Road Trip: Bowling Green – From the Bird’s Nest
Another week, another road trip.
And, for the second straight week, we got to make acquaintance with the Nashville Airport.
It’s not often the Louisiana baseball team has had to visit Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the same season, let alone in consecutive weeks. Yet, here we were, on our way to the New Orleans airport for the Southwest Airlines flight to Music City USA.
Check in at the airport was easier for the team than it was the week before. They had learned (the hard way) to make sure their bags weren’t over 50 lbs. It didn’t take long to get through security, either. This was easy. Almost too easy. After getting to our gate, I was visiting with head coach Tony Robichaux and after we had chatted a bit, reached in my pocket for my phone.
Which wasn’t located in my front pocket, as always.
It’s funny, how it wasn’t that many years ago, we wouldn’t have had a phone with us to worry about. Now, when you don’t have it, it’s time to panic.
Had it fallen out of my pocket? I knew I had it with me as I went through security. Did I leave it at the screening area? Would I be able to get it back?
I patted my front pockets again and then patted my back pockets. The pocket with my wallet felt thicker than usual. I reached back inside.
I had stuck the phone in my back pocket with my wallet. It was only a couple of minutes. It felt like an hour.
I don’t know how often you fly, and what airline is your preference, but I’m a fan of Southwest. Not a fan of the two hour drive to New Orleans, but I like the airline. And, I think the reason is, they don’t take themselves too seriously. The flight attendance like to laugh and joke, and even the pilots will get involved on the mic. Our flight attendant on this flight was particularly funny. Those “safety announcements” are pretty boring and if you fly a lot, you’ve pretty much got them memorized. But this guy made announcements like “if you’ve been in a car anytime after 1971, you know this is a seat belt,” and “make sure your seats are in the full, upright and most uncomfortable position.” There were more, but you get the idea. When he was done with his routine, a few people even applauded.
Getting bags and getting on the bus went without a hitch, and we got ready for the one hour drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky. But first, for the second straight Thursday, it was a stop at the Opry Mills Mall for lunch. And, after about an hour or so, we were ready to finish the trip.
The baseball team stays at the Holiday Inn/University Plaza. It’s a really good hotel, nine stories with a lot of amenities. The room was spacious with a large chair, desk, king bed and HDTV. And, it was Thursday, which could only mean Sweet 16 night in college basketball.
Unfortunately, three of the four games really weren’t close. Only Ohio State and Arizona saved the night.
Friday breakfast was at the hotel and I spent a good part of the day writing. It was cold in Bowling Green, it was overcast and just a nasty day. That meant it was going to be a cold night at the ball park. The press box at Nick Denes Field has windows that roll up and I wanted no part of all that fresh air. I kept the window closed, with only a crack to have a crowd mic…for all good that did since there were fewer than 100 people in the stands.
And, of course, since it was cold and windy it was a great night for a four hour game, right?
Afterward it was back to the hotel. I wasn’t hungry….or I was too lazy to walk over to Steak and Shake.
We had found out when we got to the park on Friday that we would play a 1pm doubleheader on Saturday. That meant going to the ball park fairly early. But first, it was breakfast with friends. Chris and Celya Glowacki are two of my best “road” friends. Chris handles a great deal of the sports information department at WKU. He met Celya when she was the women’s basketball SID at Denver. They succeeded with the long distance relationship (not easy to do) and were married a few years ago at the place where they make Makers Mark.
Like I said, some of my favorite people.
I had seen Chris in January when I made the trip up for basketball, but had not gotten to see Celya. They came by the hotel around nine and we went out for breakfast. We got caught up on each others’ professional and personal lives and after about a 90 minute visit it was back to the hotel.
The forecast was for sunny skies and 65 degrees. We got neither. The temperature hit 62 or 63 and we didn’t see much of the sun. After a four hour game the night before, game one of the doubleheader lasted only 2:03. After the win in the second game, we got back to the hotel at a decent time. I got together with another friend to watch some basketball. We got to see the last fifteen minutes of Wichita State/Ohio State and took in the Georgia/Stanford women’s game before I turned in for the night.
I am not a fan of baseball on Easter Sunday. I even wrote a blog about it one time. There are several leagues around the country that play either a single game Friday and doubleheader Saturday, or move the series to Thursday, Friday and Saturday so traveling teams can get home in time to enjoy Easter. And, despite the efforts of Robichaux and Babineaux, Sun Belt coaches have never been willing to make the change.
The decision to play on Saturday wasn’t going to the get the team home any earlier, but at least we had a chance to do something we don’t always get a chance to do when we’re on the road at Easter.
Go to church.
Bab had texted everyone to let them know the bus was leaving at 10:45 and would make stops at a Catholic and Baptist church for anyone who wanted to go. Most of the team was on the bus. Thirteen or fourteen of us got out at the Living Hope Baptist Church. It was a large, modern building with a pretty large seating capacity. They had a balcony, a full band (orchestra, actually) and about 50 in the choir/praise group. It was an excellent service. Afterward it was back on the bus and over to the Catholic church to pick up the rest of the group.
Back at the hotel, it was time to get our bags and leave the hotel. Except none of our room keys worked. So they sent up someone with a master key that opened about twenty rooms. We loaded the bus and headed out.
As we headed south to Nashville and ANOTHER trip to the Opry Mills Mall, the rains came.
We got dropped off at the mall for lunch. Bab suggested Dave and Buster’s so we could watch basketball, but we didn’t want to be around the noise. So, we settled for Claim Jumpers, which is owned by the Landry’s. Athletic Trainer Brian Davis, SID Matt Hebert, Bab and I were seated immediately. Since we were in Tennessee, Yuengling was available We laughed at Bab because he thought the name of the restaurant was CLAM Jumpers. I guess he had a seafood jones, because he ordered the fish and shrimp combo. They brought out enough food to feed all of us. Bab ate it all…fried fish, grilled fish…shrimp, fries and rice.
And then ordered carrot cake for dessert. Bab had given up sweets for Lent. Lent was over.
From there it was a stop at the Opryland Hotel. About that time I returned a phone call from a family member and the conversation lasted long enough to where I didn’t make it into the hotel. After about 45 minutes the group came back and we were ready to go to the airport.
Unlike last Sunday, the flight was on time. We got into New Orleans just after ten. The routine was the same. Get off the plane, get bags, find the bus, load the bus, get on the bus. Get off the bus, get bags, go home.
At 1:15, the long day was over.
Everyone was disappointed with just one win, even though the Cajuns were playing the league leaders. Friday’s game should have been a win and the Cajuns would have had a road series win, which you have to do if you’re going to challenge for a title.
I’ve been on the road four of the last five weekends. I’m looking forward to the homestand. But in ten days it will be time to go back on the road with a trip to Little Rock.
I don’t drive long distances as often as I used to. But I’ll probably drive that trip.
I’m getting pretty tired of bus rides right now.