FanPost

Pinstripe Bowl Extravaganza Part I


I was asked to post these posts detailing my trip to the Pinstripe Bowl last year to see my beloved Wildcats get shafted by the Big East refs.

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That's right, it's time to relive my trip to New York and the epic 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. Why? Because I'm narcissistic enough that writing about my trip will help me to overcome my depression over the current state of KSU athletics.

This will not simply be a collection of pictures, but a detailed recanting of my storied journey. OK, not that detailed, since I wasn't taking pictures with a FanPost in mind, but I'll fill in the space between pictures with words, which will probably be more detail than most of you care to read. Probably.

So we start our trip off by loading my Aunt's van with all of our luggage. This was the first of many struggle we would endure over the beginning part of the trip. After loading this van, I was certain that we were headed straight towards a Chevy Chase vacation. Those are, of course, the best kind of vacations, but only in retrospect. While experiencing them they can be especially trying.

Why was this such a struggle? Well, apparently my Aunt's van had developed some sort of problem with the driver- side sliding door and the trunk door. A problem that involved them not being able to open. She had, of course, known about this problem weeks ago, when I had asked her if we could use the van, but for some reason had neglected to mention it until I came to pick it up on Christmas Day, exactly one day before our departure. As such we had to load everything through the passenger side sliding door, and all passengers in the back had to enter and exit through that same door. Also, due to the fact that we were going to stop at her old house in Columbus halfway there to stay the night, we had a bunch of sleeping bags and pillows that we strapped to the top in a big blue canvas travel bag. I told people to take pictures of the van, but nobody headed me. As such, I have no visuals to show you, so you will just have to trust me that it was ridiculous looking.

This was not the only bad news she imparted on me the day before we left. The house that we were staying at had recently been vacated by a renter, who had, in his departure, turned off the water and the heat. This is perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately, my Aunt had forgot about this fact until recently, which meant that, of course, we would have no heat, and we would maybe have water if she could get a hold of her neighbor. We would arrive in Columbus on the night after the snow storm that went on to hit NY and and the East Coast had passed through. Needless to say, it was cold.

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But that was not the only problem we would encounter at the hands of that van. Apparently, unbeknownst to my Aunt, the rear heating system had ceased to work, and so we tried to heat the entire van with only the front vents. That is, until we pulled into Columbus, when suddenly the rear vents started blaring for the final minute of driving time. They resumed not working the following morning.

So, after enduring a night of sub-freezing temperatures we pack-it-up an hour after we intended on leaving and head out. We make it about five minutes when my youngest brother throws up in a left-over McDonald's bag. Worries of a disease sweeping through the party spring to the forefront of everybody's mind, and we make an immediate stop at the next gas station. I say immediate, but it was about another five minutes before we found one.

After cleaning up we get back on the road again for good and have a relatively easy time of it. As we drive through West Virginia we pass the band buses, who ended up spending 30 hours straight on the road there or something like that. We immediately stop for restrooms and gas and watch the buses pass us again. We make plans with some band members to stop with the band for lunch, but somehow miss the supposedly giant rest-stop they pulled into along I-70 somewhere in Pennsylvania where all those tunnels are.

Finally we get into Philadelphia where we plan to spend the next two nights with an old band friend. We get in about 3:30, and she works till 4:00 at some restaurant near the King of Prussia Mall, so we decide to explore the mall while waiting for her, except my brother who hasn't completely recovered and prefers to stay in the car. This ends up being a mistake, as both of the women with us, my wife included, decide they need to buy some boots at JC Penny's. My wife also exchanges a coat she got for Christmas for one with a color she prefers (black). We end up getting $7 back because Pennsylvania doesn't have a sales tax. Awesome.

As we are standing in line checking out, our friend walks in and runs into us. Total coincidence, and now we don't have to play cat and mouse. Things are looking up. Then my brother calls. He needs to go to the bathroom, but can't get out of the locked car or something. We spend another 20 minutes in JC Penny's.

We stop at a liquor store on the way to her house. Apparently they don't sell beer in liquor stores in Pennsylvania, which is a shame because we were all looking forward to some Yuengling. My wife orders the tickets for the Broadway show we plan on seeing when we get to NY in two days. The other girl in our group decided to go see Phantom, but the rest of us wanted to save money and were going for Mary Poppins instead. We stay up late playing card games and drinking, except my wife who gets drunk from two glasses of wine and heads to bed early. Also, my brother goes to bed early because he isn't feeling well. We end up sleeping in by about 3 hours the next morning from everyone's stated intentions the night before.

Finally the pictures start. We go to downtown Philly and check out Independence Hall,

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the Liberty Bell,

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and Benjamin Franklin's grave.

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The tour of Independence Hall was surprisingly short, only 30 minutes. 15 minutes in the courtroom and 15 minutes in the assembly room. They were doing some reconstructive work on the hall so I assume this is a shorter tour than usual, but I can't say, as I've never been there before.

We then walked around downtown looking for Reading Terminal Market, were we heard was a good place to get a Philly Cheese-steak Sandwich. Well, it may have been, but for some reason we decide to eat across the street at a really nice looking sports bar. Unfortunately, since it is a seemingly well-to-do establishment, the cheese-steak was not very greasy or cheesy, and therefore not very good. We were all disappointed. We take the bus back to our friends house, but we all fall asleep and go one stop too far, forcing us to back track several blocks through the cold and the snow. We finally make it back and turn in for an early night after watching the Eagles (our host's roommate's team) lose to the Vikings (our host's team). Tensions are high until our host states that she still doesn't like Brett Favre.

Also, my wife gets an email saying that even though there were tickets available when we ordered them, they are now sold out for Mary Poppins. If we still want tickets, we can email back and be notified if there are any cancellations. Awesome.

We sleep in again the next morning and don't leave for NY until 9:00, an hour late. This is where our to this point reliable GPS began to fail us. In Philadelphia they have this weird road system, a central, six-lane divided highway. Then, on either side of this divided highway, were two three-lane roads heading the same direction as the side of the highway they were on, but still divided by a median. At various points there were crossovers were you could go from the inside road to the outside road and vice versa. Both roads stopped at all the stoplights. Basically it amounted to a 12 lane highway with some completely unnecessary medians that just made driving more dangerous. It also seemed to confuse our GPS, who kept telling us to "Keep Right" and Keep Left", basically sending us back and forth between the roads for no apparent reason.

We finally get onto the NJ Turnpike and eventually approach NY. We see the skyline and snap some muddy windshield pictures.

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The most terrifying part of my life quickly follows. Now, I have fallen off a roof and crushed my ankle, but that is nothing compared to driving through downtown NY. Why did we drive through downtown NY? Because our GPS told us too, and nobody thought to make sure that it would send us around somehow. We have to get to Queens, were our hotel is at, and it probably took an hour just to drive across the island.

I've driven in LA. I've driven in Chicago. I've driven through Tijuana. Hell, I just drove through Philadelphia, not too far away. None of them holds a candle to NY. They have more cars than LA. They are packed more tightly than Chicago, and they have as little regard for traffic laws as drivers in Tijuana. Maybe it had to do with the recent snow storm that shut down the city's trash collection for a week, but it was a war zone down there. I quickly learned not to get upset about somebody honking at me, because that was less a sign that I had done something wrong and more a way of saying "I fucking hate driving in NY". There were signs at every intersection that said $350 fines for honking. Nobody seemed to notice them. Nor did they notice red lights, stop signs, pedestrians, etc. They only thing they responded to were the traffic cops, and that was with exceeding reluctance, unless it benefited them. I can easily see why somebody would be a dick if they were a traffic cop in NY. I could also easily see why you would hate the cops if you lived in NYC. (EDIT: I have now added Europe to my list of places driven, and I have to say Italy and Poland top New York for crazy driving experiences. I also suspect that driving in NYC is not always as bad as I experienced, though I imagine it is always pretty awful.)

All that being said, I'm actually very proud of my performance driving through the city. Looking back, there is really only one thing, a very long and ill-advised left-hand turn, that I would have done differently. I now consider it a badge of honor to have driven in NYC and survived.

We finally pull into Queens, fly by our hotel because it looked like all the other buildings around, spend 30 minutes trying to turn around in some packed residential side street that is ostensibly two-way and our way out being blocked by a Fed-Ex truck making deliveries, then finally pull into the hotel loading area. After checking in, we head to the garage, and groan as we hear our bag on top hit the clearance sign. We decide to risk it and plunge into the garage, dodging low hanging pipes as we can and manage to make it into a parking spot and bolt for our rooms. This whole venture into NYC has cost us so much time that we are now running late for the pep rally.

Check out Part II to see if we make it to the pep-rally on time or if we manage to get tickets to a Broadway show. What a cliffhanger!

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