What’s my idea of heaven? Attending a Green Bay Packer game, in the winter, at Lambeau Field. Hell, it’s probably most NFL fan’s dream to do it once in their lives. The rich history, the tradition, the football. Ahhhhh.
Living in Oklahoma most of my life, and being a middle-class working woman with not much disposable income, I knew that getting to Green Bay, WI to live out my dream would have to wait. So, I did what any green-and-gold-blooded fan would do. I put it on my “bucket list”. My list of the Top 100 things I want to do before I die.
Many of them have been crossed off, like #39) Get a tattoo. Getting a tatoo obviously was not a priority, I wasn’t going to get a tatoo just for the sake of getting one. It had to be meaningful. It wasn’t until I went to Hawaii (#47 on my bucket list) in January of 2002 that I decided what to get. In fact, during my Hawaiian vacation in 2002 I was able to satisfy a number of items on my list. #100) Ride a city bus, #83) Go on a whale watch cruise, #61) See the Pacific Ocean, #47) Go to Hawaii, #42) Go to the NFL Pro-Bowl and #39) Get a tattoo. (By the way, I chose a Hibiscus flower with the beautifully scripted word “Aloha” beneath it to symbolize the love and grace of that island and intense feeling of serenity I felt while I was there.)
*Note: Obviously, if I was too poor to afford a trip to Green Bay, I was too poor to go to Hawaii. I was just extremely fortunate to work for a very appreciative boss and a company that believed in rewarding employees for hard work, dedication and contribution.The CEO Excellence Award consisted of 2- Roundtrip tickets to any state, including AK and HI; An extra week off with pay and $5000.00 spending money. (I cried like a baby when I won ).
So, you are probably wondering what number on my bucket list does going to a Packers game at Lambeau Field rank. Surprisingly, it’s #2. It would have been number one, but I wrote this list when I was 25 and I had one other “to do” that I thought was more important at the time.
Fast forward, to September 12th, 2010. I was checking out my Face Book page (and yes, I’m a social media junkie, if there was any doubt), and Donald Driver’s fan page posted this: “AirTran Airways In honor of Donald Driver’s 50th Touchdown, we’ve got super fares to/from Milwaukee from $50* one-way! Book by September 14, 2010! See fare page for complete rules.”
My brain immediately began to spin. I held my breath, are you serious, maybe this is finally my time! I checked to see the rate from San Antonio, it was a little higher, but totally do-able! I run down the stairs, up to my husband and a flurry of words comes streaming out of my mouth, “In honor of Donald Driver’s 50th Touch Down we can go to Green Bay Wisconsin for a game and the airfare is really cheap and we can see them in person at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for a Packers game at Lambeau can we go, can we?!”.
My husband smiled and said, “Sure honey, anything you want”.. he didn’t even get it all out before I was flying up the stairs, blurry eyed, head spinning, full-blown fanatic mode. Okay, what do I need first? Book airfares..no, see if I can get a hotel room… no, I need to get tickets first, what good is all the rest without tickets to the game?? Wait… which game are we going to?? Sheesh! Take a deep breath. Relax. Breath out. And.. now go.
I took a look at the home schedule, decided on a game (more to come on that later), followed by more research on the internet, fingers flying, and within the span of 10 minutes I had booked our airfare; bought a package deal for the hotel and game tickets, and booked the rental car. Confirmed, booked, done! WOO-frikken-Hoo! I’m going to a Packers game at Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, WI, in the winter! Joyously, I wept.
And then it hits me. I’m gonna need some warmer socks.
42 days and counting.
I just realized that I’ll be in Green Bay two weeks from today! Time sure does fly! November 7th the Cowboys vs Packers at Lambeau!
A lot has happened since I planned my trip and posted this 4 weeks ago, most notably, injuries. UGH! Most of our starters have some injury or another. It’s really disappointing to think that I won’t be able to see Nick Barnett or Jermichael Finley out on the field in Lambeau.
The IR list has gotten so long that my husband suggested that we cancel our trip. Um, no! I’m still going. I’m still excited, even though we’ve had a couple of tough losses in OT and have a 3-3 record, we still have a great team!
I was hoping to see Al Harris, Atari Bigby and James Starks off PUP this week and activated, but I guess they still have work to do to get back on the field. Hopefully by November 7th, when we meet up with the Cowboys, they’ll be ready to play.
I’ve spent much of my time preparing for the cold Green Bay temps by making some needed purchases. Insulated boots, thermal socks and thermal shirts, gloves, hats, scarves. I’m pretty much covered.
It’s been over 2 years since I’ve felt freezing temps that are average for Wisconsin. It will be a shock to the system, but I’ll be able to manage. My husband on the other hand… I’m a little concerned about him. He wears a jacket in the house when I have the A/C set at 78 degrees. (This is no lie.)
14 days and counting!
Fortunately for me, I have the best sister-in-law in the world, because I forgot that when I moved from Oklahoma, she had agreed to store some things for me, including my Packers leather coat and my extra warm Green and Gold Packers Stadium coat…which we WILL need.
Checking the forecast, it looks like the temps will be hovering right under the freezing mark. But my sister from another mother has shipped the coats to me and we will have them in plenty of time for our trip. Crisis averted! Thanks Christy!♥
We’ve already started packing, have a dog sitter/house sitter arranged (son and daughter-in-law).
All that’s left for me to do is wait…7 days and counting!
So.. very exciting day; my Green Bay Packers vs Dallas Cowboys tickets and package has arrived! (Finally! nothing like waiting till the last-minute)
They are really good seats, on the 50 yard line Section 120 on the Packers side of course. Tailgate Party passes, Player Autograph Party, free this, discounted that, lot’s of drink tickets.
Then, this evening, I was working in my office and I smelled the odor of gasoline, like straight gasoline from a car. I walked down the hall and asked my husband if he smelled it too and he said he thought it was natural gas. I disagreed, and started walking through the house. The odor was REALLY strong down stairs.
I walked through the kitchen and opened the door leading to the garage, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I yelled up to TDB, “I think gasoline has spilled in the garage!” He comes down to check it out, and sure enough his motorcycle has a gas leak, dripping down the air filter, onto his pipes and down the back of the bike. I (like a dummy) go back inside. 2 minutes later I hear my husband yell “Linda!” which is normal when he calls from another room, I walk back over to the garage door, open and shout “WHAT?!”
And there he stood in the shadow of smoke with a 5 foot wide and 8 ft tall wall of fire behind him! I shouted for him to open the garage door, I run back into the house, grab the phone in one hand, and one of my three dogs with the other, dialing 911 and scooting the dogs outside simultaneously. Then I thought, he wasn’t on fire was he? I run back out to the garage, nope, he’s not on fire.
The dispatcher answered, and I said FIRE Dept.. she connected me and I gave my address. Meanwhile, the house is filling up with smoke, the smoke alarm going crazy and I go back outside, still flames going, and I see the fire extinguisher by the dryer, pick it up and hand it to my husband, because for some STUPID reason, I couldn’t figure out how to use the damn thing! (Please take my advice, practice using a fire extinguisher before you actually need to use it, otherwise, they are useless.)
He finally gets the fire out and brings the hose around to clear out the gasoline on the floor of the garage as the local Fire Department pulls up. They assess the damage, nothing got to the ceilings, just burnt the inside of the garage door. But the weird thing, I had a singular thought “if my house burns down, I won’t be able to go on my trip this weekend.” It’s so weird how the mind works!
Anyway, that crisis is over, we’re all okay except I guess I had some minor smoke inhalation because when I blow my nose, the tissue is sooty- TMI I’m sure, but it’s weird when you don’t expect black flakes to come out of your nasal passages!
But we’re fine, the dogs are fine, the bike appears to be fine. And of course, we’re still going on our trip, just a minor glitch along the way. Hopefully the last one and we can have an awesome time in Green Bay.
I think we’re about ready to roll.
3 days and counting!
11/06/10 – And so it begins….
Flight out of San Antonio at 6:15am – after staying up all night like a little kid on Christmas Eve, we made it to the airport and the very first couple we see in the parking garage shouts, “See you at the game!”…. huh, what? I forgot my husband and I were already decked out in Green and Gold, Packers everything! This couple walks with us to the terminal, telling us that they are originally from Green Bay. We say our “GO Pack GO’s” and go our separate ways.
Once in the terminal, we are harassed by Cowboys fans…employees at the airport, they jokingly say the Cowboys will beat us..knowing full well, it wasn’t going to happen. Throughout the airport, through security and to our gate, I noticed one thing.. Packers fans outnumbered Cowboys fans 5 to 1! The few people who were dressed in Cowboys attire admitted that they were shocked at their team’s poor performance and would have never booked their trip to Lambeau if they had any idea how bad they would be.
We take our flight to Milwaukee via Atlanta, get our rental car and drive the two hours to Green Bay. I was so excited, I didn’t even mind the 9 hours of air/car travel, I just wanted to get there!
Finally, we see the Green Bay City Limits sign and drive toward our hotel. One mile from the hotel and I see it, larger than life, red brick’s gleaming, I knew immediately, Lambeau Field! (I didn’t realize my hotel was just blocks away, how lucky was that?).. I drove down Lombardi Ave., driving under the 30mph speed limit so I could soak it all in….just like a wide-eyed child going to Disneyland for the first time… don’t blink, just look. Smiling from ear to ear.
We check into the hotel, take a quick nap and out to a player autograph party. While standing in line to meet Jermichael Finley and Nick Collins, we start talking to a couple in line with us, turns out this trip to Lambeau is her husband’s 50th birthday present. “That’s so cool! My husband is celebrating his 50th birthday too, but not until the 13th. ” She grabs her husband by the arm and tell him about my husband’s birthday. Then she tells me her husbands’ birthday is 11/13 too. Ok, this is too weird, both of these men who are standing randomly in line together were born on 11/13/60?! What are the odds of that? AND, both were wearing #52 Clay Matthews jersey!
(Oh, and we found out that neither my husband nor I know how to use the camera we borrowed. Most of my pictures look like crap!)
We have a good time at the party, get some signatures, and are both extremely tired, so we head back to the hotel. Tomorrow is Sunday, and we have BIG plans…gotta get some rest! In bed by 9 pm. That’s a first.
11/07/10 – Tailgating and Game Day!!!
I wake up at 3:30am, hoping it would be time to get up, but noooo… I still have a few more hours before daylight. Can’t go back to sleep, so I watch Avatar, again. Three hours later, I’m up and dressed, ready to go. I look out of my hotel room window.. palms and nose against the glass.. c’mon Green Bay.. OPEN, OPEN, OPEN.
I spend the next 4 hours driving around, soaking it all in. I love this town. They had me at hello… then I start noticing a few For Sale signs. Hmmmmm.
Back at the hotel, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so we relax for a while. I almost forgot there were other games going on today!
I put on my #12 jersey, my Green/Gold scarf, a hat and I’m ready.
We make our way over to Tailgate Party. It’s jam-packed with people. All the Cowboys fans are wearing paper bags on their heads!
LeRoy Butler is there, and he happens to be one of my all-time favorite players. I make my way over, and make a small donation to his foundation. In return, he gives me an autographed photo, and a hug!
We mingle with fellow Packer fans. I’m loving the feeling of “family” here. No one is a stranger, we all have something very important in common.
Just a few more hours until kickoff! We decided to head over to the hotel to get our coats. (I forgot to mention the weather was perfect! 60+ degrees during the day.)
Now on to Lambeau Field. There is a tsunami of people walking in the same direction. We get to Oneida street, cross over at the light. And take in the parking lot. Everyone is cooking, playing games, drinking, laughing, and have a great time. We stop and talk to many of them along the way. Everyone appreciates the fact that we’ve come all the way from San Antonio to see the Cowboys get beat by the Packers!
We pick up our program. Mr. Clay Matthews is on the cover! Sweet! My heart is beating with anticipation. We make our way inside the stadium, find our way to our section and begin the steep climb up to row 58. When I say steep.. I mean STEEP! My knees were at right angles with every single step. (Thank god I had been exercising regularly!) Our seats were awesome! Right at the 50 yrd line. We could see everything!
We sit back, talk to some fellow Packer fans nearby and just soak it all in.
It didn’t take long before every single seat has a butt in it. Luckily, I took the advice of one of my Twitter pals and we rented the stadium seats, they definitely give you added tush room as well as a back rest. This stadium is OLD SCHOOL, which adds to its charm. There are no theater seats, it’s bleachers! Cold, metal bleachers!
The teams come out to warm up.. the crowd goes wild. They go back in the tunnel, the crowd cheers. Lambeau personnel handed out flags in celebration of Veteran’s Day. Before the game starts, they do a presentation honoring the service men and women. 70,000+ fans waiving their flags. It’s was another amazing site.
Next up, KICK-OFF!
As everyone knows by now, the game was blow-out. It was all Packers all the time! Offense, defense, Kicking Game (except for the blocked field goal). There were so many great plays that I spent the entire night jumping to my feet in celebration. It was definitely the perfect game for a first time Lambeau visitor. There was never a doubt about the pending outcome.
During the 3rd quarter, the “Wave” started. This was exciting, waiting for it to get to my section, stand up, arms in the air, yell…and then it starts to pick up steam. As it makes its way around the stadium the second time, you could feel the energy as it rolls toward you. We stand up, arms in the air, and yell even louder.. then something amazing happened….it got even bigger, louder, more energy, it’s coming around a third time! The wave seems to have taken on a life of its own! In all, it made 7 strong revolutions around the stadium before it died.. like an EF5 tornado, it blew through, building up speed and strength. I’ve never seen the wave go more than 2 times around ANY stadium before, college or professional. And then I remember, this is no ordinary stadium, these are no ordinary fans. This is Lambeau and these are Packer fans! That explains it all.
Fourth quarter and the play Roll Out the Barrel, most people stand and dance, and almost everyone is singing. That was fun too, although I’m not much of a Polka-er.
Five minutes into the 4th quarter and the Packers starters take a seat, second string players on both offense and defense play the remainder of the game. That’s smart. Give our team some extra rest. They deserve it!
After the game, I felt as though I was walking on air. The walk to the hotel was a breeze, we were surrounded by thousands of Packer fans and we walked down the closed off roads. Everyone I meet shouts, GO Pack! or “Up Top” for a celebratory high-five!.. god, I love this place.
Back to the hotel and I’m too wired to sleep, I go downstairs and talk football with some other fans. In my hotel, I met fans from Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, California, German, Venezuela, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Canada…and New York! It was so amazing!
11/08/10 – Last Day in Green Bay and Hall of Fame tour
Monday mornings comes and I’m sad that I have to leave, but we have a late checkout time, so I go back to Lambeau and visit the Hall of Fame. I must have spent 3 hours in there, reading everything, watching all the movies, trying to absorb as much information as possible.
My favorite part of the Hall of Fame has to be the trophy room. It’s so beautiful and the 3 Super Bowl trophies and rings in their individual cases were awe-inspiring!
After completing the tour, I head back to my hotel to pick up my husband and start the 2 hour drive back to Milwaukee to catch our flight home.
This trip was everything I hoped it would be and more! I will remember every minute of every day and I will tell everyone who will listen to me about the time I went to Green Bay for a Packers game and we slaughtered the Cowboys.
Thank you Wisconsin! Thank you Green Bay! Thank you Lambeau Field and Thank you Packers! It was, without a doubt the BEST TIME OF MY LIFE!