As I have mentioned before, we are big fans of the University of Florida and have three season tickets to the home football games. We missed the home opener last weekend due to my niece’s wedding, so yesterday was our first football game and tailgating of the season. The kick-off was scheduled for 12:20 pm. For an early kick-off, we usually drive down to Jacksonville and spend Friday night so it gets us close to the game in the morning. However, in this case, we decided to just go ahead and drive down and back on the same day. This meant the alarm went off at 4 am (about six hours earlier than I typically like to get up on a Saturday) and we were on the road at 5:15 am for the three and a half hour drive to Gainesville.
We didn’t have any “takers” for the third ticket in our bunch, so it was just Mrs. Poolman and I. We didn’t plan an elaborate tailgating set-up. We picked up some sub sandwiches, a bag of chips and drinks from Publix the night before. We have been doing this ever since we moved back to Savannah in 1992, so we have it down to somewhat of a science. Our tailgating spot has evolved over the years. We like to park on-campus.
Several years ago, we found this spot, on the north side of the architecture building. It provided shade, an overhang in case of rain, and, most importantly, close proximity to bathrooms. When we first started tailgating here, no one else knew about it. Or, rather, they didn’t know how to follow the paths to get there. Then several years ago, a group of students and their friends “discovered” our spot and moved in.
We moved just a couple of yards to the side and have “adopted” a site adjacent to one of the many sinkholes on campus. (Anywhere else, it would be called a pond, but here they are sinkholes.)
It is scenic, relatively quiet, and still close to cover and bathrooms. When we arrived yesterday, we had only a couple of hours before heading to the stadium. Mrs. Poolman stuck her head in a book and I took a sitting-up nap in one of the bag-chairs. After lunch, we walked the 10 minutes to the stadium.
Our seats aren’t the greatest in the world, but they are in the bowl. Some of the folks who sit near us have also had the same seats for years. Each September, we greet each other like long lost friends, and then say “See ya next year” in November. The weather did not cooperate with us yesterday. Usually this issue with these early-season day-games is the heat. Mid-afternoon in Gainesville in mid-September can easily mean 90 degrees of hot sun. Combine that with being crammed cheek-to-jowl with 93,000 of your closest friends, and it can be slightly uncomfortable. Yesterday was cloudy, which was nice, until that turned into rain.
We didn’t bring our rain ponchos, although, at this time of year, they can be stifling hot. Sometimes, it’s just better to sit and get wet. It’s not like you get cold. As expected, after a slow start, the Gators rolled over Troy. We actually did something we have NEVER done before. We left early. We took off at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who got tired of sitting in wet clothes.
Here is a street outside the stadium as we were leaving. The early departure allowed us to get off campus before the traffic built up. We were home by 7:30 pm.
We have another game next weekend vs Tennessee. That should be interesting. The new UT coach, Lane Kiffen, did some early trash-talking last winter, including accusing UF’s Urban Meyer of cheating. That was not really a smart thing to do. Urban won’t admit it publicly, but he has a long memory. Just ask Georgia Coach Mark Richt. Next Saturday should be fun!