As you may know from a couple of other posts, the fates were on my side when the football schedule was determined back in April. I knew my team (obviously the Panthers – if you don’t know that by now, what have you been doing on this blog for the past 4 years?!) would be playing my mom’s team (Cowboys) at some point this season. When the schedule was released, we learned our teams would be playing each other in the SEASON OPENER, ON MY BIRTHDAY, IN THE PANTHERS HOME STADIUM. Talk about the best effing birthday I could imagine. We immediately hopped on getting tickets (me, my mom, my stepdad, and Chris), and the rest is history. We headed there on Saturday the 8th and returned home Monday the 10th for a quick weekend trip to one of my favorite places, to do one of my favorite things, with some of my favorite people, on the best day of the year.
Saturday September 8th
We technically started our trip on Friday night, when we stayed overnight in Rhode Island to fly out of TF Green in the morning… very early morning. We headed to the airport, got some Dunkin, and boarded our 6:15 AM flight. We were nervous we’d be hanging around the city for hours without a hotel room but we got lucky – they had one available for us to check into at 9 AM! We freshened up and set out to explore a bit.
We went to the team store and to find the new mural on the side of a building (pics below). We got a few things, as usual, and went to the Epicentre to get lunch at Firehouse Subs. Yes, we can’t resist even though we have them in Connecticut. We went back to the room for a bit to decide what to do next and ended up trekking out to Plaza Midwood for a skate shop Chris wanted to see. We ended up seeing two of them in that area and he bought a shirt (always wanting to shop local!). Even though it was super hot, we wanted to take advantage of some free time and hang out at a rooftop bar called Top Shelf. (Cute name for the rooftop section of a place called Whiskey Warehouse!). Some college football was on, which was fun.
We headed back to our hotel after spending some time at the bar and enjoying a Corona, then relaxed until my parents arrived. They had a different flight schedule and a layover, unfortunately. We walked them around the city and Epicentre, tried to find a good place to eat, and failed miserably. It was kind of late and places were full. We were so hot and sick of walking, so we went back to the “hotel restaurant,” which is kind of separate from the hotel but in the same building… if that makes sense. We had dinner and drinks, then went outside on the patio for my stepdad to have a cigar. It turned into a nice, relaxing night!
Sunday September 9th (Birthday!)
We started my birthday off by going to this French bakery for a quick breakfast. I had to get a macaron (obviously), a strawberry danish, and a cafe mocha. It was nice to hang out for a few minutes away from the impending heat and possible rain! I can’t express how amazing the food was too, holy moly.
We ended up going back to the team store after breakfast to get our gameday pins. They always sell little pins with the stadium, two team logos, and date on them. We now have three! I also picked out a shirt for my birthday.
There was a big fan festival kind of thing happening near the stadium and seeing everyone in their gear already made me mad I was wearing my birthday dress instead! I saw Tiffany Blackmon, the NFL reporter who works with the Panthers, reporting live with a bunch of fans behind her – it was pretty awesome to see.
We decided we’d have more fun walking the city if we were wearing our jerseys and get ready for the game, so we headed back to the hotel for the changeroo. As I mentioned, my mom and stepdad like the Cowboys, so they had those jerseys on instead. Luckily for them, there were SO many Cowboys fans all around the city. They’re considered “America’s team” because so many people from around the country love them – not just people in Dallas. I was still surprised overall to see that in some areas, Panthers fans were the minority! I wore my old school Julius Peppers jersey because he’s my favorite Panthers player from the early years and is back on the team for his final seasons. It was appropriate of course.
The game was at 4:25, which is uncommon for the Panthers, so we had some time to kill. It wouldn’t be my birthday without one meal of pizza, so we went to the Epicentre until game time. We found a quick slice place and grabbed those. Then, we headed over to World of Beer to watch the 1:00 games and have some drinks. I alternated between two local beers that I already forgot the name of and am sad about. We stuck around until 3:30 and then started to head toward the stadium. It started to rain a bit and storms were in the forecast, but we got lucky. It only sprinkled a few times! There was even a rainbow above the stadium that looked awesome (below).
The game itself was wonderful for the most part. Neither team looked stellar but I can see a lot of great opportunities for the Panthers this season with some new members of the team. Most importantly, they won! We got some Bojangles during the game, as one does, and had a great time. One fun fact: the Panthers previously had the NFL logo at midfield for the past 25 years. The owner wanted to thank the league for allowing him to add a team in the Carolinas, so that was his thank you. Fans were always sad about this because we want to see our own team at midfield! Recently though, some shitty stuff came out about the owner/founder and he stepped down. Our new owner is EXCELLENT and so down-to-earth. He immediately made sure the logo was at midfield, so I was sure to take pictures of it during its debut game!
After the game, we freshened up and went to the hotel bar/restaurant again. We had some food quickly and I went to bed early after packing up. We had another early flight the next day.
Monday September 10th
We arrived in Providence before 10 AM, so I made sure to stop at my old college stomping grounds to get my favorite coffee – Marylou’s Raspberry Mocha Blast. It was just as good as I remembered so I can’t wait to have it again in a few weeks when I come back to RI for alumni weekend! We drove back to our house and Chris got ready for a half day at work. I grocery shopped a little and did some household stuff. For the rest of the afternoon I settled in to enjoy my Riverdale binge on Netflix with a fall candle on, hot chocolate in hand, and crockpot chili in the crockpot! It was a perfect relaxing afternoon to unwind after travel and birthday chaos.