Bonus Feature: The Little Darlin’/Roxanna Firehall Football Jamboree, Part 1

via Pittsburgh Blitz

I received a mysterious email this morning with the following submission.* Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, here it is. It details something similar to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, except about football and in a way one can actually comprehend:

I retired about a year ago, to pursue interests other than those of my employer, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  They were interested in me working.  I was interested in traveling, grandkids, drinking craft beers and “having a life.”  For once, I won.

 My wife, Little Darlin’ (LD) retired too.  She wanted to pursue  traveling, grandkids, drinking craft beers,  “having a life,” and supervising me.  She’s ambitious. 

One of the major pieces of this retirement gig was to purchase a recreational vehicle.  After many months of looking at older and smaller models, we purchased a brand new 38 foot motorhome with three slide outs.  I call her “the Behemoth.”  Every time we went looking, the one LD liked got a little newer, a little longer and lot more expensive.  

After a couple of harrowing trips, we sort of got the hang of driving the Behemoth and so LD decided it was time to take a football road trip.  That could mean only one thing . . .Steelers!  We had only been to one game together . . . San Francisco v. Pittsburgh in Three Rivers Stadium.  That would have been in 1996, when LD was still a Niners fan.  Shortly thereafter, she converted, as the mixed marriage thing really wasn’t working.  She has thrown her heart and soul into Steeler fandom with the fervor of James Harrison chasing a quarterback.  She’s the perfected the finer points of cussing out the offensive coordinator, the referees and the opposing players.  She’s the daughter of a football coach and both the Steelers and I are lucky to have her.

Anyhow, LD says let’s go to a Steeler game, we’ll take the Behemoth.  I say okay, twist my arm.  We decided to go to St. Louis and see the Rams game.  The night they released the schedule, we were on the Internet for several hours plotting and planning.  Scored some sweet seats, chanting  “here we go Steelers . . .”

As we planned, the trip morphed.   We added a stop in Canton to see the Hall of Fame.  As we planned some more, we discovered we had not yet spent all of our retirement money.  LD says lets get tickets for Steelers-Ravens on Thursday after the Rams game.  I say what the heck, let’s do it.  Thus, the Roxanna Firehall – Little Darlin’ Football Jamboree was born.

Day 1:  

We left our home in Southern Delaware, late as usual.  The Behemoth, despite her youth, demands a certain amount of loading an preparation, especially for such a historic trek.  I like to postpone much of the required preparations for the morning of the trip.  It adds a beautiful sense of urgency and chaos to the experience.  

Finally, we are packed and ready to go.   LD, all five feet of her, takes the first shift at the wheel.  She coerces the Behemoth, towing our four door black Jeep, through the back roads of Ocean View in fine fashion.  It’s a pure joy to ride shotgun as she traverses the construction zone, getting a thumbs up from at least four or five construction and traffic control guys who stare in amused admiration as LD adeptly operates nearly 60 feet of motor vehicle through the eternal construction zone near our Delaware home.  LD has no fear.

I take the reins just before the Bay Bridge.  LD doesn’t fear the bridge, but she’s not a fan.  We cross uneventfully, skirt Baltimore traffic, replete with gaudy purple Raven decor, and head for the Pennsylvania turnpike.  I was pretty happy when I had those Flacconiers in my rear view mirror.

The rest of the day was pretty much uneventful.  We stayed at a campground not far from Latrobe, home to the Steelers’ training camp.  After a long day of travel, LD and I tucked Mardi Gras (our black lab mix) and Rory, our Yorkshire Terrorist, in and grabbed some shuteye in the Laurel Highlands.  

Day 2:

We hit the ground running on Thursday morning.  Our intent was to cross the great expanse of Ohio.  We skirted Pittsburgh, tasted a little West Virginia, then started the long journey across the state which harbors both the Brownies and the Bungles.  Enemy territory.

We did fine, but of course, were exposed to vehicles adorned with a lot of orange helmets and cats, but we made good time and managed to evade them.  Well we made good time until we got around Dayton.  That’s where the unknowable complexities of Mapquest combined with the I unperfected trip planning acumen of yours truly to produce  – a road trip memory.

For example some indecipherable reason, Roxfire (a nickname I gave myself) eschewed the campground right off I- 70 for one which was significantly further off the beaten path.  Since we really like most campgrounds like the one I passed up, I do not know why I did that.  What transpired was awesomely ridiculous.  Maqquest routed us through a corn maze for thirty five minutes.  There were no other cars.  A few tractors but I swear, in thirty five minutes we saw like three cars.  After seventeen turns, three tiny towns, and thirty seven hundred thousand acres of dried up corn stalks, we arrived at the American Gothic Campground.

The nice lady at the desk did not have our reservation, of course.  Luckily ( I guess) they had a spot for us.  I was shocked, as one would expect a campground surrounded by a 20 mile perimeter of corn stalks to be all full up, especially on a Thursday in late September. 

 Exhausted by our trip through the endless corn maze, we fed Mardi Gras and Rory and ate our dinner.  A little later, we cracked a cold one and watched Eli devour the Skins.  Needless to say, we were blessed with morgue-like quietude from our pastoral refuge on the Ohio-Indiana border.

To be continued…

*Okay, it wasn’t all that mysterious, other than the mystery surrounding roxannafirehall/MadAnthonyWayne’s duel identity. Also, I have no idea whether their RV looks like the one pictured. But wouldn’t it be cool if it did?


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