When there’s a will, there’s a way (to Tempe)
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I glanced up from my desk to check the Indianapolis-Tennessee score on TV last Sunday and was cruelly alerted to the unthinkable: heavy snow forced a litany of road closures along Interstate 70.
I needed to be in Denver by 5 a.m. or so the next morning to catch a flight to Phoenix to see my beloved Indiana Hoosiers football team in the Insight Bowl, their first trip to a bowl game of any kind since 1993. The game was at 3:30 p.m. the day of the flight, so timing was critical.
I still had two hours of work to go that night, and things looked as bleak as the Broncos’ future as I obsessively tuned in to news reports and clicked for road conditions on the Internet.
What to do, what to do?
I called family friends in Denver to inquire about alternate routes. Nothing seemed any more passable than I-70, and six hours of driving alternate routes for a two-hour flight didn’t sound enticing.
One way or another, I had to make the game. As I mentioned above, it’d been 14 years since the Hoosiers made a bowl game and could very well be another 14 years before they go back.
A thing I did notice as I glanced at road conditions is that all paths were clear to the west.
Could I really make the 679-mile drive to Tempe on no sleep? My mind said yes. My body no.
So I searched for morning flights out of our lovely, if overpriced, regional airports. I just couldn’t afford the quadruple-digit price tag ” no doubt augmented by short notice and the holiday price boost (I was looking to fly out on New Year’s Eve).
If I truly wanted to attend the game and meet up with a fellow Indiana University alum who lives in Tucson, it became clear I’d have to drive.
So I canceled my reservation, printed out directions and, just after 10 p.m., began my lengthy drive. Dry, mostly flat roads through Utah and northern Arizona made for a relatively easy journey on my car.
Coffee and shear will power kept my eyes open. While I questioned myself plenty along the way, I mustered the energy to keep going.
Turns out weather wasn’t the last roadblock. I wandered upon another road closure in northern Arizona early Monday morning, this one due to a traffic fatality.
As I redirected to an alternate route, I found myself epiphany-stricken. Trite as it may sound, that’s when I realized no matter how much the weather impeding my travel plans sucked, the family of that fallen motorist had it way worse than I.
It also validated my refusal to throw in the towel in the face of roadblocks.
Life is short (ironically, I may have been threatening mine by making a 10-hour drive on no sleep). Making it to the bowl game, and thereby fulfilling a pact I made with fellow Hoosier alums that we’d attend if IU ever actually made a bowl, was a big deal. It’s a chance I may never again have, and I wasn’t going to let a little snow stop me.
Pulling into the Sun Devil Stadium lot and seeing the sea of crimson and orange (Indiana played Oklahoma State) made it all worth it. The final score ” OSU 49, Indiana 33 ” made it a little less worth it.
Still, I had a great time catching up with college friends and bickering with Cowboys fans. I even met OSU quarterback Zac Robinson’s parents in an In-N-Out Burger after the game. I didn’t know it until I googled him later, but Zac went to Littleton’s Chatfield High School.
If only Zac had taken it a little easier on the Hoosiers.
Contact Jeff Caspersen: 384-9123
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