I am obsessing. I cannot get away from it. New York will not let me go!
I like daydreaming, and for the past few weeks I’ve been dreaming about going back to New York. Ok, it’s a little less like day dreaming about it and a little more like obsessing over everything New York. I read articles if they have the words New York in them. I look at pictures of New York. I look at my pictures of New York. I can’t get it out of my head. I miss it and I want to go back! The only problem seems to be that my travel partner from the first trip isn’t so keen on the idea of revisiting because we had a bit of a rough time.
I know I told a few of you about my last trip, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell the entire internet so now I’m going to recount that adventure for you. But because it’s a fairly lengthy story and I don’t want to take up your entire day (how selfish of me!), I’m going to break it up into three parts: Getting There, Manhattan, and New Jersey.
Buckle your seatbelts, folks, because we’re going to New York! (cue Alicia Keys wailing “in NEWWWW YOOOOOOOORK!”)
(Danny, please chime in if I’m remembering anything incorrectly or forgetting any horribly hilarious details)
Back in 2007, when I still worked for the San Diego Padres and they had just released their 2008 season schedule, Danny and I decided that a Padres/Yankees series was a good reason to plan our first trip to New York. It was going to be the last season that the Yankees would play in Yankee Stadium and it was a prime opportunity to see the famed ballpark. We slowly worked out our plans, saved up money, and finally purchased our plane tickets and booked our hotel rooms. It was January and our trip wasn’t happening until June! OH the anticipation!
In April, the Padres Front Office (PFO for short) announced that they would be sending the entire front office to New York to see the Padres play the Yankees and flights and hotel rooms would be paid for by the company. This is AFTER Danny and I had already purchased our tickets and booked our hotel rooms PAID IN FULL. As it turned out, a lot of PFO employees had already made plans to head to New York and had already invested a lot of money and were less than pleased that the Padres were now offering to pay for flights, hotel and game tickets. The Padres ended up doing the right and fair thing by reimbursing plane tickets previously purchased for that trip. We also got free tickets to the Padres/Cubs exhibition game at Doubleday Field and the Padres/Yankees series at Yankee Stadium, and we were put up in a super swanky hotel in Manhattan. Big score!
Shortly after the PFO announced that they’d be sending all employees to New York, the Sales department (where I worked) decided to have a contest of their own. Because you can’t shut down an entire sales department during the season, two people would need to stay behind and man the phones while the rest of us took a most-expenses-paid vacation. I was a little upset because I had requested my vacation time three months before and was given the go-ahead to plan my trip, and then I found out that I would have to be one of the top five sales people (out of 10) for the month leading up to the trip before I was completely cleared to go. No worries, I was a pretty good salesperson so I had it in the bag.
Fast forward to the day of the trip. My memory of the first half of the trip is fuzzy as I don’t think much went wrong. We had a direct flight from San Diego to JFK Airport because Danny wanted to avoid as many take-offs and landings as possible. The closer we got to New York, the more turbulence we hit. After about 20 minutes of rocking and rolling, the captain comes on and says there’s a huge thunderstorm happening over New York right now and we don’t have enough fuel to circle until there’s a clearing, so we’re making an emergency landing in Rochester where we will find pizza waiting for us while the plane refuels and we wait out the storm. After about three hours of waiting, Danny and I devise a plan to rent a car and drive to Cooperstown. Our original plan involved landing in New York and driving to Cooperstown the next day, but since Cooperstown was about halfway between Rochester and New York City, we decided to just cancel our hotel room in New Jersey (that’s right…New Jersey) and head straight to Cooperstown. We headed down to the rental car desks thinking that it would be a piece of cake to find a reasonably priced car to rent for a four hour trip. Not the case. Not only were we not the only ones who came up with this genius plan, but out of all the rental car desks, only one of them had a car for us to rent. The rest were sold out. So we ended up not getting on the road until around midnight after being on a plane and in airports almost all day.
While we were driving, I was looking up hotels in or around Cooperstown on Danny’s phone because we needed a reservation ASAP. We couldn’t find anything closer than 30 miles out. The last ever Hall of Fame game to be played at Doubleday Field would be played in the next couple of days, and that meant that all hotels in the area were booked solid. We finally located a Super 8 in Cobleskill, NY that had ONE available room and it was only 30 miles from Cooperstown. We booked it online and drove the rest of the way in a relaxed state knowing that we were only hours from a clean bed and a good night’s sleep.
When we showed up to the hotel, the person at the front desk said that yes, they received our reservation, but unfortunately they didn’t have any free rooms. It was 4am, we had been through hell and back, driving through the countryside of New York state (which looks eerily similar to Iowa countryside) in the wee hours of the morning trying to hunt down just one bed and one bathroom to hold us over for the night. The person at the desk could tell that we were visibly upset (I was about to cry at the thought of having to sleep in the car…which was a teeny, tiny, little Colbalt) and mentioned, “Well…there is one room available, but I can’t let you stay in it.” I about jumped across the desk and strangled him right there out of sheer frustrating and exhaustion. Danny pleaded with him and eventually convinced him to let us stay in the room, free of charge. It turned out that because it had been raining so hard all over the state of New York, their roof was leaking and water was coming down through the light fixture on the ceiling and dripping onto one of the beds in the room. But the other bed was dry! Oh glorious dry bed! But because they weren’t charging us, we would have to make our own beds from whatever bedding was available in the room, which was crumpled up on the sofa and we weren’t sure if they were clean or dirty or wet or dry, but we really didn’t care.
We finally got to bed around 5:30 in the morning only to be jarred awake by housekeeping at 8am. They were shocked to see that anybody was in the room, let alone actually sleeping there. We immediately get a call from the front desk demanding to know what we were doing in that room. Apparently the night manager forgot to tell the day manager that he had let us stay in that room for the night. We had to gather up our things and go down to the front desk and have them transfer us to another room. We finally got to a clean room with two dry beds and clean, dry sheets. I believe we took a nap for a while, but I can’t verify that. Once we were up and moving, we realized that we were in a small town in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing for California tourists to do. The Hall of Fame game wasn’t happening in Cooperstown until the next day, but we decided to grab some lunch and make the 30 mile trip to see the Baseball Hall of Fame anyway.
The drive was beautiful! The sun was shining and it was a warm day, and it was all back country roads and beautiful scenery (like cows and farms and tractors). The town of Cooperstown itself was adorable and quaint, just like you’d picture a small town in New England. There wasn’t much to it other than a few Mom & Pop restaurants, bars, sports memorabilia stores, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field. Danny and I decided to stoll through the Baseball Hall of Fame (Tony Gwynn & Cal Ripkin Jr. were inducted in 2007 and their ceremony would be in July of 2008) and have a leisurely day even though we’d be back the next day for the Hall of Fame game.
The following day was much different than the first day. It was gloomy and stormy, muggy and cool. We drove back to Cooperstown for the game but planned to take off for Manhattan right after. The sleepy town we visited yesterday was now booming with people, many of which were PFO employees. We were making our way to the field when it started sprinkling. Sprinkles quickly turned into rain which turned into a downpour! I think at one point it actually started hailing. We dashed into a nearby restaurant and decided that while we’re there, we might as well grab a bite to eat while we waited out the rain.
To most Californians, rain storms last hours and even days. To those of us from the left side of the country, rain storms can last as long as a few days to as short as a few minutes. The rain let up within half an hour and the sun was back out. We headed to the field, found our seats and settled in for the last Hall of Fame game in the history of Doubleday Field, proud that the Padres would be a part of that. The teams were warming up, Greg Maddux was presenting some memorabilia to the museum, and then the rain started again. We were sitting under an overhang, so we decided to wait it out right there. After what only seemed like minutes, the announcer came on over the loud speakers and announced that the game would be canceled due to rain.
I was dumbfounded. How are they going to call a game on account of rain…when it’s the last game to ever be played at that particular ballpark?! Just wait it out! The rain will let up and we’ll be on our way! They didn’t seem to follow my logic. Everyone shuffled out of the ballpark like, “No big deal, oh well” as I stood there with my hands in the air like, “Seriously? This is happening?” The last Hall of Fame game at Doubleday Field was canceled due to rain. Check the Doubleday Field wikipedia page if you think I’m lying!
Danny ended up talking some sense in to me and made me realize that the earlier we leave Cooperstown, the earlier we get to Manhattan (since we wouldn’t be staying a third night in the quaint town of Cobleskill, NY), the earlier we can turn in our rental car, and the earlier we can put this atrocious start to our vacation behind us.
So we funneled out of Cooperstown with the rest of the disappointed fans and headed out on our way to the Big Apple! Manhattan, here we come!
To be continued…