I've been meaning to go to training camp for a couple weeks, but yesterday was the first evening that the planets aligned in such a way that it was not storming, that I was not working, that I didn't have dinner plans with coworkers and there was an evening practice. Thanks, planets! It was absolutely worth the $0.00 ticket and I will be going again.
In what I believe to be one of the coolest traditions in professional sports, local chill'uns wait outside the locker room exit at Lambeau Field with their bikes. Players then either walk across the street to practice, or borrow the bikes to ride across the street to the practice field, with the kids running along carrying helmets.
Wow, these look awful shrunk down all small-like. They're better actual size, should anyone out there be interested - just click. Or they're on my Flickr.
The local paper reported (yes, this is news up here) that this was the first time in two years that Aaron Rodgers rode a bike to practice. Lucky kid! (Also reported by the local paper - this kid is Aaron Rodgers's Facebook friend. This is the weirdest town in which I have ever lived.)
Then, if they have time, many of them sign autographs. And I do not know why all the players except Donald wear their pads to practice. Also - check out Donald's legs. They're prettier than mine... and probably yours. Unless you're Donald Driver. In which case, hi Donald! Nice legs.
Not only is it cool for the kids, it warms my heart to see huge men riding tiny bikes - some of which are pink.
Pink bikes and extremely small bikes are the best. This kid was sprinting the whole way in an attempt to keep up and it was adorable.
A complete pass to Al Harris!
I was sitting next to a father with his daughter (who was about seven). She had lots (and lots) of questions. My favorite was during this kickoff drill when several players had red bandana-things on their helmets: "Are they wearing those to keep their helmets warm?"
I told her they were. Was that wrong of me?
Lots of people had the same idea I did yesterday. It actually feels like football season - 50s with a chilly breeze. Football weather is my favorite kind of weather. Time to dig out the sweaters.
Then at the end of practice, there's a big ol' team huddle. Awwww.
Some of them come over to the stands and sign more autographs!
They're a TEAM.
Then they ride bikes back to the locker room. Way too cool. Next time I go to practice, I'm borrowing a small child with a bike to bring with me.
(In related news, I'm watching preseason football in the flavor of the Cowboys v. the Titans right now. The new Cowboys' stadium is very cool and impressive, I'll give them that - but I'd rather have Lambeau Field, one of the most revered venues in all professional sports. Tradition, homes. I don't think there's any need for a $40 million TV that blocks punts. How do you build a billion-dollar stadium and put the scoreboard too low?)
I was backpacking through the mountains last week! It was really beautiful and wonderful. It made me wish I took more vacations in general, and it made me wish I took more vacations with friends (do YOU want to go on vacation? I'm a pretty good traveler, promise). I took 524 photos (oops), over 200 of which were on one day (I climbed my first 14,000' mountain, give me a break), and 10% of which were of The Boyfriend's backside (can I help it if he doesn't like being in pictures from the front?).
Here is the advice I have to impart from my experiences on this trip:
1) If you would like to climb a fourteener, you should definitely do so as it is well worth the time.
2) If you are from a place with an elevation of approximately 500' above sea level and you plan on climbing a fourteener, give yourself two days to adjust to the altitude by sleeping and taking shorter hikes at above 8,000.'
3) If you forget this advice and give yourself only one day to adjust to the altitude and get altitude sickness after climbing said mountain, find a no-frills motel a couple thousand feet lower and wait to stop throwing up. This shouldn't take long.
4) If, in the tiny middle-of-nowhere town you find a bar themed around your (very far away) NFL team of choice, buy a pitcher of High Life and marvel at how weird the world is.
5) Take with you someone who will be very understanding about your altitude sickness, just in case.
6) Remember that when you wake up before dawn to climb said mountain, that the sun will eventually rise and you will wish you had your sunscreen with you. Mountains are closer to the sun than your home and thus it is easy to be sunburned upon them (*cough*madeupscience*cough*).
7) Have multiple plans. Having only one plan is a not the greatest idea, as you may be disappointed when this plan is thwarted by thunderstorms and below-freezing temperatures.
8) Go to a well-known college town and ask where "the street with the restaurants and bars" is. While there, find the best bar and chat with the bartender without being creepy. Your tab, which by most estimations would be around $50.00 anywhere else, could be as low as $4.00.
9) Find the local microbrewery and ask the servers questions about the beer. They are usually very excited to talk about the beer and may even bring you secret free beer that isn't on the menu. Four times. And free stickers. And free bottle openers. And free brewery lip-balm.
10) If you are road-tripping, bring with you all seven Harry Potter books in audiobook form. Nebraska won't even take half of book six.
11) Take lots of pictures. The odds are better you will get something good if you take more pictures.
12) Do not run from a bull moose. Do not approach a moose calf. In fact, it is best to avoid moose altogether. If you happen to accidentally run across one on the trail, ensure her you aren't there to bother her and go about your business. She will find you boring and yawn.
13) If it rains for two hours during the 4-mile hike to your campsite and everything you have is soaked, pray (or if you're not the praying kind, hope) really hard the sun comes out long enough to dry your sleeping bag.
14) If you must sleep in a wet sleeping bag and the temperature drops below freezing... ugh, just... don't ever sleep in a wet sleeping bag.
15) If you come home with a sprained ankle, put your foot up on your coffee table with ice all around it while you read a slightly trashy galley about teenage fallen angels that randomly came in the mail while you were gone. Two days of this should have you back up and about.
Also, while you were gone, your neighbor may have formed a Hootie and the Blowfish tribute band. I have no idea what to do about this, but it is definitely a serious problem.