I only glommed onto baseball several years ago, thanks to my mom, a long-time, and as we learned, rather hardcore, fan, and
ever since – baseball means something – it signals summer — all the joys of sunshine, hot weather, cold beer, carefree times, and you get a fast, suspenseful game to boot! And as a Cubs fan (if the wind is out of the north, I can hear the roar of the crowd from my living room), baseball is a particularly joyful, if sometimes frustrating pursuit. So off we went on a four-day weekend to Mesa, Arizona for three Cubs spring training games. I was dreaming of sunshine, hot weather, hot dogs, cold beer and … BASEBALL!
Our destination: Mesa, AZ, and HoHoKam Park, winter home of the Chicago Cubs. Now if there’s one thing I observed, spring training ballparks are not in the most fabulous neighborhoods, but never mind that. The ballpark itself was delightful – intimate, clean, good food options – everything you could want!
As far as hotels: Mesa is home to one chain after another: a thousand Marriott chains, La Quinta and others. We unpacked our bags at the Marriott Courtyard http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phxme-courtyard-phoenix-mesa/, which was just fine — nice, updated rooms, nice staff, a courtyard pool area with lounge chairs and towels. TIP: Skip the expensive and very mediocre breakfast there and head for Mimi’s Cafe just a 5-minute walk away.
Your mission on a spring training trip, of course, is baseball. If your mission is baseball combined with resort, you’ll want to go for a Phoenix or Scottsdale resort. Online research unearthed a FANTASTIC New Mexican restaurant (www.blueadobegrill.com) – which we visited TWICE over three days — smoky, spicy tamales, chiles rellenos, tangy salsa – much of it smoked over pecan wood — DELICIOUS! Nothing to look at from the road, but the ambiance inside is charming and delightful. I recommend stashing a bottle of wine in your checked luggage as there was not much within walking distance -tho we did score a $12 bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay at a nearby convenience store.
Sunrise Tours (http://www.travelsunrise.com) provided air travel and all ground transportation and did a nice job of it. All in all: we saw the Cubs lose three games, but opening day is mere weeks awayand as Cubs fans, say, “This is the year!”