Anatomy of a Road Trip - Day 1

by Tom Felice
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Fordham Trip Stymied by Snow 

Tom Felice, one of the voices of the Rams on WFUV is chronicling the men's basketball holiday trip to Georgia and California. 


The Fordham Men’s basketball team woke up Sunday morning expecting to travel to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets of the ACC. A 4pm flight was scheduled for the Peach State. As the bus crossed into Queens on the R
FK Bridge (nee Triboro Bridge), word spread around the team that the flight had been canceled. The bus pulled up to the terminal, just making sure that our flight was indeed off the board. This meant the game with Georgia Tech was called off as well. This pushed Fordham to Plan B, a trip to a Big East city.

As the weather forecasts became more dire, Director of Basketball Operations Mike DePaoli and Coordinator of Ticket Operations Jess Powers spent much of their Christmas Day putting together alternate plans for Fordham’s road trip to Atlanta and Santa Clara. With the busy holiday travel season and an ever growing backlog of flights, the best option was to bus the team to Pittsburgh, and fly to California on Tuesday morning. 

This seemed like a good plan. If you can’t fly through the snow, driving through it might work. There was no sense waiting to drive to the Steel City, as the Rams thought they could beat the storm. A quick stop at a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike and the team was on their way. Accommodations were already being made for our arrival in Pittsburgh.

And then the snow got worse. The speed limit was capped at 35 mph on the Turnpike.

And then the bus stalled.  A few times the driver got the bus going quickly again, but eventually it rolled to a stop just at mile marker 88.6. 
 
Quickly, Eddy the driver was on his phone and under the hood, trying to remedy the problem however possible. The stopping and starting not only slowed the travel, it also stopped the in-bus movie. Over and over again the Academy Award winning The Departed was cut off, leading assistant coach Mike Kelly to exclaim that we were “never going to see the end of this movie.” Just like in the movie, there was foreshadowing here. 

Eventually the bus was moving again, but by now the snow had started to accumulate, as had the cars on the highway. There was no reason to keep on going into a sea of brake lights. The bus exited the Turnpike, and soon we were watching the cranberry juice scene of The Departed  on South Cranbury Rd, nowhere near our intended destination. It turned out the final resting place of this day would be in an Ivy League town, Princeton. 

The bus was crawling along Route 1, searching for our new resting place, the Princeton Marriott. The bus fell ill again, and we waited on the side of Rt.1. Chris Gaston announced that we were only 334.2 miles from Pittsburgh, but it wouldn’t be easy to make it going zero miles per hour. The bus would inch forward and stall. 

Anytime the driver tapped the gas pedal the engine would shut down. It took over an hour, but eventually the bus found some inner strength, enough to move out of harms way into a restaurant parking lot. Here we waited for vans to transport us to our hotel. 

When the van arrived I was given a golden ticket to be on the first trip. As the van driver plowed his way down the street, there was some confusion as to how long it would take to get to the Marriott. After passing a crash attended to by not one, but two firetrucks, DePaoli decided to get off the road as soon as possible, and that possibility popped up with the Princeton Hyatt. Even now the night was not done. Only 10 of the 20 plus members of the travel party were here.  As the van driver waited for direction, the bus limped up to the hotel. Now the team was together, and even on the day after Christmas there was room in the inn.

After 7 hours of travel, the Rams didn’t net 70 miles. The plan is to finish the drive to Pittsburgh on Monday, practice there and then fly out Tuesday morning. Fordham already has weather cancellations and mechanical failure checked off their travel mishap BINGO card. Time will only tell how this trip unfolds, but needless to say, you can find out right here on wfuv.org/sports.