The NHL’s first Winter Classic was at what used to be called Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. That’s not a long drive from Pittsburgh, and my son, a huge Penguins fan, has his birthday on Jan. 1.
Plus we scored tickets for $10 each. Yes, that’s ten bucks. This was the first time around for the Winter Classic. No one knew if it was going to fly.
Although traveling to the Buffalo area is a straight shot on interstates, a lot of the route is close enough to Lake Erie to increase the possibility of snow. Sure enough, about an hour north of home, the white stuff started falling from the sky.
I wasn’t worried. My Suzuki had all-wheel drive.
But at one point I corrected the steering slightly, and the next thing we knew, the car in a ditch. I started it back up and made it back onto the highway.
No, we didn’t turn around and go home. We went to the game, sat through the snow and didn’t see Sidney Crosby score to win it. We were freezing by then.
The way home wasn’t so bad until the New York Thruway turned into Pennsylvania’s Interstate 90. Apparently, because it was New Year’s Day, the state Department of Transportation wasn’t about to pay anyone double to go out and plow the roads.
So we inched toward Erie, where we rented a motel room.
In the meantime, I wrote a newspaper column that arrived back home before I did, so everyone knew about my travails.
Counting the deductible, that trip cost me about $600. I think that’s what a couple of seats for today’s Winter Classic fetched.
See my photos from the first Winter Classic
Associated listening: “This Is Our Music” by Galaxie 500 (1990)