Sep 04, 2008 - Sep 07, 2008

UST 3.0 Dirty South

Toned down, but the BBQ makes up for it

741 Miles. 4 games in 4 days. 1 Round of Golf. 1 Casino. World Class BBQ.

In true Dirty South style we “slowed our roll” (thanks for that JaMarcus) and toned it down a bit to make a worthwhile trip through the home of college football, BBQ and Southern Belles. Had BBQ in the hood, beignets in New Orleans and walked the Alabama campus regretting the fact that we all went to cold weather schools. Our sons will not make the same mistake.

Sept 4 2008: Nashville, TN. Vanderbilt Stadium. South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt wins 24 – 17

Channel some Tribe Called Quest: Steve Spurrier…in the house. Erin Andrews…in the house. Big Daddy Kane…is in the house…no no, wait a sec. ESPN Thursday Night Football. Big upset win for Vandy. The Gamecocks were ranked #24 at the time and it was Vanderbilt’s first victory at home over a ranked opponent since 1992. Great game. Any SEC football game is a worthwhile event. Quick tour of downtown Nashville to see the honky tonk bars. Seems like a place to go back to and dig a little deeper.

Sept 5 2008: Alpharetta, GA. Trophy Club of Atlanta. Some Impromptu Golf.

Chosen on the road via our Hertz GPS system. Not bad for on the fly. Course was not too bad, but the scores were a little rough, as per usual. Red lost the head covers for Fred S’ rental clubs, at least that’s what Fred S claims. He had to pay $20 for the head covers, so he had to blame it on someone.

Sept 5 2008: Atlanta, GA. Turner Field. Nationals vs. Braves. Braves win 10 – 5.

What can you say about Turner Field? It’s a great, but not spectacular retro-ish stadium. They held some events there at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, then did some slight modifications for the Braves. Braves put up 7 runs in the third to put the game away. UST relaxed and watched as Red sat a section over by mistake then threw peanuts at him until he woke up.

Sept 6 2008: Tuscaloosa, AL. Dreamland BBQ. The Highlight of the Trip.

Absolutely perfect. A 60 year old shack in the hood, cooking up tasty BBQ, served with a smile before the Crimson Tide game. There are two items on the menu – ribs and white bread. That’s it. Big rolls of towels at each table. Metal mesh tables that don’t stop a single drop of BBQ sauce on its way to your pants. Friendly servers: “Hey yall, how ya doin?” Fred S: “Hiiiiiii!” I guess you had to be there. Spent some time out back with Little John, who inherited the restaurant from his father Big John, telling us about his process. Big pitchfork hoisting the ribs up onto the BBQ. Little John was the exact opposite of little, but couldn’t have been friendlier.

Sept 6 2008: Tuscaloosa, AL. Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tulane vs. Alabama. Bama wins 20 – 6.

Southern football at its finest. Standing room only at the game. Girls dressed up in dresses and jewellery. The campus was beautiful, the families were out, a buzz for the home opener. Walking the campus was an event itself. 90,000 people packed into the stadium. Marching bands and fights songs 10 feet away. Bama was lucky that Tulane couldn’t execute when it counted, because they were outgained in yards by almost two to one. Love that “Roll Tide” is a greeting between people on the street. Hit some old school Krisy Kreme before the game and a Chick-fil-A on the way out of town. This day is what Ultimate Sports Trip is all about. Great food. Tradition. Loyal and entertaining fans. A cool stadium experience. Down home quality folks and good teams.

Sept 7 2008: New Orleans, LA. The Superdome. Buccaneers vs. Saints. Saints win 24 – 20.

Rolled into New Orleans only a few days after the evacuation orders were lifted for Hurricane Gustav. There were questions about whether the game would even be played. We were supposed to play TPC Louisiana earlier in the day but the course was closed and washed out from the hurricane. It’s stunning to drive into New Orleans. Block after block after block of burned out and abandoned houses. The concrete on the freeways is crumbling. Many of the buildings downtown are completely empty. You can still feel the people, but most things just need to start from scratch. Its too far gone. The game was secondary to the experience of just walking around. Went to Café Du Monde for beighnets and had po boy sandwiches on Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is just a tourist trap, but you have to see it if you’re there. New Orleans needs to be experienced with someone who knows it and can really take you around. We didn’t have that, so we just went to the Harrah’s casino after the game. Mixed results at the tables, but no serious damage done. Hit Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits on the way out of town.

Other Highlights:

First experience with a Waffle House. First experience at Waffle House at 3AM. Awesome. After that, took my wife to Waffle House the first chance I had. How is it possible that they sell steaks at that place?

Funniest moment of the trip. Walking back to the car after the Vanderbilt game we were walking up the stairs of the parkade on the third floor when Fred S just disappears. No notice, no call, no text, nothing. One minute he’s right behind us walking the stairs, the next minute he’s gone. We looked all around for him for 15 minutes. Brands finally gets the call telling us that he almost blew an o-ring and turned around, ran down the stairs and across the street to the Marriott hotel lobby washrooms. 3 stalls, 2 in use and the middle stall is open but the toilet is plugged and repugnant. Too bad, no time. Fred S heaps on the destruction, destroys the toilet, and runs out before anyone can take notice. Plus, there was some fancy event in the hotel bar just across the hall.

Toured the Tulane campus and Garden District in New Orleans. Both gave you a feel for what New Orleans could be. Should have gone to a warm weather school. Big, big mistake.