Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tragedy on Trevor's Last Day Playing Football


We knew that Trevor's last day playing football would be sad for us all.

Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by a tragic loss for the entire EIU Panther Nation.

(picture credit to Chelsea Grady/The Daily Eastern News)

EIU Assistant Coach, Jeff Hoover, was killed in an auto accident on his drive home from our game against Southern Illinois. He and his family along with Coach Eric Cash and his family were riding back from the game together when on Interstate 57 they swerved to miss a deer, and the vehicle they were in rolled. There were seven people in the vehicle total. We know that all were transported to local hospital, and then transferred to a hospital in Champaign. We understand that both Mrs Hoover and Mrs Cash have back/neck injuries and Eric has a broken leg. The Hoover kids apparently had minor injuries and either have already been released from the hospital or will be released shortly. Eric's little girl, the youngest in the vehicle, apparently was in a car seat/restraint and was not injured. This is the latest information we had from the players as of Sunday afternoon. There are also several reports such as this one online.

As is the way of the EIU Panther family, all of these family members were not only at the game Saturday but had been with us at the team Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday.

We know that Trevor's housemates, Chris and Kevin, who were both Offensive Linemen, were especially close to Coach Hoover since he was the Offensive Coach. I don't think there has been much sleeping in the house since yesterday's game. I know this has been especially tough on Kevin since after he had his eighth concussion, Coach Hoover was instrumental in moving Kevin off the field and over to his coaching staff, and was his primary mentor as he blossomed in that new role.

My last memory of Coach Hoover will be of the love and sincerity beaming in his face as, after their last game yesterday, he had handshakes, hugs and kind words for each of the seniors who were leaving the field with him for the last time. He wasn't shy with that big bear hug and you could see how much these guys meant to him. How ironic that he was focusing on them and their last day on the field when it turned out to be his last day on the field as well.

It is also ironic that earlier that day, there was an article in our local Quincy newspaper where Trevor talks about the good coaches and family atmosphere those coaches promoted as being the reason he was so happy at Eastern. Coach Hoover was a big part of that.

Coach Hoover was loved and deeply respected as a part of the foundation of the Panther Nation family. He had tremendous positive influence on so many of the young men we have grown to know and love these past three years. A man like Coach Hoover gives so much more to these guys than just what you see on the playing field.

It is so scary to drive in Illinois during deer hunting season. Ken and I were especially mindful of that fact in this 900+ miles of travels we've done this extended weekend since several years ago I totalled a car and a 6 point buck during deer season on the same highway we'd be travelling to and from Quincy. As a way to insure I was helping keep watch for deer on our trip home Thursday night I had counted 13 'stains' where there had been an obvious encounter between vehicle and animal in only about 20 miles of highway in Pike county area where I'd had my accident. We did see 4 live deer on the side of the road during that trip home but they didn't bolt in to the highway. When we are out at night or early mornings, or dusk we have made it a habit of keeping both of us watching the road and unfortunately this is a tragic reminder to do that. They say that if the deer runs in front of you its better to hit them than swerve, but I think its a natural instinct to react to avoid the impact. Unfortunately, the results are tragedies like the one here and we hear of several such fatal incidents every year. Amazing that in our advanced technological society we cannot device a mean to keep an otherwise harmless animal off of our highways.

Our hearts go out to Coach Hoover's family and Coach Cash's family in this difficult time.

I'll fill in the good blog stuff for the past week later....just didn't seem to fit today.

Hugs, C

Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Team, Thanksgiving and Playoff Game

We got an additional great piece of information the week before Thanksgiving.
Trevor is an OVC All Conference First Team Selection. For those not familiar with college football, there on nine teams that belong to the Ohio Valley Conference. To be awarded a first team All Conference selection means that if they were to put the best player in each position from among all the teams, you would be on that team. Trevor plays defensive tackle. Since two defensive tackles are on the field at one time, 2 DT's are selected and Trev got one of those 2 spots.
Coach Spoo, Trev and 3 other EIU players earned top conference honors. This article reported Tuesday's league announcements.
Knowing that we had a big holiday weekend ahead, Ken and I enjoyed some downtime early in the week.

Ken and Sox do a good job of using each other as pillows while napping before the TV!

Since Kyle is now the Freshmen Basketball Coach for the Piasa Birds, his free time over the Thanksgiving holiday was very limited. We were able to squeeze in Thanksgiving breakfast with he and Jenni before they headed off to Jenni's grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner.

They brought grandpuppy Staley along. Ditka and Sox we very poor hosts not at all happy having a big frisky puppy wanted to wrestle and play. That meant we had to keep the dogs separated since we don't wan't Staley to consider other dogs as a threat.

Staley was so excited to have other dogs to play with and didn't understand their snotty attitude. I think Ditka might warm up to her if he wasn't so worried about protecting his turf and Sox from this 4 month old intruder.

When Sox and Ditka were put out in the backyard, Staley kept watch at the door hoping we would bring them back in. For being a 'mut' I think she has beautiful markings and stance!

Finally she gave up on her new playmates and decided to be content with getting to know their squeak toys instead.

When Kyle, Jenni and Staley left, Ken and I left to for our daytrip to Charleston. After the 4 hour drive we spent about an hour with the boys at the house and then made our way over to Casey, IL for the team Thanksgiving meal at Richard's Farm Restaurant.

We sat with some of the seniors. Trevor, Kevin Mahoney, Austin Signor, Andre Lima, Body Reeder and Chris Vaccaro. It was wild to watch these guys eat.

They did two full plates of entrees, potatoes, dressing, etc., big glasses of mile and then still had room to bring back full plates from the dessert bar, some with a bowl of ice cream on the side!

Despite all of this food, while they were still eating they were planning their Thanksgiving evening, a 'wine and cheese' party back at the house. Don't be fooled though, the wine at these parties usually comes in a box and the cheese is often of the single's variety that you have to unwrap!

The drive back from Casey to Charleston turned out to be more eventful than we'd planned. Ken and I had both found on the drive over that, after being use to driving the motorhome an80d the jeep, we were finding it very difficult to keep the Audi below 80 mph. Unfortunately, the problem caught up with us and Ken got pulled over by the Clark County Sheriff for going 74 in a 55 zone. Amazingly, after he heard that we were doing dinner with the EIU team stuck at school to practice and saw that Ken had gone some time without a ticket, he left us of with a warning but made it clear that if the vehicle was clocked speeding again any time soon we would definitely get a ticket since the warning was now logged. It has felt like we were creeping the rest of the week but we really didn't want to get pulled over again within days of a warning ticket!

On Saturday we left at 7am to travel to Carbondale for the playoff game.

We had not planned to do any tailgating but got a call from the Robinson's who were setting up in one of the parking lots and so joined them for some true tailgating out of the back of their pickup.

Theyare originally from this area and had been here for Thanksgiving. That meant that Scott had caught an interesting piece in the prior day's newspaper about Trevor. Apparently they always highlight one opposing team player an write them up as the Big Target. As it turns out having that 'target' on his back meant Trevor was getting double teamed and more than his fair share of O-Line attention all day.

The SIU team mascot is the Saluki and so on the way in to the stadium we passed several of these beautiful dogs enjoying the tailgating.

They seem to enjoy the attention of the kids at the tailgate as much as Sox and Ditka do!

Trevor had been elevated to the role of team caption since Adrian is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

While we scored and were not looking too bad in the first quarter, things started going downhill fast. Trevor and Andre were already stretched to the max with their key backup Spiro out with an ankle injury, then late first quarter, Andre went down, best guess at this point is a torn ligament in the ankle area. Defensive tackles normally rotate frequently since they are hitting on every play and this left Trevor on the field now almost all of the time. That, in addition, with him already being the 'target' meant that by early in the second half Ken and I could see that he was starting to fade. He kept it at and made it through the game with 5 tackles, 1 for loss and one fumble recovery.
Unfortunately SIU played awesome and EIU couldn't seem to get it together. We made a lot of mistakes with some of the stats standing out: 5 fumbles, 4 sacks, and making only 2 of 11 third down conversions. It seemed that defense was always back on the field and with the key injuries we had on defense it wasn't our best showing on that side of the ball either since they all seemed worn down by 2nd half.
I hated to see Trev's last game go so poorly but he worked hard and kept pushing himself and the guys around him.
It was a real emotional time after the game, with coaches and team members coming up for hugs and kind words as the seniors walked off the football field, knowing they had just played their last game in the sport they loved so much.

Here's Trev with Coach Roc, the Defensive Coordinator who has been such a motivator and posititve influence for Trev.

Trev's godmother (and Ken's sister), Lois, had come to see the game along with her son, BJ, and daughter, Erin. These 3 were all born within 13 months of each other, went to grade school and high school together and have always been close cousins!

Since Erin lives in Carbondale, with her husband, Casey, we dropped by their house after the game since we hadn't been there before. She and Casey have done a great job of selecting and fixing up a house to make it a really great home.
So, while it's hard to even say, football season is over. Ken and I are back at home now and will be organizing for the holidays and working to finish off remodeling as quickly as possible so that we can get back to our adventures on the road.
Hugs, C

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 11 22 OVC Champions AND Trevor sets EIU Record

What a week!!

As you see from the poster, our #99 there in upper left is pretty happy to be part of a division championship team.
But, it was definitely a week of major ups and downs to get here.
Let’s recap…
Last Saturday, November 14, was a game against Tennessee Martin where EIU was winning so big by halftime that

Andre and Trevor didn’t play the second half and were having fun on the sidelines, while

up in the Parents section, we were singing along to the Jumbotron rendition of Y-M-C-A! -- Thank you Sandy King, our great EIU photographer, for sending me these pictures !

As I mentioned in the last post, after lots of fun enjoying that victory, Ken and I ‘enjoyed’ 4 straight days of rain while sitting nearby at Lake Shelbyville . Thank goodness for nearby town of Sullivan and its public library and restaurants or I’d have gone bonkers being inside all that time.

Even with the rain, the campsites began filling up with deer hunters later in the week as the opening of shotgun season approached.

These guys even had an ‘official’ Budweiser Deer Camp sign!

On Thursday, we headed back to EIU for the final regular season game. The game, originally scheduled for Saturday, had been moved to Thursday night to accommodate a contract with ESPN. Besides being a week night it was also very, very cold. Since the students could watch the game on ESPNU in the warmth of the local bars, the turnout in the stands was light.

It was a tailgate where the beverages of choice were coffee and hot chocolate. Of course, as a liquor store owner, Scott Robinson contributed several interesting ‘additives’ for the hot drinks that helped keep our group of fans especially warm. Keegan’s grandma brought a crock pot of chicken and dumplings that was a great comfort food in the chilly weather and was gone in a flash.

It was Senior Night. Sandy Mahoney made the boys this nice cake which did double-duty as a birthday cake for Trev and Kevin’s roommate, Chris Vaccaro.

Because it was dark and ugly, Kyle was not able to get many decent shots of the Senior Night ceremony.

Here’s Trevor bringing me a rose.

And Coach Spoo with Trevor

Thanks again to Sandy King for sending me this picture today in time to make the post! At last minute they handed the Mom’s their son’s ‘away’ jerseys to put on. Since it was so cold that I already had 4 layers of shirts and sweatshirts on, I ended up looking as wide on top as Trevor!
The game itself was HORRIBLE. Tennessee State played very well and EIU didn’t show up. That is except for Trevor, and in this case, that isn’t just a proud mama talking. We’ve been told by those that were watching ESPNU, that their announcers were giving Trev ‘a lot of love’ as well. It’s probably, the healthiest and most injury-free he’s been since beginning of season, and as a result Trevor played awesome. By the end of the game Trevor had broken a 31 year old EIU record with 7 tackles of loss (TFL’s) in a single game. He is also now #9 on the list of total TFL’s in the EIU record book.

Because the game was at night we don’t have many action shots.

Because of Trev breaking the record, they did use a shot of him on the Panther website so I’ve borrowed that here gladly providing them credit. The nice thing about this record breaking is that it means that he will now have his picture and his record posted in every one of the EIU gameday magazines. The last record for TFL’s was 5 and it held for 31 years. Wouldn’t it be really cool if Trev got to take his own kids to a game someday to see Daddy in the record book!! Ok---I know—Mom, you always get a bit ahead of yourself!!

Andre’s Mom, Rose, has not been able to make many games so we made sure to get a picture with the boys after the game.

Andre’s baby brother, Kevin, speaks both Portuguese and English and had me totally confused when he kept trying to get me to cut the boys cake but asking me in Portuguese. He also had a sudden emergency potty break on the way out of the stadium after the game and in a panic Mom rushed down all the stairs and ended up in the locker room trying to find a place to take him. Trevor spotted them searching around in confusion and grabbed Kevin and took off with him to the guys bathroom. Later Trevor was told that he had a mess of reporters waiting for him but since he had disappeared and no one knew where he was they all gave up on him and left! Taking a toddler to the bathroom was a first for Trevor and he was still fully dressed in pads, helmet and gloves so I think it would have been funny to have had video of that postgame episode between he and Kevin!!

Because it was late and dark and cold by the time the game was over, Ken and I had decided to stay on the stadium lot after the game. I had gotten permission for this from the associate athletic director but apparently he had forgotten that early Friday mornings there was a special driving instruction class at the stadium and so the EIU police had to be sure all vehicles were off of the lot overnight. We found this out shortly after midnight with a knock on the door. The policeman was nice about it and suggested that we park just outside the main gate until morning. It was a bit of a scramble for us to get things organized to move that quickly, you know, slides in, antennae down, counters cleared, refrigerator stuff tight… We did good though and were re-settled in about 15 minutes. The problem was that we were now parked close to a large dumpster. We found out during the night that Charleston has more than its fair share of ‘dumpster divers’ with Ken counting at least 3 times that they woke him with the lids banging. That’s really sad but at 3am ‘sad’ is not the first word that comes to mind.

To make matters worse at 6:30 am our low-battery alarm went off. With it being cold the furnace blower was probably sucking a lot of juice through the night and we hadn’t been real careful to insure we were fully charged before we went to bed.

At that point we decided we might as well get up and get moving since neither of us were going to get back to sleep especially since the battery alarm had Sox in such distress that she was climbing all over us trying to find a place to hide. We got dressed, made coffee and then decided we deserved a nice breakfast to start the long drive home, one that we didn’t have to cook or clean up after. We drove to the strip mall parking lot across from our favorite Charleston restaurant, Lincoln Gardens, and enjoyed being waited on while we read the early morning edition of the Charleston paper that they had available. The paper was our first confirmation that Trev had, in fact, broken a school record. Liesurely time in restaurants like this is probably one of the consistent highlights for Ken and I since I’ve retired. It’s time together without the external stresses of TV or ‘to do’ lists when we really seem to be able to kick back and enjoy each other’s company.

As we were getting on the road for the trip back, we had several phone calls with Trevor who was also taking at least part of the same route since he had a noon interview with an accounting firm in Springfield, IL. In fact, just before we got to Springfield he passed us. I really felt bad for him going in to what turned out to be a 4 hour interview after being so sore from the night before. Someone once likened the impact on a college lineman’s body during a game to being in a major auto accident where most of you major muscle groups have been stressed to the max. Especially after the amount of playing time and number of plays he was in the prior night, Trevor knew he’d be stiffening up by sitting in the car and during interviews so I told him to be upfront with the people that he might need to stand up and move around periodically to keep from cramping up. As it turns out, there must have been a lot of football fans doing interviewing because he said it went well and they were very accommodating.

I have postponed posting this blog since it was not until yesterday (Saturday) that I was sure, after Jacksonville State beat Eastern Kentucky that EIU was for sure the sole division champs and assured of a spot as one of the final 16 teams in the FCS Championship.

Then, I needed to wait until 2pm today to know for sure where they would be playing their first game. For some reason ESPNNews chose to give us one really weird twist for about 10 minutes when they first announced that we would be playing the College of William and Mary….at that point Trevor sent a text message saying that we better start packing today to leave tomorrow because we had a 1000 miles to travel. As it turns out though, a few minutes later they rescinded that and showed that we do, in fact, for better or worse, play Southern Illinois. The good news is that this is a short trip for us and the guys. The bad news is that Southern Illinois has been ranked #1 for some time in the polls and we aren’t expected to have much of a chance to advance based on that. Having said that, the guys learned last week, after being on the wrong side of an upset, that it’s certainly very possible for them to come away with this victory.

This has thrown a bit of a wrench in things for Trevor though since he has several major papers in his MBA courses due next week and the coaching staff is moving them to 2-a-day practices. He will be one busy boy for awhile. He also has irons in the fire on his job search that he needs to keep moving during this time. To top it all off he is now showing up in scouting reports.

Since EIU will have a game next Saturday, the boys will not get to come home for Thanksgiving. To soften that blow a bit they and their families are invited to a restaurant called Richard’s Farm in Casey, IL. This restaurant is open only to the EIU team for the evening and parents are invited to join them for a special Thanksgiving dinner. We didn’t go 2 years ago when the boys made the playoffs but plan to go this time since it’s Trev’s last year. Kyle and Jenni will be home Thanksgiving but have to go to Jenni’s grandma’s in Missouri so we wouldn’t be seeing much of them that day anyway. They have to be back in Carlinville on Saturday since Kyle’s Piasa team is in a Thanksgiving basketball tournament. Ken and I have decided to make the round trip to Casey in one day. That way we’ll get to have Thanksgiving with Trevor and still have Friday with Kyle.

On Saturday, the playoff game is in Carbondale, IL at 1:00pm. We will leave here about 7am and then drive back home after the game which should put us back here about 10pm.
With no paychecks coming in, I guess I’m becoming a bit of a penny pincher. My goal for this long weekend is to get holiday time with my boys and our extended EIU family, make the playoff game and do it all as economically as possible. Therefore, I did my ‘anal’ysis of the difference in costs between doing an RV road trip to Casey then Carbondale then Carlinville (to get to see Kyle) then home versus just doing the two one-day long round trips by car. For these trips we really don’t get much added value of having the RV with us since we won’t be using it for tailgating or entertaining.

The RV road trip is 689 miles and assumes that we leave Thursday morning, stay at Illinois State Parks at Charleston Thursday night, Carbondale Friday and Saturday night and Carlinville Sunday night. That’s 69 gallons of diesel at $2.80, $193 in fuel, plus $120 in Illinois State Park fees because of their ridiculous $30 rate on holiday weekends.

If we drive Thanksgiving to Casey, IL and back that’s 450 miles round trip. Driving to Carbondale roundtrip is 525 miles, so even though we are driving 286 more miles by car versus RV, with the Audi getting at least 30mpg highway (sometimes 35!) and gas at about $2.65 we end up paying only $86 for gas, meaning doing the two roundtrips saves us $227 over doing the road trip.

Don’t get me wrong, the RV is definitely more economical when we are comparing equal nights in hotels, paying for dog boarding, and eating all our meals in restaurants But, in situations like this coming weekend, it’s nice to still have the option of going back to the Audi for daytrips.
So hopefully I’ll be back with you after Thanksgiving with some great pictures from the team Thanksgiving feast!

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving and spend some time between now and then reflecting on all the things in your life you have to be thankful for.

Hugs, C

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009 11 15 Break Time at Wolf Creek State Park

We woke Sunday morning at the EIU stadium and were ready to head out of Charleston by 9 am. Since Trevor had been out late Saturday night celebrating and had no commitments until late afternoon Sunday, we gave him a call and told him to go ahead and sleep in instead of coming to see us off, and we’d see him later in the week.

Since the next game is Thursday, we decided to stay in the area rather than make the 400 mile round trip back to Quincy.

Earlier this year, we had done some exploring around Lake Shelbyville and found a couple of campgrounds within 30 miles or so of the stadium that we wanted to try out. Unfortunately, our #1 choice, Bo Woods, which was a Corp of Engineers park with full hookups was already closed for the season. In the Midwest there appear to be few parks open after October. The other park we were interested in was a state park, Wolf Creek, which still had a section open.

When we arrived at Wolf Creek, since we had been the primary ‘restroom’ for the post-game party Saturday night, Ken figured we’d better dump and refill the fresh water if we were going to stay here until next game. I took that time to unhook the jeep and drive around the open section to pick out our best options on sites.

This campground has a few 50 amp sites sprinkled here and there and also has several concrete pads directly across from the shower house. It looks like at one time all of these were probably handicap sites but they’ve removed the handicap restriction from a few of them. Since there was a forecast for 4 straight days of rain, the concrete pads were definitely an advantage. Since low temperatures were to be in the 40’s, having 50 amp service would mean we could run our two ceramic heaters without need for running our gas furnace. Bad news: the only non-handicap, concrete site with 50 amp was occupied. Good news: the occupants appear to be packing up. I talked to them and they said they’d probably be out in about an hour so we pulled in to another site temporarily and used the time to take a long walk with the dogs.

We were able to get in to the site we wanted just as it began to rain.
Ken was a real saint, taking the dogs for a walk multiple times in the next 24 hours when their seemed to be no stop to consistent heavy rain.

I was able to use our downtime to experiment a bit more with my Kindle. Kindle owners receive their books through the Sprint 3G network and there is ‘experimental” (read: it may not always work like you want it to) internet access on the device. While the device is not sexy enough to allow me to do the blog and only works really well for Google and Yahoo email, it is really good with Google searches. As long as we have at least one bar I can find out where there is a local library for wireless access or do some searches for nearby restaurant reviews and/or grocery stores. It also does a pretty good job on bringing up forecasts. While not perfect this does ease some of my frustration with not having wireless access on the road.

With the Kindle I was able to determine several destinations for Monday in the small nearby town of Sullivan: the library, a highly rated restaurant and the nearest grocery store.
The rain made for great sleeping Sunday night and so we slept in late on Monday. By mid-day we were on the road to Sullivan.

The goat tower is actually on the route between the park and Sullivan. I’m glad we got some pictures with the goats earlier this year since the weather seemed to keep the goats hunkered down.

We ate at a wonderful restaurant, called Jibby’s, near the main square in Sullivan. Ken and I both had a one of the lunch specials, the Pork Manhattan and Jibby’s special open face roast beef sandwich with spiced waffle style potatoes, coffee and tea. The food was really tasty, the atmosphere very nice, more upscale than we had expected for a small town cafĂ©, and the bill with tip was $18. Sullivan is known for its ‘Little Theatre on the Square’ and this restaurant appears to cater to the theatre crowd with a theatre motif. Click here for the review site I used on my Kindle to lead us to Jibby's.

After lunch we stopped in to the Elizabeth Titus Memorial Library a block on the other side of the square. Again, this was a pleasant surprise. I had five bars of fast wireless access in an environment that seemed more like a quiet community center. There were several men sitting in an area that had coffee available reading papers and magazine and another sitting at a nearby table doing a jigsaw puzzle….very homey. Lot’s of talk about recent reading and recommendations to those coming in on what might be a good read for the rainy day. After Ken and I had done our email, bank account checking and blog posting we headed off to the grocery store.

We picked up items we’d need for Thursday’s tailgating and went back to the RV.

We were really glad we’d waited for a cement site considering that with all the rain we seemed to now being sitting in the middle of lots and lots of standing water everywhere.

The deer in the area didn’t seem deterred by the rain. In fact, we have never seen so many deer in one campground. They also showed little to no fear of humans. They didn’t like the dogs though and would warn each other with that strange honking sound they make whenever Ken took the dogs for a walk. They were loud enough that I could even hear them calling out their warnings from inside the motorhome. Walking the dogs in the steady rain was tough enough for Ken, but Ditka and Sox were totally unruly when they so wanted to run after the deer. Ken was fit to be tied after one after-dark walk when the dogs were going nuts and in every direction while literally surrounded by the deer.

On Tuesday it really never stopped raining all day. We made some comfort food, chicken and rice soup, read, watched public TV, and watched some videos we’d had along but never gotten to.

It’s Wednesday now and with a break in the clouds Ken got up early and took a long walk with the dogs down by the lake. We’ve decided to head back in to Sullivan for lunch, check emails, post this blog and then come back to make the Italian Sausage soup for tomorrow’s tailgating.

Jenni and Kyle are in a mess as the basement of her apartment has flooded and they have been trying for 48 hours to contact the landlord with no response. Because that is where the furnace and hot water heater are, she really can’t stay there until the water is out of the basement. I’m worried if it isn’t resolved in the next few days, the next problem will be mold. I think Jenni already lost some of her special Christmas decorations that were stored down there so I really feel for them and am really frustrated with this ‘absentee landlord’ right now. Like they say, you never quit worrying about your kids, the worries are just different.

Jenni’s problem did prompt us to call nephew, John, to drop by our homestead and check to be sure our sump pump was keeping up…one more of the worries of having a house when on the road.

Ok, so its off to Sullivan again.

Hopefully by the weekend I’ll be posting an update about our win against Tennessee State and official status as OVC Champions!!

Hugs, C

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 11 14 Another Win!!!

Hi, this is Ditka. It's ny turn to write the blog since Sox and I do get to take part in a lot of game day festivities!

I was really anxious on Saturday morning to be off to the game and assumed my position at the window to supervise as Dad unhooked the utilities and prepared for launch from the campground.

We were at the stadium lot by 10am and Mom and Dad put Sox and I on our cables outside while they set up the tables, revving up the generator and plugging in the crock pots, Mom had lots of great smelling tailgate food --- chili, sloppy joes, nachos, and hot chocolate .

Sox was quick to attract her usual personal fan club around the stadium. Mom says they are really lucky that we are so friendly with everyone. You’d be surprised all the benefits that come from being ‘suck ups’ to the fellow EIU fans!!

We were organized slightly differently this time, in front of the motorhome instead of on the side, so that they were in one big group with other Panther families. The Kickels fixed some really awesome Italian sausage concoction. The Robinson’s brought some really interesting new liquors from their store, like a sweet tea flavored vodka, and of course, Rumpelmintz to add a minty kick to the hot chocolate. We weren’t allowed to try any of that stuff but there was lots of other awesome food and people were sharing with Sox and me. Dad tried to restrict us to the meat and cheese items that didn’t have a lot of surprise spices, definitely no chili…said he didn’t want to be cleaning up after us all night, whatever that means.

Mom’s sister, Kathleen, and her husband, Wally, arrived in time for some pre-game tailgating. You can see me in the background having no problem getting my fix of attention.
Actually, from what Sox and I heard, it wasn’t much of a game to watch, with EIU ahead the entire game. But, the team played very well both offense and defense which is the most important part as we head toward post-season.

Trevor Frericks and Andre Lima against the Tennessee-Martin Offensive line first half of game

Trevor and Andre on sideline 2nd half of game

In fact, EIU was so far ahead that by third quarter most of the starters were watching from the sideline. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult for Trevor Frericks to get in the EIU record books. He is only five away from being in the top five all-time for tackles for loss. Pretty good considering that between transferring and injuries he’s really only played about 2 full seasons here.
The final score of the game was 49-13. You can see the official game info here. In fact if you go to the 'photo gallery' you'll find the front-side of that picture of Trevor and Andre and also a picture of Mom and the tailgate ladies doing 'Y-M-C-A'.

Kathleen and Walt posed with Mom, Trevor and Dad after the game
By the time we finished meeting the boys post game, it was already dark, so Mom and Dad decided to stay on the parking lot overnight rather than try to get back to the campground and back in to the site after dark. Ditka and I were in whole-hearted agreement with that since there was still gobs of food that everyone continued to share with us and there was even one nice lady who wanted the job of walking us around the tailgate area.

The players came out and joined the party and that always means we get extra special attention. In fact, with plenty of food and beverages around, the guys stayed outside with us until after 10pm. That’s what time they decided to go celebrate the victory at the local bars—they get started partying just about the time Mom, Dad, Sox and I are ready for bed.
Based on the standings after the Saturday’s games, the EIU Panthers at least will share the Ohio Valley Conference Champions position. If they win next week they will be the single conference champions.

Mom’s really excited that Trev will have a division championship ring since he’s been working toward that for five years now, a memento he’ll have for years to come to remember his football successes and the special family he was part of here. Sox and I think this Panther family is pretty special too and so long as those rings aren’t so heavy as to affect the guys petting hands, we’re real glad for them!!

The next game is Thursday at 5:30 central time and will be on ESPN-U. It will also be Senior Night so Trev will be playing his last regular season football game ever. Hope all of you will have a chance to tune in and cheer them to the championship.

Lovin’ licks, Ditka

Friday, November 13, 2009

2009 11 12 Pre-Game in Charleston

Ken and I arrived mid-afternoon Wednesday at Fox Ridge State Park in Charleston.
While the park is open this late in the season, the shower house is not open after October and there is limited maintenance work being done in the campground. For that reason we are glad that Ken brought his new handy-dandy electric leaf blower since our favorite site, #39 was covered in about 4 inches of leaves.

Campsite before Ken’s leaf blower

Campsite after Ken’s leaf blower

Since it was Ken’s birthday dinner was his choice and he chose to drive in to Charleston to Pagliai’s Pizza, his new favorite pizza joint.

Since we have a 50-amp site, we decided to see how our dual ceramic heaters would do as temperatures dropped down to the mid-30’s overnight. We were able to sleep comfortably with no need for using the furnace. Of course we wouldn’t try this is the temperatures dropped in to the teens since the furnace is what keeps the water lines below the rig heated.

On Thursday, I made a Wal-mart run to pick up all the items we’d need for feeding the football players that would be coming out to eat that evening. I figure this is about $90 of expense per game that will go out of our budget once the season is over. Of course, we will really miss this time with the guys making it more than worth it.

I stopped by campus to use the EIU free wireless to post the last blog. I decided to sit in the lovely weather outside the student union. I was only sitting there about 5 minutes when, lo and behold, Trev came walking up. He was headed in to have breakfast at the food court. The scholarship athletes get a certain number of food dollars to spend besides their room/board stipend and he has some to get used up before end of the semester. I joined Trev and two of the ladies from the swim team, finishing the blog while they finished their breakfasts.
By that time I was concerned that I better get moving or the chili, sloppy joes and nachos wouldn’t have adequate time for prep and cooking before the evening feed.

After browning 13 pounds of hamburger and doing a combined effort of preparing the chili with a little of this and a little of that until Ken and I were both satisfied with the taste, Trev showed up with Chris Vaccaro bringing us Thai take-out for lunch. That was a nice break to the day.
After setting up outside, Ken and I decided to do serve the whole meal with electric skillets and crockpots rather than the grill so once everything was on low, we both enjoyed a couple of hours of quiet time reading by the fire before the guys arrived.

Kyle bought Ken and I the first 3 books in the Sword of Truth fantasy series by Terry Goodwind. We’ve both finished the first book, The Wizard’s First Rule, and sent that back to Kyle for him to read. Ken is now in the second book of the series, Stone of Tears Normally I’m not in to the science fantasy genre that Kyle and Ken like but this author seems to have enough romance and commentary on what I’ll call the ‘human condition’ to keep me coming back. While I’m waiting for the second book, I picked up a couple of recent bestsellers at the local library.
I’m a pushover for anything to do with Elizabethan England and love to read authors who put a lot of research in making novels as close to historical fact as possible while still bringing the historical characters to life. For ‘The Other Queen’ Philippa Gregory did extensive study and sites over 50 reference books in her bibliography. On such books I always like to bounce back and forth to the Author’s notes to determine just how much is factual and in the case of this book, all the key events are factual, its just the interchanges between the characters that she has added for effect of the novel. This is my favorite kind of reading and I had consumed that novel within a few days and very late nights of reading.

I’m now on to Steve Berry’s ‘Charlemagne’s Pursuit’ . While a similar genre, tying historical fact in to fiction, Berry only applies historical anchors such as events during Charlemagne’s time and during Hitler’s time in Germany to weave a more fantastical suspense thriller. It’s good fiction but a whole lot more fiction than fact with a pretty wild plot around uncovering an ancient ‘Atlantis-like’ civilization.

Reading is my favorite hobby but I’m definitely a dabbler across genres. In fact, with my Kindle, I’ve now found a new way, on a zero budget, to get a taste for new authors. With the dawn of this new medium, some author’s are offering one or more of their early works for free electronic download in order to entice an audience to their writing. Kindle gives you the opportunity to search out such free offerings that have received high reviews. I’ve had good luck with finding some great reading this way that takes you in to new and different author perspectives without having to spend a dime.

Between my Kindle, my public library, and swapping books with family and friends, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to spend money on my favorite hobby!

Ok, so enough of my digressing to my reading addiction….

Because the guys had practice until 6pm it was dark by the time they arrived. That certainly didn’t stop the food from disappearing very quickly.

After the meal we enjoyed time around the campfire with the guys.
We have made more visits to Fox Ridge than we care to count these past 3 years but have never in all of that time walked any of the numerous trails this state park has to offer. On Friday we decided to take of advantage of the nice autumn weather and do some hiking. The pictures below were taken during our 2 hour jaunt along some of those trails. You’ll notice from the bridges, overlooks and stairways that this state park is blessed with a volunteer park foundation that raises money for ongoing projects including keeping up the trails.

Ken on one of the many bridges crossing meandering streams between the ridges

A winding staircase easing the trek down the ridge

Overlooking the Embarras River

Woodpecker gives you a view clear through this tree, front and back doors??

The trees are bare by this time making the ridges more obvious

Ok, I didn’t always stay on the trail

One of the park shelter house built by the Civilian Conservation Corp back in the 1930’s

Wouldn’t the CCC make sense again now for all the unemployed???

As soon as we got back from the 2 hour hike both dogs were zonked on the floor for a nap.
So now I’ve taken a drive back in to the Charleston student union and enjoying a cup of coffee, while finishing this post.

The second to last regular season game is tomorrow and my sister
Kathleen and her husband Wally will be joining us. So, when I finish here I’m dropping by Walmart to pick up a few tailgating essentials and then will enjoy a crisp fall evening with my hubby by the campfire.

Stay tuned for an update on our WIN against Tennessee-Martin!

Hugs, C

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 11 11 Happy Birthday Kenny!!!

If you didn’t know it Ken’s birthday is a public holiday!! When he was in grade school he knew he was special because everyone got off school on his birthday. Sometime after he was out of school they decided to quit letting the kids out of school for his birthday.

I’m writing this as we are back on the road, on our way to Charleston for the last two regular season games, this Saturday and next Thursday. Both will be at the EIU home field.

We set up the Frericks ‘bed and breakfast’ before leaving since Ken’s sister and brother-in-law, Carlene and Buddy Kurk will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend and so our place will act as housing for some of the out-of-town Frericks clan. We both really hate to miss these family gatherings but our families, especially Carlene and Buddy, understand that if Trevor is going to be on the football field, we are going to be at the game. Call it superstitious but the only time we missed a varsity or above game for the boys was a basketball game for Kyle and he ended up in the emergency room that game. That’s been 9 years ago but we’ve been consistent since then to be sure at least one of us is at the game, until the weekend of Michelle’s funeral, a few weeks back. Even then, Ken had planned to drive over to Charleston just for the game until Trevor informed us that he was going to take that game off because of an ongoing aggravated high ankle sprain. (Then we get a text from the team doctor while still at the funeral that Trevor’s changed his mind and is playing…arghh!!)

I can be writing this post while we are driving because Ken is mostly on the phone. Ken loves getting phone calls on his birthday and his phone has been ringing steadily this morning with calls from family and friends who know that. Ken and I seem to have had a gender reversal when it comes to telephones. I hate to talk on the phone and Ken loves it. Honestly, it’s partly a technical issue since I really have trouble hearing on the phone. I also feel like I’m being intrusive since the person then has to pick up the phone when I choose rather at their convenience. That’s why I tend to instant message, text message, or email when possible—probably why some think I’m standoffish, but its more of a habit from decades in an office environment where I tried to minimize disruptions to those around me. Ken on the other hand, has his phone on his belt at all times and loves to talk on it. He gets frustrated quickly when using text messages and is quick to dial the number to respond instead of playing dualing texts. If you are trying to make immediate contact with us, the surest way is Ken’s cell phone since, unless he’s in an area without signal (or he’s without his pants!) he’ll be quick to answer.

The other time Ken is spending on the phone is taking return calls from the various RV supply sites that he’s contacted regarding fixing the damage on the side of the RV. I am blessed that as one of the middle children in a family of ten, Ken learned to be a frugal do-it-yourselfer. We have a $1000 deductible on our insurance and so he has taken on the project of seeing if he can pull the parts and labor together himself to save both money and the potential longterm costs of filing a claim.
Because Trevor had a ‘bye’ week last week, Ken and I had 8 days at home which is a record for us during football season.

And so, what do we do for entertainment while we are home but go to another football game!

QND versus Effingham

Trev’s high school football team, the QND Raiders are in the post-season playoffs and kicking butt at this point. It was fun to go back to a high school game. We spent most of the time walking around and talking to people since the game itself was a blowout.

QND stands aren’t big enough for the fan base so the field is usually surrounded by lawnchairs
The year Trevor was a Senior his high school team made it to 3rd place in the state which was the highest QND had ever placed in football. I think this current team has the possibility of beating that record, if not this year, then possibly next year since almost all the key players are juniors. Ken made a call after the game to the head EIU recruiter. He thinks there are some of these boys skilled enough to be future EIU panthers and he gets frustrated when these guys don’t get visibility because of being in the ‘Forgottonia’ section of Illinois.
For his birthday, Ken got a new electric leaf blower/vacuum.

Kenny using his new leaf blower for gutter cleaning

He wanted one that was electric instead of gas and compact enough to carry in the RV. With Ditka’s allergies to oak leaf mold, he likes to be sure that our campsites are as clear of piles of leaves as possible. It also keeps the rig cleaner and reduces the numbers of possibility of ticks which we are both pretty freaky about.
I got to have my fix of ‘lady lunches’ while in town, doing the walk/eat out routine with the ladies at work, and having lunch with my sisters and sister-in-law. I also got to spend some time with my BFF Shelly who lives in Naperville and was down for the weekend. All my friends who still have kids in school and say they are envious of Ken and my ‘early retirement’ make me appreciative of being empty nesters in our 50’s. A lot of folks we know now will still have kids in school/college when they are 60.

The weather has been so beautiful that we took a break one evening to ride down and enjoy a trademark Quincy, IL view of the Mississippi River bridges at sunset.

Hugs, C