Playing Baseball at the Grand Canyon and on Route 66

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I found out, long ago.  It’s a long way down Holiday Road.  

arizona-route66-01FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Hello constant reader, your humble West Coast corespondent reporting from Historic Route 66 this week.  Yes, the WCC family packed up the family truckster and are now in the process of getting our kicks the old fashioned way, rolling through the American Southwest on America’s appendix…once perhaps a vital organ, now perforated with teepee themed motels, concrete dinosaurs, and boarded up souvenir shops.  In other words, beautiful country.   So forgive me if this doesn’t cover much by way of world of sports.  There are probably a few guys named Bubba out here, but none of them would be confused with somebody winning The Masters, and the Yankees taking 3 out of 4 from the Red Sox and vaulting into first place of the AL East for the moment, but that’s a whole country away.  For you Met fans, however, there is a stop along Route 66 called Kingman.

Route 66 also eventually goes through Kansas.  I’ve never been to Kansas, I don’t follow the team, and I don’t know what “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!” means (though I did just look it up, and it’s just as stupid as it sounds), but I bring this up because I own a KU Jayhawk sweatshirt, and it may be my favorite.  It was purchased at a Kohl’s outlet store one jayhawk-currentcamping trip years ago when I forgot to dress warm, it has a hood and one of those hand warming front pockets.  It’s very comfty, except socially, when everybody behind every counter feels compelled to make small talk about it, giving me two options in response:  I either go into the long story about how I didn’t actually go there but I got it for $20 at an outlet store…kind of a funny story actually, it was very hot in Los Angeles that day but then when we got out to the desert and it was freezing. Who knew?  That usually just draws  blank stares, as though I’d broken the code of small talk.  The other option is to just say Rah, Rah Jayhawks, but I’ve been down that road of lies before, and it can end up even more awkward.  

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.  Take a ride on the West Coast kick.

familytruckster1Our first stop is the Grand Canyon.  I’ve never been, and it generally looks like all the pictures you’ve seen, but of course it’s pretty damn impressive all the same.  At the entrance we were behind a bright red Mustang convertible, obviously a rental, driven by two women. “Thelma and Louise in it,” as my wife observed.  We saw them at a number of the stops, you start to recognize the carloads you enter with.  For us it was Thelma and Louise; yellow VW bug man with the roof rack bigger than the car; a German couple in long pants and sleeves on this hot day (though he did hike down and up the steep canyon switch-backs in flip-flops… the Deutsch douche); and an old couple biking their way through.  English was not the first language for most of them.   After one of the scenic overlooks, me and my boys grabbed our gloves and started tossing a ball around in the parking lot.  It couldn’t have been more idyllic, the sky was high and blue and spotted with clouds, we were standing near one of the true Wonders of the World, and a lot of the tourists coming by were hot women.  One, a South African looking blond just like Charlize Theron, was just plain smoking…literally, she had a cigarette, so incongruous, and the smell in its wake was wonderful (and I’ve never been a cigarette smoker).

Before long we were long tossing the ball, and of course it got past us once in awhile, nearly pelting more tourists.  As we went back to the car we got a few more throws in, and the ball skipped off my eight-year-old’s glove and rolled across the asphalt, under a couple of cars that were pulling out at that moment.  My kid darted through them to retrieve it, while some of the ladies in the parking lot clucked, “No no no!”  He was never in any real danger, he has eyes and can see the cars… but I definitely wasn’t on anyones Father of the Year short list at that moment.  It struck me that we were being the quintessential Ugly Americans… and we were in America, so it worked out perfectly.  USA!  USA!

I found out, long ago.  It’s a long way down Holiday Road.  

(seriously, that line is repeated, those are the only two lines in the song!)

grand canyon catchI plan on playing catch now at every national park and monument we visit on this trip… Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Roswell, New Mexico, even Carlsbad Caverns.  It’s a family vacation and this is America…and on the way back to Los Angeles on Wednesday, there’s one last roadside attraction we’re going to catch:  An afternoon ballgame at Chase Field in Phoenix, where the Mets will be finishing up their own Southwest kicks against the Diamondbacks.  It think by that time, both the Mets and the WCC clan will be ready to get back home.

Take this route back here tomorrow, for Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson.

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West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.

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