Texas Rangers Spring Training Trip 2013

April 30, 2013

This year we did a Texas Rangers Spring Training trip – March 15-22. (Click for more photos)

We flew to Phoenix Friday and ate lunch at Four Peaks Brewery in Scottsdale. I ordered the walleye. It was delicious. The beer was good as well. Then we drove to Sedona our headquarters for the trip.  Our lodgings were the Wyndham Sedona.  We have a timeshare with Wyndham which allow us to book any of their locations.  The lodgings are generally top-notch.  They are great for people like us who need a kitchen when we travel. The main downside to Wyndham is they encourage you to attend an ‘information”  session which is really a sales pitch to buy shares in the condo or buy more shares in my case.  I always say no I am not attending a session.  For dinner we walked across the street, stocked up at Safeway, and ate in the condo.

View from Airport Mesa

Sedona: View from Airport Mesa

On Saturday we drove back to Phoenix/Surprise and took in the Rangers/Dodgers Spring training game. We stopped at New York Bagels in Sedona on the way for a bagel breakfast.

Before the game we dined at Amuse Bouche (rated as the Number 1 restaurant in Surprise by Trip Advisor). I would call the food casual French. It’s a nondescript place in a strip shopping center.  Most of Surprise is nondescript.  However the food was great and I believe it is probably the best restaurant in town.

Perfect day for a baseball game in Surprise

Perfect day for a baseball game in Surprise

The weather was perfect for the game: high 80s, not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze. We sat behind the Ranger dugout on the 4th row.  Spring training games are really different. They split the roster and were playing two games so we saw a mix of regulars and minor leaguers’. The regulars play around half the game and then they walk off to the club house in center field.  Everything is really laid back and relaxed.  The Rangers beat the Dodgers 4-0 in a 2.5 hour game. That was another difference, the game zipped along at a rapid pace.

The lady sitting next to us was interesting to say the least.  She was in her 70s. She took forever to say anything.  Not that she talked slow, but she said it over and over again and twisted it a little bit each time she said it.  She finally shared she was a Valley Girl in the 60s.  Probably too much LSD and speed.

After the game we dined at our favorite restaurant from our last Phoenix visit –

The patio at Beckett's Table

The patio at Beckett’s Table

Beckett’s Table.  We arrived an hour before our reservation because the game was much faster than we thought.  We sat on the patio and were the first diners seated in Beckett’s new patio area.  The tables and seats were constructed from used railroad ties and other recyclable material.  The food was as good as we remembered.  We will definitely dine there again.

Sunday was our first full day in Sedona. We ate breakfast at the Coffee Pot. I was surprised. The outside appearance gives the impression that it is a greasy spoon. However, the parking lot was overflowing so we gave it a try. The ambiance inside was very homey and western.  The food was really good also. Highly recommend it.

We spent Sunday hiking the West Fork Trail. The trail is rated one of the 10 best in the U.S. It follows a creek into Oak Creek Canyon for 3.5

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon

miles crossing the creek 13 times.  The canyon walls tower around 2000 feet above the base of the canyon.  The creek crossings are normally easy. However the previous week Sedona received 14 inches of snow followed by a few days of warm weather. This made the crossings very interesting. I discovered Gwen has exceptional balance as she scampered across tiny logs fallen across the stream while I kept stumbling off and getting soaked.  We made it to crossing 10 when after 2.5 hours we decided to turn around.

Sunday dinner was at the Golden Goose.  It was mediocre dinner.  I was disappointed as it had high ratings.

On Monday morning we decided to give the Golden Goose a second try for breakfast because it was in walking distance and were rewarded by a delicious breakfast. Breakfast was much better than dinner.

After breakfast we climbed into the rental car and drove up to Jerome, an old copper mining town on the built on the side of a hill. We visited the Jerome State Historical Park and then drove though town. We tried a restaurant called Grapes for lunch and were pleasantly surprised. It is THE place to eat in Jerome

Jerome. Az

Jerome. Az

Next we drove through Clarksdale and visited the Tuzigoot National Monument. It is a 110 dwelling pueblo ruin dating from the 1300s. Interesting, and if you are over 60 and have a National Park Senior Citizen pass ($10 for your lifetime) you get in free.

Monday night we tried Maria’s Mexican. It turned out to be mediocre. Not doing too well for dinners in Sedona.

On Tuesday we traveled to the Grand Canyon. We picked up breakfast at McDonald’s and hit the road. The drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is scenic. The first part of the trip is the drive through and out of Oak Creek Canyon. Then through Flagstaff and the National Forest to the Canyon.  We parked at the El Tovar.  We walked the rim in that area until lunch. We ate at the Arizona Room. The meal was mediocre (I have been using that word a lot but we were very unlucky on our choice of restaurants this trip in some cases).  Then we drove to the Desert View entrance on the East side of the park stopping to view the canyon and walk several times.

Grand Canyon 4

Back in Sedona we dined at the Silver Saddle in uptown Sedona. The meal was delicious. Recommend it also. I had steak and Gwen I am sure had some sort chicken dish.

On Wednesday we stayed close to Sedona.  We alternated between hiking, relaxing in the Wyndham, and eating.  Today’s restaurants and results were:

  • Breakfast: Golden Goose
  • Lunch: Wildflower Bread Company – very good, will remind you of Panera’s except the food is better.
  • Dinner: Elote. The restaurant opens at 5:00PM. We arrived at 5:15 PM and had to  wait 45 minutes. Elote was worth the wait. They serve Mexican and it is great. Definitely the find of the trip. I’d put it in the same class as a Stephen Piles restaurant. I had butternut squash soup and green chile tamales.  Gwen had guacamole and jicama salad.

Thursday was not the best vacation day in Sedona/Phoenix. The day started out fine. We ate breakfast at the Wildflower Bakery which was the best breakfast we had on the trip. Actually, the bagel shop was pretty darn good also.

Then we checked out of the Wyndham and drove to Phoenix. So far so good.

We had the day to spend in Phoenix and Gwen wanted to visit the Queen Creek Olive Farm. The only problem was it wasn’t really in Phoenix. It was on the far Southeast side about 60 miles from our hotel which was close to Surprise stadium on the far Northwest side. Other than the 1.5 hour drive each way through the city the farm was nice and we had a good lunch.

We watched the Ranger/Angels preseason game Thursday night. Rangers prevailed in the bottom of the ninth.

Our hotel was a Marriott Residence Inn at 17N and Happy Valley. It was new and really first-rate.

We flew home Friday and that’s the end of the story.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

Click for more photos

Some days are diamonds, some days are gravel

April 30, 2013

There is an old John Denver song – Some Days are Diamonds and Some Days are Gravel.  Well my day Monday was both.  Summary: I took a bike ride. I rode into a truck. Now, I  hurt to breathe and sneezing is out of this world.  I don’t believe any ribs are broken. Other than that I have a few bumps and bruises.

I woke Monday  morning (April 29)  ready for a brand new week.  When you are on a 7 day weekend you like Monday’s as much as any other day of the week.

I decided to take a long bicycle ride.  The morning was perfect. The temperature was 57 degrees and there was no wind.  No wind in Texas Spring is as rare as the Cubs winning the World Series – so maybe this is the year.  I decided to ride the bike through East Allen and Lucas.  That area is mostly rural so no lights and very little traffic.  Up until 2 hours into the ride I was having the best ride of the year.  Then disaster struck! I turned onto a new street.  All of a sudden there was a pickup about 2 feet in front of me.  I just had time to start to say a very bad word but never finished it because I slammed into the truck doing probably 15 mph! Of course the bike and I bounced off the pickup. For the first few seconds I thought my jaw and ribs were broken and the wind was knocked out of my lungs so I could not breathe.

After a minute or so I could breathe again but my ribs hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before and blood was spurting out of my chin.

I managed to get the bleeding to stop holding a handkerchief against the cut but my ribs were not getting any better.

Then I saw my bike.  It was in no shape to ride either.  The front wheel was bent and the handlebars were turned the wrong way.  By the way the pickup was parked when I hit it and did not have a scratch. I secretly believe the pickup jumped out from the curb and hit me.

It’s the day after now and I feel like a train ran over me.  Oh, well. This too shall pass.