Play Ball!

  • Tom Dell
  • June 10, 2015
  • Are you interested in reading reports of my own road trips?  Some people will, and some won’t.  If you aren’t, simply skip this post.  If you are, read on.

    This report covers a three-day road trip from LA to Phoenix .  My purpose was to attend a pair of spring training baseball games.  From a driving standpoint, this is a no-brainer:   Get on I-10 in LA, then exit when you get to Phoenix.  A scenic drive?  No!  It’s just miles and miles of miles and miles.  Thank heaven for satellite radio!  Total mileage from home to hotel was 364.  Driving time was just over 7 hours, with one gas/snack stop in Quartzsite.

    If you make this drive, you’ll want to buy gas in Arizona.  Why?  The price of regular unleaded in Blythe, Calif,, on the Colorado River was $3.59/gal.  In Quartzsite, 20 miles farther east, it was $2.65/gal.  This huge differential is pretty consistent over the years along the borders of Nevada and Arizona with California.  You always will save money buying gas in the other state.  The worst is Needles on I-40, whose purveyors of petroleum have been gouging motorists for as long as I can remember.

    Sonoran Desert

    Okay, back to Phoenix.  Phoenix is huge.  It sprawls for miles across the Sonoran Desert in what locals call the Valley of the Sun.  It’s the sixth most populous city in the United States.  In summer it’s an incinerator.  The rest of the year, the weather is great.  The overall vibe is relaxed and informal.  Standard attire is shorts for a majority of residents and visitors.  People tend to be friendly.  The city is also very decentralized, with the somewhat small downtown playing a distant second retail fiddle to the many large malls.  I stayed near the huge Arrowhead Mall in Glendale and ate ribs at Famous Dave’s.  Between the sprawl and the decentralization, you’ll do a lot of driving when you visit Phoenix.  Fortunately, it has a relatively good freeway system.  You’ll hit some heavy traffic during rush hour, but it’s nothing like L.A.’s.

    Fifteen major league baseball teams hold spring training in this area.  On Wednesday night, I watched the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. the Colorado Rockies.  Then, on Thursday, it was my two LA teams – the Dodgers and Angels, going after each other.  If you’d like to attend next year, keep in mind that the most popular teams are the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Cubs and Diamondbacks.  Their games often sell out.  You should buy advance tickets online for these teams and for any night games.  For other teams, it’s probably not necessary.  Most teams’ web sites have directions to the stadiums.

    Lastly, if you’re looking for a desert vacation but not baseball, consider Tucson, a couple of hours farther down I-10.  Tucson, IMHO, is the best winter non-ski destination in the western United States.

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