Monday, February 1, 2010

Shannon Goes to Anaheim, Part 3

Today the divine Shannon continues her report on the Anaheim event. Here comes part 3, folks!--SQ

Introducing a New Fan to a Full Day of PBR Activities: Day II

So, my alarm was set for 7 a.m., but the adrenaline was rushing through my body at such a rapid pace that I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I simply got up, ambled around the house with a cup of coffee, amd then got ready to leave.

This time was different, though. This time, I was bringing a good friend who grew up around horses and was well versed in everything equestrian and fairly knowledgeable about bull riding itself. She loves each and every bit of it and she’s a real kick to boot, so I was sure it was going to be a fun day. I picked Sonja up at 8:30 a.m., took her to Starbucks, and then headed out to the bull draft. We’d discussed going to the meet and greet, but it was early, she’s not really an autograph seeker, and I knew there was a big chance that I’d already met and/or gotten autographs from all the guys involved, so we passed on that.

Instead, we headed out to J.J. Schmidt’s and got there in such good time that we ended up talking in the car for almost an hour while they were still setting up. It was ok with us, though, because we’d get good seats! Well . . . they should have been the best seats in the house, except that Chad Berger, his wife, Skeeter, and a few others were standing directly in front of us. When the draft started, they stayed where they were, furthering my frustration—not only did *I* want to see and hear everything (the acoustics were bad, so we weren’t just having a hard time seeing, we were having a hard time hearing), but I wanted Sonja, whom I had dragged out for the entire day, to experience everything, too. At one point, I started to whisper to Skeeter, only to have Sonja say that she was fine—the view was good for her. It was when I followed her gaze that I knew we were definitely going to have a good day.

In spite of the bad view and acoustics, our seats did allow for some extra entertainment that not everyone was privy to. When it was almost time for McKennon to make his choice, I noticed Chad’s wife pacing, looking around, and frantically punching buttons on her phone. McKennon, who is good friends with the Bergers, was not there yet. Her angst got worse when his name was called. “He’s only a block away,” she muttered. The guys were half mocking, half serious when they encouraged Brandon to move on. A few on McKennon’s side tried to help with statements like “You started early!” Brandon disagreed (although by my watch, they did indeed start 5 minutes early). “He got caught up at the meet and greet!” someone called, which brought responses of, “We were at the meet and greet, too, but we’re here!”

Just as they were about to move on, McKennon trotted in, pushed through the crowd, and said “Hank” into the mic, causing groans from all of the other riders. Then he came back to where the Bergers were standing (which was so close to us that we could have reached out and touched him, thus furthering the obstruction of our view and adding to it at the same time) and said something that made us bite our tongues from laughing: “Damn cab driver wouldn’t run a red light,” he said with half amusement, half frustration, “and we hit every one of them! I offered to pay for any tickets he got, but he wasn’t going for it!”

Later, we had the pleasure of speaking to him during which time we discussed dogs—apparently, his Australian Heeler can be so vicious that most of his friends won’t set foot onto the property without the dog being put away first—and the floor at Madison Square Garden—Sonja said that her friends who do equestrian competitions and shows hate MSG because the floor is so slippery in spots that the horses have a hard time finding their footing. She watched Sunday night in NY very intently after the incident with Ross’ bull not performing and was convinced that was what was happening. McKennon confirmed it and then admitted that many riders were hoping to get the chutes on that side.

We also found out that the young Mr. Wimberly is indeed engaged and my 50th birthday acquaintance had told me the day before that she’s a real sweetheart. I hope so, because from my few brief encounters with him, he deserves a really sweet young woman. I have yet to be less than impressed with him.

After that, I had to stop Austin Meier to tell him how I’d met a young man in Iowa a couple of years ago and how that youngster regaled me with the story of meeting Austin, Austin buying him lunch and letting Dakota join him, and then giving Dakota tips on bull riding. I thought he should know just how much that gesture meant to his young fan. He was pleased to hear it and thanked me for saying so.

What a difference a day makes! I was talking to riders without turning into a bumbling idiot. I was on a roll and I knew there had to be at least a couple more good encounters in me.

After the draft, we decided to take what turned out to be an almost 40-minute ride to a little one horse town called Norco. Here was to be the fan zone event at the local Boot Barn. My friends, I have never seen a town like this anywhere—let alone in the middle of an area with so many big cities looming nearby. Tack and saddle shops were everywhere. A couple of small strip mall areas, a non-chain fast food place that had excellent food—you know the kind of food that appears to be homemade and fresh? Thick slabs of ham on homemade bread—that sort of thing. But, my favorite thing about Norco is that every store parking lot had horse corrals for those who rode their horses to do their shopping. That was really neat.

Anyway, the Boot Barn had the local country radio station outside doing give-aways and right inside was a table behind which sat a rather bored-looking Reese, Cody Campbell, McKennon, Guilherme and Valdiron. With the few people that were there all outside with the DJ, there was nothing really for them to do. We said hello, and I got my autograph from Reese, telling the rest of them that I’d already gotten theirs . We looked around a bit and as I was trying on some boots, Guilherme walked around the corner. We said hello and happy New Year. He said the same back and when we asked how his holidays had been, we learned that his family is doing well and that they spent the time in Brazil eating too much. After he left, I turned to Sonja, who used to be a flight attendant, and remarked at how good looking the Brazilian contingent was (I’d already pointed out all of them during the morning’s activities), prompting her to not only agree, but to state that all Brazilians are beautiful. “Even the homeless there,” she remarked, “are gorgeous.” I don’t doubt that for a minute.

As we wandered up front, I’d begun wishing that I’d worn my more comfortable bra. Completely forgetting that I was in public and going solely on the habit of “if something’s uncomfortable, fix it,” I reached up and adjusted it—only to turn and see Valdiron sitting there with a clear view of me. *sigh* I shook off the slight embarrassment and hoped that if he did see me, he wasn’t too shocked or embarrassed by my action.

Thus ended our trip to The Boot Barn—one autograph, a conversation with Guilherme, and accidentally getting too comfortable in front of Valdiron. Since we had a another hour or so before we had to get back to the event, we decided to go shopping in some of the small shops along the main road instead of going back to the hotel. We figured that if the same group of guys—especially McKennon—were to run into us in the hotel, that would look too suspicious, and given the fact that we were already seen more than once, we didn’t want to appear to be somewhat stalker-ish. Besides, upon walking into a few stores, we found prices on items better than what you’d get at Target, for much less than Target prices, so we knew it was worth looking around. So, in spite of the fact that we had to drive so far for something that wasn’t much fun in and of itself, we ended up seeing some great scenery and an interesting little town the likes of which I’d never seen before, having a great lunch and getting in some decent shopping. And I had my third comfortable conversation with a rider! All in all, I’d give the morning and afternoon a solid A.
Next, it was off to the event. . . .


Shawk said...

I saw some tweets about "drama" at the draft-- thanks for describing what the heck went on there.

Black Boots said...

What a great adventure. I love road tripping and stumbling on places just like you've described.

More, more, more!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fun! Especially Valderon! Interesting fact about MSG. No wonder they talked so much about all the extra dirt thst had to be hauled in! Seems like they didn't completely get the job done.