I’m wrapping up my first day here in the desert and it’s been a very full day. It started with a 6 am wake up call from Stone (which isn’t too bad considering what time he can and has been waking up!) and included a trip to Fred Meyer for some family groceries for the upcoming week and of course the flight from Seattle to Phoenix.
The three hour flight provided me with time to think about the upcoming game and how, even though I’ve made many road trips in the past to see Ducks football games, none compares to this.
Renee and I flew from the Bay Area to Portland for years (as season ticket holders) to join friends for dozens of home games. I organized a few “guy’s weekends” with friends that revolved around Ducks games. These weekends were memorable – especially those where I rented a motor home and drove with friends from the Bay Area to Eugene for games. I’ve flown to bowl games – 2 Rose Bowls, 1 Cotton Bowl and 1 Holiday Bowl – each memorable in their own way. And I’ve flown to Michigan to watch the Ducks play in the Big House and (surprisingly) demolish the Wolverines.
But obviously, no game has been as big as Monday night’s BCS Championship Game. And as a Ducks fan, I can feel it in the air down here. The flight from Seattle to Phoenix was probably 75 percent Ducks fans (based on what everyone was wearing). When the plane touched down, a woman yelled “Now let’s Go Ducks!!” and the plane erupted in cheers and applause.
The baggage claim area of the Phoenix Airport was swarmed by Ducks everywhere. And while I saw a few Auburn fans among the passengers, they were vastly outnumbered at the time of my arrival.
Tonight I met long-time friend Dawn at a bar in Scottsdale called The Well. Apparently it’s owned by a Duck (or so I was told) and its been set up as an official Ducks party spot during the BCS festivities. Driving up to the bar, one could see the outdoor patio packed with partiers decked out in Ducks gear – it could have just as easily been the patio at Rennie’s Landing in Eugene. Walking into the bar I was blown away that it was packed wall-to-wall with Duck fans (and decorations). It really felt like I was hanging out in a bar in Oregon – not Arizona. The mood was obviously festive and the DJ played great tunes. Naturally the crowd erupted when “I love my Ducks” blasted through the speakers, but my personal favorite was hearing “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC as I navigated my way towards the bar for a beer. If there was ever a moment that briefly brought me back to those college days so many years ago – that was one. Surrounded by happy (and drunk) Ducks, music blaring and for short time at least, all “real world” worries forgotten.
Sunday promises to be another fun day that will help me (and thousands of other fans) escape from reality for awhile. I’ll be joining Dawn and other friends to watch NFL playoff football and enjoy brunch – and then go to the Fan Fest and the major Ducks rally (which will be attended by tens of thousands of Duck fans). After the rally we’ll be heading to a Ducks party hosted by former Ducks great Kenny Wheatley (it’s a fund raiser for his foundation) so plenty of partying and socializing lies ahead of the game Monday night.
In the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of having a bed and room to myself and knowing I will finally get a full night’s sleep that is guaranteed not to be interrupted by a wake up call from Stone.