Friday, January 20, 2012

Shannon Speaks!

Folks, The Stockyard Queen is proud to present the first of two installments of the Divine Shannon's report on the Anaheim Invitational last weekend. Next post will be up tomorrow morning, so drop back to check out the rest of her observations!

Just When You Start Thinking, "You've Seen One Show, You've Seen 'Em All. . . ."

After we spent a ridiculous $645 on six tickets, our weekend arrangements were this: Date night for me and my husband at Saturday's round, then a family day for Sunday's round.

Rick and I arrived in Anaheim early so we could enjoy a nice dinner before heading to the arena, because if we were going to spend $50 or more on food, it was going to be a good meal with waiter/waitress service. We figured since there is a nice variety of restaurants right across the street from the host hotel, we might as well park there, venture through the lobby, and out the front door. Before we even parked the car, we saw what appeared to be the cab of a trailer. It was really cool. We parked by it for a closer look just as Rocky McDonald stepped around to the driver's side. We commented on the truck and asked how many miles to the gallon it got. When he said, "12," it hit home just how much it costs in gas alone to haul bulls to an event. After talking to him for a minute, we were on our way. (If I may be allowed a bit of fan-girliness here: His eyes are so dreamy!!)

We chose Outback Steakhouse and were pretty much glued to the TV sets over the bar where one hell of a play off game was being played between the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints. They still had some time left when we walked back through the lobby of the hotel and, since the lobby TV was on that game, we joined a few fans standing in front of it. Within minutes of us stopping, Colby Yates and Harve Stewart (fellow Saints fans) strolled up and began watching it with us. So engaged in the game was Colby that, when the Saints pulled ahead with 1:30 minutes remaining, he asked if his cab driver could wait. We had a nice chat with both guys (and a few quick comments with Guilherme when he passed by), until the game was over. The 49ers pulled out a TD with only nine seconds left, eliciting some groans among the two of us and Colby, although we did agree that it was a great game.

With a few more minutes left, I sat down on that famous lobby couch while Rick stepped away for a moment, and who should appear but Robson Palermo! I was very confused at first, looking at him blankly, then finally shaking myself out of the fog, saying "Robson?" He nodded, then walked over and sat down. We had a great chat about his daughter, whom he obviously adores, his desire to wait until he's fully recuperated to return, no matter how hard it is to sit around, and McKennon's trip to Brazil. (Apparently, McKennon still gets dizzy spells and is having a hard time with his left side. However, he is not only very determined, but was also extremely helpful on the ranches in Brazil.) Robson had to leave a few minutes after Rick got back, and then we were on our way.

The first thing we noticed while walking along the concourse is the lack of giveaways this year. There didn't seem to be quite as many booths up and, of those that were, they weren't really giving away anything except fliers. Ariat still had the "win a pair of boots" contest and Rock Star was giving out hats and samples of their drinks, but beyond that, there wasn't much happening. (Rock Star is very good, btw. At 10 calories each, I'll be picking up a lemonade can whenever I'm exhausted and have no time for a nap!) Also, the "This flight is sponsored by" announcements have stopped, nor was there a big Armed Forces spectacle in the beginning of the show. I'm not exactly sure what to make of this--hard economic times? Is there some sort of shake-up in behind the scenes? Hmm....

Anyway, we met one of our PBR Fan Club friends and her husband, who mentioned that they might be able to get us up to join them for a few flights in the front row of the chute seats. We thanked her and moved to seats we paid for, and lo and behold, just a few minutes later, she texted me with "Meet us at ground level, section 224 NOW!" OMG--she got us in! We would have been grateful for just a flight or two, but were told by a very nice PBR employee that we could stay for the first five flights, but had to make our way back before the short round. Wow.

Wow, wow, wow. From the moment the event started, time stopped. Flint barely existed (although, part of that, which is the only complaint I have about the front row chute seats, is that the sound from up there sucked). I didn't even register most of the scores and at times whether or not someone rode or was bucked off. The activity, the explosiveness of the bulls coming out of the just drew me into another world. The seats are very expensive and something I wouldn't do more than once, and that would only be if I was sure I could spare the money, but, imo, worth it. Now, I would NEVER pay for the second row. I heard complaints all night that you couldn't see the rides on the opposite side from where you were sitting, but we saw it all from the front row seats. We were very grateful for chance to experience it. However, the one thing I did not need to experience was just how dirty it could get. One bull sent some...atmosphere...flying and hit Skeeter right in the side of the face. He was obviously a bit grossed out, but seemed to handle it well. I guess if you're going to do this for a living, you have to ready for anything. Blech.

The night ended with a really disorganized trip down to the dirt. It's really not too exciting anymore since I've met most of the riders already, but since I paid for it, I was going to do it. After that, we met with the friends who got us into the seats, and then left for home.

Sunday, family day for us, brought much of the same, though, without the special surprise of chute seats. Still our seats were fantastic and we all had a great time. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened, except for a comment or two from the woman sitting next to me. It was her first BFTS event and she had won All Access tickets. She wasn't impressed. She said there were supposed to be riders on the tour, but none of them showed up and the food was so spicy she couldn't eat it, except for the soft pretzels. This is good to know in case I find myself looking at those tickets for next year.

Tomorrow, I will offer up some general observations about the event. Do come back and see us!


nvp said...

Lucky gal! How wonderful to be able to sit in those chute seats. Thanks for the review, can't wait to hear more.

Shawk said...

Thanks for the post!

Is Rocky McDonald hauling bulls? Or did he get in as an alternate? I know that guy hasn't ridden amazingly well in the past, but he's a funny guy and I am glad he's still kicking around. Glad you got to see Robson, too-- I miss him on tour.

Neat that you got to experience the chute seats! I'd never pay for them, but it sounds amazing. The All Axxess thing sounded suspicious to me, so it's helpful to see that seems to be the case. I had seen complaints in the past about the VIP experience being disorganized and not what was described, and I hardly thought that a name-change would have fixed that, but I guess you never know.

Looking forward to part two!

(Side note: I watched the end of the Niners game while getting my hair cut-- I don't really care about football but when I was growing up, my male relatives were all Niners fans, so seeing them do something useful since the Montana/Young era was kind of cool.)

Anonymous said...

Wow - I hung on every word.

shannon said...

S, I didn't ask Rocky if he was hauling, but later that night, they said something about him being there for that reason.

As for Robson, the reason I looked at him blankly was because I knew he was out for a while and never expected to see him. He said he was there for his sponsors.

I also don't care one way or another about football, but I do enjoy a close game because it makes them much more interesting.

shannon said...

Thanks everyone.

S, Rocky was there hauling. As for the disorganization, it didn't surprise me to hear it, either, since a few things that are supposed to happen during events always seem to have some amount of disorganization.