Brought on mostly from my authoring of another post, I decided I needed to take a trip up north.
I referred to it in my head as a pilgrimage to my baseball mecca: Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I had been to at least one game in Birdland for the past four years and I wasn’t about to let my streak end so long as there was gasoline in my tank.
Anyway, I had Facebooked ahead and gotten a lunch date with one of my best friends from high school, Jeff McCumber. He’s getting his Master’s degree at Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C., and with it being right on the way I decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially since I hadn’t seen him in four years.
So I headed to D.C. and met him at his dorm where, just before he came out to meet me I witnessed the bird bath you see to the right. I love little birds and these feathery puff balls were so cute, I had to get a few pictures.
Anyway, Jeff took me up to meet his girlfriend and see his brick-walled, Bob Marley shrine of a room where he showed me exactly where I’ll sleep when I visit next time. (Yes! A callback!)
We went to an Irish pub and ate and talked about girls and love and life, but it eventually turned into a game of naming obscure people from high school we hadn’t thought about in years and reminiscing about how much we hated and loved football practice.
Jeff had to get to a youth ministry camp later that afternoon, so our time was cut a bit short, but since the Orioles game from Thursday night had been postponed due to rain, I had a doubleheader to catch anyway, so it worked out perfectly.
Until Jeff showed me a shortcut. I followed him to I-495 South, where he called to inform me was the road I wanted, just in the wrong direction. He suggested I take an exit and loop around to head north toward Baltimore.
Okay…so if you’ve read anything from my Driven series, you know I like to drive. I pride myself on my sense of direction and my ability to drive backwards, but the following details the most stressful series of driving miscues I have ever experienced:
I took exit 45. Minutes later (At 4:01p.m.), I noticed a text message from Jeff instructing me to not take exit 45 because of its toll road. If only I had gotten on the toll road! I took the free road to the airport (D) where there were NO exits! I went through the airport parking lot, grabbed a parking ticket and breezed out no charge. Now I’m only 12 miles away from 495. No biggie.
But remember the airport road? It’s in the center of the toll roads like this:
| ^ | ^
V | V |
(The bold indicates the free public airport road).
The exit for 495 northbound comes up, but you have to merge over to the toll road to take it. I missed the merge and continued down the road before turning around again.
Now I see the exit on the right that says “To I-495.” Boom. I took it. I’m on the way to Baltimore and I’ll still get to see the first game of the twin-bill (First pitch was scheduled for 4:35 p.m.)
By now, Jeff has already posted the following on my Facebook wall:
“So I watched you ride off into the sunset on a road I know you shouldn’t be on… oh good times good times… Today was a good day. Thank you again for going to lunch, and I hope you have a good time at your game…whenever….you…get….there…..”
That was at 4:41. At 4:50 I responded to his post that I had just reached I-495, just like I thought I did.
Man, I turned on some Jason Derulo and went into my driving zone. The wind through my hair with the top down: this was why I had wanted to do this solo road trip in the first place.
But then I felt something. It didn’t feel like I was going north. The road signs didn’t say anything about Baltimore.
A Google depiction of my route. Total distance traveled: 69.3 miles. Total time wasted: 1 hour 50 minutes.
Now to the voice in Ty’s head: “Wait…is that a toll road? I want to avoid that. Let’s take this exit to the airport…airport? WHAT. THE. FUCK.”
Yep, I was back on the road to Dulles International with no exits to change my route. This time I followed the road around the airport (See, I did adapt with new knowledge to avoid the parking lot line, at least) and headed back toward 495 AGAIN.
No big deal, right? I mean, yeah I’m getting stressed but all I have to do now is take that 495 North exit I missed the first time and I’m right back on track.
But it’s time to adapt some more. Last time I missed the exit because I wasn’t on the excitable toll road. Let’s get over there now to avoid missing it again.
“WHAT THE FUCK? IT’S NOT A MERGE EXIT…IT’S AN EXIT EXIT!”
So now I’m on International Drive, except not really. I’m stuck in standstill traffic on the ramp to get to International Drive, which is a road I know I don’t want to be on.
I fight through the traffic and manage to turn myself around again, but I’m done with Jeff and the Nav system and that horrible airport road. I took a look at my fancy phone map and discover Lewinsville Road, which seems to lead to a 495 junction. I took the road and finally, at 5:51 p.m. as evidenced by a Facebook post I sent to Jeff, I was on the right road to Baltimore…
I arrived at the park about 7:30 p.m. and walked in just in time to see the second pitch of the game. The ticket was just $6 with my student ID, so I was pretty happy.
I grabbed my customary crabcake sandwich and a beer and stood in right field to watch the first half of the game. I moved to centerfield (Eutaw Street Reserve) for a spell, then back to SRO before taking a seat right beside Nick Markakis in right field. The Orioles won, but my friend Kaitlyn who was supposed to meet me at the game was held up at work, so the game was a solo shot.
It was nice to just enjoy a baseball game by myself. Anyone who knows me well knows about my affinity for the sport and reverence for its traditions, so it was almost the fulfillment of my pilgrimage to simply sit and observe. I cheered and yelled and made snide remarks to myself still, but it was a tranquil and relaxing experience.
After the game (WE WON!) I hit the road back south to stay with Christine in D.C. After finding a Thomas Street in Alexandria, I went to Thomas Street in Arlington (The one she actually lives on). I slept in her room, mostly so I could blog that I slept in a room with a girl…and then awoke the next day to continue south to Rocky Mount where Taylor had a volleyball match.
They won in five sets and I headed west toward Raleigh for the N.C. State/Virginia Tech football game. I got there in time to see most of the second quarter and thus my solo road trip came to a two-touchdown loss end.
And so my pilgrimage was completed and the weekend will go down as one of my busiest, most traveled, most athletic event watching weekend in Ty Johnson history. Yay.