Looking Back At Joe’s Trip To DallasFebruary 3rd, 2011
Joe’s going to go on a rambling recount of his days in frigid, icy, memorable Dallas.
As most of Joe’s readers know, Joe went to Dallas to land some interviews, shoot some photos and make contacts at both Super Bowl Media Day and on radio row.
When Joe arrived Monday and went to the credential center at the Lone Star horse track to get his passes from the NFL, Joe had a hunch things were about to get screwy when the NFL types wouldn’t let Joe have his pass until the next morning.
With a very short window to get the pass and haul arse to Jerry’s World, there wasn’t much time to waste. Joe planned to get there at 6:30 a.m. as soon as the doors opened, hoping the icy rain expected the next morning would hold off.
Not Joe, nor anyone, expected what was to take place a few hours later.
First, Joe’s new blackberry didn’t flip to Central time. So when Joe thought he was getting up at 4 a.m., it was actually 3 a.m.
Joe heard the wind but was too groggy to put two-and-two together. He turned on the Weather Channel (Joe’s hotel did not have NFL Network, what, was Out House Networks the cable provider?) and noticed that there was freezing rain falling.
So Joe showered and got downstairs, expecting a hellish hour-long drive (with the freezing rain) to get to the Lone Star park. Joe spoke with a girl at the front desk who told Joe “it’s really bad,” and that local authorities were begging people to stay off the roads. Joe sucked it up and went out to his rental car expecting to be able to get out of the parking lot.
Wow, it was ugly. Joe was immediately hit in the face with freezing rain, blowing in the 25 mph winds. Joe thought his face was being sandblasted and it was in the teens.
There was so much ice on Joe’s car, trying to scrape inch-thick ice with a credit card was like trying to castrate an elephant with a tongue depresser: a lost cause.
After getting beat up by the freezing rain and getting literally nowhere scraping ice, Joe gave up and prayed NFL
warden commissioner Roger Goodell would delay Media Day.
Joe began reading the Twitterings of Adam Schefter and Rich Eisen documenting how awful it was outside. Schefter Twittered the ice and wind was blowing so hard on his hotel windows he thought someone broke into his room. Later that night, Joe met a radio guy from Sarasota who told Joe the same.
As Joe detailed, he was able to find a scraper in the afternoon and by that time what little sun appeared had helped melt a little bit of the ice off the windshield. Still, Joe was out there for 20 minutes before he was able to free up the windshield wipers, which were buried under the ice.
Getting to Super Bowl Media Headquarters for radio row, Joe parked two blocks away and walked. The last time Joe was this cold was when he went through 24-below working in Kansas City.
To be clear, Joe is not down on Dallas. This was an act of God. The people there were so nice and even when the roads were clear Monday, traffic was very navigable, far better than malfunction junction in Tampa.
After returning from radio row (Joe was all but begged by one of America’s top columnists to drink with him that night, who was impressed Joe would go to such lengths to develop contacts and interview various media bigwigs, but Joe was spooked about driving on ice even after just one beer, so Joe begged off), Joe’s hotel lounge and eatery was packed. Alive. The previous evening it was empty.
Joe initially thought it was Packers and/or Steelers fans filing in. But no, it was hordes of travelers who were stranded in Dallas as the airports were shutdown.
To give readers an idea of how bad it was, hotel workers couldn’t get to the hotel. So the restaurant literally drafted maids after their shift, put them in nice clothes and enlisted them to work as waitresses. Let’s just say not only did Joe’s waitress not know the menu, she had , well, um, a language barrier and couldn’t pronounce simply items like “pasta.”
Joe waited 90 minutes for food, a cheeseburger that was so wrong Joe thought it was someone else’s order. Other hungry patrons waited over two hours. There was a Denny’s nearby but no one wanted to go so little as two blocks as the weather was so horrible (16 degrees, zero wind chill) and the sidewalks/roads so icy, people were just happy to be inside and somewhat warm, no matter the wait for food.
Some people were not as patient or understanding as Joe. Maybe Joe was bribed after being fed free beer due to the wait?
Next day, Wednesday, Joe found out his flight home was canceled due to the airport being shut down again. Dallas airports are not equipped to handle highs in the teens and wind chills in the low single-digits and planes couldn’t get deiced.
Remembering the nightmare of the previous evening, Joe drove two blocks to Denny’s. Mistake.
Because of the record-low temperatures, there were blackouts and brownouts all over Dallas. Many had their furnaces blow out. That was the case at Denny’s near Joe’s hotel. They lost their heat.
Joe walked in and knew there was a problem. When asked where to sit, Joe replied, “Wherever it’s warm.” Joe was seated next to the kitchen. When asked what Joe wanted to eat, Joe said, “Anything hot. Give me black coffee and anything hot, a turkey sandwich, fries, anything, so long as it is hot.”
When Joe paid his check, he saw his own breath… INSIDE DENNY’S!
Joe finally made it back late last night in WARM Tampa. First time Joe was warm in two days.
Joe heard Adam Schein, co-host of “The Blitz,” heard exclusively on Sirius NFL Radio say that no matter where he was in Dallas, he was cold. He was right. Everyplace was cold and one had to wear a coat at all times. Only place Joe was remotely warm was his hotel room where the temperature was cranked to 85.
Schein also remarked that the entire city of Dallas was under ice. He was right again. The city does not have salt trucks and the locals didn’t have any salt to melt the ice. So unless someone decided to chip away with a hoe or a shovel, there was a sheet of ice everywhere: sidewalks, parking lots, roads.
Though Joe missed Media Day, he did salvage the trip by getting to radio row. Given the harsh winter Joe experienced for the first time in at least a dozen years, Joe was reminded why he lives in Florida.