By Jerry Mooney

Since I was a little kid, I have been a Cincinnati Reds fan. I was captured by the magic of the Big Red Machine and have been a die-hard enthusiast ever since. My mom came along for the ride several years ago, because she found it a good way for us to bond. Now, she might even be more enthusiastic about the team than I am. It’s been a fun topic for us to chat about and share.

 Photo courtesy of  Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

We had managed to attend a few games over the years when the Reds played out west and our schedules allowed, but we really wanted to make a big trip around baseball. We talked a few times about going to Florida for their spring training. A few years ago, however, they moved their spring training to Arizona and we realized we could no longer put it off. I had recently bought a used camper trailer for camping and with a side-eyed thought of leaving a fixed home behind.

As a skier and kayaker, the idea that I could park and play made sense to me. Now I had the opportunity to put the camper to a new use. It was set. We were going to hit Arizona and binge on some Reds baseball and ballpark food. We loaded up and hit the road. What I didn’t expect was that this would turn into an opportunity for my mom to stop and see every sight along the way. She had recently sold her life insurance policy and retired, so she had plenty of time to stop and smell every rose. For example, Las Vegas was on the way, so stopping there and playing a few games was easy to rationalize. I felt the same way about going to the Grand Canyon. It was on the way and, why not?

But then things started to unravel. She had the map of the US opened and was studying it with intensity. “We could go to Mexico from Phoenix. It’s like 2-ish hours.” This began to look a lot different from our original itinerary. “I could get a new pair of glasses.” It seemed that no amount of eye-rolling or attempts to dissuade her were effective. It actually made some sense to visit Mexico since were were so close. We bought some cheap blankets and sunglasses and I figured this would scratch her itch. Nope.

“Do you see how close we are to San Diego? I wanna go. I’ve always wanted to see Sea World.” By the time she was done listing all of  the attractions in San Diego, I knew I had little choice. “But I just wanted to watch baseball.” I protested to no avail. After San Diego we wended our way up highway 1. We toured San Francisco and then visited wineries in Napa. At this point, I sensed that her wanderlust had be momentarily satisfied.

It was a fun trip, but what started as baseball and bonding turned into an international trek of unexpected adventures. And even though we enjoyed watching fringe players attempting to make the major league roster, our subsequent miles created more memories. When we reflect on the trip, the baseball part of the trip rarely comes up.