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Road trip- days 4-8

DAY FOUR
Day four opened with a pounding headache and me driving up the coast.
The trip through the Keys Tuesday at night took a little more that two hours, but with traffic constantly ahead of me during the daylight hours, the trip back from Key West to Key Largo took three hours.
I still had the top down for most of it and cruised the radio dial, catching several stations in Spanish which could possibly be from Cuba.
Eventually a bit of rain started to fall and I had to pull over to put the roof up, costing me even more time as it took a while to find a spot where I could get back into the heavy traffic on US 1.
The trip back through Miami took another hour with slow traffic for some reason feeling it should be in the left lane. I did get to see the Marlins new stadium, which was nice, and listen to sports talk radio in Miami, which was hilarious. Peyton Manning, free agent quarterback, was visiting a vacation condo he owns in Florida causing Dolphins fans to get super excited that he was signing with their team. That led to rousing discussions of who else the Dolphins needed to go after to make Manning happy and what the offense could look like, followed every few minutes by sobering reminders from the host that this is all just talk and he hasn't signed anything yet, followed by more hysteria over Manning becoming a Dolphin.
The roof was back down for the trip up I-95 through vast stretches of nothingness once you get past Ft. Lauderdale. Going through the Treassure Coast, Space Coast and First Coast the Atlantic is miles away to your right and the only indication that there are coastal towns is the signs marking each exit. All you see from the highway are trees and vast stretches of grass.
It was early evening when I got to Joe and Ilyssa's house in Jacksonville Beach, ready to have a few beers and some dinner before a good night's sleep and the trip to see baseball in the morning.

DAY FIVE
We hopped in Pat's car for the drive to Lakeland and the Tigers-Phillies game.
We got there early enough to drink a beer in the parking lot before walking in. We found a guy selling cheap tickets and made our way in as the lineups were being announced. It was my first chance to see Prince Fielder in a Tiger uniform and my first chance to see Brandon Inge play second base, but the story of the game was Eric Patterson hitting two home runs, which led to jokes out on the berm of "you just can't let Eric Patterson see a good pitch. He'll beat you."
I looked for a place selling Coneys, but couldn't find one. I did find a place selling Bells, but they forgot to refriderate them before the game so I went with a cold beer over a good one.
After the game we got back on I-4 and crawled through rush-hour traffic through Tampa and over to Clearwater where the other two guys in town for the baseball trip were waiting at the hotel, sitting poolside with a beer. We ordered a pizza, which Domino's delivered to the pool, and joined them.

DAY SIX
We started out at the Phillies-Orioles game at Brighthouse Field and I encountered a problem. My walk around Key West was catching up with me so I could barely stand because my feet were hurting. We ordered round after round of beer. I stood for as long as I could manage - until about the seventh inning - and we saw the Orioles beat the Phillies 1-0.
After the game we went to the tiki bar in left field and drank some more. The guys gathered around the DJ and were dancing while I sat and talked to a women named Cheryl from San Diego and her friends from south Jersey who were in town for the game.
Then it was off to some concert. Joe knows a woman who is dating a guy in a cover band called Retribution that plays mostly 80's metal so we went to see them. We first thought the place was in Clearwater but we ordered a taxi and started searching for it and found nothing. Joe had to call his friend who told us the place was actually in Tampa. The cabbie was getting more money out of us than he previously thought.
We got there as the band was taking the stage and they rocked. They played all the 80s songs you would expect plus covered songs like Blister in the Sun and Folsom Prison Blues.
After the show we talked to the bass player and the lead singer for a while, both of whom were very nice, and the bass player offered us a ride back to Clearwater, so we ended the day eating with him in a 24-hour Perkins in Clearwater.

DAY SEVEN
We barely woke up in time for the game but eventually made it. I had just walked into the stadium when Ryan Rayburn blasted a two-run homer to put the Tigers up 2-0.
The offensive onslought didn't last as the Phillies came back to tie it and the game ended that way, as spring training games can.
I spent most of the game sitting on the berm with some not-so-bright fans who thought the Tigers-Cardinals World Series was in 2008 (it was 2006) and were shocked to learn that a DH can bat anywhere in the lineup.
After the game it was back to the tiki bar where I spent some more time talking to Cheryl and her friends. At one point a creepy older guy walked up and was shocked that people from out of town were at this game. Cheryl was born in the Philadelphia area and has the Eagles logo tattooed on her ankle, but this guy didn't understand how someone standing at that moment in the Tampa area would root for any team other than the Bucs. Interstate travel: It's a difficult concept. I wonder if I look that sad and pathetic when I talk to women. I most likely do.

DAY EIGHT
Back in the car and back up to Jacksonville.
My schedule is now completely empy and my life is no closer to sorting itself out. I have no desire to head back to Indiana just yet so I think I'll keep driving.
Who wants to be the next stop on the tour?


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