another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Valley of the ... Wind and Rain?

OK, here's the catch-up post on my last week in Phoenix.

Hey, whoa, it's been two weeks ago now, or nearly so. Two weeks ago the temperature in Phoenix topped out at 118°. I mainly say that to freak folks out, I still contend that I wasn't uncomfortable, due to the dry heat.

Saturday of that weekend (July 22), I went driving around to do some sight seeing. I drove a bit around Scottsdale then south to Mesa. In Mesa, my main objective was to find Hohokam Park, the spring home of the Cubs. I found that, as well as their training facilities at Fitch Park. When I drove by Fitch Park I saw guys in Cubs uniforms on one of the fields, and then figured out that there was a rookie league game going on. I couldn't exactly figure out how to get in, though, so I passed by and went to get lunch.

I wound up at a Schlotzky's Deli, a chain I'd discovered while on a business trip in Virginia and that I go to occasionally, though there isn't one convenient to Naperville or Aurora. At Schlotzky's, though, they had three public internet stations. From there I was able to find the Cubs rookie league information and schedule. The games start at 10:30, so even if I'd stopped at Fitch Park it was late in that game. I found that there was a game the next day at 10:30, though, so I figured I might be able to check that out.

After lunch I drove out into the Tonto National Forest. It's mainly desert mountains (rocks and cacti) and empty road. But the mountains were very scenic. There was a recreation area with a river and lake in the south part, which I hadn't checked out. As it turns out, that's where Brian Mann was that day (more on that later). I drove an hour into the mountains, but then turned around because it seemed that the first actual town I was going to get to was yet another half hour away. After getting back into town I just had dinner and then did some work on my computer in the hotel room.

Sunday morning I drove to Surprise (surprise!) to the Texas Rangers training facilities, where the rookie league Cubs were playing the rookie league Rangers. Again, I could see where the game was, but I couldn't exactly figure out how to get in. However, the Rangers' camp is directly next to the Royals' camp, and it was easy to see how to get in to see the Royals rookie game. So I parked, walked through that gate, then walked through the complex toward the Rangers' fields and found the field where the rookie league Cubs were playing.

The training complex in Surprise is pretty large. Here's a Google Maps view of the complex.

I got there in the Cubs half of the 3rd inning. There were maybe 15 people sitting in metal bleachers on the Cubs side of the field. There were also metal bleachers, with a canvas awning, right behind home plate, but it seemed that the people on those were all with the teams -- players who didn't dress that day apparently. I don't know how many players they actually carry in the rookie league, I guess it's probably 30 or 35 players and they just dress 20 to 25 (after a Google search, the Mesa Cubs roster lists 42 players). Anyway, on the Rangers' side of the field in the larger metal bleachers there was -- one guy.

I think there may have been another tourist or two on the Cubs side, but mostly they seemed to be the family of players. I know there were the parents and younger sister of one player, and I talked to the grandparents of the Cubs centerfielder (Drew Rundle, Cubs 14th round draft choice this year, just out of high school). When I left, after the 7th inning, the crowd was down to just Rundle's grandparents and the reserve players. The sun was pretty fierce by this time, just after noon.

I hiked back to my car and discovered my major mistake. The Royals game had started earlier, at 9am, and by now was long over. And they locked the gate that led out to my car! I needed to hike back, try to find an open gate (I knew there was one over on the Rangers side, though I hadn't parked there in the first place as it was marked "Rangers Staff Only"), and I'd have to walk all the way around the complex to get back to my car.

Fortunately, part-way back I ran into a groundskeeper in a golf cart, who asked if I needed a lift somewhere. I explained my mistake, and he drove me back and opened the gate for me.

I'm still not sure if they really welcome folks to watch the rookie league games, but neither did anyone feel the need to kick me out.

I was pretty beat by this time, so found a Fazoli's to get lunch and about a gallon of iced tea. I called Kathy to wish her happy birthday.

Later that evening I met up with Brian Mann (my nephew, or technically my step-nephew-in-law, I guess :-) ) and his girlfriend Jackie. He showed me his apartment, drove around Scottsdale a bit, and then we went out for a nice dinner at Houston's, a steak house. After comparing notes, it seemed we'd continually missed each other over my time in Phoenix. He works kitty-corner from the building where I'd been working in the Cingular offices. He and Jackie had been at the Diamondbacks game I went to the previous weekend, and they were sitting just a couple sections over from where I was. They'd been tubing on the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest while I'd been driving through it the day before. Surprising we hadn't managed to run into each other.

Anyway, then the rest of the week was mainly just busy at work. The one notable thing was that it rained a couple times, and cooled off a little. Apparently the end of July is monsoon season in Arizona, and so I was there for one of the few times when they get thunderstorms -- there were some impressive lightning displays one night, and the clouds hanging halfway up Camelback Mountain were a pretty cool sight. I also got to watch a dust storm blow through -- from the comfort of the offices on the 11th floor. The mountatin that was the view from those windows was totally obscured by the dust for about 15 minutes, and the windows were shaking pretty fiercely.

Anyway, that's about it for the Phoenix trip. Coming up tomorrow, the comic con and what passed for Tjarkseque this year, which probably won't be much. Saturday I'll go to the con again and then do a zero of a D&D module for the pre-Gencon gaming (more on THAT next week). Sunday I'll be at Wrigley again with Bob.


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