Being a writer, I am already inclined to create drama where there is none, so I will attempt to curb my leanings as I recount the (somewhat) calamitous events of the Great North American Baseball Road Trip, Day 16.
The day looked to be an excellent adventure, owing to my decision to first visit the San Diego Zoo prior to taking in the San Diego Padres game at Petco Park.
With the Zoo a mere handful of minutes away from the baseball stadium, everything seemed to line up well for an easy day. Thus has ever the tides of fortune been misread.
Of course, the first thing I needed to combat was the abhorrent California traffic. This was the first time I tried it late morning (around 11-ish) and it maintained its confounding snarls and inexplicable jams. Again, I could discern no reason for the delays, just too many cars, I conclude.
There were some mildly bothersome moments while I misinterpreted the navigation commands, but these cost me mere minutes and would not even be worth mentioning were it not to add to the totality of the day.
Upon arriving at the park, I skittered around the many school buses (perhaps because it was Friday? I thought school was out?) and went in search of my parking spot. And searched. And searched. Minutes felt like hours and dismay dripped into my very being. Would my trip to the Zoo be forestalled simply because I could not uncover an open parking spot? (I warned you about my writing habits).
Eventually, using that unfailing solution that works in all parking lots – go to the farthest place from the entrance – I found a lonely spot. There was a big round green cement thing in the corner of the spot (for what reason, I cannot imagine…I didn’t see others on my trek to the entrance), so I ever-so-carefully nudged forward to make sure my butt didn’t stick out nor my front didn’t scrunch.
As soon as I locked the car, drizzle began to fall. Undaunted, I walked the 7 miles (probably about a half-mile, really) to the front gate and paid the engorged admission fee. I did not want to get squished into a tram or bus, so I hoofed it like most of the visitors.
The visit was a success in my book. I got to see almost every animal and opted not to visit the pandas again as the line was inestimably long. Curiously, despite the cool day and lack of sun, almost every cat in the Zoo was asleep. The lion and jaguar were awake, though, and provided majestic display of their animal nature.
After a little more than three hours of walking (sometimes in circles, since I eschewed a map), I decided to call it a day. Unfortunately, that left me with an hour to kill before heading to the game. I chose to recline in the car with the windows down.
As I pulled forward to leave the spot, an immediate crunching sound caused me to slam my brakes. I had forgotten the solitary round green cement thing (you didn’t think I mentioned it earlier for nothing, did you…that’s called “foreshadowing” in the writer biz). By all appearances, I avoided damage to the body of the car, but I did get some ugly green smears on several parts of the right front area. Meh.
Of course, without common knowledge, I ended up in the most expensive parking lot and then the fun really began, as my seats were in the front of the highest section of the stadium. As the temperature dropped and the wind rose, I shivered away through a game that, horrifyingly, looked like it could go extra innings. More on that later.
Surviving the game, I had to senselessly navigate unfamiliar streets filled with event-only detours. For once, my nav and I were on the same wavelength – confused. By the time I got onto the interstate, it was 11:30 pm PST.
Surely, I thought, I’ve finally found a time to avoid traffic and, indeed, it seemed that way as all of us flew north towards Los Angeles. As if to refuse that simple benison, the state of California brought down its mighty fist and closed 3 out of the 4 lanes on its interstate. An interstate.
As far as I could tell in my more than ample time to observe, there were only two trucks actually working during our trip, laying surfacing down on the far left lane. I shook my head in sad resignation. Finally, we escaped the timeless morass and blasted forward again.
Only to be stopped once again by the California DOT, this time shutting the 3 right lanes. Meandering for many minutes, I eventually won free and finally ended up at my hotel’s parking lot. Unsurprisingly, there were no spots on a Friday evening (Saturday morning) at 1:45 am. I parked in the loading zone. So there.
The city: San Diego, California. I always enjoy reading the city’s history, especially when they include bits like “believed to be settled 20,000 years ago” – like anyone can prove or disprove that.
The city gets its name from either a Spanish explorer ship (yes, called the “San Diego”) or the saint the ship was named after, San Diego de Alcala. This was in 1602 (provable!).
In 1821, after two centuries of Spanish occupation and uneasy relations with Native American Indians, Mexico takes control of San Diego after its war of independence from Spain. The ownership is short-lived (in historical terms) as the United States “wins” California from Mexico in 1848 (having raised the American flag in San Diego two years earlier).
Two years later, the same year California becomes a state, San Diego has 650 people. In ten years, the population only grows by 80 people (that’s a weekend now, probably). That number nearly quadruples in the next 10 years as San Diego begins to hit its stride.
The city suffers a real estate bust in the late 1800’s that causes mass departures, dropping the population by 2/3, It takes nearly 30 years to recover. Over the next 100 years, San Diego never looks back.
The game: San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. The second consecutive game where the visiting team is the last home team I watched. San Diego keeps bouncing around .500 as they ride a punchless lineup behind decent pitching, though that’s not what happened in this game.
My undefeated streak was on the line as the Padres faced one of the best pitchers in the game. He lived up to his rep, striking out 10 Padres and holding them scoreless until a solo homer in the seventh inning had him lifted for a relief pitcher.
The next batter hit a major league pop up in the infield (about 100 feet straight up and about 10 feet in front of the plate). Three players converged, none caught the ball. Of course, the next batter hit a two-run homer to give the Padres the lead and appear to keep my streak alive.
Not so fast. The Padres reliever in the top of the next inning gave up three consecutive hits, combined with a throwing error, to give the lead back to the Dodgers and that’s where it stayed, ending my home team unbeaten streak.
The tab: Ticket, $31; Parking, $25; Hot dog, $5; Soda, $5; Total – $66
Miscellany of Day 16:
– Strangely, when I started off on the trip that morning, I was unaccountably drowsy as I drove. I could never determine why and my only theory was that perhaps three days of lazing around and not driving caused the odd reaction.
– Also, my lower back was hurting, again without explanation. One would not think the second issue could not allow the first.
– I wanted to stop for food before entering the park, but alas, there were no eateries prior to entry, so I elected to try their loaded tater tots and an iced tea. Bleh. The tater tots, while sounding and looking tasty, defeated the concept of tater tots (crispy). The iced tea was flavored (without notice on the sign). I tossed both.
– During the game, there was apparently a nasty fight above me between Dodgers and Padres fans. I say apparently because I was trying to watch the game. In an ugly comment on our society, whole sections of “fans” turned and spent the next few minutes watching the incident. Where does this repugnant desire to watch people fight come from?
– On the way back from what was a long day, my drowsiness returned with a vengeance, threatening me more now in the nighttime. The tail lights of the cars in front began to dance and I had to shake my head more frequently as I drove. Not even my 11 hour drive engendered that sort of reaction. Bizarre (and a little nerve-wracking).
All’s (sort of) well that ends well and we’re off to Anaheim for a laundromat and an Angels game tonight. I need to try to leave early to San Francisco so I can beat traffic and get parked, then I hope to catch up on some much-needed rest before the Giants game on the 15th.