San Diego or bust: Texan staffers recount the grueling journey

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Mack Brown talks with the media after The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl press conference early Tuesday. Brown spoke of his great admiration for the University of California football program and their coach, Jeff Tedford, whom he holds in high regard
Mack Brown talks with the media after The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl press conference early Tuesday. Brown spoke of his great admiration for the University of California football program and their coach, Jeff Tedford, whom he holds in high regard

Road trip to San Diego both enjoyable and productive

Time flies when you’re having fun.

And a lot of time flew by on the way to San Diego – a little under 18 hours to be exact.

Elisabeth Dillon drove for the first 15 of those hours, not including the hour and a half she spent picking up Lawrence Peart and I. How she managed to stay behind the wheel from 11:30 a.m. Monday morning until 2:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. back in Austin) early Tuesday morning across four states, stopping only for gas, remains a mystery to me.

Lawrence kept everyone entertained through his frustrations playing Paper Toss and multiple triumphs while playing Monopoly on the new iPad I got for Christmas. If his Monopoly performance is any indication of how he can succeed with real money, he has the potential to become quite the businessman.

During our last few hours in Texas and our first couple in New Mexico, I was frantically refreshing the web page on my iPhone trying to keep track of how Drew Brees – the quarterback on all four of my fantasy football teams – and the New Orleans Saints were doing against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. Brees’ 307-yard, four-touchdown outing was more than enough to allow me to capture two fantasy football titles as the former Westlake High star broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing record and helped the Saints clinch the NFC South in the process.

We rolled into San Diego at around 4 a.m. and wandered around until about 8 a.m. Incredibly, neither Elisabeth nor Lawrence got hungry during the road trip, eating a granola bar, a few crackers, and a couple of oranges between them. I grabbed a bite to eat at Subway the first time we stopped for gas but the three of us did not all enjoy a meal until we reached our destination and stopped at the Family House of Pancakes – a place notorious for its huge portions.

They certainly did not disappoint as I was presented with an omelet that, as Lawrence described, “looks like there could be a small infant inside.” Along with heaps of potatoes and three giant pancakes, it looked like a scene from Man vs. Food when the waitress set the gargantuan dish in front of me. But like Elisabeth driving from Texas to San Diego, I could not have finished without Lawrence’s help.

A press conference and a pit stop at Trader Joe’s later, the three of us were finally able to enjoy the comforts of our Holiday Inn hotel. We were all glad to have a shower to use and beds to take naps on, but this road trip was one to remember.

-Christian Corona

Robot Dillon takes us to the land of milk and honey (pancakes and syrup)

Google Maps estimated that the drive from Dallas to San Diego would take 21 hours. Elisabeth Dillon got us there in 18, and it could have been less, a lot less. We hit some traffic near Abilene and definitely lost some ground when I took over at the 16 hour mark because I drive like an old woman looking at the mountains. I echo Christian’s sentiments in my equal disbelief that she could remain awake in the face of such monotony. I even asked her if she was getting tunnel vision. She wasn’t.

After many hours of real-estate domination and asking E-Dill if “we were there yet”, I rolled the Mystery Mobile into a pitch black San Diego morning at what I assumed was 6:45 am, curious as to why the sun hadn’t come up yet only to be reminded that California operates two hours behind Texas. It wasn’t even five in the morning. Check-in at our hotel was at three in the afternoon so we had a few hours *cough* to spare. I parked the car near Mission Bay for a quick nap, we (Christian kept sleeping) watched the sun rise over some distant wharf, heard a few seagulls complain incessantly, and walked around Seaport Village until 8am. By then the sun was out and you couldn’t help but agree with what Californians are always gloating about: even in December the weather was heavenly.

Yelp happily suggested that if we were looking for “the best breakfast in San Diego” on a limited budget then the place to go was Family House of Pancakes, a wonderfully yellow-tinged 70’s motel of a place that clearly assumed that you hadn’t had anything to eat in 6 months. Christian’s omelet should have been shipped off to feed a third-world country, Elisabeth’s pancake plate could have doubled as a quilt, and my egg combo plate almost did the unthinkable by just about filling me up. That only happened after I cleaned off a third of the delicious omelet. We work as a team here at The Daily Texan.

We then headed to the Omni hotel to see Mack Attack (Mack Brown) in good spirits, talking about the final game of the 2011 campaign against California, before finally making our way to our hotel to rest our legs and minds. The three of us have covered a lot of football this semester, when I think about it. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that after seeing the same people and the same personalities go through so much with you right there that it all becomes a part of you in some way. Regardless of the outcome tomorrow night there will inevitably be that small, gnawing feeling of loss, like parting with someone close to you. But these things happen, and you can’t replace the memories, whether they be of all that happened on the field (Tucker!) or everything leading up to the game. San Diego will be no exception.

-Lawrence Peart

Proving Google Maps wrong

I didn’t really know what to expect from this road trip, because I had only been thinking about the football game and what would happen when we actually got to San Diego. So, looking back on the trip with Christian and Lawrence, it’s nice to be able to say that it was a great one.

Cutting three hours off of the estimated Google maps travel time to San Diego was a fairly big accomplishment for me. Each time we stopped at a gas station, it was like a badge of honor to figure out how much time we had been trimming off the original estimation. Really, though, the drive wasn’t bad. I had some entertaining company to say the least. Lawrence was pretty enthusiastic about Monopoly on Christian’s iPad. And Christian was pretty enthusiastic about his fantasy football leagues.

Lawrence finished the drive into San Diego (slowly, might I add) and we got there at 4:30 am local time. We had some major time to kill before our hotel check-in time that afternoon, so we found a spot to watch the sun rise. Christian slept, but Lawrence and I watched a California sunrise. It’s unbelievable to me to think that 24 hours before we had been sleeping in Texas.

The next big stop was breakfast. I don’t think I could do justice to describing the amount of food that the guys ate. There was not a single piece of food on their plates. Christian’s omelet was insane, and he was lucky to have Lawrence to help him finish it off. I just can’t fathom the amount of food that was on our table. As they each finished their plates, I could only watch in shock. And after we left the restaurant, Lawrence started planning his next meals. I just don’t understand.

The rest of the day was spent just counting down the hours until we could check into the hotel. And now I’m sitting in the most comfortable hotel bed there ever could be and watching bowl games in preparation for tomorrow.

This was my first semester shooting for Texan, and I can’t even believe all of the great things I’ve experienced working at this paper. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot some great football games this year, and go on several other football road trips with Lawrence, but this has to be the biggest one. San Diego is something the three of us will remember forever.

-Elisabeth Dillon