There is nothing more quintessentially American than a road trip.
That is, of course, a biased statement. Growing up, almost all of our family vacations were done via the open road and whatever vehicle we could get our hands on. First, there was the teal 4-seater Saturn, which went north to Toronto and south to Florida, before ultimately being retired after a few too many rides on Space Mountain helped to rupture a disc in my dad’s back, requiring him to have his seat reclined for the 14 hour drive back home to Maryland. We upgraded after that to a 7-seater Chrysler Town and Country minivan. No longer did we have to cramp ourselves into one small seat for a week at a time! We had the luxury of an open back row of seating, in what quickly became the best place to take a nap. The van’s magnum opus was our trip west to South Dakota and the surrounding areas, where we took in the sights of Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Badlands National Park.
Another overwhelmingly American tradition we enjoyed on these trips was taking in a local baseball game if there was a team nearby. I’ve seen the Blue Jays in Toronto, the old Metrodome and Tigers Stadium in Minneapolis and Detroit respectively. I’ve made fun of Bernie Brewer’s mustache in Milwaukee, and driven down for a ‘day-cation’ in Washington DC to see the Nationals. My dad helped foster a love of baseball in me since I was old enough to take in my first game at Camden Yards. This love has since turned into a passion.
Family vacations became a thing of the past as my brother and I grew older, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer. They were talked about – a weekend down south, a small trip to New York City. But it was too much effort, too much energy that needed to be spent on schoolwork, or chemo. My mother was a force at planning vacations, buying guidebooks and spending countless hours researching the best tourist spots and hotel reviews on the internet. An old spark showed when she helped my brother and I plan a trip up north for Spring Break, and she proudly boasted that she had found the best hotel for us – and she was right. She always knew how to play the game.
The idea of a baseball road trip was something my dad and I had always joked about – it was always a dream for both of us to see all 30 teams in the league. We’d pile in the car, hit the road, and see as many teams in a certain area as possible. It only became a reality in the fall of 2014, when I started talking about going to Houston to see the Astros (and their adorable mascot, Orbit). This quickly turned into a 3 team trip, where we also fit in the Texas Rangers, and the Atlanta Braves. My brother joined the fray, and in the first week of June in 2015, the three of us set out in our little Honda Fit. We discovered Buc-ee’s convenience stores (seriously, Google it), ate plenty of Whataburger, and I got to give Orbit the hug I had been dreaming about for months. It was a great week.
This year, my dad and I are exploring the midwest. We start tonight in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, and roll through 3 other cities (Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals) until Tuesday, where we land in Chicago for 4 days and see both the White Sox and the Cubs. Our trip ends in Cleveland, where our Baltimore Orioles will be playing the Indians. We’ll take in two games there, and drive back home Sunday night. The next day, we head back home to Camden Yards, to see the Red Sox play the O’s on Memorial Day.
Are we a bit crazy? Probably. Are we ready for this? Not at all. Are we going to have the time of our life? You know it.