Stop & Smell the Roses
Remember that nightmare road trip to Akron, Ohio?
That was one of the worst travel experiences of my career. The best was an all-expense paid trip to see the Badgers win the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in December 2000 on the cusp of “The New Millennium.”
From 1964 through 1993, a span of 30 years, the Badgers earned a grand total of zero Rose Bowl appearances. They have made four Rose Bowl trips since.
By December of 1999, when I traveled to Los Angeles, the Badgers were still feeling the afterglow of a Rose Bowl victory over heavily-favored UCLA the year before. The 86th Rose Bowl Game was played on January 1st, 2000, the day the “world was supposed to end.”
Though I’d been to California once before, I’d never been to Southern California or Los Angeles. From the moment I exited the L.A. airport in a rental car I was overwhelmed by the scope of the sprawl and the unending sea of artificial lights. I had arranged to arrive two-and-a-half days ahead of the sports anchor so I could enjoy the opportunity to explore the area’s birdlife. Scooting north in the dark to , then rising before dawn the next morning, I explored my way down Highway from Santa Inez northwest of Santa Barbara to Ventura, Santa Monica, Palos Verdes Point, Huntington Beach and Upper Newport Bay. At about 7 PM, just as the daylight ran out, I got this misguided notion to drive across “town” to the desert on the other side, where I’d be spending the night. Until then I’d been smart enough to avoid the worst of traffic, but for the next two hours I experienced a surreal of topping seventy one minute and parking in six lanes of back-up automobiles the next.
After another day of birding the San Bernardino National Forest and San Jacinto Mountains I returned to the airport to pick up the sports reporter and we both checked into our hotel in Century City, about thirty minutes from Pasadena.
My job for the next two days was split almost literally into halves. The first half was taping the pre-game hype surrounding players, coaches, and fans –- including interviews with Ron Dayne and Barry Alvarez. We even shot the team portrait session.
The second half was the post-game rush of celebratory interviews on the playing field and after that, “live shots” sent back to Wisconsin. In between I was expected to sit on my hands and simply watch the game from the press booth high atop the stadium.
The final score was 17-9 Wisconsin, and Ron Dayne was the game’s MVP. The Badgers ended up 10-2 for the year, and it was the first time in history that a Big Ten team won back to back Rose Bowls.
A terrorist plot targeted for New Year’s Day at the L.A. airport was thwarted by security, we returned safely to Wisconsin, and the world, as you have certainly deduced by now, kept right on pushing up roses.
Posted under Artist? Scientist? Philosopher? Camera Guy?
This post was written by sbetchkal on July 29, 2011