Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Birthday Week

DAY 4 (continued): We all hung out in the special lounge for "sleeping car people" and then Maggie and Jerry went back to Bartlett and Ellen and I boarded the Southwest Chief for La Plata, MO (the Chief's ultimate destination is Los Angeles). Since this was a day trip - 3 pm to 8:45pm - we were in the coach car, but were very comfortable. We had a pleasant ride through Illinois countryside and a bit of Iowa at Fort Madison, before it got dark. We were met by Betsey in La Plata and drove the 80 or so miles down Route 63 to Columbia. That was a longer distance from Columbia than I had imagined it to be, but it is an easy ride - a lot better than the one from the St. Louis airport. Rob and Katie were there when we arrived and we talked a bit before "hitting the hay" after a long but good day.

DAY 5: The day started out early when Katie and I went to breakfast together at a nearby place called the Upper Crust. It was a chance for me to talk with her a bit about how she is coping with her illness. She is coping but it's hard. After breakfast, Rob took Ellen and me to the Enterprise Rent-a-car office to rent a Toyota Corolla while in Columbia so we could be free to get around on our own. I didn't mention that it is COLD, SNOWY and WINDY in Columbia. They had gotten two big snow storms last week that haven't melted yet. It's like Vermont!

Our rental car in snow in front of Shay house
This was the day of the "big game." One of the main reasons for Betsey inviting us out was to fulfill one of my "bucket list" items - to attend a Division I, men's basketballball game, live, which I had never done. The game was Missouri-Arkansas. It was Mizzou's last home game, and revenge was in the air because Arkansas had defeated Mizzou by one point in an earlier game at Arkansas, a game marred by what Mizzou fans felt were some questionable referee decisions. It was also senior night - three Mizzou seniors on the team were honored, their last home game. So the place was full and the energy high. The game started at 6pm, and at 5:45 I looked around and said to Betsey - "I'm amazed there are so many empty seats for such a big game." She said, "Just wait," and she was right. By game time it was full - a sellout crowd of over 15,000.

Mizzou-Arkansas game at Arena
There were only two tickets so it was just Betsey and me at the game. Ellen, Rob and Katie watched on TV at home. It was fun - and LOUD. A live game has a lot of features you miss on TV during the time outs: the cheerleaders, the announcer revving up the crowd, people coming out on the court to be honored, half-time entertainment, the band playing, the Tiger mascot acting up, and the traditional Mizzou yell - one side of the stadium yells "M - I - Z" and the other half responds, yelling "Z - O - U."  There is also food  - I actually was able to get a chopped salad and shared chicken tenders with Betsey.Not bad. (No beer for us).

It was not a pretty game - Mizzou started out all arms and legs, turning over the ball again and again. But Arkansas could never capitalize on the turnovers. Mizzou's defensive rebounding was good. Arkansas was ahead 7-6 early, but then Mizzou went ahead and never looked back. Mizzou won 93-63, so it wasn't exactly an exciting game, but it was a lot of fun and everything I had hoped for as a total experience.

Mizzou Free Throw time
Laurence Bowers (Mizzou) making a shot - not my photo!
I had forgotten to bring my camera, but fortunately Betsey's cell phone takes photos. So I got some shots. It was a fun event with my daughter!  It brought back memories of when I went to Wimbeldon with Betsey and Katie the summer of 1998 just after Shirley died.

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