Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Trip to Tigerland

Marc McCartney and I loaded up the Honda CRV at around 10:30am and headed toward Baton Rouge with hopes that we might make it to the Tiger Cage before the Golden Band from Tiger Land marched down the hill. We spoke nothing but LSU Football for the first three hours, and then we hit a stretch of land between Natchitoches and Lafayette that made us feel like we might never arrive in Baton Rouge. Marc got sleepy, and I got really groggy and uncomfortable. Crazy, irrational thoughts started flooding my mind. What if we had miscalculated and were going to arrive after the game had already started? What if our tickets weren't waiting for us like we had planned? What if Va. Tech - inspired by their recent tragedy - played their hearts out and beat LSU?

By the time we reached the Atchafalaya River Bridge, my thoughts had settled, and I was ready for some Tigerbait!! I woke Marc up as we crossed over the Mississippi River and noticed the enormity of Tiger Stadium on the horizon. The scoreboard, emblazoned with a huge "LSU Tiger Stadium" nearly brought a tear to my eye, and ignited a sense of awe and wonder in Marc. We had made it!! Saturday night in Tiger Stadium would be our reality!!

We parked about two miles from the stadium and began to notice that every available space - every blade of open grass, every free segment of concrete - was filled with a canopy, under which the LSU faithful gathered for a tailgaiting feast. It was as if pioneers were settling the vast LSU campus and had set up thousands of tents in which to live until permanent housing had been constructed. I've seen this site many times in my years, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the campus so alive.

We made our way through these villages of tailgaters until we finally reached the Tiger Cage. Along the back wall of this sprawling new habitat lay Mike VI, a two year old Bengal Tiger. What a beautiful animal! It's always good to see the symbol of LSU athletics resting comfortably between the Football Stadium and the Basketball Arena. His new habitat, by the way, is a paradise. It's a beautiful addition to the campus.

Marc and I moved on to the rounded ramp that leads to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (The PMAC), and watched as the crowd gathered for the Band''s triumphant march down the hill. It looked as though someone had stepped on an ant pile and thousands of purple and gold insects had crawled out. The place was covered with the Tiger faithful, a rabid bunch who were out in full force to take in the unique environs of LSU on game day. The band eventually descended down the hill, and the crowd was stirred to a frenzy as they played "Hold that Tiger!"

We made our way to our seats for the game, and there's not much to say about what happened next. Total domination. This team is good... Real good. The environment, as always, was loud, fun and full of the kind of spontaneous insanity that only Tiger Stadium can offer. It was awesome.

Thanks, Marc, for a great trip! Let's do it again sometime, buddy!!

1 comment:

Denny Burk said...

Bro, awesome post. My dad was at that game too.