Thursday, March 31, 2016
To many people Las Vegas, Nevada is "Sin City" with the mindset of "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas."
To us, it is the home of our oldest son Andy, his bride Jenn and our four year old grandson Kevin.
Our trips to the Nevada desert are family get togethers with lots of food and fun and rarely a trip to the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Since it is a five hour drive each way, we always try to pack as much catching-up as possible once we arrive.
Kevin's mantra was simple all weekend long, "Play with me."
So we did.
Saturday and Easter Sunday produced a rare victory for the adults . . .
. . . we wore Kevin out!!!
What were the odds at Caesar's Palace on this happening?
On Monday morning, while everyone else was still asleep, Andy and I ventured into the heart of Las Vegas to visit the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' (UNLV) Spring football practice which started at 8:00 a.m. on the Rebels' first day back from their Spring Break.
A modest sign led us to the practice field
Nice mural inside UNLV's sports complex
Freddie Bastiand, is that you?
The old Rebel decal may not be PC today
Starting the practice with
a Tackling Circuit
Another Tackling Station
Practicing Defensive Run Fits
Time to Scrimmage
The wind was whipping across the practice field making it quite cold for the non-participating spectators. After about one hour on the field, we opted to check out UNLV's Weight Room.
Not huge, but well equipped
Chains to improve the efficiency
of each rep in the Weight Room
Of course, in Las Vegas, they might serve other purposes.
When we got back home all
Some were even having fun with Play-Doh.
Eventually, the Play-Doh morphed
into real lemon cookie dough
Chefs at Work
What a team!
While the cookies cooled off, we were off to lunch at a new spot for our Vegas family, Grimaldi's Pizzeria
Instead of crayons, they gave Kevin
a hunk of pizza dough to work
What a charming and different idea. The pizza pan dusted with flour made even more fun.
Grimaldi's makes GREAT pizza by the way
Post pizza Futbol Fest at
Kevin's nearby park
Look at that footwork!
Kevin is playing soccer for the first time this Spring.
Mickey Mouse Pancake
One last breakfast and we were on our way home to Camarillo, but first we had to make one stop before leaving the Silver State.
The HUGE Bass Pro Shop
No, definitely NOT for non-alcoholic Moonshine.
I wanted to buy one of those multi-pocketed fly fishermen's vest so, if I ever get to go back to Europe, I can stuff it full of heavier items that will not count against my luggage's weight allowance.
The Las Vegas Bass Pro Shop is the Disneyland for any and all outdoors sports enthusiasts. Probably not a hang-out for the typical PETA member I suspect.
We decided to break up the drive home by stopping by to see my Mother in her home in San Marino, California.
Surprise! Unbeknownst to us, Mike, Vanessa, Jacob and Mary had decided to visit her too!
Great Grandma Chuny feeding
Mary Elizabeth at dinner
Laurie and I are blessed with my Mother, our two sons, their loving wives and three wonderful and, at times, goofy grandchildren.
Reading Is FUNdamental
I can't get enough of this
funny Sicilian Policeman
Sunday, March 20, 2016
We had a busy weekend to say the least.
On Thursday I took Jacob to Ventura's Golf and Stuff amusement arcade for his first taste of the manly game of miniature golf.
I should have done a better job
explains some of the basic rules
On the other hand, he needed to explain the rules of the various arcade games, also at this site, to me.
St. Patrick's Day
Thursday was also St. Patrick's Day all over planet Earth. Where to celebrate the day you ask?
Why at the Murphy Cottage
Cyndy and Debi Murphy served us a delicious traditional Irish meal and, yes, Guinness was also present at the feast.
Friday was a very special day for our family as young Jacob celebrated his fourth birthday!
Mike and Vanessa opted to hold Jacob's birthday party on Saturday the Chuck E Cheese's in Thousand Oaks.
It is, by definition, a no-holds-barred venue with kids having lots fun while adults are left shaking their heads.
Star Wars was the Theme
The cupcakes were delicious
Jacob reveling in the loot
Jacob and Great Grandma Chuny
It's Chuck E Cheese HIMSELF!!!
Chuck and all of the usual suspects
Jacob was dancing with joy!
The candles were lit . . .
. . . but not for long!
It was now time to open the presents . . .
This one was from Andy, Jenn and Kevin
What is it?
. . . his name framed with Star Wars
Cousin Max was in the house!
Gigi with little Mary
Jacob with his cousins Nicholas,
Nathan and Max
Life in the ever popular
Nathan and Jacob mesmerized
by an arcade ride
The cousins sharing the
Jacob and Great Aunt Marilyn
killing aliens by the scores
Although I think that everyone had a wonderful time, Jacob may have gone over the top by the end of the afternoon.
See what I mean
Sophie Johnson's Birthday
On Sunday we drove down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to Gladstone's Restaurant which is located right on the sand of the Pacific Ocean for a birthday brunch.
On this occasion we celebrated the 20th birthday of Sophie Johnson, the eldest daughter of our long, long time Seattle friends Mark and Susie Johnson.
Sophie's sister Mallory and three of Sophie's classmates from her school, BIOLA University, also joined us for food, fun and friendship.
A fun loving group to be sure
Our birthday lady,
We always have so much fun when we get together with the Johnsons no matter in what part of the globe we meet!
Reading Is FUNdamental
Death to ALL gang rapists
I'm sure that Donald Trump would back me up in this sentiment.
If he does, we finally have some common ground.
Italian art, cuisine and
a tour of Siena at Palio time
What was not to like in this book?
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
In my seemingly never ending pursuit of American football knowledge, I opted to fly across the country to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a Hybrid Wing-T football clinic.
When I first planned this excursion the team that I was scheduled to coach in Poland was still afloat and this seemed like a good way to investigate combining Wing-T running game principles with cutting edge Spread formations.
As followers of this blog know, the team in Poland folded about a month ago due to financial issues but regardless, the clinic topics were of great interest to me and a lot of my reservations were non-refundable so it was off to Georgia!
I did not want to simply fly down to Georgia, attend the Friday-Staurday clinic and then fly home. Thus emboldened, I opted to fly out on Wednesday and come home on Monday giving me ample time to do a little extra sightseeing of both a football and non-football nature.
After an uneventful flight early Wednesday morning and a delightful two hour drive through rural bliss, my first stop in Georgia was the . . .
Andersonville National Historic Site
This was the site of the notorious Confederate prison for prisoners of war, where nearly 13,000 Union soldiers died due to the horrendous, overcrowded conditions.
There is also a somber military cemetery at the site.
Where the prison once stood
None of the original structures have survived.
Marking a corner of the original
A reproduction of a small portion
of the prison
Miraculous and Much Needed
The conditions were deplorable, as stated, and basic needs were in short supply. On August 14, 1864, during a heavy rainstorm, a spring with crystal clear water suddenly appeared on this site that probably saved a few lives and surely eased a lot of suffering.
This pavilion was erected in 1901.
Dead soldiers . . .
. . . LOTS of dead soldiers
Instead of being buried in caskets, the fallen Union soldiers were buried side-by-side in open trenches. This is why the grave markers are only inches apart.
Lots of Monuments
One of thousands . . .
Overseeing his comrades
Finally, 45,000 Union troops were sent to Andersonville and, as stated earlier, about 13,000 died in prison. The survivors were found to be in a "Nazi prison camp state" when they were liberated at war's end as this photo of a survivor grimly attests:
After touring the Andersonville Historic Site, I drove just a few minutes down Georgia's Highway 49 to the city of Andersonville, population 255. There they have a small Civil War Village with one monument of interest and a good place to eat dinner.
Andersonville Civil War Village
Monument to . . .
Captain Henry Wirz
This was an interesting choice for a monument as Wirz, a Swiss born Confederate officer, was the commandant of the Andersonville Prison from February, 1864 to March, 1865.
Capt. Henry Wirz
He was executed by hanging after the war on November 10, 1865 after a two month military trial that, to this day, has many detractors. He was the only person executed after the Civil War's end.
Scenic Andersonville Village
They make a GREAT pulled pork
sandwich here with sweet BBQ sauce
My waitress and the chef/owner
Good, friendly people like these two were all that I met in the south.
Can you say "Southern Hospitality?"
A interesting visit on many levels
After dinner, I drove just an hour farther to spend the night in Columbus, Georgia.
I was up early and I was anxious to visit another Civil War site this time in Columbus.
A reproduction of the CSS Water Witch
Cannons all around us
I'm going in!
No I'm not, they don't open for another hour.
Cannon on the Georgia side of the
The other riverbank is the state of Alabama. I had time to kill so I wandered across the street to a mega-sized sports complex that was truly impressive.
The Sports Council knows what it
is doing it seemed to me
Golden Park for baseball
There were also about ten softball fields and a magnificent and newer softball stadium that is a scaled down version of old Golden Park.
It has a nice American football field too
Arena Ball in Columbus
They play their games in the large sports arena located in the sports complex as well.
All of these facilities in one location were quite impressive but it was time for the Civil War Naval Museum to open.
Confederate Navy Battle Flag
The remains of the CSS Jackson
Model Replica of a CSS iron clad
Weapons of War
Pistols for Everyone
Naval Flags of both the
Union and the Confederacy
Blasting away from within an ironclad
A Cannoneer's Tools
Actual remaining hull
of a Civil War ship
Art and the Naval aspects of
the Civil War
It was a small but interesting museum that was well worth the visit. Now, it was time for lunch . . . can you say "pulled pork?"
This Columbus hot spot looked good
The aromas were inviting too!
Their pulled pork sandwich with a sweet mustard based sauce was incredible. Limited seating inside and zero ambience but I came for the Q! I highly recommend this spot.
Once fully sated, I drove over the Chattahoochee Bridge into the sovereign state of . . .
The itinerary now called for an overnight visit to the campus of one of the ever powerful South East Conference (SEC) schools.
Who do you ask?
Got it yet?
Yes indeed, time to visit the
"School on the Plains"
in Auburn, Alabama
Two National Titles
Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium had a capacity of 15,000 spectators when it opened in 1939. Expanded over the years, today it can accommodate 87,471 fanatics on an SEC game day.
My first stop on campus was the Jonathan B. Lovelace Hall of Honor located inside of the Auburn Arena.
Tiger mascot uniforms over the decades
2010 National Championship Trophy
Auburn's 1958 Outland Trophy winner
as college football's best lineman
Jordan was the Auburn Head Football
Coach from 1951-1975
Jordan's record as Auburn University's football coach was 176-83-6.
Amazingly, by today's standards, he was also Auburn's Head Men's Basketball Coach from 1933-1942 and again after serving in World War II in 1945-1946. His overall hoops record was 136-103 which includes his being the Head Coach at the University of Georgia from 1946-1950.
The 1957 the Auburn Tigers were
1957 gear on the left,
2010 gear on the right
The Tigers were National Champions both years.
I remember this Iron Bowl Game
Auburn blocked two Alabama punts that day for TDs in beating their arch-rivals 17-16
Auburn's first ever bowl game
in 1937 was in Havana!
The Bacardi Bowl was held on January 1, 1937, at La Tropical Stadium pitting the Tigers against the Villanova Wildcats. The contest ended in a 7-7 tie.
It was a hot day and I had done a lot of walking around campus. I needed a lemonade STAT!
Of course, a campus icon!
Toomer's has Tiger Pride
I consumed what is generally
regarded in these parts as the
Best Lemonade in the World
Traditionally, after Auburn football victories, Tiger fans come to Toomer's Corner on the edge of the campus and TP the huge, old trees across the street.
After Auburn won the 2010 National Championship, an Alabama fan by the name of Harvey Updyke was so incensed that in the middle of the night he drove the 30 miles from his home to Auburn and poisoned the trees so that Tiger fans could never celebrate in their traditional way again.
Apprehended and convicted, Updyke was sentenced to six months in jail and five years on supervised probation. Additionally he was fined $800,000 of which he has paid $99.
The trees did die and new ones have been planted but it will be awhile before the new ones are ready to be rolled in TP.
On to an Auburn Tiger Spring football practice!
I parked near Jordan-Hare Stadium and spotted many interesting things including three statues honoring Auburn's Heisman Trophy winners and Coach Heisman himself!
QB Cam Newton
RB Bo Jackson
Auburn's Coach from 1895-1899
QB Pat Sullivan
Massive Jordan-Hare Stadium
in the middle of the Auburn Campus
Rent-a-Bike just like in Lyon, France
First thing you see as players exit
their locker room
Reminding the players
of their heritage . . .
. . . and past greats
Auburn's natural grass practice field
the building on the left is . . .
The Tigers' indoor turf field
One-on-One's were big today
Practice segments kept rotating
from outdoors to indoors
Auburn's Weight Room
The end of a great, up-tempo practice
I stood next to one of their players, Senior Jordan Diamond, who is a 6'4', 304 lbs., offensive lineman from Chicago. He was lean looking as his heavily tattooed biceps each weighed about 50 lbs. He is an amazing looking athlete!
The Best Name Award on the Auburn roster easily belonged to a 6'8", 250 lbs. redshirt Freshman defensive lineman from Elmore, Alabama, one Prince Tega Wahogho.
There was lots of energy and some intense competition. I left excited but hungry.
Pulled pork, a few ribs and some
hearty, traditional Brunswick Stew
I'm not sure what the meat was in the stew but according to the internet, the usual recipe calls for squirrel meat.
Don't ask, don't tell.
DAYS THREE AND FOUR
After a good night's sleep in Auburn, I was off on a three hour morning drive through more rural splendor back into Georgia to the site of my clinic in the city of Dublin.
Here is my list of Speakers
Session 1 Hancel Phipps OC: Wake Forest HS, NC
1:00-1:50 Transitioning from the Traditional to Pistol Wing T
2:00-2:50 Buck Sweep Series from the Pistol Wing T
3:10-4:00 Belly Series from the Pistol Wing T
Session 2 Christian Hunnicutt: HC East Jackson HS, GA
4:10-5:00 Offensive Line Drills & Fundamentals
5:05-5:55 Weekly must for Offensive Linemen/Hudl homework for OL
Session 3 Josh Floyd: HC Hewitt -Trussville HS, AL
7:00-7:50 Fast paced No-Huddle run game using various formations & motions
8:10-9:00 Two Back Play Action Passing Game in Gun Wing T
9:05-9:55 Running an effective No-Huddle system using different paces & communication
Session 4 Lance Helton: OL Dublin HS
6:45-7:45 AM Q & A: Ask how Coach Helton Drills & Teaches Wing T Blocking Techniques
Session 5 : Scott Meadows HC: Pigeon Forge HS, TN
8:00-8:50 Being Successful in the Gun Wing-T with Smoke & Mirrors
8:55-9:45 Buck Sweep and QB Buck Sweep from multiple formations in the Gun Wing T
10:05-10:55 RPO'S and how to stretch the Defense in the Gun Wing T
Session 6 Krossover Presentation: Anthony Lepore & Dan Shirley
11:10 – 12:00 Krossover: Helping coaches with gamefilm breakdown
12:05 – 12:45 Lunch Provided by Clinic
Session 7 Drew Cronic: HC Reinhardt University, GA
12:50 – 1:40 Why No Huddle Up-Tempo Wing T
1:45 – 2:35 Gun Jet Sweep and Counters
2:40 – 3:30 Play Action Passes in the Gun Wing T
A quaint town with . . .
. . . GREAT Football Tradition
The intense clinic schedule did not leave me much time to sightsee in Dublin but here are a few things of interest.
The South loves these huge fireworks
warehouses al year around
Of course Dublin is having a
A Civil War Memorial
in these parts is a MUST!
Hosts of the Clinic
Entrance to the Football Stadium
This was worrisome to see
I'm ok with this
They catered the clinic lunch on Saturday
Is it possible to eat too much BBQ pulled pork in a week?
The clinic was great and met all of my expectations. Well worth the time and effort!
I am convinced that all football clinics should feature high school coaches from the Deep South. They are both extremely knowledgable and full of great quotes.
On tenacity: "Hang in there like a hair in a biscuit."
On playing against a particularly good lineman: "He's a real boy-dog, he eats children."
On being a dominant player: "Beat him up and kiss his Momma."
On being a good offensive lineman: "Be a pass blocking Jessie."
On a slow QB: "He can run all day in a shoe box."
On deciding which defensive end to attack: "One's a real War Daddy, the other one's the Governor's son."
After the clinic, I drove back to
Georgia's Capital city
On Sunday morning I was out the door for a three pronged attack on Atlanta.
Laurie and I took the kids too see the College Football Hall of Fame back in 1989 when it was located in Kings Island, Ohio. Frankly, it was a bit disappointing.
Definitely not so at this new incarnation, it is so well done!
In the door when the museum opened
Oregon representing the PAC-12
There is a chance we may go to this game
A full sized helmet of every college team in the USA greets you as you enter the Hall
So does this HUGE mural
Some helmets closer up
Entryway view from the Third Floor
The first class was inducted in 1951
That initial Class included a former Husky player and a Husky coach.
Here are the twelve University of Washington players and coaches who are members of the Hall in the order of their induction.
Well Dressed Lineman
with an early Boom Box
I do want to include one more inductee with Washington ties.
He is in the Hall for his accomplishments as an end at the University of Oklahoma but he was the coach at Washington when I was in the program. His back-to-back victories in the 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowls put West Coast football back on the map after years of domination by the Big Ten schools in the annual Pasadena classic.
Syracuse's Ernie Davis
The first Afro-American Heisman Trophy
Winner in 1961
Well dressed fans
Husky Cheerleader outfit
Legendary Coach Pop Warner
Two years later, equipment bags were invented.
One wall was full of quotes from famous coaches.
Jason Johnson was our QB in Catania, Sicily, Italy in 2008. He is still a good friend and his Grandfather Frosty Westering is in the Hall. I had to find him to be sure.
I met him shortly before his passing,
a good man.
That is a LOT of wins!
Academy football is special
Love the stripes
How mant concussions back then?
Yep, definitely a stripe man
Why did they have trouble passing
in the old days?
I like it
From Grambling and also a
Los Angeles Rams great
7 OTs, OH MY . . .
One of the great ones to be sure
Sad that there was a need for this
in our country's history
USAFA showing concern for their
Purest Rivalry in College Football
Speaking of Rivalries
Read it and weep Cougar fans
One of the greatest moments in
College Footbal history
From the University of Washington
Ricky Williams of Texas
also a 2015 inductee
As is Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma
Thanks to the Hall's Bill Ellis
for taking this photo
Bill was a big help getting me pointed in the right direction at the start of my visit. This museum is a MUST for every college football fan!
Next up, the Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta Braves Museum and Hall of Fame located at Ted Turner Field.
Ted Turner Field
An appropriate address for the Field
Where the historic HR landed in the old Atlanta-Fulton County Coliseum
The site is now in the parking lot of adjacent Ted Turner Field.
Unfortunately, I found out too late that the Museum was closed today because the Field's parking lot was the staging ground for the huge Atlanta Walk for Hunger.
Thus, it was on to my final stop of the trip.
The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech
Laurie's favorite team
My main focus would be the Center's excellent Civil War exhibit.
"A War of Ideals" was the exhibits theme.
Lots of Uniforms
Lots of Epaulets
Uniforms and Artillery Shells
America's Deadliest War
Another sobering Civil War exhibit that I was glad to have visited.
Next Center exhibit up . . .
Robert Trent Jones
of golfing fame
It was a small exhibit, so I moved on to another one.
Olympic Host City
I like Baseball
Cuba won the Gold Medal
at the 1996 Olympics
Thus ended a full day of sightseeing in Atlanta, only one more thing to do, eat dinner.
An Atlanta eating tradition
Near the Georgia Tech campus
Always packed with diners
This was the fourth time over 30+ years that I have eaten at The Varsity. It is a bit over-rated in my opinion and I would have to rank it as the culinary low-point of this trip.
I don't foresee ever making another stop here for sustenance.
Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium
About four short blocks from The Varsity, it was closed on a Sunday afternoon but impressive none-the-less.
I was up early for the flight home on Monday morning. The car rental return, monorail to the airport and the security process were a breeze.
I just wish that the Los Angeles International Airport was as smooth to maneuver as Atlanta's.
In Culver City, California
A perfect spot for sustenance after a long cross country flight and the disappointment of The Varsity.
Reading Is FUNdamental
Religious Cult Murders
Another solid effort by Nesser, I finished it about five minutes before touching down at LAX.