Best of the Road
Only six days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and some seconds are left of this trip--not that we are counting--and about five days, 16 hours, some minutes left until USC and UCLA kick off to start our last regular season game. Sigh. We've had some long drives on the road, some time to reflect, some time to debate and a lot of time to listen to Journey.
USC and UCLA should be a great note to end the season on--but we've already compiled our list of season bests. Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Best Student Section: Arizona State. There's been big student sections (the 10,000 students in the Zona Zoo), surprisingly dedicated student sections (a few hundred braved the cold rain at Washington State) and raucous student sections, but none have been quite as sunny...or as devilish...as the Sun Devils student section. They were crazed. And loud. And filled up the stands before kickoff. And slightly scary. They were perfect.
Best Between Quarter Entertainment: Three people rolling tires down the field at Nevada. At some stadium there were racing animated lawnmowers, boats at another and what I swear were racing fax machines (possibly printer/copier/fax machines), but nothing beats the real thing.
Best Game: The season started off with an overtime thriller at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Colorado topped Colorado State and absolutely nothing disappointed. Buffalo fans outside the stadium were ready to tell you exactly how to get a Colorado State fan off a porch ("Pay him for the pizza"), Colorado State fans were ready to leap to their team's defense and decry the lack of showering on the part of Colorado fans. But this weekend's matchup between BYU and Utah topped all that.
It's called the Holy War for goodness sakes. LaVell Edwards Stadium was filled to the brim with deep blue, making it all the more apparent where the bright red Utah fans sat (and all the easier to mock them). Teams were booed, there were little spats on the field, a punk BYU fan (he was 10) in a blue wig almost got in a fight with a 35-year-old Utah fan. Oh. And the game wasn't settled until the last 38 seconds of the fourth quarter. Now, that's a game that's tough to beat.
Object of Connor's Affection: Still Colt Brennan. It'll always be Colt Brennan.
Object of Caitlin's Affection: Brett Favre.
Best On-The-Road Discovery: In 'N Out Burger. You can get a chocolate shake, hamburger and fries for under $4. It's all made fresh. It's all delicious and wonderful and open until the wee morning hours. There's just no excuse to eat anywhere else.
Best Drive: Connor's currently exploring Vegas, so no one will contradict me with stating that the driving the long, winding, curvy road up California's coast to Santa Cruz was the best drive of the trip. Cliffs dropped off to the ocean and waves crashed against gigantic boulders to one side, and on the other were sheer, gigantic rock faces. Eventually the craggy cliffs gave way to slightly more gentle slopes covered in trees and flowers and the drive ended in the sleepy seaside town of Santa Cruz. It was great.
Best Food: The Hawaii tailgate at Hawaii/UNLV was tops as far as food brought to a parking lot is concerned. The best ribs imaginable, homemade sushi, sea urchin, dried tuna--it might only face a formidable challenge in the green and red chiles of New Mexico. Nothing has quite topped it--not the feast on board the Big Dawg, not the breakfast burrito I was handed outside Mile High Stadium--nothing.
Scariest On-The-Field Tradition: The hakka. Just watch it and tell us you aren't frightened.
Best Friday Ritual: It's either going to be a bonfire or a pep rally, but the sheer destruction of a bonfire trumps the crowd cheering and band playing at a pep rally. Sure, it's all great. But in the end, you aren't burning a 19-foot effigy of something--and that's how you get pumped up for games.
We are fast approaching 12,000 miles on the odometer, there may or there may not be a slight crack in the windshield and our car may or may not have never been washed in the past three months, and neither one of us has successfully memorized the opening to "Convoy." I've been yelled at three times in the press box for taking too many cookies (and four times have gotten a "honey, it's ok--more food'll be out soon"), Connor's only gotten hypothermia on the sidelines at one game and security has only ran after us once on a field. There's been 26 college campuses, 10 states, 14 football games and hundreds of interviews with players, coaches and fans.
Not a bad trip. Not at a bad trip at all.