I made the trip down to the Texas Bowl this year, and saw the RU Scarlet Knights completely crush the Kansas State Wildcats. It was a great time and a great trip, though it wasn’t without its’ mishaps. Read on for a blathering post full of mystery, intrigue, and suspense!
Where to begin? How about: To start off my first bowl trip ever, I missed my flight. Seriously! Because of family vacation arrangements, I was scheduled to fly in and out of Richmond, VA on Tuesday night. We had a great ride from NJ through Baltimore to DC, and were making perfect time. But due to traffic in Virginia, what started out as a great plan with plenty of contingency time turned into an absolute nightmare. This wasn’t just traffic…it was TRAFFIC. Like “it’s 1pm and we’re in DC, and I need to be at Richmond airport at 4:45. No worries, right?” Wrong! It took over 3 1/2 hours to go 90 miles. So I caught an early morning flight on Wednesday. Not the end of the world, and I think I handled it well. No screaming, no yelling, just a resigned weariness that comes from driving in that kind of traffic. Yeek.
Anyway, I got into Houston OK, and Stephanie gave me a lift into town. It was great to see her, though it was sad to say goodbye at the hotel. Hotel room was nice, and when Andrew got in we headed to the team hotel for a beer. From there was the walk to the pep rally, which was well attended but kinda lame.
After the rally, back to the hotel for some beers while we waited for Dave. We met a fellow Greasetrucker from Chicago, and after a few local brews and Dave’s arrival, we headed out to meet up with the rest of our group. RU had done a good job of arranging “home” bars in downtown Houston…Downtown was our base, while K-State was out at the Galleria area. So when we got to the first bar, Pub Fiction, there were a ton of RU fans and a loop of our greatest games of the season running on the TVs. Good times. From there, off to the Flying Saucer: great bar, probably the best reason to do anything in the evening in “Downtown” Houston. It was at this point that I moved from happily drunk to out-and-out trashed, and my apologies to the nice girl from Texas that I was blathering to.
Houston bitch point No. 1: No diners downtown. After stumbling out of the Flying Saucer, I really needed a cheesesteak or burger or some sort of greasy disaster, to settle my stomach and all. No chance in “Downtown” Houston. My only option was the worlds’ worst pre-made turkey sandwich from the hotel grab-and-go (Pickles! There were pickles on it! Here’s how I know I wasn’t super-trashed: I took the pickles off.) Also, no Gatorade in the hotel shop, only too-sweet Tropicana Pink Lemonade. I also was not too drunk to cut it with water.
Got my drunk ass out of bed around 9:30. Not bad, considering that I popped my eyes open at 6am, wide awake. Having a kid will do that to you. I also realized that I had been sipping my watered-down lemonade on and off all night, which was good because I had half the headache I expected.
Andrew and I headed out to find some grub. But, since it was after 11 when we dragged ourselves outside, all breakfast options had gone to lunch mode. Bastards! (I invoke Houston bitch point #1 here too.) We eventually got some coffee and bread products at Starbucks, and sat in the lobby watching College Gameday and breaking the fast. That, some Pepto, and 3 Advil, and I was a new man.
Dave headed down to meet us. He had been up earlier – much earlier, in fact. It seems he’s a light sleeper, and hadn’t had as much to drink, so sharing a room with 2 other guys who were snoring and farting like it was their jobs left him a bit sleepless. He went downstairs at like 2am and got his own room. I can’t blame him. Besides: the guy’s got a 1 year-old at home. A peaceful night without distraction was just what his doctor ordered.
The three if us decided that we should pick up some cigars, some brew, and head to the Stadium to begin the tailgate. Nevermind that we had no vehicle. So first things first; we asked the Internet to point us to a cigar store downtown, and there was one not 5 blocks away. On our way there we asked the local Johnny Law how one should buy and and transport beer in Houston. Being from New Jersey, we can only buy beer at liquor stores. And we had no idea if Houston banned alcohol in any form on their light rail. These two Houston cops pointed us in the right direction: we could bring beer on the train, but there was a supermarket across the street from the stadium that would have all sorts of beer, ice, etc., so why haul our stuff that far? Proved my point: when curious about drinking in a foreign city, ask local law enforcement.
So we picked up our cigars (place even had a cigar store Indian outside!) and hopped on the rail. 30 minutes later, we were at Reliant Park, home of the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium. As promised, there was a supermarket across the street, and we picked up a mixed case of beer, a bag of ice, a disposable cooler, and a big sack of Ruffles. Tailgate, here we come!
Next time: The tailgate and game…bringing the Garden State to Houston