My husband loves the Chicago Cubs as much as any person could love a team. Although he lived in Chicago as a young child, his loyalty to his team persisted even after his family moved to St. Louis. (And if you’re a baseball fan, you know that the Cardinals and Cubs are bitter rivals.) Somehow, he managed to stay loyal to the Cubs while being surrounded by friends and family who rooted for the Cards.
There was no question that we would see a spring training game in Arizona this year now that we live fairly close. Here’s the play-by-play:
We’re not the best when it comes to getting an early start. This day was no different. By the time we all got going and grabbed some Dunkin’ Donuts, it was almost 11:00 before we left Las Vegas.
The first part of the drive was familiar, since we were retracing part of the route we’d taken when we moved to Las Vegas. It was actually fun to think back to that drive and the anticipation we felt as we rolled into Nevada.
We stopped for lunch in Kingman, Arizona because we knew from looking at the map that there wouldn’t be many other options once we got on Highway 93. We saw mostly fast-food restaurants in Kingman, and decided to eat at Cracker Barrel. This is a road trip staple for our family, so a stop there is always fun.
The drive through Arizona was actually pretty fascinating. There wasn’t much along the way in terms of places to stop, but part of our drive included a designated scenic route through Joshua Tree Forest. We also saw lots of saguaro cacti, which I think are really cool. Is it weird that I have a favorite plant? I could look at those saguaros all day long.
We arrived in Mesa around dinnertime. After checking in at the Country Inn & Suites, we grabbed dinner at the On the Border located right next door. Dinner was surprisingly good. We’re pretty picky when it comes to Mexican food after living in San Antonio for two years, but we found the food to be above average. I was especially surprised that the tortillas were so nice and fluffy, not the cheap, plasticy kind you find at many chain restaurants.
The highlight of our dinner wasn’t the food, however. They had someone there making balloon animals for the kids, and E. was thrilled to be given a pink elephant that also doubled as a hat.
What can I say? It was another slow morning for the V. family! We eventually headed downstairs to have the free breakfast at the hotel, which was average.
After breakfast, we made our way to Ho Ho Kam Park. We wanted to allow plenty of time to find our way there, figure out the parking situation, and pick up our tickets at will call. Parking at the stadium was very easy and cost $7.
Game time! This will be the Cubs’ last season of spring training at Ho Ho Kam Park before they move to a new facility. As with most spring training and minor league stadiums, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. We sat in the Terrace section, and our seats were perfect. We had a great view of the field and were in the shade for most of the game.
The stadium also has lawn seating in the outfield. Late in the game, we wandered over to take a look. It seemed like the lawn seating was popular with two very different groups: 20-somethings who want to drink with their friends, and families with small children. E. took a minute to roll down the hill, which was probably the highlight of her day.
We didn’t make it through the entire game. E. was relatively well-behaved, but she started to get bored in the seventh inning. That’s when we took our walk to the lawn and then left the stadium.
We grabbed a coffee on our way out of town, and then started heading back to Las Vegas. The weather had been perfect, and we’d all had a fun weekend, so we were a little sad to realize that the weekend–and our trip–were coming to a close.
I think driving at night is the most boring thing ever. At least during the day, you can look out the window and enjoy your surroundings. We stopped for dinner in Wickenburg, a small town not too far outside of Phoenix. The drive went smoothly, and we arrived back home around 10:00.
I have a feeling a trip to Arizona for spring training will become an annual tradition for us. Next time, I’d love to stay longer and find some other fun activities in the Phoenix area. Let’s hope we brought the Cubs some good luck for the upcoming season!