Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shuffling off to Buffalo

So it was our annual trek down to Buffalo this past weekend. As I had written in previous blogs, for the first time, we made it an overnight trip by staying over in Niagara Falls the night before.

The biggest challenge leading up to the trip was to find an "old school" type restaurant within the city of Niagara Falls. The place has become a virtual Disneyland filled with chain restaurants.

The place I found (that was willing to take a reservation for 9 guys) was an Italian restaurant called Four Brothers. It wasn't too busy when we got there at 6 pm but practically lined up out the door by the time we left around 8 pm.

I have no complaints about the meal. I had some veal parmagian along with a side of lasagna. Imagine, two of your favourite meals of all time...on the SAME PLATE. Rickie B and Jayman were not as happy as they went with the strip steak. They have advised me that steaks are supposed to be good at Italian restaurants...I disagree...but I left them to their own devices. Their steaks were both pretty thin and a little overdone.

Sunday started early with a 7 am wake up call for the hotel for myself and my hotel roommate SW. We both were ready in time to meet the rest of the guys in the lobby for 7:30. After some coffee from Starbucks and a quick debate over crossing at Fort Erie as opposed to the Rainbow bridge, we were on our way.

Quick stop at the Duty Free for beer, ice and a Tim Horton's breakfast we headed down to Frank Wilson Stadium to start tailgating. As most of you know, last week, Buffalo was hit with their worst October snowfall in history. Power was still out in parts of the city and schools had shut down for the week. As we drove towards Orchard Park, where the stadium is located, the only evidence we say was downed trees along the highway and pilled tree debris in front of people houses. The drive, as always, is a depressing one. That area of Buffalo is mix of two colours, dirty brown and depressed green. The only building not of that colour palatte is this gaudy strip bar called 24 karat gold. The only reason we know it, other than the brilliant pink colour of the building is it comes up right before our turn off to the stadium.

Tailgating is an interesting phenomanon. I don't quite understand it. Football teams purposely open their parking lot up four to five hours before kick off. Let people park (for $15!) and people just BBQ, drink beer and hang out until game time. And you have to imagine, there are cars as far as they I can see.

Top 5 Most Interesting Things about tailgating.

1. The state of your blatter. The amount of washrooms considering the amount of people who are there is like the amount of lifeboats that were on the titanic. There were four port-a-potties near our cars and they were foul. And no matter what, there was a line-up of between 10 to 15 people each time you went. Depending on the state of foliage, you can sometimes relieve yourself in the trees but not this past Sunday.

To make things worse, some old man walked up to me and Rickie B while we were in lane questioning what was wrong with us for not being able to hold it in. Than these charming Buffalo Girls behind us started timing me while I was in there. Literally, I can hear these women yelling, "one, two, three..." Yeah, good times.

2. The elements. There is something about Buffalo. Literally, when we got there, it was 5 degrees colder than it had been in Niagara Falls. And it is less than an hour away! Elvis set up a make shift tarp with poles from a broom and a paint roller and a tarp that was connected from the back of his car to the back of SW's car. This is a picture of Skypilot helping set up.

3. The food. Apparently this is what tailgating is all about. I have included a picture of our tailgate neighbours who were having boiled lobster. It was enourmous. We were no slouches either as Elvis brought enough jerk spiced ribs to feed an army. AND, as an appetizer, we had park loin wrapped in bacon served on a bun. My first year tailgating, someone was barbecuing deer meat on a rusty barrel. I believe there is some kind of competition every year but none of us care about that.

4. The beer cans. It feels weird but you are supposed to throw your empty cans of beer on the ground. Throughout the time you are there drinking, homeless people come around and collect the cans. God forbid you have an imported beer or they refuse to pick it up. And if you crush the can, they yell at you because they can't cash it. It is an interesting reflection of society as we overeat and overdrink while throwing our cans on the ground to be picked up by others who are struggling for every nickle.

5. The tailgate past time activities. There are usually dozens of footballs being thrown around the parking lot. On top of that some form of horseshoes involving two balls on a string being thrown at a rack. There was even a marriage proposal at a car near us. All the sudden you heard this woman screaming while a crowd gathered to watch. Hmmm...not sure what they are going to tell their grandkids about that.



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