PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jaye Maddon's excellent adventure kicks off Tuesday.
That's when Rays manager Joe Maddon's wife, along with her two sons, will depart from Long Beach, Calif., driving a 30-foot recreational vehicle, crossing the country en route to Tampa, Fla. What sounds like a bizarre excursion for the wife of a Major League manager had an innocent enough beginning.
Joe and Jaye have two dogs: Winston, an English bulldog; and Athena, a Great Dane. The couple began worrying early in the offseason about how they were going to transport their pets from California to the Tampa Bay area for the 2013 season. Air travel brought concerns to the equation for both dogs. Athena's size didn't bode well for fitting in the pet compartment. Meanwhile, Winston could fit comfortably in a commercial airliner's pet compartment, but his breathing struggles raised a red flag.
"I just didn't want them underneath there anyway," Jaye said. "It just creates too much trauma for them. So I figured, 'Why not drive them across the country in a little RV?'"
Perfect solution, right? Just rent an RV, then head east across the United States. Just one problem.
"Nobody would rent me a one way from California to Florida," Jaye said. "I tried for three months."
Frustrated, but hardly defeated, the Maddons opted to go shopping. They came away with a 30-foot RV.
"It had to be short enough where I felt comfortable driving it, but long enough to have some comfort for the dogs," Jaye said.
Joe made sure his new home on wheels had more than just leg room for his dogs, as he wanted other amenities like DirecTV, Sirius/XM Radio, a fridge, a microwave and a shower.
"It's pretty cool," said Joe, who is thinking about using the RV for his lodging in the Port Charlotte area next spring.
After making their purchase, the couple signed up for classes that taught them the do's and don'ts of operating an RV. They took the classes before Joe left for Port Charlotte for the start of Spring Training.
Regardless of whether Jaye attained her masters in RV driving, the idea of driving the RV across country was more than ambitious.
"I've driven [the RV] enough to be comfortable behind the wheel," Jaye said. "Probably the most stressful part of the trip will be going across Texas and Louisiana, those states. And my boys will be with me. Ryan is 26 and Dylan is 19, so that will be nice."
Along the route, Jaye said they will spend the night at pet-friendly hotels if they're not sleeping in the RV en route to their destination.
Once Jaye figured out the logistics of her trip, she thought about the possibility of turning her trip into a charity event for the Pet-Pal Animal Shelter.
"They do great work," Jaye said. "They get dogs who are not only homeless, but ones that have been abused. They really do a lot of good for any and all animals. Also they're a no-kill animal shelter, which I like. So I figured they could use the extra bucks.
"I'm trying to get people to donate a penny a mile. Based on the length of the trip, that would be about 30 bucks. So hopefully we can get a lot of people online to donate."
Jaye, Ryan, Dylan, Athena and Winston hope to complete the trip by March 26.
"I'm looking forward to the trip," Jaye said. "It's not every day you get a chance to do something like this."
Jaye will be blogging about her adventure at http://maddondriveathon.mlblogs.com/.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.