Archive for the 'Road Trip' Category

Road Tripping: Clemson Edition

Clemson

After nine months of wandering aimlessly without any real football, forced to get our fix through the decision making of 18 year olds, spring practices, Canadian football and God forbid baseball (I don’t understand you people) real football is here.  Saturday Dawg fans will make a short run up 85 to the loveliest village with a lake which by 8:00 will turn into the epicenter of the football universe.  I’m really looking forward to this trip, not only because it is the first game of the year but because I love starting the season on the road and I love non conference road trips.  Yes some would say NW State school for the deaf nuns would be an easier game and UGA’s national title run can make or break in the first game but that happens every week with every game.  I love a good non conference game because we don’t normally have a reason to hate the other fan base so everyone is a little more friendly and you can just enjoy the atmosphere.  This summer I have been able to spend a few weekends in Clemson and learned that the Auburn by the lake joke has some truth to it.  Clemson is a tiny town along the interstate with ag roots, dedication to football, great small town and just replace kids from Marietta with Yankees, trailer parks with a lake and you wouldn’t know the difference.

Who: Clemson Univeristy
Where: Clemson, South Carolina
Game Notes
Stadium: Memorial Stadium, seats 81,500, natural grass
Record: 0-0
Distance: 79.9 miles from Sanford Stadium and is 4 miles closer as the crow flies than Bobby Dodd
How to get there: 441 North to I-85, exit on SC-187 to US-76 and get comfortable cause you’ll be there a while.
In Clemson: What makes Clemson such a great college small town leaves us with some pros and cons come game day.  It is a tiny town with only three ways in and three ways out but once you are in there is plenty to do.  If you get to town early enough and don’t mind fighting the crowd Pot Belly Deli has a great breakfast, if you come up closer to lunch you will not go wrong stopping in at the Smokin Pig.  And if you want to do a tailgate right, there is a Bojangles in Seneca and Clemson.  If you think you can fit in a round of golf Saturday morning or Sunday after the game I’ve been told the Walker course is a great golf course and if you want to enjoy the lake then there are four boat ramps near the stadium and you can enjoy the lake in the morning and the game that afternoon.

But honestly most of us going want to know how to get into town, where to park, what bars are around and how to get out.  Well, back to my first point.  Clemson is a university that has only enough space surrounding it to provide basic necessities.  There are three roads leading in and after the games fewer ways out.  Actually I went ahead and applied for SC citizenship cause I might still be sitting in traffic this time next week.  I plan on coming in from Pendleton and parking at the Botanical Gardens which is a thirty minute walk to the stadium but also closer to I-85 when I’m leaving.  Below I’ve posted a map with the four university general parking options but you may also be able to pay for a spot in one of the local businesses downtown if you get in early enough.  Once you’re in town, game day will be on campus and there are a couple of bars downtown but they will be heavy on college kids.  There is the iconic Esso Club, Mellow Mushroom, Tiger Town Tavern and DT’s.  For food Pot Belly Deli is good, Palmettos restaurant is nice and serves beer and Grouch O’s has good sandwiches.

No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong.  Football season has started, enjoy the day and the company, pick up some fried chicken or bbq, deviled eggs and cold beer.  And as Lewis would say, “Dear Lord, bless all those not as fortunate as I.”  Because on Saturday I will be in Clemson to watch Georgia play and I can’t think of anything better.  Go Dawgs.

Granite

Slide 1Post gameParking and local spots:
Esso Club: 6 mins
Mellow Mushrooms: 12
Douthit Hills Parking: 23
Kite Hill: 35
Botanical Gardens: 30
YMCA Beach: 30

Road Tripping: SEC Championship Edition

What: Southeastern Conference Championship
Who
: University of Alabama
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Stadium: Georgia Dome,   seats 74,515,    FieldTurf
Record: 11-1
Distance: 71.3 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: 316 to I-85 all the way downtown or MARTA.  MARTA is my choice of transportation but only if you are brave enough to handle the crowd at the station when you leave the Dome.  It works best if you are meeting up with friends who are tailgating at the dome so you have a spot to go to.  You can take your cooler on the train but on the way home I’d recommend leaving it with your friends because it’s very difficult to squeeze on the train yourself, it’s much worse if you have a cooler in tow.   There are also some pay lots around the CNN Center and the Dome if you want to brave that. 

Corbindawg:  I have been to Los Angeles and and D.C., and have taken their subway system.  I have only been on MARTA once.  I had no quams about blindly hoping on L.A.’s subway system.  Something about MARTA doesn’t sit right with me.  I’d rather park and fight traffic. 

In Atlanta:

Corbindawg:  I have been to the Dome 5 times in my life.  One was for Women’s basketball in the 1996 Olympics (Brazil vs. China baby!).  The other four times were for football games that involved UGA.  Never been to a Falcons game, and that really doesn’t bother me.  Maybe one day.  For the 2005 SEC Championship game, we just parked at a lot somewhere and sat in the car and drank.  When we went to the 2005 Sugar Bowl, we got there mid afternoon and tailgated for a little bit with someone else, then went to CNN Center and ate supper.  Fast food Chinese, if I remember.  The best tailgate experience was last year for the Boise State game.  We parked in a lot a good hike away from the Dome on Peachtree, then went to eat lunch at Ted’s Montanna Grill.  I am a big fan of that place.  It is very, very good.  I have been twice, and one time I saw Ted Turner in there eating a steak.  He came by our table and spoke to us.  It was pretty cool.  If you don’t mind spending some cash, the steaks there are excellent, but you can’t go wrong with a burger.  From Ted’s we went to the car and got our coolers and walked a country mile to the Dome to tailgate.  Walking so far lugging chairs and coolers sucked big time, but once we got there we had a blast. We just had styrofoam coolers, so we could leave it and not worry about it during the game. 

It really does suck tailgating around the Dome, so I would recommend going to a resturant and having lunch and some drinks there.  My brother lives in Atlanta and we have gone to some very good places.  My favorite has got to be Manuel’s Tavern on the corner of North Avenue and Highland.  Good atmosphere and lots of TVs to catch Gameday.   On the Weekends they have Brunch, so you can go by earlier and get some Bloody Marys.  Other favorites:  Felini’s Pizza, Everybody’s Pizza, Fox Brother’s BBQ, Daddy D’z BBQ, and of course, The Varsity. 

***

Maybe some of our more Atlanta-savvy readers can offer a suggestion on where to eat or go.  If you have a better suggestion, leave it in the Comment section.

Granite

Road Tripping: Auburn Edition

Who: University of Auburn
Where: Auburn, Alabama
Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium, 87,451, natural grass
Record: 2-7
Game Notes
Distance: 179 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: I-85 South all the way.  Coming in I get off on exit 51 but I’ve had good luck leaving by going west towards Tuskegee and missing the traffic backed up at the Interstate.
Why we love this game:  There are few rivalries that compare to the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” We all know Auburn fans. We live with them and they are found in everywhere in our great state. In my opinion, most grew up Georgia fans but for one reason or another chose their back up school. Until recently this has always been somewhat of a friendly rivalry minus the fire hose incident. That towel waving son of a bitch took it to a different level in 2010, but it is still fair to consider Auburn our less literate sister school.

Auburn has the hat trick of great traditions, great fans and if you ignore the 2010 team, lovable players (I’m looking at you Kenny & David Irons).  If you go Saturday, get to the stadium early because there is nothing cooler in college football than watching the eagle land at midfield.  The fans are Georgia fans with more boots and a tendency to fight.  And the players.  Bo was amazing, Cam was like watching a professional play among amateurs, but the Irons brothers where even better off the field then they were on.  For example, here’s Kenny’s official AU sponsored interview and David telling brother Kenny what to do with the football: “‘I told him the end zone is his zoo and if he runs to the end zone he can be with all of his little animal friends. I just told him to treat the football like a banana. You treat the football like a banana and you won’t let anybody at the zoo take your banana peel. He was like, “Yeah, that’s true.” And I was like, “Kenny, but it’s not yellow, it’s brown. Just think of it as an old banana and you’ve had out for weeks like you did at the house and it’s turned brown. Run with it and don’t let people strip it.’ He’s been running like a crazy wild child”

And then Kenny explains why he packs so much luggage.  Uchee won’t let me actually post it here so you’ll have to go to the source to read it.  I didn’t type it but you’ve been warned.

Bottom line, Georgia-Auburn is one of the premiere rivalries in America. Regardless the record, anything can happen in this game. You’d hope this year would be a different story, but don’t bank on it. Auburn would love nothing more than to derail our season, and you know they’re going to do whatever they can to make this happen.

In Auburn: As for places in Auburn, I usually make it a day trip, grab some chicken on the way in and get out.  Parking is plentiful and you can just hop off the road and park on the right of way.  A few times I’ve stuck around and enjoyed the following places.  I’m sure plenty of you have spent more time in the loveliest village than I have so please let me know what I missed out on in the comments.

Go by and pay your respects to the oaks at Toomer’s Corner.  They may not be there next year.

Bloodhounds has good burgers and a good atmosphere.

I haven’t been to the Barbecue House for their que but I have been there early and they have a really good breakfast.  I’ve been told by many that they do have the best BBQ in Auburn if anyone wants to give them a try and let us know.

War Eagle Supper Club is fun late night.  You have to get a membership card before you walk in but they are open till 4 AM

It should be a great weekend. Be safe on the road, we’ll see you Saturday in Auburn.

Granite

Road Tripping: Florida Edition

This week is Christmas to a Georgia fan, even if it’s that Christmas that you didn’t get anything you wanted but damnit you’re going to enjoy it anyway. Georgia Florida is that weekend where you can escape the real world, enjoy the Golden Isles or Amelia and the last chance to soak in the sun at a football game and say “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause and if you don’t believe me ask Joe Cox

Who: University of Florida
Where: Jacksonville, Florida
Stadium: EverBank Field, seats 84,000, natural grass
Record: 7-0
Game Notes
Distance: 307 miles from Sanford Stadium but it’s a lot hotter down there
How to get there: 441, 15, or US-1 to I-16 and or I-95. If you’re reading this you’ve done it enough that it’s personal preference but let me say that taking US-78 to Thompson and then US-1 from Wrens will let you miss a metric ton of county mounties and a lot of traffic and headache.
Along the way: Well Lewis would say to grab some greens for only $3 but I’d much rather have an empty belly ready for Bourbon and branch. Who are we kidding, we put this out Wednesday so any God fearing Georgia fan can get south as quick as they can. Corbin, Uchee and myself all prefer Saint Simons but we have tried out Jacksonville, Kingsland, and Jekyll before. The Landing in Jacksonville is fun if you like Florida fans and waiting in line for a drink, Kingsland is great for the convince, Jekyll is a laid back family atmosphere but St. Simons is our choice.

Granite: I’m blessed/cursed with going to SSI multiple times during the year so as much as I love going to Crab Trap it’s the little things that stand out to me. Southern Soul has amazing ribs and if it’s not too crowded it’s worth BS’ing with the staff cause they know their stuff. Also if you have access to a bike head north for a very relaxing ride or toward the pier to Palm Coast Coffee for a very good beer. On Friday it’s worth heading out to East Beach just for a look at what we used to be. Near the Beach Club will be a packed beach of college kids with the rest of us on the edges and it’s worth a look. Also, you’re at the beach so get out and enjoy it, walk from the King and Prince to 15th Street and enjoy the sand beneath your toes, football ain’t everything. As for Saturday, read below and after the game I always stop by Sal’s Pizza on the way home for a simplistic greasy overly good for being on an island slice of pizza. That’s my weekend and as Lewis would say, God bless those not as fortunate as I.

Uchee: The Golden Isles are my favorite place on earth. Being able to go to SSI is a large part of the allure of Georgia-Florida. My favorite things include:

-World class golf. You have golf courses available to play all over the Golden Isles. They will be crowded this week, but you can probably find a tee time somewhere. For the money, my favorite courses are the 3 on Jekyll Island: Oleander, Indian Mounds and Pine Lakes. This is the site of the annual Georgia-Florida Classic, so finding a tee time on Thursday or Friday will be impossible before 3:30, leaving little time to play. If you’re in the Amelia Island/St. Augustine area, there are hundreds of courses that are home to some of the best golf in the US. If golf is your thing, the Georgia coast and NE Florida is the place to be.

-Food. Great food is abundant. Rather than spell out all the options, I’ll give you my favorite dish on the Golden Isles. Crabdaddy’s runs a special several nights a week: Blackened grouper over a bed of fried cheese grits, covered with shrimp etouffee. Finish with bread pudding for dessert and there’s no need for after supper drinks. Don’t miss a stop by Crabdaddy’s, but don’t go on Thursday, I want my table at 7:00.

-My wife loves the Gulf Coast for the white beaches but for my money, I’ll take the natural beauty of the Golden Isles any day of the week. I enjoy crossing over to Jekyll Island and driving the loop around the island, then stopping by Driftwood Beach for a walk. From this point, you can get a great view of SSI from across the bay. Nothing is more beautiful than the Georgia coast in my opinion.

-The Game. There’s not a better football game each year than Georgia-Florida. Regardless of records, this is the game of the year. I’ve sat in the endzone and was the last person in red, and I’ve sat on the 40 and seen the UF side painted in their orange and blue. The coming together of these two teams and their fan bases is incredible. It’s the kind of hate that you enjoy. I hate UF with every fiber of my being. But I enjoy spending this one day wallowing around with the swamp lizards in Jacksonville every year. It’s a weird feeling, but I’m sure most of you can understand.

Corbin: My favorite place to eat on SSI during GA FL is Bubba Garcia’s in the Red Fern Village. Good Mexican food, and even better margaritas. I’ve had too many GA/FL weekends where I spent too much time and money here but when you’re surrounded by great friends it’s worth it. Of course, parking in the ghetto trailer park and getting a chicken biscuit at Church’s Chicken off the Jekyll exit are highlights to any weekend.

In Jacksonville: On you’re way down to the game I’d recommend a stop at the Church’s chicken off exit 29 for lunch Saturday or at least a biscuit that morning. Lord know Georgia plays better when we all have chicken before the game. Once you get into Jacksonville you have a couple of choices depending on what time you get into town. If you’re there before 10:00, don’t worry about it, parking is anywhere you want around the stadium. Now if you come later or hate crowds, take 8th Street off MLK east or west to the stadium. You will miss all the traffic and that is the most efficient way out of any college football game I have ever attended, Athens included. Now I’m sure you have an opinion this weekend and I’d love to hear it below. Please let me know and for anyone who’s making the trip, travel safe and Go Dawgs.

Granite

Road Tripping: Kentucky Edition

This week Georgia makes our trip north to the bluegrass state and I hope everyone is rested up after last week’s Saturday off.  Now Kentucky is known for many things…and football ain’t one of them.  So if you’re making the trip, enjoy the leaves on the drive up and here’s a few things to do when you get there.

Who: University of Kentucky
Where: Lexington, Kentucky
Stadium: Commonwealth Stadium, seats 67,942, natural grass
Record: 1-6
Game Notes
Distance: 403 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: Let me first say that from Athens there are two ways to head up.  One up 441 to Franklin, TN and then over towards Asheville.  Do not do this unless you have a very good GPS, actually pay attention while driving, or enjoy the sound of banjos.  Just take I-75 and everyone will be safe and happy.
Along the way:  Now back to the task at hand, bourbon and ponies. Since we’re playing Kentucky before Florida this year Keeneland will be open.  Located a few miles west of Lexington on the way to the staples in Versailles is the Keeneland track.  They will be racing from 1:00 until 6:00 so even if you leave Friday morning you can still catch one of the last races.  But if you are lucky enough to leave today or tomorrow go to the bourbon trail.  That’s not a suggestion but an order.  In my opinion you must see Woodford, 4 Roses, Makers and Jim Beam.  Heaven Hill is okay but they are more of a big distillery and the others have a better feel.  Also Buffalo Trace is not technically on the trail but it’s in Frankfort just outside of Lexington and they make Pappy Van Winkle.  That in itself is worth a visit.  So if you start at Jim Beam take a day or two to work your way east you can take in all the distilleries and be in Lexington for the game.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

In Lexington: I don’t have much to say about tailgating for this place because it’s borderline north/mid west and there’s not much to see around the stadium.  Try to avoid the parking decks unless it’s windy or raining just because tailgating in parking decks always depresses me.  Their fans are nice so mingle and study up on basketball before you go and dress warm, it will get cold.  Sorry I don’t have too much to say for the game itself but really…bourbon and ponies.  And if you’re taking the family and worried that someone will look down on you for dragging kids through a distillery, Keeneland does breakfast and stable tours Saturday morning so even race tracks and be family friendly. For anyone who’s making the trip, travel safe and Go Dawgs.

Granite

Road Tripping: South Carolina Edition

We are about to start the month long stretch away from Athens that will make or break our season and our first stop on this road trip is Columbia, SC.  A few quick facts about Columbia, it is our closest SEC foe, the hottest damn city on earth and boast more preseason SEC Championships than Alabama.  Now I will give credit were credit is due, they have the best and most loyal fans.  Yes they are loud and obnoxious but do not miss a football game.  From the end of 1997 to Quincy Carter’s 2000 game, Carolina went 1-24 but still packed the parking lots and the stands and after that game I have never seen a happier fan base.  So despite the fact that they are the perpetual snot nosed little brother who has Spurrier for a coach, I always enjoy this trip.

Who: University of South Carolina
Where: Columbia, South Carolina
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium, seats 80,250, natural grass
Record: 5-0
Distance: 166 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: I-20 to US-1 all the way to the state capital, then hang a right on Assembly, stadium will be on your left if you ever make it through the traffic.
Along the way:  Now if you are into mid nineties rock Cowboy Mouth is playing at Boarder Bash in Augusta Friday night but this being a night game I would recommend catching an early lunch Saturday at Freeman’s BBQ just across the river from Augusta in Beech Island, SC then hopping back on the Bobby Jones Expressway and finishing the trip.  And while you’re there try the hash.  Here’s what a good friend living in enemy territory has to say about it.
  “Freeman’s is exactly what a bbq joint should represent. Cinderblock building, red and white table clothes, and plenty of white loaf bread! The place is filled with old original Master’s memorabilia. The chicken and ribs are good but the que’ is excellent, moist and smokey. I am more of a brunswick stew kind of guy, but their hash is the best in the area. They use a vinegar base sauce and if you ask they have a special hot sauce in the back. Sconyer’s gets all of the attention, but Freeman’s is the real deal and has the best bbq in the CSRA!”

In Columbia: Now to the important stuff.  USC east is a city where the University is a separate entity.  Not an afterthought like Knoxville but still a city that has a life outside of the college.  This is great for visiting fans because we can find some great bars and areas that aren’t one in one out and packed with 20 year olds.  My first recommendation would be the Flying Saucer downtown near the capital.  Huge beer list and a great patio to hang out on but it will get crowded.  While you’re downtown, it’s worth a walk around the capital.  There are some really nice memorials to everything and everyone who has anything to do with South Carolina, including a really nice Police Memorial.  But the most interesting thing to me are the bronze stars all along the outside walls of the capital.  Each star marks where a union cannon ball hit and was purposely never repaired.  Now back to beer, World of Beer is also good and has an awesome beer selection.  Pearlz is a good spot for oysters and drinks.  Tin Roof is a happening spot but can get packed and take a while to get a drink.  I’m not as familiar with the 5 points area but I’ve been to Jake’s several times and supposedly it’s owned by a UGA grad.  For food, Blue Marlin is a more high end seafood place.  Liberty Tap room is a solid food option and a good place for drinks.  It’s right at downtown and has their own line of micro beer brewed outside Charleston.  And finally Palmetto Pig is about the best BBQ I’ve found in Columbia but the chopped pork can get a little dry.

As for the game and tailgating, I have not found a way to beat the traffic in and out of Columbia.  Normally there is plenty of parking along George Rogers at the railroad tracks leading to the stadium and there will be plenty of dawg fans to team up with.  This year the South Carolina state fair is going on at the same time so things may be a little more crowded.  Along the walk to the stadium make sure you walk by the Cockabooses lining the opposite side of the stadium from George Rogers.  These people aren’t LSU but they know how to tailgate.  When you leave I’ve found traffic to be about the same if you head back to downtown or opposite to I-77.  If I’m wrong or you have a suggestion please let me know in the comments.  For anyone who’s making the trip, travel safe and Go Dawgs.

Granite



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