Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Texan Lost in King Lombardi's Court

Cool sign you have there Wisconsin
This past weekend I embarked on a trip to cross off an item off the very much cliché bucketlist: A trip to Lambeau Field. As I said before, the universe and it's stars all had to perfectly align for me to warrant a trip to Wisconsin in the dead of winter.

Everyone I spoke with expressed their sheer jealousy and complete bewilderment that someone would be willing to spontaneously go to a city where the week's high temperature was a single digit. I didn't plan on the hows of the trip, I just bought my ticket and hoped fate would help me finish my quest. I bought one single ticket, in a random section of a stadium, in a state I had never visited before. Nothing could go wrong.

The original plan was for me to fly into Milwaukee (a two hour drive to Green Bay) and meet up with an old wrestling buddy from middle school. We were then supposed to meet up with his friend and drive to Green Bay and stay at his friend's, friend's house for the night. Well, turns out Northern Hospitality doesn't exist. The friend of the friend didn't want a stranger (or maybe a Cowboys fan?) in her house. It was then suggested I get a hotel room for the night and I could meet up with them at the game the next day. Since the game was only a few days away, the price of a hotel room was too steep for me to pay for one person. Fortunately I had a backup plan. I had a group of friends who were going to fly into Chicago and make the drive to Green Bay from there (with a stay in Milwaukee the night before the game). The only negative was that one of them happened to be a diehard Packers fan and a Wisconsin native. They gladly accepted a fourth person to their entourage and I had the logistics figured out.

What does a native Texan (who doesn't hunt) have in his closet that could withstand multiple hours in single digit temperatures? Absolutely nothing. Google "how to survive Lambeau" and you would be surprised at the countless articles written about the journey. I also sought advice from the brother in law who went to school in Colorado Springs and a co-worker who just moved from Alaska. Everyone's consensus was that no matter how well I was prepared, I was going to freeze my ass off. But if you are to prepare for winter at Lambeau, I will highly recommend wool socks, insulated waterproof boots, a ski mask/ninja mask, and lots of layers. Lambeau hands out free hand warmers and free hot chocolate. A heat wave happened to pass through Green Bay for the Sunday game, bringing the high temperature to a brisk 22 degrees. This was a major improvement from the 8 degree high the night before.

We arrived into Green Bay the morning of the game, roughly around 830AM and kick off was at noon. Lambeau Field is pretty much Green Bay. There are houses directly across the street from the front of the stadium where homeowners let fans park in their yards (for a small fee) and even have roof top decks so people can hang out. My initial impression of Green Bay is that it's pretty much a college town. Stadium parking is reserved for season ticket holders but there is $20 parking within a 5 minute walk to the stadium. Bars and businesses line the perimeter of the parking and invite anyone to drink a beer with them. A 24oz Miller Lite was only $6.50. Twenty dollar parking and two beers for less than 7 bucks at an NFL playoff game. This whole town is stuck in time.

Most of the tailgating is done indoors and the preferred spot is a place called Stadium Dive. Cheeseburger and fries will cost you about 7 bucks but the heat is free. We ventured out to see the tailgating outdoors and it was supposed to be a sight to be seen but overall it was just meh. Nothing special. There were a lot of Cowboys fans so that made me happy. We went into the stadium at 11AM and split our ways to our respective seats. Since I bought only one ticket I had no idea who I would be sitting next to. Luckily, I sat next to a family of Cowboys fans from Iowa and I knew I was going to be okay. Everywhere I looked there was a Cowboys fan within a high fives reach.

It was recommended to rent a seat for the game (only six bucks) because the seats are metal bleacher stands. Wet, cold temperatures don't make it ideal to sit directly on the benches so this was a very good recommendation. The only problem is most people stand at the games because everyone is crammed onto the benches.

The game was cold. Nothing too unbearable but if the weather has been in the single digits, I don't know how long I would have lasted.

Post game walk of shame
I am not going to go into my opinions of the game. But I will say Packer fans are by far the classiest fanbase in the league. Maybe it was their own guilt that they may have gotten away with a call but at least a hundred Packer fans came up to me after the game and thanked me for coming all the way out to Lambeau and that my team played one hell of a game. Even at the Packer bars after the game I was met with the same classiness. I was offered a blanket and hand warmers by Packer fans at the game and didn't worry about my safety for one second. The experience didn't end the way I wanted it to but I know I won't have any hesitations planning a return trip next year.

The Packer Pimp in action after the game

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