Note: Due to some miscommunication, the Notebook Plus from last Friday was not posted. Here’s the story now:
Having driven to Boston College and Florida State to cover sporting events on more than one occasion, I guess there was only one thing I was missing.
Until last week, I had never driven to Chestnut Hill, Mass., and Tallahassee, Fla., in the same week.
If Virginia does not make the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, I’ll surely know why, having seen the Cavaliers enter the final 10 seconds with the lead in both games and lose Sunday at Boston College, 53-52, and Thursday at Florida State, 53-51.
But, this isn’t about UVa and its woes. My observations on that are available in the UVa Insider column that has been posted on roanoke.com.
This is about the trip (or trips).
It occurred to me, as I sat down to write, that the trips had to be close in length. I never knew how close.
According to the Rand McNally mileage calculator, Boston College and its Chestnut Hill campus are 689.3 miles from Roanoke.
Florida State is 695.9 miles from Roanoke.
So, if all I’d done was take those two trips, that would have been 2,770 miles. Throw in a Tuesday trip to Charlottesville for a pre-spring football news conference and that put me over 3,000.
WHY DO I DRIVE?
I don’t like to fly, but I do fly. I flew to Dallas this fall for the Virginia-TCU game. Spent a lot of time in the air, too.
My connections for that trip, arranged by sports editor Steve Hemphill, took me through Detroit and then to Dallas. It had to be the closest I’d ever been to Canada and Mexico in the same 24-hour period.
Awakening at 5:15 in Fort Worth, Texas, for an 8:15 a.m., return flight, I made the airport in plenty of time and the plane was pulling back from the gate when it suddenly jolted to a stop.
It seems that we were missing a computer part that wasn’t available in Dallas, probably one of the top 10-20 biggest airports in the world, and had to be flown in from Atlanta. (They’re both Delta hubs).
By the time the part arrived and was installed, it was late afternoon. We flew from there to Atlanta, as originally planned, waited a couple more hours, then boarded a plane that got me home after 10 p.m. Sunday.
I’m convinced I could have gotten home sooner by getting in the car after finishing my stories, driving a couple hours, staying somewhere (Arkansas) overnight and completing the trip Sunday.
IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS, I’ve also driven to Omaha, Neb., for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and to Madison, Wis., for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
One observation about Madison: If I ever go there again, I’m not driving through Chicago. I’ll find a different route. If traffic in Chicago is as bad as I found it at noon, I shudder to think what rush hour is like.
I’ve actually been to Omaha twice, the first time for the College World Series in 2011. That’s one of those assignments where you could be headed home after 1-2 days or hang around for two weeks.
I could have flown, but the drive wasn’t that bad — not so bad that I didn’t make it the next year.
PLACES I’VE FLOWN include Boise, Idaho (twice); San Francisco (twice); Los Angeles; San Diego; Anchorage, Ala.; Seattle; Austin, Texas; and Miami 3-4 times.
I drove from Miami to Roanoke on the Sunday after Thanksgiving one year and vowed I’d never do it again. And, I haven’t.
(I didn’t cover UVa’s recent game at Miami, but that had a 9 p.m. start, and wasn’t worth the expense if we couldn’t say for sure that it would make the paper.).
As for ACC newcomers Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, Pitt is about a six-hour drive from Roanoke (closer than Atlanta) and Syracuse is about eight hours but it’s Interstate 81 all the way.
The one time I went to Notre Dame, for a basketball game in the early 1990s, I flew (through Chicago, I think). I could see a future drive to South Bend, Ind.; after all, I’ve driven to Purdue (West Lafayette, Ind.) and the University of Indiana (Bloomington).
Twice, I drove through Indiana on the way back from Omaha, and it was along the route this year to Wisconsin.
THERE’S NOT MUCH TO report on my recent trips, which enabled me to eat breakfast at my favorite “restaurant” on the east coast, the Country Griddle in Clinton, N.J., located along I-87 not far from the New Jersey-Pennsylvania line.
On the way to Chestnut Hill, I stayed at the Days Inn in Branford, Conn., because I missed the exit for my regular stop, the Red Roof Inn in Milford, Conn. On the trips to Florida State, I stay at the Quality Inn in Perry, Ga., although the Econolodge in Moultrie, Ga., looked like it might have some potential. Seriously.
Everything went fine on my return today until I got 20 miles from Roanoke, when a wreck at Milemarker 137 on Interstate 81 had traffic backed up for 9 miles. And, if you tried to take U.S. 11 through construction-ravaged Glenvar, it was even worse.
Yes, at that point, I wondered why I hadn’t flown.