A major challenge for me when on the road is finding time to explore the area outside of the ballpark. This has been frustrating, because one of the greatest things about Minor League Baseball is that it organizes and contextualizes American travels. The presence of a Minor League team can serve as motivation to visit a place one otherwise wouldn’t. And, once there, why not find the time to take in the unique things that the surrounding community has to offer?
A Minor League road trip can (and should) be about much more than baseball. It is, quite simply, about America!
Professional obligations have, thus far, kept me from practicing what I preach in this regard (Click HERE for a sidebar compiling all output on the latest trip: five MiLB.com features, eight blog posts, four photo galleries, and 14 player interviews).
But every once in a while I can sneak something in. On May 12 in Tucson, I acted on a commenter tip and got lunch at El Guero Canelo. This place had great food and tons of character.
The Guero Canelo specialty is the “Sonora Dog”, a Tucson favorite in which the dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese, salsa, onions, tomatoes, beans, mayonnaise and who knows what else. All of this was safely ensconced in the specially-crafted (and delicious) roll and served with a roasted pepper on the side. Tough to photograph in all its glory, but here’s my attempt:
Soon thereafter I toured Hi Corbett field, and followed that up by taking in its Reid Park surroundings.
May 13 was my first-ever road trip “travel day”, dedicated to driving from Tucson to Lancaster, CA (nearly 600 miles). Along the way I stopped at the “Casa Grande Ruins“, just because I saw a sign. It turned out to be an archaeological site, featuring the remains of an approximately 800 year old Native American settlement.
It’s hard to tell, but the hollowed out area in the picture below is of a ball field.
I’d love to learn more about this ancient game and how it was played, but was put off by this book’s rigorously academic tone. Perhaps someone can summarize for me?
Unfortunately, once I got to California it was pretty much all bizness all the time. I didn’t even have time to check out a tip from reader Rex Doane, what he dubbed “the most pathetic tourist attraction in the continental United States”: Adelanto, CA’s decaying lot of plastic dinosaurs! Fortunately he sent along a picture:
But I am now back in NYC, decaying in front of a keyboard. You may or may not have noticed that I have a new profile pic, one depicting the serenity I have found amidst my latest haul of road trip swag.
I didn’t actually acquire that vast array of mini-bobbleheads while on the road, but since they are all part of the Lancaster JetHawks’ “Hangar Heroes” series I included them in the photo (Lancaster was one of the teams I visited). But there was even more stuff I didn’t include.
Lake Elsinore Storm “Homewrecker” shirt, Iowa Cubs yearbook (received in mail), two Tucson Toros yearbooks, Lake Elsinore Storm cap, Cal League Baseball, San Bernardino Spirit Cap, Inland Empire 66ers souvenir baseball, Lancaster JetHawks camo cap, Charlie Sheen-Co De Mayo bobblehead, Lake Elsinore Storm toothbrush, “Goshen and Giddings” book on Visalia baseball history (by Rawhide announcer Donny Baarns), IE 66ers Ken Griffey Jr. “gold” bobblehead.
As you may recall, in my post on the Lancaster JetHawks I expressed a desirous attitude toward the following poster:
Three days later, I was handed this very poster at Lake Elsinore’s The Diamond by Storm fan (and Biz Blog reader) Ryan Bethell. Then, upon my return to NYC, there was a package waiting for me from the Minor League Baseball head office that included the past three editions of said poster.
The funny thing about all this is that with the exception of the poster, I didn’t ask for any of the swag depicted above. But I have a policy of saying yes to everything (both swag offers and requests to participate in aspects of the ballpark experience), and I take home as much as I can stuff into my carry-on luggage. Some of it ends up on my desk here at work, some in my apartment, and much is given away. But I greatly enjoy the absolute randomness of it all, and am quite proud of my ever-growing collection of Minor League detritus.
But one thing I am still missing is the woman of my dreams, who appeared on the Arizona highway like some sort of desert mirage.
I’ll catch up to you eventually, Biz Girl!