The history of post season college football games have grown over the years. In 1940 there were 5, by 1970 the number was up to 11. From 1990 until today it has grown from 19 to a stunning 41 today.
Tucson was one of those 19 games in 1990, and have continued, for the most part, until today. The current bowl is sponsored by some group called Barstool Sports, resulting in a logo with a red barstool with the Arizona Bowl name.
The open space on the University of Arizona campus held the tailgate festival. There a number of events were happening, including a very talented Latino band playing.
The game featured the University of Wyoming Cowboys against the Ohio University Bobcats. The Wyoming team, and band, had a strong contingent in town to support them.
To give it a true Tucson feel there were a number of mariachi bands playing outside, and around the concourses of the stadium before the game. All were very talented.
The festivities continued as game time approached., with Air Force sky divers and planes flying over.
The Wyoming team was lead onto the field by a horse and rider.
The Ohio University band had an impressive display of dancing while playing.
Oh – and there was eventually a football game. After more than 4 hours the OU Bobcats prevailed in overtime.
Normally a trip up the Red Line to Addison Station means it is baseball season. But not today, with snow on the ground.
For the past few years the area around Wrigley Field has held a Christmas Market. This year they expanded it to include events on the field inside the stadium, calling the festival ‘Winterland’.
The concourses were decorated for the season.
But it was when you popped out of the tunnel onto the field that the real magic happens. We are standing (on plastic flooring) in left field of the best baseball stadium in the world (sorry Boston). Even though it is dormant in the winter, we are next to the famed ivy covered outfield walls.
The giant baseball in front of the equally famous bleachers was for taking selfies.
For enough money you can rent one of the luxury chalets in front of the out of town scoreboard.
There were a number of activities available to participate in.
It was surreal to watch a small kiddie train run around the infield.
A giant Cubby Bear watched over the scene.
A carousel was located outside the stadium in the Christmas Market area.
Least you forget it is still home of the Chicago Cubs!
What is better than a sunny late November day with temperatures in the 70s to check out a college football game, with the Washington State University Cougars in town to battle the University of Arizona Wildcats.
A large grassy area not far from the stadium serves as the tailgate area. The university’s marching band was serenading some of the tailgaters, while apparently making sure they stayed hydrated.
The University of Arizona is a member of the Pac12, one of the major college athletics conferences in the country. Their stadium’s first section was built in 1928, with subsequent expansions over the years.
You would think with a conference rival in town, on a perfect weather day that demand for tickets would be great. This however, was not true, as I was able to find a ticket online for $5 (the service fees cost more than the ticket), and even with that there were, at most, 25,000 people who bothered to show up.
The visitor’s section was most crowded, apparently people trying to escape the late fall/early winter weather of the northwest for sunny Tucson. The sea of red makes it easy to pick out the vendor.
Before the game the band made it’s way down the street into the stadium.
Still, the setting provided some interesting subjects for photography.
The most common use of an umbrella in Arizona – shade.
As with all stadiums, and many other venues, you are not permitted to take in backpacks or large bags, so taking the SLR camera and lenses to the game was out of the question. I have had a small point and click Canon G5X for a few years that I usually use in cities when I want to go incognito, but it works when you need something small to take into a stadium.
With my $5 seat high up in the 2nd deck, the zoom was put to a test. It did an acceptable job, with some dithering when zoom all the way in.
All in all, a great event for a low cost – but the home team lost 31-20.
To my surprise I had access to a free day of performance driving school included in the cost of the new car I purchased a few months ago, a Ford Edge ST. Apparently because they are considered ‘high performance SUVs (to me an oxymoron)’, Ford Performance sends out letters to all new owners inviting us to this training.
Since it was included in the cost of the car, and a good excuse to spend a week running around Utah, off we went. And the good news was Ford provided the cars for the day.
The instructors were all professional drivers, mostly those who run in the SCCA or IMSA type races. Our leader was referred to as Reverend Jim who preached the gospel of speed.
We left Park City for a 45 minute drive to the town of Midway. Each car had a walkie talkie where Reverend Jim gave us play by play of the drive, the features of the car and other amusing, if not always useful, comments.
Eventually we arrived at the Soldier Valley Olympic Facility. This facility hosted the cross country skiing, as well as the biathlon – a combination of cross country skiing and target shooting.
The first part of the day was learning how to manage your vehicle during a skid. To do this they have a car outfitted with specialized hydraulics that the instructor could at any moment force the car into a skid.
Next up was to show the amazing ability of the Ford Edge ST (and many of today’s cars) to apply the brakes if the car decides you are not paying attention and are going to run into something. This is done with a combination of Radar and the cameras in the car.
The training was to accelerate towards a ‘balloon car’ and once you get to the point of no return you let off on the accelerator, do not touch the brakes and steer directly ahead. The car will sense the balloon car just ahead and hammer on the brakes for you – a very weird sensation but some cool technology.
The Olympic cross country loop is paved, allowing for athletes to train year round using rollers on their ski’s. Because we had the facility to ourselves today we were permitted to drive the course – slowly.
We arrived back at the start/finish line where the target shooting facility was located.
Once there two of the U.S. Biathlon Olympic team members were there to give us an overview of the sport, some history and some instruction on the target shooting. I last shot a gun when Gerald Ford was president but with their instruction was able to hit the target, which turned out to be 7 times larger than the target the Olympians shoot at.
Our day continued with an auto-cross. This is basically a course set up in a parking lot with constant sharp turns. We used what Reverend Jim and the others had taught us for the day and saw how fast and hard we could get Ford’s cars through the course.
All in all it was a fun day, with Reverend Jim and the other instructors helping facilitate a learning experience.
Our final posting for the visit to the Utah Olympic Park is highlighting a tour we took of the ‘sliding center’, the bobsled, skeleton, luge track and the ski jump runs.
Th bobsled track runs for about 8/10 of a mile and drops almost 350′ through 15 corners. The luge track runs down most of the same path with a slight difference at the top, resulting in 2 more corners.
The ski jumps are very impressive from the top. With some water sprayed on the run it is used year round.
At the bottom of the hill is a pool that is used for the freestyle folks to practice year round. With the museums and the tour the Utah Olympic Center is a great place to spend the afternoon. Sadly I missed by a few days of being able to take a ride in a bobsled – next time!
For this years I made my way downtown for the 6:55 AM start!
The event is actually 4 different races, each taking off at different times. the 6:55 AM start is for the 100 mile race.
The motorcycle police were lined up and ready to go.
The lead vehicle was in position.
The workers pulled back the tape holding the riders back, then ran to get out of the way.
And they are off.
It is always impressive how some people can overcome the greatest of obstacles – this rider is starting the 100 mile race, and he has 1 leg.
The early start meant it was chilly – 42 degrees.
During the 62 mile (100 kilometer) race, the riders are headed through the neighborhood street, including many that have small traffic islands in the middle of the road. With a couple of thousand riders coming through it was amazing there wasn’t a huge collision as they ‘parted the seas’.
The highlight is of course the collection of characters riding in the race.
I am impressed when those who are a bit more ‘experienced’ go by in the middle of the pack.
A cool helmet, and a support of the local animal shelter – Pima (County) Animal Care Center.
Racers who are proud of who they are and where they are from.
Snowbird Santa racing off for the North Pole? With the Go Pro he is watching to see who is naughty and nice during the race.
Another beautiful day for El Tour de Tucson. See you next year.
On the southbound trip it worked out that we spent the afternoon near the Bonneville Salt Flats. This was one place I have always wanted to see, and go play on!
We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon, then later returned for sunset, which gave the salt flats and surrounding mountains very cool looks.
For someone who has driven on snow and ice my entire life it was surreal as the brain said ‘don’t drive 100 MPH+ across a field of snow/ice’, since it looked just like it from the car. However when you hammer the brakes, the car stopped as good or better than on dry pavement. So disregard the brain and go for it.
The salt became caked on the wheel wells, and was tough to wash off. When I arrived late the next day at a car wash about 200 miles south in Cedar City, Utah, the young lady cashier said ‘how did you get snow on your car on a 95 degree day’. After assuring her that it was not snow I drove to the entrance, where the workers power washed the wheels for about 5 minutes before we went through, and it still didn’t get it all off.
A later attempt at a do it yourself car wash completed the job.