Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Bleed Purple and Gold

As a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and having grown up in Cedar Falls, I am a die hard Panther football fan. I started attending Panther football games when I was born in 1976 when the UNI Dome opened. I've seen a lot of games and there is nothing better than the FCS, or I-AA playoffs. I won't get into the details of why the games are exciting and how insane it is that Division I can't see how rational the system is. For those of you not keeping track off the #1 rated Panthers, they have had a record breaking season.

After a 12-0 season the playoffs started this weekend. I, of course, made the drive down to the dome to watch the big game.......I don't miss playoff games. We fans have been waiting for this day, as the last playoff game ended in a loss in 2005 when the panthers were defeated in the national championship game in Chattanooga, TN by Appalachian State.

This weekend, it was New Hampshire. A solid team, with a great quarterback to match up with our ace, Eric Sanders. I won't bore you with play by play, as you can find that on the panthers website (see link in right column). The dome is a crazy place to play. It's loud, it's the playoffs and anything can happen. This game was totally nuts. I've seen good games, I've seen crazy games, but this was one of the best. The panthers led, or were tied, the entire game as the offenses traded scores. New Hampshire found a way to score with just 1:16 left in the game to go ahead for the first time 35-31. Sitting at the game with my panther comrades........we'll call them Rooster,Martini, and my cousin Vinny (for the sake of anonymity), we were devastated, crushed like a small child after realizing their pet hamster can't swim in the toilet. Emotionally shattered like a 7th grader peeing his pants at school.........this was not good.

But wait, it's a bird, it's a plane...........it's the UNI Dome. Eric Sanders, our senior quarterback led the team down the field and threw a 25 yard touchdown pass with just 7 seconds remaining to win the game. We cheered, we cried, we forgot to notice that Rooster left at the half with his daughter........and couldn't remember where Martini's wife and small child were. Luckily, they were home safe, away from the pandemonium and chaos. We lived to play another day, namely, this Saturday, 1pm against.......the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. Go Panthers!

For a video clip of the winning touchdown:


Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving in St. Paul

I have spent a lot of my Thanksgiving holidays, as an adult, in the Grand Canyon backpacking with groups. I find myself torn between how much I enjoy the Grand Canyon and how much I enjoy the gluttonous beginning of the holidays season marked by Thanksgiving. Having spent quite a few weekends traveling this Fall, we decided to spend our first major holiday at our home in St. Paul. We have both had some busy days at work lately and it has been incredibly relaxing to have several days of nothing. We enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving morning with a cup of coffee, snow flurries and a paper filled with ads. I decided to try to cook a meal worthy of holiday status and it actually worked out fairly well.

I prepared grilled spinach and feta stuffed turkey tenderloins, mashed potato casserole and some stuffing. We killed a bottle of wine and enjoyed a late afternoon meal on a wintry day. Since I was in the cities this Thanksgiving, I decided to experience 'Black Friday.' After all, I hate shopping, but the people watching has to be entertaining. Brandi wanted to go to the mall, but I was afraid some would trample or eat me........these types of things happen at the Mall of America. We set the alarm for 5am and headed for the stores. After almost getting hit by 473 SUVs in the parking lot we watched several hundred people lining up outside Circuit City in 19 degree temperatures in their individual quests for discounted electronics. In the end, we hit a few stores, bought some stuff on sale, accomplished zero holiday shopping and found ourselves ready for a nap by 10am.

What would a weekend be without some driving? I am off to Cedar Falls tomorrow morning to watch my beloved UNI Panthers start their quest for the 2007 FCS college football championship after completing an 11-0 regular season last week. Go Panthers!