Remembering the Alamo (Bowl)

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December 28th 2017
Published: December 30th 2017
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The reason I chose to drive, instead of fly, on this trip was because it meant I could see both of my college football teams participating in bowl games if I drove. The price tag for flying to the Rose Bowl (for UGA) is the same as driving cross-country; and that includes gasoline and hotels for either option. As I said in an earlier blog, the only real difference was the time factor, and I had time to make the drive and see some great sights. AND get to see my Horned Frogs, too. I'm glad I did, since we won the Alamo Bowl in dramatic fashion. Go Frogs.

When I was planning this trip, I imagined that San Antonio would be a good touristy day. One thing that I’m learning is that I can’t really underestimate the pace of being a tourist with a senior citizen. Nevertheless, we managed to take in all but one thing I had planned for today: the River Walk, the Alamo, the Mad Dog’s British Pub, and then the Alamo Bowl. The only thing we didn’t do was the Tower of the Americas. But we walked by it, under it in fact. And when we saw a massive line outside the door and pricier tickets than the attraction deserved, we opted not to do it. That was our first stop in San Antonio. But it was not our first touristy thing for the day.

We happened upon a Buc-ee’s travel center in Luling, TX, and so we stopped in. I told dad he had to visit at least one of these places before we left Texas. Wish granted. I got some gasoline for the car, telling him to wander around the majesty that Buc-ee had to offer. It was a great experience again. I got a magnet, dad got some coffee, and we both got a hot breakfast sandwich. It was divine.

Next stop was San Marcos, where I needed to visit Bobcat Stadium, where the football team for Texas State University plays. It wasn’t too bad at all. There were no entry gates open, so we walked around most of it before settling for some disappointing pictures.

And then it was time to go to San Antonio. It was an uneventful drive, though dad did remark how much stuff was along the interstate, the entire way. I think that’s pretty much central Texas—one “city” right after another, all along the interstate. And then not much beyond that for long stretches away from the interstate. We certainly found that out as we left San Antonio after the Alamo Bowl.

But San Antonio has a lot to offer. This was my third time visiting the city, and the Alamo. But it was my first time (as far as I can remember) where we didn’t just stand outside the front of the Alamo and take silly pictures. We actually stood in the long line (should’ve expected that, with the holiday week and with the bowl game in town) to go inside the church (the main building, which most people consider to be THE Alamo). Of course, dad got into a conversation with the couple behind him; they were also from Georgia (Rome), on their way to New Mexico to see some friends. But it did make the time in line pass more quickly, which was probably about 30-40 minutes.

The grounds inside the compound were pretty busy, what with all the people there. But it’s all free, so you can’t really complain. No photos allowed in the church, mind you. We walked through the obligatory gift shop, but it had nothing that screamed for me to buy it. We probably spend about 45 minutes inside the compound, but I was getting pretty hungry, and we wanted to see some more of the River Walk, too.

Across the street from the Alamo and behind the Ripley’s museum is a great entrance into the River Walk. Descend down the stairs and go until you get to the river, where you can find Mad Dog’s British Pub. It was yummy. And it was warm, which has been a big surprise for this trip through Texas. Did I mention that I had bought a pair of gloves at the Texas Bowl? And then I found another really cheap pair at Buc-ee’s, so we were both covered for gloves. But I digress. The food at the Pub was really good, and there was a lot of it. I got fish and chips (naturally), while dad got a BLT. We were glad to have some time to sit and enjoy the food, warmth, and sedentariness. We probably spent an hour there before walking back to the Alamodome.

We stopped by the car to pick up the gloves—we hadn’t brought them with us earlier because it was warmer, and less windy, and we frankly thought we wouldn’t need them. Mistake. But the car was only two blocks from the stadium, so it was an easy side trip to make before heading to the fan fest.

The fan fest at the Alamo Bowl looked like it had more from the Texas Bowl, but by the time we got there (about 30 minutes after it started), they had already run out of all of the purple swag. They had plenty of red stuff, so I guess there weren’t as many Stanford people as they had expected. But we did get some awesome and free chocolate chip cookies, not mention another free photo thanks to Geico.

And then we saw that the metal detectors (or whatever) were up in front of the stadium, so we went through. Once again, a misinformed person at this point told us we could go ahead into the stadium. Wrong. It was about 5:20, and the gates actually didn’t open until 6. So we walked around the doors before sitting on some benches. And of course, dad struck up a conversation with the old guy sitting next to him; the guy was wearing a Texas Longhorns hat, so I guess dad figured he should talk to him about the Texas Bowl last night.

As promised, though, we were allowed in the stadium at 6 PM. We got something to drink, I found a lapel pin for the game, and then we found our seats. The Alamodome looks a lot bigger on the outside than it feels on the inside. I guess it’s a reverse TARDIS? Anyway, we were in the upper deck, but it wasn’t really that high up. All of the high school marching bands were in the upper deck, above us and spread out throughout the other upper sections. So we got to enjoy the seemingly endless processions of teenagers going up and down, up and down, up and down, ….

The game itself was a tale of two halves. TCU played in the Alamo Bowl two years ago, being outscored 31-0 in the first half but coming back to win the game in two overtimes. I had hoped it wouldn’t be like this again, but as long as we won, I was ready for whatever. At one point in the 2nd quarter, we were down 21-3, and I was beginning to lose hope. But by the half, we had cut that to 21-10. The halftime show was fun—I gotta give it to the Stanford band for their wacky performance and for the balls they had to basically insult all the stereotypical “Texas” values, including the Trump wall and the “PC” Merry Holidays things. I didn’t catch everything that their announcer said because the sound system in the Alamodome is horrendous. But they got a loud “boo” from the TCU people in the lower levels after everything the Stanford announcer said.

The second half saw the TCU momentum build until, finally, we took a lead, 36-31. We missed the 2-point conversion to put us up by a touchdown, and then Stanford came down to get a touchdown, and they missed their 2-point conversion, which gave them a 37-36 lead. We got another field goal to go up 39-37, and then Stanford’s final hopes were extinguished when we intercepted the ball with less than two minutes left in the game. We held on to the lead and won what has got to be the most entertaining bowl game of the season, so far.

Go Frogs.

I will say that the Stanford fans, if you can call them that, pissed me off at several points. For one, they had no identifiable markings to set them apart as Stanford fans. People in blue and green were cheering loudly for Stanford; the team color is cardinal (red), so why were they not wearing those colors? And then the family that sat next to us cheered for Stanford, despite being from San Antonio and having no attachment to Stanford at all. So why were they doing that? No reason given. So screw them.

Anyway, we got the W, and I can’t wait to visit my alma mater again next Friday (on the way back home from the Rose Bowl) and maybe even get some Alamo Bowl Champions swag. Tomorrow, though, is the Sun Bowl in El Paso. That’s a 7-hour drive, and the game starts at 1 PM local time. No way we get there in time for the kickoff, since we got to our hotel at 1 AM in Kerrville, TX. The tickets for the game, though, were only $11, and I have no particular allegiance to either team, so I just want to get there by halftime.

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30th December 2017

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Remembering the Alamo (Bowl)

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