Monday, April 18, 2011

To Titletown and Back!

One of the absolute worst things about my career interregnum has been the lack of trips. Even though Inky and I have made a few short jaunts to Philly and NYC for her readings, for the most part we've been stationary for the whole time. That's why I jumped at the chance to do a two thousand mile round trip into the vast frozen wasteland that is the American Mid-west just a few months ago.

It was the night of the Super Bowl and I had been texting with a good friend of mine who is a huge Packer-backer. Brandon loves Green Bay as much as I love the Skins and O's and it could be argued that he loves them more since he named his kid after one of the players. As things started to look good for the Pack he texted me that he was leaving first thing in the morning for Green Bay so he could be there for the celebration on Tuesday. I told him that if he needed someone to tag along to keep him company I would jump at the chance. The next thing I know Inky was dropping me off at 6 AM so he and I could head out.

He explained to me that he had mapped the whole trip out when the Packers had contended for the Super Bowl but came up short a few years ago. Our first task was to drive all the way to Cleveland without stopping so we could make it to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in time for the noon showing of the U2 3D show. Sadly, we got a bit lost and so we had to catch the next performance. So we parked near Jacobs Field and had lunch in a sports bar on E. 9th St. while we waited for the show.

After U2 we hit the road again and we were determined to make it all the way to Green Bay before the night was out. We stopped in South Bend for dinner and lucked into a great little Irish Pub (when in Rome, right?) called Fiddler's Hearth where I had one hell of a steak sandwich.

After eating we braved our way through snow flurries in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin but we were pot committed. I had called XL and asked him to check the hotel situation in Green Bay and we found out that rooms were scarce, so we booked one of the last ones on the drive. At about 2 AM we hauled our tired asses into the hotel room for some sleep. What follows is a photo essay of the rest of the trip with some commentary.

I thought it was cold when I went to Chicago back in '08 when it was 5 degrees out. But that was child's play compared to what 5 degrees feels like in Green Bay. As psyched as I was to finally lay my eyes on the football Cathedral that is Lambeau I was worried that my eyes would freeze.

We went to the Packers Hall of Fame and Museum to see the exhibits (like this hands on one, look at that perfect three point stance bitches!) but also to warm up and avoid losing a limb.

Since both Brandon and I are nothing more than big children we had to take time to enjoy all the hands on exhibits. This is a full scale mock up of Vince Lombardi's office and I had to take a load off in the big man's chair for bit.

Next up on my childlike romp through the museum was this display where I took my shot at a Lambeau Leap. It was nice of Brandon to take this shot in such a way that makes it seem like I might actually be leaping. Of course my left foot is firmly on the ground.

In all seriousness, anyone who considers themselves a football fan has to make the trip to Lambeau. I might suggest doing so for late September game to avoid frostbite but it is a must on the "sports things to do before I die" list.

After our tour and shopping in the team store we had some time to kill before the ceremony started. So we went to Brett Favre's steak house, which was right across from our hotel. I got another steak sandwich, which was awesome, but I couldn't pass up this chance to take a picture of Brett's meat. I was not wearing Crocs.

When we got to the ceremony we saw this guy out front. I couldn't decide if he was: A) Drunk B) A sex offender C) Crazy or D) All of the above.

I think my previous cold weather experience in Chicago did me a disservice. I brought all the same cold weather gear I had on that trip since they had done a great job of keeping me warm. They did next to nothing in the Wisconsin cold and by half way through the celebration I was thinking about cutting Brandon open Ton-Ton style.

It was really cool to be there with all those Packers fans who were just so excited to be a part of their team's win. When the Cats won in '07 and '09 Inky and I didn't have anyone to celebrate with like this, and God knows I have no hope of going to DC or Baltimore for a parade any time soon.

After the big party we braved the traffic and made our way South. We stopped for dinner at a place called Spokes outside Milwaukee that had a special on hot dogs and sausages. Since my diet was already screwed I got a Chicago style, a polish and a cup of chili. I'm sure you've guessed this already, but there was a whole lot of gas in that car. And I'm not talking about the tank.

After dinner we made it as far as South Bend before we had to stop and get a hotel. In the morning we went over to the UND campus and saw the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus and the Football stadium. It was still very cold out and, judging by the face I'm making in this picture, I may have still had a bit of that gas I was talking about.

After Notre Dame we grabbed some lunch and then pointed east till we ended up back in Central PA. All told it was 2,000 miles in 62 hours with next to no sleep. What little sleep I did get the first night in Green Bay came in the bathtub because Brandon snored so loud I could block it out. I found some respite by taking all my bedding into the tub, but I could still hear him. I got about two hours and spent much of that Tuesday in a daze. When we got to South Bend on Tuesday night nothing short of physical abuse was going to keep me from sleeping. I got about 7 hours before we headed out for the campus and then the trip home.

Once I'm back at work I hope to plan another trip real soon. It's one of the things I love the most in this world and I always feel more alive when I'm on the road with Inky or XL. Fingers crossed it will happen real soon.

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