Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Training

2295 - 2489 (12690 - 12884)

Today I got a glimpse of that baseball lover's pilgrimage: Spring Training. Then I headed back out into the desert via blue highways.

First, a beer report: Last night I dined at the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery. Sounded good; I figured I would find some good British brew at least. Turns out the Tilted Kilt is a Celtic version of Hooters, a breast-aurant with servers in skimpy tartan kilts and crop tops. The guys (I only saw one) wear black kilts. I tried their in-house brew, the KT Lager. It was not as tasty as the scenery. They may take our decency, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

Ah, Mariners Spring Training. It was such a respite seeing the fields of manicured green after so much time in the rocky desert. Today was the first day when all players reported. I watched some batting practice; in this photo you can see Mariner newcomer Casey Kotchman batting, with manager Don Wakamatsu (22) behind the cage. Other newcomers Josh Bard (26), Chone Figgins (9), and Milton Bradley (15) wait their turns. Ichiro (with bag) is on the left. He had a huge litany of photographers following him.

Here are my fellow fans watching batting practice. Hope springs eternal. They look a lot like the audience at the Jim Stafford Show I saw in Branson.

Got a big kick out of watching wind sprints just before the players broke for lunch. Ichiro glided along, always effortlessly ahead. Ken Griffey Jr, who was being driven around everywhere in a golf cart, ran a whole half a sprint. But boy, I loved that grin. I noticed particularly Tommy Everidge, a first baseman built like a weekend beer league softballer, struggling with each dash. Somehow I do not see Tommy making the big league club.

Lots of autograph opportunities as the players headed in for lunch. At least with the lesser known players; Ichiro and Griffey were squirrelled away via golf carts while the others walked in. This is newcomer Milton Bradley, who arrived with a bit of a surly reputation from the Cubs. Consequently I figure he is working hard to win over his new fans.

After my baseball fix, I headed back out into the desert, with a final destination of Blythe, California (right on the AZ/CA state line). Sounded desolate, but it had a Hampton Inn with a low point requirement for a free night. Turned out to be worth the trip.

I was really not interested in hitting the interstate, so I took blue highways as far as I could. I might as well have been travelling on the moon (with a few cactus... cactuses... cacti?).

Meep Meep! I was hoping I would see a roadrunner. Or a coyote. Or something from Acme. No such luck.

In passing through the nothing desert town of Hope (basically a combination gas station/country store), I could not help but giggle at Passmore Gas & Propane.

As I headed out of "town," I spotted this sign: "Your Now Beyond Hope." Fun play on words, albeit with poor grammar...

Quartzsite, Arizona, is home of the Quartzsite Yacht Club, despite there being no boats, or water, in sight. It's slogan is "Long Time, No Sea." Gotta have a sense of humor in the desert! You can even buy a membership that is supposedly accepted through reciprocal agreements at other yacht clubs around the world (I did not).

I arrived in Blythe figuring it had little to offer (for instance, notice there is no beer report for tonight!). But I was wrong. I learned of the Blythe Intaglios a few miles outside of town, and thought I might as well check it out.

Turns out intaglios are gigantic figures created by scraping away layers of darker rocks or pebbles to reveal lighter soil. Most likely created by members of Mojave or Quechan tribes, they are no doubt ceremonial, and the process of their creation was possibly by ritual dancing. There are three figures here, from 95 to 171 feet long: one is of a human, another a snake, the third a horse (which would mean it was created after 1540) or a mountain lion (which could date the site to as much as 2,000 years ago).

Way cool. The figures are protected by chain link fence, which was too bad, but you can see tire damage on some. I nabbed this aerial shot from the internet to get the real effect. What I found surprising was there was no advertising about their existence; I would have expected signs out on the highway. I just got lucky.

Tomorrow, into the City of Angels: Los Angeles.

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