Race Weekend (Part I)

This past weekend I went to my first ever Nascar race in Richmond. Jay’s Uncle Bob flew in from New Brunswick on Friday night to spend the weekend with us and go to the race. Friday was a crazy busy day. I got up with Jay when he went to work and started cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting ready for company. I did five loads of laundry because I washed all the bedding and curtains, scrubbed floors, walls, cabinets, etc. because Jay’s been smoking in the house so even though it just seems like yesterday I did my spring cleaning, the place was kind of covered in nicotine again. It wasn’t as bad as when I first did it, but still a pretty big job.

The plan was for Jay to get off work early, come home, shower, and we’d both go to airport, pick up Bob then go out for supper and buy some groceries & supplies for the weekend. Jay got home by 4:30pm and I was still cleaning, so I just finished up what I could and we both got ready to leave. On the way we stopped at the job site on Hwy 360 because the boys were still working. It was shortly after 7pm by that time and they’re supposed to be off the road by 7 so Jay wanted to know what was going on that they were still taking down the lane closure and stuff when we got there. I was worried this little detour was going to make us late to the airport because Bob was due in at 20 to 8. But we didn’t stay too long. I got to meet some of the Mexicans, including Horatio, who is the foreman for their crew. If Rodney Colford was Mexican, he’d be Horatio. I swear, they could be twins!

As we were driving down the highway, getting close to the airport, the Friday night race was just getting started. The race track is pretty close to the airport and also pretty close to the hotel all the boys live at in Mechanicsville. So we’re cruising down the highway when all of a sudden these two freaking huge jets blast right over us flying low. They were the ones that go over the track during the singing of the national anthem at every race. But they were a helluva lot lower than they are when they do their fly over the race! It was pretty cool. I called Sherry to tell her, but just got voicemail.

We got to the airport at about a quarter to 8, so we figured Bob would be deplaned and waiting at the curb. Pulling up to passenger pick-up Jay’s phone rings and it’s Bob. He says he’s still in New York, his connecting plane broke down and there are no more flights to Richmond until the morning. We both thought he was shitting us and we’d see him at any minute standing on the curb talking on his cell. But he totally wasn’t!

Turns out he didn’t have a cell with him, he was calling from one of the desks at the airport … in NEW YORK! So he could either stay all night there in a hotel and catch the earliest flight to Richmond in the morning, or he could take the next flight to Norfolk, VA. Jay told him to fly to Norfolk and we’d get him there. Bob said okay then, his flight would get in at 10:18pm.

The only problem with going to Norfolk was that we’d never been there before, and I hadn’t brought our map of VA. Jay had an old atlas in the truck opened to Georgia, but it was half missing and only had the maps for states A through G. There was a map of the US though and I could see that Norfolk was to the south, down by Virginia Beach in the Chesapeake Bay, but there weren’t any highways marked on that map.

Luckily as we were pulling out of the airport there was a sign for Norfolk, so we just followed that and got onto the right highway. Then Jay called a guy he works with who lives in Norfolk to find out how we’d get to the airport once we got there. The guy was actually driving home at that very time and they figured out he was just a few minutes ahead of us on the highway so he said he’d call us to let us know what exit to take.

It was 77 miles from Richmond to Norfolk. We made pretty good time and got there by about 9:15pm. I wish it had been daylight though so I could have seen things. Jay says on his next day off we’ll take a drive down there and investigate further. I was excited to see signs for Langley naval base etc. I was like, “Hun! This is where the FBI are! And NCIS!” The water was beautiful even at night but we couldn’t see all the warships and submarines that you can see during the day.

Right after we had hung up with Bob at the Richmond airport his wife, Faith, called to see if we had her husband. Because he didn’t have a cell with him he couldn’t call her or vice versa, so she had no idea what was going on. We filled her in and then about halfway to Norfolk we realized we didn’t have any of Bob’s flight information. We didn’t know what airline he was flying with, which airport he was coming from or anything. All we had was an arrival time. So I called Faith back to see what she knew and she didn’t seem to know any more about his itinerary than we did. She thought it was either Delta or Continental. She was pretty sure it was New York and not Newark. But she didn’t think it was JFK or La Guardia. This was kind of a dilemma, I mean if he’s definitely in New York and not Newark, and he’s not coming from JFK or La Guardia then where the hell is he coming from?! Jay was stressed over this, but I was like even if Norfolk is a bigger airport than Richmond (which it turned out to be) it’s after 10 at night, there won’t be that many flights getting in so it should be easy to figure out (which also turned out to be true).

Did I mention that we were starving? We were totally starving. All I had eaten all day was some mashed potatoes at about 8:30am and Jay had a cheeseburger around noon. We thought we’d grab a little snack to tide us over at the airport while we waited for Bob’s plane, then find somewhere to eat properly on the ride home. When we got there though we found all the restaurants & shops closed up for the night. The Arrivals board said a Delta flight from La Guardia was scheduled to arrive at 10:18pm but it was coming in early at 9:23. Bonus! We made our way to the gate figuring we’d just find it as Bob was getting there too. But 9:23 came and went. So we looked at the Arrivals board again and saw it was now coming in at 9:35. Then 9:35 came and went, and the board said it wasn’t coming until 10:08 now. And then 10:08 came and went and the board did not change even though it was past time. Finally at around 10:20 the board changed to Landed and about 10 minutes later Bob sauntered out.

It turned out that when we talked to him on the phone earlier he didn’t even have a seat on that flight. He was flying stand-by and had been lucky to get on. Wouldn’t that have been something?! To drive all the way to Norfolk and have him not show up!

We found our way out of the airport and back onto the highway. Then we started looking for places we could pull off to eat. Bob hadn’t eaten either, not since having breakfast at Burke’s Diner in NB early that morning. We took an exit that had some fast food restaurant signs and ended up on a completely dark side road that seemed totally deserted. So we got back on the highway. Then we took another exit that said it had a McDonald’s etc. We ended up in the deserted parking lots of a bunch of closed for the evening outlet malls with no golden arches or any other kind of food in sight. We got back on the highway again. The next exit we took proclaimed to have McDonalds, Wendys, Golden Corral, Waffle House and more. This one seemed promising because there were signs on the off-ramp telling us which way to turn and how far to go. We followed these directions and ended up driving through a town that was just a strip of motels and hotels. Dozens and dozens of motels and hotels, not a restaurant anywhere to be found. I was like, “Why are all these people staying in the middle of nowhere and what the hell do they eat while they’re here?!” We spent about 20 minutes driving around looking for food there, but in the end we just backtracked and got back on the highway again. Three strikes and we’re out, I thought.

But Jay was less discouraged and said we’d try one more time before he gave up. On the fourth try we followed signs for various fast food burger joints, which we never found, but we stumbled onto an iHop that was open for business and booming even though it was now going on midnight. So we seized the moment. The boys ordered bacon and eggs breakfast. I had chicken fingers and fries. None of it was very good, but it filled the hole and the coffee helped keep us awake for the rest of the drive home.

We figured we would come back a different route that would cut at least an hour off our drive time. So we started looking for signs for West Point. I was riding in the back seat so Bob could sit up front and chat with Jay. In hindsight maybe I should have stayed up front because neither Bob nor Jay can see very well after dark, let alone read road signs. We zipped past a sign I thought said West Point next two exits. Then we zipped past a sign saying West Point this exit. And then I said, “Are we not going to West Point or what?!” Jay was like, “Why? Did we go by it?” Luckily, there was one more exit. So we took it.

The only problem with going through West Point was that Jay has only gone that way twice, once the very first day we got here (which he has no recollection of) and the other a couple of weekends ago when we went to see Deb and Dana’s camper for sale (which he was drunk and sleeping through). And even though I said I knew exactly what we needed to do (which I did), Jay was a little nervous that we were going to get lost in the woods. But never fear, the cut-off to route 14 (The Trail) was right where I said it was and we made it home in one piece by 2am. Then we sat around outside for about an hour just unwinding and chatting before we finally crawled into bed.

I was totally exhausted, physically from all the laundry lugging and cleaning, as well as mentally.

Bob and Jay got up around 7am on Saturday. I laid in bed as long as I could until about 8:30 before I had to get up and get ready to go to the race track. I had to print out all our tickets, different maps to do with the track, etc. We were supposed to pick up John at the job site on our way, drop him at the hotel so he could shower and get ready while we went somewhere and grabbed breakfast.

We left by 10am and while we were on the road Jay’s phone rang. It was John saying he’d gotten pissed off at work, told Brad off, then walked off the job site. He was walking toward Mechanicsville down the median of the highway, so now we were to just keep an eye out for him and pick him up wherever he might be. Lovely!

We stopped in Central Garage so Jay and Bob could go to the ABC store and pick up some liquor for Sunday. Then we swung through the drive-thru ATM to get some cash for the track … it was out of order. Of course. We found John standing in the middle of the median about 3 miles up the road from the job. He got in and started cursing about work until we finally got to Mechanicsville and stopped at Kroger so they could buy beer and ice for the track. Jay also got some cash out an ATM and then we dropped John at the hotel and went across the street to Waffle House for breakfast.

We really should have given iHop another chance methinks.

Breakfast was disgusting. Well, I thought it was disgusting. Bob cleaned his plate and Jay did a pretty good job too. I did eat my waffle, which was acceptable but everything else (bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast) was gross. After we ate John was ready to roll and we were off to the races.

(…to be continued…)

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