the-Ozone Orange Bowl Travel Blog
By John Porentas
Sunday, December 29, 2013.
We are now in Florida.
As a cost-saving measure, we drove due to the high cost of air fare and the reality that like most media outlets these days, we are not flush with cash.
We left Columbus immediately after completing our coverage of the basketball game vs. Louisiana-Monroe of Friday night and drove non-stop to the place where we are staying. We made it in 18 hours by driving non-stop, though we did stop for one drive-through breakfast and the usual gas stops. The non-stop strategy was made possible by the fact that we had three drivers, or at least we thought we did when we planned this.
We had planned on Rob Ogden, Jim Davidson and John Porentas to share the driving. We figured on two three-hour shifts each, which is very manageable. What we didn't figure on was that Jim had an emergency dental procedure friday. He came to the basketball game but did not photograph it. Dan Harker took care of that, and Jim did his very best to avoid the pain killers that were prescribed for him. The numbing medication from procedure was still working when we left, so Jim drove first and did yeoman's duty, driving 4 hours and logging 275 miles before he had to break out the percocet.
Rob Ogden then took over while I tried to get some sleep. Rob got us another 225 miles before he started getting tired, then I took over.
With Jim out of the loop, I had to log extra miles, and managed to do just over 400 miles before giving up the wheel. By then we were south of Jacksonville.
Davidson had slept off his prescription drugs and took the wheel for about an hour, but then gave way to Rob who was our "closer" and got us to our destination.
Our only significant stop was about 1 hour for lunch in Jacksonville.
We got on the on the road at about 10:45 after the game, so we arrived at about 5:00 PM yesterday afternoon. Everybody was pretty tired.
Our accommodations are fantastic. We couldn't afford the media hotel since we have four people here and the rate there is 220 a night. Even if doubled up in the rooms we're still looking at two rooms for nine nights. You do the math. It's a lot of money.
We went the route of looking for a house to rent for nine days and totally lucked out. We found a place with five bedrooms, five baths, a 4,000 sq. ft. house on 2.5 acres, complete with private pool, hot tub, etc. We inquired and found out we couldn't afford it, but in talking to the owner we found out he is a grad of a Big Ten University (not OSU) and a huge football fan. After a little chit-chat, he decided to help us out and offered us the place at less-than half of the regular rate. That was still out of our range, but since it had more bedrooms than we needed, we contacted another media outlet and offered to sublet two bedrooms to them. That worked out, so we ended up renting this house for a price to us that is about 1/4 the normal price. BTW, the owner is a very successful heart surgeon, so the house is very well located and decorated. Also on the plus side, the commute the media hotel is only about 20 minutes, so we're real pleased.
We were so tired last night we couldn't even stay up to watch football. We ordered in pizza, went to local grocery store and bought some stuff for breakfast today, and then got up early today to get to the airport to cover OSU's arrival which was scheduled for 8:30 AM, so the alarm rang just after 6:00 AM. Ha ha. We got to the airport to be informed plane is delayed two hours. We could have slept in.
We have time to kill, so we just hang around the lobby chatting with other media members. It looks like there is one Columbus TV-station here along with us, and one other photographer, but I'm not sure who he's shooting for. The Columbus Dispatch guys are also here, but that's about it.
With the delay we mill around chatting and drinking coffee. Eventually I drink enough coffee to feel a need to use the rest room. I walk into a small rest room and there is Rob Ogden, already using one of the two urinals. For you ladies, this is not unusual in men's rooms and I use the urinal next to Rob. All is proceeding normally, when I hear a noise to my left past Rob in the area of the stalls. I look up, and there is a woman in the rest room with us cleaning it.
Let me repeat that. There is a women in there with us cleaning.
It's pretty awkward to say the least, but the "process" has started and there is no going back, so I finish my business and go over to wash my hands. By then the lady is done cleaning, so I apologize to her, explaining that I didn't see her there and could have waited. She is in her mid-50s or so and does not speak english well, but she says "it's OK". I want to remind her that it might not be OK with me, but I don't, and just wash my hands. I get done washing them, dry them with a paper towel, then realize she is standing in the way of me throwing away the paper towel. I don't want to ask her to move, so I wad up the towel and toss it a few feet at the waste paper receptacle, and it goes in.
The lady is totally delighted by this. She breaks out in a big grin and yells "Aieee! G-o-o-o-o-o-al!!!!
I am speechless. A 50-something cuban woman is cheering me in a men's room for scoring in said men's room. Let the record show that the scoring was totaling restricted to tossing wet paper towels. Let the record also show that the lady told me it was ok for me to be there with her, and at no time did she use the phrase "it's no big deal".
The team finally arrived, we got some interviews, then went to the media hotel to get our media credentials and write a couple of reports based on the interviews. We were informed earlier in the day that the interviews following OSU's practice were cancelled, so we head back out to the house. We find a Subway and get a late lunch, then get some more work done.
To be continued.