Friday, July 15, 2005

Day 6: Newark, DE; Norwalk, CT

Today was one of the longest driving legs of the trip, and so the day was full.

Our plan was to get up around 7:00 so that we could be out by 7:30 and go back a little on 95 into Newark to play White Clay Springs. That way we could stop at the motel before we checked out and take a shower and not drive all grunged up.

The first flaw in our plan occurred to me when the alarm went off at 7:00. Ugggh. Still, we got going and found the park fairly easily (I had played it before). We got there at 7:50, and although the park was not supposed to open until 8:00, they let us in.

Newark's course is not super long, but it has the worst rough of any course I've played, and a lot of it. The bush is thick, has stickers, and if you are off the fairway, you can very easily lose your disc.

Another flaw in our plan for the early morning play is to avoid the stifling heat, which we do, sort of. Of course there is dew on the ground, so feet and pant legs get wet.

Todd yanks a disc into the rougn on the first hole and we spend a good 10 minutes looking for it. I find it just as we are ready to give up. Then I throw one that is hard to find on 4 or 5, then Todd throws the used Gazelle I got him into the bush, and the stickers are so bad, we decide not to go looking for it. As we make the turn on 9, is is already 9:15 or so, and I suggest making a decision at 9:35 of whether or not we will finish. Then I throw my new Champion Valkyrie into the rough and we spend 20 minutes looking for it. Todd finally finds it stuck up in a tree at the very secoond I had turned my back to walk back to my bag and declare it lost.

We decide we care more about getting back and getting a shower before a long drive than we do about finishing. I've played the course before and I don't remember it being this frustrated (I'm not playing badly, it just seems like anything not down the fairway is another 10 minute search.) Perhaps it is just a course that one needs to play at a more lesiurely pace.

Anways, we get back to the motel, shower and pack up.

Todd is driving today and I'm thinking about just staying on 95, forgetting that I usually get on the Garden State Parkway around Wilmington. This isn't hugely out of the way, but it adds 20 minutes by skirting Philadelphia on the west side of the river instead of east.

Todd wants to get gasoline before we go, but I suggest getting it when we stop for lunch because we can't find a gas station by the hotel in Delaware before the interstate. (I notice this is becoming a trend in the trip--lots of gasoline stations when we want food, and lots of fast food when we need gasoline.) Anyway, we try to stop right as 95 is going to take us into New Jersey, because NJ has a law that there are no self-serve gas stations, and that really bugs me. I don't want to give my credit card to some 16 year old getting minimum wage to pump my gas.

So, of course, we have a hard time finding a gas station by the exit. Lunch is fast food at Wendy's and the line is busy, and it's a sign of how anxious I am to get going as this leg is dragging that I don't take the Classic Single back when they mistakenly put mustard on it; I just scrape it off.

New Jersey is a long uneventful drive. (We don't play here because I've played the state before and we will be stopping on the way back.)

As we are getting ready to cross the Tappan Zee bridge (and ain't that a cool name for a way cool bridge?) I wave hello to Nyack and thank it for offering me a job once. I also note that the first exit once we are over the bridge is only 3 miles from Sleepy Hollow. Well this is just too much for a pair of English professors to pass up, long leg or no.

We go through Tarry Town and eventually find ourselves at the Bridge that inspired Washington Irving's story. Todd wants to take a picture (Todd got a new digital camera and likes pictures of everything; more on that later.) I get this funny idea that I can pull my shirt over my head to be the headless horseman on the bridge and then send the picture to Dan Buck to see if he wants to post it on the A&F thread.

That detour done, its a short plop down 287 to pick up 95 again (having skirted NYC) and into Connecticut.

For the first time all trip we hit traffic jam and I amuse myself by trying to figure out which is the lamest state motto listed on the atlas:

Maryland: "Manly deeds; womanly Words."
Delaware: "Liberty and Independence
" New Jersey: "Liberty and Prosperity"
Connecticut: "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains"
Maine: [I am not making this up] "I direct."

I've heard New Hampshire has the worst Disc Golf courses in New England, but at least they are the only state with a cool motto: "Live free or die."

Norwalk is a nice course, though I make a mistake in thinking that it is shorter than it is, which will bite me on the back 9. I thought the PDGA said only two holes mover 300 feet (actually there are 4), so when I pull some nice shots in the wooded front 9 and make the turn at -2, I'm thinking under par. (Todd's laboring a bit with the humidity, but that's not why he's a geek.)

Unfortunately, I lose one stroke back to par with a lazy pitch after a decent drive, but I'm thinking that I don't have any more long holes, so I'll be okay. Unfortunately, there keeps being a few more. I make a good drive on a longer hole (14), but get a tough lie behind a tree line and have to lay up for bogey. I'm hanging on to par by a thread.

Then it happens, hole 16 is marked as three hundred (another one?) slightly up the hill, in the woods. I get good distance, but a late fade, and when I check my lie, I'm with 50 feet, but I just having nothing...the trees give me no alley, and the curve of the green is away, so there no way to pitch out.

I am despondent. I am the worst disc golfer who ever chucked plastic.

I check my lie. What's the distnace to the hole if I pitch out? What is the distance if I hit a tree on my way out. Eventually, I see a sliver of an alley between two trees up high (maybe 10-15 feet off the ground), curving right. If I turn the Champion Stingray almost vertical and gently spin it, I might...just might...sneak it through and leave myself a putt. I clear my mind, I line it up. I visualize. I let it go. The disc snakes through the tree line like Han Solo driving the Falcon through an asteroid field, it flattens out as it comes out of the treeline (too much and I would have risked yanking it into a dive away from the hole) and glides to rest past the tree line and 10 feet from the hole.

I am overjoyed. I am the best disc golf player never to have won an A-Tier tournament. I am a disc golf stud. I turn to Todd and say, "You won't see me throw a better shot this trip." It was short, yest, but sooooo difficult, and under pressure circumstance. (Needing it to save par for the round, and I make it.) I'm the king of the world.

I miss the putt.

I am despondent. I am the cr---iest disc golfer who ever cr---ed cr-p.

I par out the last to holes.

I metioned in my descripton of Valley Springs on the web page that there is a special sort of pain for the Amateur golfer who shoots a double nickel, but at least in Valley Springs I think, there are lots of birdies here. Norwalk would have been a nice par to notch in my belt. It's not super hard, but at 5180 feet, it would be a respectable par.

Instead, it is a 70 mile drive to the hotel in New London.

Here, I must insert a commercial for Priceline. While it is true that, after 27 holes of golf and 300 miles of driving, I only really need a Motel 6, it sure is nice to pull into a Radisson. Two quick showers later and we are ready to scour the neighborhood for food. Todd wants something more sit town, and there is supposed to be a Thai restaraunt within walking distance of the restaraunt. Outside, you can smell the salt air--it is almost enough for me to want seafood. (Todd claims he will get lobster before he returns to Ohio, but that is not why he is a geek.)

The street looks deserted, but we're counting down the numbers to where the restaraunt is supposed to be, and finally see a lit window and go in. The restaraunt has a nice ambience, and it is good to sit and unwind after a long hard day of work. Todd orders a sushi appetizer and a Samurai roll; I get a Korean chicken dish with chili sauce which, for some strange reason takes 15 minutes more than Todd's to appear. I invite Todd to go ahead with his dinner, but he wants to wait for me to get my food, which I think is very polite and not at all why he's a geek.As we are waiting, Todd mentions (and I concur, though it hadn't occured to me) that this is the strangest Thai restaraunt we've ever been in. It's really more fusion. The wallpapers have prints of Tokyo. The menu has two types of tempura but no Pad Thai. I guess that maybe it is because the proximity to Block Island Sound means there is more seafood.

While we wait for my food, Todd pulls out his newly bought (for this trip) digital camera and takes a picture of his Samurai Roll.

That is why he's a geek.

My chicken shows up eventually, and its good, though the chili sauce is hot, hot, hot. We decide to walk up the street and go back to the hotel the other way, and two doors down after we leave, we run into...the Thai restaraunt.

Turns out we had dinner at Little Tokyo.

To quote Billy Bob in A Simple Plan: "I observe things."

4-3-3 5-3-3 4-3-3 OUT (31)

3-3-2 3-3-3 2-3-3 OUT (25)
4-3-3 3-4-3 4-3-3 IN (30) 55

Day 6 Tally:
Courses: 8
New Courses: 3
States: 4
Discs Lost: 1
Discs Found: 1 (A DX Gazelle with no name in the thicket)
Discs Saved by Eagle Eye Todd: 1
Tanks of Gas Bought in Full Service New Jersey Stations: 0
Jai-Alai Arenas seen in Connecticut: 1
Thai Restaraunts that Don't Serve Pad Thai: 0

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