Thursday, September 24, 2009

Make A Right At The Light, Keep Going Straight Until Night

TigerBlog had to go a school in the Neshaminy School District, a school he'd never been before. So what did he do? Of course. He went to MapQuest.

Unfortunately, MapQuest's directions didn't take him anywhere near where the school was. It was the second time this has happened to TB, when he reached the end of the directions and realized that he wasn't quite where he was supposed to be.

Recourse? None, other than to yell loudly. Of course, in both instances, TigerBlog didn't follow his instincts. The first time it happened, he was trying to get to what used to called the Garden State Arts Center, a place he'd been a ton of times back in the day. This time, he got lost.

As for yesterday, he knew the school was part of the Neshaminy district, in either Feasterville or Trevose. So why was he driving around Bensalem?

Why? Because something he read online said he should be. It wasn't quite like the time Michael drove into the lake with Dwight on "The Office," but it was close enough.

Back in the good old days in the newspaper business, TigerBlog often went to places he'd never been before. How'd he figure it out? Usually he'd actually pick up the phone and call and talk to a person.

Sometimes Harvey Yavener would chime in, as in this actual conversation before Princeton played in the 1994 NCAA men's lacrosse championships at the University of Maryland:
Yav: "Do you know how to go?"
TB: "Yes."
Yav: "I have a better way."
TB: "How do you know? You don't know my way. Maybe they're the same."

TigerBlog used to ride on the bus with the men's basketball team when he was a reporter, so paying attention to how to get places in the Ivy League wasn't that important back then. Interestingly, since TB began working at Princeton, he has almost never traveled on the bus, largely because he prefers to 1) keep to his own schedule and 2) eat where he wants, not where the bus stops.

The trips on the men's basketball bus in the early '90s remain some of his best memories of Princeton athletics. Those trips served as a great foundation to get to know the players, of course, and especially coaches Pete Carril and Bill Carmody (then the assistant).

The best trip was probably the one back from Dartmouth in 1991, after Princeton had finished off its first 14-0 Ivy League season in 15 years (there have been two more since). The entire trip consisted of the players singing songs mocking each other and Carril, and finally Carril as he wrote his own song about the players. The bus rolled into Princeton in what has to be a record-time of 4:40 (back then, Princeton owned its own buses and employed a full-time bus driver named Steve Gandy; Steve had a heavy foot) to chants of "Steve Is The Man; Steve Is The Man."

TB did ride with the basketball team on the bus to the airport for certain trips, including a 1995 ride to the Coors Light Classic in Fresno. Princeton's flight left Philadelphia Airport at 6 a.m. the morning after a home night game against Lafayette; TB remember setting his alarm clock for 2:30 a.m. Anyway, everyone was on the bus at the time we were supposed to leave (4 a.m., TB recalls) except for team captain Sydney Johnson (now the head coach) and reserve center Chris Anderson. As the two arrived late, Carril blasted Anderson for being late.

Ivy League travel is all done by bus, and the trips are so familiar now to TB after 20+ years that he can do them in his sleep, something that thankfully hasn't happened with all the middle-of-the-night rides home.

Going to Cornell offers two basic ways, either up the Pennsylvania Turnpike or up 206 and then through the Poconos. The biggest issues are always whether or not to take the Cross Bronx Expressway to 95 North on the way to Yale/Brown/Harvard/Dartmouth or go on the Merritt Parkway. TB has been drilled in traffic on 95 in Connecticut more times than he's liked, but the worst trip ever might have been a nine-hour ride to Brown the day the Pope spoke at a church right off the Cross County Parkway in Yonkers.

And, of course, there is Rein's Deli in Vernon, Connecticut. It's right off of I-84 at exit 65, and it's the focal point of any trip to or from Harvard. It used to include Dartmouth as well, which required going 20 minutes out of the way, until a second location opened on I-91 in Springfield. TigerBlog recommends the Boston Harbor sandwich, a mix of whitefish salad, lox, onion and tomato. It's perfect around 11 pm on the way back from a night game at Harvard.

TigerBlog isn't sure how many miles he's driven going to Ivy League events, but it has to be, what, 200,000? 300,000? Either way, it's a ton. Much of it has been late, late, late at night, and you haven't really lived until you've pulled out of Hanover, N.H., at around 10 p.m. to start the drive home.

Thankfully, TB figured out how to get all these places before MapQuest went online in 1999.

In two days, TigerBlog will drive up to Lehigh, a place he's been a ton of times, to watch the Tigers play football. TB knows how to get there, yet he feels compelled to print out the MapQuest directions.

Why? He's not sure.

No comments: