September 19, 2004
True to form, the trek began with a tall Sam Adams at the Airport TGIFridays. We had a comfortable flight out west and besides my laptop battery dying before the end of Cold Mountain and an unexpected plane change in Pittsburg, our trip was uneventful. George was kind enough to pick us up at the airport AND also hang around waiting for Alan and Josh to get in from Vegas. We found a TV playing the Sox/Yankees game and I enjoyed a dramatic comeback win... OF course, George was pessimistic, Al was rooting for his team (Booo!), and Ernie was constantly on the phone getting the play-by-play in San Diego from Al in AZ.
We arrived at the hotel, checked in and promptly headed out to the courtyard patio to meet up with the rest of the Listniks who had commandeered a table. Monty & Christianna, Bama, Steve, Cecil & Deb, Miguel, Nancy, their friend, and Bernie and his crew were already having one heck of a time. I got to meet Phil from the UK for the first time as well. Since it was after midnight East Coast time, we were starving and ordered a couple of Caesar salads. Al summoned me to the lobby to hook up with Lonie and his crew. Karyn was heading out to the Indian Casino and Big Lonie hung downstairs for awhile shooting the breeze.
Within no time, The Boys all started coming in from their various dinners. Tedy stopped to chat for a bit, Big Willie gave me a kiss right away and asked where my Hpnotiq shirt was. I told him I didn't bring it but we DID bring a bottle to keep the mojo going. He laughed and said "You've got to keep the ritual alive!" I told him that "The Big Willie Toast" certainly worked the week before with his buddy Payton! He loved it and told me that Joyce and Willie Sr. would be in the following day. Once the boys all made it upstairs, we headed back outside with the Listniks for a while. Mrs. B declared the trip a "Huge Success" having already scored her hugs, then we bid the crew goodnight.
Naturally, I awoke at 4:30AM due to the time change and couldn't get back to sleep. (Not the first time that I get only 3 hours sleep and I'm sure it certainly won't be the last!) We ended up getting up at 6:00 to hit the gym. When the sun finally came up and I opened the curtains, I was completely blown away. Since we had arrived in the dark, I had no idea what to expect. The view was absolutely breathtaking and left me speechless. After our workout, (accompanied a few rehabbing Boys and their trainers) I made a spa appointment to get a massage, manicure, and pedicure while Al went to the airport to pick up Ernie. (Great deal, huh?!.... Thanks honey!)
Deb joined us for the breakfast buffet, then we hung around the courtyard finishing our coffee. I spoke to Charlie Weis for quite awhile about an IronStone Farm benefit that we had both attended over the summer, my teaching, and his daughter. He was then kind enough to remind me of his foundation, Hannah and Friends, and told me to contact him should I feel that any of my students are in need of a grant. I wished him well then headed into the hotel to make my way to the spa. Enroute, I was greeted by NEM and another Mike of the NEPFAC who introduced themselves, thanked me for my TC Reports and once again invited us to the Pats Party at The Vine that night. Lo and behold, while I was enjoying my treatments, The Boys were taking care of business:
All gussied up and feeling fine, I joined Al, Ernie, Alan, and Josh and hit the pool for an afternoon of sun, fun, and Margaritas. The PFW boys were all there and looked to be enjoying the extra days in the desert too. The "Class of 82" shared lots of laughs and Ernie even managed to NOT drown in the lazy river although he DID manage quite a few phone calls ;-)! I got a big surprise when I complied to Big Al's request for a photo op in the waterfall... Little did I know that it was just a ledge and flipped backwards into the pit! Jacques Cousteau, watch out!! After a few hours, the sky began to cloud up and in non-typical AZ fashion it began to rain. After showering and changing we headed to the lobby where the McGinests arrived with their huge contingent and the hugs and catching up went round.
Most of the crew went to Mortons for dinner (and some went to The Vine) but we opted for an early meal at the hotel instead, then hung around the lobby for a quiet evening with Ernie, Al, & Josh. The elder two got quite a few autographs on Josh's football, although he was too shy to ask for any himself. I could have taken lots of pictures as the players were coming and going but opted not to...choosing instead to relax in a comfy chair and let Karyn (aka Groupie!) have her fun...lol! I did, however, take a minute to say a few words to our new RB Corey Dillon and welcome him to to the team. Patrick Pass actually stopped ME in the lobby and did a double-take... shocked to see me there. I spoke to TBC, Jarvis Green and Joe Andruzzi a bit as well. When the list crew returned from their dinner and the rain had stopped we headed outside for more sports talk and yet another leg of the Cigar Smoking Marathon! While most of the boys indulged, I spent a good amount of time talking to Bryan Morry (and breathing clean air) at another table.
On Sunday morning, we once again hit the gym, ate at the buffet (joined by Phil) then headed up to shower and gear up for the game. We created quite a stir in the lobby posing with the Paxton crew, causing the security guy to get bent out of shape and ask us all to see our room keys. We piled into the cars, and once Bama got the turn right (yikes!), made our way to McDuffy's. Mike King pulled out all the stops, waiving the parking and entrance fees and setting us up in a reserved section to watch the big screens. I hear the hot wings were excellent but we were still full from breakfast so Big Al and I passed. For his efforts we presented Mike with a newly bottled Bruschi Brew 9 which he'll enjoy sometime soon. We stayed there a couple of hours, hit the parking lot for our mandatory "Hpnotiq Big Willie" toast, and hoofed it over to the stadium (while Bama and Cecil opted to share a Pedicab... poor driver!)
We got to the stadium, received our 40Tillman pins then headed up to the loge section. Bama is DA MAN!!! We had great chair back seats under the overhang (with a breeze even), enjoyed great sight lines, free food, beverages and close proximity to the facilities! It was incredible to be there chanting De-Fense with the rest of the Pats Fans in the house making The Boys feel like they were home! Although not the prettiest win, I'll take it and have no complaints! The tribute to Pat Tillman was quite emotional and I'm honored to have been there in person. After the game, we headed over to the team bus area (courtesy of passes from Karyn and Joyce) to see them off. I gave the Zipster a post-game call and managed to hand the phone over to Tedy to say a few words... much to the delight (and surprise) of my Twin and Fellow Backer! (Unfortunately, one lovely lady didn't feel well but after a mid-week phone call I was relieved to hear from her that everything is A-ok!)
After the game, we hit McDuffy's again and celebrated with the crowd of Pats fans... Bama, Steve, Cecil, Deb, Dave, Al & I ate at the hotel, then joined the rest of the crowd by the firepit for more cigars and Pats List talk. Typical heated conversation ensued insuring that the fire wasn't the only thing that was hot... (I reminded Bama to check his heart rate to avoid a misfire!) Since we had a 4:00AM wake up call Al and I retired early, savoring the most incredible List Trip to date and one that we'll NEVER forget! (Of course, when I fork over at least $600 bucks to replace my laptop LCD screen that cracked sometime during the weekend, I'll certainly remember... but NO WORRIES... it was Worth It!!)
Check out the Complete Arizona Album for more pics...