It took TigerBlog 3:35 to drive from Richmond to the Virginia-Maryland state line Sunday afternoon.
That's 3:35, as in three-hours, thirty-five minutes. Normally, that's about a two-hour drive.
TigerBlog takes that back. There's probably no normal time to make that trip. It seems like it's a relatively high traffic area pretty much whenever.
Of course, this was this past Sunday, which was also a picture-perfect nearly-summer day. And it was also Fathers' Day.
TigerBlog knew the traffic was going to be bad. He also knew he wouldn't mind. After all, it was Fathers' Day, and his only passenger was Miss TigerBlog, who had played in a lacrosse tournament in Richmond all weekend.
What better way could there have been to spend the day?
By the time they got home, more than seven hours had gone by since they'd first started their ride. It was the end of a weekend in which it was just TB and MTB, and it had been something of an adventure.
When TigerBlog thinks about his years at Princeton, he thinks back to epic games, epic trips, epic experiences, epic people - and epic traffic. Most of the worst traffic he's experienced in his life was either going to or coming from Princeton sporting events.
Off the top of his head, there was the time it took him seven hours to get to Brown during a Papal visit that shut down most roads in New York City and Westchester County. Actually, for about 12 or so years, TigerBlog developed a pretty good fall Friday routine - say he'd leave by noon to miss the traffic on the way to wherever Princeton was playing, leave around 2 or 3 and get stuck for hours on I-95.
What else? He can remember dropping Tom McCarthy off right by the entrance of Madison Square Garden and watching him sprint into the building carrying radio equipment so he could get on the air in time for the Holiday Festival after yet another massive traffic jam.
Even rural roads haven't been immune. You know what's fun? Having Interstate 91 closed due an accident at 11 at night in southern Vermont after a Princeton-at-Dartmouth men's basketball game. And TB can't tell you how many times he's come to a complete stop on 81 between Scranton and the Whitney Point exit, on his way to Cornell.
The toughest place to judge how to get to has always been Hofstra. It is 76 miles from Princeton to Hofstra. It can take an hour and a half. Or, as was the case for one women's basketball game TigerBlog went to at Hofstra, five hours.
Actually, the toughest place to get to now is Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. If TB wants to go see a 7:00 lacrosse game there, what time should he leave? If he leaves at 4, he'll probably miss the face-off. If he leaves at noon, he'll miss the traffic, but get there four or five hours before the game starts.
For all the times TB has gone to Dartmouth and Cornell, he's never
gotten trapped by a major snowstorm. There was one ride home from
Dartmouth that took until nearly dawn because of a blizzard, but the
snow didn't start falling until Connecticut.
have one trip to Penn for a Princeton-Penn men's basketball game during
the Kit Mueller years on a night that, 25 years later, TB still can't
believe the game wasn't cancelled by the snow. That's the one time that
TB thought he'd never get there, but he did just in time for tip-off.
Almost all of the travel that TB does is going north of Princeton, though not all. One of his worst traffic experiences was going to a men's lacrosse game at the University of Virginia, when he sat for a long time on 495 in Maryland, in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville area, which is actually a pretty special little strip of highway to him. He'd been stuck in traffic there before, back when MotherBlog lived off Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase. On the way to UVa, it added probably two hours to his trip.
As for this past weekend, as TB said, it was an adventure.
There was traffic on the way down Friday, and there was even more than that in Virginia Thursday. Apparently, there were massive storms in the area, and much of the Richmond area was left without power - including the hotel where TB was going to stay. He was able to make a reservation at another hotel in Williamsburg, which was fine, because TB and MTB wanted to go see William & Mary, and so they drove an hour to the hotel - only to get a call when they were a mile away saying that while yes, they did have a reservation, they happened to not have any rooms available.
They did a lot of driving over the weekend, and that meant a lot of time together.
What did they talk about? The Civil War, as they drove past old plantations, including one that belonged to President John Tyler, on the way from Williamsburg back to Richmond.
They talked about "Gone With The Wind." She asked him about the plot to "Fiddler on the Roof." They talked about music, and why TB's is so much better than hers. TB would ask her who sang a particular song. Eventually she learned to guess "Bruce Springsteen," though in one shocking moment, she actually knew that the correct answer was "Bon Jovi."
TigerBlog even tried to explain disco to Miss TigerBlog, without much luck. He couldn't even get her to dance while they sat in traffic to "Disco Inferno."
They talked about lacrosse. They talked about colleges. They talked about TBJ and Jingles, MTB's cat. And really, all kinds of things.
She talked about Snapchat. She tried desperately to get the perfect picture of her pony tail about to fall over her face. They spent a lot of time trying to decide where to stop to eat.
Usually massive traffic is a pain. Or more than a pain. It makes you want to scream and honk you horn and try a different lane or a different road.
This time, it wasn't so bad.
Miss TigerBlog will be 16 soon. She needs her dad less and less these days, and when she does, it's usually for money or rides. She's finished school last week, which left her dad to realize that now she's going to be a junior in high school. Two more years, and she'll be in college.
College? MTB? As she likes to say in moments of bewilderment, "what the heck?"
Usually, MTB falls asleep in about five minutes when she gets in a
car. This time, she was awake almost the entire time. Usually, MTB is a
one-word-answer girl, with a grunted "yah" or "good" to everything.
This time, though, she was chatty. And laughing.
Maybe because it was Fathers' Day?
When they got back, she sent him a text message that basically said so. She thanked him for taking her down there for the weekend and for spending his Fathers' Day with her.
TigerBlog doesn't expect his almost 16-year-old daughter to have nearly his perspective on the world. Not even close.
But this time, even she knew that she had been part of a pretty special day.
As Fathers' Days go, this is one TB will never forget.