By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Mar 21, 2011 at 11:54 AM Photography: Eron Laber

PHOENIX -- For as much time as I spent thinking about these Spring Training trips all year long, they actually come and go pretty quickly. On one hand, I feel like I've been in Arizona for about a month. Tanned but not sunburned, I've watched four consecutive baseball games and the desert scenery doesn't look so foreign anymore.

On the other hand, it's almost time go back to Milwaukee where life will go back to normal and this trip will become a sweet fading memory that will be best preserved by the blogs I've penned since Thursday.

Our final full day in Phoenix saw us get to Maryvale Baseball Park early for a change. The extra time allowed us to wander through the Brewers' minor league camp and watch the players of the future partake in drills. If you ever visit, this is one of the cooler parts of the experience, and you don't need a press pass to take in the sights and sounds.

I didn't recognize all of their names but did see Cutter Dykstra for the first time before we watched John Axford and Cameron Loe get some work in. I stopped to tell Axford that I enjoy his work on Twitter before we ambled into the stadium.

The Brewers lost a sloppy 9-8 game that lasted forever. The bottom of the third saw a five-run rally by the Crew, but I was most excited to see both Robin Yount and Jim Gantner in Brewers' uniforms today. I'm so glad that they remain connected to the team, if only in an occasional capacity.

After the game, I took a 15-minute catnap and got ready for our last night of festivities. On the docket was open mic night at The Dubliner, an Irish bar in North Phoenix. This came about because our host at the Sheraton Crescent, Frank Kuhns, is himself a budding singer/songwriter, and he knew that a few of the guys in our group are also musically inclined.

Surprisingly, Sunday night turned into one of the nicer experiences on the trip. After seemingly running nonstop, it was great to park it in one location and listen to unusually good amateur talent. Hosted by a husband and wife team called The Waters, this was not your average open mic night at The Dub. With few exceptions, musician after musician took the stage and dazzled with heartfelt lyrics and/or sparkling guitar work. Even Eron and Paul from our team played a few songs.

We regrettably left at 1 a.m. after watching an amazing, rising star perform, the 19-year-old phenom in the making, Jake Allen. Mark my words, you will someday know who this kid is; he does things with a guitar that I didn't think was possible.

But the best part of this group was how welcoming they were. We also chatted again with Jay Allen, the musician from the Coach House on Friday night. We felt like stumbled into a friendly, vibrant community, and we encouraged them to visit Milwaukee soon. Once again, we met new people on this trip and our circle of Arizona friends has grown anew.

This morning, it's time to pack and head to Maryvale for one final Brewers game (or a few innings, anyway) before we hop on planes and go home. The golfing half of this junket had an early tee-time and their course reviews will be on in a few days.

I had hoped to meet up with my friend and former Brewers pitcher Seth McClung today, since the Crew takes on the Rangers. But Seth texted me yesterday to tell me that he's been sent down to the minors, and though he's disappointed, he's continuing to work on his comeback.

The time change doesn't work in our favor on the way back, so I probably won't be in my own bed until 11 p.m., and tomorrow will certainly be a jarring readjustment period, but it's worth it. I had a great time, for sure, but I'm already thinking of ways to tweak and improve for next year. In some ways, it's a never-ending quest.

But this year certainly brought its new elements: The official tweet up at Dos Gringos, the addition of great live music, the two new gorgeous stadiums ... and the realization that the Brewers will need to make a change if they plan on staying in Phoenix.

And I'm happy I could take you along on the ride. There are so many ways to take a Brewers Spring Training trip, and I'm very fortunate to combine work and play to afford myself some luxuries that I could otherwise not (or should not) afford. You can take some, all or none of my suggestions and make this vacation your own. Huge thanks again to Frank and the Sheraton Crescent, the area CVBs and Dos Gringos for facilitating so much.

I've said it many times before but I'll say it once again: this is a trip every die-hard Brewers fan should make. I guarantee if you make it once, you'll make it again.

See you back in Milwaukee!

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.