Plan to see ‘team up north’ was interesting trip

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A very fortunate event occurred in our house on Monday, Nov. 16. I received a phone call from a friend wanting to know if I would be interested in tickets to see the Ohio State Buckeyes football team play “That Team Up North.”

My immediate answer was, “Yes!” Gail and I began planning our two day trip, leaving on Friday, Nov. 20, and returning home after Saturday’s noon ballgame.

I called the local Motel 6 and behold they had a room available (for some reason, it was priced about $40 over the published rate). We next went online to Map Quest to determine our route and driving time, about six hours.

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We then checked the Weather Channel Web site for the game day forecast, high of 51 degrees and 20 percent chance of rain.

We then determined what clothing to take and packed a small carry-on for our two day journey up north. Finally, we packed our passports and visas for the trip to “Ant Harbor, Up North.” This would be our first trip out of the United States since 1990.

Finally, Friday arrived and we began our trip at 8 a.m. We stopped at the Golden Corral in New Boston for a breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Continuing north, we fueled our car in Chillicothe. Why Chillicothe, you ask? Since they are so close to a refinery, gasoline is about $.30 cheaper than in Lawrence County.

We continued our drive north thru Columbus and on to Findlay where we made a route change that took us to Toledo. Two additional route changes and we were now at the border, a scant 60 miles from “Ant Harbor.” Much to our surprise, there was no way station at the border crossing. We did not have to show passports or visas to enter this foreign land. We continued our drive north, arriving at our destination around 3 p.m. To our everlasting surprise, the Motel 6 clerk spoke English, although it had a very nasal sound, and was somewhat unpleasant to listen to. After checking into our room, we went for our evening meal. Again, to our surprise, we found a Pizza Hut in “Ant Harbor.” The pizza was every bit as good as one fixed in the good old USA!

We returned to the Motel 6 and immediately bumped into a fan of “That Team Up North.” We talked shop (football) for about 30 minutes and do you know, he was quite nice, even if his English sounded funny at times.

He gave us directions where we could park free the next morning, be close to a deli (Kroger’s) for breakfast, and have a short 15-minute walk to the stadium. He was one nice foreigner.

On Saturday morning, we followed our new friend’s directions to our parking spot around 7:30 a.m. and had an early lunch.

At 10:30 we walked to the stadium, which some call the big house, the ware house, or the hen house, where over 110,000 fans were gathered. The stadium actually sits in a pasture with the seating built into the hillsides.

We entered from street level, near the top of the 98 rows and walked down to our seats.

Well pretty soon, both teams came out for warm-ups. Say, did you know that the team from up north wears blue tops and yeller bottoms. And on their headgear (blue), it looks like someone smashed a big “yeller” hen egg on the front. The egg “yeller” then runs to the back of the helmet in three “yeller” stripes. Don’t know about you, but three yeller stripes works for me.

Well, not to make this tall tail too long, the game commenced, and the men from Ohio would have made Woody very proud, winning by a final score of 21-10. It seemed to me that many of the fans in blue and “yeller” were also rooting for our team.

It seems that they were in favor of a coaching change with someone from Hard Ball (Chris Matthews, maybe) taking over. I later discovered they were talking about Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a Michigan graduate and former quarterback.

Anyway, the game ended in our favor, and we made a mad dash to our car.

We drove two miles east, exited on Route 23 and headed south. One hour later, we crossed the border at Toledo.

Boy, it felt good to be back in the good old USA! After an evening meal stop, we drove straight through to Coal Grove, arriving home shortly after 10 p.m., with an end to a very satisfying trip.

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.