Ten years ago, I spent my Veteran's Day weekend at a conference in San Jose. One of the things I did during that conference was to party with some ASU students after their team earned a spot in the Rose Bowl by beating the crap out of the Bears. Four years ago, my friend Andy and I decided to go to ASU to watch Keith Gilbertson's underacheiving '92 Bears play ASU for their Homecoming...the Bears lost. Three years ago, my friend Andy and I returned, only to watch, along with Dan Wood and Dan Rosler, the Bears get shut-out and Pat Barnes' redshirt year get wasted...oh yes, it was also Homecoming. Some people ask, why are you going back there? I guess I'm a glutton for punishment.
This time I decided to make it a cheap trip. I found a cheap hotel, a cheap flight (free from frequent flier miles), and my friend Cathy Gellis, who, after witnessing Cal beat U$C, decided she wanted to go on another road trip, chipped in a coupon for a discount car rental. In order to keep things cheap, I had to fly out from Oakland at 6:45AM on Saturday while Cathy had to fly out at 6:05AM.
Eventually we got to the gate, and then I dashed over to the United terminal to meet Cathy's flight. She was waiting near the rental car counter. We then drove to the hotel (though I made a wrong turn, so it took a little longer)...waiting outside were Dan, Keith, and Michelle (who, if you don't know them, went on several road trips last year too); nice timing. Even though it was 10:30AM, the hotel let us check in. Dan, Keith, Michelle, Jim, and Lee arrived Friday night and were ready to go eat, but were patient enough to wait. During the slow check-in process, a bus full of sleepy looking people pulled up; it was the Band! At first I though that they were going to also stay at our hotel, but it turned out that only their bus drivers were staying there, while the band was staying elsewhere (darn).
The first thing we did was stop in a cafe, which had some interesting items such as the the "Kevorkian Mocha" (it's "to die for"), but they didn't have any Ractaginno ;). We the crossed into the ASU campus. ASU has a homecoming parade, and we walked across the staging area. One entry in the parade was a van with some guy on a microphone. He tried to taunt us, but all we heard "Wohn wohn wha whon wha suck whon wahn". So, Dan shouted back "Wohn wohn wha whon wha whon wahn"; The guy on the mic turned away in disgust.
Next came the ASU student store. The store had signs saying that in the event the Sun Devils beat the Bears, they would be open late to sell Rose Bowl shirts. Inside the store, they had Sun Devil clothing and stuff. We then saw one item we all thought looked great--a t-shirt with all of the Pac 10 mascots (though the Oregon and Stanford mascots were just people in Oregon and Stanford shirts). However, we turned the shirt around we saw the Sun Devil logo with the phrase "ASU--Top of the Pac"; We put the shirts back in disgust.
We then walked on to Mill Avenue, which is Tempe's main drag. On the way, we saw part of the ASU homecoming parade...yawn. Things were better on Mill, as other Cal fans were about. We eventually wandered into a place that servered "California food"--it was a mixture of salads, pastas, and sandwhiches. I didn't eat, but I did enjoy their lemonade. The service looked good, and for some reason, the servers all wore name badges that reminded me of Disney cast member badges. Cathy was also hungry, so she ate there and stuck with the gang that afternoon.
My lunch with Bob, Dave, Bob's wife, Bobs son, and two other ASU fans was fine. We had chosen Chilli's, and I enjoyed a lowfat veggie dish (can't remember it exactly, but it was good). We talked about the game (we all thought that it would be a close shootout and that the team who made the fewest mistakes would win). The ASU fans also mentioned the rumor that the ASU athletic department was going to apply a $100 surcharge on the $75 Rose Bowl tickets to erase some debt that they had built up [now it's a $10 surcharge for students, $50 for everyone else].
Following lunch, I left for the Cal Alumni tailgate. As I had said in a post to gobears, the Student Services Building was east of Grady Gammage Auditorium. One thing I didn't reallize was that the tailgate would be on the other side of the building...but I quickly noticed the blue and gold balloons when looking across the main corridor of the building. The tailgate was well attended (probably 200 people at its high point) and the food looked good (though I was full). I said "Hi" to the people I knew (even Pat Barnes' mom was there; since I hadn't seen her since the WSU trip, we chatted some more).
A little later I heard some people shout "GO!", so of course I replied with "BEARS!". Dan and the gang were trying to find the tailgate, and they wisely figured that the easiest way would be to get the alumni to yell. After more mingling we sang a few songs and led a few yells...and one person even joined in. After we finished singing "Hail to California", the Straw Hat Band showed up (yay!) and played a few songs...unfortunately, given where we were sitting in the stadium, we were not going to hear them again.
Next we decided to have some fun at a place called Fat Tuesdays. Fat Tuesday's specializes in blended drinks called "Chillers"; these vary from a mild Strawberry to a very noxious "150 Octane". Three years ago, Andy, Dan Rosler, Dan Wood, and I had a good time there and felt it took the sting away from such a humiliating loss. We enjoyed enough to return. Once again, it took away the sting. Most of us had the "Jungle Juice". While we were inside, a couple of ASU fans tried to raz us, but couldn't--It's not like we came EXPECTING to see Cal win. Other Cal fans gravitated toward us and we chatted, drank, watched ESPN report on the Tyson- Holyfield fight, drank, listened to loud music, drank, talked to other fans, drank, watched drunken ASU fans dance on some of the tables, drank, and drank. Well, we didn't drink all that much, but we did leave happy.
The flight back was not as uneventful...my flight's plane had some equipment trouble (a broken auto pilot). This made me worry that I wasn't going to get home in time for the Niner-Cowboys game. Fortunately they found a replacement plane, and I had no problem getting back in time; though I wish the Niner game had a different outcome.
One little postscript--I've been working at a client's site this week, which has forced me to wake up early. I've realized that by the end of the week, I'll have gotten up before sunrise for 7 straight days (usually, if I see the sunrise, it's because I've been up all night). Eeek.