Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bowling in Music City

Last week I headed over to Nashville to see Kentucky win its first bowl game in 22 years against Clemson in the Music City Bowl. Amy graciously agreed to give me a guilt-free pass for a couple of days despite the fact that I was leaving her alone to take care of Owen & Gus, both of whom were saddled with awful colds & fevers. So I made the most and the best of it.

The 1,070 mile trek was an eight-hour drive each way. The trip included a weird experience around Knoxville, where I noticed several police cars speeding in my direction on my side of the interstate in the emergency lane. Once I saw them I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed a vehicle heading the wrong way up an exit ramp behind me. All of this happened very fast, and searching the Knoxville newspaper today I learned that this was the police chasing two bank robbers fleeing on a high-speed chase around the time I was driving that leg of the trip. Here are the two winners that were ultimately apprehended.

In Nashville I met up with Jeff Mills, my friend from UK undergrad days and his band of merry pharmacists from Louisville. One of them asked me, "Didn't you get bored and dread driving that long by yourself?" I thought about it for a moment and responded that not once did I dread the solitary drive. Personally it was therapeutic to have a little time to myself.

The highlight of the trip of course was the bowl game itself. LP Field in Nashville had a record crowd of 68,000+ fans, and at least 75% of those were Kentucky fans. It was a sea of blue. The Cats dominated the second half of the game leading 28-6 before Clemson added two late fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it 28-20. After the game, the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River was a massive celebration of Kentucky fans. I mentioned to a couple of subdued Clemson fans to just give Kentucky fans their moment. Given that it was 1984 since Kentucky's last bowl win, UK fans didn't get to celebrate the successes of their football team very often.

After the game our crew descended on B.B. King's restaurant downtown where we proceeded to soak up the victory with many other UK revelers with a local blues band serenading the crowd in the background. Chants of "C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!" spontaneously erupted for hours. Shortly after the party continued to local karaoke bars, I called it a night and returned to the hotel, having thoroughly enjoyed the Big Blue experience and at the same time eager to return to the comforts of home & family. The trip was everything I wanted it to be -- a chance to unwind with a long peaceful drive, see the Cats end their losing ways in football, and hang out with old friends. Perhaps next year will bring a New Year's Day road trip for the entire family.


The Big Blue crew readies itself for Kentucky's first bowl win in 22 years. It's not every day that you get to live the High Life at 9 a.m.

Mr. Mills and Mr. Rutledge waking up for the big game.

Derek in Music City.

A sea of blue at LP Field in Nashville.

The scoreboard doesn't lie. Kentucky's first bowl win since 1984 caught on camera.

Derek in Music City celebrating after the huge win phoning in to anyone who will listen.

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