Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My whirlwind, spontaneous, 24-hour trip to Auburn and back

The first weekend of college football is a bit like a child's Christmas to me. When you're six months away, you know you can't wait for it, but you don't think about it non-stop. However, once you get up to about 3-4 weeks before the first kickoff, time seems to slow down. Weeks feel like months. Days feel like weeks. The anticipation is almost unbearable. Once the time finally gets here, the feeling is unmistakable: relentless joy. As I get older and Christmas doesn't feel like it quite used to, college football season gets more and more enjoyable for me. All of that is to say that this past weekend was about as good as it gets for me, even in spite of the sloppy, boring games we kicked off the season with on Thursday night.

Anyways, my plan all along was to do nothing on Saturday but lay on my couch and watch football until my eyes exploded; any game from Navy-Ohio State to Alabama-Virginia Tech. The thought of traveling down to Auburn for the Tigers' opening game against Louisiana Tech had never really gained any steam in my head; that is, until I received a phone call at around 2 PM from one of my old frat brothers who was in Auburn. He said he had a ticket for me if I wanted it, and I could have a place to stay Saturday night. Although at first I tried to talk my way out of it, I started to think about the logistics of such a trip: Athens-to-Auburn is a 3 hour trip, I'd get into town two hours before kickoff; The game would be over at 9 PM or so, and I could meet up with some old buddies and hit the bar scene; I could wake up at a decent hour on Sunday and head back to Athens. So I packed up a backpack with a change of clothes, took a shower, and sped my way down I-85 to the Loveliest Village.

As expected, I got into town about ten minutes before 4 PM CDT, and immediately parked behind a long line of cars on Wire Road near Shug Jordan across the street from the Hardee's and started walking. I got my ticket in hand about 5:15, chugged a few beers, sipped on some champagne straight from the bottle, and headed to Jordan-Hare. Once I started seeing all the burnt orange and navy blue clogging up the intersection of Donahue and Roosevelt, I knew I had made the best decision of the day.

After fighting for 12 seats in the student section, we ended up pretty much 10-15 rows directly under the right edge of the jumbotron. There was still an hour or so before kickoff, but we passed the time by eating on some $4 (!) hot dogs and generally catching up. Once warm-ups were over, it was time for the eagle flight.

From our vantage point, it appeared as though Tiger (I think that was the one that flew) left the stadium, only to fly back in and go right through the field goals on the way to its target. That's usually the cue for the marching band to start its festivities, and the stadium was rocking. When the band started up "War Eagle" on its way away from our section, I'm not going to lie, I got a little choked up; this was my Christmas, the moment I look forward to the most every single year, regardless of whether Auburn is predicted to win the West or finish fifth in it.

We watched the game, which was thoroughly enjoyable (a more in-depth post is coming), and headed out. I met up with a couple of my other friends, and we pregamed a little bit before a late night of shot bussing at the War Eagle Supper Club, went to bed, woke up around 11, drove back to Athens, and arrived home around 3 PM.

It was a whirlwind trip, and the game was as enjoyable as any since the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Clemson on New Year's Eve, 2007. I don't know if I will make it back to Auburn for any home games this season, but I do know I'll be going to Knoxville for our game with the Volunteers, and of course I will be in Sanford Stadium for the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. No matter what this season holds, I'll always have a Labor Day weekend quick trip to my alma mater, in my favorite place to be on a Saturday night. War Eagle.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I get a little choked up just thinking about the first game and being sad I cannot be there!