Real Man Travels Presents: 150 of Our Favourite Canadian Things

Follow along as we list off our favourite 150 Canadian things over 150 days to celebrate Canada Day!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

50 year old (NASCAR) virgin



                                                                          Dads 50th
                                            
     Have you ever had someone you care about say they wanted to do a certain something more than once, but they keep putting it off. In 2009 I had enough of hearing my Dad, Hank who was turning 50 in August, saying he wanted to go to a NASCAR race. It became my mission to do make this race happen & bring it to life for him.
 
     With research I discovered Bristol Tennessee was where we should enjoy our first race. It had everything I wanted! It was an August Race and we could drive there in a day, Night Time Race (no sunburn) and we could watch the whole race from our seats.

     With my brother Sam on Board. We bought tickets in April for the Foodland 250 nationwide race and the Bristol Sharpie 500 race and gave it to him on father’s day so he could plan around it. We knew it was possibly the greatest gift of all times. For those who have never been to Bristol it is a small city (POP. 29000) along the Virginia and Tennessee state border.


     Bristol Motor Speedway is known as the world’s fastest half mile, and holds 165,000 fans, nearly 6 times the city's population. So you can just imagine how much the people of Bristol and surrounding areas depend on these races to bring revenue to the city of Bristol.

     We left one early August morning with plans to see the Transport Parade. What is a Transport Parade? It is a parade of Transport trucks that are hauling the cars and equipment of most of the drivers that are in the race. (Best of all, it's FREE!). They shut down the highway next to the track and the trucks stroll in honking their air horns. If it is your first time to a NASCAR race, I recommend putting it on your list of things to do.  This happened to be one of the things my dad had wanted to do, although it rained it was still really cool see and it got us pretty excited for the races.


     We left for the Nationwide race early in the afternoon. As we neared the track we were in awe of what seemed like hundreds of thousands of people and thousand of trailers, trucks, campers and cars... (Get the picture)



    
     When we finally parked we enjoyed some beers on the tailgate of my dad’s truck. We were taking pictures of the area and stadium, but what we really wanted was a shot of all of us in one picture together. We decided on asking our tailgate neighbors who were happy to do it. Turned out they were from Kentucky and we enjoyed a couple hours with those guys having a few beers. They were telling us stories about their past Bristol expieriences. They were pretty funny guys

    
      We then headed over to the Transport Flea Market (which is the souvenir trailers of all the drivers with BBQ pits surrounding the area) I can almost smell the pulled pork right now. After a bit of shopping and a steep climb to our seats we were there! For our first ever NASCAR race we had awesome seats! We could see the whole race track. That is why Bristol is one of the best; every seat is a good one. That night the military brought in 2 huge helicopters for the fly over.



      We made ourselves friendly with our seat neighbors who were from Indiana. While talking to them (2 men and 1 woman) during one of the cautions and I had an idea! "How about you trade me your beer for my beer?" I asked." Why would I want to do that?" the one man replied. "Because it’s the same thing (Coors Light), except mine is Canadian so it's stronger, by half a percent!" After thinking about it they agreed. After they tasted it, I asked "So what do you think?" "Well... Nope. No sir I do not like it" They replied. I could barely hold my laughter in, "That’s what I thought you might say!" as I burst into laughter...

     That night David Ragan won the race and there were some pretty awesome wrecks. It was almost just like watching the race at home. Only being there in Real Life Super HD and it is so unbelievably LOUD!

It was a good Nationwide race but it was no 500 race!


     The next day we made our way into Bristol earlier than the previous day. This time only to park further away in someone’s backyard. So here we are freshly backed in to our spot and we hear someone yell at us. "What, are you following us or something?" We looked over and it was our friends from Kentucky, Amazingly we had parked beside them for a second time in a row. Those guys were hilarious, the only time I seen them frown was when Sam went on a booze filled rant and forgot where he was and indirectly called them rednecks! After I cleared the air, everything was cool.

   After a glorious afternoon of tailgating we stumbled are way up to our seats. The hill and stairs seemed endless. Our seats were the same as the previous race and we had the same neighbors, and no they still didn’t like our beer.

     This race was why we made our way to Bristol, Tennessee to commemorate my dad’s 50th birthday. The "Bristol 500" "Rubbing and Racing" "The Fastest Half Mile" We were told it was THE race to see. I think they were right. The sounds of those cars starting up, the sounds of the military jets flying over the race track. Almost made me feel American. Almost, until just before the NASCAR Sharpie 500 race, 160,000 fans came together and sang "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks all at the same time which is a Guinness World Record for most karaoke participants. Then we really felt American.

      The race was very memorable. High points being Mark Martin's 1000th start, which he came in 2nd place behind Kyle Busch who is very talented but I didn't care for him. Kyle's brother Kurt was in a wreck and we heard every hilarious cussword he had to say on our headphones over and over and over again we even let our neighbors listen.

     When were leaving the track there was fireworks being set off in a nearby trailer park, I remember 2 losers going the opposite direction that everyone else was going, yelling this way for free Kyle Busch autographs. I found this quite amusing because no one was following them, no one.

                              3 things that enhanced our race experience at Bristol:

· The NASCAR approved radio headsets so you can track your favorite racer or the leader of the race. These came with a special screen that aloud you to track multiple drivers, listen to the broadcast of the race, reply transmissions, and view in car camera's. Definetly something worth it for any race fan. It provided lots of entertainment during cautions.
·  Canadian Beer you are allowed to bring in your own cooler filled with canned beer at most tracks thankfully Bristol is one of the tracks that allow that. (I’m not saying you need beer to have fun, but it certainly helps!) With that beer we had picked up at the duty free shop on the drive down. !
·  The NASCAR Fans and the people of Bristol. We had a great time and even with all the booze, everyone pretty much police's themselves. We felt safe and welcome our entire stay. 

    Please feel free to share some of your favorite NASCAR memories with me,

Cheers,
Chris
    
                             

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Monday Night Bachelor Party '04 - Green Bay


Yep that's us. We made it home from Wisconsin. In time for my wedding No hangover story, but almost...

     After going to Green Bay the previous year (Story told here), we were hooked. We were heading back to title town, with new purpose. This year I was tying the knot with my longtime girlfriend Amanda, Which meant I was going to have a Bachelor Party. Not your typical bachelor party this was SPECIAL. It was Monday Night Football in Green Bay!  I asked my groomsman if they would go.... Of course they all said YES those wonderful guys. We planned it 6 months in advance so we could get a good seat. We chose the Monday night Game of October 11 versus The Tennessee Titans. We booked the Gold Package with Packer Fan tours, which meant we would meet a couple of the Packers Players and were staying at the Tundra Lodge, which had a Water Park!!!

                                 Tip - Water Parks are AWESOME for Bachelor Parties

     My brother Sam, My good friends Mike and Sean and I were up at 2 am getting ready for our 12 hour road trip to Wisconsin. Having driven the route before we knew the drive was nice. Driving around Lake Michigan was more amazing with the fall foliage in full effect.

Sean doesn't like to snuggle :(


      When we arrived at the Hotel, we found ourselves feeling like kids again, with the Arcade and the Water Park. The room was a little small but we didn't really mind because we liked snuggling. (Except for Sean).




                                                 The three things I had on my must do list

                                                        1.Tour Lambeau Field

                                                        2. Brett Favre's Steakhouse

                                                        3. Witness A Packer win

     So we booked our tour and sniffed out Favre's Steakhouse which was delicious, we filled ourselves with delicious expensive meat. The Menu.

      After we picked up 36 cans of American beer and relaxed in the room, we could feel it. This was going to be the best Mancation EVER

      The Next morning we went to the water park when it opened. I didn't feel awkward being the only 22 year old "kids" there. My friend Sean he did though he promptly and awkwardly told every female life guard "We're not gay." Every girl had a different reaction but none of them believed him, it was very funny.
 What wasn't funny was the heckling I got from an 11 year old kid who was better at the "floating pads" part of the park or as I call it Sinkers and Floaters except when I went on it everyone was a sinker. The kid said "It’s so easy and you can't do it" I responded with my pride wounded "hey little kid I'm just trying to have fun, this takes a lot of agility and I drank a lot of beer last night so leave me alone". After i was done crying I had a great time.
Beautiful Fall Day at Lambeau
We arrived early for our tour of Lambeau Field, we played the Arcade games, to pass the time. We all wondered if the Pack would win On Monday night. "It sure would be nice. " I thought.

 When they came and got us for the tour they take u around the whole entire facility and tell you little stories or interesting facts about the different parts of the stadium.

In a Nutshell these are the most important parts of the tour.


The Player Tunnel was so cool.
1: Our tour guide made note that "The Vikings play in a dome so God can't watch them play. Because they suck so bad. (Note* Packers 1-4 at the time, finished season 10-6. Lost to the Vikings in the Wild Card Playoff Game)

2. The Boxed indoor seats are Amazing and expensive.

3. The Path that the Players take to the field is quite powerful and the field is amazing it gives me goose bumps just thinking of it.
Player meet and greet.


That evening we had the player meet and greet with running back Najeh Davenport and Packer Great William Henderson ! They were really nice guys . 





     The next day was the big day we slept in and got our party on early. I remember fondly waking up watching everyone else stretch and wake up. Sean sits up grabs a beer. The sound of the can opening grabbed every ones attention. Sam says walking out of the bathroom "Oh it’s this kind of a party is it?" and grabs a beer. a smile appeared on Sean’s face as he says "That's how we do it" as all four of us opened the beer. All of a sudden Mike like a flash of lightning runs out of the bathroom "It’s gonna overflow!!! I didn't do it!" talking about the toilet someone may or may not have plugged... (We know who it was....)

     We had a great time getting primed for the tailgate party, we knew there would be tonnes of food and beer and cookies!.

     When we arrived at the tailgate party it was beautiful weather and they had a DJ playing some good tunes. We met some people our age. We danced from the beer to food to the beer and then moon walked to the Porto potty (Mostly from the beer to the Porto potty, Damn American Beer).

     We had a great time before we knew it, we were en route to the stadium with a little bit of Stagger Swagger in us. The All of a sudden I'm shaking hands with the Governor of Wisconsin Jim Doyle as he is trying to get me to vote for him he gives me a sticker I put it on one sleeve. Then two seconds later I'm talking with his opponent as hey gives me the vote speech, I take a sticker from him slap it on the other sleeve. As I walk away shaking my head laughing to myself thinking "I am Canadian I can't vote for you." The Joke was on me though because those were some kind of super stickers and the glue is still stuck to my Favre jersey.

     That game started out as amazing, we had really great people around us they even bought me a beer because it was my bachelor party. The crowd was electric When Favre came out of the Tunnel I savoured that moment as i thought it maybe my last time seeing it live. Long Story Short they lost. My most triumphant moment came when I FINALLY got on the Jumbo Screen, "Hey camera guy I'm 13 rows away from you I know u can hear me, put me on the screen!!!" I yelled. "There I am! There we are!!" I squealed... So I took the bounty that I had off of the camera guy.

     After the game we stopped at the hotel bar for one more beer as we drank it this nice looking lady sits  beside Sean and starts chatting him up. Sean puts his country boy charm to work and has her laughing and I was like "Holy Shit, that's a cougar and she is on the PROWL!" Honestly enough she was probably just looking for conversation....  Us guys were tired and walked back to the room laughing about Sean getting picked up randomly.  The night ended well, sure we were mad about the loss, but we had a great time.
 

On the way home we were interrogated by the border patrol and I felt as if I wasn’t going to be coming home. But after paying a bit of duty we were on our way.

                                              Tip-  Always declare something at the border.

Looking back on that trip, I realize how lucky I was to have 3 people in my life that I was able to share that with. Even though they lost, Even though I love Purple now (Reason #1, Reason #2)  I still love Green Bay and think about going back often. Maybe if they retire #4 or #80....

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Enjoy your Super Bowl Weekend!