Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ralph Wilson Stadium - Fowling comes to Buffalo

This year, for our annual family weekend retreat, I decided it was time to introduce a few new wrinkles to our tailgate agenda. Along with our first attempt at cooking up the ever popular beer can chicken, as the self-appointed commissioner of fowling, I decided I needed to bring the game Western New York. So gathering up the traditional cast of characters, we met at my parents house on Saturday morning, loaded into the rented RV, and were on our way to the parking lot at Ralph Wilson Stadium by noon. Arriving on Saturday has it's perks including getting a jump on gameday preparations and libations, but unfortunately due to the weather, we were restricted to staying in the RV for most of the afternoon. Scattered showers and cold temperatures kept us from our traditional Saturday tailgate activities, but with plenty of movies, meal prep, and willing participants in the lost art of conversation, there was still plenty to do (if that were to fail us, we still had plenty of beer).

Sunday morning came quickly and the weather had turned in our favor. With sunny skies, and warmer temperatures, we setup the fowling lanes allowing for exhibition tournament play throughout the day. surprisingly enough the game was incredibly popular. several strangers approached us during each fowling frame asking if they could try the game as well and before we knew it the fowling lanes were full and we were enjoying our ice cold beverages of choice from the sidelines. All in all a very successful introduction.

Later in the morning, I needed to stop in on Kenny "Pinto Ron" Johnson, the guy that cooks all of his meals on his 1983 Ford Pinto. When it comes to creative tailgating, Kenny blazes the trail for all others to follow. Using household items and tools in uncommon food preparatory practices has become his trademark. Old ironing boards serve as tables and cutting boards, a garden rake to cook hamburgers, the file cabinet pizza oven, even an old hub cap to cook sausage in. these are Kenny implements of mass destruction. The ketchup opening ceremony is one that's not to be missed. At 11:30 Kenny emerges through the crowd with a naked hamburger. when he asks for some ketchup, he's sprayed from head to toe by condiment snipers perched on the roof of his truck. so that's Buffalo, if you're a Questor, be sure to make this one of your first stops.

Stadium #4 - Bank of America Stadium

Week 7 took me to Bank of America Stadium to revisit stadium 4 onthe Quest for 31. My best friend, Jermain, has lived in the Charlotte area for years and my brother, Erik, recently moved his family out that way, so we may make Charlotte and annual stop on the Quest. Along with the family connections, the other attractive aspect of a return trip to Bank of America Stadium is the tailgating. With Lots scattered throughout the city, sometimes it can be difficult to zero in on the tailgating hotspots, but there are several areas that are worth hitting. I always like to stop in on Coach Dan Ortel and folks at PantherFanz.net. They consistently provide, great food, local beer, and they're always entertaining. With characters like Joe the Cedar Street Seeer, Patrick, Mad Mike, James, and Barbecue Pit boss Clay workin' the spits, visitors will appreciate the southern hospitality. But Premiere tailgating in Charlotte doesn't just stop there, Hall of Famers, Pantherman and Catman host a great tailgate along with the Tailgate Resuce Crew who have an awesome custom Tailgate Cruiser. Outfitted with dual beer taps, a rockin' paint job and a fire-rescuse pole inside their vehicle, the Tailgate Rescue Crew is in a very enviable as one of the top spots for Panther fans to take in the pregame libations.

My Buffalo Bills happened to be in town this weekend, so dressed in my Quest for 31 jersey, and flanked by legions of Bills fans, we watched a very mediocre performance that ended in a rare Bills win. For that I am truly grateful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fowling, the Football-Bowling Tailgate Game

Looking for a new tailgate game idea for your next parking lot party? How about the tailgate game of Fowling. This combination football-bowling tailgate game is a great way to bring the competitive nature of the gridiron to an asphalt playing surface near you. Played on a set of fowling lanes which support ten regulation-sized bowling pins that are configured in the standard 10-pin triangular arrangement, competitors from a distance of forty-eight feet launch an NFL football at their opponent's bowling pins in an attempt to knock ‘em down. First team to knock down all the pins wins the frame. Fowling matches are a race to three frames or a best three out of five frame series.

It’s sheer genius! You build a set of fowling lanes from 2x4’s and some plywood, go to your local bowling alley and ask to buy their bad pins (the ones that are cracked at the base after years of collisions), bring a football with you to the lot, and you have everything you need to set up a Fowling Tournament.

I couldn’t help myself, I built a set of Quest for 31 Fowling Lanes, acquired the necessary bowling pins, and will be loading up the Hummer H31 with these implements of mass destruction for a tournament in Buffalo on November 1. We will be playing in the RV lot during my family’s annual weekend retreat at The Ralph. Fowling is a great time, and it will easily supplant your propensity bean bag tossing the first time you chuck the football at those pins. If you’re interested in trying it out, just go to http://www.fowling.org/, they have all the rules and regulations, plans for building the fowling lanes, and everything to get you started.

Tailgating in the Motor City

Detroit Rock City is the spot for Halloween Tailgating, as once again I found myself compelled to plan my Quest for 31 road schedule around the Halloween tailgate of Kevin Nowak and DetroitTailgate.com. As always, Kevin and the boyz throw a kick-ass tailgate party especially when the Black Sabbath Tribute band, Banned from E.A.R.T.H. is in town to rock out Ozzfest in Detroit. It’s really incredible if you think about it. They setup a full stage right in the middle of the lot and Stonecage and his crew evoke the dark lord himself through a tribute performance that is like you’re watching the golden age of rock played out in the Motor City.

Our day began early in the morning as we vied for pole position next to the DetroitTailgate setup in the eastern market parking area of Lot 1. A little Keggs and Eggs to kick off the morning while Banned form E.A.R.T.H. setup for their first set, and soon the parking lot was humming with some vintage Sabbath.

Although the team continues it’s decade-long rebuild process, the Detroit Lions fans remain unfazed and faithful. Tailgating is certainly alive and well in the eastern market. Lions fans put meat to flame utilizing the prime fresh cuts thy purchase from eastern market butcher shops as they guzzle their preferred cold beverage of choice. Eventually the Ford Family will field an organization worthy of this diehard group of fans, but until that day, the Lions faithful will continue to keep the flame of vintage Silverdome Tailgating burning bright.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Trip to Jerry World

After spending the night in Houston, we got up early and raced 300 miles northward to Arlington, Texas, home of the largest stadium in the National Football League, Cowboys Stadium. Much has been made of the $1.15 billion dollar Texas Temple, and rightly so. The Palace in Dallas, built by the most recognizable owner in the NFL, for one of most celebrated fan bases in the country, had to be larger than life to measure up to all the preseaon hype. I'm excited to report that it deserves all the accolades it's been getting. Jerry Jones set out to built the biggest and baddest stadium the league has ever seen to offer his fans an experience unlike anything they might have sitting in their living rooms. With its massive HD scoreboard (the largest in the NFL), $30.00 party passes, and signature hole in the roof, "to allow God to watch His team", Cowboys Stadium is every bit the spectacle and tribute to the Dallas Cowboys organization that Jerry Jones had envisioned when construction began. I actually entered the stadium an hour and half before gametime just to make sure I had enough time to take it all in. My advice, if you get the oppotunity to take in a Cowboys home game, by all means DO IT!

Back to Houston - Best BBQ in the Land!

On Friday after work, I picked up Jeffrey "The Shirt" Ross and we hit the road for what would be a 24 hour road trip down to Houston in my new Quest Machine, rightly dubbed the H31. the drive was fairly uneventful (which is a good thing), and before we knew it we were in Houston basking in 90-degree weather. Our weekend mission: To hit up Reliant Stadium for a Houston Texans game on Sunday and then drive up to Dallas for the Cowboys matchup on Monday Night Football in the brand new Cowboys Stadium.

Reliant Stadium is a great place to watch a football game. the facilty is brand new, built in 2002, and features all of the amenities of the modern pro football temples that make each gameday a much more palatable experience in the heat of the southern states. With a natural grass field, retractable roof and impressive climate control, the 72-degree weather inside was far more preferable to the 90-degree blistering heat we tailgated in all day.

Tailgating in Houston is also some of the finest you'll find in the National Football League. That southern hospitality of the Texas sports fan really shines through as you make you way through the lot on gameday. I had several offers for beer and food, and tasted plenty of both. The Texas barbecue culture of the fans in Houston really places them amongst the best tailgating venues in the league. With every from of meat imaginable and a variety of dry rubs, homemade marinades, and family recipe sauces, the blacktop culinary arts are alive and well in southern Texas.


I kicked off the 2009 regular season edition of the Quest for 31 at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the New York Jets home opener. I had never been to New York City before, so attempting to decode the bus and train scheduling in order to make it out to the stadium in time for the game proved a unique challenge. As it turns out, although a new rail line has been built which is intended to shuttle football fans to the stadium from the city, this new line begins running at 10:30am. I couldn't beleive they would actually start running football fans to the stadium at 10:30 in the morning. How do they expect anyone to get in a fair amount of tailgating before game time? Trying to park in the lot is not even an option as onsite parking is severely restricted due to the construction of their brand new football stadium opening in 2010. I ended up taking a bus which worked out extremely well and got us into the lot at 8:00am primed and ready for a full day of NYC tailgating.

Linking up with Frank Conway from Jets Tailgate lot 5A and Joe Maino from TailgateJoe.com I was able to absorb the full New York Jets tailgating experience. These seasoned vets guided us through the subtle nuances the full New York Jets home team experience and there was some incredible tailgaitng to take part in at the Meadowlands. The Jets opened up the season with an impressive win over the Newengland Patriots and the New York Jets chant, led by Fireman Ed earned him a gameball for his efforts. Awesome day! Great tailgating! Be sure to check out our video on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It Has Begun ...

So in an effort to keep you all up to date on Operation: Shameless Marketing, I felt it my duty to report some new found links back to the site. I was recently contact by Buffalo TV sports personality, John Murphy. Hopefully something comes of that and apparently I made it onto http://www.thebiglead.com/, a great sports blog that found it in their heart of hearts to throw some link love my way ... which I greatly appreciate. You can check it out here. It's quick and to the point, but what do i care, I'm drownin' out here suffering from very little media attention, so thanks much for the link.

I also noticed that my boy Nicholas from Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies (http://www.psamp.com/ or PEE-samp for you laypeoples) posted a great little news brief on the Quest. I was actually vey impressed with the link. For those of you that have yet to check out Nicholas's stuff, whether you're a fan of the Steelers or not, it's a good read (the mini ponies and surprisingly very cool as well). Steeler fans seem happy to welcome newcomers onboard their already crowded band wagon (I actually received an invitation myself that I will have to politely decline ... until I go back to Heinz Field, that is). Lord knows they've had lots to celebrate in the last few months, so God bless 'em. I'm still holding out hope that the recent return to the no-huddle offense in Buffalo will usher in a new golden age in Western New York Football (hey one can dream ... it's the curse of the ever-optimistic Bills fan inside me). Anyway, check out the Quest link here and Nicholas, thanks much for posting it. I'll keep readin'.

One final, very impressive link I found was located on a Guy Fieri fan blog called http://www.guyfieri.blogspot.com/. Apparently they somehow located my recent review from the Bills preseason game where I was on the set of Guy Fieri's new television pilot called "Tailgate Warriors". I was quoted and linked to, as a source of platinum blonde, spikey hair-ed information. I also noticed there was great photo of the judges table at the end of the show that has my "Quest for 31" flag waving in the background. That was a unique thrill. Guy was really cool by the way, very professional, and I can't wait to see his show when it airs on the Food Network. Anyway, the post can be found here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blog, Tweet, Post, Link ....

Well, August is over and NFL regular season football is just around the corner. I love this time of year ... so full of promise ... so ripe with opportunity. Each team sits at an even 0-0 record and at this point we're all contenders for the next Super Bowl (in theory).

Anyway, in an effort to capitalize on the lull of "real" NFL activity that is the NFL preseason, I've decided to reach out and see if there's any interest in my Quest for 31 among the mainstream media or any media for that matter. I stand a mere five facilities away from achieving my goal of attending a game in all 31 Stadiums in the National Football League and only seven NFL pro venues separate me from attending a game in all 31 "currently active" NFL stadiums. So in an effort to hit the currently active, I felt it ws my duty to toss in another visit to the monstrosity that is Cowboys Stadium (poor me) and then Lucas Oil Stadium as well (since my last visit to Indianapolis was at the RCA Dome). By the end of the 2009 season, just four years into my journey, it will be complete.

I've spent the last several weeks writing to anyone who might help push my personal crusade into the national spotlight(new media, sports writers, Regis Philbin); and I'm sorry to report that I've had very few takers. It's like you're fishing. The line's out there, the bobber's floating on the surface of the lake, but nothing wants to pull it under. So you wait patiently for something to percolate to the surface.

Well, I've recently had my first signs of life on Operation: Shameless Marketing, as I did receive a lifeline or two from some very prestigious sources in the last couple days and I wanted to extend my special thanks to those who support me as I Quest for 31. To my man Keither, my fellow half-Asian blogger, and the brains behind http://www.bagofnothing.com/, a very heady blog that continuously keeps me entertained with his musing on the day to day, I say thanks for the post. And to the PackerRanter himself, Mr. Robert Greenfield, an extra special thanks for his "Man on a Mission" post over at http://www.packerranter.com/. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We'll see. In the meantime, I will continue to prepare for my journey which will begin at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Questmobile, Meet the Quest Machine!

So as the Questmobile was laid to rest (a very sad day as I bid farewell to an old friend), I made preparations to get myself another vehicle ... something worthy of one that Quests for 31. My 1997 Ford Explorer actually qualified for the full amount on the "cash for clunkers" credit (a very generous $4500), which is way more than I would ever get for trade-in value. The issue here was that only a new car purchase (I think they should stipulate only a new American car purchase) could qualify for the governement discount. The new car you choose also has to get better gas milage than the old. If I wanted a truck (and I did) this meant that I was looking at the new crossover line of vehicles ... the Chevy Equinox, Saturn View, Ford Edge or Ford Escape. They were nice, but they just weren't me. I test drove a couple, but I really didn't like them all that much. As far as cars go, I've always been a used car buyer. I buy my cars outright and therefore have never had to worry about a car payment. For my next car, I wanted something a little nicer, something that I would be able to keep around for about ten years and get the most out of it. These crossovers that the auto companies are putting on the roads these days, just didn't fit the bill.

I finally decided to take a hard look at the Hummer H3 or H31 as I like to call it. Stangely enough the Hummer gets similar gas mileage to the Ford Explorer that took me around the country to the tune of 243,857 miles. The ride is comfortable, it can be loaded up with all the amenities, and it looks bad-ass! The perfect successor to the Questmobile and rightly dubbed the "Quest Machine" but yours truly. I decided I needed to put on my big boy pants and man-up to buy exactly what I wanted ... a Black H3 with leather, chrome package, and a sunroof. But it was going to have to be a used vehicle ... I guess the big boy pants got a little tight when I looked at what this bad boy was going to cost brand new.

Anyway, my search took me to Jim Reihl's Friendly Automotive Group and salesman Rob Randall. I explaned to Rob what I was looking for and within 24 hours, he had located a Hummer H3 with the exact specifications I was wanted and within my budget. It was a thing of beauty. The ideal Quest Machine to take me on the last leg of my four year journey. I really have to say that Rob went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with my purchase. The truck was fully detailed and any missing or defective parts were replaced. I even got a new set of chrome wheels because the original wheels were chipping. If you're looking for a used truck, be sure to look up Rob Randall at Jim Riehl's in Clinton Township, MI he will definitely hook you up.

To Euthanize or not to Euthanize, that is the question

So after a $1200.00 repair bill, I decided that the trip down to Charlotte, NC for my bachelor party would be the perfect lithmus test to see if the repair took. After shelling out a cool G to have the rear axle rebuilt by a place called Ring & Pinion in Mt. Clemens, MI, I took the truck for a test drive and found that the original problem I took it in for (a strange clunk coming from the rear of the vehicle) was still there. I returned to the shop, they gave me the run around, but we settled on having the transfer case rebuilt for an additonal $200.00. I'm not sure about Ring & Pinion, but I don't think I'll be taking another one of my vehicles there. After they rebuilt the transfer case, I pulled it out of the lot and everything appeared OK. No mysteriouos clunk to be heard ... which brings us to the 13-hour Charlotte road trip. Fours hours into the trip, my AC quit ... it was 90-degrees. Midway through the trip the clunk began to return. I was pretty damned furious.

I drove that stupid thing around Charlotte for a week in the blistering heat with no air and the back end clunking around like the rear axle would break off at any minute. It was miserable, but I made up my mind that this would unfortunately be the last road trip for the Questmobile. IF it would make it back to Detroit, it would be unceremoniously replaced as soon as I could find something else. I feel like I wasted a lot of money trying to keep my beloved companion road worthy for the last leg of our journey, but once the air quit, that was the last straw. The Questmobile actually did make it all the way back to Michigan, so I had one last road trip with an old friend, but now I seek a successor.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It Lives ... For Now

They say writing is therapudic ... I guess it might be. Generally when the tribulations of life stike, its good to have a sounding board, and what better board than the one that can't respond. I should write more often in the Quest blog, but too many other things find a way to consume my time. Like this ...

I continue to have issues with the Quest mobile, now in its 241,000th mile, there's all types of really severe issues that continue to creep up. We spent the winter tearing into the engine and replacing parts as we worked our way out of a timing chain issue ... and I'm talking blisteringly cold winter ... out in the driveway chasing nuts and bolts and the wind blows them away. It was miserable experience, but it's done. Now it appears the latest issue with the Quest-mobile is the rear axle. This one we've decided not to tackle on our own, which bears its own financial burdens in the form of a $1000 repair bill. I keep telling myself that it's just this issue or that issue that separates me from full functionality. The Quest-mobile is like an old dog, it's like part of the family, it's been with me throughout my Quest for 31 journey, racking up mega-miles as I criss-crossed the country visiting stadium after stadium. It's been dependable, its been a part of the journey, it's been a vehicle I really enjoy driving. The question is, just like the dilema that Timmy faced when looking at old yeller, when exactly is it really time to shoot the bastard in the head? I guess for now, I'll continue to follow my mantra and figure that this is the last major repair and then it will be good to go for a while. We'll see...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The 2009 NFL Schedule Released

The 2009 NFL Schedule was released on Tuesday and I couldn't be more excited about the prospects of this year's installment of the Quest for 31. As many of you know, the challenge for this year is to attack and conquer the remaining five stadiums I have yet to see an NFL football game in, which I'm calling "The Final Five". So as I scanned through the 2009 NFL schedule I paid close attention to the availablility of home games in Denver, New Orleans, Baltimore, Washington, and New York to see how best to fit in visits to these staiums along with some favorite venues I'd like to revisit in 09. I also tend to look for those combo weekends allowing the more motivated questor to see multiple games in a single NFL weekend. I like to look for the Sunday/Monday combination weekends, where home games are located geograhically near each other, allowing you to hit each one but still have time enough time in each city to really enjoy gameday tailgating and night life provided therein.

For this year, I wanted to specifically target a combo weekend in Washington and Baltimore (both being Final Five Cities) and a Minnesota/Green Bay combination trip (becasue they're kick -ass tailgating towns). As it turns out there are several combo weekends scattered throughout the 2009 season that would make sense for the vested, single season Questor including a week fifteen Baltimore/Washington combo. I like the Houston/Dallas combo too. Dallas has that great new stadium and Houston has the best barbecue in the league bar-none. This combo actually appears on the NFL Schedule twice in 2009 on weeks three and eleven. I'm also a big fan of the Bay Area Combo. Historic Candlestick Park won't be around forever and a short jaunt across the Bay Bridge takes you into Raider territory. Weeks ten and fourteen afford a couple of opportuinities to make the bay area shift and see games in each west coast venue. Rounding out the 2009 NFl Schedule, there's a Pittsburgh/Cleveland combo weekend week one, Jacksonville/Miami week two , and Green Bay/Chicago week sixteen that are all worth checking out. I really enjoy this time of the year. If you're looking to plan out your NFL season, you might check out some of the tools I've created on my website that help me structure my multi-stadium tour for the year. I've posted a great week to week 2009 NFL Schedule that broken down by each week and by NFL team. I've also included an excellent city to city mileage chart that shows the distance and time to each NFL city from any other NFL city (I use that one a lot), and feel free to write to me about your own Quest for 31.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Quest Mobile on Life Support

After nearly 237,000 miles, countless road trips all over the country, and 20 stadium adventures, my Quest Mobile may have taken it's final road trip. The dependable 1997 Ford Explorer that I bought in 2004 with 84,000 miles on it is really starting to give me some problems. What began as a fuel pump replacement, grew to include the replacement of engine sensors, and then the discovery of a broken timing chain tensioner. We had to remove all the accessories off the front of the engine and open the front cover to replace the timing chain tensioner. While we were at it, in an attempt to be proactive, I replaced the water pump, some hoses and the serpentine belt, expecting that they might be the next thing to go and knowing full well that it won't ever be any easier than right now to replace them. We've been working for two weeks tracking down problems and discovering new ones all in an attempt to resuscitate my fallen companion. With the tensioner replaced and the vehicle buttoned up again, now the issue is that the damned thing won't idle without stalling. So I'm working through the process of trying to eliminate potential causes of this latest issue. The biggest problem is that I'm having a tough time trying to find the time to work on the vehicle. Holding down my 9-5 and trying to make arrangements to get to and from work has been a major challenge. Thank God for family. Jim, you really helped me out here.

Stadium #26 - University of Phoenix Stadium

Stadium #25 - Soldier Field

Stadium #24 - LP Field

DET vs. CAR - Bank of America Stadium

Stadium #23 - Dolphin Stadium

WAS vs. DET - Ford Field