Day 1 of our Weekend Getaway
Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Photos are posted here:
It had been a long time since my last visit to my Alma Mater of Virginia Tech. In addition, Amy has never been to a Hokie home football game or even seen the Virginia Tech campus. So when we decided to plan a little weekend getaway, I suggested Blacksburg, VA.
I left Amy with the job of finding someplace to stay. Since it is almost impossible to find last minute accommodations in Blacksburg for Thursday Night Football games, I wasn’t expecting Amy to have any luck. When 60,000+ people converge on a small college town, every hotel within a 100+ mile radius gets booked months in advance.
I was really expecting to have to come up with a Plan B for the weekend. However, somehow Amy was able to find a place less than 20 minutes from campus with an available room.
The Huffman House at Creekside Farm in Newport, VA.
The Huffman House at Creekside Farm
Bed and Breakfast
I was excited about this as both Amy and I really enjoy the Bed & Breakfast experience. Unlike a Holiday Inn, you just never know what to expect when you book a stay at a Bed and Breakfast.
Now that our lodging was booked, I went in search of game tickets. Back when I was in college, face value was about $12.00, students got in for free, and even though there were about 20,000 less seats in the stadium, they rarely sold out and even for big games there was never a problem finding tickets.
During my 4 years of college (1988-1992) we would have been happy just to have a winning season. And even one of the lowliest of Bowl Games would have been awesome. Unfortunately, it never happened during my college years.
Then in 1993, the year after I graduated, Virginia Tech made it to the Independence Bowl. Since then we have never had a losing season, played in a Bowl Game every year, played for a National Championship, and won several Big East and ACC championships. Great things have happened to the Virginia Tech Football Program!
However, finding tickets would now be a challenge. Actually finding tickets was not a problem as there were plenty available on eBay. Now finding reasonably priced tickets was another story! Good seats were selling for $400 each! Lousy seats for about $150 each. Plus $100 for a parking pass?
After many hours of searching for some fairly decent seats for something closer to the $48.00 face value, I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen. I ended up finding a pair of fairly good seats for about $80 each. They were on the 20 yard line about 35 rows from the field. I saw no need to buy a parking pass!
We left Spartanburg at around 8:00am and had an uneventful 3.5 hour drive to Blacksburg, VA. We found an open parking meter on campus, deposited and few quarters, and went exploring. We started with the University Bookstore, which is Hokie Gear Heaven! Amy has never seen so much Hokie Gear in one place and she has seen the inside of my T-Shirt drawer!
After dropping about $100 on Hokie gear we went for a nice walk around campus. It is amazing how much things have changed in the 17 years since I graduated. Many new Hokie Stone clad buildings have been constructed since my last visit, but the most meaningful new addition was the April 16th Memorial!
The April 16th Memorial
One of (32) Hokies Stones. This one for Christopher James Bishop
Amy and I actually met "Jamie" Bishop at a party about a year before he was Killed in the April 16th, 2007 Tragedy
Fall color was well past peak here with most of the leaves on the ground. However, certain types of trees hang on to their leaves a little longer and there were still a few spectacular displays of fall color lingering around.
Since we were parked at a parking meter, I didn’t have time to give Amy the full campus tour. However, we would be seeing a lot more later in the day when we returned for the football game.
We were still a little early to check into the Bed and Breakfast, so we made a stop at Pandapas Pond, one of the spots I liked to explore when I was a student at Virginia Tech. It’s a nice short and easy hike around a small pond with many connecting trails making it a good starting point for longer hikes.
Then we were greeted by Carol who offered us some fresh baked cookies and showed us to our room. Very nice accommodations, but I wanted to check out the farm! I quickly realized that you could not walk around the farm without a flock of turkeys following, gobbling, and pecking at your legs, shorts, and shoelaces. You just can’t get that experience at the Holiday Inn!
Soon we decided it was time to head back into Blacksburg and find a place to park for the game. It seems that all the new buildings constructed over the years are all in places which used to be parking lots. Plus the stadium has grown by about 20,000 seats. This has led to quite the parking shortage on game day.
Three and a half hours before game time and all the public lots were full. I soon understood why people were paying so much for reserved parking passes. Luckily as we were about to leave to find some off campus parking, we found the last public parking area that still had available spaces and paid our $10.00 parking fee.
It was still about a mile away from the stadium, but it beats parking way off campus and having to herd into a shuttle bus, which is what we would have ended up doing if we arrived any later. Glad we decided to park first and then go get some dinner.
From the parking lot we took a walk just off campus to Macado’s (http://www.macados.net/) for some dinner. I remember Macado’s being a great place for a casual meal with a huge selection of sandwiches to choose from. It was just as I remembered! It takes about 2 hours to read the menu, so you are better off just picking the first thing that sounds good, rather than trying to decipher the entire menu.
After dinner we returned to the parking lot to find the driver’s side window of my truck missing. Someone broke into my truck while we were at dinner. Hopefully they didn’t find where we stashed the tickets. At least we still had about 2 hours before kick-off to deal with it and file a police report. Maybe some tailgaters tossing a baseball around accidentally broke it and left a note. Either way, this really sucks! All this went through my head.
Fortunately my 10 seconds of panic were for naught! I just accidentally left the window rolled down for 2 hours while we went to dinner. It was a huge relief to find nothing missing or disturbed. So we grabbed the tickets, packed our bag full of layers of clothing and blankets and started the walk across campus.
Even with taking several detours to explore some other sites around campus, we still had about an hour till kick-off by the time we got to our seats. Being ex band geeks, we actually enjoyed and appreciated the Pre-Game performance of the Virginia Tech Marching Band; The Marching Virginias!
It was the perfect night for college football! The stadium was packed, the fans were going wild, and the weather was a perfect 50 degrees with no rain in the forecast. College Football just doesn’t get any better than this!
Then disaster struck!
The Hokies ended up losing to the University of North Carolina (UNC), possibly the worst team in the ACC! It was a huge disappointment to make it to my first Hokie home Football Game in years and have them play one of the worst games I have ever seen!
Despite the Hokies disappointing performance, it was still great to make it back to campus and take Amy to a big time college football game. I certainly won’t go this long again before returning to Blacksburg!
For now I would just have to get over the devastating loss as we still had the rest of our weekend to enjoy (to be posted sometime later).
Additional Photos from Day 1 of our weekend getaway are located here: