Sunday, January 09, 2011

Another great DC roadtrip

Just a little background first:  This is now four years in a row that I've made a trip to DC to see friends and go to games.  The current streak started when I had to get to RFK and see the Nats play there before their move to the new stadium.  I'd always bemoaned the fact I hadn't gotten to RFK when I lived in DC in the early 1980s.  My defense?  You couldn't possibly get a ticket to a Redskins game there.  The hole in my defense?  The Washington Federals of the USFL.
The roadtrip thing has been going on for some time between my brother and I, although the above is the last one we've done together.  A lifelong friend of his and a good friend of mine (Tim) had season tickets to the Nats.  So we stayed with him and then the next day we went to a game at PNC in Pittsburgh.
The next year my roadie also included New Britain, CT, near where my brother was working and Norfolk, where another friend lives, and then on up to DC to see Rick and George and go to a game during the inaugural season of the Nats' new stadium.  This is the famous "fan of the game" game.
Lo and behold on the Nats' schedule the following year is the Red Sox, playing in DC for the first time in 40 years.  So down to DC I go again.  One other special thing about that game is not only did I go with George and Rick but Tim and AA were also in attendance.
Now on to this year's trip.

During an email conversation about our blog challenges with George and maybe RJ, we were talking about hockey; and I made the comment to G that we should go to a game together, something we'd talked about before.  Well, I was talking about hockey but G says "Well, I have an extra ticket to the Redskins game on Jan 2."  Well, no job, wife left me, etc -- that shit wasn't going to get in the way.  LOL  "G, can I stay with you?"  "Of course."  Then in an email to Rick to essentially say "Hate to tell you I'm going to be in DC just long enough to see that game and catch up with you next time," he says, "Well, you know, I'm planning on taking that following Monday and Tuesday off.  Why don't you take a couple more days and come stay with us?"  That was an easy choice; didn't have shit to get back to but my dog anyway.  Then it's on to check the Capitals' schedule and, bingo, they're playing at home that Tuesday night.
So let's endeavor to be more succinct from here on.  The trip down was mostly uneventful, and I spent a relaxing evening Saturday night with G and his wife.  Thanks for the pizza, awesome breakfast and nearly as awesome moonshine.  We met up with 3 of G's friends and traveled up to FedEx Field for the Redskins/Giants game.  It is unbelievable how big these new football stadiums are.  The last NFL game I attended was at Jack Murphy in SD and I think you could fit 3 or 4 of those in FedEx.  Great seats (2nd row upper deck, just off the 50).  I think the Redskins outplayed the Giants, though they made some big mistakes; and the Giants seemed almost lackluster, unreal considering they had a playoff spot on the line.  We left early in the 4th after another unsuccessful Redskins drive and the score being 17-7 Giants; it was getting quite cold, even for me, and G was very much under the weather.  Listening to the 4th quarter on the way home, the Redskins mounted a comeback but fell short.  Final score Giants-17, Redskins-14.
Had a great time there, then off for a bite to eat, drop off the last friend and get back to put G to bed, who was definitely getting sicker.
A good night's rest and it was off to Rick's the next morning.  Had a very nice time hanging with his extended family, eating good cooking and playing some Wii (remind me to send you my code).  It was a nice relaxing day and a half spent hanging out and catching up.  Then we have to decide where to eat on the way to the Capitals game, and when and where to meet up with G.  We finally decided on Ben's Chili Bowl, made initially famous by Bill Cosby and now by the current President.  Ambiance?  Tons of it but you'd better like sketchy neighborhood and old, not-kept-up minimalist decor, which we felt was perfect for the place.  A certain amount of fame has not gone to the head of this owner.  We sat at the counter, paid for our food before we received it, chuckled at the sign that read "The only people to eat free at Ben's -- Bill Cosby and President Obama -- AND ONLY THOSE!" and each ordered two chili half-smokes, the "signature dish," and a big mess of chili cheese fries.  In the vernacular of the kids these days, OMG!  You've gotta go if you like chili and sausage, especially the two together.
Upon leaving, Rick managed to skate on a ticket for his car not being registered, and we were off to park and get to the game.  We met up with G, who was quite the trooper since he had to come straight from work and was still quite under the weather (a true hockey fan!).  I've gotta give it to the Caps fans -- this was a Tuesday night game against Tampa and the place was full.  And even though both teams had significant stretches of uninspired and uncoordinated play, which explains the 0-0 score until overtime, the fans stayed for the duration and made noise and created an atmosphere almost rival to what you'd hear at an Original 6 arena.  The goalies owned this game, though they weren't exactly peppered with great scoring chances but there certainly were some; and then Martin Saint Louis scored on a rebound from a LaCavalier shot about halfway through OT to give the Lightning the win, much to the chagrin of the home fans, of course, including our sick friend G.
After the game we had one more scotch, vowed to get together next time for a Wizards/Celtics game, toasted to great friendship and were on our way.  Did end up having another scotch with Rick at home, couldn't sleep and at 1:30 decided just to head home.  Let me tell you, that trip dragged!


R.J. said...

That was awesome. I wish I could make a road trip someday but even LA is four hours away thanks to traffic.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you had a great time with good friends... sounds to me like you have begun a tradition of an annual trip in your future.


tpubgu said...

What I really treasure about Zeb's visits is that even though we don't keep in contact on a daily basis -- hell, not even a monthly basis if it wasn't for email, this blog, or the trivia games, when he shows up, it's like we haven't seen each other for the weekend. The comfort level we have for each other easily slides back to when we worked with each other in the same office, which is going on 23 years since left I left.

I don't have that where I live nor where I work. There's always something a little unsettling or a person's idiosyncrasies that I can't overlook to allow me to call them a true friend. So I don't make friends or acquaintances as easily as before -- maybe it's because the people I do meet don't stack up or my expectations are higher.

Some of the best friends I ever made in life was through the Marine Corps, and George and Zeb are a part of that. But whatever it is, I am proud to call Zeb and George two of my truest friends. I just hope I measure up in their eyes.

Zebster said...

Rick, what I appreciate is your family's cooking, free scotch and cheap cigarettes. It is mutual. I don't drive all that way seemingly every year because I have friendships like that everywhere because I don't. You and your wife, and G and his always make me feel like family. You know, you and I met 30 years ago this month.
Robbie, like I told you in an email, if you were on the east coast, we'd be dragging you to games.
Thanks Shelly.