Monday, January 18, 2010

2 stadiums, 2 days, 2 games: Indianapolis for the Colts and Minneapolis for Vikings

On Monday morning, I decided I wanted to see the Ravens play the Colts on Saturday, so I booked my flights using 25K Delta frequent flier miles, paid my redemption fee of $100, and picked up a couple of tickets for the game.  I figured, I'd sell the extra or take my dad.   Either way, I had a plan.  When trying to move my extra, I was given the same response multiple times, "If I was going to travel, I'd rather see the Cowboys play the Vikings on Sunday."  Soooooo, I went back to and noticed I could go to both Indianapolis and Minneapolis for the same amount of miles. And then, I started thinking...  I paid a $100 AGAIN (for the stupid ticket change fee) and I was in motion to attend both games!  The next thing to do, was to get tickets to the Vikings game, and once I had those, I knew what I had to do...

I go to my friend's facebook page to look for clues as to if he's "available" for the trip.  He is my sports buddy.  We've been friends for about  8 years now.  We used to work together briefly, and he used to be roommates with my ex-boyfriend's friends.  Usually Vegas is our destination of choice, but (1) if there's anyone who enjoys a trip to a sporting event more than me and (2) has the frequent flier miles to do the crazy things I want to do ~ it's him.  Based on his page,  it looks like he's around, but he hasn't responded to a comment I've left about going on a football tour, sooooooooooooo it's time to hit the phones.

I call him and he picks up right away.  This is unique, because usually he'll send me to voicemail when he knows I'm looking to get away.  Later he tells me, he knew I was calling about football and not Vegas, and that's why he answered.  I tell him my plan: 2 cities, 2 stadiums, 2 days all for 25K miles on Delta.  He's intrigued.  He asks where we're staying and I tell him we don't need a hotel since the Saturday game is late and will end around midnight.  My plan was to go out on Sat night, find a 24 hour diner (e.g. IHOP, Waffle House, etc.) to kill time, and head to the airport whenever I couldn't take it anymore.  He asked about rental car.  I told him we didn't need that either.  Why would we want a car?  We'd have to park it, gas it up, and drive it.  All too much headache when going to a game and planning to go out after.  I told him my plan was to cab it.  

He challenges me to find an itinerary for the destinations (but he's starting from and must return to Oklahoma City, where he's currently working) for the same amount of miles and if I do, he'll pull the trigger.  I can already hear him typing in the background through the phone.  He's checking flights himself, which means if Delta lets it happen ~ then we're ON.  Great.  He has to run to a meeting, and as we end the call, he asks me why I didn't book the direct flight from Indy to Minneapolis...  Sure enough, he's even found a better flight option than me, since I'm connecting through Detroit.  Now I'm annoyed.  He heads to a meeting, and I call Delta. 

"Please. Please. Please. Please, Delta.  Let me change my ticket AGAIN without playing the change fee," is my prayer while I wait for the representative to work her magic.  I wait.  Sure enough, she goes ahead voids the other ticket(s) and issues me new ones.  I do NOT pay them any more fees.  YEAH, DELTA!!!! 

Coincidentally, his meeting ends shortly and he tells me he's booked the flights.  I tell him we're on the same leg from Indy to Minny and now it's time to talk the trip through. What about luggage he asks? LUGGAGE?!?!? Is he serious? We don't need any stinkin' luggage!!! We're going away for one night. I told him my plan was to throw a camera charger, iphone charger, change of clothes, and Colgate Wisps (i.e. if you haven't seen these things check them out ~ they're awesome for trips like this) into my purse.

Colgate Wisps: 
I highly endorse this product

I told him he could even just bring his chargers and buy clothes in Minny. This is not an issue. He presses on about the issue of luggage. I tell him that if it's that serious he can give whatever it is he wants to bring to the bell stand of any of the hotels that are nearby to store, because the hotels don't care as long as you tip them. He stops talking about luggage.  He does say he's going to bring a trashbag of stuff for the trip.  I decide, I don't care and can't tell if he's joking or not...


Time to negotiate tickets. Soooooo, this is my friend. He is my good friend. He's helped me through numerous break-ups, hosted me when I was in Atlanta and Vegas, and flipped me many an event/game ticket through our years together. He's invited me to go see Graceland when he's been in Memphis, and I've cancelled on a few trips we planned to Vegas the past couple of times we planned them. So, I decide, I need to come through this time and that I kind of owe him. Ricky won't have to pay what I'd charge most people for the tickets to the game BUT, he will pay. He and I both love money, and we know each other well enough not to hide it. We strike a deal. I'll take 50 cents on the dollar and he asks me if I want the cash for the tickets on Sat. Umm, yeah, definitely.  ***  Dad, if you read this ~ I made him pay full price...***

Saturday morning I receive a text from him that says he and his trashbag are on the way to Indy. Whatever. That's him. He's odd. I get off my plane in Indy and he is at the gate waiting for me. We hop in the cab and head to the City Centre Mall. I used to date a Colts fan, so I'd be in downtown Indy many times. He used to work in Indy. We have this city on lock. He and his laundry bag decide they need to buy a purple shirt. Evidently, we're divided on the desrired outcome of the Ravens v Colts game. Who cares. I know my Colts are going to win. Purple shirt for him, and Colts hat for me. We're done shopping.

Off to Conseco Fieldhouse to pick up tickets for the Hornets v Pacers game. The tip-off for the game has been moved up to 6PM to accommodate the Colts game, and we decide we may as well head to the game and get the picture taken, and then go to the football game. We get $10 tickets at the window. We're golden.

Off to the RAM we go because he wants to watch the Mi-ssi-ssi-ppi game. He watches and I chat it up with whoever is sitting on my left. A first it was a father-son pair, with ties to Indy who live in VA and came in for the game. Then it was a father and son combo and the son was surprising the dad with tickets to the game, since the father had never seen his Colts play in person.. Very cool.  He is absorbed in his college basketball game, but eventually joins in the conversation.  He feels the need to tell people that he's a "food taster for NASA".   This is a lie.  But, yeah, that's just so him...

We watch the beginning of the Saints beating of whoever it was they were playing and head to Conseco. I noticed he kept calling Conseco, "Canseco" (i.e. as in Jose Canseco) and corrected him earlier. I think he's playing with me because he keeps asking me what Jose's ties to Indy are and keeps asking me, "Why not McGwire Stadium or Sosa Stadim?" This is my friends. He makes me laugh.

We go to Conseco. It's almost 5:30PM. We notice that the ushers are checking tickets to enter the lower bowl of the arena. I'm not going to let an usher get in the way of my picture taking. My friend says, "We should've bought lowers". Whatever. I know we're golden, and to be honest ~ I'd be willing to bet, that anyone who's anyone has tickets to the football game anyway. So, no offense, Pacers organization, but you should be happy that we wanted to go to the game. I ask an usher which portal for half-court and blow by the old lady who's watching the entrance. "Act like you've been there" ~ it works, people. Told you we were golden! We posed for a few pictures, watched the warm-ups, and saw the tip-off. As far as we were concerned ~ that game was over and it's time to head to Lucas Oil Stadium.

Before Hornets v Pacers

Outside of Lucas Oil Stadium

Both my friend and I had never been to Lucas Oil. He has the same goal I do. He's trying to hit all the stadiums, arenas, and ballparks too ~ and he's actually ahead of me on this goal... Yeah, I'm jealous... We walk into Lucas Oil among a see of Ravens and Colts fans. The first thing I notice when I enter that stadium is that there is no center screen about the field. Weird. Considering I just came from the new Cowboys stadium, I'm a bit flustered... Weird. We watch the rest of the Saints woodshed beating of whoever that other team was, as we linger by a post with numerous power outlets and charge our iphones.

Our seats are on the 20 yd line, Colts side, 9 rows off the field. In our seats I notice a few things. We're surrounded by old people, and specifically old couples. Grey haired male and female Colts fans are everywhere, but they're excited and energetic. What a contrast from the middle-aged fraternity that was around us in Dallas.

Another thing I notice, Tony Dungy is a special guest star on the Colts' sideline and he's receiving a wonderful ovation from the crowd. This is Indy ~ the Midwest, where people are friendly, and Tony is getting all the love he deserves. Awesome. During the game, my friend starts making conversation with a guy sitting in front of us.  The guy asks my friend how he and I met.  "She and I met in a chatroom," he says.  I could kill him, but I'm too busy trying not to laugh and don't want to encourage him.  But yeah, that's just him.  At the end, it was a great game ~ Colts win! Manning got it done. That's all I have to say about it. Oh - one more thing, I predict that the Colts are going to the Super Bowl.

View from the sets: Ravens v Colts

Game over, and it's almost midnight. My friend and I head to Jillians for drinks and we decide to bowl a few games. Our waiter at the bowling alley says he's not ringing up our drinks as long as we take care of him. He is a good bowler. Who knew?!?! He started out with 4 strikes. Umm, oh well. I'll still have fun. 3 games later, we're done. I flip our waiter $20 and we head downstairs. There's a Colts fan by himself, knocked out. He's dead ASLEEP. FYI - if you need to kill time, go to the Jillian's in downtown Indy and sleep there ~ the staff doesn't care.

We decide we're hungry. Jillian's is closing and off to the 24 hour Steak and Shake we go. It's packed in there, and there's a guy getting arrested when we walk in. I'm reminded of college and med school when seeing this was common at late night eateries, that serve folks as they roll out of bars. I'm not surprised, and yet, not overly impressed. Later a kid gets chased by the police, as he walks to the bathroom... Yes, it's late night... Lol.

It's now almost 4AM and I want to head to the airport. I know it's not open (i.e. staffed by airline personnel) yet, but I want to get there and find a spot to lie down. My friend is yapping about being able to check-in, go to the gate, or something. Then he questions whether the aiport is locked. Come on! The airport is always OPEN. The issue is that the self-serve kiosk may not be "ON" and the TSA folks may not be working, but the airport is open.

I find a cushy bench and it has 2 power outlets by it. I call it "homeless person" mentality. I am tired, and I want both outlets (for my camera and iphone). My friend wants to charge his iphone also though. Now I'm annoyed. I let him unplug my phone while we were bowling when, he should've just charged his own and left mine plugged in, so we start to fight. His response was to tell me I'm not going to charge my camera battery as he unplugs the thing and walks away. I could kill him. I debate chasing after him, but decide it's not worth it since I had just realized that the RAM didn't return my credit card to me when we were there earlier in the day. AWESOME. Who cares?!?!?  The RAM is closed.  I can't fix it now.  I lie down and close my eyes for 2 hours or so.

I head to the kiosk, check-in, and call the credit card company for a replacement. Well, that was fun. My friend comes over and brings me a charged camera battery. I decide to spare his life. He can live another day. We head to the gate and I change clothes in the bathroom. Brusha brusha brusha my teeth, clean up, and decide it's now safe to wear purple, since we're headed to Minneapolis.

We board the plane and my friend is a row ahead of me. I'm trying to fall asleep and I hear him trying to get my attention... WHAT IS IT NOW?!?! I think to myself, that I may have to take him out after all.... Then I realize he's trying to point out, subtly, that Tony Dungy is on our flight and sitting 4 rows ahead of me. I get excited and decide to spare Ricky's life AGAIN.

I have a plan. I text my friend Mike Wilbon who is also coming to Minneapolis and tell him that Tony is on my plane and ask him to intercept him for me. Then I fall asleep.

I wake up in Minny to the sun coming up, and it looks like the frozen tundra through the airplane window. I turn on my phone and tell MW that my friend and I have landed. Once off the plane, I look for Tony and check the arrivals board. We beat Mike's flight to Minny, and I see Tony Dungy waiting outside the bathroom for his wfe, I presume. I introduce myself. I think it was too early, and I was still tired, but I shake his hand and tell him that I'm a Pacers/Packers/Colts fan,,, I'm really not sure what I said, but he was gracious enough not to correct me. He poses for a quick picture and I leave him alone. Thank you, Tony! That 2 minute interaction made this Colts' fan really happy.

With Tony Dungy

Now it's time to find my friend so we can eat breakfast. Mike calls, and my sports buddy and I are on or way to meet him for breakfast at one of the airport restaurants. The 3 of us eat, talk sports, and do a little shopping (i.e. I need a Vikings hat), and then head to the arena. In the car, I think the 3 of us actually close our eyes and take a nap. It's EARLY. At the Metrodome, we hop out of the car, Mike heads to work, and my friend and I take a couple of pics outside the arena before going in.

View from the seats: Pre-game, Cowboys v Vikings

First impression: The Metrodome is old. I'm reminded of the Amway Arena where the Orlando Magic play. That building is old also. I head to my seat, and I notice another thing. The crowd is younger at the Metrodome. Much younger. There's at least a 50 year swing in age between Indy and Minny and I wonder if that's why the Metrodome is louder.

I watch Brett Favre and the Vikings destroy the Cowboys. I'm not sure what happened, but the Cowboy team I saw yesterday is not the same team I saw the week before. The difference is night and day. I really shouldn't even utter the words "Dallas" or "Cowboy" because I fear that the Vikings defense will bust through my apartment door and tackle me to the ground. The visiting team couldn't score a single touchdown and the kicker missed 2 field goals. Wow. Incidentally, I just did a quick search on with the keyword "kicker" and there's one result. It's in Spanish. Just saying...

Vikings win ~ and they ran up the score at the end. If you ask me, I don't care, The words "Run up the score" are in their team song. Oh ~ that reminds me, I need to look up the word "Skol"....

After the game it's time to find a TV to watch the J-E-T-S v Chargers. Honestly, I'm all footballed out. I can't do it anymore. The games were so one-sided, which is fine ~ because my Colts won, but unless you're really vested in the outcome, the games were a little boring. Seriously. I know I was running on very little sleep, but I fought to stay awake in the 4th quarter of that Vikings game. Yeah... I said it.  To quote Mike's text after the game, "NFL Playoffs: Where nothing happens!"  Incidentally, exiting the arena, the game's attendees are listening to "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys" by Willie Nelson...  I chuckle.

Headed to the aiport 5 for my 7PM flight home. Barely watched the football game, but did notice it was a close one... I spent my time at the gate praying that the flight was open on the way home so I could lie down and sleep in the row. My prayers were answered. Landed at DCA with my face in a pool of drool. Whatever. I was home.

I turn on my phone.  "Come out for Sunday Funday," was the text I had received from a friend.  "You have to be kidding me!?!?!"  But then I start to think, I might as well...  My friends and Sunday Funday are on the way home....  :-P


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