Herodotus referred to the Phoenix as the bird that arose from its own ashes … uh, come to think of it, now I'm not sure about that.

Herodotus referred to the Phoenix as the bird that arose from its own ashes … uh, come to think of it, now I'm not sure about that. Was that what he said or did he say, "Rutgers football is the program that arose from its own ashes." Damn, now I don't remember. Hell, I had his email here somewhere … I saw it just a second ago. Let me see … Herodotus, Herodotus, Herodotus. I think it's this one, let me open it up and see.

"Buy Viagra for less than you would pay for aspirin."

No, that's not it. Maybe it's this one.

"Mike, I was wondering if you could spot me five hundred dollars till the first of the year, I had some unexpected … ."

No, no, that's not it. Let me look at this one.

"Our records show that you are overdue for a colonoscopy, please arrange payment pre-approval through your health care provider and then call to schedule … ."

No, that's not it, either. Hell, maybe I deleted the damn thing.

Oh, well, you get the point. Only five years ago, having tickets to Rutgers football was like having leprosy – people didn't want what you had. In fact, they wouldn't even drink out of the same water fountain.

Now, things have changed mightily. The Scarlet Knights are going to a bowl.

Well, I have a question.

Are you going?

You should, you know.

No, it's not just because we - as Rutgers fans - have suffered so long, though we have. And, no, not just because it is good to support the program's success - although it is. And no, it's not just because it would be a good chance to watch a good football game; though that, too, it should be.

No, you should go because the game is being played in the Rocky Mountains.

If you have never been to the American west before, let me tell you about my beloved Rockies and the people who live there.

A Rockies Tale

It was 1976. I was riding a bike towards the downtown area in Tucson. I got to an intersection at the same time that an old-cowboy-driven pick-up truck got there. We both had to slam on our brakes to avoid an accident.

Well, you know what would happen in Jersey in this situation. Curses would be exchanged, fists might fly, armaments might be brandished. In fact, automatic weapons fire is not out of the question.

But this was Tucson. The cowboy leaned his head out the window and said:

"Golly, I'm sorry, son. Heck, I ain't in no rush, you just go on right ahead of me."

We chatted. He invited me home for dinner. "Heck, I'll just call up my wife and have her put another steak on the grill. She jes loves to cook fer folks and folks are always welcome."

Another Rockies Tale

It was 1984. A lady friend and I were going to do some backpacking in Idaho's stunningly beautiful Sawtooth Mountains. We flew into Boise and took a bus from Boise to Ketchum. Ketchum would be our jumping off point to the Sawtooths.

I made a bit of a miscalculation. I hadn't made reservations for a motel room in Ketchum. I had no idea that summer sports in that part of Idaho put motel rooms at a premium.

When we got to Ketchum there were no rooms available. The bus driver learned of our dilemma. He maneuvered the big bus – now carrying only two passengers – down one narrow Ketchum street after another looking for a motel that might still have a vacancy.

No luck. We found one "no vacancy" sign after another.

But the bus driver told us not to fret. "Don't worry," he said, "if we can't find a motel room for you guys, you can always stay at my house."

He wasn't kidding. He meant it.

I could take you year by year, story by story through this wondrous land.

The wondrous land of the Rocky Mountains.

From the sacred quietude of the Sonoran Desert to the humbling enormity of the Colorado Rockies and beyond - this is god's country. And the folks who dwell here are a extraordinary people of unfailing good will.

If you haven't been to the Rocky Mountains, you owe it to yourself to go.

If you are unfamiliar with Western hospitality, you owe it to yourself to meet the people of that beautiful land.

If you haven' had steak cooked on real mesquite wood, you owe to yourself to give it a try.

If you haven't seen a city's lights snuggled under giant black mountains in a burgundy dusk … well, you owe it to yourself to see.

You owe it to yourself to go.

Com'on. I'll meet you there.

We'll have a good time.

Because you can bet …

that down in Arizona …

they're already putting steaks on the grill.

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