Monday, November 8, 2010

Idaho Road Trip Report

Let me start off this entry with a small disclaimer: my Dad and I were treated really well by Vandal fans in the time we spent in Moscow, and we had a ton of fun up there on Saturday -- a lot more than one might expect, in fact. Moscow is a great little town and the kind of place I could imagine eventually retiring to some day. But given the time it took to get up there, Nevada's future move to the Mountain West and the MUCH lower travel expenses that will accompany it, I would not be disappointed whatsoever if Nevada never played there in any sport ever again. Ever.

Things I Liked About Idaho
  • Cheap Gas - It goes without saying that anytime you spend nearly a full day's worth of time driving to and from somewhere, it helps to not have to spend too much on gas. We paid as little as $2.81 a gallon up there, and our wallets greatly appreciated this.
  • Friendly Fans - I've been to Boise on three different occasions and now to Moscow once, and I've had a grand total of one unpleasant experience between the two fan bases. We were greeted warmly and treated respectfully everywhere we went, and never once feared for our safety.
  • Certain Parts of the Drive Up - There are stretches of Highway 95 that wind through mountain passes and follow creeks and rivers that were all great to see up close and made what was a long-ass drive much more tolerable.
  • The Final Score - Duh.
Things I Didn't Like About Idaho
  • That Weird Smell - We stayed in Lewiston, a town about forty minutes south of Moscow on the Clearwater River. There's a huge pulp mill on the banks of the river which produces this weird odor that hangs over the whole town and smacks your nose the second you start to get close. It was like damp, smoldering newspaper mixed with rotten sauerkraut, and it stunk BAD.
  • The Weather on the Drive Down - Yes, I realize nobody in Idaho or anywhere else has control over this, but my Dad and I REALLY hated driving in pouring rain and gusting winds for hours on end. It takes its toll, and after a while I started thinking about what would go on my tombstone.
  • No Potatoes - How's an Irishman like myself supposed to get by in America's Potato Heartland without a few spuds?! A whole weekend spent in Idaho and not one single potato -- not even a glimpse! I feel tremendously cheated and demand that this senseless stereotype be shamelessly reinforced on my next visit.
And now the pictures, some of which I promise are worth checking out:

Looking down Main Street. Moscow is pretty much exactly what you'd picture "small-college-town America" to look like.

Pretty much every store front window downtown had a "Go Vandals" decal. Ignore the two men in the reflection.

The movie theater downtown still has the old-school marquee.

At the recommendation of some Vandals, we had lunch at Mikey's Gyros on Main Street. I will swear for years to come that this gyro was one of the best lunches I've ever had. It was so good I didn't think to take a picture of it until I had already stuffed my face with half of it.

Ugh....palm, meet my face.

The north half of the Kibbie Dome from our tailgating spot.

The "Stay True" car flags made an appearance... did the spirit flag.

The game was designated as Military Appreciation Day, and as part of the festivities a helicopter was landed on the lawn next to the Dome where people could get pictures with it.

The west end of the Dome from the outside...

...and from our seats. Those panels were installed last year and let some much-needed natural light inside.

The east wall where the two teams came out on to the field. This is right about the time when my camera battery started dying.

But luckily, before that happened I managed to get at least one picture you'd actually WANT to see (Told you there'd be at least one!).

The goalposts in the Kibbie Dome are actually bolted on to the wall. This can be the only explanation for why Martinez shanked his two field goal a way which I haven't figured out yet.

The team heading back to the locker room before kick-off. As you can see from the crowd, Renoites should be envious of such dedicated fan support.

This old guy was actually wearing a jacket with "Nasty and Inebriated" on the back, an homage to BSU President Bob Kustra's now-infamous remark about Idaho's fans. And this wasn't even the worst place I saw it: a young girl sitting in front of us who couldn't have been more than seven years old was wearing a t-shirt of it. This was either amusingly ironic or very disturbing.

At the Kibbie Dome, visiting coaches who normally work up in the press box calling plays down to everyone on the field have to run up through the seats to get there before each half starts. I already feel sorry for the BSU coaches who will have to do this through a sell-out (and very partisan) crowd on Friday.

Giant flag being held by military service members before kick-off.

Before the game started, a rarely heard Bing Crosby song called "You're the Gem State Wonder, Idaho" was played over the PA system with the lyrics on this screen. Very, VERY surreal. It was sort of like a swingin' 1950s tribute to Idaho's football team. Who knew Crosby was a Vandal fan?

The team emerging from the locker room before kick-off. Again, look at the student section on the other sideline and tell me you aren't proud of how far Nevada's students have come along for football.

Here's one cool ritual I'll admit you probably couldn't do at a "normal" football stadium. Keeping with the the day's military theme, these two soldiers rappelled down from the catwalk above the east end zone to deliver the game ball to the referees.

I tried to get a shot of Coach Ault chewing out a ref for a pass interference call, but I didn't know it would be the last penalty called on the Pack for the rest of the game. Damn you guys and your discipline!

Heading into the locker room after that awesome 46-second drive to end the first half. See all that confetti at the cheerleaders' feet? You can thank Silver and Blue Outfitters for it. And thanks to the ten confetti tubes my Dad and I brought, we became very unpopular in our section very quickly.

In an effort to boost sagging morale, the guy from the Armor All logo makes a special appearance.

And because you wouldn't believe me if I hadn't taken a picture of it...Boise State tortilla chips. Now fortified with extra self-righteous indignation!

So that was our road trip to Moscow. Lots of special thanks to everyone who welcomed us and made an already excellent weekend truly memorable. And even more thanks to Coach Ault and his players and coaching staff, since now my Dad and I can say we were there when Nevada put up that record 844 yards of offense. Hopefully I can link you readers to a special surprise when I preview Fresno State in my next entry.

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