Escapes: What to do, where to do it at spring training

The Angels' Mike Trout signs a ball for fans at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
The Angels’ Mike Trout signs a ball for fans at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

It’s time for Dodgers and Angels baseball. Were sweeter words ever spoken — especially if you add, “and we have some great side-trip ideas for your spring training trip”?

You get two, two, two vacations in one.

My name is Catharine Hamm, and I’m the baseball-loving travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. We have a guide to spring training — what’s new in the Phoenix area, where 15 MLB teams are knocking the rust off, and also suggestions on side trips you can do in a day. Even if you despise the ballet that is baseball, you can’t help but love the Old West vibe of Arizona.

You might love a steaming serving of ramen even more, and we also have a guide to the best ramen restaurants in Portland, Ore. Or your jam could be skiing and surfing in the same day … in Canada, not here. We’re also excited to share this life-reaffirming news: If you have a rotten sense of direction, you can compensate for it (and rely on technology too, of course) to overcome it.

We’ll tell you about a piece of luggage that expands and contracts, depending on your needs, and a lovely weekend getaway in the desert. Maybe the best news of all: Better Wi-Fi is coming soonish to a plane near you. Plus a head’s up about changes to the print Travel section, and an End paper, found at the very end, that speaks of life lessons of America’s pastime.


All of this and heaven too. Play ball!

Dodgers and Angels and side trips — oh wow!

Hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since the Dodgers moved from Vero Beach, Fla., to join the Cactus League in Arizona, but that was merely the beginning. Glendale, Ariz., has grown into a city full of dining and entertainment options, Charlie Vascellero writes, and the Angels’ training spot in Tempe comes with the advantage of being home to Arizona State, which means it’s no slouch in those departments either.

Meanwhile, if baseball gets to be too much for you (perish the thought!), Sharon Boorstin suggests seven great side trips from the spring training center of the state where you can soak up the flavor of the West and even rekindle your romance with Tom Cruise (well, sort of).

Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger leaves the batting cages in Glendale, Ariz.
Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger leaves the batting cages Friday in Glendale, Ariz.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Get it where it’s hot

We mean the food, not the climate. James Charisma calls Hawaii home, and it’s there he developed his taste for ramen. In Portland, Ore., he tracked down the best Japanese noodle places, which are guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart and other body parts. Which you might need if you’re headed there this weekend: The Saturday forecast calls for a high of 54 and rain on Sunday (and Monday) with a high of 48.

Everlyn Jorgenson, left, gets smiles from her parents, Emilie and Keaton Jorgenson, as they eat lunch at Afuri Ramen + Dumpling in Portland, Ore.
One-year-old Everlyn Jorgenson gets smiles from her parents, Emilie and Keaton Jorgenson, as they eat lunch at Afuri Ramen + Dumpling in Portland, Ore.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Sea and ski ... in Canada in a day

Sure, you can surf and ski in the same day in California. But you enhance your bragging rights when you flip the script and do so in Canada. Margo Pfeiff tries the ski-to-sea experience and finds it exhilarating — especially the surfing part, at which she had been a novice.

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I once was lost ...

OK, many more times than once. I have a poor sense of direction. Even calling it that is being generous. On the Spot asks the musical question: Can this traveler be saved? Answer is: maybe. You’ll need to invest some time in bolstering your own skills and finding other ways to cope with an annoyance that is not an anomaly.

Triple personality

I’ve long searched for a suitcase that has multiple personalities. Judi Dash may have found the bag that can do it all. It goes from 5 inches flat to a 20-inch carry-on to a 24- or 28-inch checked piece of luggage. She also has found three other pieces of travel gear that help smooth your way.

A splurge made sweeter by freebies

A desert getaway at the Ritz? Too rich for my blood. Not necessarily, says Irene Lechowitzky, who spent time with her husband and son at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. There was plenty to do that didn’t add to the tab, and if you go in the off-season, there’s no reason not to splurge.

 A couple enjoys the view and the warmth of an outdoor fire pit at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

High five to airplane Wi-Fi?

It’s closer than you think, writes Justin Bachman of Bloomberg, who says “a new era of ground-quality internet connectivity” is just over the horizon, thanks to the Seamless Air Alliance made up of airlines and tech companies.

The whole experience would wrap you in its warm embrace from the time you enter the airport to walking onto the plane to real connectivity in the air. Not everybody is onboard yet, but we can dream, can’t we?

A change to the Travel section

Beginning Feb. 29, the Travel print section will move from Sunday to Saturday and join the Saturday section. But don’t fret: You’ll still find articles that help you decide where to go next and how to travel well, and we have a robust digital presence at Please send us your feedback at

What we’re reading

This week, this is the roundup of what we’re reading, creepy edition. To wit:

If you’re an antiquer or a lover of jewelry or both, you’ve probably stumbled across Victorian hair jewelry, which is jewelry made from hair. Sometimes it was the hair of someone you knew; sometimes it was donated. In honor of Presidents Day, here’s a story from Cassandra Good at Smithsonian on a group hair portrait that includes snippets from the heads of the first 14 American presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce. It is in the National Museum of American History.

If that doesn’t make your hair stand on end, the video of an unhappy flier trying to disrupt the comfort of a woman who reclined her seat should do the trick. Christopher Elliott writes for USA Today that the man punched her headrest several times, then began jiggling it. This created a debate, some nice, some not, about whether she should be reclining and whether he should be acting like a big baby. Readers, what do you think? Write to us at

Not surprising, perhaps, that one of the most dangerous men in the world kept several of the most dangerous animals in the world. Today, he is dead but the animals are not, Jessica Leigh Hester writes for Atlas Obscura. The man: Pablo Escobar, at one time the world’s most notorious drug lord. The animals: hippopotamuses. After Escobar was killed in a shootout in 1993, the hippos remained on his enormous Colombian estate and have multiplied. In a time when hippos are threatened in Africa, these hippos seem to have no problem living the life — and ruining some of it, thanks to their prodigious output of poop. Still, they have become a tourist attraction, despite being cranky and unable to mind their manners.

What you could be reading

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End paper

You had to love baseball to be a fan of the Washington Senators. One incarnation of that team left and became the Minnesota Twins; another later left and became the Texas Rangers.

In between, that left the hapless and hopeless Senators to stumble through a few seasons in Washington, D.C., as an expansion team, and a bad one at that. “They managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” was a favorite saying. They had one winning season in my fandom: an 86-76 year in 1969 when the legendary Ted Williams coached them.

As spring training gets underway in Arizona and Florida, I am drawn to the memories of those warm Virginia nights listening to Warner Wolf call the game on radio and trying to imagine the cities where those away games were played. Maybe that’s what ignited the travel bug.

I know it ignited the persistence bug. The Senators were not exactly a house afire, except for big Frank Howard, a former L.A. Dodger who could light up a stadium with his bat. He played hard; after one doubleheader on an especially humid Washington day, he reported he’d lost 14 pounds in an afternoon. He never gave up.

In my 40s, I was editor of a small newspaper in California, and I kept a photo of Howard on my wall. Maybe I didn’t have a Pulitzer-winning staff, but it was important that they never give up and that I didn’t either.

So baseball? Sure, it’s a game. But I think one of the news editors on that paper had it right every time he told me, “Baseball is life.” You keep going when things seem dark; you celebrate the wins and learn from the losses. And there’s always next year.

“The most incredible thing about miracles,” G.K. Chesterton wrote, “is that they happen.”

Whether you’re at spring training or enjoying the glories of spring somewhere else, travel safely and well, and remember, we’ll always be here to welcome you home.