|The View From Arizona||
So for those of you who might regularly read my blog (all three of you lol!), you've probably heard that I won a radio contest called the Two-Minute Drill from AM 620 KTAR sports radio for a trip to any football game's city and tickets to the game playing on 10/12/2008. I chose to go to Tampa, Florida and see the Panthers-Buccaneers game. Here's what we did on the trip!
At 9am on Saturday, my dad and I boarded our nonstop flight to Tampa. Southwest Airlines does not have very good seating, may I say, though the flight itself wasn't that bad. I just happen to be a large person, and it's less than easy fitting in a tin can with seatbelts! But nonetheless, we got to Tampa just fine, checked into our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, and immediately left for Tropicana Field to see if we could score some (relatively) cheapish tickets to the ALCS Game 2 between the Red Sox and Rays.
I won't tell you how much the tickets cost, but suffice it to say that I was glad I'd just been paid the previous day! The game itself was GREAT! And LONG. It was a 9-8 Rays victory over 11 innings and 5 1/2 hours. The game started at 8:07 pm EST and ended at 1:37 am EST! After the flight and the game, I was definitely ready for bed!The next day, we got up fairly early, had our complementary continental breakfast (from a hotel costing $200 a night, continental breakfast is GOOD!) and went to Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers. We were seated in front of the big (and quite unique) pirate ship on the North end of the stadium, about 8 rows off of field level. Every time the Bucs scored, big loud cannons would fire from the ship, rocking the stadium and just about deafening me and dad!
The game was a good shellacking of the Panthers, with the final score ending up as 27-3 Bucs. I saw my first in-person blocked punt on the first drive of the game, and one of the Buccaneers was called for "unsportsmanlike conduct" after cartwheeling (yes, cartwheeling) off the field after having intercepted a pass!
The only downfall was that the stadium was open-air and REALLY hot (see: humid). Suffice it to say that I got quite nicely sunburned. But it was definitely a fun and unique experience!
After the game, we drove down and over the Sunshine Skyway toll bridge south of St. Petersburg, because my dad wanted to see it - it's a cool bridge, actually. It's a suspension bridge where all the weight of the bridge is carried on two superstrong pillers, supported by high-tension cables trailing down to the roadway level. (See photo below) It was actually hit by a boat in 1980 and destroyed, and they rebuilt it this way:
We also did the obligatory stop at St. Pete's beaches, driving up the Gulf coast from the Sunshine Skyway to Clearwater, FL. There, where it had been sunny and bright all day, it suddenly turned stormy, and I caught this beautiful photo of one of the Tampa bridges and causeways out on the edge of Tampa Bay:That night, we ate at Bahama Breeze, a restaurant overlooking the bay, and I got something called a paiella, basically cajun-style rice with Creole spices, Tampa Bay scallops, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and other goodies. It was delicious! The next day, we checked out of the Hyatt fairly early, and spent much of the day at the Florida Aquarium, which I will elaborate on in another post probably tomorrow.
But it was really a great trip, and I had so much fun! (Now I'm about to go see if the Rays can finish off the Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS!)