In a classic example of trying to follow a plan — and life intervening — I only made it to Pensacola, Fla., before needing to go back to Norfolk. (It's all for a terrific reason, so no worries. And I will hit the road again soon.)
I drove down via Savannah. On the return trip, I cut through Atlanta. I have about a week to make it back, so instead of high-tailing it from Atlanta to Norfolk in 9 long hours, I decided to meander. I looked at the map of I-85 and spied Charlotte and Greenville in the way.
(My first thought was "Greenville! Isn't that where Josh goes to school? Maybe we can meet up for a bite." Then I talked to a wise mutual friend, who said, "Umm, Brianne, Josh goes to ECU. That's East Carolina. That's Greenville, NORTH Carolina." I think, "So the Greenville that is on the way to Charlotte, North Carolina, is Greenville, South Carolina"? Yes. Lots of lessons in geography this trip.)
Anyway, I was set to explore Charlotte when I started seeing signs for Clemson. Clemson! That's an ACC school. Who knew I was in Tiger territory?
Hmm. I got to thinking. It's a Tuesday, which is occasionally a basketball night, and this is the last bit of the regular basketball season. Could I be so lucky?
I pulled over, did a little Web surfing (god bless modern technology) and ... YES!
Clemson was playing UVA at 7 p.m. that night, and I was on track to roll into Clemson around 6. Score!
Now could I get a ticket?
In the land of the Terps, getting a ticket to the last home game of the men's basketball season is unheard of. Much less on game day. (At least, that's how it was when I went to College Park.) Everything sold out weeks and months in advance.
I was hoping I could find some random fan who had an extra ticket. A long shot, I figured, but why not?
Apparently, not so long a shot. I paid $5 to park at a lot across from Littlejohn Stadium, walked up to the ticket booth and bought a ticket. I was thrilled and appalled.
By the time the game started, the field house was nearly full in a sea of orange. Wow, the orange. Everyone in orange. (Of course, orange is also one of UVA's colors, which is convenient.)
And it was a classic electric ACC game.
Pom-pom girls, cheerleaders, two mascots dressed as orange Tigers, a big pep band, banners for Senior Night, strobe lights, the National Anthem sung beautifully by a high school chorus, the whole nine yards.
I learned that Clemson's main cheer is "C - L - E - M - S - O .... N!" (Nice way to make 4-4 song work with a 7-letter name.)
I learned that John Heisman (of the Heisman trophy fame) coached at Clemson.
I learned that senior Jesse (#44) is a huge fan favorite.
And I watched UVA crumble in the second half. So sad. But Littlejohn was roaring with the glee of fans on their feet with every in-your-face dunk.
I'll post a bit of video and photos soon, so you can experience the joy of ACC basketball, too.
(Oh, and the food was so lackluster. Lukewarm Papa John's pizza without the garlic sauce! Why don't stadiums have tasty food? Greasy, crispy fries? Real pretzels instead of cardboard imitations? I guess because they don't have to ...)