A soggy Giants' Tailgate Crew (....and a foggy camera lens too!)
With plans to hook up with a whole host of Tailgaters (veterans and rookies alike) Big Al and I picked up Little Lucy and Suzanne and headed out to embark on their very first Patriots experience. Pulling into our usual lot, we were met with an increased price of $35 and an increased frustration level of 100%. Seems that our familiar stomping ground was purchased by the Patriots and we were required to follow their parking protocol. For some reason they filled the perimeter with cars and didn't allow anyone to park (even remotely) close to the spot of their choosing. Zip was the first to arrive and set up in the vicinity of our typical spot.
Despite pleading, we ended up WAYYYY across the lot, (although the entire middle was empty), and were forced to carry all of our gear to Zip's site. Of course, we didn't bother bringing the canopy as it was too heavy to carry and we had nowhere to set it up anyway. There were not many happy campers in our lot that day... I did my share of moaning and complaining but I stopped short of the ranting and screaming of others that required lot attendants to suggest that security be called!
Once we got situated, greetings were exchanged, the beverages were flowing and Al performed his "grill magic", Mrs. B. was back in her element! Cecil greeted me with a big bear hug... and Canadian beer as well. It was nice to see Deborah again and to meet fellow listnik Chris Woods and his wife. The great crew from Nashua Sports Collectibles joined in and braved the elements with veterans Zip, Coach, and Robin (and her Giants fan daughter Madison). Ed, in his throwback Adam V. jersey joined the party too. Unfortunately, my crew from the patriotsplanet message board (except Cookie) ended up EVEN further away than we parked so we never hooked up...(Once we straighten out this TG dilemma, we'll have to try again!!)
Cecil enjoyed my marinated chicken... (almost a sin because the recipe is so easy...lol) and being preseason, Coronas were the beverage of choice. (Of course, BB8 was consumed as well... but due to my short supply, saved for the victory elixer.) It began sprinkling as soon as we arrived, but it was cozy under the tent and failing to check the forecast we headed to the stadium sans rain gear. By the time we got to the stadium a steady rain was falling and by game's end, an out and out downpour!!!
Not bothering to make the trek to the stratosphere of 314, we opted to stand inside the lower bowl concourse. We had a nice vantage point to watch Tedy B. register the first sack of the game and celebrate in earnest! Tedy-protégé Klecko had an outstanding debut and newly acquired veterans showcased their talents as well. The boys handily defeated the Giants 26-6 and finally.....football is in the air!!!
With the stadium emptying due to the rain, we seized the opportunity and helped ourselves to some prime seats. (shhhhh!!!) The view was awesome and getting that close allowed me to take a few pics, watch the veterans joking on the sidelines and practically hear Tedy singing Badlands along with Bruce at the break! Of course Al's view got a thumbs up from him and judging by the number of pics he took....Jose would be proud!! Got a Tedy-wave at the half and a victory shake after the game, which Al almost had on film, capturing a great shot of my shoulder and Tedy's hair instead...LOL!
Back at the tailgate site,`Laureen and Larry surprised us, having arrived at the game just after kickoff. Although pouring steadily, Al sparked the grill and waited for the traffic to subside. Watch out Monty....... the Cardoza's (gluten-free, even!) steak tips ruled the night drawing praise from all in attendance. The next TG will feature the "vacationed-out" Zip and Cardozas and hopefully the tailgate parking experience that we've grown accustomed to! Stay tuned for "As the tailgate turns...." or "Time's, they are a changin..."?
The Bears Crew dressed and ready for action!
Being subjected to a classroom upheaval at school, the last thing I needed was tailgate locale upheaval again as well, so the plan was to meet up with the Zipster off-site and drive in together insuring that we would be side by side. We followed through with our plan and met him and his guests at DD on Rt. 1. When we pulled into the lot, paid, and heard the words "Park anywhere you want along the perimeter," we were totally psyched!! (Now, we KNOW that it will be mobbed once the regular season starts but so far it looks like status quo for the tailgate crew.)
A sunny, summer afternoon provided the perfect preseason tailgate atmosphere, as did good company, lots of delicious food, and beverage choices aplenty. We were quite the mellow crew... something that suited me just fine on my first day back to school. Zip's guests Gene, Michelle, and Mish (sp?) saw to it that Zip "Ate like the bear ate, drank like the bear drank" and cripes... even drank beer from the bear!! And of course, you know I could never refuse the offer of Sushi!!
The Bear theme dominated the day with:
Big Al manned the grill and performed bartending duties as well on that fine afternoon. We introduced the crew to my personal favorite cocktail, Hypnotiq Breeze and word is.... It got a major thumbs up from all who indulged in the concoction. I also sampled my first taste of Mead, courtesy of Gene and Michelle. My honey also manned the camera as I spent the majority of my time sitting and recovering from a hectic day of work... which explains the lack of Super Sleuth pics here. (I'll get ya next time.... cuz you KNOW you and Monty will be sparkin those stogies for sure!)
After Michelle showcased her artistic talents we made our way into the stadium. We were pleased to be able to cross right at the end of the path like we did in the Old Fox days thanks to a trial run by the Troopers to establish additional crossing routes. (Gets my vote for sure!)
We once again stood in the lower bowl concourse rather than heading up top. The boys came through unscathed, pulled out a 38-23 win, and insured that Mrs. B. got her post game Tedy shake and hello!
Post game, Jessica, Ben and Cara joined us, we feasted on " Cardoza-fast becoming infamous-steak tips" and suffered through our annual "I can't believe my battery is dead, does anyone have any cables, and can you give us a jump?" dilemma! All turned out fine and now we're REALLY READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!
A host of folks from near and far...
In true Veteran Tailgate form, my preparations began in earnest on Thursday night. With the meal planning and shopping complete, I could honestly answer "Yes, it is!" to the long distance telephone query of "Is this Karen Tailgate?" Having met Lonie Paxton's folks last season on a couple of away treks, I extended them an open invitation to join us for tailgating at its finest: Foxboro-style...(Lonie Sr. saved my number as Karen TG, thus insuring that he'd remember why there was a strange woman's number in cell phone address book!)
Carrying forth our plan to meet offsite and drive in together, Zip and Charts, Lisa and Dana, Monty, and the Sleuth and I along with coworkers Craig and John hooked up early to insure five adjacent spots in our (now incognito) lot. We secured our usual spot and erected our 3 tents, however the lush forest backdrop was replaced with Tonka Truck Trees. To the left, a clear view of the stadium could be had and quite a bit of wind atop our hill as well. Gone was the familiar path leading from Rt. 1 to our site, rather the Paxton crew "blazed a trail" over stumps and all, with cooler in tow, just to join us!
Also making the trek to NE was Sean (Soothsayer of JetsInsider.com) and his Troop 16H Tailgate crew, who set up across from us and are clearly a classy lot and tailgate pros as well. Garbanza joined in the fun and Armen da Pats Fan could be seen with his trademark stogie. (Of course, Monty and Big Al indulged in theirs as well!) Naturally our regulars Robin, Darren, Laureen and Larry were there and visitors Wayne and his wife (from patsfans.com mb) also enjoyed the festivities.. Zip had a crew of visitors (Joel and Norm and I recall seeing Wolfie's dad I believe) as did Laureen and Larry.... Listnik Bill made his appearance and like many others in attendance, marveled at touching a real live Superbowl ring!
Charts was Zip's guest this week and a proven tailgate pro.... As always there was too much food... and quite the variety for sure. Sleuth tempted us all with Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast, while Lisa went for more hearty fare of bacon and eggs. Monty had his grill blazing drawing rave reviews (and recipe inquiries) with his Bourbon Salmon getting top honors. Of course my game day pot of chili was on the stove for all to share along with Italian sausage, peppers, and onions rounding out our pre-game fare. The Paxtons brought along some Mexican Carne... very tasty indeed, and just right for the meat lovers in our midst. (Right, Monty?!)
On the beverage front, since it was still summer... every hour was "Corona Hour" for me ... but I did managed to sample each of Monty's heartier brews as well. Sleuth whipped up a huge batch of Barz's Punch which the ladies helped him consume. (Beware... we also call it "Tattoo Party Punch" cuz if you drink enough of it at the tattoo party you leave with a tat whether you planned on getting one or not.. but that's another story!) However, thanks to the blazing afternoon sun, water won top billing from me and I consumed it in earnest. My Absolute Jello Shots came in two varieties for this game: "Feast on the Jets" green and "Proud to be a Patriot" red. Zip did the group toast honors... (despite a broken ankle and broken wrist...)
We made our trek into the stadium and thanks to a nice couple who gave us their seats, we enjoyed a terrific view and a nice vantage point to grab some pics of the boys on the field. The sun was blazing and although my lips are burnt considerably, it was well worth it!! Despite numerous injuries, the Patriots prevailed and pulled off a 23-16 win. Of course, you know what that means... Victory Handshake for me!!
and now... the long awaited wager payback.....
Sooth sporting a Bruschi jersey... (looks like he's lovin it, too!)
Same Lot... Different Spot
After kicking around the possibility of moving to an entirely different lot, the "canopy committee" of Zip, Monty and the Cardozas decided to try to scope out a new home along the tree line. We secured a nice spot at the opposite end of the lot, providing a forest backdrop, a shorter walk to the stadium, and easier access for visiting guests. Lisa and I occupied the space while the drivers were queuing up to pay and after initial "territorial discussions" with our neighbors it was determined that there was in fact plenty of room to coexist amicably. I trust that our shelter will be a welcome haven for all during rainy weather and access to their fire pit will hit the spot on those artic winter game days and nights.
Our tailgate boasted regulars Zip, Karen, Al, Monty, Lisa, Dana, Laureen, Larry, Robin, Lew and everyone's respective guests as well as visiting list folk, Bama, Steve, Phil and Bill. I also had "satellite locations" going as Jessica(lovesthePats) and her family set up across from us, as well as my favorite radio producer, John from WHJJ, and his crew a couple of cars down. Welcome to all.... join us any time!!
Food was aplenty as always, and Bruschi Brews flowed freely. Mrs. B. officially closed out "Corona Hour" imbibing in the last of the lighter ale as summer inevitably made it's departure. Watch for the reunion of Mrs. B. and the "brewer and patriot", Mr. Samuel Adams for the remainder of the season.... Monty, Bama, and Al smoked us out with stogies ALL day... Larry loved my food (as always), and Dad made his way over from his spot in Lot 11 to say hi. JoePhoto stopped by to visit with his fellow Planeteer, Mrs. B. and take a quick pic. Zip's brother Rick moved into the big time of regular season competition like a veteran. Karen and Zip sported twin wrist splints.... (Hers: torn meniscus, His: broken wrist) Bill's offering call of "Shrimp?" had me looking about to see who was calling... (although I feel just right next to Laureen!) Zip provided the Jello Shots and made it to the Jumbotron, yet again...
The Clash of the Titans took place on a beautiful fall day in New England... reuniting last year's Tennessee Trekkers, Karen, Al, Bama, and Steve. (Aside from the game outcome and the absence of injured Tedy, the stellar atmosphere of that trip will probably never be topped!) Glad to say that Steve and Bama are good mojo for Patriots home games. As Steve said, "I don't travel all the way from Floriduh for nothing." And Bama's trip north from Alabama brings his Gillette Stadium record to 2-0! You two boys are welcome anytime!! (See you soon in Miami!)
The Pats played a physical game, rewarded with a 38-30 win and a record over .500. It was a great day for Boston as the Sox won Game 4 setting up a showdown on Monday night against Oakland. Of course, football was the main focus of my day (wore the Johnny Damon jersey under my Bruschi), and scoring that victory handshake topped it off nicely. Naturally, at our post-game tailgate the weekly "Tip-Off" took place with Monty, Karen, and Zip all providing samples of various recipes of delectable Steak Tips.... Enticed by Bobby Hamilton after the Jets win to go over to the Endzone after today's game, Al and I decided to take him up on the offer. We spent some time shooting the breeze with him while Pepper Johnson and a dozen or so players ate, drank, and played pool.
For me, the Pats Party continued right into Monday as Al and I took in the WHJJ radio show at the Warwick Mall then headed up to The Rack in Boston for Mike Vrabel's Celebrity Pool Tournament. Couldn't think of a better place to be to watch the Sox clinch.... in Beantown, surrounded by my Pats!! Well, I love that dirty water......
Deja-Vu... Another soggy and foggy Giants' Tailgate pic!
Since the last Giants Tailgate (and first of the season) we've a.) found a new home, b.) reconnected with the "regulars", c.) made new friends, d.) resurrected the staples of chili and steak tips, and e.) smartened up and donned raingear! (So much for passing showers in Foxboro; we encountered a steady rain all day.) Having made reciprocal arrangements with our new neighbors to secure the area for the entire group, we felt comfortable forgoing the Dunkin Donuts rendezvous and headed straight to the lot from home. Al and I pulled in line right behind Zip, Bino and the two Troys so the Twin Backers did the honors and walked to the spot with a couple of chairs to take care of the entire extended group. We succeeded in our quest and although soggy, wasted no time in setting up and kicking it into high gear.
The purchase of the three identical canopies this Spring has already proven to be a wise investment..... our crew has grown considerably and housing everyone on a rainy day would be impossible without the extended space. We were quite comfortable and cozy under the shelter and had plenty of room to move about.... of course, the Cardoza's chairs were out of commission anyway since they took a nice soaking while serving as place holders in the early AM so their absence aided in the found space effort.. (Then again, since when does Mrs. B stay put long enough to sit anyway?!?!?)
"Grills" were the buzzword of the day... or should I say "lack of grills". Zip's remained in Nashua, Dana and Lisa's made the trip sans propane and attachment. Robin planned on borrowing some space on an open one thus left hers in CT. And Monty, Dave and Darren, just how many tailgaters DOES it take to get a charcoal grill up and running, ?!?! Although there was a bit of a shortage, we managed just fine. Even our new neighbors (The Fantasy Football Crew) had their woes with their brand new Cadillac version taking a dump on the highway. (Thankfully, the damage was just cosmetic and they finally got fire!) Our other neighbors (The Fire Pit Crew) had absolutely NO fire woes that's for sure!!
Our host of regulars was there (except Laureen and Larry who attended a wedding... what's wrong with these people getting married during football season...Yikes?!) Miguel made a late appearance, Dad walked over to say hello, even Al's cousin Paul made a surprise visit. Jessica made her post game trek. Zip's guests included Bino and the two Troys... couldn't think of a better first NFL experience for the little guy than today.... even scoring a victory handshake from THE MAN on his first time out! Robin and Zip BOTH freaked me out this week with those funky Patriots contacts!
There was absolutely WAY too much food, although Mrs. B's Tailgate Chili pot went home empty again. I'm sure the wet, damp conditions coupled with the efforts of neighbors from near and far contributed greatly . Our weekly "Tip Off" included entries by Karen, Bino and Zip, while Monty wisely opted to not waste his fare since there were not enough appetites to support any more food! Zip came up with a delectable concoction; I admittedly never tried Bino's and mine were met with the usual response, although most likely due to the offer of "Would you care to try my tips?" I admit... I do have an unfair advantage in that area!
Game time brought steady rain, standing in the crowded concourse for the first half, then sitting in Zip's row for the second half since he and Bino were the only one's there! These people... afraid of a little rain... sheesh! Needless to say, their Part Tilt, Part Time status provided Troy, Troy, Al and I with some perks! Bring on the RAIN, every game!! Of course Zip was on national TV three times this week and even the Troys and Al made the Jumbotron! I was glad that Westy gave us a holler on the way out of the stadium... We Patriots Nation Internet Folks need to stick together...hehehe!
Pats felled the Giants 17-6, sparked by an outstanding defensive performance. After registering a career high 16 tackles and 2 pass deflections Tedy came by post-game and joked with Zip that all he needs to do now is learn how to catch! He played an awesome game and of course provided me with my weekly "injury scare". That's what happens when you only know how to play one way... FTFT!
Our Patriotic Partying continued at the Endzone, then on to our favorite watering hole where we watched Sunday slip into Monday......
Next on Tap.... Welcome to Miami!!
Yet another move.... As the Lot Turns!
Heading out early with Little Lucy, Suzanne, and Jacob in tow, the Cardozas hit the lot at 8:15 prepared to secure spots for the extended tailgate group. When we arrived however, we were surprised to find that the tree line was now reserved for RVs only. (Yet another "Club Seat" situation... the prime spots remained empty while the regular folk crowded into the middle of the lot.) After conferring with rest of the Canopy Crew (Zip and Monty) we got out of line and rendezvoused once again at Dunkin Donuts to insure that we would pull in together. (Just what DID we do before cell phones?) While there, Zip and I were approached by Vincent (STH_from_MTL on PatsFans.com) all the way from Montreal. It was nice to run into yet another dedicated Pats supporter!
Once we got into the lot, we were relieved to end up in the front row right on the corner. Much to my pleasure, all of our new neighbors (Fire Pit Crew and Fantasy Football Crew) were each just a few spots down. Even our old neighbor Hank (from our Northern digs) ended up close by. Naturally, you KNOW that meant that I didn't spend much time in one place as I had to make the rounds!! Darren joined us as usual and Listnik Chris Woods and his wife Angela were there as were PatsFan Wayne and his wife Donna. Many folks dropped in... Dad, JoePhoto, Phil, Pires, and an abbreviated version of the Paxton Crew. Zip's guests were Jim (Dawgpound) and Ben and Cara who put on quite the spread and hosted a tailgate dart tourney!
Big Al started us off with cheese omelets, and we moved right into Italian sausage, peppers and onions. Of course you know that Mrs. B.'s chili was welcome on a drizzly, fall day. As always, there was too much food and I need to reconsider spending all day Saturday cooking and get a life! I brought together folks from the satellite tents to join me for the pre-game Jello Shot toast honoring "Good food, great friends, and 6-2!"
We headed into the stadium enjoying balmy, tropical conditions... mild, damp and WINDY! We scored some great tix for the game... (thanx to someone special!) which provided us a great view and seats for an entire game for a change. Although some folks were cold, I was quite comfortable and even ventured in wearing my favorite footwear, Adidas sandals... talk about gutsy in late October! We could see all of the action including the unfortunate accident of a man falling face first down the steps! Here's hoping he's ok... The crowd was quite vocal and it seemed to get very loud at times. (I always leave the game hoarse, I know that!) My favorite moment in the game (besides the end result) was seeing Tedy B's GAME FACE on the Jumbotron then watching him break out in a huge ROARRRRRR!! The crowd joined in and raised the roof!
Post-game we made our way down to the banner, and although I got my handshake, I almost ended up over the railing and Al couldn't get any pictures thanks to the loud, drunk guy who was screaming like a banshee and pushing from behind. After the game, we held our usual Tip-Off, I drank my Bruschi Brew, and ate way too much. After dropping the girls off, unpacking, and cleaning up a bit, we headed out for a night cap but practically fell asleep at the bar so we headed home early, missing the boys who came in right after we left. Although I love home games, I'm looking forward to a weekend off so I can go watch Jacob play his final game of the season and watch the Pats from my couch on Monday night!
Here's the complete Browns Tailgate Album.
Prime Time Players....
With much hype surrounding the Sunday night tilt between the 7-2 Patriots and 7-2 Cowboys (not to mention the buzz about the Battle of the Bills) we set off early to begin our Patriotic pre-game partying early.... We were anxious for game day and my preparations started earlier in the week. We met at our rendezvous spot laden with too much food, too many beverages, and two extra guests in tow. Jacob joined us once again and Big Al's nephew/godchild/Dallas fan, Ryan, cashed in on his birthday gift. When we pulled into the lot, we were faced with yet more changes and unrest. Having specifically met off-site to insure that our cars would be parked side-by-side we were forced to parked behind one another instead... (Please e-mail me for the locale if you plan on joining us for future games... It appears that we will be moving to a new lot soon.)
Once we got ourselves somewhat settled and tempers were cooled, we set up in earnest and began feasting. Appetizers were aplenty; Dana and Lisa provided their bacon-wrapped scallops, Monty grilled up some cat fish and I whipped up Clams Zuppa (complete with crusty bread to dunk!) to complement the abundance of Tuna steaks going round the trio of tents. Of course, the infamous chili pot was on the stove and was joined by Wolfie's version as well.
In addition to regulars Zip, Monty, Dana, and Lisa we had had a host of other folks as well ..... It was a pleasure to share some time and conversation with Vincent from Montreal and his buddies. Of course, once Dad showed up, the preferred language switched to French! (Talk about another dedicated Pats fan and season ticket holder...traveling from Canada for every home game!) Wolfie was Zip's Tailgate competition guest this week although Ben and Cara will be considered regulars quite soon! Zip's friend Nicole donned Pats gear since we weren't playing the Vikings.... a much better choice I might add!! Fellow teacher and football fan, Stephanie joined us with her husband John.. and loved their rookie venture into our world! Rich Carreiro from Zip's Email list and his wife also hopped aboard... as did Lisa's husband, Dana. Many others joined us as well... helping to add to the festivities...
We headed in to the game early in order to stop at the Will Call to pick up some tix.... enjoyed great seats, a comfortable night (sans wind, thank God) and a half-time rendezvous with our South Street Crew! Another Huge win for our boys with defense leading the charge. Tight games played within the 40's don't make for much excitement but I'll take the results any day!! Tedy's huge stop on 4th and 1 was the highlight for me. Of course we made our way down to the banner for our shake.... then headed back to the tailgate to continue celebrating. Champagne was shared and praise was given... we gloated for awhile then with this one in the books, the traveling crew's thoughts turned to the upcoming Houston Hoe-Down! How-dy!
Pre- Game Miami Crew... and one of my many phone calls with Chowdah!
Much to my delight, Southern New England was treated to an early season blizzard just as the Dolphins were scheduled to come to town. Snow started falling in RI at 5:00pm on Friday and didn't let up until Sunday night! Determined to not let anything interfere with my tailgate plans, I shopped on Friday afternoon and cooked on Saturday. Although the game wasn't until 4:15, the Tailgate Crew hit the road early. (Little did we know just how important our routine of getting in line before they even opened the gates would be!) Al and I drove north at 10:30 in white-out conditions but trudged on. After our Dunkin Donuts rendezvous, our group headed to the lot at 11:30. Finding P10 not yet plowed, we drove further south and set up in Lot 11. By noon, our tents were up and we were feasting... oblivious to the chaos that was unfolding and occurring on Route 1 all afternoon.
Regulars Zip, Monty, Dana, Lisa and Darren braved the elements and it was great to finally see Laureen and Larry again! (Tell those friends "No more weddings during football season!") Charts came through and accepted a last minute invite to fill Zip's open ticket and Kathy, Brian, Bob and his Dol-phan buddy, Steve(?) rounded out Zip's guest list. . Our northern neighbors, Vincent and the Canadian Contingent drove 8 hours to join in the festivities. Al's co-worker and Miami fan, Jeff, repaid his debt to Zip for last year's Miami loss... and joined us with his brother who is the smarter of the two, btw... (Pats fan!). Glad to see they dressed for the weather this year and didn't leave early! I played phone tag all afternoon with Chowdah from The Patriots Fan Club of Rochester... who informed me of the gridlock getting to the stadium. Opting to park far away and walk, he and Zilla made it to the game and our post-game tailgate. Wayne and Donna joined us as well.
Because we were parked in separate rows, we only had enough space for two tents but by walling in 3 sides, we had a dry, cozy spot to gather. I manned the stove, dishing out Clam Chowder and Mrs. B's Chili then whipped up a batch of Clams Zuppa, attracting the guys from the next TG who inquired "Who's cooking with gahhhlic?" Al sparked the grill and Mahi Mahi was the next course.. In the beverage department he opted for wine and I had a few Sams but the hot chocolate laced with Rumpleminze really hit the spot!
Heading into the stadium.. I was giddy! I love snow and was totally psyched for the game. .. When we entered, the place was practically empty so we chose a spot right down front, dug out a couple of seats and settled in right behind Zip. As people started arriving, (well into the second and third quarters) we dug out new seats and settled in once again. The atmosphere was festive and although the stands were full of snow, most people were making the best of it. Folks started tossing the fine powdery snow in the air like confetti when we saw something we liked. Big Al called for a Tedy INT/TD and no sooner did it leave his lips.... OMG... it Happened!!! I was screaming and jumping up and down like a nut and grabbed Zip and hugged him! Snow confetti was flying like crazy.... As soon as they played Rock and Roll II we all began throwing snow up in time to the music; precisely in sync with the word "Hey"! It was magical and is something that I will NEVER forget... What a blast this game was!!
Post game, Tedy ran over at full speed, jumped up on the snow bank, started growling and grabbed snow tossing it up with both hands over his head. Fans were going wild and I was banging him on the shoulder pads screaming "I LOVE YOU, MAN!!!" I seem to recall grabbing his facemask and growling back at him! After he left, people were pushing and unfortunately, almost in slow motion, I saw Zip tumble over the railing into the snow below. I was just about to jump over after him but security was great and was there in a flash. Thankfully, he wasn't seriously hurt but he did bang up his knee a bit. Our walk back to the tailgate was a rough one but once we settled in, we could relax and revel in the sweet, sweet, victory!!
Champagne went round, cigars were smoked, steak tips consumed and a happy group of Pats fans whooped it up at our AFC East Championship victory celebration. Of course, the two Miami fans paid their debt to the Zipster and looked mighty fine sporting our Bruschi Jerseys. When the lights went out, fires were doused, tents were dismantled and we headed our separate ways. Al and I stopped in the End Zone for a nightcap then rather than heading out to Providence opted to head home to the comfort and warmth of our house to watch the news and re-live the magical moments of the day!
Special thanks to Charts for his awesome candids..
Awaiting the snow...and anticipating another win!
With an eye on the weather, Big Al and I set out early with Dad and Jacob to meet the rest of our caravan at DD. We were surprised to land a prime front row spot in our regular lot and set up the three tents and erected the banner facing Route 1 with plenty of room to spare. 54 FULL TILT FULL TIME served as a landmark and calling card to JoePhoto (who graciously traded a taped copy of the Miami game for a Bruschi Brew), Kim, Ed, and Dave, Allison, and Steve who traveled long distances to join us.
The apple of Daddy's eye, Madelyn, accompanied Darren this week and Monty's honey Chris joined in the fun as well. Zip's guest list included Jose, (in matching Zip paint) Kathy, Brian, Melissa, Bill, Pete and James. The air was nippy but we were all comfortable inside our shelter. Of course, the number of grills and stoves cranked up inside assisted in the effort. And... you'd never know we were expecting snow with Zip's Buffet tailgate "murals" adorning the walls.
My menu included staples of Chili, Clams Zuppa (at Jacob's request) and Chowder. Big Al manned the grill, offering tuna steaks and burgers for those desiring more traditional fare. David provided an awesome microbrew for sampling and of course Monty had his cooler stocked with a variety of elixirs. Of course, he and Al partook in the weekly cigar fest... but what else is new?! Tailgate time flew... and before we knew it, we were off to the stadium.
Bundled up and braving the cold.... we settled into the seats and watched our boys march towards 12-2! The atmosphere was festive and the crowd brought their singing voices and piped up as the snow started falling in the 3rd quarter. I was in heaven!! Between the commercial break Christmas tunes and growling mug of Tedy B on the Jumbotron getting pumped up, I can't help but wonder HOW anyone could NOT love this!! Post-game, Tedy came by and spoke to Zip asking him to "Stay in the stands this time, Man!" Security was tight to prevent a repeat performance of his unplanned swan dive...
During the after-party, steak tips were shared, champagne was consumed, cigars were smoked and a full fledged snow bowl game took place in the parking lot. While the guys (and Kim) tossed and tumbled in the snow, I took to some quality quiet time, coffee brandy, and conversation by the fire with my best bud, Randy. Later that night Al and I headed down to the watering hole for a few to savor the win and hook up with friends old and new.
Much to cheer about on this special day!!
Having received an early Christmas present of a phone call informing me that I was to be awarded the Joseph R. Mastrangelo Memorial Trophy and named 2003 Fleet Patriots Fan of the Year, my mind was not so much on filling my stomach with food, rather, ridding it of the butterflies that had found a home there! Although Friday night's prep included the usual chili making and steak tip marinating, it was not typical to say the least because was I accompanied by a cameraman and WBZ4 reporter.... Needless to say, the food prep got done and I survived my first ever interview!
Saturday dawned sunny and bright and the entire Cardoza household and my Dad headed to our DD meeting spot. We secured the same prime location next to the Michelob Ultra billboard that we had last game providing a nice landmark for passers-by on Rt. 1 seeking our tailgate. Since I had to meet Patriots folk at 10:45, time flew by. I couldn't eat or drink anything besides seltzer water because I was too anxious. Needless to say, my chili still went as we sported a full crew this week. Dave from WBZ4 popped over and sampled the fare that he saw in its inception the night before. Vincent and his crew from Montreal parked with us this week and Dana, Lisa, Laureen, Larry, Darren and Madelyn were in attendance. Robin came later with Lew's son Steven and list folk Chris Woods and Miguel brought their wives. Bill was Zip's guest and his extra tickets were intended for his nephew Chris who so graciously gave them up to allow me to bring Kelsea and Jacob along to share my special day. (Thanks Man!)
We headed into the stadium, met with the the Mastrangelo family, Mr. Kraft, Chad Gifford of Fleet and Tedy for the presentation. (Click here for full details) but let me just say that it was incredible!! We stayed on the field for about 1/2 hour then headed back to the tailgate to await game time. I finally ate a bit, had a single Sams and showed off my beautiful trophy! Since we had pre-game sideline passes, we headed back to the stadium at 12:15 and gained admission to the field. Al and Kelsea got some awesome close ups of the guys and I made friends on the sidelines....
Jacob and I sat in 104 while Al and Kelsea took our usual tickets in hand and stood. Prior to the game I voiced my wish for a nice relaxing blow-out...so much so that we could take Brady out in the 4th quarter.... because I was nervous enough about the day's festivities that I didn't need a nail biter to really put me over the edge. Someone must have heard me because the 31-Zip rout of the Bills was just what I ordered. Tedy had an awesome game and was extra animated and worked the crowd to the max!! They played an AWESOME video of the award presentation on the Jumbotron during the half and I was treated to an ovation from the folks around me as well as my SSC pals seated in 201! Post game, Tedy came to the banner and held both Zip's and my hand for a couple of seconds before heading into the locker room. Having clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, I'm expecting 2 more banner dates to come!
When the crowd cleared we headed back to the tailgate where post game champagne, cigars and steak tips went round. My butterflies had finally left but the euphoria lasted forever! We stayed until they threw us out, headed home for a bit then Big Al and I continued celebrating at our favorite place and reminisced about the day for hours to come.
BRRRRRRRRing on the Titans
With COLD being the media focus of the week, our tailgate prep plans included stocking up on hand warmers and digging out the extra layers to face the elements head on! Channel 4 came by to check out my cold weather gear on Thursday night, I shopped on Friday and got up early on Saturday to start the chili. We had plans to meet Zip, Charts, Coach and listnik George, (all the way from sunny CA) at The Outlaw BBQ for lunch at 1:00. We enjoyed awesome food, company, and conversation thanks to our terrific host, Dale. He was totally cool with us and we'll definitely be back. It's understandable why it's the favorite spot of our O-Line! I barely made a dent in my pulled pork dinner and left stuffed to the gills.
We met up with our traveling caravan of diehards at Dunkin Donuts at 3:00, then headed to the lot. Thankfully we've been able to occupy the same spot for the past few weeks, right under the billboard (which is no longer Mich Ultra but ironically, Titans Nissan) insuring that passersby on RT 1 could notice the 54 FULL TILT FULL TIME banner and make their way to our haven. We immediately got to work, quickly erecting the three tents and walls, blocking the wind, and creating a cozy nook. There were so many folks inside that body heat and grills kept us from freezing. Because of the location of the open side however, I must admit that I didn't get to spend much time with those folks at the opposite end because most people gathered by the door. Doug and Paige from MurphysFans.com as well as Darren and Kendra grilled in our neck of the woods while Charts, Zip and Monty set up in the middle and Lisa's crew, Laureen's crew and the Robin/Lew duo sparked it up at the other end.
We also had the pleasure of the company of a host of other folks... Listniks Steve (up from FL,) Dave, Miguel and Nancy, and Rich, as well as Wayne and Donna, Melissa and Bill, Lisa's buds, Vincent from Montreal, the couple who hooked up with the Murphy's in Houston, Scott and his contingent, as well as a slew of guests of aforementioned peeps. (Sorry, if I forgot anyone... it's not intentional.... but we're growing weekly and I can't keep track!)
Highlights included: Chewable beer, Ed's phone call from Japan!, dead cell batteries, non-compliant propane tanks and lighters, Wayne and Donna's Champagne toast of the FOTY, the chili cookoff (ahem.... Mrs. B prevails!), hot chocolate with Rumpleminze, Big Al's french fries, too much food... (what else is new?!), sluggish digital cameras, jello shots, great conversation and comradarie.
The game itself was a nail biter as usual! It was cold but of course I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Since the place was packed, we stood for the entire game, but have decided to make the trek to the upper reaches next week and visit our seats for the first time since last year. Too many people were standing "behind the red line" that it was difficult to see. Armed with foot warmers, the appropriate layers, and engaging in plenty of screaming and yelling, I was comfortable. I will NEVER again wear glasses to a cold game however, since they remained fogged up for the duration and drove me nuts. At least I didn't have icicles forming on my eyelashes and eyebrows like Big Al!
After the win, we made our way down to the banner but the stands were still packed so we hung back. Tedy came by of course, and told Zip that he would see us next week. Of course, Tedy and the FTFT banner were captured by cameras yet again. (The MW and the MQ were nowhere to be seen although his sleeve is peeking out, but Charts made it to the big time!) After the crowd cleared, we trekked back to the site, popped the champagne, savored the steak tips and THE WIN until after 2:00 AM... When we arrived home around 3:00, both Al and I felt the chill and shivered until around noon the next day! Here's looking forward to doing it all again next week when we claim our AFC Crown and make plans for the Big Game!
Minimal pix this week.... Digital Cameras don't like the cold!
One to Go....
Gearing up for the final season tilt at Gillette, I barely slept or ate all week! Between the media blitz and the day to day life of a mom/wife/teacher/Pats fan I was running on overdrive. With supplies in tow, we headed out to meet at DD at 10:00, dressed for the balmy 20 degree weather and hoping for snow. We quickly set to work erecting our three tents in the usual spot near the billboard.... (guess we've found a new permanent home after all!) We were quite toasty and dry inside and enjoyed a fairly mellow but awesome tailgate.
After erecting the newly renovated banner (sporting team numbers around the border), Zip's nephew Chris promptly did the honors of hanging the Peyton Pony! Jose, Zip and Chris were fully painted and I was glad to see that Jim was sporting lots of Pats' gear this time around. Monty and Chris pulled out all the stops in presenting the most exotic of tailgate fare.... ostrich, duck, swordfish... no dogs and burgers in our house! Kendra and Darren's chicken kicked and of course Big Al's fries hit the spot! (What a lucky girl I am to have the world's best french fry maker living under my roof!) Staples of Mrs. B's Chili and Zip's Jambalaya were quickly consumed and Joyce's Seafood Bisque rocked the joint!
Steve took in his second playoff game in as many weeks, braving the cold New England weather in exchange for his sunny Florida home. Wayne and Donna joined us once again and Laureen and Larry made the trek from Jersey. Rich and Jen joined in and Lisa's pals stopped by (even though the little lady was frolicking with Minnie and Mickey miles away...) Our northern neighbors, The Vincent Contingent, came from Montreal and stopped in to say hi. We also had a visit from "business casual" Wolfie and his Dad who scored luxury box seats for the game. (Once again, sorry if I forgot anyone or their guests.... we're growing each week and I don't take notes!)
We enjoyed multiple toasts this week...Rumpleminze and jello shots aplenty and a special Hpnotiq shot in honor of Big Willie McGinest as the mojo for a Sack. (It worked!!) Plenty of Sams and Bruschi Brew were on hand but I took some ribbing for drinking some leftover Coors Light. When I inform Zip that he made the playoff version of the "I love football in the snow.... and those twins...." commercial this week, I'm sure he'll recant his diss of the brew.
Anxious to get settled in the stadium, we set off with the snow coming down all around... just the way I like it!! I actually got choked up 4 times during the game... twice when the realization that we were actually going to Houston hit and of course when Tedy went down and hobbled off the field. In true 2003 Patriotic form, the boys left just enough space at the end to cause a case of nerves..... and then....
When the game was over and the celebrating started, I was jubilantly watching from my perch next to the Zipster. After the speeches and hoopla, I finally saw Tedy making his way across the field. He stopped around the 50, yanking on his shirt and whooping it up for his family up there. He set off for the banner, then stopped and turned around and went back onto the field. The next thing I knew, I could see a swarm of reporters running in unison towards our end of the field. In the center of the throng was Tedy, holding the trophy above his head and dodging them on his way over to us. He reached us and yelled up, "Karen, Zip, Touch It, Touch It!!!!" Big Al captured the moment from the stands as did many photographers from the field below. I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY AND WILL NEVER FORGET THAT MOMENT. Tedy specifically turned around and went to get the trophy for us to savor. Just when I thought he could never get any cooler, he gave me a gift that I'll never forget.
The post-game tailgate boasted the typical Tip-off and champagne galore! We savored the win and continued to revel in the season talking about our upcoming trip until it was time to break down the tailgate for the final time this year.
The last order of business..... Heading back to Houston!!