**I ain’t proof readin’ this with da best of eyes, so typos will be found i’m sure**
What do you get when you take a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a pillow, a blanket, and a handful of tech? You get what I dubbed da Epic Road Trip.
When it was earned a few weeks ago by da Clemson Tigers to play in da Orange Bowl down in Miami Gardens, Florida, I made a statement amongst my peers. I said that if I had a somehow gotten a ticket to da Orange Bowl, REGARDLESS of where da seat was, I would go. Even if it meant driving alone and sleeping in my car. I was serious about that. So I took it upon myself to put out a few “feelers” to some of my “big dawg” co-workers and ex-clients to look around for some tickets. I had learned over da years that these big dawgs always find freebies because of our line of business and their networking skills. I had given that bait about 3 weeks to work. If it didn’t, then I would gladly watch da game from home.
Da time was winding down on da bait and I was going to let it go. One night I was looking at twitter and read that stubhub.com had several CHEAP tickets available. I saw some for $12 at one time. I couldn’t pass that up. Before purchasing, I decided I didn’t want to go alone. I decided that i wanted my sister to go with me. She had done a great deed for me by getting me into da season ticket game this season and it was only fitting that she and I go together. My thought was to go with my sister, or go alone. She was unable to go due to work scheduling. So I went ahead and ordered my one ticket and contacted da “bait” folks to let them know I appreciate their help in looking for tix, but I’m good to go.
Our Christmas holiday passed and I got a email from a friend and co-worker. Said he was getting a package and believed it to be da bait was bitten. It was! It was TWO tickets. It was two tickets in MUCH BETTER SEATING that what i purchased. So yeah. . .I WANTED THOSE.
Ok. So travel plans. Since da game was on Wednesday night, I would make da 12+ hour drive to Miami on Tuesday and be there with plenty of time to goof off and take in da city. Tuesday rolls up, I get my rental car, and hit da road. Da #epicroadtrip had begun. . . .
Traveling was smooth and I crossed into da sunshine state around 7:30pm. It was freakin’ COLD down there. Mid to low 30’s. Battled to get a cup of water at da local McDonald’s for cheap hydration and went on some more. I say “battled” because this particular Jacksonville, FL McDonald’s couldn’t quite figure out how to charge me to a large cup of water. They continued to void my order or even assume I ordered several burgers. (SMH)
I arrived in da Vero Beach area around 11:30pm. I stopped at a rest area to continue to listen to da outstanding Sugar Bowl and rest. Next thing you know, I dozed. I got up around 12/12:15am and moved on down da road. Thinking, maybe 1.5hrs to go. I barely made it twenty miles and then traffic on i-95 south just STOPPED. Sure I assumed it was an accident or something. No biggie. But traffic just wouldn’t move. Normally, one lane would open up for traffic flow. This didn’t happen after an hour of waiting. I didn’t sweat it too much. I surrounding by 3 semi’s and an obvious Clemson fan.
Another hour passed. I struggled with dozing off and trying not to be da guy getting “beeped” at because he doesn’t take off when traffic moved. Problem tho’, this process lasted for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS. Yeah. That long. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was losing my mind. Seriously. I tried to focus, but thought i was sleep deprived. I thought to call a local friend in Vero. Told her my situation and ask if she could check da news. It was 6am or so I assumed she was awake. She said that da news was reporting three bad accidents below me. I felt better about that, but felt bad for da victims. I needed to get moving tho’. So I decided to check da median when da sun came up and try a u-turn. That worked out for me. But just before I drove off, I took this pic of da flashing emergency lights.
Arrived in da Miami area around 10:30am safely. (Thank you God) Rode around downtown to see da sights and so forth. My first stop was at a random gas station. I laffed to myself. Why? I get out, and ALL I HEAR is SPANISH. In da store, ALL I HEAR IS SPANISH. Da attendant at da register, SPEAKING SPANISH. She didn’t say ONE WORD of English to me. (lol) I drive around more and noticed something. . .I didn’t SEE NO WHITE PEOPLE. (yeah my grammar is bad) I was truly surprised and found it funny.
I made it my business to try to find da attorney’s/vendors that hooked me up with upgraded tickets. I wanted to tell them “thank you”. Found their office and it was a nice visit. As I was leaving to go find myself a truck stop to take a MUCH NEEDED shower, they insisted on me staying there in Coral Gables at a hotel. She told me she was working on that before I got there. I was given instructions to go to a specific place and be taken care of as well as told me to make sure i go to their favorite restaurant. I leave and get a call within minutes confirming my hotel room. (grateful) Showered up, ready to go to da game, but first, I needed to check out da restaurant she mentioned to meet da owner. He wasn’t there yet, but was coming. I chatted with Raquel while I waited on him. She worked at front of da house.
Chef/owner of Randazzo’s was running late. I had to head on to da Orange Bowl. That SUCKED. I kept getting turned around by da navigation system since I would miss and exit within an exit as well as battle 5 o’clock traffic and other people that was lost. I safely arrived at 7:20p. It’s a pretty nice facility.
Now those upgraded seats I got were INSANE. I’m so grateful to my intertwining career network. Here’s my view.
Now da game itself was a nightmare for my Clemson Tigers and fans. It was NOT GOOD. Credit to WVU for capitalizing on mistakes made by my beloved squad. Da loss truly stung me as any Clemson football loss. It took me a lil while to get over that. When I was ready to leave Thursday morning, I reflected and gave thanks for da experience even with da spankin’ we took. It was a GREAT experience for me.
Time to go. But wait, there’s more. Since I missed da owner that I was supposed to see and thank, I decided to catch him before their lunch rush. I got there and he was there. This place, Randazzo’s Little Italy, was INSANE. A beautiful restaurant. Marc Randazzo, da owner and executive chef, is a former pro boxer. When you see him, you can tell! He showed me his kitchen and around his restaurant and like Italians tend to do, INSIST you eat something. I sat down to this:
Da food was OUTSTANDING and Marc and his staff were great hosts.
So I finally put an end to da epic road trip and hit da road back to da big city of Gastonia and arrived Friday morning at 4am.
A few things. First, thank you to God for allowing me SAFE travels to AND from Miami. I’m truly grateful. (i saw about 10 deer Thursday night that did NOT come into da road) Next, I want to thank all of da support I received from my online community and family. It was nice getting tweets and texts about being safe and having fun. Thank you to my real life family for supporting me on this trip. I know it was “crazy” for me to take a long drive ALONE without lodging or even direction on where da heck I was going. This was a trip that I now realize I NEEDED for my own mental good. It was peaceful for da most part. A lot of time to listen/watch podcasts, netflix, music, and have my head full of. . .air. Yeah. Air.
Thanks for reading this LONG post. I just wanted to share it because I knew there were slight concerns of me going and interest about it all. A link to more photos are found here
(Again, thanks SO MUCH to my partner here at da office. Don’t wanna say his name ’cause he knows where I stand with him. )