Out of the plane, into LAX and a California morning. I’ve been up for many hours and am a mix of excited and already weary. My energy dips way down on the Flyaway Bus but picks back up some on the Metro, a modern subway train zipping into Pasadena. I love to take trains.
Old Town Pasadena is where I had a well-attended bookstore reading and signing back in summer of ‘15, charming little pedestrian-friendly city. LA a megalopolis of a sprawling whole, divisions of it not just neighborhoods but actually distinct small cities, the population of all of Los Angeles County ten million.
Kudos to the train transit system in general, it got me to Pasadena quickly and comfortably. Dawgs on a train. One big complaint: no power outlets anywhere – it is way too new and the state too tech-centric for that – so my phone’s juice drains.
The misadventures commence: Nothing is open because it is New Year’s Day and I need a charge. My head hurts, too. I spy a Thai restaurant where the ladies work too hard to take a day off and power up, quaffing a Thai iced coffee for the head and an overly-spicy yet still refreshing green papaya salad with shrimp. It jives with me. I gotta go.
The line to the shuttle, which not just transit takers but everybody in Old Town, the main and essentially only area that’s really ever happening in Pasadena, is where we are corralled into taking free shuttle buses way out to the Rose Bowl. I’m running out of time but find no other reasonable option, and it takes over an hour in the line. I regret not somehow figuring out how to walk there halfway to the busses when it’s way too late.
Thing is, the internet service is spotty and it goes from spotty to not working. You can’t text out, either. You can’t use GPS to navigate your way in, and the clock ticks.
Finally, I get my buddy Tara on Facebook and tell her I’m on my way. We arrive after a circuitous winding route through the residential non-affluent underbelly of Pasadena. At the Rose Bowl now, nothing around it of note. I can see the general driving directions to the tailgate party and the address of it but can’t find it without the stupid smartphone working. Six Rose Bowl event employees refuse to point me in any direction, then a seventh sends me the wrong way. Tick tick tick, I can’t get in touch with Tara, again. She’s the President of the San Diego UGA Alumni Association by the way and was kind enough to get me great tickets. I’m supposed to be sitting with her and her friends. My dude Merv has sent me the coordinates to his tailgate, but of course, my phone can’t guide me in with the system overtaxed. I’m stuck.
Three true fans offer me a half-of-face ticket. I buy it. Now, my battery, which had only a partial charge from the restaurant, is fading fast. I hear from Tara but can’t come back, and then the phone dies again.
I get in and see Nilla Battle, then Dom Sanders’s stepdad, and we hang out while I charge my phone.
Tara sold my extra ticket earlier and the cool President of the SoCal Dawgs Alumni Association Mark DelRosario was able to take my ticket for face.
The phone comm was back up and I knew where Tara and friends were sitting. I sat in my seat first half, the back row of Rose Bowl stadium behind and beside the OU contingency.
Then 2nd half I came down to my original seat – we were all standing. I watched the rest of regulation from the 5th row and the two overtimes from the 2nd, threatening to tear down the goalpost and take it to the Strip.
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