By Tom Nader | Sports Editor
On the night of Sept. 24, 2004, I had a road block in my head.
Assigned to cover the Ravenna Ravens’ Week 5 matchup with the Kenston Bombers, in Chagrin Falls, I found myself so confused on the road that I feared I would not make it to the game on time to see the opening kickoff.
Though 2004 was before a GPS was as normal in a car as a radio, it was not before the introduction of MapQuest.
After plugging in the starting and ending points into the make-driving-easy website, beginning from my home in Rootstown to ending at Kenston High School seemed like a breeze.
How hard could it be?
More than half the road miles were spent on Route 44 and after that, the journey featured only two turns — the second of which placed you in the school’s parking lot.
On the night of the game, I set out on a picturesque fall night with the directions printed out and resting on the passenger seat of my car.
For the first 23 miles of the approximate 25-mile voyage, everything was smooth sailing.
Then mayhem struck — and it was self-inflicted.
On the last turn required, which would place me on Bainbridge Road — the road Kenston High School is located on — I somehow made a wrong turn.
Easy fix, right? Find a driveway to turn around in and head back down in the right direction.
On this night, I don’t know where my mind was at. Maybe I was too pre-occupied with the thoughts of the upcoming game itself.
I turned around like any normal person would, but when I came back to the intersection in which I originally made the wrong turn at, instead of going straight through the light, I glanced at my directions resting on the passenger seat and thought that I needed to turn.
That turn was what I was supposed to do originally — not now.
I turned anyway and drove on.
And drove ... soon finding it odd that the one mile it was supposed take me to get to the school became two miles, then three miles.
I used my cell phone to try and call the Record-Courier office, but nobody from the sports department was in yet. I tried calling some landline numbers of our editors, but there was no answer.
Figures. I apparently got lost in the bubble of time that our editors were driving from their homes to the office. Keep in mind that cell phones were relatively common in 2004, but not attached to every single person’s hip like they are now.
I’ve never been one to be afraid to pull off to the side of the road and ask for help, so I made up my mind that this would be a good time to go ahead and do that.
The problem was that there was no good spot to go. No gas stations or stores. Just houses and farm lands.
I eventually pulled into the driveway of a large estate, which had a huge horse barn that sat about three-quarters of a mile off the road and the house sat behind that probably close to a little over a mile from the road.
The sliding doors on the front of the barn were open, so I thought somebody had to be in there tending to the horses.
I drove up the lot, parked, got out and surveyed the barn. Nothing but horses.
For fear of looking suspicious, I walked back to my car and left.
I decided to turn around, head back down where I came from. I arrived at the problematic intersection and made the same wrong turn I had made earlier. This time on purpose, thinking that I could find someone to help me out.
At this point, the countdown to kickoff was getting close and I had myself so turned around in my own mind that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
I spent the next 15 minutes or so just driving, trying to navigate the Bermuda Triangle I had created for myself.
Out of bewilderment, I came to a final conclusion.
Go back to the intersection and drive down the one road I had yet to explore.
I had nothing to lose and eventually found out everything to gain because about a mile down the road, there was Kenston High School.
Imagine that, one mile from the intersection ... just like MapQuest said.
I was too relieved I had made it to the game in the nick of time to care about being embarrassed for myself getting lost so absurdly.
As I walked to the stadium, I could see the scoreboard and its countdown to gametime was under two minutes.
I walked into the press box literally seconds before the singing of the National Anthem and covered a thrilling 30-27 win for the Ravens.
My drive back to the office was uneventful, and I have never been back to Kenston High School since.