When it was announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals were playing an outdoor game this season it didn’t take me long to decide that I had to go. When you have a chance witness history and see your favorite teams and favorite players play in an outdoor game you really have no other choice. So I bought my ticket, waited 3 months for the game, and finally got in my car and began my trip to Annapolis, Maryland.
I left my house at 5AM on Friday, March 2nd thinking that I’d get to Maryland by at least 3 in the afternoon, but I thought wrong. It was smooth driving for the most part on the way to the border, there was a light mix of snow and rain but that was nothing. I took the Thousand Island way to the border and got through no problem. I wasn’t expecting problems but you never know with these people. I was kind of nervous, though, not going to lie, since it was my first time driving across the border by myself and I’m a pretty anxious person in general. The border officer told me to drive safe and I said thanks, and I definitely needed that because it didn’t take long for the weather to turn trashy. And by trashy, I. MEAN. TRASHY. It started snowing 20 minutes later and it didn’t stop, it only got worse and worse.
The snow continued to pile up on the roads and I couldn’t even brake without sliding first; I had to swerve to the side just to avoid hitting the cars in front of me. And with heavy winds it was already hard to see. There was one point where I was switching CD’s and my car slid about 20 feet. Literally. It was sliding towards the railing and I thought it was going to hit it then it swerved towards the other side of the road and I thought it was going to start rolling over. After what felt like 20 minutes I regained control of the car. Thankfully there were no cars around during that time or a few people, including myself, would’ve been done for. Anyways, as I was driving I saw tipped over 18 wheelers on the side of the road and then when I just passed the New York / Pennsylvania border traffic stopped moving. There was a damn 18 wheeler flipped over in the middle of the road and it took them five-ever to deal with it. I listened to 2 full albums, finished most of my snacks, played candy crush, and read a chapter in a book. I could hardly use my phone because it was dying and it eventually did die. 30 minutes passed, then an hour, then 2, 3, 4, 5 hours passed until traffic started moving again. And all the cars had to get off the highway and drive on a back road because they were still investigating.
Around three hours later I was feeling tired so I pulled into a service area to relax. I got a whopper from Burger King and ate it peacefully. I was also able to charge my phone because it died. Then I watched Netflix and ate more of my snacks until I eventually fell asleep. Falling asleep in an empty parking lot is very surreal because you’re just fast asleep, having dreams, while who knows what is happening around you at 2 in the morning. And I had a dream that I really didn’t want to have, and when I woke up I was stunned; how could I have a dream like that in such a setting, I wasn’t comfortable in my bed or anything. That’s what I was thinking when I started making my way to Maryland again.
I finally made it. I met up with my cousin and we had a much needed breakfast at Cracker Barrel. French toast is my favorite food to order at breakfast places besides pancakes and waffles. Usually, I order all three and have no problem finishing. When I got to my cousins house I was able to sit and relax comfortably for once. I showered, brushed my teeth, and took a nap. I met my other cousins, too and we played Fortnite for a while. Then I had to go because it was time to leave for the game. It was an hour and a half away so I left pretty early to check out the events and buy souvenirs and all that. I waited in line almost an hour just to get a toque, but it looks really nice, at least. The drive was really smooth, the sun was setting, and there was no traffic. I was listening to WOLF by Tyler, The Creator on the way to the game, and it’s funny because the first time I saw my favorite athlete, Alex Ovechkin, play, I was in Ottawa and I listened to the same album on the way to that game.
The game organizers were emailing me about parking a week or so before the game took place, saying that I should pay for parking. A whole 30 bucks, too. I wasn’t about to do that so I parked, for free, at the local Park and Ride and used the shuttle bus to get to the stadium, again, for free. Since the day I bought my ticket to the day before I left to go to Maryland, I was debating with myself on which jersey I should wear; Leafs or Capitals, since I love both teams. It was actually a tough choice but I decided to wear my Toronto Maple Leafs jersey because I’m from Toronto and I had to represent my city in the best way. I was antsy, though, because I knew there weren’t going to be much other Leafs fans and I didn’t want to be heckled by random Capitals fans, especially since I was not only one of the few Leafs fans but I was also one of the few black people there, so when I got to the parking spot I was thinking if I should wear my jacket over my jersey or leave it in the car. It was chilly but to prove a point to myself that I will do whatever I want and not worry, I left my jacket in my car and walked over to the shuttle bus and when I got on I was obviously surrounded by white Capitals fans but I immediately felt good vibes; not like I was expecting anything else, but everyone was very kind to me.
As soon as I got off the shuttle bus when it arrived at the stadium I knew I should’ve brought my jacket. I walked around the fan zone for a while and talked to some nice people and took some pictures. After about an hour I went inside the stadium, there was a sea of red and some blue and white speckles floating around, including me. There were people selling hot chocolate with brandy in it. Like I said earlier, I waited in line for an hour to buy a sweet looking toque. While I was waiting, I talked to another Leafs fan about Toronto sports and Scarborough. He wasn’t even from Toronto. After barely escaping getting suffocated by everyone in the line I went to go find my seats.
I had to walk around the entire stadium because my seat was on the other side. I found it and sat down on the cold bench. There were Leafs fans scattered around the zone but Capitals fans were all around me. The Caps fans were all great people, they were so interested in me because I told them I was from Toronto but I was wearing my Capitals toque, too. I had to explain that I love both teams equally. A lady asked me where my heart is and I took some time to think about it about it, then I told her that last year, in the playoffs, when the Leafs and Capitals played each other, I cheered for the Capitals. They were glad to hear that. The entire game had such a laid back vibe to it. Maybe because I’m super laid back but we were watching the game while also having cool conversations. It was like watching a game on T.V at home, where you’re watching it but also talking to your friends or family, too. It was really cool. I met some awesome people. The lady beside me saw me shivering like a madman and let me use some of her blanket. I had a proper conversation with the guy behind me, too, about things not even related to hockey. I stood up to cheer when the Capitals scored, and I stood up to cheer when the Leafs scored. Boy, did I seem confused to those other fans. I saw Alex Ovechkin score for the first time and that was amazing. In the end the Leafs didn’t play well and got beat 5-2.
After the game finished I walked around the cold some more to find the shuttle busses to take me back to the Park and Ride. A guy who was drunk as hell saw my Leafs jersey and came up to me and asked if I had syrup. I thought about it and said no, I left it in my igloo back home. Then he invited me to a party. I told him I had to drive back to Toronto so I couldn’t. I told him I couldn’t a few times. He was drunk as hell. I finally found the shuttle busses and I started smiling as soon as I got on and saw more Capitals jerseys. Everyone was in a great mood. I was tired, though, and I was thinking about how I had to drive back home soon. But before that, I went to Papa John’s and ordered a large cheese pizza just for me. I was absolutely living the life. I was acting like I was in Toronto and my house was 10 minutes away, instead of 10 hours.
I started driving home after midnight. Praying there would be no snow this time. I drove for about 2 hours before I had to pull over and sleep in an empty plaza parking lot. I woke up an hour later and started driving again. Then another hour later, I pulled over again because my eyes were seriously closing. I stopped at a rest area and parked up beside some trucks. Made sure my doors were locked, of course, and fell asleep again. It’s actually so surreal, falling asleep in an unfamiliar environment at 3 in the morning. I’d recommend it. Anyways, I woke up at 5:30AM and began driving again. I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a hot chocolate and a donut and was on my way home when the sun was rising. It was a great drive home but it felt so long. Another thing is, these poor deer get absolutely obliterated on U.S highways. You can drive by one piece of the deer and 2 miles up see another piece of it. 6 or 7 hours later I was at the border. 2 and a half hours later, I was back at home.
That trip was definitely worth it. The drive, the money. You can’t put a price on experiences, and I’m all about living my life. Like, of course the weather days before leading up to the game was great, no sign of snow, just sun, and the day I have to go there’s a whole blizzard (since then, it’s been established that I brought the storm. You know what they say: Winter is Coming). I need to go on more road trips like that but I’d bring friends this time. Going by myself was fun but it would’ve been nice to talk to someone other than myself. I like doing things alone, though, so I’ll see.