Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 14 (Final Day of Driving)

14 days, 13 nights, 5,244 miles, a half dozen hotels, dozens of restaurant, hundreds of songs on the radio we never want to hear again, the Rocky Mountains, the swamps of the Bayou, the plains of Kansas, the big cities, the small towns, various parking escapades with a 30 foot trailer and van, and the sweltering heat and humidity of the southeastern United States in August and we made it! We’re alive! Tired and worn out, but extremely satisfied with the trip.
The trip went great. We didn’t have any car problems, device problems and no tickets! The trip really couldn’t have gone much better. We did come to the consensus that we won’t be going to any restaurants anytime soon. Getting back to a normal way of life will be our sole priority over the next several days. At some point soon we do have to get in the lab and unpack the equipment and look at the data.

On behalf of Seth, Jackie and I, we would just like to thank all of the turf managers and stadium directors for being so gracious. They were tremendous hosts and extremely helpful in the whole process. Whether it be lending us equipment or providing refreshments in the scorching Southern heat, all of the stadiums we visited made our jobs a lot easier. So, thank you so very much.

Day 13 (Driving from Hayes, Kansas to Evanston, WY)

After a very long day of driving, we made it to Evanston, WY (about an hour and a half east of Salt Lake City, UT). Today was really long, but that leaves only a little bit of driving left in the morning.
Nothing really exciting happened today. We were in the zone pretty much all day. We stopped about 3 or 4 times and made some really good time, considering we’re carrying a 30 foot trailer over the Rocky Mountains.

Tomorrow morning we’re planning on getting a really early start. If we get on the road by 7 am we should be back in Boise by 1 or 2 pm. We’re almost home.

Day 12 (Testing at Texas Stadium: Home of the Cowboys)

The last several days here in Dallas haven’t been that hot believe it or not. The last time I was in Dallas in the summer it was oppressively hot and humid. Of course today, the day we’re scheduled to test at Texas Stadium, that Texas heat I remembered came back with vengeance. Texas Stadium is a partial dome. What that means is it’s enclosed over the seating and open over the field. This translates to extremely hot sun beating down on the field [where we were] and no air circulation. Today was our fastest day of testing. We had great incentive to hustle along. Our penalty for staying around too long would have been heat stroke.

Since we finished testing early we decided to get to driving a day early. It was either have two 15 hour days or distribute that time over two and a half days. So we voted to do a bit of driving today. After getting a bit of food in our system, we hit the road again. We put in 8 hours of driving today and made it all the way to Hayes, Kansas. Not too bad. Tomorrow will be a long day since we’d like to make it through most of Wyoming.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 11 (Off Day in Dallas)

So with our final day off, Seth and I decided to use our time wisely and do a bit of laundry. We had to wash some of the essentials necessary for the rest of the trip. Jackie was a bit smarter and packed accordingly. Either way we’re all going to just squeak by with enough clean clothes.

Other than that we did a bit of exploring of the city. We went to the West End of the city, which is the historic/touristy end of town, and walked around the "grassy nole" where the Kennedy assassination occurred. I’d been to the site before so I provided the expert analysis of the scene. I provided the conspiracy theories associated with assassination. I’m pretty sure I have a couple convert conspiracy theorists.

We also did a bit of souvenir shopping. Jackie got all into the Texas cowboy thing and decided to get a cowboy hat. Seth got some Texas gear as well. My weakness was the Bass Pro Shop. Jackie didn’t quiet understand why Seth and I were like kids in a candy store in there. And yes I bought stuff there. Stuff I probably don’t need NOW, but some day they’ll come in handy and I’ll thank myself then. Tomorrow is our last day of testing, then the short drive home to Boise on Friday (and by short I mean really really long). Hopefully all the testing goes off without a hitch and we make it back to Boise in one piece. Wish us luck!

Day 10 (Driving from NO to Dallas)

The drive today went smoothly. The first part of the trip had us driving through the Bayou. We drove about 120 miles over bridges through the swamps of Southern Louisiana. On our way through, we didn't see any characters that looked like the ones depicted in that Adam Sandler movie Waterboy. So we can neither confirm nor deny the portrayal of the local people that live in the Louisiana Bayou. One thing that was interesting was the fact that this was the first time in my life I’d ever seen dirt road off ramps off a major highway. That's right, DIRT ROAD off ramps. Not too safe if your going 60 mph with a 20 foot trailer.

These 8 hour days of driving seem to get easier and easier for us. I think we’re actually kind of getting used to it. But don’t get me wrong, if we had some other way of getting our testing equipment to the testing sites we’d be on the next plane going there.

We got into Dallas, TX at about 5 pm and made our way downtown to grab some dinner. Tomorrow we have our final day off before testing and making our final two days of driving. It’s crazy how much we’ve jam packed into this week and a half. But we’re still not done yet, almost though.

Day 9 (Testing @ the Superdome in New Orleans)

Testing today went great. The stadium was extremely close to the hotel we’re staying at, and loading all the equipment went a little easier than previous times. The turf at the stadium was actually just recently laid down and we were the first people to really be on it, besides the installation crew. Getting details on the turf was pretty easy this time around because not only did we have the turf manager, Chad Wilker, but we also had the turf installation director from Sportexe (the company installing the turf at the Superdome).
Being in the Superdome was great. I was really nice to see how they’ve recovered post-Katrina. A matter of fact, it was really nice to see the city of New Orleans recover post-Katrina. The area we stayed in, and the French Quarter from what was told to us, was not badly affected by the storm. But driving into the heart of the city you could still see some of the damage left in the storm’s wake.

Overall I think we all really enjoyed New Orleans. It had great food, entertainment, and most of all, people. We really couldn’t ask for more.

Tomorrow starts another day of driving. We drive from here (New Orleans, LA) to Dallas, TX. It’s about another 8 hour drive to get there. These past couple days have turned out to be a great opportunity to power up and make that final push for this last bit of the trip. Next stop, Texas Stadium: Home of the Dallas Cowboys!

Day 8 (Taking it easy in the Big Easy)

Today’s day off was great for all of us. We were finally been able to sleep in past 7 am and not worry about being somewhere. After breakfast, we took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring of the city. We went down to the French Quarter and checked out some of the historical sites. When we got there we first walked around Bourbon Street. From there, we checked out Jackson Square where a lot of musicians and artists set up for the day. I walked around the square to look for some art to bring back. Seth and Jackie went to the St. Louis Cathedral to see the unique stain glass windows of the cathedral.
Today served as a great way to rejuvenate. It was great to finally sit down and not be planning the next move. Seth got an opportunity reorganize, Jackie a chance to write some postcards and me to catch up on the blog. Tomorrow we’ll be ready to get going again, and finish this second half the trip strong.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 6 Pictures (Atlanta Falcons)

The trailer and van outside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA

The countdown clock in the Georgia Dome for the Falcon's first game versus the Cults

The Turf Buster hooked up to a forklift (to ensure it didn't move during testing)

The Turf Buster on the 10 yardline on the Falcon's field

Jackie, Seth, and Ben (from left to right) with the Turf Buster on the Falcon's football field

Day 7 (Driving from Atlanta, GA to New Orleans)

Today we drove from Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, LA. The drive today went really well. We left around 8 am (eastern time) and arrived in New Orleans at 3 pm (central time). So for the first time we actually arrived at the predicted time. I think it was a combination of flat terrain and experience towing the trailer.

Today I think it really hit us how far we had travelled thus far. We were passing through southern Alabama when we saw exits for Florida beaches, that’s when we realized how far away we really were from Boise. I think Florida actually is the furthest point from Boise on the continental U.S., so we’ve come a long way. But as of today, we are now more than half way done with both testing and driving. But the next several days will probably be the toughest because of how many days we’ve been going. Hopefully with our day off tomorrow we’ll be able rejuvenate and get our second wind.

Day 6 (Testing in Atlanta)

I would just like to thank Arthur Blank (owner of the Falcons) and the city of Atlanta for having a dome on their football field. Because if we were working outside in this heat and humidity, we would literally be three puddles. We thought it was hot and humid in Nashville, Atlanta’s even worse. The testing today went by a lot faster. I think it was a combination of being more efficient and not having to fight fatigue from the heat. Fortunately, everything is going great and we haven’t encountered any difficulties with the testing devices or the facilities themselves. Everyone has been extremely helpful and accommodating.

After tomorrow’s drive from Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, LA (8 hour drive), we’ll finally have a day off and a chance to relax for a day. This is much needed. We’ve basically been going non-stop since we left on Sunday. We’ve either been driving or testing or a combination of them both, so a day off will be great. New Orleans will be an especially good place to have a day off since it’s known for its rich culture, great food and numerous activities available in the area.

(I will post the pictures associate with today later. For some reason I'm having trouble uploading the photos.)

Day 5 (Testing in Nashville and Driving to Atlanta)

We knew it was going to be hot in Nashville, but not as hot as it turned out to be. This is really the first place we’re had to work outside on the trip that was extremely hot AND humid. Like I said in the last posting, we were not sure if we would be able to test due to the chance of rain. It turned out that there was just light rain in the beginning of testing and passed after about 30 minutes. Testing today was difficult due to the extreme heat and humidity. After it had rained it cleared a bit and the humidity rose quickly.

We were hoping to see part of the practice but unfortunately it turned out the players had weight training in the morning and practice in the afternoon. So our schedules were opposite, and we never got to see any of the players practice. We did see some of them walking around the facilities, but not near where we were testing.
After we finished testing and came back to life, we grabbed a late lunch at Hard Rock Café in downtown Nashville. Once we finished lunch we headed down to Atlanta, since we had scheduled testing at the Georgia Dome tomorrow morning. Finally after a long day of testing and driving we got to our hotel in Atlanta later that evening. Tomorrow we get up and start it all over again.

Titans' Head Coach Jeff Fisher's dog Nancy

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 4 (Driving...KC to Nashville)

So to spice things up on our drive from Kansas City to Nashville we decided to play the game Survivor. Unfortunately Seth didn’t make the cut, and I think Jackie’s plotting against me. Just kidding. We’re all still one big happy family. Nothing excited happened on our drive, so I figured I’d fabricate an interesting scenario. We did encounter some pretty heavy rain throughout Missouri. But by the time we hit St. Louis and started heading south, the rain had subsided and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there on out.
We’re staying in Brentwood, Tennessee, a suburb south of Nashville, and plan on doing testing in the morning at the Tennessee Titans practice facility. Hopefully the weather holds up because they’re reporting severe weather over night. This might also disrupt the testing surface. So testing on the turf might be a bust. If everything goes well it should be an interesting day of testing since, unlike most testing sites, the players will be there working out and practicing. Hopefully the players will be curious about what we’re doing and come over and check it out. It’d be nice to get some signatures on the Turf Buster. We’ll keep everyone posted.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 3 (Review of Day 2)

Remember that whole “Great state of Kansas” business I spoke about in the last posting… yeah… not so great. I think I’ve had a more interesting time watching paint dry (no offense to Kansans). I figure since I didn’t do a sufficient job of covering yesterday’s activities, I’ll spare you the thrilling stories of endless prairies and corn fields that filled day 3.

So like I said before, we went to Invesco Field @ Mile High in Denver, CO and performed turf testing. But before I continue I’ll backup just a little and explain what exactly we’re doing at these various NFL stadiums, and why they would possibly let us have free rein of their precious fields. COBR (Center of Orthopaedic and Biomechanics Research [at Boise State University]) received a grant from the NFL to study turf-shoe interaction. The NFL is interested in this area in order to better understand the incidents of injuries that occur at the ankle/foot of their athletes. Basically, we have a device (reference pictures to see the device) that simulates a series of dynamic movements a foot might perform during a football game. We then have a number of sensors that collect pertinent information during those movements. This information will then help us, and thus the NFL, better understand how and what is potentially causing injuries.

We got to the stadium at 9 am and spoke with Ross [the turf manager] for a bit, and after setting everything up, we started testing at about 10:30. We collected until about 4:30 pm, and everything went off without any hitches. Like any good scientist, we volunteered as subjects and tested the turf with our own shoes by playing some catch. Both Seth and I caught the two easiest touchdown passes anyone has caught at Mile High (just a little different then when you have 50,000 screaming fans and guys with the sole purpose of ripping your head off). Check out some of the shots from the day.

We’re spending the night in Blue Springs, MO (just east of Kansas City, MO). Tomorrow begins day 2 of all-day-driving. Destination: Nashville, TN. Goal for the Titans’ field: catch a touchdown pass from Vince Young (Tennessee Titans’ QB), oh yeah, and doing some turf testing.


The State of a Great Road Trip!

I'm going to start off by saying, I know I'm a couple days behind already but from this point on we'll try to update the blog everyday throughout the rest of the 14 day road trip around the country. I'll start off with giving a quick summary of where we've been and the events thus far.

Day 1

We left Boise, ID at about 7 am and drove all day. A very long day of driving especially when your going 45 mph up high in Wyoming (we're putting this van and trailer to work!). I must say the highlight of the drive was in Lincoln, Wyoming. In this GREAT town there is a huge Abraham Lincoln head on a post... yup... that was the highlight of the first day.

Eventually we made it Denver, CO (15 hrs later). Exhausted and ready to head to Invesco Field @ Mile High (for those who don't know, it's where the Denver Broncos play) to start some testing bright and early in the morning.

Day 2

We woke up early and headed out to the stadium. We got there and they actually let us in. Not only did they let us in, but they lead us to the field and let test on it all day. It was a pretty cool experience to be working on a field I watch football games on on TV. A special thanks goes to Ross Kurcab. He is the Turf Manager at the Invesco Field @ Mile High and was very helpful and extremely nice. Thanks Ross.

Day 3

We're all done here in Denver, and testing much go on! We're off to Nashville, TN to conduct testing on the Tennessee Titans' practice field. I'll try and write more this evening. Right now we're trying to hit the road. We have an exciting drive through the great state of Kansas!

*Sorry for the short post. I'm just trying to get something done in hurry. I'll try and write more in the future. I'll also attach pictures/videos when possible.