:00 AM
I’m out on the warm deserted patio writing because at the time I was involved in a 30 day writing challenge and I had to get my piece written for that day. While on-line, I discover that there are other writers still up and active and we begin chatting through comments and FB Messenger. Since I never quite know how to go to bed on my first night of travel by myself, I linger on the patio long after I should. It’s a pleasant and unexpected way to spend the night.