August 19, 2005

Start: Akron, Ohio
Buffalo, New York
Mileage: 243 miles
Route taken: Interstate 77 to interstate 90 through
Erie, Pennsylvania, exit at Buffalo.


        The next two days were going to be spent seeing friends, and after nearly three weeks on the road I was ready for it.

        A professional golf tournament event was in Akron and I stopped by to see some of the guys in the media center.

        It was a different feeling. I wasn’t working, and they were, and in many ways I felt like I was in the way.

        The guys were cordial, but in some ways I think there was a little envy in some of their eyes. I don’t blame them.

        It is a weird dynamic, really. You are part of a fraternity in a way when you work in that setting. It is not as glamorous as it seems, it is a lot of work. There is a lot of travel and you are around the people who you compete with, but everyone respects each other.

        The best analogy I can make is a professional sports team. The guys hang out together and when you leave, you aren’t part of that team anymore.

        You can visit, and say hello, and everyone is cordial, but you aren’t part of it anymore.

        When I left my job I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. There are parts of what I did that was very appealing. It is cool when Tiger Woods knows you by name and you get a front row seat to watch the best athletes in the world.

        Having your picture in the newspaper every week and getting recognized at the grocery store is also a benefit. So without that minor amount of celebrity attention I wondered how my ego would take being a civilian again.

        Surprisingly I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. In some ways it is a relief. I know when I walked out of the media center in Akron, I wasn’t upset about it.

        Plus I had to get to Buffalo. It is where my father was born and raised and where my mother grew up. I had some people there I wanted to see.

        One of them was my godfather and his wife, Louie and Bernie. They are great people and it had been way too long since I had seen them.

Me and my new motorcycle mama, Bernie.

        This journey is more about solitude than visiting, but I made an exception in this case and it was nice to see a familiar face.

        They had me over for dinner and we had a perfect Buffalo staple.

        Chicken wings are famous in this city and you can get them anywhere. Roast beef on a kummelweck roll, or kimmelweck, as some people spell it. It is a Kaiser roll with salt and caraway seeds and the way Bernie makes it, I swear I could eat 10 of them.

        We ate and drank and talked and I wished it could have gone on forever.

        I rode back into town and met some new friends I made at a golf tournament earlier in the year for a drink.

        Buffalo is one of the friendliest cities I have ever been to. The people seem genuinely nice and walking down the streets they would wave and say hello.

        It was two days that went by way to quick.