Road Trip Dad –
"It's farewell and not good-bye"
Dan Witmer | March 23, 2020
“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.
We all had a good time and we’re sad to see it end.
Good luck be with you; you go your way, I’ll go mine,
So until the next time, it’s farewell and not good-bye.”
- “Until the Next Time” by the Dropkick Murphys

So, how’s everybody doing out there?

I watched the Dropkick Murphys’ concert streamed live on YouTube on Tuesday night, and these lyrics hit home more than any others. They are a self-described punk band, but any group that has bagpipes and banjos is all right with me. I’m not a die-hard fan; I’ve seen them live just twice, and I own only one or two CDs, but I love a few favorite songs and enjoy watching the lead singers pace, prance, and dance frenetically around the stage.

These lyrics, though – they hit home.

Everyone has different opinions about how long this craziness will all last, but obviously we all hope we can get back to “normal” (whatever that is/was) as soon as possible.

I mean, RTD and I were just getting started.

The high school season was suspended the day it was supposed to begin.

The college season ended just as the top teams were starting to emerge. SU and Cornell were both undefeated and heading on a collision course for another epic showdown. RIT was undefeated, as was LeMoyne…

I was going to follow the Glasgow Clydesiders and Team NOAFE through the annual Ales Hrebesky Memorial in Prague next month, but it got cancelled.

I was getting ready to begin my fourth year of refereeing. I went to two meetings of the CNYLOA (Central New York Lacrosse Officials Association) in February and March, passed my rules test, and everything…

And I have dates set to work for Summit Lacrosse Ventures, with tournaments in Albany, Saratoga, and, of course, Lake Placid all on my summer calendar…

That stuff I’ve all done and enjoyed before – but I was also looking forward to some brand new, big-time RTD firsts. For instance, I wrangled myself on to the staff for the upcoming World Lacrosse U-19 Championships, scheduled for Limerick, Ireland in the middle of July. I hadn’t announced that here on JustLacrosse, yet – I was waiting till I had booked my flights. I received an email this past week that a go or no-go decision will be made by World Lacrosse when it meets in April…

And from Ireland, I was planning to go to Poland to coach the Slovenian National Team in the European Championships later in July. Same thing – I was keeping that under my hat until I booked my flights, but I’ve been in touch with officials from Slovenia Lacrosse for a while now, and I was really looking forward to working with their players and coaching at the international level...

None of that has been officially cancelled or ruled out – not yet, anyway. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, as we all are.

But sit back for a second and think about what we’ve experienced in just the past week…

Like most every Saturday for the past year, nine days ago I played floor hockey with the guys at the Liverpool Y; we talked about taking a week off for a special Y event on March 21st and then re-starting a new six-week session on the 28th…

Then, last Sunday I played ice hockey with a different group of guys in Fulton; coincidentally, it was the final week of our 2019-2020 season, and a post-game party with pizza and wings was planned for afterwards; several others and I decided to skip the get-together...

On Monday evening I went to a St. Baldrick’s planning committee where we made our decision to postpone our head-shaving, fundraising event until June 14. During the meeting, I received an email from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation announcing that they were suspending all events – worldwide – through the end of April.

Also on Monday, my wife talked with Brian, who is hunkering down in Prague. He was as concerned about us as we are about him, but his advice for us was to go grocery shopping and “stock up.” Maybe he was over-reacting, but then, so did she, and then, so did I. I was given the longest shopping list I’ve seen in a long, long time, and I set out, part of me feeling guilty, and the other part of me determined to complete my mission. I spent about $90 and filled three big bags at Aldi’s. Then I went to Price Chopper and filled three smaller bags for $120. When I got home, I took a picture of the six bags and sent it to Brian. A few minutes later, just as I finished unloading the groceries and stacking everything on the kitchen counter, my wife came home from work and said, “Wait – before we put that all away, let’s send a picture to Brian.” So we did. He texted back that he was happy for us.

Tuesday I didn’t leave the house – not once. I usually play ice hockey in Skaneateles on Tuesday mornings, but I received an email on Monday that the Skaneateles Y was closing indefinitely.

On Wednesday, my one trip out of the house was to take our dog Case for a walk on the wooded trails behind the Oswego Middle School, where we encountered a raccoon for the first time. Luckily I had a walking stick in one hand and his leash in the other; suffice it to say that they both came in handy (Note – no canine nor raccoon was [seriously] injured in the event).

Thursday I didn’t leave the house, either. I had just started playing hockey in Skaneateles on Thursdays, too (that’s right; when I didn’t have conflicts, I was sometimes playing four times a week!), but the good times were over. But that wasn’t the only bad news; I also received an email from my boss at JustLacrosse.com. With little to no lacrosse news, overall internet hits were down, and so were my RTD numbers. I had started to think of ideas for this week; most included nostalgic memories, stories in my head that I haven’t previously told on these pages, but now I was second-guessing myself. How long could I do that? And even if I did, was Road Trip Dad worth trying to sustain if no one was reading it?

So I came to a decision I never thought I’d make.

JustLacrosse is going to slow down, but Road Trip Dad is going to take a break. This edition – RTD #435 by my count, will be my last for a while. I promise – when lacrosse comes back, so will I (for instance, I can’t wait to write about my international lacrosse experiences in July!). But for now… well, I think I’ll try to direct my energies elsewhere for a bit...

Maybe I’ll get back to work on another “Best of RTD” collection.

I’m definitely going to be spending time in our basement; it’s either that, or we’re going to be featured on an episode of Hoarders sometime soon.

The threat of more raccoon encounters aside, I’m going to take Case for more long walks.

Gonna try to make our 14th annual St. Baldrick’s Day in Oswego County event happen on June 14. I’m not going to go full-bore for 11 more weeks, but as we approach that date, and if it looks like we might be out of the woods, we’ll ramp up our efforts in the final weeks. We’ve already raised more than $55,000, which is awesome, but we’ll have to see how that all plays out…

I’m going to watch Brockmire, Better Call Saul, Homeland, and Shameless. I’ve taken various breaks from each of these favorites and lost track of them. No time like the present (and future) to do some catching up... Gonna do some reading, too. That pile of unread books hasn’t been getting any smaller. I’m almost finished reading Mike Eruzione’s The Making of a Miracle; I think either The Only Plane in the Sky or Carlisle vs. Army is next…

I want to keep in touch with friends, family, and relatives better than I have been. We’ve talked with both Brian (in Prague) and Eric (in Denver) more in the past week than we have in the past month, so there is some silver lining...

And finally, I’m promising myself to do some things for others. I found and bought some toilet paper for my next door neighbors this past weekend, but I think I can do more (I sure hope so!). Think about it – when this whole thing is over, and years and years from now, as we all sit around the dinner table, or gather around a campfire, or hang out at the local pub, we’ll be asked, “What did you do during the 2020 quarantine?”

I want to be proud of my answer.

“So until the next time, it’s farewell and not good-bye.”

Thanks for reading.

Be safe, and be kind. We’ve got this.

And, as always, please drive carefully, everyone.

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu

Dan Witmer is the author of two books.  The Best of Road Trip Dad – the Laker Lacrosse Collection  is an accumulation of 45 articles written for JustLacrosseUpstate between the years 2012 and 2018, about the history and traditions, the people, and the stories of the Oswego State men’s lacrosse program. The book is available on Amazon.com, and at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, the SUNY Oswego College Store in the Marano Campus Center, The Sports Outfit on West Genesee Street in Fairmount, and Geared 2 Sports in Cortland.  ...and piles to go before I sleep - The Book of Wit  is his memoir describing his 33 year career teaching HS English and coaching at Hannibal Central School. It is available on Amazon.com and at the river's end bookstore.