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July 16, 2006

Ups and Downs in New York

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We left Boston on Friday to drive to New York for an afternoon game on Saturday, or so we hoped. Because of traffic it took three hours to return Pat’s rental car and get the minivan we were going to drive down to New York in. We strapped luggage to the top, loaded up the back, and crammed the seven of us into the van. My dad was nominated to drive and Jimmy navigated next to him. Pat and Danny took the middle with JJ, Daniel, and myslef in the back 2.5 seats. It was 1:45 before we left for what is a 4 hour drive if things go well.

Daniel immediately noticed how swervy the van was any time we went left or right and we had lots of speeding up and slowing down too. The van had a dvd player and Danny had Old School and The Big Lebowski with him which were lifesavers (or time buyers) for making the trip bearable. We pulled over once to stretch our legs, restock on drinks, and for the bathroom.

I got stuck in the rear middle after that. Sucks being the littlest one there. About this time JJ started to loudly let us know how bad he felt and that he was going to throw up. He certainly didn’t look well and would pass out or sit still for a while before another brief outburst. Eventually we made our was close to NY and things really slowed down. Uncle Ken called to let us know that he’d made it and check on us. When I told him that we were just getting to New York, JJ moaned that, “we were in hell”. At this point I was still amused and laughing hysterically. It took about 1.5 hours for the next ten miles. Our hotel was actually next to the Newark airport in New Jersey so we had to go all the way past New York City. When JJ found this out he’d had enough and hurled into the bag we had. Me and Daniel were both starting to feel a little upset by this point too.

JJ was convinced that we didn’t know where to go and we pulled over to let everyone out to cool off and get rid of the bag. Eventually, we all got back in and were at the hotel 30 minutes later, just before 8:00. About a 6 hour ride. We all started feeling better soon thereafter and a few went to return the van. Despite being right next to the airport this was still a two hour ordeal because they make it nearly impossible to get back to the hotel, one way only. We all ended up at the hotel bar for some appetizers and a drink or two, and another round of poker to finish off the night. I ended up donating $60 over the three nights to Pat’s kids college funds.

We had to be on the road at 10 the next morning to take the public transportation to the stadium. Everyone was up and ready, the earliest yet, but JJ had to make a pit stop and missed the shuttle from the airport. We didn’t make any wrong turns and got to the stadium at noon for the 1:00 game. JJ ended up on the hotel limo for $50 and beat us there by an hour, just the way things go for him. We went into the stadium and found out that we were in the family section. NO Alcohol allowed and you are stuck in that area. Can’t go around to see the rest of the stadium or buy beer elsewhere. A bit of warning for anyone who goes this covers the entire right and centerfield bleachers. Jimmy and JJ about to explode and decided to leave for a beer and get different tickets from a scalper. They went off with Dan and the rest of us grinned and beared it.

The seats were similar to Fenway outfield bleachers, but not as high up. Thank goodness for the clouds most of the game it was still warm and tight quarters. The game was a blowout though with the Yankees winning 14-3 over the White Sox. Lots of White Sox fans in the bleachers and a few of the Yankee fans were being jerks once they got ahead. Expected I suppose. That was another thing that impressed me at Fenway, Pat had an A’s hat and shirt on and got a little grief, but nothing bad at all. We all made it through the game and met up afterwards.

People had different agendas after the game; beers, souvenirs, pictures, sight seeing so tempers flared, mainly me, when we started moving without my dad and uncle. Regardless we pushed on to downtown where Jimmy headed back to the hotel and the other 5 of us went sightseeing and bar hopping. Eventually we wore out from all the walking, late nights, and tension. We took the train back to Newark and helped another lost tourist from LA staying at the hotel next to us. Thought that is was funny that you can buy and drink beers in the subway station as long as you stay right where you bought them. That was an offer we couldn’t pass up as we waited for the train.

The Dans needed a late night snack and I tagged along. This was about as diverse a menu as you get; fried chicken, pizza, seafood, Chinese food, pasta, people kept coming in and it seemed like the place to be and it was good drunk food. Still not a carnes asada burrito though. Danny wasn’t as hungry as he thought and ended up with an extra plate of fried chicken which he gave to the bum outside. That meant a round of hugs for all of us from him.

Unfortunately, I had an early morning flight and was out the door of the hotel at 6:15 with my dad and uncle who were driving me there. I sailed right through and made it back to Minneapolis no problems. My dad and uncle were heading to Baltimore to get my mom who flew in overnight so she and my dad could visit relatives on the east coast for a week.

Overall if was a fun trip, but way different than the other sporting events we’d done. Primarily because of the number of people, but also trying to get in two different cities made things way more complicated. It was difficult just to kick back and have a good time because someone always wanted to be doing something different or doing it a different way. No permanent disagreements though and we are all still friends so I’ll take that. There was plenty that could have gone better, primarily the minivan, and the beer free zone at Yankee, but we aren’t from there and didn’t know any better. Surely, next year’s sporting event will be a one city deal and will go smoother even if we have a larger crowd again.

No regrets, just some learning experiences and the first trouble I’ve had of any sort on the larger portion of my trip. Four weeks without work so far and I have no doubts that I’m doing the right thing. Getting to see and do stuff that I never would have been able to with 2 or 3 weeks a year and I’m still just getting started. I’m about to start heading west across South Dakota to the Badlands and Yellowstone before my backpacking trip in Glacier National Park the first of August. This is the place to be if you want to know how it goes. Looks like lots of people are checking out the site and my email list keeps growing. Glad you’re enjoying it.

Take care one and all,
Brian

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