October 12, 2009

2009 Bull Gator Fly-Away Game -Baton Rogue, Louisiana

So we have just touched down after a 18-hour long, whirlwind day of Florida Gator Football, the annual University of Florida Bull Gator Fly-Away game. Each year, the Florida Gator Bull Gator Booster club hosts a fly-in and fly-out away game trip which starts with a charter flight out of Sanford International Airport to an SEC opponent's home stadium. Some years past trips we have attended include:
  • University of Mississippi - Oxford, Miss.
  • University of Tennessee - Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Auburn University - BFE, Alabama (sorry couldnt help it :)
This year's trip was to beautiful Baton Rogue, Louisiana to play the LSU Tigers in one of the nation's most intimidating stadiums, "Death Valley".

I have personally been waiting a long time to return to Death Valley after making the 13-hour drive from Gainesville to Baton Rogue while still at UF (1997 I think...) I missed all that "southern hospitality" that most SEC college stadiums are famous for, instead having to get stitches in my scalp after having a bottle thrown at me while leaving the stadium - and the Gators LOST that game. I hate to imagine what would have happened should UF actually WON that game...

With Gretchen being about 30 weeks along with our first pregnancy now, and that there would be two (2) hour-and-half long flight in the same day, we made an exeuctive decision to not let her make this year's fly-away trip. So you know what that means...Guys Trip!

On this adventure we have: Gator Daddy (me), Grandpa Gator (my dad), and the Original "O.U." Uncle Gator (my dad's college roommate - Dr. Ed Staudt). The flight was originally scheduled to take off from Sanford at 2pm EST, but the first plane they put the group on wouldn't start. So after an hour delay and changing planes, we finally are set to leave. I sat next to O.U. and Grandpa Gator sat in the row in front of us. Here are some pre-flight preperations that O.U. and I were making, to insure we were properly prepared for Death Valley and any turbulence in between Sanford and Baton Rogue:

We arrive in Baton Rogue, deplane directly onto the runway to meet four (4) buses waiting for the Bull Gators to drive us directly to the campus and stadium. After driving along the famous levees that holdback the mighty Mississippi River, we finally arrived to the campus. We got off the buses, and headed towards the stadium. Once there, we met with some other Florida Gator friends that had driven into New Orleans earlier in the week with family to "make a trip out of it." We all had some laughs at the expense of several of the LSU students that actually thought they had a chance...then headed inside.

One thing I will give to the LSU Tigers and their stadium...they have some seriously kick-ass Creole food available inside those walls. I saw Jumbalaya, Crawfish Pies, Ettouffe and bright red crawfish boiling in large pots. We grabbed a little bit of each and headed to our seats. Here's some kickoff pics:

Really not bad seats for an away game, where normally you get either a nosebleed from being too-high or blown eardrums from being right next to the band. This trip we lucked out, being on the lower level in a corner about ten rows BEHIND the band. That way, when they played the Gator songs we all know and love, they were playing away from us and into the stadium.

After a knock-down, drag out defense game between my beloved Gators and those dispicable Tigers, we emerged victorious 13-3. Now 5-0 in the SEC and 6-0 Overall, we headed out the stadium and back to the buses. After an hour wait in the parking lot, our buses were escorted closer to the stadium by some Baton Rogue motorcycle police. To our surprise, our buses were pulled alongside the Gator team buses. We shared some bus-to-bus Gator Chomps before heading out...really fast way out of town when you have a squad of motor cops blocking all the lights our of town, we made record time!

Back on the plane, a few more free drinks and some awesome pulled pork sandwiches made for a full stomach and a nice sleep. Back in Sanford, back in the car (I drove home...Grandpa Gator and date slept) and back home. Crawl into bed, around 530am, kiss that beautiful wife of mine and our future Gator princess and finally...FINALLY...off to sleep. Way to go Gators!

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As always, Go Gators!
Tyler "Gator Daddy" LeCompte

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