Greetings from the friendly skies somewhere over the east coast! Eric and I are flying back from our latest trip to Florida with the main purpose of the trip to get me to Gainesville for my first Gator game! (Just kidding – I had some computer problems so this is a day later.)
Eric is originally from Jacksonville, which is 75-ish miles from Gainesville. We headed down on Friday and made it the many miles south after quite a few plane delays. (Let’s just say I could have woken up at 8am instead of 5am, which would have been much more pleasant.) (Okay, just kidding, I couldn’t have…we spent two hours sitting on the tarmac, so I suppose I would have missed the flight if I slept in…fine.)
But anyway. The Gators played Ole Miss on Saturday night. We decided to attend this game (instead of a “big” game like Florida/Georgia or Florida/Florida State) because it fit best into our (okay, my) schedule. At the beginning of the season, Eric said it probably wouldn’t be much of a game since neither team was anticipated to be that great. That all changed when Ole Miss rolled over Alabama last week, and we thought we might get stomped. Well, if you watched any part of the game on Saturday, you would realize that was not true and we actually picked the best game of the season (thus far) to attend. Hooray!
The game wasn’t until 7pm, so we had plenty of time to prepare for the game. We drove down to Gainesville with some of Eric’s friends and started the day off with some food. Eric has talked about Satchel’s pizza ever since he’s been talking about pizza in Gainesville, so we headed there. Both for the delicious pizza and the need for carb loading before a day of drinking. The pizza lived up to the hype and I would like to eat it again, that’s for sure.
Pineapple, bacon, broccoli, and sausage.
Once we filled our bellies with pizza, we headed onto campus-ish area and parked in a parking lot run by the Boy Scouts. It cost more than the neighboring lots, but we figured it was going to a good cause. Our first stop was Tijuana Flats where we got 32 ounce Coors Lights, which the group decided we needed to chug because apparently another guy was alone in the bar next door. I don’t chug much of anything, so that took awhile and I never ended up finishing it. (The Beer Mile will never be my event, that’s for sure.) I also took the opportunity to use a clean bathroom and put on temporary tattoos that I ordered. SCHOOL SPIRIT.
Gator tattoo! (Not at the bar, obviously.)
I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I went to Maryland, not Florida, for those who might be wondering. They lost 28-0 to Michigan, so having a backup team is coming in handy this year. Moving on, because that’s what we did next.
We headed to the bar next door where we had to pay cover (I don’t pay cover, that’s ridiculous) to get into a dirty bar. For those who are familiar with Gainesville, it was called “Balls” and everyone was standing in the booth because it’s apparently too gross to sit in the booths. But I guess pitchers of beers were cheap. I was in the marching band all through college, so I never did the tailgate/drink a lot before games thing because I was too busy carrying around a trombone with a feather in my hat. I also didn’t drink much in college, so there’s that. (I know – I was so cool. I had a good time.) We hung out there for a bit with a bunch of Eric’s friends who I’ve met a few times before. Shots were handed out at one point, and I was a bit of a party pooper because shots are not my thing. Luckily there was plenty of beer that was more like water that beer, so at least we were hydrated.
Parking lot with my Gator ticket!
Eventually the decision was made to head to a guy’s car where more shots were handed out (oh no no no) before heading to the game. We walked toward the stadium and stopped to see the band, which brought back some memories, but we were obviously cooler. Finally we made it into the stadium (aka The Swamp) and headed to our seats. We were in the south end zone, which was pretty cool because we had a jumbotron behind us. Perfect for a good shot of replays and for being close to the fireworks set off after touchdowns!
Stand up, trombones!
View from our seats!
As noted above, although I’ve been to plenty of college football games, I was in the band and probably had a different experience than the general fan. (What did we do when we had to go to the bathroom? Did we just not go? You needed someone to help with the uniform, and I don’t think I remember leaving the game to pee…hmmm. Anyone remember?) Florida’s stadium is certainly much bigger than Maryland’s – and the stadium filled out with people! (Over 90,000, yikes! Maryland can apparently fit 54,000.)
The game was obviously a winner, as Florida steamrolled Ole Miss. We had a good view from our seats and the weather was good for Florida standards! I even put a long sleeve shirt on at one point, which is unheard of for Florida games. I was warned about how loud the Swamp can get, and loud it was! Watching the entire student section do the gator chomp is pretty cool, I must say. We certainly picked a good game to go to – basically the entire stadium stayed until the end (minus the Ole Miss fans, ha!) which I haven’t seen in a long time. Many of the fans said it was the best game they’ve seen at the Swamp – maybe I’m your good luck charm, Florida? Just an idea.
Post-game, we headed back to Jacksonville. Eric slept the entire way, so thanks again to his friend for driving! Whew. I think it’d be fun to go back to Gainesville on a non-game day to see more of the campus and such. Mainly because I’m nerdy like that, but that’s okay. Go Gators.
We did other fun things in Jacksonville, like seeing Eric’s friend’s new house and their growing little baby. I made jokes about writing our names in the sand at the beach, so we headed to the beach on Monday before we left. The water was actually pretty warm – next time I need to bring my swimsuit to get in some final rays before summer escapes! We collected some pretty shells and walked along the beach as the tide came in. The houses along the beach were ridiculous, and I looked them up on Zillow – I don’t quite have $6.5 million to spent on a beach house, so I guess our 550 sq. foot apartment will have to suffice for now. (Some day………..in my dreams.) It’s still nuts to my Chicago-raised self that people can go to the beach March-October-ish. Maybe I should escape New York before winter hits…
Gatsby at the beach (in Eric’s shoe…)
Running in Florida isn’t so bad if you can deal with the heat. Luckily, we had pretty cool weather while we were there. I ran on Saturday before the game – eight miles that left me drenched from humidity. My calf has been tight lately, but it tends to loosen up and I felt great at the end of my run, even dropping a 7:29 mile! It sure feels good when that happens. Someone also honked and waved at me – it wasn’t any of Eric’s friends, so any readers in Jax??
I wanted to do a five mile run on Sunday, but it turned into a disaster that I cut short after four slow miles. My right calf felt really tight and wasn’t loosening up at all. My form was totally off, which I take as a cue to not run. I made it back to Eric’s dad’s and decided I needed a few days off. I’m walking a little funny which is no good, but hopefully a few days off and some major foam rolling when we get back to New York will help. The good news is that my groin feels good, so just have to get over this little bump in the road. Definitely looking forward to running this marathon and then taking some time off to get healthy. One step at a time.
Are you into college football? Where’d you go to school/who is your team? Maryland is leaving a bit to be desired, so thank you Florida for filling that void…