A summer to remember.
When the year began, I said 2012 was the year to conquer.
With three months still remaining, I feel I've seen and done things many people don't get to experience once in their lifetime.
All in the span of four months.
It all began in June.
Nearly two weeks after the Los Angeles Kings captured the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, I boarded a plane for the East Coast, where I'd get a chance to step foot into iconic Fenway Park for two games, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Yankee Stadium and its museum for one game and Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia for one more.
Upon returning from that eight-day trip, I jumped on an opportunity to get my picture with the Stanley Cup.
There was no way for me to compare seeing the Stanley Cup to witnessing a game with my own two eyes in Boston or New York, let alone visiting Cooperstown.
In August, I drove to San Francisco to take in a game at AT&T Park before catching another game at San Diego's Petco Park, just a week before my birthday.
Talk about an early birthday present.
September began in fine fashion, as the USC Trojans football team opened its schedule on my birthday, Sept. 1.
But my sights were set on another event in September.
At the end of the month, I got the opportunity to visit Turner Field in Atlanta for three games and witness the final regular season home stand of Chipper Jones, a player I'd watched since he broke through into the majors in 1993.
I've visited 12 ballparks across the country, including Dodger and Angel Stadium, Chase Field in Phoenix, Coors Field in Colorado, and U.S. Cellular Field and Wrigley Field in Chicago.
And while each park has its own atmosphere, words cannot describe the experience of taking in three games at Turner Field, especially with the Braves playing as well as they have been,
I grew up watching the Braves play on TBS, dreaming of the day I'd get to visit Fulton County Stadium until Turner Field opened in 1997.
In 2010, that dream was made reality. I took in two games to end the season, both against the Philadelphia Phillies for Bobby Cox's final regular season series.
While I knew 2012 was the final year in the great career of Chipper Jones, I hadn't made plans to take the series in until August came around.
And when I finally booked the plane flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta, my dreams as a child were starting to come to reality.
There were a lot of things that swam through my head as I continued to patiently wait for the final weekend in September.
I had never seen a Friday night game at Turner Field -- my first visit, I took in games on Saturday and Sunday; I had never seen Chipper Jones play at home. In 2010, he had tore a ligament in his knee making an off-balance throw in Houston, ending his season before September rolled around.
The series and tribute to Bobby Cox were very memorable experiences for me, as I went home knowing I'd return to Turner Field another day.
But the series and tribute to Chipper Jones took my breath away. Knowing people would come from all over the country, let alone the world (one fan flew from Australia to take in the weekend series), I knew this was one of those can't miss experiences, even as I boarded my flight that Friday morning.
And like a gust of wind, the weekend passed by, but not without making lasting memories and meeting friends I had only talked with over Twitter before the weekend.
If there was a weekend, more like a 48-hour time period that will not be forgotten, this was it.
While the Braves dropped the series opener to the NL East rival Mets, they won the next two games in rather impressive fashion, especially the final game as Kris Medlen, a Southern California product, cemented his name in the history books as the Braves won the 23rd consecutive game Medlen started, breaking the previous record of 22.
But this series was more than just about setting records, it was about honoring a player who put the same jersey on every day over the last 19 years.
All season long, I crossed my fingers that Chipper's health would hold up so he could be given the send-off that was more than well-deserved.
Even as he went hitless in the first two games of the series, fans showed their appreciation for one of the best of his generation. Many call him a future Hall of Famer.
He is a player I will not soon forget, as can be said for a number of other fans across the country.
Gone are the days where a player spends his entire career with one team.
There are few left. Aside from Chipper, Derek Jeter and Todd Helton are two players who have remained faithful to their organization and fans.
With players constantly testing free agent markets and agents striving to earn a bit more in their cut, remaining faithful to the club that drafted you has become a thing of the past.
Before Chipper, there was Cal Ripken, jr. and Tony Gwynn. Those two icons of baseball donned the same uniforms every year of their Hall of Fame careers, being known as two of the purest hitters the game had ever seen.
But with Chipper hanging them up whenever the Braves season has finished, many have come to wonder if baseball fans will ever see another like him, let alone a player who remains faithful to their organization.
Along the way, Chipper has cemented himself in Braves history, as well as MLB history, amassing more than 2.700 hits and more than 450 home runs, not only putting himself in the MLB record books, but becoming one of the best switch-hitters the game has ever seen.
The other two - Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.
To be able to witness a great, in his home stadium, in front of more than 50,000 fans with a rare dry eye in the house, I feel blessed and extremely thankful.
My journey through life has not been an easy one, but I have done everything in my power to make sure I enjoy what I do have.
And now, as I head back to the West Coast, with my baseball journeys of 2012 now over, I look back at how amazing this summer has been.
I've seen 26 games in 8 different cities across the country, including 10 Braves games in Chipper's final year. Only slightly ironic that Chipper wears #10 (I had no plans to see as many Braves games as I did, as I added 4 on a whim, including the three at Turner Field.)
To imagine a better summer, it will be hard-pressed to equal what I've witnessed over the past four months.
But every step, sight, sound and smell were well worth every moment.
And I am thankful for every last minute of it.