Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 Men's Final Four ~ Detroit, MI ~ April 3-7, 2009

On April 3rd. Steve and I took the 3 hour drive to Detroit, MI to attend our first (and hopefully not our last!) Men’s Final Four. The anticipation was a little overwhelming and we couldn’t wait to see Steve’s beloved UConn Huskies face-off against Michigan State on Saturday night…

Prior to our departure, Paul & Sue stopped by for a few hours on their way to the Women's Final Four in St. Louis, MO (Go Huskies!!). It is because of them that we had this awesome opportunity (and new sweatshirts!), so they took a picture of us with our tickets.

On Saturday morning we headed to downtown Detroit. As usual, I planned a mini pub crawl during our stay...I figure it's a great way to see the city :) Here's Steve with a Bloody Mary at our first stop, The Sweetwater Tavern. It was a very impressive drink with an even more impressive garnish.

I led us around town with my bar/city map. We met some North Carolina fans (Matt & Tony) and they tagged along with us throughout the day. The Hard Rock Cafe was our third stop and our new friends took this picture of us.

We were surrounded by Michigan State fans all day, but as we approached Ford Field it didn't matter. The experience was awesome! Steve and I absolutely LOVE the NCAA Tournament and to be there was surreal.

Here we are inside of Ford Field.

The banners within Ford Field had all 65 teams from the tournament. Coincidently (or alphabetically!) Cleveland State & UConn were next to each other...Clemson too :)

Additional banners for each of the Final Four teams were hung displaying the distance traveled to Detroit. Here are the UConn (746 miles) & MSU (92 miles) banners...I think the mileage differential explains the overwhelming number of Spartan fans :)

The end result of Saturday's game was not what we were hoping for as we saw UConn fall to Michigan State 82-73. In the second game, we watched North Carolina defeat Villanova 83-69.

On Monday we did a lot of the same. We toured the city on our own and visited more bars & restaurants. Our first stop was the Westin to get lunch at Michael Symon's restaurant, Roast. Steve and I are fans of Symon's Cleveland restaurants, Lola & Lolita, so when we were headed to Detroit, I knew we had to make a stop at the Iron Chef's newest establishment. We had an awesome lunch and a Great Lakes Dortmunder...ahhh, just like home.

Here we are at the Detroit Brewing Company with our new friends Tony & Matt. We really had a lot of fun with these guys.

Unbeknownst to us, Michael Jordan was being inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday so he was in attendance for the National Championship game. It looks like we'll have to make another stop in Springfield!!

Monday's championship game had North Carolina facing off against Michigan State. Although the Tar Heels led for the entire game and won 89-72, we had a great time and really enjoyed the entire experience.

One of the many highlights of our trip was on Sunday when we stopped at the Windsor Casino to gamble a few dollars away. I was playing the penny slots and actually hit the jackpot! My $5 bill became $1,200. You really can win that much on the penny slots! We were a little too excited to remember to take a picture when it happened so we returned to the scene on Tuesday to take one of me in front of the winning machine :)

On a final note, "One Shining Moment" is one of the most riveting elements of the NCAA Tournament. This year was particularly special for us both. As if being there to see the Huskies play in the Final Four wasn't enough! Cleveland State also made the tournament for the first time in 23 years and pulled off an upset win against Wake Forest. Also...the Dayton Flyers, my alma mater, made their first NCAA appearance since 2004 and advanced to the Second Round for the first time in 19 years! 2009 is a tournament year that I will never forget. Here it is...One Shining Moment!

Once again, Steve and I traveled and experienced something that we've never done before. We will relish the memories for a lifetime! We truly appreciate every opportunity that we have to experience new places and encounters, while also taking sheer pleasure in visiting the same places over and over again. We always try to remember to enjoy the moment and have a lot of fun while doing it!
Next Stop...Myrtle Beach, SC for my 30th birthday celebration
July 4-12, 2009

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