It is finally time for the game. I think most of us are just as excited to see the new Jerry Jones stadium as we are to watch the actual Cotton Bowl.
We are not staying very far from the stadium, but we left early so we could experience the day at the stadium. We have relatives in town for the game that are staying in a hotel near the stadium so we swung by there first so we can caravan. This is the clan of Earlene, Lynda, Neal, Kelli, Allison and Matt – which hail from Arizona, Missouri and Michigan. It is always great to see the family at bowl games!
After a very quick greeting in the parking lot, we made our way to our parking area near the stadium. Here, “near” is relative and I think we parked about a half mile from the stadium. We loaded up our lunch in some grocery sacks and all of us hit the sidewalk.
While on the walk to the stadium, we ran into our friend Tiffany, who works for OSU, and also into Sarah & her family. Sarah’s crew tailgates right next to us on gamedays on the Old Central lawn.
We made it a point to stop far enough away from the stadium so we could take our family pictures with the gargantuan stadium in the background. Since we ran into friends in the parking lot, we just took turns taking each other’s group photos. Worked out very well, actually.
Once we arrived at the stadium, we staked out a place to have our meal. We had an assortment of sandwiches, leftovers, cookies, chips – in other words, if it was edible, we brought it. It was as though the Beverly Hillbillies had rolled into town, and that’s just the way we like it.
While eating our lunch, some of our group engaged in exciting activities such as playing catch with a football and trying to find a bathroom. There was an unbelievably short supply of port-a-potties in the parking lot of a stadium that holds 80k people.
A few hours before kickoff, we attended an outdoor OSU pep rally. T. Boone Pickens and Walt Garrison made a guest appearance, which was very cool, but unfortunately the sound system was pretty poor and we could not hear anything they said.
It was finally time to enter the stadium. The kids had been begging for 30 minutes to go inside and we finally relented. With over 90 minutes to kickoff, we went up a series of stairs and escalators until we could find our section. Our tickets were in the upper deck, and I would caution you that the steps in those upper sections are steep. When you combine that with the volume of beer & margarita sales, it is amazing that we didn’t see anybody fall.
After we were settled in for a few minutes, I took the kids on an adventure around the stadium. We wanted to check out the views from some of the various levels. The concourses were nice & wide and even though there were 80k people at the stadium, you rarely felt like you were shoulder to shoulder in a large crowd.
While walking around, Stephanie and I both separately ran into friends. It is nice playing the game so close to home and randomly finding people you know. We had plenty of other friends & neighbors who were there, but we were unable to connect with.
The game itself was disappointing. At least the Cowboys were in it until the last few minutes, but it would have been nice to take home a Cotton Bowl Championship Trophy.
We left a few minutes before the end of the game, and perhaps the most impressive experience of the entire day was our exit from the area. We walked quickly back to the parking lot and loaded up in the car. Then we left the parking lot and were on the road in a matter of minutes. No muss, no fuss. Everyone else in our party had similar experiences. They truly had the traffic control down to a science.
After the game, we hosted friends and family back at the rent house. All of the relatives we met before the game at the hotel came over, as well as Rhonda & John, who we had dinner with the night before. We ate leftovers, visited, and relaxed. You cannot overstate how great it is to have a huge place you can stretch out in and get comfortable. Everybody seemed to have a great time. It was particularly interesting to watch my cousins Kelly, Allison, and Matthew interact with each other like I had never seen before – jabbing each other with verbal barbs.
My Uncle Joe & Aunt Judy, from Ponca City, arrived in town yesterday and are also staying at the rent house with us for a few nights. We don’t get to see them nearly enough, but with Joe’s looming retirement, I figure that is going to change.
Once all the guests cleared out, everybody made their way to bed, knowing that tomorrow is the day we have to go home.