A few weeks ago someone mentioned that we should do a Road Trip post, so here it is. We want this to be as interactive as possible, so please use the comments section to post your most memorable road trip, whether it was for a Tech game or not.
Seth has a story about his visit to Norman and I have a dumb recollection about a trip to Phoenix, Arizona that some buddies of mine and I took when were still in college. Let's have some fun.
Seth's Road Trip to Norman
I've only been to four Texas Tech road games. Two against SMU, which were both wins, one against TCU, the infamous 12-3 game, and 2008 in Norman. One of my best friends from law school offered me tickets for what would be the second biggest game of 2008. I suppose they all were big games leading up to playing the Longhorns, and then the next biggest game was Oklahoma St., but the showdown was in Norman on November 22, 2008.
The tickets just weren't your normal average tickets. They were on the second row, so I would be field level, and on the 10 yard line. There was no one that would be obstructing my view for the game.
In going to this game, I would be missing the wedding of one of my best friends. I had his blessing because he is also a Red Raider and he knew the potential importance of this game. Because of my friend's wedding, all of my Red Raider friends were also missing the game and that meant I didn't have any travel partners. By the time that the game rolled around, I would be heading to Norman all by myself. That day, a fairly severe cold front blew through Oklahoma and Texas. The day was beautify, but the evening was going to be incredibly cold.
I parked near Lloyd Noble and that facility is almost completely underground.
The game atmosphere was literally like no other. It was loud and the intro video was one that made you immediately think that there was no way that Texas Tech was going to win that game. It is completely dumb to type that, but I earnestly believe that their intro video was one for the ages that day. So many games become a blur in my memory. I remember watching the players warm up as the temperature drops. This was the type of cold that if things went well, then I wouldn't notice the temperature, but if Texas Tech was losing, it would be unbearable.
The game started and it was almost a blowout from the get-go. Bradford couldn't miss, Murray couldn't be stopped and the vaunted Texas Tech offense looked incredibly human. For some reason, I remember the offensive line being whipped for the better part of that game.
I stayed until the bitter end. That was a very long walk back to my car. I wasn't staying in Norman that night, but an hour down the road. I checked into my hotel room and logged onto DTN/VTM. The game thread had become beating. Lots of yelling and screaming. This was before the 24 hour window before being able to activate an account. After that game, I vowed never to not have the 24 hour window, it took a long time to clean up that game thread.
I don't think I've ever been more sports-depressed than after that game. Alone in a motel room that smelled like smoke, after a tail-whipping on the field, and having the blog in complete shambles.
SARR's Road Trip to Phoenix in 1995
Here is my recollection of my 2nd experience. A story about how I could've been shot. I mean with a gun. Shot with a gun at a truck stop in Arizona.
KP always drove his little red Honda Civic as fast as he could. I think he might've set the record for most tickets anyone has ever gotten before turning 21 and he was very proud of that. We went to the lake one weekend and he got stopped doing 88 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. As soon as he signed the ticket and thanked the officer we were off again, back into the 85-90 MPH range. His philosophy on the subject made sense in an odd sort of way. There's no way another trooper would be on the same highway. I mean, how many troopers would be patrolling up and down 84 on a sleepy summer Sunday?
So after KP got his second ticket of the day he backed it down a little and we trudged along. His driving style got me to thinking though. We'd been to Talladega earlier that summer in a borrowed van, so how about we planned another trip before the NASCAR season wrapped up, this time in KP's Honda,all Smokey & The Bandit or Cannonball Run style?
When I got home I checked the schedule and decided a trip to Phoenix would be our best bet. It was a late October race and the 2nd to the last race of the year so it would all be perfect. So I negotiated a deal with KP. I'd buy the race tickets and get us a hotel reservation if he'd drive to Phoenix. To close the deal I told him we could try and set some sort of land speed record. He was all over it.
This was in 1995 so the Internet wasn't anything close to what it is today. I printed out some sort of crude map quest that routed the trip for us. We'd take 380 through New Mexico and then connect on I-10 once we got into Las Cruces. I found us a great deal at a motel called the Pink Flamingo near the Phoenix airport. It was crazy the rate we got. You mean we can stay in a resort style motel, in Phoenix Arizona, for $39 a night? Where do we sign!
I bought four tickets thinking that The Nusser and Smart Matty would be able to go but they backed out at the last minute. The Nusser had some lame excuse about "having a job" and Smart Matty pulled the same old crap about "attending class" and "studying for an exam." We were in the same Poly Sci class together so I tried to tell him about sacrifice, but he was a no go.
So we pitched the idea to Turtle. Hey Turtle, do you want to ditch class on Friday and Monday and drive to Phoenix to watch a NASCAR race, even though you've never watched a race in your life?
Looking back now it makes me realize that the world would be a lot more fun if everyone made decisions like they did when they were 21. None of us had ever been any further west than Ruidoso and we were about to jump in a little red Civic and see how fast we could get to Phoenix.
We left on Friday at about two since it was only a 12 hour trip. We had our MS dos version of mapquest directions in hand and a trunk full of beer. KP was in full turbo mode so we had a caravan of Tech students on their way to Ruidoso following behind us as KP led the charge. We made it Roswell in about an hour and 45 minutes and stopped at the Town & Country. A few in our new caravan stopped with us and congratulated KP on his awesomeness and asked if they could follow us all the way to Ruidoso. My MS dos mapquest showed us going through Roswell on 380 and then 70 to Alamogordo, then to Las Cruces and onto Phoenix. There was no mention of Ruidoso so I apologized to the guy and told him we weren't going that way. He looked a little confused but said they'd stay behind us until we turned off because we were making such good time.
So when we pulled into Ruidoso I was a little embarrassed and wanted to keep going but we had to stop because Turtle needed a break and our Tech caravan stopped as well. I awkwardly waved as they saluted KP on a job well done, and sped away. We made it from Lubbock to Ruidoso in just over three hours, and didn't even know we were going through the town.
Turtle loaded up and I took over the driving. I'm a little more conservative than KP so my role was to get the best gas mileage possible. I showed KP that by just going 20 MPH slower I was increasing our MPG by almost 5. He was frustrated by the pace, but glad to save a little money on gas.
We stopped at a Truck Stop in Wilcox, Arizona and piled out of the car. We picked up some jerky and Big Red and the lady at the counter told us to be careful because there was a guy outside with a gun.
Excuse me what?
There's a guy out there in a white car with a gun. Just be casual. I don't think he'll shoot you.
You don't think he'll shoot us? Is that what you just said?
Yes, just take your jerky and don't make eye contact. You should be fine.
Her demeanor led us to believe that this might be a common thing in Wilcox, Arizona but we were shaken nonetheless. Damn, this really was the Wild West!
We grabbed our stuff and looked straight at the ground and tried to look as casual as possible as we got back in the car. KP took over and sprayed gravel all over that parking lot as we nervously watched the guy in the white car. We made it out and KP got us to Phoenix as fast as that Honda would go.
We had directions to the Pink Flamingo and were excited to get there. But as we kept getting closer the scenery kept getting worse. With each turn we made it seemed like we were getting further and further away from safety and closer to a bad movie set. We finally found the Pink Flamingo and even though it was really late at night there sure were a lot of ladies in leather dresses walking around the parking lot. Now normally, this would be a good thing for a bunch of young college kids, but none of these ladies shoulda been wearing leather dresses. It wasn't all that flattering. In fact it wasn't flattering at all.
The lobby door was locked so we banged on a window for about 10 minutes while the ladies of the night circled us like coyotes. Finally the owner opened the window and sleepily checked us in. The plan was for one of us to take the bed while the other two used a cot or extra pillows to sleep on the floor.
Sir, do you have any cots?
Do you have any extra pillows?
We walked to our door and held our breath as we hoped for the best. It didn't work. The room was terrible. Green shag carpet. I don't even know what kind of bedspread it had. The walls were stained. The TV didn't work. I don't remember but it may not have even had a bathroom.
As soon as we turned out the lights we could hear the bugs and rats. We decided it wasn't ideal, but we should all three sleep in the bed, on top of the covers. It was an awkward night to say the least.
The next morning we found a Waffle House and tried to come up with a new plan. Sure, the price was great, but was it worth potentially getting eaten by rats or maybe even getting beaten up by hookers? No. It was not.
The problem was it was a race weekend so all the hotels had to be booked up. We crossed our fingers and took a shot at a Hilton we found not far from the Waffle House. Somehow, miraculously they had 1 room for $200 a night. We're broke college kids and $200 is pretty steep. Hell yes, we'll take it.
I don't even think we checked out of the Pink Flamingo. We just grabbed our stuff and got the hell outta there and over to the Hilton. From there we headed to the track to watch the truck race and to get Turtle primed for some NASCAR.
KP has always been a music aficionado so we had Guy Clark's LA Freeway to listen to along with some Townes Van Zandt and Everclear. On the way to the track though we turned on Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced " to get Turtle all riled up. He was jacked.
In 1995 Mike Skinner was the king of truck racing and he drove the #3 for RCR. He looked just like Earnhardt's younger, chubbier brother with the same moustache and sunglasses that Dale made famous. It worked for him as he dominated the race and Turtle was hooked, especially when they sped by us on the first lap. We were standing right by the flag stand and I think Turtle had tears in his eyes as we watched that #3 truck mow ‘em down.
We got back to the Hilton, went to the bar, and KP started singing all the Hendrix songs and peeing all over the bathroom (that's his thing). When we finally turned in for the night each of us had our own clean bed, which just felt right. We got back to the track on Sunday early enough to take in the sights and sounds of another Cup race and loved every minute of it.
Our seats were on the backstretch and before the race started a guy walked by and held up a sign that said "ANYBODY BUT EARNHARDT." He was pelted with bottles and corn dogs. It was awesome.
The race was great. Earnhardt passed Gordon for 5th place with a few laps remaining and everyone went crazy because it meant the championship wouldn't be decided until next week which was the final race of the season (Gordon ultimately won it, much to the chagrin of many old timers).
Ricky Rudd won the race to keep his streak of winning at least once per season alive, which he'd continue for several more years. KP being KP, led us out of the track and back to the car (which was parked as close to the highway as possible) as quickly as he could because KP is a man of speed. I remember on the way out seeing a man all decked out in a Ricky Rudd orange shirt with a Tide hat and Tide shorts and a Tide cooler and tears in his eyes. He was so happy for Rudd and he was so happy to be there.
We got back to the hotel and hit a few bars and headed back to Lubbock on Monday morning.
We didn't stop in Wilcox but we did stop in Ruidoso and prepared KP to set a new record time. We made it back to Lubbock in 2 hours and 45 minutes and we stopped at McDonalds in Roswell. That still has to be some sort of record.
On Wednesday morning I groggily went to my Poly Sci class and told Smart Matty all about the trip and asked if could borrow his notes but he was selfish and wouldn't share his notes with me, even though he knew that I really needed to keep my C average and he was already the class favorite. I think the professor even let him sit on his lap during class sometimes but NOOOOO, Smart Matty wouldn't share his notes with me. Whatever.
I was wearing my new white P.I.R. (Phoenix International Raceway) cap as I sulked and tried to figure how I was going to pass the test when a kid beside me looked at my cap and asked if I was a PIKE.
Nah man, I'm a NASCAR fan.