My GC trip

Left Oakland in the wee hours of the morning. The first surprise was zero, that's 0, lineup for security at the airport. Also no body scanner (that I could see) and no pat down. Had a three hour layover in Seattle.

Caught the packed flight to Edmonton. Met a couple of interesting people. A nice lady from Atlanta was behind me getting on board, but I unfortunately forget her name. Her son I believe it is is 'rider. She mentioned that the CFL pays for one airline ticket for a family member for each player in the Cup.

I sat beside Craig Berquist, the father of Cole Berquist the number three quarterback for the 'riders. We had a fantastic chat about football that made the flight very short. He's a super guy. This is really the first time I really had the chance to talk to a parent about their son's pro football journey, and it was a great story. Cole actually turned down a practice roster job with the Chargers ($90k) and thought his football career after U of Montana was over...'til the 'riders called. He had three days to report to camp and made the team, beating out some pretty incredible talent. Craig help up his index finger nearly touching his thumb when describing the talent difference between the two big pro leagues (the nascent U.S. league isn't really on many people's radar). When asked about the difference in rules his response was basically "it's football". The CFL rep was huge in Cole taking the job as a backup. He's pretty stoked and LOVES his team and teammates. They're treated like gold in Regina.

Later sis and I headed down to Huddle Town in Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. That's where all the action is, and there sure was a LOT of it. The only place we could get into was the Spirit of Edmonton party at the Westin. We staked out a corner of one of the bars and proceeded to meet some really great folks from all over. A shout out to Argo fan Martin Queen from Belleville, that really fun couple from Swan Hills, and that hilarious 'rider fan in the green striped overalls and the blinking R (I think) who bought us a round.

Chris Cuthbert and some other well-known TSN talent showed up right beside us (no Sarah Orlesky though). I said hi but I was getting a little loopy by that point so I didn't want make an ass of myself by injecting myself into their conversation, though I'm sure I could have. They seemed like pretty nice guys.

Today we will skip the parade, but are going to a fund raiser with tons of CFL alumni. Hopefully I'll get to meet some of my favourite CFL heroes! More later.

...great stuff! Keep the blog going!..

Great story rp, keep it coming.

Day Two.

We ventured back down to Huddle Town check to out the Grey Cup Spirits wine and spirit tasting fund-raiser for the Eskimo Alumni Community Fund. Several legends were in attendance, though somehow I missed the Grey Cup. In any case, I got to schmooze with a few of the truly greats.

Picture One features Hector Poitier, Eskie OL great, who also had all his GC rings and several other trophies on display. He was extra special and took time to chat with my sister (who knows him) and me. Can't say enough about how nice he was. I have a pic of Hec and me with his display case, but it's a bit dark and needs to be retouched, so that'll have to wait 'til I get home.

Picture Two is me with robokicker Dave Cutler and another fan. Really cool to see him there!

Picture Three is me with Henry "Gizmo" Williams! You should see the guns on the guy. Patting him on the shoulder is patting concrete. Super guy. I was thrilled to meet him!

Picture Four is very special, because it features the very special and great Hall of Famer George Reed, arguably the greatest running back in the history of the game. He was very gracious. It was a real pleasure to finally meet the man.

Picture Five, is Eskie Blake Marshall. He was really nice to meet. Great guy.

Picture Six speaks for itself!

I also got to meet the one and only Tony Gabriel! I told him "nice catch" and he was interested to find out I was from Oakland. He left before I could get a pic of him unfortunately, but it was nice to meet him nonetheless.

Needless to say, it was a very enjoyable event and one I'll never forget!

After wandering around Huddle Town a bit more, watching the lineups grow ever longer for the most of the venues, we decided to check out Whyte Avenue and grab a bite to eat.

I have to comment about what a great city Edmonton has become. Many, many decades ago, cornball comedy team Wayne and Shuster once said of Edmonton that "it will be a great city when it's finished." I'm happy to report that it's nearing completion. This city has become a pretty amazing place, filled with many places to hang out, and many great restaurants and clubs. The population has also grown in both numbers and sophistication too. It's no longer the sad-sack redneck village it was when I left in the '70s. It's now an urbane, cosmopolitan, multicultural place that has plenty to offer anybody.

Whyte Avenue is a wonderful strip on Edmonton's South side, south of the U of A. It has all kinds of charming specialty stores, including many hidden gems. I found a hat shop tucked away on the top floor of a building, that features, no lie, some of finest hats I have ever seen, and I'm a bit of a hat aficionado, if I do say so myself.

I also found a cool Roots store and picked a really nice Roots T-shirt for $10!

For dinner we visited, on the excellent advice of a passing local, a little and VERY cool restaurant call Dad E O. It's a converted lunch bar that features a diverse a heady playlist of tunes ranging from Ray Charles to Metallica. The expert and attractive staff offer great service and excellent cuisine ranging from burgers and sweet potato fries or poutine, to what I had, a spicy catfish salad that was absolutely delicious. Any San Francisco food snob would be impressed. I'll be back next time I'm in town. It's also reasonably priced and packed, so call ahead for a reservation, or sit at the bar like we did. Try the local beer. Be amused at the funky décor and old-timey signage.

I'm bushed, and tomorrow's the Big Game, preceded by a tailgate party in the parking lot (Bif Naked and Trooper are playing), to which my nephew and I are going to enjoy I'm sure.

I'll wrap this up before I head back home.

P.S. Not sure what's up with the size of these pics - they should be 640x480. I'm trying to fix it.

Excellent reads - wish I was there!!

Whyte is a great street…lived there years ago.
thanks for the pics…enjoy…

Cool posts ,thanks for letting us get a glimpse of what the Grey cup and Edmonton has to offer.

Back home in San Leandro.

I had a FANTASTIC time! The tailgate party was really good, especially trooper, and my first visit to Commonwealth Stadium was a blast. The game was about as much as I could have hoped for — a close contest that went down to the dying minutes. It's a shame that the 'riders lost for all those great fans, but they gave it their all and were simply beaten by a dynasty.

What can you say about the Als? What a team. They just got better as the game went on. Not even missed field goals could stop 'em. You have to respect this team. Lets hope they break it up for next season :lol:

Loved Edmonton, obviously, and I felt more than a little twinge of homesickness even though I haven't lived there since the late '70s. Sure it was cold and snowy, but the people are really warm and the town very inviting. I'll visit again before too long I'm sure.

Next year B.C. under the dome! See ya'll there!

Great write up! Who knows, maybe i'll run into you next year? :wink:

Was it Sean Lucas' mother? He was born in Atlanta.

Yes I think that was who it was! Thanks BB!

Great posts and great pics! Thanks for sharing.

Have you been going to many Grey Cups since you moved to the U.S.?

Great posts. Haven't been to a GC since 2007. Maybe I will see you in 2012 if you come up. I'm getting to be a home body. :slight_smile:

Seeing as you're an Argo fan, don't you mean a [i]no[/i]body? :wink:

Glad you had a great trip I left E town in 1980 , went back for a short stay in 2007 city has changed a lot . email me when you come to Vancouver for the 2011 cup will hook up for a few. :thup: :thup:

Great post rp, hope to see you in the Couv next year.
Hey maybe we should organize a cfl posters reunion?

Sounds good 'rocker! I'll be there for sure next year. I'll be in Toronto in 2012 too. There's no way I would miss that.