Twelve days, five ballgames – what a vacation!

Knightstown, Ind., has this artwork from the movie “Hoosiers” prominent on its downtown main street, US 40.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t enjoy an annual vacation? That thinks he/she deserves one after 50 or so weeks of work?

Count me in, because I believe I work hard enough to deserve more than the 10 days I get; of course, I’ve only been working here at the Observer for 18 years. (Maybe after 20 years I can get another few days.)

Recent years have found my significant other (aka, the “nagigator”) and me in California (Chico, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco), the Midwest (Omaha, North Platte), the Dakotas (Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Wall Drug), Wyoming and Montana (Custer Battlefield, Yellowstone, Cheyenne).

Yes, there’s a lot to see in this great country, but this time we had to basically forego the “historical” sights and take in my high school reunion back in Michigan.

Don’t fret, those of you who know me as the sports guy: We went to five baseball games, also the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory, and I got to see the NFL Hall of Fame and the historic Hoosier Gym.

I’ll consider the 2018 epic vacation a sports vacation, even though there was the reunion and visits with some seldom-seen relatives.

We flew into Indianapolis, rented a car, and went to a Class AAA ballgame that night at beautiful Victory Field there in Indy. The next morning, we were up early and headed east of Indy to Knightstown, Ind., to see the historic gym, built in 1921 and used in the making of the 1985 film “Hoosiers.” (The Knightstown gym was the one used for the Hickory High Huskers’ home games.)

The next night we were in Chicago, seeing the White Sox play the Yankees. I have a visit to Wrigley Field on my bucket list, but the Cubs were out of town.

Then, through Gary, Ind., and into the southwestern portion of Michigan for a couple nights at my younger brother Bruce’s home in Paw Paw. After two nights in that rural setting, we headed for Goodrich and a Fraser High School reunion – where the three-most asked words were “Who are you?”

After spending that evening in a motel in Davison, we headed to first Macomb County and then Oakland County to visit my old home, where I had a nephew living that I’d never met living, and then to see two elderly aunts and then two cousins I haven’t seen in years, and their mother.

We left as darkness arrived, trying to make our way to downriver Trenton, along the Detroit River, for two nights at an old college roommate’s home. He had the honor of driving into Detroit and Comerica Park the next night.

The crown jewel of this trip, though, had to be going there, which opened in 2000. Growing up in the Motown suburbs, I had been to countless games at Briggs/Tiger Stadium ranging back into the 1950s. My last ballgame there had been in 1984, the lone time I got onto the field … with a credential in hand and interviewing then-Rangers reliever Dave Stewart.

After spending the night of the 13th in Trenton, Canton, Ohio, was our destination the 14th — the NFL Hall of Fame. I spent a few hours there, dazzled by the displays, including the Hall of Busts, and a hi-resolution movie on Super Bowl 52.

Yeah, I missed Brian Urlacher’s induction there by almost two weeks, but I’m not a fan of huge crowds.

After spending the night in Canton, we headed out early the next morning to catch a noon ballgame at Huntington Park in Columbus. The pattern followed — one night in that city — and we headed the next morning to Louisville, about a 200-mile jaunt, to tour the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory.

Then, back north to Cincinnati – in a driving rainstorm for most of that 100-mile jaunt – which wound up with a record 3.15 inches of rain that day.

Early the morning of the 17th, I walked into downtown Cincy, crossed the Roebling suspension bridge into Covington, Ky., and was soon drenched from the humidity. We went to the Reds’ ballgame at Great American Ballpark that night, and woke up early last Saturday to return our rental car to Indy, board a Southwest Airlines 7373 and, after a three-hour layover in Kansas City, return home.

That was one ambitious trip for a couple of senior citizens – but I don’t consider myself in that demographic because I still have a lot of energy. I do appreciate the senior discounts.

Last Sunday, I was wearing shorts again and photographing Sunday is Funday, covering briefly the New Mexico Open and working in the pressbox at that night’s Isotopes game.

It was indeed a great trip, but it’s always good to be back home.

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