CAPTAIN'S LOG -- THE GREENSBORO MISSION
Below is an account of two "old guys" making the trek to go see the Louisville women's basketball team play in the final two games of the ACC Tournament. A combination of "Dumb and Dumber" and "Grumpiest Old Men" maybe. Or a James Bond action-thriller? You decide. The accounts and references here did happen, unless it's been this crazy dream and I'm still asleep.
Friday, 5:00 p.m.
Louisville's women's basketball squad won their first game of the ACC Tournament. Bye-bye Va Tech. I am lamenting I am not in Greensboro, but my wife and dog are not sympathetic. Almost on cue, the phone rings. It is my friend Joe Hill in Naples. We talk about the win. We both wish we were there. He says we should do something about that. We devise a plan to drive to Greensboro and catch the Saturday (and hopefully Sunday) Louisville games. He says it's about a 11 hour trip. I say I'll pay the gas and hotel if he'll drive. He says he'll "clear it with the wife" and call me back. He calls back 30 minutes later. It is a go. When I approached my wife about it, she told me to go, instead of moping around the house about it. Destination: Greensboro
Friday, 8:00 p.m.
Joe has arrived from Naples. His 2016 Chevrolet Impala pulls up in the driveway. I have been packed and ready to go since 6 p.m. As I go out to greet him, my wife tells me to "drink plenty of water, you know how you are on trips". Joe comes in, says "Hi" and we are off. Our mission is clear. Only we can accomplish what must be done. And we'll be back with a championship. Oh, yes.
Friday, 10:30 p.m.
Our first stop. A rest area. (You know how old guys are and bathroom trips, right?) There is a van in the rest area that at least eight people, youngsters, pile out of. They are all pretty much dressed the same. I ask the adult (thankfully) driving some general questions. They are going to Atlanta for a youth mission or something like that. I tell the driver we are on a mission as well. He looks at me and hurries the kids back into the van as they return from the facilities. All I needed was dark sunglasses and a black suit. Joe tells me that he's getting hungry. I produce a big bag of Fritos from the bag I put in the back seat. Driving and Fritoing, oh yeah. He puts a Neil Diamond CD into the player. We roll on with "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie" as companions.
Saturday, 4:30 a.m.
We have reached Darlington, SC and it's time for gas and maybe a little breakfast. We have solved just about all the current world problems, and heard from Neil Diamond, the Guess Who, Peter Frampton, The Beatles and a few other stars from the past and the sight of the Waffle House beckons us. Our waitress is named Doris and she's about to become a grand-mother again and about to end her shift. Joe goes for the All-Star breakfast, or something like that. I stick with a waffle and oatmeal with sausage, my "go-to" at Waffle House. Gotta stay heart-healthy and consistent, ya know. There is a couple in the corner that are arguing about his actions the night before. We were driving, honest, and had no part in his shenanigans. Joe's car takes $40+ in gas. On the road again!
Saturday, 7:29 a.m.
Greensboro, we have landed! We hit the Red Roof Inn near the Coliseum. The desk clerk tells us check-in is not until the afternoon. We plead our case. We desperately need a few hours of shut-eye before the game. She's sympathetic and relents for a room. We are (or at least I am) asleep by 8 a.m. The plan is, up at noon, clean up and to the Coliseum, about a mile away. We have parked next to a SUV with Kentucky plates. Good luck is with us!
Saturday, 10:23 a.m.
Rise and shine, travelers! We go about it and hit the car and head to grab a bite and hit the coliseum. There is a Hooters near us but we avoid the temptations of wings and girls and settle for the Olive Garden. They open at 11 a.m. and we're the first one's in. I text Paulie and tell him of our decision to make the trek. He's already at the Coliseum, just finished doing radio and wishes us good luck and great seats. Maybe we'll get together later.
Saturday, 2:15 p.m.
The Cards have put away N.C. State in a hard-fought game. Louisville didn't look especially sharp but got the job done. We are sitting next to a couple from Louisville who have never heard of CARDINAL COUPLE. One of the very few, most likely. He pulls the site up on his phone and he likes it. Gotcha a new couple of readers, Paulie. On the house, pal. How would they have fared against Duke? Thankfully, we didn't have to find out. NC State had a couple of BIG girls who had little trouble scoring inside on the Cards but -- Arica Carter for President! This FSU vs. ND game should be good. We are FINALS BOUND and our mission is halfway accomplished.
Saturday, 6 p.m.
We now know it will be the Irish and Cards in the Finals. They looked good against FSU. Shakayla Thomas better make the All-Tournament Team, though. She did all she could for the Noles. The couple we're sitting next to tells us about a little pizzeria near their hotel that is pretty good. We decide to go there with them and celebrate. I see Paulie down on media row and he's having a lively discussion with the guy to his left and a security official. Probably trying to talk his way out of being apprehended again.
Saturday, 10 p.m.
We have dined on some GREAT deep dish pizza at Pizzeria L'Italiano and washed it down with a few "adult" beverages. Then, back to their suite for a few cocktails out of paper cups and a few games of spades and conversation. Joe had never played spades, so naturally, he kicked our tails. We are full, sleepy and content. Game time 2 p.m. Sunday. Time for these two to surrender to the pillow. We say "Goodbye" to our new friends Scott and Donna, who are retired and living well in Anchorage, if that rings a bell, Louisvillians, and it's off to the place with the red roof. Donna, a very attractive lady, about 10 years younger than Scott. He was a supervisor at a Ford Plant in Louisville. They drink Old Forester and we had no problem with that. I drive us back to the hotel, Joe had "a couple more than I" and is happy. Very happy. He hits the sack in his clothes. I, of course, follow proper "preparing for sleep" guidelines and routines and fall asleep watching some movie about the invasion of Japan. We are ready for battle.
Sunday, 10 a.m.
What a great night of sleep! I am re-freshed, invigorated and ready to cheer on my Cards! Joe is excited also. We hit Biscuitville for a breakfast and text Paulie to join us. He is staying nearby at the Hampton. He invites us over for the buffet at the hotel. He has no car. His trip-mate Tom has taken the car to go to Mass. We pass and make plans to meet up at the game -- the lure of fresh baked biscuits too luring. The rest of the time leading up to game time is spent watching Sunday Morning talk-shows. Joe's a big fan of these. I call the wife, all is well and the family is hoping for a Card win. There is a guy out in the parking lot of the hotel who must think he's entered in a Nascar event -- such loudness on a peaceful but chilly Sunday morning is a party foul.
Sunday, 1:45 p.m.
We have met with Paulie briefly...he supplied us with "game snacks" from the Media Snack Bar and told us that he hopes, for once, the Louisville bench is in front of him. It is not. We see him down on the court talking to coaches and such and then, his hands are behind his back and a security guard is standing behind him. He is released. We find out later it was a joke he was playing on Sam Purcell -- pretending to be arrested and asking for help. It's time to play ball. The referees are Dee Kanter, Joe Vaszily and Eric Brewton. That's a good crew. The Irish look really big and well-built. We expect a close game. Let's play ball!
Sunday, 4:40 p.m.
The Cards take a thriller 74-72 and we watch the celebrations down on the court with pride and much cheering. I am full of emotion, Joe is, too. We are the winners! Just looking put on the court, The dancing, the ballons and confetti, the madness. I love this team so. They made Myisha Hines-Allen the MVP of the tournament. I might have gone in Arica Carter's direction, but it's still a good call. CARDS! Asia Durr and her clutch free throws. The Irish roaring back only to be denied at the end. That's basketball, folks. We leave the arena babbling non-stop about what we saw. the plan is to eat, go back to the hotel, take a nap and hit the road for Florida. We stop for dinner at a Mexican restaurant next the hotel. Not bad, really. Our waiter is a blonde cutie and is a Duke fan. But she's happy for us and we tip her well. Our work is done here. We didn't notice the so-called icy exchange between Jeff and Muffet -- too busy jumping around "high-fiving" and hugging those around us. Her name is ASIA DURR, though, Ms. McGraw and how you can stay balanced in a squat in those 12-inch thin heels has to be one of the seven wonders of the world. Jeff Walz has to be exhausted. He worked the sidelines just as hard as the players did on the court. Cut down that net, CJW!
Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
After a short nap, we load the Impala and we're off! Traffic is light and we are anticipating an arrival in Bradenton around 7 a.m. or so. We can't find anything about the game on local radio, so it's back to CD's. CCR is singing about not being a fortunate son. We feel very lucky and fortunate. Sorry about your luck, John Fogarty. I start answering the texts I received all day. Phone was off. I had serious business to attend to. Paulie had texted and invited us over for some Jefferson Reserve and dialogue after the game. I reply that we are on the road home. He is, too, as it turns out. My wife informs me that she wishes she had gone with us. Barry, from the next street over and a huge Cardinal fan, says he fell over his coffee table in front of the couch, while dancing and celebrating the win. Way to take one for the team, Bear!
Monday, 7:50 a.m.
|(Seems like Paulie got himself a new "crush"...)
I hope Paulie didn't try to bring Ms. Wuf home with him.