The original plan: Fly to Philadelphia and see a Phillies game (that’s Philadelphia’s Major League Baseball team for those not in the know) on Wednesday
Drive to Baltimore, go to a concert then drive back to the hotel in Philly on Thursday
Drive to New York City, see a Yankees game and stay the night Friday
See a little bit of the “Big Apple” then drive back to Philly and fly home on Saturday
That WAS the plan. But in our lives, things rarely go according to plan. And you know what? We are totally cool with that.
The first day went roughly as scheduled. That is actually pretty damn amazing in itself because we roughly had an hour from the time we were scheduled to land and before the Phillies game started. In that hour, we had to pick up the rental car (which we ended up getting a pretty sweet upgrade to a dope-ass, pimped-out Jeep Cherokee), find and check into the hotel and drive to the game. And we did it. We did all of it. Got to the game well before first pitch and everything was groovy. No flight delays. J. Allen’s Fast Pass guaranteed no line at the Rental Car office and the hotel was only 10 minutes from the stadium. When does any of that happen? When was the last time your flight was on time? When was the last time you actually got through a rental car office without at least a 45 minute delay? We should have known things were only going to get more bizarre.
In case you were wondering, the Phillies lost. So far, there’s only been one team in recent years to break the Bell curse of game attendance. That was the Los Angeles Angels this summer. Every other home team we visit loses. We are not real sure why. Maybe they find out that the Brothers Bell are attending the game and just can’t handle the pressure. Maybe we are so awesome that it creates a black hole affect that sucks all the awesome out of our surroundings, leaving everyone else kinda shitty. Maybe we just see shitty teams. At any rate, we haven’t (except for the aforementioned Angels) seen a home team win in years. So yeah… sorry for the digression. Let’s get back to the story.
That first night, after the game, we did what any self respecting visitor to the “City of Brotherly Love” should do – go get a cheesesteak from either Pat’s or Gino’s. We had Gino’s the first night with the intention of having Pat’s the next day for lunch. Aaron had to figure out for himself which was better (Pat’s) because J. Allen already knew (it was Pat’s).
Those who have never had the opportunity to have a Gino’s cheesesteak, you really need to get out to Philly for the experience. Not the cheesesteak itself but the experience of eating at Gino’s. The signs on the window that say “We ONLY speak English” and “If you can read this sign, thank a teacher. If you can read this sign in English, thank a Marine” do little to really prepare you for the experience of visiting Gino’s. Just know that at Gino’s, the racism is free but the cheesesteaks are gonna cost you $7.50. While at Gino’s we heard a very heated political debate in which the term “Mother fucker” was attributed to Bush and McCain more than we had ever dreamed possible.
The next day, we did in fact head back to Pat’s for the second cheesesteak in 24 hours. We are professionals and we strongly advise you readers to NOT consume two cheesesteaks in 24 hours. The havoc wreaked on our digestive tracks may be irreversible. After a brief stop at the hotel room (see above statement) we headed for Baltimore.
It turns out that coworkers of ours were also going to be in Baltimore on Thursday. So we waited around for them to arrive hoping to meet up with them for dinner before we headed out to the concert. While we waited we found ourselves fascinated by a guy who apparently really loves ducks. We spent a good twenty minutes watching this guy yell at and feed ducks. The dude looked like a normal guy but the way he was interacting with the ducks was… well, it just wasn’t right. He threatened a couple, had names for a couple others, empathized with one of the older ones and threw bread (which was brought from home) at all of them.
Well, our coworkers finally made it down to the Inner Harbor and we headed to the Power Plant area to get something to eat. While searching for restaurants, we noticed a very large contingency of dirtbags walking around. A lot of sleeveless jean jackets and dudes with long hair about the place. We surmised (appropriately) that a metal band was playing in the area. We went to a fancy dinner place and ended up sitting right next to the metal band. Because we went to a fancy place and we aren’t fancy, the maître d’ sat us in the very back corner of the restaurant, right next to the metal band. It was almost as if the restaurant wanted us away from all the fancy people. But we know that couldn’t be it because both the metal band (which we still don’t know the name of) and we are totally famous – thus everyone would want to sit by us at a fancy eating establishment.
The fancy dinner took way too long and we ended up missing the concert so we decided to get drunk. Well, Aaron and our coworkers decided to get drunk. The open air bar that we deemed fitting for drunkenness, had a door in the middle of the open area. A door and a door frame, connected to nothing, standing alone in the middle of the bar. As the patrons of the bar got more and more drunk, that door became more and more interesting. As our little group got more and more drunk, that door became more and more interesting. We got drunk by playing “beer pong.” This bar had a couple “beer pong” tables set up and we decided that we should play. But not being beer drinkers, we all decided to play with hard alcohol drinks (a couple Red Bull and Vodkas, a couple Jack and Cokes and a couple martinis). Since J. Allen still doesn’t drink, that meant that Aaron, J. Allen’s teammate during the “beer pong,” was responsible for ALL the drinks on our side. Well, we lost and by the end of the game, Aaron and one of our coworkers were kinda drunk. This is when that door became really interesting to the drunk coworker. As other people, people we didn’t know, started to take pictures in and around the door, our drunk coworker decided to join in the fun and inserted herself in to everyone else’s pictures – regardless as to whether those other people wanted her there or not.
After the bar, we drove all the way back to our hotel in Philly. During the long car ride back, Aaron tried not to throw up and Jeff tried to not let Delaware get to him.
We woke up on Friday jazzed to get on the road and into New York City. Philly to New York City is a two hour drive. For those that live back East, that’s an impossibly long drive. For us though, driving two hours to get anywhere is normal. It takes us two hours to get to the nearest Chik-Fil-A so managing the drive to New York City was a piece of cake.
We’ve heard horror stories of trying to navigate the streets of NYC but again, this was a weird trip, and we had absolutely no problems and saw very little traffic in getting to our hotel. The hotel itself was a fancy little number and was about two blocks from Grand Central Station so we were staying right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. We parked right outside the hotel, tossed the keys to the valet and checked in to the hotel. With plenty of time to spare before the game, we decided to head down to Times Square and do a little sight seeing.
We ate lunch at the Brooklyn Dinner, just off of Times Square. The meal was fantastic. First of all, the appetizer was Pigs in a Blanket. How can the place not be awesome if it offers Pigs in a Blanket. And for the record, they were magnificent. For his meal, J. Allen ordered a pizza – with an egg, over easy, on the top of it. It too, like the Pigs In A Blanket, was magnificent. Aaron ordered baked Macaroni and Cheese. While not as good as everything else we ordered, it was still a damn fine meal.
Heading back to the hotel, we walked through Grand Central Station and right into a Hillary Clinton rally. We stopped to listen for a little while be we realized she was only stumping for some local chick and all they were talking about were local issues, and as we aren’t “locals” we didn’t really care so we continued on back to the hotel.
In order to get up to Yankee stadium, we had to take the subway. This made J. Allen a little nervous as every single time J. Allen has attempted to navigate the NYC mass transit system, he’s ended up completely lost. But staying so close to Grand Central Station pretty much guaranteed that getting there and back would be easy… even for J. Allen. So after getting our tickets, getting on the correct train and getting off at the right stop, we ended up right at Yankee Stadium. The only problem was that it was raining – hard.
We sat there, in Yankee stadium, waiting for three hours for the rain to subside and the game to start, but it never did. The game was eventually called off and rescheduled for the next day at 7 pm. The only problem was that we would be flying back home, from Philly, at 6 pm. Because this is the last season of the old Yankee Stadium, we wanted to see a game there before it was torn down. That’s why we scheduled this trip. That’s why we bought two tickets ($125 each) to see the Yankees play baseball on their home field. So all this, the entire trip, is sabotaged by a little rain. Oh well, at least we got to see and tour the stadium before they tore it down.
Saturday was spent walking around midtown, and another trip back to Times square to track down some music and a couple comic books. After a couple hours wandering the streets of Manhattan and trying to ignore the 1,000 aspiring rappers trying to sell us their CDs, we checked out, got in the car and started back to Philly. One thing to note here. Those fancy little GPS tings that help you get around foreign cities… yeah, they don’t work so well in Manhattan. Too many tall buildings and too many streets too close together. The little GPS thing had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to get us out of NYC. But it eventually did and we made it back to the Philly with plenty of time to spare.
We needed much of that time to find a gas station. As we were leaving the rental car place after first picking up the car, J. Allen told the nice lady that he would bring the car back with a full tank of gas. That meant that we had to find a gas station near the Philly airport. And after 20 minutes of driving around, we finally did. Although the gas station attendant scared the shit out of J. Allen. The gas station attendant wanted to fill our car up for us but we weren’t going to have any of that. J. Allen jumped out of the car telling the guy “I got it” only to be stared down by the gas station attendant. As it turns out, the sign that said “self service” was a lie and the gas station attendant had locked all the pumps so that only he could pump gas. Frustrated and kinda scared of the gas station attendant, J. Allen got back in the car and decided just to turn the car back in, as is – with a quarter tank of gas.
J. Allen tries not to lie but sometimes he has to lie in order to not pay $8 a gallon for gas. With most rental car companies, you can buy gas before hand, meaning that you bring the car back empty and the rental car office fills it up for you, charging what gas stations are charging per gallon in the area of the airport. Or you can fill it up yourself and bring it back full. If you tell them you will bring it back full and you don’t they charge you about $8 a gallon to fill up the car. At the rental car place, J. Allen told the lady behind the desk that he did in fact want the “buy fuel” option instead of filling it up himself, despite the fact that the ticket for the car clearly stated that he would be bringing the car back full. It was a lie. J. Allen looked right in the lady’s face and lied to her. But in the end, J. Allen got out of having to pay $8 a gallon and since he was already down several hundred dollars (in useless Yankees tickets) he considered this karma.
The flight back and following (two hour) drive back home was uneventful.
All in all it was still a great trip, despite the fact that it didn’t exactly play out as we had (albeit loosely) planned. But that’s the way life goes. Sometimes it rains when you don’t want it to and sometimes you have Pigs in a Blanket.