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Gildan New Mexico Bowl Wi-Fi: Quirky In Abuquerque

December 23rd, 2014 · Tags:Cities · Hotels · Sports · Wi-Fi

 

UTEP Jump Pass sized

Jameill Showers, Having Launched 53-Yard Completion

ALBUQUERQUE — The 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl was the antithesis of the previous version. Last year — an air-it-out/shoot-em-up, between Colorado State and Mike Leach’s Washington State. This year … a much more physical, grueling, slightly conservative style of play pitting the Utah State Aggies (10-3, Mountain West Conference) vs. The Miners of UTEP (7-6, Conference USA) … Of course there is no fair comparison of an air raid and a running attack … neither style is better. Just different.

 

As evidence: the ’14 edition was 7-3 into the third quarter, before Utah eventually pulled ahead and recorded the win, 21-6. In the first quarter, there were 6 passes … total. Ha! That’s about the equivalent of one offensive trickplay these days.

 

UTEP Rocket Man sized

 

But there were plenty of interesting story lines, despite no passing records set this day. Take for instance that Kent Myers, the starting quarterback for The U-S Aggies was the fourth to start in that position this year. Then, when Myers was shaken up, a fifth QB emerged — receiver Ronald Butler took the snaps and tallied 69 yards on two rushes.

 

The longest completion of the day was a first quarter 53-yard strike, as UTEP’s Jameill Showers scrambled out of the pocket avoiding pressure, finding the 6-foot-5 Ian Hamilton for a 53-yard first down, deep in Aggie territory.

 

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Incomplete

 

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Aggies Coach Matt Wells

 

But, the Miner’s drive stalled, and although UTEP hit paydirt first, they settled for their first of only two field goals for the day. That seemed to be the story of the day for UTEP — great efforts, but unable to finish the deal.

 

The Miners stayed close most of the day with a stingy defense, making an interception and forcing two fumbles, building an argument the bowl was more evenly matched than the team records indicated.

 

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Kent Myers Keeps For Six

 

In size and speed, I would have to say the playing field was pretty level. If there were a differentiating factor, it might have been the resolve of the freshman Aggie quarterback. Myers was rocked all day, as he let go of a pass and also on keepers, but he just kept coming … finishing the day with 15 carries for a net of 70 yards — including a 48-yard keeper for a score. Passing, Myers was five of 12 for the day, for another 68 yards, with one interception. Myers was sacked four times. One sack led to Butler taking over as the signal caller just prior to the end of the first half.

 

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The Utah State story — on the defensive side — was a family affair. Brothers Zach and Nick Vigil shared 16 tackles between kin at the linebacker position. The brothers rank first at the FBS level (among active brothers) with 551 career tackles. Zach is the 2014 Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year. But it was the younger brother Nick who made the highlight reel, switching to offensive and grinding out a touchdown on a three-yard run for State.

 

UTEP … you got to give them lots of credit. They were decidedly the underdogs, but played to win from the first snap. Penalties may have also been their undoing. But this spoke loudly to me. During one break for the cheerleaders, I heard this group of 10 or 15 Miner fans shouting and jumping up and down in their own, unsanctioned cheer.

 

“We believe we will win! We believe we will win!” … Simple, to the point, enthusiastic and optimistic … loved it.

 

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Cheer

 

It was a great game, with great game-time conditions in the mid-50s, one day after near-freezing temps. Utah State is now 4-5 in bowl action, while UTEP is 4-5 in post-season play, in its first winning season since ’05. The Miner’s last bowl victory was the Sun Bowl in 1967 over Ole Miss … just prior to Archie Manning and that ensuing dynasty, if that helps put that stat into perspective.

 

As it was the previous year, the Wi-Fi in the bowl game press box was great.  I had a false start, prior to the game.  For some reason the Wi-Fi network would not allow me to get online with the Safari Browser.  For some reason, I thought to try the Chrome browser.  Voila … no more issues.

 

PART II (Starting Point For Readers Like Judy … I digress …)

 

As always, the PingWi-Fi bowl coverage started before the game and ended well after, because like a fool, I was cruising around most of New Mexico in 30-40 degree conditions … tracking bowl developments, Breaking Bad sort of and sampling the Wi-Fi …

UTEP Rude Boy Cookies

One of the first sights to cause me to over brake was a “Rude Boy” sign in a cool retail cluster off Central Avenue (The old Route 66), near one of my favorite coffee shops ever – Satellite Coffee. Some of you have guessed, I first thought “Rude Boy” was a reference to The Clash. However, it was a cookie shop, featuring the ska music and design characteristics of the British/Jamaican ska music/rude boy scene. How cool is that — a black and white checkered motif and ska music as I slammed down a rocky road cookie?

 

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The Wi-Fi … perfect. The cookie, delicioso, although pricy, so you might say “Rudie Don’t Fail” and gets 6 pings.

 

Further East on Central, I had to check out a new motorcycle shop. Two things need to happen. I need to take better notes, and the great dude who runs the shop needs to work on his Web marketing. The shop doesn’t show up on Google Maps or in Google searches. Sorry … my bad … I wanted to shout out, but I can’t find you. Was it Route 66 Cycles?

 

Speaking of my inability to take notes … The next day, on game day, I was shooting photos near the north end zone of The New Mexico Bowl, when the P.A. announcement said something about the film industry in New Mexico; a new project in production — the sequel to “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials;” and something about one of the actors being a part of The Game of Thrones saga.

UTEP Two Actors sized

Got Game?

I moved down the sideline faster than some of the linebackers … seeking Game of Thrones photo opps. There was one actress who, with a lot of imagination, a few years of maturity and a different hair color, could have very remotely resembled Maisie Williams who plays the young Arya Stark on the most successful series in the history of HBO Films. It wasn’t her. And who it was, I am sure, I don’t know. (Anybody?)

 

New Mexico Film Project

 

A near brush with fame, and I came away empty handed.

 

I was also starstruck by the opening ceremonies, when an Osprey aircraft was featured in the customary fly over. (Some of you may recall, I just witnessed another Osprey sighting a week earlier … in the previous farm blog.)

 

During the 2.5-day tour, there was also that troublesome question of where to lay my pinghead in the ABQ. It was certainly a tale of two cities, so to speak. The first evening, I chose one of the hotels recommended by the bowl committee e-mails. The Cascada was handy, just off Interstate 40 and Carlisle, plus it had the city’s only indoor waterpark. Works for me. After a near-freezing, 3.5-hour ride from Wildorado, Texas, to the mountain zone ABQ, the waterpark only needed a hot tub to get my attention. Brrrrrr. But, after the weather warmed up, and I explored, I lost interest in hot water. Good thing. There didn’t seem to be anything going on in the waterpark. I hit a Starbucks and dined at the Elephant Bar in Uptown, where everything is new. Then I made an early night of it … or tried.

 

Around 3 a.m. I was awoken by a strange chirping. It was not the ghost of Buddy Holly & The Crickets from New Mexico’s Norman Petty studios … it was even lower-tech. The annoying tweet was a faulty smoke alarm … yes, luck of the draw, in the hallway just outside my room.

 

Naturally, I called the front desk “cuz I values my sleeps.” They were pretty nonchalant, and first said they couldn’t do anything about it because there “wasn’t an engineer on duty.” That led to my new favorite joke: “How many Cascada engineers does it take to change a battery?”

 

I suggested someone really should do it … if not for my sanity, because there is kind of a long-running taboo with hotels and faulty fire alarms, ya know? The person at the front desk reconsidered and said someone would get on it. An hour later, I was still counting chirps trying to sleep … and yes, wide awake when I placed my second call. Maybe 30 minutes later, the sound stopped and I was able to go back to sleep. The next call was going to be The Albuquerque Fire Department. That wouldn’t have gone over well with a hotel full of bowl game guests. The next day, the hotel assistant manager — perhaps somewhat reluctantly, but politely — refunded part of my out-of-pocket.

 

As for the Cascada Wi-Fi … I think maybe the fire alarm was vexing the Wi-Fi network. Of course I could not get online in my room, initially. That being earlier in the evening, a couple of engineers came to my room for that call … interestingly, entering through the sliding door of my room from the parking lot, rather than through the hallway door. They tweaked the hotspot, while I rebooted and soon I had spotty Wi-Fi.

 

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Sorry Cascada. You were chosen to represent the ABQ on game day and fell short. I won’t even mention the funk throughout the hallways … because someone in housekeeping finally compensated with some sort of industrial strength air freshener, after I most politely said, “Dang, what’s that smell?” – just two pings.

 

The next night, I moved over to The Drury. I was shocked to learn this hotel was nearly 10 years old, but looked, felt and yes, smelled brand new. Ha … I have stayed in Drury in another city for months at a time, so I get a kick out of Drury’s marketing strategy … free meals three times a day. Dinner consists of alternating hotdogs/chicken fingers/pasta … repeat.

 

When I checked in, it was an hour too early for free eats, although I think a crowd was already building. So I hopped on the Triumph Thunderbird and headed south on the highway and then toured most of downtown Albuquerque, again, as the sun was about to go down and the lights were firing up. I like it … a lot.

 

As my personal hunger bell (still running on Central, but in the Mountain Time Zone) sounded, I turned the bike around and headed back toward Drury … when I spotted the absolute best thing about Albuquerque. No! It wasn’t “Walter” or “Jesse Pinkman” … it was a few hot air balloons lazily drifting across the sky, just a few thousand feet out of my reach. Love me some hot air spotting. I have only been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta once … but it seems they have some flying pretty much all the time.

 

Nice visual finish for the ride — the balloons at sunset — and then back to the hotel.

 

For this DruryFest, hot dogs it was … and as is the Drury tradition, people were pretty aggressively lining up for free food. Works for me.

 

The Wi-Fi really worked. In my room on the top (6th) floor — getting on-line was a breeze. After a quick elevator ride down, the Wi-Fi never failed me in the lobby for the hot dog hoe down.

 

Great room too. Maybe they upgraded me for my extensive knowledge of their meal plan??? But anywho, I had a big room and an awesome view overlooking the Pan Am freeway and much of the city to the West, for one of the most exquisite New Mexico pastel sunsets … ever.

 

Oh … and get this … the hot air balloons were still hanging around, which took me to the West window. “What the heck, wonder if this thing opens?” Ha! I don’t think I was supposed to be able to do that, but I popped that sucker right open. For an instant, I though I was going to drop a free-standing window frame a few stories. That would have been one blog-worthy mishap. I didn’t … and after I gazed out at the balloons for a bit … I got a little freaked out from the height and the open air … and locked it up. It did sort of seem like I was able to touch the balloons … and it proved a bit much.

 

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I’d rather stay at Drury “if I had my druthers.” Great Wi-Fi. The manager on duty even let me park my motorcycle on the stepping stones right outside the front door to protect from the elements. The open window was interesting — neither hurting nor helping the score. Six pings … might have been a perfect seven of seven, had it been chicken finger night.

 

UTEP Pep Rally

 

The open window thing was the second time my life flashed before my eyes during the visit. The first was on day one. I rushed to the Old Town plaza for the bowl game pep rally, featuring all kinds of craziness with the bands, and cheerleaders, and fans, and mascots and flag corps from the two schools. Good-natured spirit and rivalry and no fights. (Did you see the brawl between BYU and Memphis? I digress …)

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Synchronized Hair

Well … I was watching the dance off of the mascots, and the cheerleaders tumbling through the air … and perhaps jamming a bit to the bands … kind of lost in the moment. As one band finished up and the other school’s band took over … the flag corps suddenly came alive. OH NO! … They didn’t raise the flags for much of a warning. They just whipped around. Guess who was standing just a little too close to the action, trying to take photos for the blog.

 

Oh man. The censors won’t allow me to tell you where the flag pole landed on my person … but I’ll just say this. Look for PingWi-Fi on an upcoming episode of America’s Funniest Videos.

 

 

Know what I sayin?