© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Hello from Tampa Bay, Florida!
I would like to say that I am down here reporting on something for the Daily Herald, but in reality this is a short little getaway with a large group of people including a couple of close friends.
Rod Pedersen, my buddy who does the play-by-play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and hosts a show in Regina called the Sports Cage, has organized a trip down here where we will see two NHL games and an NFL game.
Back in August another good friend of mine was at the lake and he always listens to Rod’s show on 620 CKRM. Rod was promoting the trip on this one particular show so Darcy calls me and asks me what I think about heading south.
Aside from spending time with Rod and Darcy and his wife Shannon, the intriguing part of the trip was going to an NFL game. I have been fortunate to have seen a number of pro sporting events over the years, but I never thought I would get to an NFL game because those are tickets that are generally real hard to come by.
So, we immediately signed up and here we are.
Shortly after we fired off the money to the organizers I called another buddy in Okotoks, Alta., to wish him a happy birthday. We were talking about this and that and I mentioned the trip. There was silence on the other end before Dwayne says “Are you kidding me?” As it turns out he was scheduled to be in Tampa Bay all of next week for a conference for work so he reschedules his departure four days earlier to join us for the hockey games. He already had plans on being at the NFL game tomorrow when the Buffalo Bills face the Tampa bay Buccaneers.
How sweet is that?
Having never been to Florida before all I knew was it was going to be humid – sorry folks I understand wind chills are ridiculous back home. It isn’t scorching hot, but for five days at least we can walk around in shorts and enjoy the weather even though there is a lot of perspiration leaking due to that aforementioned humidity.
The trip started on Thursday and we had to hustle from the airport to the hotel before getting to the rink to see the Ottawa Senators play the Tampa Bay Lightning that night. We had no trouble hooking up with Dwayne as his flight from Calgary landed much earlier and so the journey began.
Yesterday was an off-day so we headed to Hogan’s Beach Bar where Rod broadcast his show live with the blue ocean water crashing on the shore not far from where we sat. Life is tough!
Tonight we head back to the rink to watch the Winnipeg Jets and Lightning play and with Dwayne being a Manitoba boy it is going to be a bit sickening listening to him, but maybe he might finally have something to cheer about (he also pulls for the Blue Bombers so you have to excuse him for that.)
I’m really hoping that I can get a chance to meet Steve Yzerman, the general manager of the Lightning. A real good friend of mine back home is the biggest Yzerman fan ever and to be able to meet him would be special. I would love nothing better than to get something signed for Brent so he can add it to his already impressive collection of memorabilia.
That might be a stretch, but Rod might have some pull so we will have to see.
Tomorrow will be a long day as we will head out early to take part in the tailgate parties before finally getting to an NFL stadium. Like I say, this is one thing on my bucket list that I never thought would get done, but I’m just hours away and thrilled to the bone.
Monday is another off-day and there is talk of going to Busch Gardens or something and then it is back home to the frigid cold. Any break from winter is welcomed, but this one couldn’t have come at a better time as the last couple of months have been more than hectic.
I have another real crazy stretch as soon as the plane lands in Regina late on Tuesday, but for now I am going to sit back and enjoy this. Being with good friends and taking in sporting events, along with being warm, it doesn’t get much better. Well, maybe it could, but this is pretty awesome.
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.