Superbowl weekend.

Several people have asked about our trip and how the expectations met up with reality. I thought I’d start to answer the question. I had a few concerns going into the trip because it was a Bud Light trip. 1: I don’t drink beer. 2: Hanging out with people drinking a ton of beer is not my idea of a good time. 3: We were told Bud Light girls would be there. My fear was it would be a whole bunch of loud, drunken people and scantily clad women.

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However, if you ever get a chance to stay at a “Bud Light Hotel,” JUMP at it. It was truly incredible. The accommodations were amazing. This year the hotel was a brand spankin’ new cruise ship with a full staff. Yeah, it was as good as you can imagine. We were told we’d have ‘meals included.’ We had no idea that meant all the specialty restaurants,  as well as room service, and beverages (with some exceptions). I ate more filet mignon this past weekend than in the rest of my life put together.  There were even a few food trucks on the adjacent pier with free food for us.  We had the tastiest waffle thing out there…oh my.

Drunk people were hard to find. There were people drinking. All the time. Seriously, they offered you beer the second you walked on the boat and EVERYWHERE you went on the boat there were Bud Light products available, free of charge. A few people had it with breakfast. (Eww.)  But despite that I saw ONE person plastered and obnoxious…and that wasn’t until the last night on the way back from the Superbowl. (Got to see him the next morning too…still plastered and obnoxious. Lucky us.) However, that was it. There was no loud partying, though I would imagine you might see some if you went to certain locations where you’d expect it (ie the bars on the ship late at night.)  Our room was quiet, the hallways quiet, and the common areas were calm.

The Bud Light girls…I did see a couple on the boat. Fully clothed. They ‘danced’ at a few concerts in between sets, but that was very tame. I’m not sure I’d want my 12 year old to see it, but even that is a ‘not sure’ because it was THAT tame.  Many billboards are more revealing than what we saw.

Security was ridiculously tight…in a good way. No one could get onto the ship if they weren’t supposed to be there.  Every time we got off or on the ship our room key (which included photo identification) was scanned.  To reenter we had to go through metal detectors.  There were police SWAT teams on  and around the boat CONSTANTLY (including the river around the ship). There was always at least one police dog on the ship at all times. Bud Light wasn’t going to let anything happen on their watch and I felt really safe the entire time.

Entertainment: Much better than I even expected. There were SO many things to do that Bud Light scheduled. We didn’t get much time to relax or see the city, but we had some crazy awesome experiences. (We could have had even more if we weren’t old and tired!)  Cooking expos, comedy shows, and concerts, for example.  We even toured the Intrepid Sea, Air,and Space Museum free of charge.

Swag:  Oh. My.  We were given shirts, bags, food, hats, sunglasses, gloves…and the list goes on.  Our luggage was MUCH fuller on the way home.

Transportation: It was fantastic to not have to worry about getting to and from the airport and to and from the game. The big Bud Light buses were great.  On the way to the Superbowl the police directed traffic so we got through FAST.

The Game: It truly was a great experience.  Surreal actually.  The game play itself was a bit of a bummer…we’d have preferred a better competition. But that would be our only complaint. The pre-show was cool.  Half time was amazing. It was so cool to see them set up and tear down within minutes. Admittedly the number of people there is intense; 84,000+ attenders in one place. If you don’t like crowds…it’s probably best to avoid the Superbowl. 🙂

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Will I now be a football fan? Not likely. Do I still think we spend way too much on the sport? Yup. Do I feel a little bit more connected to the sport now? Yes, somehow I do.

Will I start drinking Bud Light? No; I just really don’t like beer. Would I recommend them as a company? I would. They were so organized and this was extremely well planned out. The people I met who worked for them directly or indirectly had good things to say. I have significantly more respect for them than I did a week ago.  It’s amazing they were able to pull off all they did this weekend with any hitches (obviously I have no idea what went on behind the scene.  I imagine a few people have ulcers, because that took SOO much work.)

And the bud light decorations on the ship? (This was a Norwegian ship ‘made over’ to be a temporary Bud Light Hotel, so most Norwegian logos were covered with Bud Light logos).  They were significantly more tasteful than I expected. Of course, there were Bud light chandeliers in one of the buildings on the pier. But those actually fit perfectly to their setting.

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Did I mention the crazy awesome food?  I did?  Well, it’s worth mentioning again.  YUM.

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Am I glad I went?  Well, that’s probably obvious….

Traveling

Last month I got gutsy (read: desperate) and decided to drive the kids to Michigan for spring break.  This was the first time I’ve driven cross country with just me and the children, so I was quite nervous.  Thankfully we made it safely both there and back!

On the way north we had numerous “blowouts.”  Think: diapers rather than tires.  Among those two options I prefer a diaper blowout.  However, I did ‘tire’ of changing outfits and scrubbing seats in rest areas and gas stations!  I wonder what some of the passersby thought.  Nevermind, I don’t think I want to know after all.  On the way home from Michigan I got to clean up puke throughout Michigan and Indiana.  I know, you’re quite jealous of my exciting life.  The simple blowouts of the trip north suddenly seemed like a walk in the park!  It was a grueling trip; at one point I passed a large billboard that said, “Hell is real.”  I thought, “It’s in my van!”  Sigh.  It was a miserable trip, but perhaps the next time I drive the long drive will seem easy in comparison!

In case you are thinking of attempting a long trek like ours, let me share a few things I observed during the journey:

– Approximately two miles into the trip the children will be starved for the snacks you packed.
– The person who is the most comfortable in the van (ie not in a five-point harness or driving) will grumble a lot if he has to share a smidgen of his comfort.
– Good posture helps the back hurt less on long trips (I know, it’s like I’m a genius or something.)
– Watching kids reunite with their friends is awesome.
– One doesn’t pay much attention to mileage when driving with three children, so if the vehicle’s odometer turns to a hundred thousand miles, you might not notice for another two hundred.  You will, however, pay close attention to gasoline levels and how those levels correspond to children sleeping.
– When traveling with a toddler, pack extra clothes.  Lots.  And then pack some more.
– Truck stops/travel centers carry heavy shop towels and extra baby wipes.  Although they are expensive, they are worth every single penny.
– Gas stations are EXTREMELY bright at night.  While this is excellent for safety, it is not helpful for keeping children asleep.
– When driving at night Pandora will play approximately 15 seconds of each song before stopping and loading a commercial or another song.  This is less than helpful when you’d like to listen to music to help you stay awake.  However, when driving during the day Pandora will work almost continuously.
– Kentucky is very pretty to drive through in the morning.
– Unplug your hotel phone. Why anyone would call at 4:53 am is beyond me, but after traveling with a sick toddler and finally collapsing into bed very late, I have no interest in finding out who or why they are calling.
– Children who hardly use blankets at home will fight relentlessly about having to share one in a hotel room.
– One doesn’t get much sleep when sharing a bed with a sick toddler.
– One can drive a ridiculous amount of miles on very little sleep, however this is not recommended.
– Caffeine is wonderful.  Coffee shops should be required at every exit and rest area.  Gas station coffee does not count.
– Alabama scenery can get very green and lush when you’re gone for a week.
– Naps are not overrated.
– Children do not understand why momma wants to sit after driving a billion hours.
– Kids arriving home after a long trip have a ton of energy. They also have lots of giggles. The toys at home even seem new again (briefly).
– The house can get very dirty when momma is gone for a week.
– Children may need help understanding why the back of the van should not be used as a trash can
– Cleaning up puke in at home doesn’t seem so bad when you remember it is not in a van, in someone else’s house, in a hotel lobby, or in a gas station.
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After we were home we asked S, “what was your favorite part of the Michigan trip?”  He responded, “bugging K.”  Annoying his sister was his favorite thing of this entire excursion!
Me, “you could have done that in Alabama!”
S responded, “There were so many new ways to do it on the trip.”
(Gee, I’m so glad I drove 29 hours round-trip so he could have new ways to bug his sister.)  Later S added this was actually his second favorite thing; his first favorite was seeing his friend C while we were in Michigan.  I felt a little better.  And I’m so glad they were able to see each other.
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K responded to the same question, “Staying at Grandma’s house.”  Awww.  Surprisingly it wasn’t, “having new ways to be tortured by my brother.”  Go figure.
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In summary:
– Mommas can survive much, even if they don’t want to.   Praying and caring friends and family help a lot.
– If your child seems like they might possibly be sick, be it with nausea, a stuffy nose, or a hangnail, don’t travel.
– Seeing friends and family is priceless.
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