Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washington Week Part III

Washington Week Part III: The Game Day Experience ( edited reprint from last year)

If you are an Oregon Duck fan living in Medford, Oregon, attending a University of Oregon home football game is at least a 14- hour experience. That is 6 hours of driving , 3 hr from Medford to Eugene and 3 hours back, 2 hours of pre game fun and eating,4 hours of actual game and an hour to get back to the car after the game and an hour to eat on the way home. I attend all home games which is usually 6 each fall. Southern Oregon fans are a hearty lot. Our usual plan for a 12:30 pm kick off is to get up at 6 am and leave Medford at 7:30 AM. Stop for gas in Canyonville at the Seven Feathers gas station . They have clean restrooms. It fun to see other Duck fans going to the game in I-5 with their cars and vans decorated in yellow and green. By the time we get to Cottage Grove I can pick up Jerry Allen and the Duck pre game radio show. WE pull into Eugene by 10:30 AM and park on the campus side of the Willamette River. I like to park behind the New Oregon Motel at an office-building parking lot where they charge $10.00. From there we walk to the footbridge over the Willamette River. I like to walk from campus as it makes me feel like a student again. On the bridge is a guy who plays a saxophone for donations. The Oregon fight song is a big money maker. After we cross the bridge there is a winding paved trail through some woods. It is shaded and cool on a hot day. There are people on the trail selling Oregon Tee shirts. Free enterprise is wonderful. There are also the ticket scalpers. As you come out of the woods , standing in all it's glory, is Autzen Stadium. If you have ever seen the movie Camelot it's like the scene where King Arthur and Guinevere after they meet in the forest come out of it and there stands Camelot in all it's glory. After entering the front gate I always buy a program. $5.00...yekes and head for the Mochofsky Center or as we call it the Mo Center. The Mochofsky Center is the indoor practice facility but on game day it is a huge tail gate party with live music, TV monitors with college football games from all over the country, beer, the radio and TV pre game shows, The Duck Shop with all the Duck paraphernalia you would ever want, and a food court. We grab a table and get our lunch from the food court and spend an hour or so eating and just watching people. To say the least Duck fans are a zany bunch . Duck fans all dress individually in as many different outfits as there are people. However they do it in a green and yellow way. After lunch we head for the stadium. We go up the main staircase on the new South side. Thanks Phil Knight. From there we work our way around the concourse to the North side to section 13. We have had season tickets there for years and the same people always sit around us. We then settle in for the pre game warm ups. Then the big screen on the scoreboard plays highlights of past games to get the crowd ready for the game. The high lights always end with "the pick" as described below in Part II. The team is then led on to the field by a Duck on a motorcycle . The South side of the stadium then chants GO and the North side says DUCKS. There is nothing like 55,000 people chanting GO DUCKS over and over to get the crowd into a excited frenzy. The game starts. I like to bring my radio and listen to Jerry Allen and Mike Jorgensen broadcast it. . As I have said before it is like listening to the game with two friends. After the approximately 4 hour game we wait till most of the crowd has left the stands and we head for the field. At Autzen fans can go onto the field after the two teams have left. We then work our way back across the Willamette River footbridge to our car and the 3 hr trip home.Sometimes we get pizza or Chinese food in Eugene before we head home. I love Rolling Rapids Pizza ( Pietro's old location between Eugene and Springfield)I went there in 1967 after my first game at Autzen. It was also Autzen's first game.On the way home we listened to the post game radio show and usually lose it at Canyonville before we go over the mountains. Sometime we stop in Roseburg for dinner. Did I mention there are 4 passes in the Cascade Mountains between Eugene and Medford. Back home I go online to see what my Duck friends are saying about the game and try and find a late Pac 10 game on TV. At 11:30PM they show a replay of the game.( No more In Medford!) If the Ducks have won I try and watch it until I fall asleep. A full day experience and I LOVE IT. This year we play the Huskies at night so when then that happens unless you want to drive into the wee hours of the morning and dodge deer on the road in the mountains you reserve a motel in Eugene/Springfield or Cottage Grove for after the game. Go Ducks beat the Huskies.