The big game is four short hours away, and there’s purple everywhere in El Paso. Wildcats fans were well represented at the “Fan Fiesta” at the convention center yesterday, and definitely made more noise than the UCLA contingent, which didn’t look particularly large. The news last night says they’re within a couple of thousand tickets of a sellout, so it should be a full house.
After everyone had their afternoon nap (this first bowl of middle-age certainly has different characteristics than previous ones), Nate and I drove into beautiful downtown El Paso and into the sun to check out the previously mentioned fan fiesta, which has grown to such proportions that this year for the first time it was downtown rather than out by the stadium. There were quite a few booths set up for various local organizations, a few companies like Cingular, and free samples of Vitalis and Brut (personal hygiene seems to be a major focus). There was food to be had, also, but we were planning on dinner later, so we just sampled some gorditas from one local establishment (much different than the Taco Bell variety), and watched some of the “battle of the bands”, which of course was soundly won by NU, at least in my opinion.
Smith was charged with picking up Liz and Adam, who were arriving on the same flight from New Jersey at around 7, so with the remaining time we had to kill, we walked across the street to the Camino Real hotel to check out this lobby I keep reading about, and walked another block or so to the downtown plaza where all the Christmas lights were still up along with a honking big nativity scene. Then we hopped back in the car and headed for dinner at a local place called Kiki’s, which had been recommended to us earlier in the afternoon by a ranger at the aerial tram, and seconded by the locals who were riding in the tram car with us.
The other contingent arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 or so and we chowed down on Mexican food (being a local place, they had run out of chicken, of all things, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone, including the manager). Nate claims he was still digesting his Sonic burger from lunch, so he didn’t eat much, but everyone else did. It was cheap, too, the whole meal was under $50. Just before 10, Rich called to say he had arrived (how did we do the Rose Bowl when nobody had a cell phone?), so they went off to collect him and Nate and I headed back to the hotel to crash.
Now if I can just get him moving (he claims he still hasn’t finished with the Sonic burger), we can avail ourselves of the free breakfast here before heading off to the stadium. The restaurant manager last night confided to us that people in El Paso don’t really like southern California people, whom they feel look down on the locals here, so that the city is really secretly or not so secretly rooting for NU. There were certainly plenty of locals at the fiesta last night, maybe some of them will come to the game too and add to our cheering section. We need all the help we can get. The hour is nigh. Go Cats!