05/24/16 / Padres360.com / @Padres360
by Rebecca Herman & Wayne McBrayer from Lancaster, CA
Lancaster, CA is a city located about 70 miles north of downtown Los Angeles in the Antelope Valley region and California’s High Desert. It has increased in population every year since 2001, drawing families away from the hustle and bustle of the City of Angels. While there are a few fun things to do in Lancaster, our trip had to do with our favorite love: baseball.
May 15, the morning after the amazing Billy Joel concert at Petco Park, we made the 3 hour trip to Lancaster, CA to watch our Lake Elsinore Storm play 2 games against the Lancaster Jethawks. We drove to the Hampton Inn (located right across the street from the park) and then walked over to “The Hangar” – the home ballpark of the Jethawks. We loved the look of the ballpark – especially the JET out front!
After picking up our media credentials, we walked inside the stadium and immediately had a feeling of deja vu. Although we had never been to this ballpark, we immediately knew its layout. We later discovered it was a carbon copy of San Bernardino’s San Manuel Stadium – home of the Inland Empire 66ers. Both parks were built in 1996 and designed by Populous, a company that specializes in designing sporting stadiums and arenas around the world.
We spent part of our first day taking pictures of the field and getting acquainted with our surroundings. Our original plan was to interview a player or two but Sunday pre-game routines made that rather challenging. We did chat with several people that worked for the Jethawks and found all of them to be quite friendly and welcoming; regardless of our obvious team affiliation.
We headed up to the radio booth and spent some time talking with the voice of the Storm, Sean McCall. We chatted for a few minutes and he offered us a seat in the booth later if things got a “little too windy” at The Hangar – and it was certainly windy! If you haven’t met Sean, he is a super nice guy and if you haven’t heard him broadcast a Storm game, you’re missing out on one of the best in the business.
Heading back to the main level, naturally Rebecca had to buy a ball, a pin, and a stuffed KaBoom! No, it isn’t an explosive – KaBoom is the mascot of the Lancaster Jethawks and a personal friend of Thunder, the Storm mascot. We took a couple of pictures with him and he gave us big hugs. He is a mascot of no words but his body language says it all, and boy, was he thrilled when we told him we personally know The Famous Chicken.
“When you’re at the park, you need a hot dog, peanuts, and a beer,” said our friend, Lisa, who happens to be living in Lancaster and joined us for both games. Naturally, we liked the idea and decided to make that our gametime meal of choice. We walked to the Pilots’ Pavilion where they were serving hot dogs and chips with all the fixings you could put on a dog for $10.00. From bacon to chili to cheese to mustard and the list goes on; you can make your own unique style hot dog. Our beer of choice for the day was Shock-Top, and with peanuts in hand, it was time to watch some baseball! Go Storm!
With the Storm’s ace Dinelson Lamet on the mound, we were looking forward to a low scoring game but things didn’t work out that way. Lamet went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs and issuing 4 walks and struggled with his footwork on the mound, kicking at the area where his left foot would land. He never appeared truly comfortable but he continued to battle and didn’t quit. The Storm’s offense came through and was led by a Trae Santos 3-run homer in the 5th that put the game out of reach for the Jethawks. The trio of Brad Weich, Jose Torres, and Colby Blueberg held the Jethawks to only 3 hits over the last 4 innings to give the visiting Lake Elsinore Storm a 6-3 win over the Lancaster Jethawks.
To top the day off, our friend Lisa invited us for steaks at her house. My friends, this lady can cook! Our steaks were perfectly cooked and our side dishes were out of this world. We drank some wine from Poppaea Winery in Ramona and just enjoyed each other’s company in the quiet and peaceful location of her home near the hills. All in all, a great day.
Monday arrived and we had some time to “explore” all that Lancaster has to offer. We decided to consult Trip Advisor for suggestions:
Hmmm … #4 – The Hangar – was covered! We heard that #3 – Poppy Fields – was not currently in bloom. It was only a short drive (less than 5 miles) to the #1 item – The Civic Musical Road. Wow – that sounded fun – and it was! We drove across and truly laughed out loud. We used the designated U-turn spots to give it another go but didn’t quite get enough speed. OK – third time was the charm and we videoed it as well!
Turns out we were just down the road from suggestion #5 – Apollo Community Regional Park. Here we enjoyed the ducks, geese, and a lovely walk around the lake.
This left item #2 – The BLVD. The reviews were solid … trendy, artsy, beer, wine, and food … well, it was time for lunch. Well, we found it but it didn’t quite live up to the hype. We later learned the “action” is more on the weekends and on Thursday for the farmers’ market.
We located the Giannini Bistro & Grill and it looked pretty good to us. We were quite speechless when we entered and felt as though we had fallen through the proverbial looking glass! It was decorated top to bottom in an Alice in Wonderland theme! That aside, they had a fabulous lunch menu, local beers on tap, and very fine service. We would certainly recommend it.
After all the adventure and exploration, it was time to head back to the Hampton Inn to rest a bit before heading back to the ballpark.
We made our way toward the field and were able to catch TJ Weir in his bullpen session as well as players taking BP and working on other drills. It’s always fantastic to be in the ballpark early.
BP ended and fans started arriving. Earlier, we had hoped to visit a local Lancaster brewery but they did not open until 4PM and we needed to be at the ballpark by then. We were happy that they, Kinetic Brewery, had a stand at The Hangar and that gave us a chance to taste the Fusion Porter – very yummy!
Lisa arrived, we grabbed a terrific seat, enjoyed peanuts, beer, baseball, and lots of laughs!
The sunset was pretty spectacular – as were the 28 MPH winds!
Unfortunately, the Lake Elsinore offense and defense were not “on” this day and they suffered a rather brutal loss. The box score says it all.
But we wouldn’t let that dampen our last night in Lancaster! We were off to Medrano’s Mexican Restaurant. The food was great and the service ok until they kicked us out at 10:07 PM, stating, “We close at 10.” Wow – ok. LOL!
But it had been a pretty long day and we had to drive back to San Diego the next morning so we could see the Padres host the Giants.
If you have an opportunity – explore the California League. We believe you will find The Hangar to be a terrific place to take in a ballgame. But do bring a windbreaker – the wind was averaging 28 mph both days!