Well contrary to the common opinion held by most of my friends, I did NOT get lost before reaching Marana. When I reached the Marana exit, I pulled over and promptly pulled out my map to make sure I was heading the right direction. Just to be sure, I busted out my compass and aligned my heading from the stars above.
For my safety, I made sure to not stop in Phoenix. I drove straight through and gave the cross symbol out the window as I passed near the ASU Campus. The road from Phoenix to Flagstaff was horrible, so I went about 55mph for a good section of it (as opposed to ~90mph). Since I gave myself enough time on day one, I took the Sedona detour. Man Northern Arizona is so beautiful. The last time I was in the Flagstaff area I was in elementary still, for a State Championship Chess Tournament. Being up there again made me homesick for Minnesota just like the last time I was up there.
Weird thing in Sedona though. In the creek/river area of town, there was this gawd awful sound. Kind of like what you would expect to hear during a horror/suspense movie. It was loud and constant for miles. I come to find out (I think) that those were the sounds of birds! Killer-man-eating birds by the sound of them all.
Even though I probably had the time, I decided on not checking out the North Rim. I hadn't planned on it, till Noggie (message board poster Nogales Jerry) mentioned it, and I saw how close my route was taking according to my Super Duper $5 Wal-Mart Road Atlas. I might go see it on the way back, although I'd rather go when I can stay a few days really. The road from Flagstaff to Page was nice, yet boring. Crossed into Utah without even knowing it (must have missed the sign). Kanab was neat, although very congested. They had a street fair going on and it looked like 4-5 times the towns population was walking around.
By the time I reached Cedar City I was getting a bit tired. Checked into the dump of a hotel I found on hotels.com, cleaned up a bit and rushed back out. Picked up a ticket to go to the Shakespearean Festival (www.bard.org not www.bard1.org). Showing at 8pm was "Camelot", and this was an incredible play/musical. The lead actress and lead actors were simply amazing, and the venue was nothing short of breathtaking. It was right on campus, Southern Utah University.
After my time in Cedar City I hauled butt on up to SLC. That drive was kind of nice, as the mountains sort of follow on the right all the way up. I got to Provo/Orem in no time. I saw the BYU Stadium from afar, but when I got to campus I couldn't find it again, haha. None of the roads on the BYU campus are straight. They are all slanted and curve. Plus, being Sunday, I assumed the campus wouldn't be that busy. Boy was I wrong. Nearly ran over a dozen students I think (I lost count). After about 20-25 minutes I gave up, didn't want to run one of them over I guess.
The UofU location in east SLC is VERY nice in comparison. The Campus here is not as "prettied up" with flowers and manicured grass like BYU, but I love the UofU campus much more. Very beautiful, and the surrounding homes/streets remind me SO MUCH of a town near where I grew up in Minnesota. I will definitely be getting pictures of the area this week.
Well that's about it. This hotel, called "The Guest House" is VERY nice. Big rooms, spacious bathrooms, working AC, microwave, refrigerator, etc. And being on the UofU campus, it has GREAT views!
So, I am out on campus just chillin' and taking some pictures of the stadium. Then all of the sudden, players walk out of the stadium near me. They cross the street, and disappear off into the distance. Being the paparazzi reporter in training that I am, I follow them to their hidden location. I turn the corner and what do I see?
Looks like someone is videotaping whatever is happening on the grass. So I head in a little closer. To the left of that picture is an indoor practice field (very nice). A coach is having (what looked like) younger players doing sprints and misc. exercises in there. Got a couple odd looks from the field, as I still had my UofA baseball hat on. My "uber elite ninja stealth skillz" aren't perfected yet. So after a few minutes I walk out and around that indoor practice field to a far corner.
This time I chucked the cap before I came around the far side of the building. The coaches were getting all worked up at the players being exhausted. And let me tell you, there were. Many times (on both sides of the ball) players were getting knocked down after being beaten off the line. This could be good for us considering how well we are conditioned now. However, I do not know how long practice was actually going on before I got there.
Right about now, three guys start walking towards my direction. I fetch my cap and walk away all cool-like heheh. As I walk away I swap the cameras flash card with a spare I had with me, and snapped a few pictures of the surrounding buildings just in case they wanted to see what I was shooting (see, maybe my ninja skillz are starting to come around).
(note: I'm pretty sure this was a "closed" practice, although unlike the UA practice field, it was not fenced off. There were no signs saying "closed practice" or anything to warn those who shouldn't be there, heh. Plus, there were no Ute Fans around that I could see when I was watching practice. That might change if they read this hahahah)
I went to the Utah Football Kickoff event tonight. The weather was great, it didn't even hit 70 until 1pm, and by the time the event got kicked off, it was back down to 68 or so around 7pm. they were running about an hour late, so I had some time to kill waiting. Sat down next to what I come to find out was "the voice of the Utes" and some other representative of the school. A little later, one of the guest speakers showed up. Forrest was his name if I recall, and he was a Ute. A real Ute.
He was there to speak on behalf of the Ute Tribe, and he is an interesting guy. While the people running the event were scrambling to get things ready, he sat down next me. Introduced myself to him as a Wildcat fan and such. He has been a lifelong fan of Ute Sports since as far back as he could remember. Said he first came to a Ute game when he was 5! I asked him about his feelings regarding the recent NCAA "rulings" about "offensive" names. Rather interesting point he made. The ones in charge of this decision, do nothing for these recognized tribes in the US. However, every school (to his knowledge) had great relationships with the local tribes bearing their names. Much like FSU and definitely was the case with the Utah Utes.
After Forrest was whisked away, I got up and walked down to the field. They had kicking contests going on, looked like a lot of fun. I took some pictures of the stadium from the field. That turf is amazing! It is so perfect. This was the first time I had ever stepped on "the fake stuff".
Around 8pm the event officially kicked off. It was rather strange to start off in my opinion. Three of the first guests were from different local religions. A Baptist Reverend, a Catholic Priest I think, and an LDS Elder who played for the Utes a long, long, long time ago. After they were done, Forrest spoke about how he is strong backer of Ute sports and such.
Then Kyle Whittingham spoke. He got the small crowd fired up very quickly. Five Utah players were on hand to speak as well. It felt almost like starting center Boone was begging for people to buy tickets. Apparently there are 9000 tickets still left for sale. This was somewhat shocking to me considering they have won 16 games in a row!! Afterward, Kyle got back up and continued the pleading for people to get the word out to sell tickets. Kyle seemed like a neat Head Coach, and we will see how well he does his job in preparation come Friday. He ended the night on these words:
"A Bomb is going to go off at 6:07 Friday for the University of Arizona. We're going to kick their butts".