The Chowdah Bowl
by Brian Freedman (Chowdah)
& Chowdah Take on the Nor’easter in Search of Patriot’s Glory!
Back in September when I put this little Boston "Double-Header" (Bruins vs. Flyers on Saturday & Patriots vs. Dolphins on Sunday) together, I could never have imagined the significance of this Patriots/Dolphins game and the adventure Ron (Zilla) and I would experience.
We had heard there would be some snow, so we took off extra early Saturday morning in order to arrive at our hotel, in Milford, with enough time to unpacked and catch the Commuter rail into Boston to see that nights Bruins/Flyers game at the Fleet. As we left Rochester the skies were clear and I had hoped that the reports of this storm were exaggerated. Boy was I wrong!
Once we hit Utica, heading east, the weather got from bad to worse in just a matter of minutes. Driving became, to say the least, a bit tricky as we watched cars. SUVs and even 18-Wheel tractor trailers spin out of control and off the road. With my trusty navigator and fellow road trip veteran Zilla at my side we made it off the Thruway in one piece! The scariest part of the journey occurred on that 30 mile strip of road between the NY State Thruway and the Mass Turnpike. Most of that entire stretch was unplowed and completely blanketed in white-out snow! If not for the 2 - 18 wheelers that just happened to be on the road at the same time, plowing the way for us and keeping us on the road with their drafts, we would have had to stop there or turn around! Fortunately we made it through and got to the hotel with about an hour and a half to catch the train into Boston
This is where the adventure really began…..
The night started out great with us eating dinner at Hooters (The food and the "view" was spectacular!) and we watched the Bruins battle the Philadelphia Flyers (at the time the best team in the NHL) to a 1-1 tie. Although there wasn’t much scoring there was plenty of excitement as the Bruins out-shot Philly 2-1, throw in a few good fights and it was a good game! It was great seeing Joe Thornton, Sergei Samsonov (who scored the B’s lone goal) and my favorite Bruin – Brian Rolston in action! Our seats were in the kids party zone section. For those not familiar with this the Bruins apparently offer family’s a party and tickets to the game so we were surrounded by 7-9 year old kids who were provided free Bruins Bullhorns in which to amplify their already ear-piercing shrieks and screams! My ears are still ringing! It was cool having them drown out the Flyers fans with chants of "Flyers Suck!"
After the game Zilla & I pondered catching a drink at one of the many local taverns near Fleet center or catch the Orange line back to South Station and look for a bar there until our train came in. As the weather was getting worse we decided to play it safe and head to South Station. It turns out we should have just hit the bars as we stood in the subway waiting and waiting for the train that would not come. The storm had shut down the Green and Orange lines, the only 2 trains that would take us to South station, and we were faced with the very real fact that we could miss our commuter rail back to Milford.
The last train for the night was leaving @ 11:25pm; there were neither buses nor any taxis that we could take. We were completely at the MBTA’s mercy, which as it turns out, is not the greatest place to be! We finally were able to catch an Orange train that made it through and we hit South Station around Midnight. I would have thought that due to the delays they might have been willing to hold that last train but you can guess what happened. We missed the train!
So Zilla and I started walking around Copley Square, in the middle of this raging Nor’easter looking for a hotel for the night! The winds were gusting at over 50 miles an hour, the snow was coming down in sheets and the snow drifts were up to our waists. We went from hotel to hotel and those that had rooms were charging close to $300 for them. It looked like we might be spending the night on those cold cement benches in South Station! As luck would have it we spotted two young women struggling to move against the storm. Zilla and I came to the rescue helping these damsels in distress get to their hotel, The Copley Westin; and when they learned we had no place to stay they arranged for us to get an executive suite at their companies corporate rate. This was a $300 room that we got at a fraction of the cost! Not the worst place to be stranded! This goes to show that what comes around, goes around. If you do nice things for others you will be rewarded in the end! (Thanks go to Ms. Nina Cheng for getting us the room!)
After driving through that storm I was wiped out and decided to hit the sack and contemplate how we were going to make it back to Milford to get to the Pats/Fins game! Zilla, on the other hand, got such a rush from playing hero (or maybe it was the frostbite!) he decided to go back down and "Check the Nor’easter out" and help some more people (while having a smoke or 2). Way to go Zilla! While I was in the room I watched this great show called "Patriots - All Access" which had interviews with the players and this great segment w/ Bill Belichick breaking down the Dolphins!
The 1st train out the next day didn’t arrive until 11:20am and once we were on it and moving I sighed a breath of relief. Well I should have held it for as we were about halfway into the ride the train stops and the conductor announces that the tracks are too iced over and we had to head back to Boston to try another track! I thought we would never get out!
We finally made it back to our hotel ( The Tage Inn- Milford) around 2pm and we quickly got into our Pats tailgating gear and headed for the stadium. Maybe we could still catch some of the pre-game tailgate w/ PatriotZip and Mrs B! Maybe NOT! was the resounding response we got from the stand still traffic jam that formed about 2 miles from our exit on I-495. It took us over 3 hours to travel maybe 5 miles. The game had started and we were stuck on Route 1 listening to it on the radio. It did not look good!
We needed a break and in the 2nd quarter we got one as the radio announced there was no parking left and that everyone should turn around and head home! Well half of the morons (what would you call them?) in front of us bailed. How do you bail when you invested so much time and were so close? (We were 2 miles from Gillette).
This was the 100th consecutive sellout and a potential division clinching game vs. one of our biggest rivals! Zilla and I would have pulled in someone’s driveway and offered them a "C" note for the privilege to park there!!!!! Well, I saw a warehouse parking lot in which cars were pulling in and, on a hunch, I decided to go for it and got the last spot! Free Parking! We were set….except for one small issue. We still had to walk 2 miles in this storm to make it to Gillette!
We left our car and headed to the stadium at the 2 minute mark of the 2nd quarter. We got inside the stadium and to our seats with only a minute gone in the 3rd quarter! I don’t know if that’s some kind of land speed record but I bet it would come close! Our Seats (Courtesy of fellow Club member Jim Keenan! Thanks Jim!) were in the 300 level but we never made it to those. The storm had come so fast that they never had time to clean out the "Bowl" so hundreds of seats were buried under snow. Between the no-shows, the people who bailed at the half (What??? How do you leave a game like this?!?), and the stadium conditions the ushers were too overwhelmed to worry about checking tickets! So we headed straight down to the field and we ended up finding a couple of buried seats on the 20-25yrd line, Dolphins side, near the end zone where Bruschi got his Int & TD!!! After digging out a trench for us to stand in we had a great view of the game! All of the action happened in the 2nd half! Fiedler’s fumble, Bruschi’s TD and Green’s sack for a safety! We had a few Dolphins and even a Jets fan near us and we had a great time giving them much deserved smack!
After Bruschi’s game breaking TD Zilla and I got to participate in the world’s largest snow globe! How all of us fans knew to through the snow on the "HEY" is beyond me but it was quite a sight! We were covered in snow and loving it! The Patriots beat the Dolphins 12-0 clinching the AFC East at the earliest point in the season in franchise history!! And with KC’s Loss to Denver, the score was flashed up on the Jumbotron, the Pats were, at that moment, the #1 seed in the AFC and the BEST TEAM IN THE NFL!!!! Needless to say we did quite a bit of celebrating!
The evening ended great by us catching up with 2001 fan of the year Randy "PatriotZip" and Karen "Mrs B". We got to taste Monty’s delicious marinated steak tips and chicken, drink a wide variety of home and micro-brewed beers! Zip gave me the honor of taking the first drink from the champagne bottle and he also awarded Zilla and me with another bottle of his famous "Bruschi Brew" (Batch 8) , I gladly have that bottle displayed, next to last years bottle, in my home’s Patriots/Red Sox shrine (i.e. computer room). Zip also informed us that we were now 1 tailgate away from achieving the ultimate honor..Autographing his tent! Although he said he was considering bending the rules we would have none of that as we want to earn the right to get our name up there! Next season Zip! We’ll be there!
Although we missed half the game we still got to enjoy all of the experiences of this amazing road trip to Boston! Seeing the Patriots crush those fish sticks made the whole trip worthwhile! And I can’t wait to do it again next year…although I hope the weather turns out better! Sing it with me folks! …(To the NBC theme)
Past Chowdah Bowls