ROAD TRIP: CHICAGO and GREEN BAY

 

 Last week we departed on the first Gregor Show/Nation Road Trip, and it turned out to be an excellent sports and entertainment trek.. Twenty-four of us flew to Chicago, with four hitching a ride to Green bay, where we spent four days touring Chicago, checking out Wrigley Field, the United Centre, excellent restaurants and bars, too much shopping, awesome tours, great sight-seeing trips and the legendary Lambeau Field.

This trip was a trial run to see if there was a thirst for some sports-themed trips, and the response was overwhelming, so we are planning on having a few every year.

We left Edmonton on Friday November 11th, had a meet and greet with food and bevvies that night, then headed out to a Jazz club. There were no cameras this night, and for some that was probably a good thing. Let’s just say we all had lots of fun, and some more than others…**cough, cough, Brian and Dean, cough, cough**

Saturday was a free day, so Traci and I along with Jeff and Kate went on a tour of Wrigley field. I was surprised at how small it was, but seeing, reading and hearing all of its history just heightened my thirst to watch a live game there. You could smell the history in the park and it was great to see it in person. 

During the tour we got to see the Cubs’ dressing room, and it was also very compact. The Cubs have renovated or moved their room three times since Wrigley was built, and this is as good as it gets. The size just adds to the uniqueness of the stadium. The best part is that the visitors room is about half the size as the Cubs room below.

We took a quick tour of the neighbouring streets and stopped in at a store due to the name; Hats, T-Shirts and Other Neat Stuff. (Seriously that was the name). If you ever want a slogan, saying or picture embroidered on a shirt, I recommend going there. They had lots of edgy logos and sayings. They also had a few things that were just odd. I hope these weren’t the ones he was wearing at the movie theatre.

Sunday some of the group went to the Bears/Lions game in the afternoon (originally the game was set for noon, but they moved it to 3:15 so it was tight for those who went), and then at 6:00 we watched the Oilers take on the Hawks at the United Centre. 

As we walked up to the stadium we were greeted with statues of two of Chicago’s all-time greats; Bobby Hull and Stan Makita.

 

I’ve been to almost every NHL rink and those are two of the best statues I’ve seen. 

We made our way inside and had a quick pit stop at the bar. 

Traci had never been to another NHL rink, and she was amazed at how much nicer and more spacious the "Madhouse on Madison" was. The sound system was pumping and the crowd is easily the loudest in the league. During the anthem it was louder than a playoff game in Edmonton, but keep in mind they have almost 4,500 more seats and a brand new sound system; and they have chilled Jager on tap. The atmosphere was electric.

We sat in a five different sections around the rink, but everyone said the Hawks fans were all friendly and very knowledgeable about the game and even the history of the Oilers. The entire group all agreed that by the end of the game they were sick of the Chelsea Dagger song as well.

On Monday our luxury bus picked us up at noon and took us to Green Bay. Driving through Milwaukee and onto Green Bay the scenery reminded me of Alberta in the fall; endless fields with brown grass. Then almost out of nowhere we came across Green Bay and Lambeau Field. 

Green Bay has Lambeau and not much more, but the people are incredibly hospitable, passionate about their Packers and they know how to party. We had passes into Brett Favre’s Restaurant tailgate party, where the beer, vodka and Bloody Marys flowed and everyone celebrated like it was Friday night.

We left Favre’s and ventured through the real tailgaters and they were very gracious hosts. 

 These guys set up their own bar and handed out drinks to pretty ladies, and thankfully we had a few with us, as you can see by the six Jager shots they gave us.

The lineup to get into Lambeau looked like floor seating at an outdoor concert.  We managed to get through and I took a shot of the crowd. That is the tailgating area to the right and it is thousands of fans directly behind me.

We found out earlier that there are no individual seats in Lambeau, instead they have aluminum benches in each row and I was instructed to buy some seat covers. Best $9 bucks I ever spent.

When we started planning this trip I wanted to ensure we’d get great seats. We had gold seats in Chicago and all of our seats were between the 25 and 40 yard lines and in rows 6-24 for Monday Night Football. Being that close to the action made the experience that much better.

I was surprised by how many Vikings jerseys were in Lambeau, and despite their heated rivalry every Packers/Vikings fan interaction I saw was respectful. 

 

I know all of you are diehard hockey fans, but if you are a sports fan I’d urge you to put Lambeau on your "sports bucket list." It was an excellent end to an awesome sporting weekend.

It was great getting to meet and hang out with Darin, Jackie, Jeff, Kate, Peter, Dwayne, Mel, Kerry, Sunny, Jay, Jeff, Shana (Sp?), Gord, Shawn, Dean, Brian, Cordell, Don, Mike, Marcie, Laurie, Randy, Jaime and Leila.

I’m already looking forward to the next trip. Combining a great city with excellent sporting venues seems to be the recipe for success. If you have any suggestions on where to go let me know.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Maggiano’s Italian-American Restaurant, 516 North Clark Street.

      Another great one was: Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab Restaurant, 60 East Grand Ave.

      And you can’t miss breakfast at: The Original Pancake House, 22. E. Bellevue Pl.

    • Magglianos. Its an italian place. Huge portions.

      Highlight for me in that place was this rather large elderly white dude that was bellied up to the baby grand piano quaffing a few pints as he listened to the player, then out of nowhere he slammed into a blues standard that nearly peeled the paint off the walls. A huge resonant voice hidden in a santa clause body. Awesome!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hack The Bone

    Has anyone suggested planning a trip to Russia next winter to cheer our boys on at the World Juniors? My bucket list still has March Madness, Superbowl, Kentucky derby, MSG and any large NASCAR race in the deep south.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    If not for lack of funds, time and living so far away from Edmonton… I would do this in a heartbeat! Keep it going and maybe in a few years I’ll be able to afford tagging along (nah who am I kidding, I’ll just enjoy the pics)

    Wrigley is a special place though. They’ve got some nice statues outside too (Ernie Banks, Harry Caray). Me and the lady went there a couple of years ago… word to the wise: seating location is vital… the park has been renovated in unpleasant ways to accommodate higher capacity. we were on the first level and pretty stoked until we realize the second level hung over us in an extreme manner cutting off a lot of our field of vision and the landscape… also the bathrooms are kind of a gong show… when we go back we’ll try to get seats on top of those lofts across from the park… they all sell seats pretty cheap and apparently have good views.

    I’m pretty sure I was in that store… my lady bought me a cubs hat. pretty sweet.

    thanks for the write-up looks like fun!

  • Souby

    It sounds like a good time had by all. I love Chicago! I got to go there on a work trip back in 2008 and I even talked my boss into going to see the Bears take on the Titans. My Bears lost that game 14-10, but what a great experience. It is a great city, with lots of friendly people and great service everywhere we went.

    If you do another trip to the Windy City, I would love to go again. Boston and New York would be two other trips that would be cool. Maybe even Texas?

    Too many great places to see, not enough time.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Wow, looks like a great trip. And man those are cool statues! I love the coloring. So much better than just a bronze or metallic color. I’ll have to talk the wifey into going on one of these roadies with me one of these days. Good times!!

    P.S – I mentioned when you were asking the Nation about spots where to go for your first Trip and I mentioned that I had been Chicago and watched a hockey game there and that Chi town is one heck of a city and the people are awesome there! So it sounds like everyone came away from this trip with the same love for Chicago as I have. Cool stuff. Great city!

    • worth noting that I found chicago to be excellent value overall but most notably at the rink. We sat in the first row of the mez level, equitable to the executive concourse in edmonton. Full bar and food service, ran a tab (awesome!!!!), and she came around regularly, unlike the “maybe” a drink a period in rexalls golds.
      Shockingly,, when inquiring to the season seat holders beside us what their seats cost. 75 bucks a game face value! I sit in basically the same seats in rexall and with club access 168 a game face value.

      For those considering the possibility of going on one of these trips, gregor and his fiance are awesome hosts. All events are well organized and the rest is entirely up to the individual. Freedom reigns!!!

      Quick shout out to a couple of my fave experiences

      http://www.kumascorner.com

      and…”The Whiskey” ….. awesome picture of johnny cash and jimmy page, wasted out of there skulls! Plus a selection of scotch Lowetide would approve of.

      Ill go again….. twas awesome.

    • BigE91

      You sir are correct! My wife accompanied me to New York in 2008 where we caught the Jays and Yankees in old Yankee stadium. Any trip to New York is great but going to The House that Ruth built was something else.

      The next spring I managed to get out to Toronto with some friends where we caught the Leafs-Canadiens on Saturday night, the Raptors on Sunday and the Jays home opener on Monday(Halladays last season opener with the team). That was a great trip too.

      Chicago would have been/ would be great but I think Boston and Fenway have to be on the list.

  • Talbot17

    Do a New Orleans one and…yeah…I’d be in for sure. Always hear how amazing the town and games are there!!!

    But its probably better to go to a town with more than one game to see.

  • Inside The Oil Drop

    Sounds like a great weekend you and the gang had there.

    My best ever sports trip out of Edmonton was organized by “I think” Sport tours.

    Left YEG on Friday morning went to the LA Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Friday night, Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings v Calgary Flames on Saturday night and LA Raiders v Cincinatti Bengals on Sunday afternoon.

    What a weekend….all for $600

  • Al Davis

    I would have loved to be there. Seeing Wrigley and the United Center would have been great but Lambeau would have just been amazing.

    Other ideas for a trip I would like to would be some sort of multi-sport adventure through Pennsylvania and New York. Eagles/Flyers, Jets/Giants/Rangers.

    Checking out that new Cowboys Stadium along with a Stars game would be pretty sweet too.

  • Dave "Killer" Carlson

    My sports bucket list is to go to a home game for all MLB teams. Been to Seattle, Toronto, San Fransisco, Oakland and Boston so far. Fenway Park had the same feeling Gregor described Wrigley having. I’d recommend taking in a Red Sox game to anyone. The atmosphere is amazing, especially during “Sweet Caroline” at the middle of the 8th inning.

    Also checked out TD and the Orr statue. Such a classic.

  • ubermiguel

    Gregor, keep this going for a couple more years. I’m tempted to save my pennies and make this a 40th birthday bash.

    Lambeau’s on my bucket list. Ideally a winter game. And a playoff game. And against Chicago. Or is that too much to ask?

    • Jason Gregor

      They were on the road, or I would have done my show from there. He’ll be on show next week, but I’m planning on holding him to that one hour interview.

      • Vaclav

        You’re right Jason… Green Bay fans are some of the most hospitable I’ve encountered in any city.

        In addition to that I just saw the Packers play in Chicago at the end of September. I was sporting my #52 Matthews jersey and aside from some good-natured ribbing from the Bears’ fans in our section everyone treated us very well (tailgating and during the game).

        These are two of the biggest rivalries in sports – Bears/Packers & Vikings/Packers. Certainly says something that opposing fans can still be respectful during a game.

        Maggianos and Joe’s Stone Crab must be on quite a few “where to eat in Chicago” lists b/c we hit both those places on our trip. Pizzeria Uno or Duo should also be on the list.

  • mick swagger

    Iv always wanted to go see my patriots play but never had anyone to go with and taylor hall said Boston is a great city plan a bruins/Brady trip and you can count on one ticket being sold

  • Eulers

    Great meeting most of the gang after the Oilers game and sharing drinks at ‘Howl at the Moon’. I read everything that gets posted here, but am very removed from the Oilers community down here in Chicago. So nice to hang out with some great Alberta folk.

    I’m jealous of all you who can meet at games, or the Pint, or see Wanye at Oodle Noodle–er… the office.

    I also got to see Gregor, but didn’t get to formally meet (apparently, he was in a hurry to get back to the hotel with his fiancee!). Thanks for your great writing, Gregor, and for responding to my tweets: I’m still a twitter novice.