greetings from el paso


I know I’ve been remiss in posting to this site lately, what with the mortgage, and its father dying, and BBC2 going out with men, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about doing it, I just haven’t been that inspired lately. But now that the holidays are about over, what better time for a burst of inspiration than a hastily arranged trip to scenic El Paso, Texas (not El Paso, Illinois, which isn’t far from where I grew up and as far as I know isn’t el paso to anything)? Oh, and look, it just happens to be the Sun Bowl tomorrow, and the Wildcats are playing!

So the Cohens, Nate, myself, Daren and (briefly) Adam have congregated here in west Texas in yet another vain hope of bearing witness to the Wildcats winning a bowl game. The last time I did this was 5 years ago at the Alamo Bowl, and while the less said about the game the better (crushed by Nebraska), it was a fun weekend. Smith has pointed out that during his tenure as NU radio sports personality, that was pretty much every away game, a fun weekend if you overlooked the three hours you had to sit and watch the game.

This time around, everyone is expecting a shootout, since neither we nor UCLA have much of a defense, and after 10 years of bowls we aren’t getting our hopes up, but hopefully things will be better this time around.

I arrived first, traipsing into the Quality Inn around 10:30 last night. My odyssey began by going into work yesterday and then heading straight from there to the airport, which I don’t remember ever doing before. Needless to say there aren’t a lot of choices when flying to El Paso (Nate flew to Albuquerque instead), and the later flight gave me 2/3 of a day at work, but stacked the deck if there were any problems. Which there were, upon arrival at Logan I discovered that the flight to Denver was already expected to leave 40 minutes late. I asked the ticket agent if that would work, since I only had a 45 minute layover to begin with, but she confidently assured me it would be fine, the flight didn’t take as long as it was scheduled to take, and besides, “You don’t have many options,” she said ominously.

Well of course the flight didn’t leave 40 minutes late, it left about 75 minutes late, so all the way to Denver I was thinking about what plan B would be if I missed the connection, but amazingly enough we were on the ground and leaving the plane at just about 8pm exactly, giving me under 15 minutes to make the 8:15 connection, a hundred miles away at the other end of terminal B. I couldn’t run since I had my bag with me, but after a brisk walk I got within sight of the right gate just as they were announcing they were going to close the door in one minute, so I squeaked in with about 30 seconds to spare,and we left right on time, so I was on the ground in Denver for less than 20 minutes. Long layovers are a pain, but this was cutting it a bit too close. When I turned my phone on in El Paso there was an automated message from United telling me they’d rebooked me from Denver to El Paso for 2:15 pm the next day, so when the ticket lady said there weren’t many options she wasn’t kidding.

Since Nate was driving down from Albuquerque, he wasn’t going to get here until noon, so this morning I carbo-loaded on the free breakfast and walked from the hotel to the Wyler Aerial Tramway, nestled into the Franklin Mountains that sort of bisect El Paso. It took about two hours and the last 1/2 mile or so was straight up, but I had some time to recover before Nate arrived (having collected Daren at the airport), and I convinced them to take the tram up to the top of Ranger Mountain, where you could see all of El Paso and off into Mexicos old and new.

Since Wolsky was a last-minute addition to the party, we have two rental cars total, so Nate was able to take advantage of a free upgrade to a convertible, so after we surveyed the landscape, we put the top down and drove back down Montana ave to get some lunch. Daren wanted to go to a Sonic, since they don’t have those up our way, and that’s what we ended up doing for a late lunch, where you order at the curb and they bring it out to your car and everything. Smith is off now to pick up the second rental car, take a nap, and then collect Adam and Liz at the airport. Rich doesn’t arrive until late tonight, and the game is tomorrow at noon. Adam leaves within two hours of the end of the game, so we’ll barely catch a glimpse of him.

The weather here is great, sunny and 60’s, and even last night it wasn’t especially chilly for someone used to December in New England. Still talk of going across the border to Juarez at some point, and plans to eat lots of Mexican food, now that Smith has Sonic out of his system (so to speak). BC’s performance yesterday at the MPC bowl has given us hope for our chances in tomorrow’s festivities. Go Cats!