Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blue Orleans...

As I watched UK's game with Baylor in the Elite Eight, I began to get more and more excited. Not only was UK winning with ease, I knew something special was going to happening again. By some amazing chance, I had been selected again in August for Final Four Tickets. I never dreamed UK would go two years in a row. But things were falling into place for us. I had reserved hotel rooms last summer in New Orleans just to be safe. Josh had already worked things out with his company to be off to go. Unfortunately, Jonathan could not go. He is an officer in his local American Institute of Chemical Engineers and had to go to a conference at Clemson (obviously Clemson assumes they will never have to worry about the Final Four). I had already sold his spare ticket on Stubhub the week before. Josh's roommate Curtis was wiling to buy the other ticket. The game ended with a Kentucky victory and we would be going to the Final Four!

The plan was for Josh and Curtis to meet me on the way. They drove down from Lexington on Friday. I had decided the best place for them to leave their car was at the Memphis Airport. I met them there and we headed out. I had decided to stay in Canton Mississippi at a Hampton Inn. I got a fabulous deal on two rooms with my Hilton Points. We went to eat at KFC close by. We almost had a horrible incident right at the start. As we pulled into the restaurant/gas station, a car backed out quickly as we drove behind it. Josh yelled and I dodged it fortunately (shhh.. don't tell Donna). We ate and went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the final 3 hours of driving the next day.

We got up the next day and headed out. The drive went fine. I had set us up rooms that night at the New Orleans Airport Hilton. It was about 15 minutes from the Superdome plus it was close to where we'd planned to go to church the next morning. The checkout time was also 1:00pm. We grabbed lunch at Denny's near the hotel and checked in. Curtis and Josh were very impressed with the place. It was a very nice hotel and not really expensive either. We rested a bit and since Kentucky played Louisville in the first game, we headed out. I had tried something for parking I'd read about online called ParkWhiz. I reserved a parking spot a week before in a lot close the Superdome. You print out your parking pass and then just show it to the attendant. We headed out. I had a little trouble getting to the lot because of some closed streets in downtown New Orleans. Once we got there, the pass worked like a charm and we parked with no problem.

It was only a one block walk to the Superdome. There were people everywhere of course, but it didn't take that long to get in. I was a bit concerned about our seats though. Last year in Houston, we were in the middle tier. This year, we were in the 600 level which is the top tier. It took quite a while to go up the circular ramps to our seats. When we got to them, I was pleasantly surprised. We could see pretty well especially considering how high we were. I talked to the guy who bought the extra ticket from us on Stubhub. He was from Lafayette and had decided to come since he was so close. Kentucky played OK in the first half. However, it seems like anytime UK made a strong move to the basket, they were whistled for a charging call. UK got up by 12 early in the second half, but Louisville came back to tie it at 49 with about 9 minutes to go. I started to worry. But Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got a couple of buckets. Terrence Jones hit a jumper and Darius Miller hit a huge three and Kentucky ended up winning by 9. We stayed for about half the Ohio State-Kansas game. It looked like Ohio State was going to win. We got some food at McDonalds on the way back. I watched the rest of the game at the hotel. Kansas came back to pull the game out at the end.

We knew we'd get to see the championship game! I'll finish the tale of our trip in the next blog post.