Monday, September 07, 2009

road trip reflections: slc and the usmnt

warning, this post is going to be long. but, it's mainly photos and description of my road trip to salt lake city to see the u.s. men's national team play vs. el salvador.

we stopped somewhere to get a coffee and use the restroom, but the mini mart didn't have public restrooms so we went across the street to wienerschnitzel. i saw this sign and wondered if i was?

this little kid was drinking mountain dew

be careful, eating at wienerdude may cause a reaction. usually, my reaction is a full belly.

we stopped for gas, and i thought this was a pretty cool sign. it's up near grass valley, ca.

we stopped for lunch @ the black bear diner, which was somewhere in nevada. i didn't realize black bear was a chain, but that's not a big deal. i think it's sorta fun to hit up obscure joints on the road.

you don't quite get the scale of the chicken fried steak. it was as big as my hand, which is 8". i didn't finish it or the hash browns. too much food.

maybe i'm six, but it cracked me up to think that there was a big bm on that mountain.

trust me, that sign said "deeth starr valley." the darkside is strong in nevada.

nevada is also home to post apocalyptic beverly hills.

in utah, there are some creepy gas station signs. you clown, scare me.

let's talk about friday nights in salt lake city. friday night we hit up a bar called the republican. i learned about the place via twitter, as someone notified me of a usmnt supporters party there. it was a cool little dive bar. and republican refers to irish, not the political party. it was definitely an irish dive bar, but it was also full of hipster types. who knew salt lake had hipsters, and that a lot of people have tattoos. or at least the people at bars had tattoos. we walked down the street from the republican and had tacos from a street vendor. they were amazing, and that's not just because it was close to midnight and i had consumed a few "pops." it was weird that they had all kinds of little roadside taco stands set up, but it makes sense in an area with a bunch of bars. 4 tacos, and $3 later i was back in my seat at the republican. we saw a bar, called the woodshed,that seemed to have cool music going on, but my tab was still open at the republican so we headed back there. even though there wasn't live music, it had a nice vibe and the drinks were pretty cheap ($4 beers, $3.50 for a mixed drink!). since we had been on the road all day and still had to drive like 5 miles back to the hotel, we called it a night before it got too late.

this is the garlic burger w/garlic fries @ the bohemian brewery. a brewery in utah you say? i thought they were a dry state. nope, they do sell booze. it seems that the beer sold in bars/restaurants is regulated down to 4%, which actually helped the taste of some beers. we had a delicious microbrewed amber beer here. the burger was delicious. and the decor of the place was sorta ski lodge, but they had hops hanging all over, which was an awesome touch.

and now onto the game. outside the game we were befriended by some usmnt supporters that were tailgating. we were just wandering in early, and these guys offered us hot dogs. we were still full from lunch, so we declined the hot dog but asked for a beer instead. they were cool, and freely gave us a beer. since we were having beer i chatted them up about beer & alcohol in salt lake. essentially, beer sold at bars and restaurants is a little lighter, but booze is the same as everywhere. we walked into the game behind one of the supporter groups that was chanting, singing and playing instruments. they were organized, and it really felt like a real soccer crowd. it also makes me want to try and organize a better fuego supporters group.

sam's army the american outlaws are filtering in. they were seated next to a big crowd of el salvador fans. u.s. soccer supporters need to learn to play a bass drum or a tom. a snare just doesn't cut it. btw, we walked in behind a bunch of these folks.

a couple more photos from before the game.

see how friggin close we were?

i will not do anything during the game that will cause security to come into the crowd for me.

landon and the boys came out to warm up.

the team during the anthem & introduction. now, i'm not a guy that usually sings along, or would chant usa or even call myself really patriotic. but it was awesome singing alongside my countrymen & women as we support our nation side. and, i really think this was the first time i'd ever entered a usa chant.

the team huddles up before the start

tim howard kicking it in goal. you can get a good idea how awesome our seats were from that picture. we were about 18 yards out from goal, seated in the second row. awesome. and rio tinto stadium was very nice. makes me wish fresno had a soccer specific stadium, and a pro team. the only real drawback to our seat was that the u.s. was shooting on the other goal in the first half, and didn't offensively press much during the second, when they would've been shooting in front of us, because they were ahead.

just after kickoff

el salvador scored first due to some sloppy defense, a failure to close down on open men on loose balls, and poor clearance. i've seen this a bit lately from the u.s., and while i realize we were missing some of our key defenders, it's something we must fix before next year's cup.

dempsey's equalizer was awesome. i took video of it happening, but knew the replay video board would be a little better.

and then jozy altidore, who is definitely my favorite u.s. player right now, put us ahead. again, i've got live video, but replay is a little better. jozy is such a talent, but he looked a bit winded in the second half and seemed a bit lackadaisical. he also had a sick goal in the second half that was called back for seemingly no reason. everyone around us was confused. i asked the guys behind us if they say any signal. i checked twitter and the ussoccer feed was baffled but certain it wasn't offsides. the espn story afterward said the ref claimed altidore "nudged a defender." bs.

celebrating the win with the fans.

some thoughts on the game: everyone gripes about refereeing, so it shouldn't be a surprise that i'll bitch about it here. it sucked. seriously, the linesman on our side was terrible, blowing several offsides calls. and the head ref, well, i already mentioned his terrible fake foul against altidore, but he was missing calls all night, going both ways. he made up a foul against altidore, and when charlie davies was kicked in the knee in while driving in the box, no call. another thought, it was also great to see landon donovan look back up to fitness and delivering very good balls on set pieces.

after the game, we went back and rested at the hotel, and then hit up salt lake city's night life. i already discussed saturday's lunch at the bohemian, but let me tell you about saturday night. we drove by the republican but decided we wanted to try some place different. we were going to go to the woodshed, but there was nothing happening there. seriously, no bands, and about 4 people at the bar. so we drove to the heart of the downtown and looked for a bar that was jumping. we saw several and looked for parking. salt lake has a very nice looking downtown, and is very walkable. in addition, they have a muni-rail that seems very easy to use. we could have stayed downtown, taken the rail to the game and back. next time. so, we wandered by a few bars looking for what would be a nice spot. we saw a piano bar, but didn't venture in. the pianist was playing the hookie pokey while some girl did it on stage. these mormons know how to get down! all jokes aside, it looked like a fun place, but was jammed to the gills. so we kept on, and settled in at...another irish place. murphy's wasn't as dive-y as the republican, but it was nice. and, a patron (a chef from a nearby restaurant) brought in like 4 trays of food, but we were full and didn't have any. we did have a fun time people watching while having several drinks.

sunday morning we got back on the road.

this part of utah was pretty. it was definitely better looking than our route 80 trip.

i think this is in just as we entered arizona.

traffic slowed a bit due to an accident. a trailer had flipped over and the people were gathering their belongings from the wreckage.

the remnants of the trailer.

more arizona.

again, pretty arizona shots.

i didn't take any photos in nevada. i sort of just was in drive fast and get done mode so i pretty much just did that. one thing i wish i had taken a picture of was the view coming into las vegas. it's interesting to come around a bend and see vegas, even in the daytime. but, it was also sorta gross because so much smoke from the southern california fires.

i knew this photo probably wouldn't come out as good as i hoped. as we were driving on highway 58 you could visibly see the line of smoke and where it ended. it was like smokey hazy sky/no smoke clear sky. crazy.

eventually i made it home. both routes (rt 80 going, rt 15 coming back) took about twelve hours. the route 15 path seemed a little nicer looking, but both get monotonous. one bonus of the rt 15 path was that stretches of utah had a speed limit of 80! that means i wasn't speeding as much.

overall, this was a great road trip. i'd do it again, although i'd love for the destination city to be a little closer.


m.wise said...

nice recap. glad you guys had fun.

The Jay said...

chicken fried steak and bacon burgers! You were on vacation!

edluv said...

it's true, it was my vacation diet. roadside diners, roadside tacos, every meal out.

Adam said...

Looks like you had fun and the home team won. I'll have to try to make sure I'm free to tag along next time around.

Patrick Contreras said...

this was a great post! thanks for sharing