Friday, January 9, 2015

The Outback Bowl Experience

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In case you missed it, I covered the Outback Review a few days ago, which is dedicated to the X's and O's of the game. Since we turned this into a family vacation, I figured I would do a write up on our experience. We had a great time and we did it on a slim budget. 

So, Alyse had to work half a day on the 30th, so we couldn't exactly make it to Tampa. We decided to stop on the south side of Atlanta. That was a mistake. The Choice Hotel's branch we stayed in was a colossal failure. The hot tub didn't work (which i needed because I am old and my bum doesn't take long car rides anymore). The pool had a film on the surface and the pool area had mosquitoes...which I didn't think was possible. To add injury to insult, the toilet essentially exploded. Come 7am, we were O-U-T. 

We arrived in Clearwater, Florida shortly before sundown on New Year's Eve. After making good time by keeping my foot on the floor of the Acura, which features a 3.5 liter V6 and rear seats with 3 kids 24 inches from your ears....I needed a walk on the beach. Even if it was chilly and nearly dark. 

After a leisurely stroll on the beach, we wanted to grab some eats. I am a seafood junky at heart. So, we used the handy Urban Spoon app. It directed us to PJ's Oyster Bar. Surprisingly, we got right in, despite the New Year's Eve crowd. So, I had to have some oysters. And..I convinced Aubree to have some too. She had 2 before she politely declined to have any more....meanwhile she looked ready to vomit. HA! 

After that..the seafood feast featuring lobster and crab, of course! The food and service were top notch, despite how busy they were!

The next morning, we were up and at it, heading to Raymond James Stadium to see the Tiger's play! Parking was cheap-ish and easy. It was a short jaunt to the stadium! We warned Aubree it would be chilly that morning. She didn't listen. 

The pregame festivities were really cool. We watched both bands and cheer squads perform in front of the stadium. Tiger walk started 10 minutes early, so we missed it by seconds. Poo poo. 

We were some of the first into the stadium. We found our seats and ordered an early lunch: 2 hotdogs, a BBQ sandwich, loaded nachos, and a large Coke. $56 dollars later...

We watched the team warm up in our endzone and snapped some cool pregame pics! 

Obviously we lost the game, but the kids had a GREAT time (except Aubree, what was TICKED that we lost). Auburn has lost the last two games that Aubree has attended (Iron Bowl and the Outback Bowl). She isn't takign it so well. The good news is, Griffin is FINALLY getting into football. He actually watched the game, but was quiet. The day after the game, we were sitting on the beach and he said:

"I don't know why that red team had to win. It's like the defense was playing paper-rock-scissors-shoot!" 

But, the food was good. The fans were having a great time. And the weather was PREFECT! I shot a tons of great pictures, but you need to go to my FaceBook Page to see them.

Finding our car AFTER the game wasn't as easy as we thought. And, everyone had the same idea we had: hit the panic button. I bet we followed the horn to 5 different cars. Getting to the hotel too FOREVER. 

We ate takeout that night and watched Bama lose, which made us feel a little better.

The next two days we spent on the beach where it was 83 degrees and PERFECT! 

Then we enjoyed MORE seafood from LuLu's! 

And then it was back to the real world.....

Here is the amazing part: thanks to all my hotel nights on business, cheap gas, and being frugal (stealing bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel for lunch) and sharing dinners, we spent a grand total of $302 bucks, not including tickets.