So, in recent years, my son and I have gone on road trips to away Cal games (not counting AT&T park, or whatever that place is called) and last years trip was to the friendly environs of Columbus Ohio. In an election year, my son has to wait until the last minute to get any time off — so we had to settle for some crappy fight arrangements; into to Dulles, and then back the other way towards Ohio (taking a turn for the Ohio? Yes)
Unfortunately, this happened:
Hot damn, delayed for two hours on SFO waiting for takeoff. Thoughts spun in my head of renting a car in Virginia and drinking and driving all night because I was sure we were going to miss our second flight. As luck would have it, at least we landed in the same section of the airport as our flight to Columbus, and they said they were holding the plane for us but we had to run!
Not a real picture of me, as none exist
My son and another Cal fan took off like the wind and soon I had lost sight of them altogether. I kept on running (well if you can call it that, may be a touch generous) and finally made it to the plane, where I received something of a sitting ovation.
After landing at the beeuutiful Columbus airport, we made sure the rental car wasn’t red, checked into the swank airport Embassy Suites, and sought sustenance. It being after midnight by this point, options were few, but then we saw the burning letters in the fragrant Ohio night sky, and knew we were saved:
OMG the food here must have been the best in the whole of the state, because they had two (two!) armed guards to protect it! We never have any food that’s so fancy in California that it requires that much protection.
As told by Cugel’s son OaktownRush: The Waffle House has the ambiance of a high school cafeteria filled with 25-35 year old felons. Florescent lighting, armed guards, greasy food — it had it all and I was in love. The food was affordable on any budget and my hash browns left a visible puddle on my plate. Waffle House in California might lead me down a road to morbid obesity, but on a road trip, it just doesn’t get any better.
We got up early the next day so we could catch some of the fabled tailgating that Ohio is famous for, parked in some no descript business park on what I thought was the edge of campus.
Fool. The parking was endless, what is there space for every single car in the state of Ohio there? Set-up RV tailgating, truck tailgating, kids on bicycles, tailgating games — it was endless. After about 3 miles and a few texts with CBG (icehouse?!?) we finally felt like we were getting close… wait, no that’s still not the stadium.
But we did finally connect to enjoy some beer and brats with friends before the game in the crowded environs of the icehouse parking lot. After all the hype about OSU fans being rowdy and obnoxious, they were actually fairly laidback, and I had to explain to more than a few where "California" was located (the university, not the state, although…)
I have to say the ‘Shoe is rather impressive. True, the setting is nowhere near as beautiful as memorial, but there’s something to be said for the shear size of the place.
And bandos, you may want to skip this part. Sure, the Cal band is my first love, but I have to say, these guys are the best, most precise marching band I’ve ever seen.
I won’t say much about the game, except to say in the fourth quarter, I was sure we were going to win. We seemed to have all the momentum, and you could tell the crowd was worried. Alas, it was not to be, but a star was born that day; may his star ascend higher this season.
The Ohio peeps were nice enough to plan a post game dinner at a place called Matt & Millers; after waiting an hour and half for the lot to clear out (AFTER the hour hike back to the car) we navigated by iphone and found Matt & Millers with little difficulty.
The dinner was tons of fun. Seeing all the Ohio and Tennessee Cal fans and their wives, kids and concubines was great. The food was surprisingly good, and the wine was decent, but sadly since no one in Ohio knows anything about wine, it was served extra hot (losers). After dessert and some shots, Rishi started to get extra frisky (spilling wine on Calumbus Bear wasn’t enough excitement) and decided to serenade us with his unforgettable, mind-scaring version of "Call Me Maybe". Some say it sounded like Sammy Davis Jr. on a speedball after a two week bender; others say tortured ferrets on acid is a more apt description, but all can agree, it certainly got our attention.
After this the real Cal drinking songs commenced led by the inimitable CalBandGreat that rose in volume so much that the restaurant staff swiftly moved to close off our section. When we finally left my one thought was for the rest of the cliental "man, if they’re this crazy-happy after a loss, how nuts would they be if they actually won?"
The night was not quite over, as TheBuckeyeBear insisted we have what she described as "the best ice cream in the world", down the street at Jeni’s, and I have to say, it was quite good. Something funny with Rishi happened there, but I forget the details.
Anyway, I had a business partner there that I tried to text 40+ times before, during and after the game, but I never got through. Finally he got back to me as I was walking back to the car and I replied, " I feel great, hanging with Cal fans, and I feel no pain", he wanted to come and join us, but it was too late.
We may not have won, but no game in 2012 did I have more fun attending.