Sunday, August 21, 2016
I was up bright and early, packed, and on the road before 8:00. So…that was my adventure in Vegas: no gambling, no shows, no getting married by (or to) an Elvis impersonator.
It wasn’t long before I entered California (my 45th state). My first stop was to Anaheim to catch an afternoon ballgame at Angels Stadium. If my primary travel goal was to visit all 50 states, my secondary goal was to visit all the MLB ballparks. Once upon a time, I had toyed with the idea of a “30-ballparks-in-30-days” tour de force. However, that was before reading Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster’s 2014 travelogue I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever (which I highly recommend for baseball and/or travel aficionados).
The narrative detailed the hectic pursuit of the “30-in-30” goal as the two friends crisscrossed the county, seeing America (and the bit of Canada that is Toronto), while consuming large quantities of ballpark food. The whole enterprise struck me as a stressful undertaking as the authors fought to maintain their exhausting schedule while trying to work with the unpredictable elements, such as weather, car break-downs and extra-inning games. After reading about their exploits, I found myself in no hurry to see all the parks in one go. However, being in southern California did present me with numerous opportunities to add to my ballpark total.
Angels Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Planet Earth (whatever their official name currently was) became my eighth visited ballpark. It was a beautiful place and an equally beautiful day to kick back and watch a game.
As a rabid Cubs supporter, and part of an even more rabid fan base, I was accustomed to having to wedge myself into Wrigley Field in all kinds of weather. I found myself surprised that on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, the stadium was only half-filled with fans, and many of them were rooting for the visiting New York Yankees. As for me, I sat in my $11 upper deck seat with my Cubs hat and a hot dog, placidly watching the game, unconcerned about its eventual outcome.
The Angels won the game 2-0 although you’d never have known from the crowd. Despite the Yankees loss, the New York fans were still loud and boastful while the Angels fans left the park shrugging, their hands in their pockets. Granted, Anaheim was not in playoff contention at the time, but for a team that won a World Series in recent memory (2002), you’d think the fans would be a little more supportive of them.
Following the game, I joined the throng filing out of the exits. With a song in my heart, a spring in my step, and a souvenir Angels cup, I headed toward my car. At least, I headed to where I thought my car was.
I couldn’t find it.
Cursing my lack of a short-term memory, I wandered up and down the rows of cars, dodging exiting vehicles and vainly mashing down the buttons on my key chain, hoping to hear the friendly little honk from my car.
It took me a good 10-15 minutes of searching the quickly emptying parking lot to realize what I had done wrong. I had exited from the opposite end of the stadium. After reorienting myself, I sheepishly walked around to the other side of the stadium and, behold, there was my car sitting in the nearly empty lot. The whole episode made me feel pretty stupid. However, this bonehead move would prove to be nothing compared to fiasco that I would face the following evening.
More on that later.
My next stop was Riverside (about 45 minutes from Anaheim) and to the home of my friend Kari who had graciously allowed me the use of her guest room for the next few days. After she had made dinner (my first taste of Mahi Mahi on a bed of Quinoa), we spent the evening catching up on each other’s lives, relearning how to play cribbage (which Kari ended up winning), and watching a movie.