By Ryan Divish
ON THE ROAD - Due to technological problems, time zones and excessive celebration, I wasn't able to send my column in for Friday's paper. That's what I get for staying at a hotel that is also a truck stop/diner.
Actually, it's just tough to write on the road when you don't have a nationwide Internet connection. And don't think this hotel had free Internet.
Also, because of the time difference, I would have had to send my column in early Wednesday night, and that would have left out some key parts that people should read. It's also tough to write on the road when you stay out until 5:30 a.m. Still, I did keep my trusty notebook with me and did catalog most of the night's better events.
5:02 a.m. - It's way too early to be getting up; usually I am going to bed about this time. It could be worse. My travel buddies, Chris and Ryan, drove to Billings from Missoula in a record time of 11 hours and 14 minutes. "We took the scenic route," Ryan said. They slept in the airport parking lot for a grand total of 37 minutes.
6:07 a.m. - There have to be at least 37 Griz fans on our connecting flight to Minneapolis. The faithful are going to be out in droves.
9:04 a.m. - A moment of silence for George and Gilly, who couldn't make a return trip to Chattanooga for various poor reasons. Actually, one of them has a good reason. The other, aah, better not get into that. However, I am a firm believer in fate and superstition, and since they went last time and the Griz won, if the Griz lose this time, the blame will fall squarely on them.
9:32 a.m. - Board another plane to fly to Detroit for another connecting flight. Who booked these travel arrangements, anyway? Oh wait, I did. Ahh, nothing like a scenic flight into America's most beautiful city, Detroit.
10:46 a.m. - Flying into the Motor City, and as I look out my window, I realize why the people at the Pacers-Pistons game started throwing things at the players. This has to be one of the bleakest looking cities I have ever seen.
2:32 p.m. - Arrive in Knoxville, Tenn. No, the flight didn't take that long; there is a time change. So basically, I just lost two hours of my life by flying east. If I keep flying back west far enough, can I pick up enough time to go back four years?
2:46 p.m. - First encounter with extremely attractive Southern girl. "Y'all come to get your rental car?" she asked in the sweet Southern drawl.
My response: "Uuuuuhhhhhhhh, uuuuhhhhhh." I literally sounded like I was in a "Beavis and Butthead" rerun. Told you I was smooth with the ladies.
3:30 p.m. - A jackknifed semi has slowed traffic down to a crawl. We went 5 miles in about an hour. At this rate, we'll reach Chattanooga on Friday just before kickoff.
3:41 p.m. - Pass what is left of the semi on the side of the road. The guy didn't just wreck, he destroyed the thing. There were no tires on the truck. They were ripped off, as were the wheels, with the front of the cab destroyed. Nothing good happens when one of those big rigs wrecks.
5:45 p.m. - We finally arrive in Chattanooga, which is a much larger city than people might think. Get to our hotel and find out the "suite" that we are paying for is nothing more than just a room with a couch, roughly the same size as a piece of children's blow-up furniture. I don't want to complain, but the hotel's name sounds a lot like the "Plays Inn." I guess we are having five guys - Chris, Ryan, me and two college buddies, Dan and Eric, stay in the room. Let's see: five guys, two queen-sized beds and one tiny couch. I shouldn't have to tell you who drew couch duty. I shouldn't have to tell you how gross the bathroom will be.
7:02 p.m. - Arrive at the Griz pep rally inside at the old Chattanooga Railroad Station. Basically, there are more than 2,000 Griz fans inside a huge pavilion with full concessions, libations, a dance floor and a D.J. Yep, this could get a little crazy.
7:15 p.m. - Monte makes his first appearance and all five of us realize we don't have a camera. So being the good guy that I am, I volunteer to go to the gift shop a block away and get cameras. With $50 in hand, I proceed quickly down the stairs and promptly bang my left kneecap on the stair railing. I'm not going to lie, but there were tears about ready to come out. There are very few things that hurt worse than a banged shin or kneecap.
7:17 p.m. - Because of my pronounced limp and anguish from the knee incident, a hotel official takes me over to the gift shop in a golf cart, where I promptly get four cameras for a total of $56. Gotta love those hotel gift shops.
7:38 p.m. - Chris just drops $47 on a round of shots and promptly spills his. You just can't make up this type of comedy. The bartender officially thinks we are morons. She may be right. Again, you couldn't put five guys together who have a tougher time talking to cute women. We're idiots.
7:58 p.m. - Libations are being consumed by all.
8:12 p.m. - More libations.
8:34 p.m. - Back at the motel and getting ready for bed. Are you kidding? You obviously don't know Griz fans. That would be more libations.
9:24 p.m. - Even more libations. Griz fans and Montanans in general will spend any amount of money for a good time. Of course, it's not all about drinking. In fact, there are plenty of people there who are having a blast without alcohol. There is dancing. Monte is all over getting his picture taken with fans. The Griz cheerleaders are there. Bobby Hauck makes a speech. Constant cheers arise from different corners of the pavilion. Did I mention the Griz cheerleaders were still there. I hate male cheerleaders.
10:32 p.m. - The pavilion is starting to clear out some, and we decide to sample some Chattanooga night life at a bar called the Buck Wild.
10:37 p.m. - Cabs don't charge rates on Friday and Saturday nights, instead charging $2 for each person riding. I don't know if this is a good deal or not.
10:42 p.m. - Our bartender is one of the five best-looking girls I've ever seen in my life.
10:54 p.m. - The bartender has company, as the cocktail waitress joins the top five, and the girl at the table behind us, and - I guess I'll have to make it a top 10.
11:54 p.m. - At this point, there are shouts of "Montana!" being followed up with replies of "Grizzlies!!" throughout the establishment. This is insane. I may never want to go home.
12:46 a.m. - Just shelled out $32 for a round of beers for buddies and some other Havre fans who made the trip. Any more rounds like that and I'll be home in 10 minutes.
1 a.m. - Chris makes the brilliant revelation that there is a dance club and bar upstairs. Let's see, we've been there for about two hours and we just figure that out. Definitely rocket scientist material.
1:10 a.m. - Exchange between my buddy Dan and a cute girl ...
Dan: "Do you want to dance?"
Cute girl: "No, not really."
Dan: "Me neither. I was just checking."
Dan is providing us with entertainment by the second.
1:50 p.m. - Getting ready to head out because it's gotta be close to closing time, right? Wrong. Bars in Tennessee close at 3 a.m. Yeah, that's all Griz fans need is another excuse to stay out and party longer.
2:12 a.m. - We leave anyway in search of food. A cab takes us to Denny's for a little breakfast. I don't want to say the service was bad, but my salad had enough onions to kill a small horse. That wasn't the worst. Eric ordered a ham and cheese omelette and received a French dip instead. Easy to see how that can be confusing. Yeah, that waitress got a big tip - "Don't pet a burning dog." Quick observation: The restaurant is packed - every table, every seat, every person sporting Griz clothing.
3:02 a.m.- This couch would be too short for a 3-year-old. Yet here I am, trying to find some ounce of comfort on it.
3:12 a.m. - With the game being at 8 p.m. Friday, we have plenty of time to sleep in and rest.