4TH AND GOAL WITH THE BAM
Here's a travel log featuring some of my memories on the GO BLUE roadtrip of a lifetime.
I had an early departure from Oklahoma City en route to Boston via Houston. I know it was early because the bar was not open yet. Hoping for better operating hours in Houston. At least we got a semi on time takeoff and nobody has been kicked off the flight yet.
Arrived safely in Houston. Connecting gate to Boston is basically all the way back to OKC and lo and behold, bar not open until 7am. What planet are we on? People are flying. Get those taps flowing!!
Our pilot is getting NBA fever I guess. Perfect bounce pass from air to terminal at Logan Airport. Wow. Would hate to be that landing gear right now.
I made my way from Logan to the "Gahden" via the outstanding train system here in Boston. Found the best pizza joint in the city and settled in for the 3 hour layover until Amtrak takes me to Portland!
Train from Boston to Portland is the only logical way to make that trek. Inexpensive, comfortable, timely and they have a bar. Anyone see a theme to this trip yet? I am pretty sure I can confirm , however, that playing the Maine Stein Song really loud while at the Durham/UNH whistle stop is not a popular move. I have never hidden from controversy, so that was right in my wheelhouse!! Still couldn't see the UNH building with all the trophies from the train. Might have to get out and walk I guess??
Portland greeted me as I expected. Not with Lee Goldberg and a red carpet as I requested , but with egregiously cold wind chills. That turned out to be the least of my worries. After checking into my hotel I walked across the parking lot to get supplies for the room. Read that as beer and snacks. Upon checking out my only debit card I brought on the trip was promptly declined. Great. 2 bucks in cash and a card not working. My bank figured out that fraud protection services flagged it because i was in Maine. It didn’t flag when I bought beer on an airplane, or on a train or when I checked into the hotel but the second I try to buy chips they leap into action.
Apparently just lobbing me a phone call would be too easy. Just shut it down without notice while I am 2000 miles away. A couple of phone calls the next day and I was back in the money.
Saturday brought the crown jewel of the trip. UMaine football at Fenway Park! I was to meet the other two members of our Old Town baseball coaching staff from 10 years ago in Boston and we were going to have a blast. We all met up at a legendary watering hole near TD Garden and then went off to our hotel .
Fenway was everything I remembered it being, minus green grass and warm. The wall. The blue chairs. The poles. The 100 year old underbelly of the great beast! Yawkey Way, and the most ridiculous beer prices in the history of mankind! The only thing worse was the egregious price of hot chocolate! $9 for a small cup of temporary relief! What a scam! Someone needs to look into that nonsense and perhaps bring charges!
It was extremely cold , but we had great seats and I was getting to see the Black Bears, something I hadn't done at a football game since 2008. I thought Maine looked good, even in a close defeat. The story of the year I guess. Dropped passes, dumb penalties, a bad decision by the young QB and presto, lose a close game.
We made it back to the hotel in one piece. Sadly, the hotel bar must have had school the next day or something because they were closed up tight. So back to the room it was to catch up on all the highlights of a busy day of college football that we missed while at Fenway , and also to thaw our frozen bones from a long day outside in New England.
Sunday brought a very seasonable weather day for Boston and another first for me. The winningest, most decorated franchise in all of basketball , the Boston Celtics, at home against the Toronto Raptors! I had never been to a Celts game in Boston before! We waited until the last possible moment prior to the game at the local ticket agency and then scored some great seats for huge discounted price!
The atmosphere exceeded everything I could have imagined it would be! I will never forget looking up and seeing all the banners. Nothing compares to that!
I felt bad for the annoying girl behind us though. Apparently Kyle Lowry was her boyfriend. Anyway, she was very distraught at the end when the Celtics, once again, came out on top and Kyle and Toronto did not. She probably needs to re-evaluate her priorities and allegiances in life at this point. You're either with us or against us sister and I think you saw which side you might want to choose.
This marked the beginning of the end of my time in New England.
Monday morning brought the official end. I headed to the airport, my two buddies headed for busses to Maine and Vermont. Our reunion, for this round, had ended.
I was lucky enough to get on standby lists and got much earlier flights from Boston and New Jersey , without a charge I might add, and made it back to Oklahoma five hours earlier than scheduled. That would be a benefit, because first thing Tuesday, it was off to support more Maine athletics in the form of Men's hoops in the great metropolis of Lubbock Texas!
Never in my life have I seen so much cotton! Fields and fields of white as far as the eye can see! They say you are never too old to learn something new. I never knew there was so much cotton in West Texas. Just wow.
Lubbock is not exactly the heart of Big 12 country, more like an armpit, but my kind of town nonetheless! A smooth , uneventful 5 hour ride into town and I was ready for yet another first!
I had never seen the Maine Men play outside of Orono. Ever. I anticipated a lopsided affair. Texas Tech is up tempo run and gun and I assumed , correctly as it turns out, more athletic than Maine.
The Texas Tech arena, United Grocers Arena , is first rate! No complaints here on the venue! The Tech fans apparently felt as I did, that this would be one sided and did not show up for the game. A very small crowd watched Maine get absolutely woodshedded by the Red Raiders. Perhaps I expected too much, but I was hoping there might be a few more Maine fans there than just me.
A set of parents that I met and some kid from Boothbay Harbor who happened to go to Tech and busted out the same dark blue Maine hockey jersey as me. The arena did feature a very nice fan lounge with a huge screen, so I could enjoy some cold beers and not have to actually bear witness to some of the bloodshed happening on the court.
Despite the outcome, I am not sorry I went.
Postgame brought a meeting with the legendary Ron Lisnett, radio play by play guy of Maine Men's hoops and also Head Coach Bob Walsh. I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time with both back at the team hotel as they enjoyed some quality Texas BBQ and chat about hoops and Maine in general. I appreciated him taking the time to hang out and hope his team finds a groove as they creep closer to conference play.
Wednesday brought the long trip home to Oklahoma and the Maine themed weeklong vacation would come to an end. As I dodged tumbleweeds on the way out of Lubbock I was satisfied that even thought I didn't see any victories, I had done my part to support a couple of programs from our beloved University.
No regrets, other than I wish I had stopped and collected that tumbleweed for posterity. I actually am now counting down the days until I return to Lubbock to support yet another Maine program when the baseball team rolls into the Texas desert in mid February.
I hope I didn't bore y'all to death. I tried to capture some of the highlights of my travels all across most of the country it seems so support my Maine Black Bears. I would do it all again , and probably will this spring! Until next time! Go Blue.