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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Texas!

We did our annual football road trip this year in Texas, during the weekend of September 18 - 20. We added a Rangers/Angels game on Friday night and our trip gave us the full Lone Star state experience, and proof that everything is indeed bigger in Texas.

Friday night we did the Rangers vs. Angels baseball game in Arlington. Our hotel was literally across the street from the stadium - a beautiful ballpark. After discovering we had the wrong tickets, because of my blunder, we immediately picked up new ones from the 'ticket broker' on the corner for $20. It all worked out! The seats were great, the game was fun and the Angels prevailed, 2-0 to increase their AL West lead and crush the Ranger hopes of post season play. A drunk in front of us kept trying to get the crowd to chant 'we want October'. A Navy vet talked our ears off. The beers were tasty! Hungry, we went to the hotel bar for food. The food was marginal and the atmosphere was dead.

Saturday we drove to Austin for Texas/Texas Tech football game, after a hilarious battle with the GPS system in our car. We check in to the hotel and were immediately surrounded by burnt orange. We were officially in Longhorn Country. A few Tech fans were present, but it was a sea of orange. It was hot in Austin, and since we were in Texas, we did the obvious; we hit up a highly rated BBQ joint. It was surprisingly average. "This isn't life changing" to quote Josh. We all agreed, although Scott actually went back for seconds.

We hit up the student store on campus and it was sensory overload - a mad crush of people and waves of burnt orange everywhere you looked. It was awesome. Picked up a Texas jersey and other garb and we headed off to the stadium to get our tickets at will call. Got our tickets and made a mad dash to a beer garden to 'prep' for the game. That meant four beers in five minutes. I received many text messages from friends alerting me that Washington had just upset #3 USC, 16-13. That meant more beers! Then it was off to the game. On the way to the stadium we witnessed a random Florida Gator fan waving a Gator towel and singing their praises. It was random and hilarious. Inside the stadium an usher let us get near the field for pictures - literally the front row. The teams entered the field right in front of us. It was awesome. Our seats were great (thank you UT Athletic Dept!) and our neighbors friendly. Attendance was a record crowd of over 100,000. I expected a blowout but Tech played tough and kept it close. The Longhorns won, 34-24, but Colt McCoy was not overly impressive, going 24 for 34 for 205 yards. Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts threw for 420 yards in the loss. It was a great game, great fans and an amazing atmosphere. Back at the hotel we went to the bar for food. Apparently they close the kitchen on Saturday nights at 12:00. No room service, nothing. They offered us popcorn. We declined.

Sunday we drive back to Dallas and catch the end of the Jets victory in our hotel and head to Dallas for the Sunday Night game vs. arch rival New York Giants. We went to the Sheraton Hotel and parked for free, just a few blocks from the stadium. It was awesome. We tailgated with Cowboy fans who were fun and engaging. When asked if they believed Tony Romo could 'get them to the Super Bowl', they all resoundingly said no. Ironically, three of them were wearing Romo jerseys. It was hilarious. Oh, and it was HOT! We made our way to the stadium. The brand new Dallas Cowboy's Stadium. Yes, it is impressive, inside and out.

The atmosphere was that of a rock concert - fun, festive and enormous. Inside it was gleaming and new with plenty of amenities and pretty good food. It was not cheap, though. We managed to go places we probably weren't supposed to go; we worked our way into a luxury suite (our seats were better), the Cowboy's locker room, George Bush walk by us, and got pic's taken with one of the refs in the tunnel. No one even questioned us. The team store was impressive. The game was a blast and the Giants ended up spoiling Jerry Jones Stadium debut as Eli manning marched the Giants down the field in crunch time to kick the game winning field goal. The fans were disappointed, but it was a great experience for us. The attendance was an NFL record - over 105,000 were there. Unfortunately the hype over the new stadium overshadowed the game. But it's true what they say; everything is bigger in Texas.

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