|Trip Dates||11/4/2021 – 11/7/2021|
|School||University of Alabama|
|Visiting Team||LSU Tigers
Pre-game Record: 4-4
|Home Team||#2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Pre-game Record: 7-1
|Game Time (ET)||7:00 PM Eastern (6pm local)|
|Weather||55 & Sunny with fast temp drops and felt much colder in our seats|
|Attendees||Jarrett, Al, Beth, Debra, Haley, Jake, Sydney (Tina & Bob did not go to game but were present)|
|Jarrett’s Pick||Alabama Crimson Tide
(36 and 18 record)
|Al’s Pick||Alabama Crimson Tide
(30 and 24 record)
|Length of Game||3:29|
|Seat Location||Endzone, 3 Rows from the top (way way up there)|
|Photo Album||Click here for the Alabama Photo Album|
Every morning your feet hit the floor. Tell yourself TODAY could be the day. Today could be the day I turn my world upside down. For the better! Today could be the day everything changes. Today is the day I take all things in my life to another level. It only takes one moment. One decision. One action. And your whole entire life could change forever!! This trip report will likely not be that moment, but while I have your attention, strange things are afoot at Quest Headquarters, as I, Al, have been thrust into the spotlight, to take the quill, and produce a life-altering, trip report recalling the times and tribulations of our visit to the University of Alabama!
“I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.”
As most reports start out, there is a lot of anxiety and tension with getting up and to the airport on time before Quest trips. “NOT SO FAST” I think to myself in my best Lee Corso voice. As others may have arrived at the newly renovated New York Municipal Airport at LaGuardia Field at 9AM for their 5:50 PM departure to Birmingham on Delta (Beth finds this very funny and very true to life), Debra and myself decided to take a 4:30PM Uber to the airport for the flight, sparing no extra time to have to spend in what was once the most god-awful place on Earth, the LaGuardia Airport. Jarrett points out that he likes these Thursday afternoon rides to the airport as opposed to very early Friday morning. The airport was originally Glenn H. Curtiss Airport and it was later renamed North Beach Airport. Pretty original name, but if any of you know the area of this airport, having a name with the word “beach” in it, is highly insulting to even the worst beaches in the world and use of the alphabet. After New York City managed and redesigned the airport, it was called New York Municipal Airport at LaGuardia Field, and then in 1953 named “LaGuardia Airport” after the mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia at the time. It is my belief that not a single upgrade or fix had been done from 1953 until the changes we see here today. The original property was owned by the Steinway family. Yes, that famous piano Steinway family, and was used as their personal airfield. Also, interesting that the airport’s main source of income back in the day, was a parking fee for people who came to just watch planes take off and land. Beth enjoyed the history lesson and Jarrett is skeptical any of this is true. Smart use of time, interesting, fun for the entire family I suppose……but I digress…where was I?
Delta flight 4753 non-stop to Birmingham “freakin” Alabama. Who the hell even goes there? Us I suppose. Maybe we’ll get mud stuck in the tires? Our pre-flight tailgate at the airport was a rice bowl or two with some tomato sauce at the new food court (I’m not even sure you can call it that, it was surprisingly so nice!) and a shared bottle of water. Nothing too fancy for us “Zone 5’rs”. Beth headed off to……..oh……did I mention the entire flock of Singers were going on this trip? They were, and this was also their family trip to Bama to visit daughter Haley this season, which is why ultimately, I volunteered to write this trip report. Family dinner, party, game, lot’s going on! So, Beth headed off to the gate to board early, I believe she claims to have two left feet and needs additional circling time to walk down the aisle to her seat. Jake and Sydney tagged along so they could try to fall asleep before the plane took off. Jarrett would like it known that Sydney only agreed to sit next to Beth if she “didn’t talk”. Jarrett was in zone 1 and ran onto the plane to make sure he had overhead space on a full, sold-out flight that had been rescheduled by Delta about 4000 times. Great job @Delta making things as confusing and stressful as possible. Debra and myself, having checked our bags early, and sitting up front with the Glitterati, finally walked on the plane last to a welcome glass of champagne, chocolate, and truffles. Just kidding, we got a crappy meal but who’s counting. But that’s neither here nor there how that happened….the plane took off, it flew, it cut the corner, and it landed in Birmingham on time. BTW, you didn’t ruin this Quest trip Beth.
As always, Jarrett had coordinated the travel plans and the rental car agent was there and awaiting us. It could have been worse, they might not have been there…but they were, and they sent us off to our minivan, much to Jake’s dismay after walking past several Camaros. By the 3rd Camaro, he realized we couldn’t all fit in there even without luggage. It’s ok, he likes fast cars, he drives fast, and at 18, nothing wrong with that. At our age, on a trip with 6 people and luggage for days; minivan. So, we piled our crap in, and the people too, and got on the road to Tuscaloosa.
“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”
I have to tell you, anytime these trips include anyone other than Jarrett and myself, they become complicated. In the not-so-distant past, Target used to attend some trips and everything was a production. He was constantly checking his phone for reviews, and directions, and god knows what else, and it never really got us anywhere worthy of telling you all except a bed ‘n breakfast in the middle of a cemetery. More recently, Debra accompanies us, and although not nearly as complicated as Brett, she is vegetarian, and that sometimes causes us some severe guilt when we attend our usual steakhouse. Good to know, she has become the first to figure out a way to profit off all this travel, as she will someday in the future release a book entitled “Steakhouse sides: a survival guide to eating at the best steakhouses as a vegetarian”. Beth loves this idea! Please buy that book when it comes out, as our financial well-being could depend on it. This trip, however, had 6 of us, well 7, when you include Haley in the opening night fiasco. Let’s just say, searching for late night food options outside of most cities not named New York, is difficult. We know this, we have experienced this all the time on these trips, but yet, here we are. Driving down the highway, we had no plan or nowhere to go, and we were quickly running up against the 10PM “our city turns into a pumpkin” time zone. Where do we go? Is there a local place open that is a must see? Do we go to a chain like Outback or Applebees? Perhaps non-New York pizza will do the trick? Subway? Jimmy Johns? 45 minutes into the ride, the conversation circled….like vultures over a dead carcass. A call to our local expert, Haley, added to the confusion. Jake, the only decision-maker in the car, said he wanted a steak. I think after a very contentious back and forth between everyone in the car except the driver, we decided our only option was an Outback, and to slip in just before the 10PM closing time. Unfortunately for Wendy, we sat down in her section right as she thought she was going home…and of course, ordered full meals and apps and drinks. There was no one to help poor Wendy, and she was stuck with us having just gotten out of the minivan after a hotly contested debate on food. Bad mix. Stuff was falling on the floor, pitchers spilling, and no staff was coming to save Wendy. We felt bad, we ate quickly, even after some food didn’t make it out on time or with the original order. But at least we had eaten. Debra felt bad and took my only cash and left it on the table….I on the other hand….. So anyway, we headed off to the hotel, exhausted and needing some sleep, however, the debate in the car about whether anyone had previously stayed at this same hotel (Jake you win) raged on in my brain until I peacefully passed out in a very, very, cold room. Thank you Alka Seltzer Night time. BTW Beth, you did not ruin this Quest trip.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
I was woken to some banging on the door at 7AM, that could only have been a prank by Jarrett or Jake….but to my surprise, it was the cleaning crew asking if we were out of the room or not. So, this is the first time this has ever happened to me this early, and normally I would just invite them inside to watch the morning news with me, but this was way before that. I walked to the door, opened it, and asked what they were thinking? The staff actually thought I wanted to hear an answer….not. Door slam. Oddly, nor surprising though, there was a knock again at our door at 8…and then again at 9. La Quinta, you need to get your shit together. This is no way to treat guests. You have a system that could easily tell you what time we checked in, right? Use it. I walk in at 12 or 1AM, I’m not up at 7AM. Maybe they were in the wrong time zone, or for that matter, maybe they don’t understand time zones. They should ask Beth…but more on that later. BTW Beth, you did not ruin this Quest trip.
After breakfast, which the Singer and related clan had at Brick & Spoon and Jarrett has to add that it was excellent, we headed off to campus to do our normal spending damage. I rolled my tide right into the bookstore and bought way more than I ever thought I would buy at this location. And to make matters worse, Jarrett started buying what has become known as “Al Shirts”, and I didn’t notice this until after I got my @starbucks , so I had to go back inside the store and buy something else to wear. Ugh. Needless to say, we did some damage, but all in all, the red color isn’t too bad, goes well under a lot of my sweatshirts and works well at the gym. But I digress…..
Beth, Jarrett,and Jake headed off on some college meeting and tour while we walked around the campus. It is a very nice campus; definitely has that college feel. The weather was fortunately cool; that plan to go south later in the year just never seems to work out as it logically should. But by now, since this is the last report being written, and you may have already read the Arizona trip report, you can see we totally redeem ourselves in Scottsdale as the weather was fabulous and the north to south plan has been carved into stone, literally, at the Boulders. But again, I am meandering off the path. There were definitely lots of elephants and statues of elephants, and the coaching walk of fame was very impressive. See the pictures in the album. Wandering around for lunch, we found a NY style pizzeria. Now let’s be clear, Debra and I had zero intention, and never would step inside a NY style pizzeria outside of NY City. Ever. Who does that? What kind of people travel from NY to eat NY style pizza outside of NY? And in Alabama nonetheless?? Anyway….we had Meditation Sandwich Company for lunch, and after moving the heaviest picnic tables I have ever lifted, we got to eat them. They were above average, which is good. Jarrett and I were still trying to figure out at this point why there were no shot glasses with the Bama logo on them….to which I found out that 34 years ago, the university and the town had an argument over the taxes being paid to the city. The city wanted more, Bama wanted less. The settlement was the city got to pick a product they would be able to share in the revenues from, and knowing the type of boozers in this town, and the history of shot glass sales, they picked shot glasses!! Bama agreed, and upon walking out of the meeting, sent notice to all production houses that their logo was not to be printed on any shot glasses, thus killing the sales of glasses in the town, and giving a big screw you to the city. Yeah, I made that all up…..but that was just to show you the amount of time we debate silly things on these trips. I have to admit, I don’t know if Jarrett ever found a Bama shot glass for his collection, or will this go down as the only school with no drinking apparatus? Who knows! BTW, you did not ruin this Quest trip Beth. God, and while I’m at it, change the scoring system Alex!
While walking around, we stopped in Gallettes, home of the Yellow Hammer. Of course, Debra and I were immediately interested, as we were told by Beth these drinks were “amazing” and “you need to have one”. So we did, or two, or three maybe before we started our walk back to the cars, so we could take a shortcut through a church parking lot back to the La Quinta that the Singer’s had never stayed at before (Jake, you are still right, you have stayed there before). The church parking lot didn’t cut the corner, and once again GPS Tom Tom fails us….almost causing Al and Deb to be struck down by the God Almighty for returning to a parking lot after many years of non-attendance (yes, that actually happens in the roman catholic faith…lightning is used as hand slaps by God. True story). Anyway, it was important to make it back to the hotel for a little R&R, as there was a big night planned for these Questors tonight. A party, of the Mexican flavor! BTW Beth, you didn’t ruin this Quest trip. Beth now realizes how many times she must have said this on the trip. Really? Now, she realizes this!
“Call me Ishmael”
For argument’s sake, let’s call him Ishmael…..and for the sake of this paragraph, there is a story to be told about him…..a true story….one that I don’t think we’ll ever know. But ever since Ishmael didn’t get in, he was left behind. And that was sad to hear about, but hopefully tonight he will be included. Somewhere, deep in the wilderness of the University of Alabama, there is the entire true story of Ishmael. And some day, we will be here for it! Ishmael is good. Moving on.
Later that day, I was trusted to drive Beth’s parent’s car over to Haley’s apartment complex (which Jarrett got to see for the first time). Don’t ever do that again…you have no idea how risky that was. Anyway, after the much needed R&R, Debra and I drove over for a special dinner party Beth was throwing for Haley and friends. Honestly, I know the party was for me…..but let’s just leave that alone, and give this one to Haley & Co. There was a lovely common room in the complex that Beth had reserved and catered in for about 10 and 10 of us. Sure, that equals 20, but 10 of us were not allowed to sit and question (I mean talk) to the other 10. But that’s all good; there was lots of good Mexican food, from a place I would definitely go to if I was ever back in Tuscaloosa, and plenty to drink. A great spread! The room had a gazillion tv’s which we had sports on all night, and a shuffleboard table game!! Have you ever played this game? Indoor shuffleboard….long, thin, wooden table with some weird saw dust or tiny miniscule balls on it, where you slide a puck from one side to the other, trying to land in scoring areas, ultimately building up more points than the other player. Whom, btw, is trying to knock your pucks off the board at the same time. Yes, indoor shuffleboard! I have always seen this game, but never played. Totally addicted!! Clearly, there had to be a champion, and that was me, but let’s get back to the story. If I had more space at home, I’d have this game! Anyway, we had a very nice night, totally organized by Beth. If we could have more Friday nights like this, I’d sign up. And Ishmael and all the kids seemed to enjoy themselves as well. I hope they packed up all the leftover foods and ate like champs the next few days. I know I would have. Beth, you totally didn’t ruin this trip BTW.
Some interesting tidbits we learned on this trip:
- Beth buys and wears clothes specifically to embarrass Haley. Imagine finding that out on this trip? I still want to see those boots bought for Haley in year one? I hope she sold them on eBay and used the money for a Bama jersey.
- Mexican food is good, but it’s not always Mexican
- Cookies are very good. I think we already knew that, it is worth stating again that an abundance of cookies with meals only enhances the meal
- Ishmael is still alive!
- Beth went to the bathroom at Krispy Kreme. This was relevant at the time, but quite frankly, I just cared about the donuts!
- Tons of those fake black leather pants on this campus. Not sure they got the memo.
- As you would expect, Sweet Home Alabama plays every 9 minutes in the state, no matter where you are, who you are with, or what time it is.
- Jimmy Johns drinking games could only be a game of who gets sick first
Forget about that, let’s get back to the story (about a girl named blah blah blah). Saturday is gameday, and no one does gameday like Bama…..well, almost no one…..but anyway. We started out with breakfast at the hotel, which wasn’t half bad. I think I had my normal, self-made waffle, loaded with butter, syrup, and the always encompassing “eventual trip to the bathroom.” Was a good start to the day. Everyone rolled out of their rooms, and after lunch at Full Moon BBQ, we headed to campus for the game. It was at this time that I realized the first hotel we stayed at (yes, that is a part of the story I will leave alone, as travel arrangements are always made by Jarrett, and since I am lazy and want nothing to do with that, I never allow myself complaining rights). Jarrett will add that this “close” hotel was booked for Friday and Saturday and when we added Thursday night he did not want to mess with his football weekend reservation by adding Thursday, so he booked a different hotel. But it was at this time, as we circled looking for a close parking spot for the game, I realized our first hotel was a drunk walking distance to the game. Either way, we found a spot that was about as far as the two hour cruise from Gilligan’s Island lasted, from the stadium. But no worries, it was a good brisk walk, and taking in all the scenery made for some interesting chatter. When we arrived at the tailgate area, which of course I forget the area of the campus it was on, we searched for some friends Beth had arranged for us to see. We dropped off the donuts, left our crap there, and went off for a walk to see what goes on at Bama tailgates. To your likely surprise, it was a fairly mild tailgate environment. Crowded yes, quiet yes.
At this point, I had noticed again and decided that University of Alabama is a pretty campus. It is one of the schools we have been to that truly has a college feel to it; from the buildings, to the people walking around, to the proper naming convention of buildings (UCF, please take note of this…and stop naming buildings things like “2A”). Campus had a good gameday buzz going….needless to say, we did not. So Debra and I went off on a little adventure that we like to call the “Grassy Knoll Tailgate Experience”. We found ourselves randomly in a convenience store’s alcohol aisle, with a 6 pack in our hands! Amazing how these things happen. We proceeded to sit on a small mound of grass and enjoy the booze….total trashy style. It was here I was educated on things that can not be mentioned in this write up, but somewhere down the road, if drunk enough, my vault ability is very sieve-like. After a few minutes, we got up for the long trek back to campus, found a bathroom to open the floodgates, and walked over to meet the gang for our entrance to the stadium.
The Stadium. So, this is an impressive college football stadium. It looks it, it smells it, it probably seats a good 90K+ (actually 102k). The sideline seats were fairly steep, making me think this place would be very loud. It was not. One of the endzones goes up to the heavens (more on that later), and the other gets fairly close to the heavens. For all I know, they were the same height, but I remember thinking we were higher than the other side. Well, I guess we have gotten to that part. Our seats were higher than I have been on any commercial jet airliners. The walk up was one of those circular, cement structures that just continued forever at about a 4% incline. Okay Bama, invest in some escalators, seriously. That’s some hike up to the upper level. But wait, there’s more!!! After finally getting to the top of the spiral thingy, there were stairs. Here is where Bama made up for the 4% gradient….by having narrow, small steps that easily climb at a 60 degree angle. There is no looking down; as a matter of fact, there is no going back down once you achieve Heaven level. I’m sure there are tons of accidents, and Bama buries the stories somewhere (and the bodies). I’m pretty sure that Jake left the seats sort of to challenge the theory that you go up once and that’s it, and he probably thought he was going to walk back up, but he’s not dumb. He found a seat lower and enjoyed the game and concessions. Us, we stayed up high with the drunk, naked guy sitting next to us. How he didn’t fall down from being so high and frozen (and drunk) is beyond me.
“I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man.”
I’m not going to review the game. Bama won. They kind of almost always win, and I’m a little sick of hearing about it quite frankly. So that’s all there is about that. Jarrett will post some stats at the top of this trip report as he usually does, or maybe he won’t. What I will say though is the red light show they do with their high tech light bulbs, and with the coordination of peoples phones, was very cool. I would say cool enough to go and experience. Other stadiums need to get into this! They even made the wave cool again, no joke. There are videos and pictures in the album; go see them!
I’ve waited forever to do a write up to include a review of the band….but clearly I missed my chance to review a good one. This band was way below average for what I expected of a big band. They couldn’t even spell out Alabama…..only Bama, and I heard a few fans say they do that because it is too complicated for them. I guess that’s true if a few people said it in the stadium? Like reading it on the internet makes it true? Who knows. But since Jake is going to be a freshman there next year, that’s four more years of figuring out why the band is lazy. Anyway, an overrated band. Unfortunate, considering we were stuck to our seats (asses frozen to them), and the stairs were a one shot deal….and that would only be after the game.
When the game ended, we met up with Haley outside the stadium and walked back down University Ave, to where we had parked. Almost felt like we were in a victory parade or something, except there wasn’t any loud, obnoxious fans saying stupid things, talking crap, etc. Good job Bama; you know your team is good, you enjoy the game, and then no need to talk about it after because it was expected. Unfortunately, it is that complacent attitude that was the likely culprit of you losing the national title this year. Get your fire back……
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
The car ride back to the hotel didn’t come without its own fire. First, we dropped some of the friends off in the middle of the highway. That’s right, just stopped in traffic, let them out on the median, and had them cross the street. I was not expecting this from Beth or Debra. Beth would like to point out that this seems like a backhanded compliment. Jarrett and me yes, but them, no. Fortunately no animals were harmed during the filming of these events. Once that was completed, there was a small debate between Jarrett and Haley on how to get back to her apartment complex. I realized the turn Haley made us take was not optimal, but decided to see where this would take us, as I too have children who think they know everything, or at least feel they have to act that way!
So instead of going straight and taking the ½ mile route direct to the complex, we went all the way back to our hotel and made a U-turn to go back the way that was “familiar”. I have to admit, I did want to ask if we could be dropped off prior to the U-turn, but figured, I better stay in this minivan, cause you never know what you will miss!!! And boy, was I right!! Can anyone explain time zones to Beth? I mean, this isn’t one of those math problems like “if a train leaves Denver at 6AM headed for New York and a train leaves New York at 3PM headed for Denver, what time will they pass each other?” We know those are trick questions because you never know what the weather is, the weight of the train cars, the sobriety of the conductors, if the snack car is open, if the driver is an ex LIRR driver…..these are important factors. When determining the time zones and difference in times in each of the zones, it is sort of a definitive fact, almost like science. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about science because clearly there are people who don’t believe in science anymore. As a matter of fact, they feel they can make up their own science…but again, I digress. Time zones. New York and Tuscaloosa are different time zones. One is in the eastern time zone, the other is in the central time zone.
The difference in zones is an hour. This means that when it is 8PM in NY in the eastern time zone, it is 7PM in Tuscaloosa which is in the Central time zone. That’s it. The Earth still spins, Jarrett and Al still get to go to football games and play golf, Debra still gets to Bikram early in the morning. Time zones were created for lots of different reasons, but the easiest one to understand is that it allows each area of the world to have the most daylight during “daytime” hours. If everyone on Earth had the same exact time, everyone’s daytime hours would be different and most of the world would have to work in the dark to accommodate the center of the universe; New York City. But just to make it clear Beth, when it is 8PM at home in New York, it is 7PM where Haley is…..at the exact same moment. Btw, if Alex is in Cupertino or San Francisco at Google at that exact moment, it is 5PM for him. 8pm in NY is 5PM in California….at the exact same moment. Anyway, you get the picture…while we were driving aimlessly, we were, for a second time, trying to explain the time zones. And for a second time, I’m pretty sure Beth wasn’t listening…..she was just thinking about doing this for another 4 years with Jake. Oh boy. BTW Beth, you did not ruin this Quest trip.
“Never was anything great achieved without danger….”
In the meantime, Jake thought everyone was yelling. He was right, again. But my car is slow, so you are wrong about that.
The next morning it had been decided to not get up early to visit some family for early breakfast, allowing us to sleep in a bit before the ride to the airport. Does anyone know how Apple Airbuds work while we are in the car (I know they work the same inside and outside the car, so I didn’t jump into this conversation). But more importantly, please don’t tell Syd’s dad that she lost hers. Let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we? Crap, I just did….
Birmingham Airport is named after Shuttleworth. Why? Frederick Lee Shuttlesworth (born Fred Lee Robinson, March 18, 1922 – October 5, 2011) was a U.S. civil rights activist who led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a minister in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, initiated and was instrumental in the 1963 Birmingham Campaign, and continued to work against racism and for alleviation of the problems of the homeless in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he took up a pastorate in 1961. He returned to Birmingham after his retirement in 2007. He actively worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, though the two men often disagreed on tactics and approaches. So, there’s your answer to that airport name.
The plane ride home was uneventful, however, they did serve ice cream sundaes in first class. For those Seinfeld challenged, that is a Seinfeld reference.
Let it be known, that at no point on this trip was the trip ruined by Beth, much to her surprise and constant pondering that she was ruining a Quest trip. Beth, you are always welcome on Quest trips, or other trips for that matter. Your sales pitch to remain off the Quest with reverse psychology didn’t work. The #FinalBite gives this trip a rating of 8.2 out of 10.
BTW, our entire trip was paid for by The Underhills…… (guess the movie)
Jarrett will close this trip report by saying that Al did such a good job with it, that he is looking forward to more trip reports by Al, despite the fact that it is being published in March.
Beth adds, “This report is amazing! As editor of the trip reports it was nice to read a different style of humor. Very well written Al. And I think I get the time zone thing now.”
Al, it looks like you have a new gig. And Beth definitely does not have the time zone thing yet.
Alabama would finish the regular season at 11-1, winning the SEC West, with its only loss at Texas A&M. They would beat #1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game and be awarded the #1 seed in the CFP Playoff. Alabama would beat Cincinnati 27-6 in the semifinals. That set up a rematch against Georgia for the National Championship. Alabama would fall 33-18, in a game at Lucas Oil Stadium, a game which Jarrett went to.
LSU finished the regular season 6-6, 3-5 in the SEC West. The Tigers played Kansas State in the Texas Bowl and lost 42-20.
For our Alabama photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.