Courtesy of Erik and Tanner Sand
Take a couple big buckets of Major League baseball, throw in an ample helping of United States history, toss in equal parts of LDS Church history and modern-day American spirit, sprinkle it all with plenty of proud patriotism, mix well and what've you got?
A wonderful two-month journey called "Erik and Tanner's Excellent Baseball Adventure," that's what.
And as for those two time-traveling teens named "Bill and Ted" who once (or twice) had their own "Excellent Adventure"? Well, they don't have anything over on this baseball-loving, father-son duo of Erik and Tanner Sandstrom from Riverton, Utah.
Indeed, what began as a quest to see all 30 Major League ballparks in 60 days grew into something much bigger — and much better.
Sure, a love for the grand old game of baseball is the first and foremost reason that Erik, a firefighter for the Unified Fire Authority in Salt Lake County, came up with the idea for this memorable two-month trip to what would become their "Fields of Dreams."
But it has become much more than that. It's been a tremendous bonding experience between a loving dad and his teenage son, as well as a great U.S. geography and history lesson, a wonderful opportunity to see — really see — America and learn more about our country, its culture, its people and the Mormon faith.
Erik Sandstrom, 46, started toying with the idea of someday taking this trip as long as 10 years ago, thinking about how much fun it would be to see all the MLB ballparks in one summer. Four years ago, he started getting more serious about it, and over the past couple of years, he starting putting his plan in motion.
"I've saved up my vacation time for a couple of years," the 22-year firefighting veteran said, "and my boss was so excited that I was doing this."
Eventually Erik began mapping out his route and itinerary when the 2013 Major League schedules came out. But there was one missing ingredient that was essential to making it all happen.
"I knew that if I was going to pull it off, I was going to need a motor home, so I started watching the want ads for used motor homes," Erik said, knowing that the cost of airfare to fly all over the country would be "Astros"-nomical. "In January, I came up with one and I got it fixed up a little bit."
It's a good thing, too, because since leaving Utah on June 17, they've logged close to 11,000 miles on that baseball-binging buggy.
"We'll probably put around 15,000 miles on it by the time we get back home," Erik said.
More than baseball
Today will be Day 46 of their grand slam adventure, which has also taken them to places like Biloxi, Miss. — where Erik spent a week in 2005 helping victims of Hurricane Katrina — to historical sites such as Gettysburg, Pa.; to LDS Church historical sites like Palmyra, N.Y., and Kirtland, Ohio; to the monuments, memorials and museums of Washington, D.C.; and to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, too.
And so far, nobody's getting too tired or cranky yet.
"It's been the trip of a lifetime. I'll probably never get a chance to do something like this again with my son, so we're going to get to do all of these things on the same trip," Erik said.
"We haven't killed each other yet. We're still friends, we're still talking to each other, and we don't sit in different parts of the ballpark," he added with a laugh.
Tanner Sandstrom, 16, will be a junior at Riverton High this fall. Like his dad, who inherited a love of baseball from his grandfather and father, Tanner has grown up loving the game, too — especially the New York Yankees, a long-held family tradition that Erik says is "a requirement."
So what's been the best part of this trip for the teenager?
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