Thursday, February 13, 2014

#371 Are You Ready For Some Football? -- Episode Three (Pasadena)

January 6, 2014

The last time Auburn made it to the BCS National Championship game in 2010 I didn’t go.  I wasn’t able to find a ticket; even if I had been able to, the hotels, flights would have been way too expensive.  I watched it at home with friends and after we won I threw toilet paper in my own tree. 

This time around, I was able to find a ticket.  A work friend and alum helped me get one for face value.  The flight cost wasn’t too bad, and it turns out a friend (and AU alum) lives in nearby Santa Monica, so I had a place to stay.  Sweet! 

Saturday morning I flew direct to LAX.  Friday night I didn’t sleep well (I’m pretty sure I had a fever) and felt very blah Saturday morning also.  But there was no way I was staying home.  We sat an hour on the ground in the plane waiting for mechanics to fix the cockpit door.  So my 4 ½ hour flight turned into 5 ½ hours cramped on a plane.  I did manage to get moved to an exit row (for free!) so was very thankful.  (For you tall folks out there, ask at the gate about available exit-row seats.  You can get them free if available.)  I tried to sleep on the plane and may have fallen asleep a couple of times.  I went back and forth between leaning my head against the window and sitting forward with my hot, feverish head in my hands. 

After landing I picked up my rental car (a Ford Fusion) and drove to Shelly’s house.  She had gone to Newport Beach to pick up another AU friend and we all met at her place.  We spent the day touring Santa Monica/LA/Hollywood.  Even though I was a bit sluggish and didn’t feel 100 percent, it helped to be outside in the warm ocean air and walking around. 

First stop – a walk along Venice Beach and then the Santa Monica Pier.  We saw lots of interesting people and shops along Venice Beach.  We didn’t quite make it to Muscle Beach.  Then we went to the pier and the three boys (ages 9, 10 and 13) had a fun time on the rides and playing games and stopped at a Pollo Loco for a late lunch. That place is really good. 

Next was a drive around LA and Hollywood checking out the big, fancy houses.  In Shelly’s neighborhood, the small bungalow-type homes go for $1 million (they have an apartment).  My 1,100 square foot home would probably cost that much if it was moved to Santa Monica.  So in LA and Beverly Hills those giant homes cost around $5 million.  OMG.    

In Hollywood, we parked at the Hollywood and Highland Mall and walked around.  I had no idea that the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater), where they hold the Oscars, is in a mall!  We walked on a bit to check out the Hollywood sign, then headed down to Hollywood Boulevard to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now called the TCL Chinese Theater).  I had been there about 20 + years ago, but it’s still cool to see all the stars on the sidewalk.  My favorite part is the actual hand and foot prints closer to the theater.  Love seeing the really old names!  
Shelly, me and Lisa at the Chinese Theater.  They made me sit down. 
We met Shelly’s husband Alex at Mel’s Diner (Flo was not working that night) not far from Hollywood Boulevard and I had a bowl of chicken soup.  That really hit the spot.  After that we drove back to Newport Beach to drop of Lisa and her boys.  We got back to Shelly’s around 9 p.m. and I went right to bed.  As the night went on I started to feel worse and felt my fever coming back.  I took a couple sniffs of my Sinex and two ibuprofen.  I actually slept great and got up around 8 a.m.  Eleven hours!  Wonderful!  I did get up during the night and the front of my shirt was wet with sweat.  I think my fever broke during the night. 

Sunday I went for a walk around Shelly’s neighborhood, stopping at the Rite Aid for cough drops.  Ahhhh….sunny and 70.  I drove to Newport Beach to meet up with Lisa at her hotel.  We waited for Kendall and her family to arrive from Arizona and had lunch at Wahoo (famous for fish tacos) and then sat around the hotel talking. 
Kendall, Lisa and me.  A Lisa sandwich! 

We met Shelly and her family for dinner at a Buca di Beppo’s in Redondo Beach.  By that time I felt the worst I had all weekend and my fever had returned again.  I ordered a bowl of minestrone soup.  It was good, but was a huge bowl and I had to take some of it home.  I also think it burned my throat a bit, because that night my throat felt so raw and painful.  I had to brace myself to swallow as I lay in bed.  Headed home after dinner and was in bed by 10 p.m.  Took my sniffs of my Sinex and two ibuprofen again.  This time it didn’t work and I did not sleep well. 

Game Day!  Walked to the Rite Aid again and bought generic Day Quill, Ny-Quill and some sore throat lozenges.  Took them after eating an egg, ham and cheese bagel sandwich from the Yum Yum Donut Shop and felt great!  Left the house around 1 p.m.  Picked up Shelly’s stepson and husband along the way and we were off to the Rose Bowl!  We got in fairly quickly and while Shelly and family sat around their car, I ventured off to meet my work friend and his friends at the corporate hospitality tent (free food and drinks!)  Hung with them for about 45 minutes, walked over to Tiger Walk, then walked back to Shelly’s car to hang out a bit before heading into the stadium. 

Shelly and her family
Tiger Walk
It’s such a pretty setting.  It’s got mountains on one side and lots of palm trees all around.  We got in easily and I found my seat quickly.  I met up with my work friend again at our seats. 

Pregame was very cool.  Both bands came out and then John Legend sand the national anthem, complete with fireworks.  Whoa! 
The game started out great, with Auburn up 21-10 at halftime.  Things quickly changed and Florida State started scoring.  We didn’t. I was calm the whole time and kept thinking we’d pull it out.  We didn’t.  The knife in the heart was a 100-yard punt return.  Well, we lived by that in our last game, so I guess it was our time to die by it.  We had enough time to score but didn’t get it done.  Some may call it a heartbreaking loss.  I can understand that the players and coaches will feel heartbroken.  I’ve been there.  But they have so much to be proud of.  What an amazing season!  What an amazing turnaround!  All of the Auburn fans are so proud to be Auburn Tigers! 
Waaaar Eagle!  Hey! 
 I was a bit worried about how cold it would get when the sun went down.  I actually was fairly comfortable the entire game.  I wore my War Eagle skirt, tights, t-shirt, sweatshirt and orange vest.  Late in the game I put my baseball hat on and pulled my hair over my ears a bit.  Other than that, pretty comfy.  Once we got outside the stadium, it was really cold.  Am glad it was a short walk to the car! 

Getting out of the Rose Bowl was fairly easy too.  I must say, this was the easiest transportation championship I’ve ever attended.  Easy peasy!  I was in bed by 11 p.m.  I watched a little bit of game recap but it wasn’t much fun and went to bed.  

Tuesday I got up around 8 a.m., ate some cereal and drove to Venice Beach.  I walked for an hour along the beach and did make it to Muscle Beach.  Very interesting!  It’s a whole weight room for anyone to use, right out in the open.  A few people were working out.  I felt pretty good today (slept ok) and it was nice to be in the sunshine. 

As a side note, while I was gone the Midwest had one of the worst winter storms in 20 years.  We had maybe 10 inches of snow and negative temps.  People lost power and schools/businesses were closed for several days.  I timed it perfectly – out on Sunday, home Wednesday.  By the time I got back everything was starting to get back to normal.  Thankfully, a wonderful neighbor plowed my driveway. 

After my lovely walk by the beach I drove back to Shelly’s.  She and I then drove to the Third Street Promenade, a really nice outdoor mall.  We met Alex at Tender Greens, a farm-to-table restaurant, for lunch.  Great place!  I had a spicy beef Thai salad.  Came back and I laid down for a bit and watched Ellen/took a nap. 

Some interesting happenings during my stay: 
  • At the Rose Bowl I saw a man with a BCS trophy shaped bong. 
  • A girl approached me on Hollywood Boulevard and was in awe.  She asked how tall I was, stood next to me, and said she wanted to be as tall as me.  She was 16 and around 6’3”.  She was very sweet. 
  • As I walked along Venice Beach a man called out, “7 feet!”  I said, “No.”  “6’10”?”  “No”  I kept walking…
  • Regarding the previously-mentioned War Eagle skirt:  I fashioned it out of a pair of polyester pants I took from a room in the Coliseum in the late 80s.  I cut the legs off to make shorts several years ago, but decided I didn’t like the shorts.  I recently had a brilliant idea to make a skirt.  It is fabulous!  I did get one complement on it from a college-age young woman. 

I am so glad I made this trip.  It was expensive, but staying with Shelly helped a ton.  And even though I felt kinda crappy during my time there, at least I was doing something fun and not laying around the house feeling sorry for my sick self.  The sun and warmth did me some good.  I am thankful I got to see my Auburn Tigers play (even if they lost) in the final BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl.  I am more thankful I got to spend time with my college friends.  Lots of things have changed, but we seemed to pick up right where we left off and had a great time together.  War Eagle indeed! 

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