Road Trip: North Texas
Amazingly, the plane landed at DFW only 15 minutes behind schedule, pretty good considering the weather in Denver.
I love trips to North Texas, mainly because I get to have a little family time when I’m there. Right after we landed and I picked up my rental car, I made the trip 45 minutes southwest to see my brother. Mike is the chief of police in Ovilla, south of Dallas. It’s a quiet little town. He calls it Mayberry. I hadn’t seen Mike since our family reunion in July. And, when I got there, I had a surprise. My brother Don was there as well. Don is a minister. He was in town to see my Dad. We had a great visit. Mike has lived his entire adult life in Texas and roots for the Cowboys. He also grew up in Louisiana and roots for the Saints. Needless to say, he really has gotten caught up in the black and gold. I brought him a “Qui Ca” tee shirt and he immediately put it on and had me take a pic so he could post it on Facebook My sister-in-law Leisa had meat loaf, buttered potatoes, black eyed peas and cornbread. My sister-in-law can cook. My sister-in-law is terrific. A great visit which lasted a little longer than I’d planned. By the time we were ready to depart (Don had to drive back to San Angelo,) it was too late to go by the nursing home to see my Dad. I knew, though, that I’d have some time before I left to make the trip to say hello.
Drove to the hotel, which was right near the airport. Another Marriott. This one I was familiar with; the football team had stayed there the last two times they played North Texas. Got a corner room and, lo and behold, another balcony. This one had a table and chair, but it was going to be too chilly to spend more than a few minutes out there. I got unpacked and, hey, it was New Years’ Eve. I went to the hotel bar. There were a couple of assistant coaches from Texas Tech there. They were playing in their bowl game against Northwestern the next day. There were also three women sitting at the bar. So, between the seven of us, I figured that bringing in the New Year that way was going to be okay.
Except that they had all left by 11:30.
I had learned that Charlie Daigle always brought in the new year with some single malt scotch. I had decided that I would drink a toast to him and his family at midnight. But now I was just hoping they wouldn’t close the bar before twelve. They didn’t. The bartender brought my eighteen year old scotch at five minutes to twelve. At midnight I looked up and raised my glass and toasted the Daigle family. Several employees showed up and management opened a bottle of champagne. Another toast. Then it was off to bed.
The plan was to get up early, head down to see my dad and then get ready for the game. But I overslept. So, it was a quick breakfast, then up to the room for some game prep. UNT has a veteran team so prep didn’t take a long time. While I worked, I caught about a quarter of Alabama/Michigan State (boy, how much did it suck to be the Big 10 on New Year’s Day?) Then it was a shower, get dressed, gather up everything and get to the arena, which was about 25 minutes from the hotel.
As it is with Denver, I’ve made some friendships with some guys at UNT over the years. The women’s game was about to start when I got there and got to spend a few minutes with UNT beat writer Brett Vito. We talked about the new football coaches at our respective schools. Hank Dickenson does the play by play for road games and color at home. He’s also the Sr. Associate Athletic Director at UNT. We had a nice visit, and of course, I harassed him about their lack of a baseball team. George Dunham does their play by play at home and I got to see him as well. I went to the media room, grabbed a slice of pizza (I’m really not supposed to eat pizza, but hey, I was hungry) and grabbed some game notes. Went back into the arena where the Cajuns women were putting a whoopin’ on North Texas. Visited with their SID Stephen Howard, who gave me a timeline and double checked to make sure my phone line was good. Did pregame with Coach Marlin.
I have to say this. North Texas is good. They’re really good. And the final score wasn’t a surprise. Sometimes the other team is better than you are and that was certainly the case. North Texas’ starting guards, Josh White and Tristan Thompson, will probably both be first team all-SBC. They played without George Odufuwa, their big guy, and the Cajuns rebounded UNT as a result. But the Mean Green has been pointing to this season since those seniors got on campus. They have seven who play. They may take a step back after this year, but there’s no question they are the class of the Sun Belt.
As soon as the game was over, it was a trip to the nursing home to see my dad. I never know exactly what I’m going to get when I go there. Dad is 87 now and pretty frail. Communicating with him is tough because he can’t hear a lick. He’s lost the eyesight in his right eye and the left eye is, well, 87 years old. But he looked really good and felt even better. He was extremely upbeat and bragged about his ability to walk. Dad lost a leg about six years ago and spent about three years in a wheelchair. But about a year ago he decided he would walk again and went through extensive physical therapy. It gave him a goal and, well, my dad has a stubborn streak. He’s now using a walker more than his wheelchair and he’s pretty proud of that. His mind isn’t always sharp but we had the best visit we’ve had in a long time. I was able to stay about an hour and a half before it was time to go. My favorite line was “I’m tellin’ ya, I’ll bet there aren’t a lot of 87 year old men doing as well as I am.” I liked hearing that a lot. From there it was back to the hotel to pack.
Woke up early….too early. But that happens a lot on travel days. I had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and left for the airport about 9:30. My mobile boarding pass didn’t work, so I had to go to the check in counter to get another. The lady gave me the boarding passes and I gave her my bag.
I haven’t seen the bag since.
The flight to Houston was uneventful. When I got to Houston, I got a sandwich and headed for the gate for the flight to Baton Rouge. Scheduled for 2:10, it said now delayed until 4:05.
I ate the sandwich and then went outside. Read for awhile, went back through security and went to the gate for the 4:05 flight. Which was now pushed back to 4:30.
I sat at the gate and read for awhile and looked up at the counter. The flight was now at 5:30. I got on the plane and found out I was going to be the only passenger. Wow. My own private plane. The flight attendant gave me a drink when the plane took off and asked if I needed anything. I told her to go ahead and take a nap. The plane landed, but by bag was nowhere to be found. I filled out a report and then headed home. Finally home by 8:00. I did learn a lesson. Never leave for a road trip without taking some of your medicine and leaving it at home just in case your bag doesn’t make it. I’m getting by with over the counter stuff.
Hope the bag shows up soon. The tracker says the bag never left Dallas.
So, how was YOUR weekend?