“Mary Beth and looked at Camelback Mountain,Josh The Pilot just posted on social media, “and then drove away.”

Having achieved our vertical hiking quota in 2017, we walked a grand total of 30 yards down the Camelback trail, more than the Bengals achieved in all of its rushing attempts last week, and, feeling we had represented our city in a far superior manner than an AFC Champion football team, turned about to taken in our cactusy surroundings.

Josh and I are nothing if not generous and gracious sporting folk, and so when we encountered a man in a Phillies shirt at the trailhead, we bade him a magnanimous “Go Phils.” (He offered no indication that he’d even heard us other than a confused scowl, which, in PhillyFan, means, “Ah, yes, go Phils! How kind of you to say so, and I greatly appreciate the extra effort of welcome that you, two strangers, have offered unto me here in this land foreign to both our people.”)

Fewer people crowded the trail itself. Far off in the horizon, I saw a white dome on the brown landscape. “Is that where the Cardinals play?” I said, because I am not so academic as to judge all distances and forms of geography by disappointing sports teams.

“Yes,” he said, “that is Glendale.” Unlike his wife, Josh The Pilot, as a pilot and a competent human being, has an excellent sense of where things are from high locations, as opposed to me, who prefers to navigate via such waypoints as “the convenience store next to that one hair salon where I saw the White Claw stuck in a pot of marigolds.”

So if the white dome was Glendale, that meant Goodyear was not far away. We’d already made two swings past the Angels’ spring training complex in search of caffeine refuge, so I figured it was nearby, in the sense that Ohioans have that all Western state locations are grouped close together for the sake of convenience– the Grand Canyon is maybe 20 minutes down the road from Vegas, Vegas is a mere Lime scooter trip away from Yellowstone, and Yellowstone is so close to the Denver airport that it’s probably easier to just drive.

But in this case, I wasn’t far off. Glendale and Goodyear are about 12 miles apart, and although I couldn’t see the Reds’ training camp, I knew it was there. This invited a sense of home, and, against all things logical, hope.

I thought about the cheerful new friend we’d made at the trailhead. There was a person who had already enjoyed the fruits of the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2008, which was followed by another NL championship in 2009. From the perspective of Reds fans, this is last Tuesday. People not on the cusp of Golden Buckeye card can remember the glory, and a playoff drought of a mere decade or two is quite the embarrassment of riches.  Good for them.

I love a good desert; it is never a wasteland to me, but a humidity-free glory of defiance. There’s no rain? It makes cacti, and ones with flowers at that. The ground is sand? Have a roadrunner that eliminates gross bugs for the humans. And though the sky does not bring rain, the blue is far-flung and impossible to reproduce.

But these things sustain the human need for natural beauty. The execution of basic civilization means that gas prices are astronomical in Phoenix because it’s all trucked in. It is a precious commodity. It costs.

A person can sit with, sit in the desert for a good amount of time and receive an excellent education in bravado. But to enjoy the peak measures of human advancement, of excellence, significance work and cost come into play. It’s not a place for those who merely hope to get by or deliver the minimum.

Or align payroll to resources.

20 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    The desert museum near Phoenix is worth a trip next time. There is another one closer to Tucson if you get that far away.

    Matt’s Big Breakfast if you’re hungry. You won’t be after eating at MBB.

    • Jpser05

      I agree on the Matt’s Big Breakfast recommendation. My wife and I still speak glowingly of the breakfast we had there in 2009.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Man I wish I’d know before we went. Although we did go to JoJo’s and US Egg and those were both excellent in their own right. I was amazed at all the terrific restaurants we drove past!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      My family went to the desert museum when I was tiny! I don’t remember much, but I have a fond feeling about it, and would like to return now that I’m slightly less obnoxious about needing snacks (I can buy my own now, which helps immensely.)

  2. LDS

    Excellent metaphor. Scottsdale didn’t bloom on the cheap (yes, the fountain is rather ostentatious). Neither will the Reds.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      thank you 🙂 We had brunch in Scottsdale and I noted that there was NO dicey part of town. I think the bad neighborhood consisted entirely of the one pawn shop we drove past.

  3. Mark Moore

    It’s been quite some time since I was in Phoenix. I made two trips in close proximity some 22 years ago (to surprise my visiting Mom and see my brother one more time, followed by the trip for his memorial service). The last trip was to teach a class for 4 days (I did get to have dinner with family).

    I had a trip scheduled to go to Goodyear, but my week-long stay in a hospital and subsequent recovery kind of squashed that bit of fun. I’d like to go Goodyear, but the thrill is kind of gone for right now.

    My DD#1, late mother and I had a smashing time at the Phoenix Zoo on my aforementioned trip. It was October, so it wasn’t quite as hot as other months.

    Anyway … “drought” pretty much sums it up for Phoenix and our Reds. It’s a hard pill to swallow, at least for me. But we soldier on …

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I feel you. If I went to Goodyear, it would 90% to be just to go to Goodyear and oh by the way the Reds are here.

    • TR

      Phoenix is a very big city in the desert and, by the way, the largest state capital in terms of population. My interest in Arizona centers on the north from Seddona to Flagstaff and on to the Grand Canyon. it’s a done deal but I think the Red’s spring training site should be in Florida where it’s usually been in their history.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Same! I would like to return to the North Rim after many years. But yeah, send the Reds back to the Strawberry Festival.

    • Jim Walker

      Does anyone know if any part of the plane boneyard in Goodyear is open to the public?

      I have never been off the airport perimeter in Pheonix but if I ever am, the plane boneyard would be on my list of places to explore to the fullest possible.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I actually asked Josh The Pilot on this, as he is of course expert on all things Piloting, and he said “no.” I guess they don’t want them stripped for parts or the military aircraft studied *too* closely.

  4. Rednat

    I prefer the term “lost at sea” to describe the reds. “Droughts” eventually do end. the reds have never really “figured out” 21st century baseball and they may never

    • Votto4life

      Rednat, that is a very good point.

      I could live with a drought, if I believed the following conditions were true:
      1. The Owner was dedicated to winning
      2. The Front office was competent
      3. The Front office had a plan to win
      4. The Front office was capable of carrying out the plan and
      5. The Owner would support the plan financially

      Without out any of those things being true, the Reds are like you state, simply adrift.

      Let’s face it, when all of those conditions are met, it still takes a great deal of luck for a team to be successful. Without any of those conditions being met, it is next to impossible.

      I am glad you enjoyed your trip the the Southwest, Mary Beth.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I always love any chance to be in the Southwest. It is a heart home.

        Although if we had MAYBE one or two of the five elements in place, we probably wouldn’t have a drought!

    • TR

      Lost at sea is a good way to describe the Reds. I think it goes back almost a hundred years to the Depression when the franchise was almost bankrupt and industrialist Powel Crosley saved the Reds for Cincinnati. To be ssuccessful now the Red’s need wealthy ownership with enough spendable money to field a winning team.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I always love a good Powell shoutout.

  5. Mike McSorley

    Could be rain clouds, could be a gully-washer …
    One way to end “the Drought”:
    Bank of America has been charged with finding interested parties to purchase the Washington Commanders. Projected price around $6 billion (or 4 Powerballs). When the successful bidder is determined, contact BofA for the list of runners-up. They’re interested in owning a sports franchise, they could even overpay for the Reds and still have $1 or 2 billion left for operating capital. Drop ticket prices to entice fans back. Make enough on concessions/parking alone to bag a free agent or two…
    Ah, a boy can dream.