Off to Hamilton for another drive around the NESCAC.
Well, the drive down to Hartford last week was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Thankfully my last trip of the NESCAC season had a little bit more scenery as I made my longest trip of the year to Clinton, New York for the Middlebury/Hamilton game.
First of all, as much as I love my job, travel is the least glorious part. Some writers and broadcasters get to travel by plane, or even with the team on the team bus. I on the other hand get to travel in the luxury and style known as my 2000 Hyundai with vanity plates and 115,654 miles on the thing. The most fun part of the beginning of the travel day is waking up at 3:45 in the morning after getting home at 10:00 following a high school playoff game and trying to find a 24 hour gas station in Northern Vermont that at least serves Green Mountain coffee. Yes, those of us in the media are coffee snobs as it must have significant caffeine content and have a little flavor to its robust aroma. Ah yes, the glory of it all.
Anyway, as is my habit, I digressed. (Just ask my wife about that, she could tell you some stories.) When the sun comes up, the drive from Burlington, VT really is a nice one. In Vermont, the drive takes you through the towns of Shelburne, Vergennes, Addison, and then miles of hills and farms. Word to the wise, if you don’t like the smell of various animal dung, roll up the windows and turn off the air. There is about a 15 mile stretch of Route 22A in which the smell is so bad, the car automatically speeds up about ten miles an hour to get away from the stench. Upon entering New York state, the obscure and the downright amazing become evident. First for the obscure since that is what I do best. When driving in between the state line and the New York Thruway, (interrupted by I-87) counted 14 Baptist churches (yes, I counted; I was bored) with various messages saying things like “Jesus is Lord”, “YOU were God’s best decision”, and other various messages looking to convert heathen tourists into Bible quoting messengers as they go to spend their milk money at the outlets. Also, if you are going to make this trip and don’t have satellite radio; go get one now. In Vermont I was able to hear Dana Jewell of WDEV giving me the local news and mentioning next Saturday’s “state holiday”; the opening of deer hunting season. Ah yes, if you are going into the woods of Vermont for the next couple of weeks, just remember to wear orange, it will save your life. If you don’t wear orange, some dude named Bubba who has had two cases of beer for breakfast will somehow confuse you for a four point buck. “Dayum, I could have sworn that thang had antlers. Ah sheeewt, I guess we can still mount him on the wall next to the 57 Chevy we shot last year.”
Now to the downright spectacular. When the sun comes up over the Adirondack mountains, the view is simply stunning. Route 29 takes you through the Adirondack State forest and the road is literally surrounded by trees. For a few moments, the trees envelop the road and one feels like they are in some sort of natural tunnel. Despite the fact the temperature was in the low 30’s, I still opened up the windows so I could smell the trees and the various lakes and streams I was experiencing. I was tempted to take a side trip to some of the various historical sites along the way, but held off since I did have a game to do.
Once I got onto the New York Thruway, I was very pleasantly surprised with the scenery. As I bombed my way towards Clinton, the drive takes you along the Mohawk River and into the hill country near Oneonta and Cooperstown. If you glance off to the right, you can see the dams and the hills that lead you into some of the small towns of this region. I have to admit that being the baseball addict I am, when I saw the Cooperstown exit, I was tempted to call the boss, say I was sick, couldn’t do the game and head to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thankfully I am not that stupid and then turned my attention to passing a semi that was going only 45 mph.
When I arrived at Hamilton College, I was beyond impressed. I went to the first building to find a restroom and ask where the Student Union was so I could grab coffee and breakfast, and it turns out the man I asked directions from was none other than head football coach Steve Stetson. Steve wasn’t content with just giving me directions, he offered to walk me over, and to give me a brief tour of the campus. Hamilton boasts a brand new 9.7 million dollar science center, a new athletic facility, new training rooms, and countless other improvements to their academic facilities. The campus blends the old and the new to near perfection and it creates a wonderful setting for Hamilton students to study and learn. I also have to say this for Coach Stetson, he is truly a world class man. Here he was, two hours before a game, and he was taking the time to give me an education on the school he loves, he bought my breakfast, and then we talked more about the school and his football team. He had a recruit to talk to before the game, and he kept apologizing for the fact he had to run and keep our visit short. Trust me coach, I was thrilled you took the time to give me a tour and appreciate some very good company after a very long early morning drive.
Here are the final, and obscure stats from a season's worth of NESCAC road trips: (Yes, these are actual counts)
Cups of coffee consumed: 17
Cans of energy drinks guzzled: 4
Times I said, "Crap, where am I?": 7, all during the Hamilton trip.
Buffett CD's listened to: 7
Times I did three games in the weekend: 2
Miles driven: 1,784
Gas stops: 11
Times I screamed, "Why don't I have satellite radio???": 238
Cops who passed me: Only four, I leave so early in the morning they aren't even awake yet.
Tolls paid: $18.30
Times I called my beloved mother to ask if she listened to the game: 4
Times she actually listened to the game: A big fat gigantic goose egg.
Home stats next week, but those aren't nearly as interesting.....