As I mentioned in this space last week, today begins a short football themed road trip through the south that I will chronicle for you here on A Sea of Blue. Dating back to college, I've always been fond of the road trip, a chance to get away for a few days, have a fun destination to look forward to, get a chance to share some stories while taking in the countryside and saving the most miserable part, driving home with a terrible headache, for the end. Being a husband and father of two, the nature of most of my road trips has changed over the years. Now, I enjoy the planning (working the angles on tickets, hotel rooms and good dinner reservations) as much as anything. It is one of the reasons I'm unlikely to ever miss a Kentucky bowl game and I celebrate that sixth win every year.
This trip started to take shape a couple months ago when I realized I missed college football so much that I would attend the Wildcats' opener against Western Kentucky- opponent, location and timing be damned. Once this decision was made, the choice of whether to take my son really wasn't a choice at all. A word or two about this kid, because he is an important part of the story.
E is eight years old a basically lives for four things; video games, Pokemon, football and video games involving Pokemon and football. With a bundle of quirks that include an almost photographic memory, he will recite to me statistics and stories that he has read about football from books I've never seen. When Kentucky is away, it isn't unusual for he and I to watch college football for 7-8 hours while playing a ten foot game of catch in our basement. To talk about what football has done for our relationship, well, that is a story for a different time.
When you plan to see a 9:15 p.m. kickoff in a venue three hours from your home, you can kiss school and work the following day goodbye. That conceded, I figured why not see another game in the south on Saturday? That "good ole boy network" I've heard about all my life finally paid off when a relative of a friend came with club seats for Georgia- Boise State at face value, and Pigskinapalooza 2011 was officially born. I had considered a few other games, including ones at Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss before these tickets came available. Despite there being no blue turf, E is very excited about seeing Boise State, and it will be my first football game in the Georgia Dome.
As luck would have it, my best friend from undergrad (UCLA Bruins) is also a southern transplant, living in Atlanta. One Facebook message later E and I had a place to watch UCLA-Houston on TV with like minded Bruins fans (3:30 est) and somewhere to lay our heads Saturday night after the grand finale.
That left a hole on Friday where less dedicated football heads might take the night off. Instead, a little research showed that twin defensive backs and Kentucky verbal commits Daron and Zack Blalock of Walton (Ga.) High School would be playing at Milton (Ga.) near Alpharetta that night. A near-free room at the Courtyard via Priceline and Friday was likewise set. I'm looking forward to wearing blue to the game that night and chatting up some of the Walton fans and parents.
A huge UK Football fan in her own right, my wife was a saint through all this planning. She and my somehow no longer reluctant pre-teen daughter decided to join us for the first leg of the trip before peeling back to Mammoth Cave on Friday and mani-pedis and more girl time back in Lexington Saturday. So we'll all be in Nashville tonight, cheering on the Cats.
Today I'm having one of those days when you take a half day at work, but shouldn't have bothered. A problem magnified, no doubt, by taking the last hour to write this post. In any event, we'll be taking off here, Cannonball Run style, as soon as I can get the kids off the school bus. We should hit Nashville about 5, local time, then see where the day takes us. I'll be taking notes and posting when I can, at least once a day, from here on out.
Happy college football season, everyone.
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