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Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ category

Blogging the ‘Big Trip’: Back in Springfield, MA

I left Spokane this morning on a 6:55 AM flight for Chicago. Yes, Chicago, not Oakland or Sacramento or SFO. Before the season started when I was booking travel I realized two of the three distant road games (the third being Arizona) were back to back. I’ve never been back east and I thought it might be worth my time to take a week off of work and go see New York and DC. Plus, my brother had just moved back to Springfield, MA so I could also go see him.

After checking into ticket prices, it turned out a three-way flight was a bit cheaper than two separate round-trip flights to the two games. So, instead of heading home after the WSU game, I headed to New England via Chicago International Airport. From here, I’m going to drive my rental car down the coast catching New York, Philidelphia and DC over the course of the week before going to the Maryland game on Saturday. As an added bonus, my brother has yet to find a job back here (well, an added bonus for me anyway), so he’s going to make the trip down the coast with me.

More reports to follow…

Blogging the ‘Big Trip’: At Martin Stadium

This morning I left the hotel in Spokane at 10:30 to head to Pullman. Did you guys know there is an actual town about 15 miles north of Pullman called Palouse? So much for Martin Stadium being the REAL Palouse… I know the truth now, and the truth will set the oak trees free!

I got into Pullman around 12:15 PM. They’re pretty serious about their speed limits in this part of Washington with the huge contingent of WSU fans making the trip down to Pullman, there were unmarked police cars up and down the route pulling people over making sure that they got their revenue for new roads. The quality of their roads indicates that they get A LOT of revenue that way.

After I got to the press parking lot next to the stadium (one of the best perks of the press is the parking) I decided to walk around the campus to take a look. The campus is a Washington attempt at looking like and Ivy League school and I say that being quite impressed. It was a very nice campus with all brick buildings and lots of trees.

The facilities for the football team are also very nice with a full sized practice field immediately adjacent to the stadium and next to some nice locker and training room facilities. In fact, the whole campus seemed to be in a boom of construction improving facilities for just about every department.

The stadium itself, although small, is also very nice. It’s entirely bleacher seats except for a small donor section by the 50. The majority of the bleachers have back-rests, except for the endzone. The pressbox is at a really nice height and the media pressbox is right at midfield. I’m at about the 43 of the east side, although on the third row. However, unlike USC and other stadiums, the 3rd row has very good visibility. Probably the best seats I’ve had at any game in the pressbox. I’ll post pictures later tonight.

Stay tuned for live-blogging when the game starts.

Blogging the ‘Big Trip’: In Spokane

This afternoon I flew out from Sacramento International (I think there’s a couple flights to Cancun or something, either that or they don’t realize that Hawaii is the 50th state) to Seattle and from Seattle to Spokane. I got into town around 8 PM, picked up the rental car, got some dinner and settled into my hotel room. Tomorrow I’ll drive from Spokane to Pullman, a 75 mile drive that takes about an hour and a half for the game.

Spokane is a much bigger town than I realized, with a significant number of small skyscrapers (well, of the 10-20 story variety) and a fairly big downtown area. However, unlike California, there is nearly no sprawl on the outside of town. Coming into the airport all one saw was miles and miles of fields (wheat?) and a fairly densely populated town popping out of it.

More blogging on the trip tomorrow.

Big Game Tickets have arrived

Well, my Big Game Tickets came in the mail over the Holiday weekend. Everything looks good minus one thing: I’m in Row “C”. Now I can understand the whole lettered rows thing because lets face it, there’s a lot of rows and we don’t know how confident that a Stanford student can count that high. “‘C’ is for cookie”, that they’ll understand.

But assuming that A-B-C means I’m in what is normally called row 3, that’s stinking low to the ground. I’m also on the lower deck, something I thought was good until I realized I was in row “C”. Unless they’re counting in Hex, and wouldn’t that be awesome, I’m way too low.

Anyone know the details on the rows?

Oregon road trip recap

Sorry this has taken so long to post. As I said in an earlier post, I’ve been pretty beat the last couple weeks since the trip and while I occasionally can sneak in a blog post or two from work, I couldn’t sneak in this one because of all the pictures… makes it pretty obvious to the boss I’m not working. 🙂

I left Roseville (suburb of Sacramento where I both live and work) on Friday at 1 PM after having come home from work (as a quick aside, I thank God daily I have a 5 minute drive to work… I literally just have to drive around the block to go to work.) to get packed up and ready to go. The plan was to meet my brother in Vacaville who was coming with his room-mate from the Bay Area.

They were running a bit late so I got a chance to checkout the new children’s play area that substitutes for the old Nut Tree. Boy was I impressed. Not only did they have the old train back in business, but they also had a mini-roller coaster and a bunch of other kid/toddler friendly rides. For those with little kids who are looking for a good mid-trip stop, this place is as great as the Nut Tree ever was.

In any case, the bro arrived around 2:30 and after having a late lunch at Fentons (yes, it’s the same as the one in Oakland) got on the road around 3:30 PM. The trip up to Oregon was pretty uneventful, sans getting a call from a good friend who had just found out he was having a boy. Other than that, we knew we had to give Oregon credit for rolling out the red carpet for the Cal fans visiting including setting up replica cities of where us Cal fans grew up:
Oakland road sign

We arrived in the booming metropolis of Cottage Grove, a town where we could get a good deal on a Holiday Express room, at 10:30 PM. Despite being twenty miles from Eugene it was sold out because the Ducks were playing. Luckily my brother’s roommate was a Oregon alumni and knew to book the room early.

Despite my pleading, I couldn’t talk my companions into waking up at 5:00 AM and heading over to Eugene for the GameDay festivities, so we hit the sack without having to set an alarm. We work up just in time to catch the show on the in-room TV and checkout the creative signs. I was glad to see that “Les Miles – More Tedford” got to a prominent spot on the field and was very visible.

But we did make it over to Eugene well before game time. After my brother did a left hand turn from the right lane to get into the parking lot, thereby cutting in line of about 200 Ducks fans, we found our way to the press parking lot:
Autzen Stadium from parking lot

From there we headed over to the GameDay site which was just across a small creek from both the stadium and the press parking lot:
GameDay field

The setup for the GameDay show is pretty simple. They’ve got a big field behind a raised stage where they shoot the show from:
GameDay stage

Of course at 10:00 AM the show was long since over so all we got to see was the left over trash:
GameDay leftover Trash

And the left over signs:
GameDay Signs

My brother and I aren’t sure if the sign shown has the same impact when it’s being held by a woman, but oh well, it was the only big sign left behind.

After we left there, we headed over to the training facility for the Oregon football team. On our way there, guess who we ran into:
Cal Band outside Autzen

Continuing on to the practice facility, on game days they convert the facility to be a large pre-game lounge:
Practice Facility

They cover up the field with a roll out surface so that they can setup tables and booths without harming the high grade artificial surface:
Practice Field

In addition to concessions and a band, they also had TV’s setup all over the place to watch all the other football action around the country:
Practice TVs

Of course, taking a step back and looking at the facility as it is used during the week, it’s clearly an awesome setup that attracts a lot of recruits. The one aspect I found odd was all the billboards around the field. Maybe they take them down mid-week, but if they don’t, I can’t see how it won’t over inflate the ego’s of the players on the billboards. I made sure to take a picture of all 6 of them:
Practice Facility Billboard
Practice Facility Billboard
Practice Facility Billboard
Practice Facility Billboard
Practice Facility Billboard
Practice Facility Billboard

And if billboards aren’t your style, you could always go for the inflatable duck:
Inflated Duck

After I was done touring the practice facility I headed up to the pressbox to get settled in and say hi to a lot of the guys I hadn’t seen since last season:
Cal Band in stadium

Down on the field, it was not long before the Cal band showed up:
Cal Band in stadium

After the teams came out of the field, I saw a sight that was definitely worth taking a picture of… my only fear was that my camera would break in half trying to take a picture of this much power in one frame:
Athletic Directors

After the pre-game warmups the Oregon band came out onto the field. At first it seemed like they were going to pull a Stanford as they came out in a very disorganized sense. Luckily any fear of that was quickly erased when they dropped into regular formations (I call this one the ‘subscript “O”‘… I guess I can’t change lenses as quick as I hoped):
Oregon Band Pregame

Then they did the team entrance:
Oregon Team Entrance 1
Oregon Team Entrance 2

Finally they did the national anthem and they had this pretty neat setup with banners:
National Anthem 1
National Anthem 2

At this point I had to put down the camera and cover the game, and we know how well that turned out. The lone aspect of the game worth writing about here was the end. Usually the normal sequence of events for a reporter is to make their way down to the field about 5 minutes before the game is over so that they can be on the field for post game interviews right after the game. I got so caught up in the game that I completely lost track of time and that my cohorts had left.

At that point, I figured it was better to hold out to the end of the game so that I didn’t miss what happened in transit. I did that and then did my best bulldozer impression fighting my way against the exiting crowd. Luckily Crawford’s are well suited for this kind of activity. It also helped that it was a dejected crowd that was willing to make a hole.

While I wasn’t able to get to the field before all of the players had headed into the locker room I was able to get to the press staging area for post locker room interviews (that’s where the meaty interviews are). This was the lone area where I was unimpressed with Oregon’s facilities. They had just the one press interview room that was used by the Oregon reporters. Us Cal reporters did our reporting out on the field which was very difficult with the Cal fans left around us celebrating. It was pretty hard to understand what Tedford was saying amongst all of the “Tedford! Tedford! Tedford!” chants.

After going back up to the pressbox after the interviews, which were moved into the tunnel to give us at least SOME sound isolation, I made my way to campus where my brother and roommate were waiting for me. The path from the stadium to the campus takes you through this wonderful grove of oak trees:

And then across a foot bridge across the Willamette river:
Foot bridge

And the river itself (this picture would have been 10 times as awesome if I had my tripod with me):
Willamette River

From there the 3 of us went to dinner and then back to our hotel room. In the morning we got up at a leasurely pace and got on the road around 10:00 AM. We stopped in Medford to go to the original Harry and David store (my brother is a big fan of their pears) and then to get lunch. We went to the Black Bear Diner in Medford just across the freeway from Harry and Davids which was a big mistake. We literally waited 45 minutes for our food.

We got back on the road around 2 PM and made it back to Roseville around 7 PM for congratulatory high fives with my boys who were too small to make this trip, but I’m sure will be accompanying me on future trips when they get older.

Idiots Talk About Sports: Knoxville Part Two

A verbal recap of the Cal-Tennessee game; beers the size of your head stored in football-shaped containers; good Tennessee BBQ; and the one person at Neyland Stadium who wasn’t polite and friendly — a Cal fan.

For an audio version of Phil and Jason’s adventures, you can download our second not-a-podcast, an MP3 file where we sit in an echoey motel room and talk to you.

Originally posted at Idiots Write About Sports.

Idiots Talk About Sports: Knoxville Part One

So we’re in Knoxville for the Cal-Tennessee game. But we also visited the double-A Tennessee Smokies baseball team, played the home-game version of The Amazing Race, and even went to the Cracker Barrel.

For a verbal recap of our adventures, you can download our first not-a-podcast, an MP3 file where we sit in a room and talk to you.

Originally posted at Idiots Write About Sports.