Friday, November 14, 2008

Lexington: A Road Trip For The Ages

Disclaimer: We had hoped to have this posted earlier this week, but real life blows. Read this story of our trip from Lexington, because you know going to Auburn, or anywhere else for that matter, won’t be this good. This story, my friends, is why you go on road trips.

Part of me did not want to go to Lexington after the breakdown we witnessed in Jacksonville. BFR shared my sentiment.

However, I had made it my goal before the season to go to every game this year. BFR had also made this his goal, and to this point both of us have been 100% successful. After going to Las Vegas and Tempe and driving from New Orleans to Jacksonville, I wasn’t going to give up now.

So, the two of us decided to head to Lexington while everyone else stayed behind. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when we arrived, as neither of us had been there before.

The two of us had every intention of driving up, watching the game, and heading back to Atlanta right after.

THAT DID NOT HAPPEN AT ALL.

There’s something to be said for making an SEC road trip with a small contingent of friends and fans, having very little in the way of actual, concrete plans, and being open to letting the adventure take you where it will.

We had great experiences, and established a new belief that Kentucky fans (not U of K, never say that) are the best opposing fans we’ve ever met. Not only have I never been treated with such hospitality, I never even thought the level of hospitality that we received was even possible. Thank you to first to Carole for affording us the opportunity to go to the game, and also to Elmo, JR, Chrissy, Joe, Michelle, Anthony and everyone else we met during our great visit to Lexington.

Our post game experience was un-believable, and is something neither of us will ever forget. Thank you guys again (skip to the post game section of the post if you want to know what I’m talking about).

PRE-GAME

Bubba tipped us off to a post on another of our favorite blogs about a fan who had extra tickets to the game. We contacted a true Dawg fan, Carole, who graciously offered her unused Kentucky tickets to us, solely on the condition that we cheer on the Dawgs as hard as we could. No problem. Many, many thank yous to Carole for your generosity!

After meeting Carole, We ventured on to Knoxville to stay with my family, and we enjoyed some $1 drafts at an establishment name after owls. What a great start to the trip! Scantily clad UT undergraduate co-eds and $1 drafts! We knew we were in for a great weekend.

We arrived in Lexington about two hours before the game. Lexington is a really nice town and driving to our parking spot we saw some great setups around the stadium. Some great tailgating was taking place and there were some nice houses that made me salivate in jealousy. To have a house that close to a football stadium would be amazing.

We spent most of our pre-game time searching for the one group of Dawgs we did know. This turned out to never come to fruition, but we made friends with some Kentucky fans that were admiring the number of flasks on the outside of our wheeled cooler.

I believe the invitation we received to join their tailgate went something like: “I have respect for any man with that many flasks, even if he is wearing a tacky red blazer.” Classic.

The ladies we saw in Lexington were top-notch as well. We usually expect to encounter so comment-worthy talent when we go to an SEC football game, but for some reason Lexington wasn’t on my radar. It is now. I can’t wait to come back and watch some horse racing and be surrounded by sun dresses.

DURING THE GAME

Even with having approximately 70,000 seats, the view from the upper deck was pretty nice (despite the cold wind). Commonwealth Stadium is great place to watch a football game. No real complaints at all.

After the first drive or two, I thought this game was going much better than I had anticipated. The tension and stress that set in during the second half was nearly unbearable.

When AJ caught that pass in the corner of our end zone, I think the eruption of joy that took place in our section rivaled almost any other similar moment at a football game. The sheer relief we felt started to evaporate, and then Dobbs lifted his magical hand to the air and caused another explosive celebration in our section.

BFR was so elated that he hugged everyone around us wearing red, even some people wearing blue, and spent a disproportionate amount of time hugging the cute girl sitting behind him. Her boyfriend seemed to be alright with it, however, given that we had just won the game and BFR was kind enough to share the contents of his four flasks with the boyfriend earlier in the game.

I declare that madness shall ensue everytime I catch a touchdown


POST GAME

After the game, we searched for the one group of Dawgs we knew, but never found them. We did run into all the players as they were coming out of the locker room. BFR and I were able to speak to AJ Green real quick, and also say hi to everyone's favorite person, Willie Martinez.

On our way back to the car, we stopped at a tailgate of a group of Kentucky fans. We had seen this tailgate initially walking to the stadium. This setup was astounding.

These fans had a trailer that, on the inside, was essentially a bar. The upgrades included flooring, nice cabinetry, seats, a huge area for food, a giant flat screen TV, and a smaller flat screen TV. A large opening on the side of the trailer with a counter provided a perfect seating area to enjoy the spread of food and drinks while watching other games on the two TVs.

Outside of the trailer were tables and chairs in blue and white, and the entire setup was surrounded by a white picket fence and a Kentucky flag flying over it all.

This awesome tailgate was right on a nice corner lot just a small parking lot’s distance from the stadium. Essentially, it was the best location imaginable.

We introduced ourselves to this group and met Elmo, JR, Chrissy, Joe, Michelle, and a whole host of kind people whose names I can’t remember.

We were talking with everyone for a good while, and they invited us to stay and watch the LSU/Bama game with them.

In the midst of all this, Joker Phillips walks up to Elmo and some other people at the tailgate. Joker wasn’t walking by at chance and they stopped him. No, Joker was walking by and purposefully stopped.

BFR and I were just blown away. Not only is this the greatest tailgate setup we’ve witnessed personally, but Kentucky’s [future] head coach is here talking with everyone (he didn’t seem to be in the best of moods, which is understandable).

As we watched the game and drank with these great people, we began to learn a lot about Kentucky.

Kentucky fans would rather be terrible at football and be in the SEC than be great at football in another conference.

AWESOME.

Kentucky fans despise Louisville. Their description of Louisville fans reminded me of Florida fans, which automatically makes me hate Louisville.

AWESOME.

They criticized Big East football games as being worse than watching a duck fart or listening to Oprah. Louisville vs. UCONN is not a real football game.

DOUBLE AWESOME.

They also loved Munson, and their favorite quote was Munson speaking about Lorenzen: “Godzilla is on the loose!”

AMAZINGLY AWESOME.

At about the time LSU/Bama went into overtime, they were ready to leave and we were planning on heading towards Atlanta. However, our new Kentucky friends insisted we join them at a steakhouse called Malone’s (It also conveniently has a sports bar). How could we turn this down?

BFR and I arrived at the steakhouse and joined the group in the bar. JR, who played for Kentucky in the “Couch era” told us he was inviting a friend of his named Anthony White, who also had played for Kentucky.

SEC fans may well remember Anthony White, who also played for UK during the “Couch era.” Anthony let us Georgia fans know that he considers Herschel Walker to be the best running back in SEC (and college football) history…but he considers himself the second best (embellishment on our part, makes the story better and Anthony would definitely go with it!). He is the only back in SEC history with 1500 receiving yards and 1500 rushing yards in the same season, thus he has enjoyed the nickname “Mr. 1500” as much as he was enjoying his Courvoisier Saturday night.

The eight of us sat down for a great meal and several more hours of talking about football, basketball, baseball and life in general. The conversation focused on sports and held the attention of the entire table and most of the rest of the restaurant. Anthony dropped one-liners on us like bombs:

-“One time playing Georgia, I was giving Kirby Smart the business! No offense, but you had a white DB trying to tackle me?!?”

-That Tennessee quarterback is horrible. Every time he drops back, it looks like he is playing dodgeball with the defense!

-Joker Phillips should put me in, I’ll win a national championship right now.

After treating us to a wonderful meal (that we tried to pay for), we bid farewell to this great group of people as they headed home.

We, on the other hand, didn’t head home. We joined Anthony at a party afterwards with a bunch of ex-football players from Kentucky and some of the UK Athletic Assoc staff.

Even decked out in red and black, everyone was great to us, particularly Anthony for bringing us along and introducing us to everyone there.

After a few hours, we knew that we had at least a three hour drive ahead of us, so BFR and I decided to call it quits and we headed back to Knoxville.

All in all, this was the best experience we could have imagined, far exceeding our simple expectations for our trip. I have a new found appreciation for Lexington, the University of Kentucky, and their fans.

I hope BFR and I get to return the favor soon to the great people we met, as well as other fans in the future.

Let this also provide a lesson to everyone: If you don’t feel like going on that road trip, DO IT ANYWAYS! After this trip, there are no longer any acceptable excuses for not making the road trip.

Go Dawgs!

5 comments:

rickeguitar said...

I loved this read. I've been going to UK games since approx. 1960. Rarely do I sit in the opposing teams section. But, my tickets were a gift from a GA. fan.
This is what I find interesting- I told my brother after the game, that this was the 1st game I've ever attended, in my lifetime, where I never heard one single nasty word from fans from either side. I'm still having a hard time believing it.
At first,after reading this blog, I thought that must have been Bubba and Earl sitting next to me. But, they were on the 50 (lucky Dawgs). I was at the goal line.
I told the Dawgs around me , after the game, that they were the classiest fans to ever come to Lexington. One Dawg in a cowboy hat, and a red vest with buttons all over it shook my hand and said "Well, at least TN lost. We are both happy about that. Classic!
But, one clarification. Personally, I think we despise Louisville and the Big Least Conference about a thousand times more than the Cat fans told you. They must have been being nice.
I live in Louisville, and we have two high school teams that could compete in the Big Least!
Bubba and Earl, I love you man!
Good luck and God bless the Dawgs. GO BIG BLUE

Anonymous said...

I love this! Good times. Come back and see us:)

anthonys735 said...

Faggy UGA Blazer guy from Malones.

Didn't know you guys blogged. I am the really drunk Anthony(white guy) that is not a former stud RB for UK. Good friends with Joe and Michelle though. Glad you guys had a great time... we expect similar hospitality next year.

That damn shot of Couvosier I took with Anthony(RB) about killed me.

Bubba 'N Earl said...

Ricke, thanks for all the good words.

As you can tell, we think pretty highly of KY fans, so I'm glad we could return the favor. I absolutely love how you guys despise your in state rival.

(Non-RB) Anthony - we will provide you with plenty of courvosier when you come to Athens!

Paul Westerdawg said...

I had an experience a little like that in Arkansas in 2000. They have some exceptionally nice fans (as long as you're not from Texas).

If you guys are thinking of going out to Fayetteville, let me know. I'll tell you some places to hit...heck, I'll tell you now. Eat at Doe's in Fayetteville.

I've been to Lex several times, and my experience hasn't quite been like that. But my view of UK fans is tainted from going to about 10 SEC Tourneys.

Because of that, I never really give them a chance to be nice. I wear them out as retaliation for what I have to deal with at the SEC Tourney.

As much as you liked Lexington...imagine adding a day at the Horse Track. Ridiculous.