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A series of wrong turns in Albany

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A word of advice: you may want to get a ride from someone other than me in Albany.

I was in the state capital for the Federation basketball tournament last week and couldn’t seem to navigate my way through the roundabouts and unfamiliar roads without a few near-disasters.

I drove a car full of fellow media members to a late-night meal at the famous Bombers Burrito Bar after our first 12-hour day of games on Friday — our first of three days of non-stop hoops. We just snuck in before the place closed at 1 am, but had to wait a little bit longer for our take-out spicy barbecue wings to be made fresh. That was the least of my problems.

Intrepid MSG Varsity and PSAL photographer Damion Reid hitched a ride, but was staying in a different hotel than the rest of us. No big deal, right? I asked him if he was staying at the Albany Marriot, and he said yes. But the hotel I was really thinking of was the Albany Hilton, though I didn’t realize it just yet.

In the process of unknowingly trying to drive to the wrong hotel as quickly as possible because we all had work to finish, I saw flashing lights with no siren behind me as I exit the highway. Just an ambulance, I thought. Wrong.

The state trooper pulled me over for speeding — 71 miles per hour in a 55 zone, to be exact. He took my license and asked what we were doing. I calmly told him we were reporters covering the Federation tournament. We went to Bombers Burrito Bar for a late dinner and were in separate hotels. His response: “You couldn’t have gone to Moe’s [Southwest Grill] or something closer?”

Disappointed we weren’t a bunch of college kids having a fun night out, he let us go without a ticket. Phew!

A few minutes later we arrived at the wrong hotel and had to turn around and head for the Marriot. This time I got the exact address: 1442 Western Ave. I couldn’t mess this up twice could I? I cautiously drove the 10 minutes to the address and with about two minutes left Damion said: “You’re on Washington Avenue, right?”

I panicked and scrambled to revise the address in my global positioning system. Just five minutes away, thank God. The only problem was that 1442 Washington Ave. is UAlbany — near the hotel where the rest of us were staying. I looked at Damion and asked for the address again.

“1442 Western Ave.,” he said.

Uggggh. We were just there.

Everyone else in the car asked to be dropped off before I finally took Damion back. Freelancer Patrick McCormack and NYC Hoops writer Mike Libert exited at a nearby gas station to get something to drink with dinner. Community News Group photographer Ken Maldonado asked to be dropped at our hotel, but I convinced him to hang in for the five-minute ride.

I could finally breathe a sigh of relief with Damion dropped off. My only concern now was if my barbecue burrito bowl and wings were still warm. Luckily they were, and delicious at that.

The night was a lesson learned by all. Take my advice about food places in Albany — just don’t let me drive you there.

Updated 1:06 pm, April 3, 2015
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