Normally Day 2 would start with a morning hike one on the valley’s mountain trails, but our traditional routine is a little compressed this year due to my one sister’s short stay with us. Instead, we got up early (around 7:30am), had breakfast at the hotel (including leftover cowboy frybread from dinner last night, yum!), checked out, and drove to Goodyear to see the Indians’ morning practice.
We arrived at the Player Development Complex around 9:45am to find the team already out on the practice field warming up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that after an absence last year, Rick Danburg was back! It’s always great to see Rick and hear him talking to the crowd, discussing the Indians, the day’s schedule, etc. Rick’s son, Curtis, also works for the Indians front office and he was able to tell us who was going to Las Vegas for the game tomorrow we’re going to see! Once batting practice started we introduced my sister to the time-honored tradition of standing out beyond the outfield wall and shagging fly balls. It wasn’t as crowded as usual (again probably due to us being here earlier in the season) but there were still the crazy kids with gloves who were running down every ball they could, despite my sister trying to get two for her kids back home. She eventually got one, and I got two myself and gave her one for my niece. After batting practice, we waited for the players to leave the field and my sisters got Francisco Lindor to sign their baseballs (one kid tried to get him to sign an All-Star Game 2020 ball but he noticed and wouldn’t sign it (“What are you trying to do, jinx me?”)). Before leaving, we tried to get into the team shop at the ballpark but found out it closes to the public at 11:00am on game days. My sister had meant to do a little more shopping for the kids, but that was out, oh well!
Our next game was an away game against the White Sox in Glendale, so like the team, we hit the road. We had some issues with Waze directing us to the ballpark because we kept running into police and closed roads. It turned out there was a big accident right in front of the entrance to the parking lot of the facility so there was only one open way in. Once we (manually) found that we were able to get in and park (for free!). I hadn’t been to Camelback Ranch since back in2012 and this was the first time for both of my sisters. Unfortunately, with the sparse crowds (even on a Friday afternoon), a lot of the more interesting food kiosks were closed (the gift shop, of course, was open so my sister did manage to get some generic Cactus League spring training souveniers for my niece, nephew, and friends back in Ohio). The park seemed very empty (see the photo from our seats below to get an idea) and at times it was almost too quiet to believe we were at a baseball game! All of the Indians fans around us seemed to be from Lorain county, which is where my sister lives (again, the small world that is spring training baseball). A new change this year (although we didn’t see it at Goodyear) is that the protective netting behind home plate now extends all the way past the dugout. While I understand the need for safety, this separated us a little from the players as they couldn’t just toss balls to kids in the crowd (although one guy did toss it all the over the net, so take that!). It was an overcast day in Arizona and alas, with 3,817 fans in attendance, the White Sox exploded in the final 3 innings and crushed the Indians 8-3. Two losses in a row!
At 4:15 we were back on the road … to Las Vegas, baby! The main reason we came out this early was to visit yet another spring training stadium as the Indians are playing the Oakland A’s tomorrow and Sunday in Vegas as part of Big League Weekends. Unfortunately, my one sister is flying home tonight out of McCarran and won’t be attending the game, but hey, sibling road trip to Vegas! It’s a pretty scenic drive on US-93, at least until the sun went down. We saw the Joshua Tree forest and a beautiful sunset amidst the mountains. We stopped for dinner at 7:15pm at the In-and-Out Burger in Kingman (the line was out the door!) since my one sister had never had it before. We were hoping to be able to see the Hover Dam from the highway as we crossed the state line into Nevada, but the bridge walls were too high (we pulled off for the scenic overpass, but it wasn’t lit and wasn’t the right view anyway). Shortly after that my sister noticed the spotlight from the Luxor pyramid casino over the hills, even though we couldn’t see the strip yet. I had never driven into Vegas at night before so it was quite the view coming down out of the dark mountains to see the strip and surrounding city around 8:45pm.
My sister still had some time before her flight, so we decided to drive down the strip to take in some sights, including a stop at the famous Las Vegas sign. It was a Friday night in Vegas so of course Las Vegas Boulevard was jammed with cars (the above-the-road-walkways prevent too much pedestrian traffic in the street) but it was a nice leisurely drive. At the end, near the Stratosphere (which I guess is now called The Strat), I pulled over into a Denny’s parking lot to get a picture of a showgirls statue. As I was taking the photo a Las Vegas policeman pulled over a driver coming from the other direction. The driver just happened to pull into the Denny’s parking lot … and stopped right next to our car! (you can see the SUV pulling into the parking lot on the left side of my photo below). My sisters were still in the car and as I was walking back, the LVDP officer parked his SUV behind both vehicles, effectively blocking us in. After I got back into the RAV-4 rental, I realized I couldn’t easily back out. By now, the officer was talking to the guy he pulled over, getting his license/registration, etc. and I didn’t want to bother him (or startle him, I wasn’t sure if he knew our car was occupied). We ended up waiting about 20 minutes before I finally had a chance to roll down my window and politely ask if I could leave and he gave us the go-ahead. I managed to (carefully!) maneuver the RAV-4 out and around the police cruiser and as we were pulling out the parking lot, the office was handcuffing the driver across the hood of his SUV. Yikes!
With that exciting experience behind us, we headed to the airport and made it there by 10:00pm where we bid goodbye to one of my sisters. My remaining sister and I then drove 30 minutes west out to Summerlin and checked into our hotel for the evening.