Paul T. called me around noon on Saturday – “I’ve got a ridiculous idea” – two tickets to the Redskins/Bills game in Orchard Park provided he could prove to headquarters that he had a chaperone. He knew the one number to call.
6:15AM – Depart Silver Spring, MD
We loaded the smurf-blue Aerostar at oh-dark-thirty. I wore the Bruce Smith jersey I picked up at FedEx Field and stashed a box of Flutie Flakes for good measure. The sun came up as we passed Frederick.
We pulled onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike around 7:30, interrupting a convoy of at least 25 Corvettes on their way to something. Old, new, most with vanity plates, all passed the Aerostar with barely concealed contempt.
Halfway up the map we pulled in a rock station and cranked it. Waxing eloquent about Alex Van Halen’s snare drum sound we missed our exit and had to double back.
1:15PM – Arrive Orchard Park, NY
Not a lot of color on the trees this fall. Having grown up on the outskirts of Buffalo I flashed back to childhood as the landscape got more and more dreary. Actually I flashed back to that gray grad-school year in Ithaca, which was much worse. Let’s move on.
Things got a little ugly on the road to Orchard Park when 219N made an unexpected jog and we had to cut into a line of traffic. I got the feeling my Redskins jersey wasn’t going over too well so I peeled it off in favor of a red sweater. That’s a good Bills color.
Paul had said we were tailgating in a parking lot, which shouted “ASPHALT!” to me as I packed for the trip. Man did I wear the wrong shoes. The lot was a field near the stadium and there’d been a heavy rain the day before.
That didn’t stop us from having a fine time, we just had to tread gingerly. Paul’s Rochester in-laws are some of the nicest people I’ve met. Serious Bills fans, serious tailgaters. I called my cousin over in West Seneca to see if any other cousins still went to the games – yes, but I never did get the chance to sneak into the club level to find out for sure.
The shock and awe factor was worth the trip. [pointing] “They drove all the way from Washington this morning.” Yeah, that’s right.
The Original Short Cut
I think stadiums develop a better vibe the farther you get away from the coasts. The folks around us were wasted as hell and obnoxious but if anybody told them to shut up or sit down they’d actually do it. One turkey was throwing peanuts uphill, but people were shrugging them off. At FedEx field things would have gotten nasty… in Philadelphia or New York somebody would have gone out on a stretcher.
A good game for Bills fans. We turned it right around at the end of the game and got on 219 south, stopping at the Big Level Motel in Lentz Corners just before Pennsylvania closed for the night. Seriously. The motel office, restaurant and Kwik-E-Mart across the street shut down before we could get anything to eat.
Johnsonville, PA smells okay on Sunday afternoon. Once the Weyerhauser plant fires up on Monday morning it’s a whole other story.
Listening to Buzz King’s Oasis Blows too closely we somehow missed the Pennsylvania Turnpike completely. We drove on in silence until we were within sight of the Maryland state line.
I hopped out of the van about half past noon on Monday and was back at the office before one o’clock.
Door-to-door: 30 hours.
Conception-to-completion: 48 hours.