An interesting, by-chance happening from earlier in the trip:
After our visit to the Oregon coast, we made our way east to my wife's hometown. We found a convienent stopping point to meet one of her old college pals: Corvallis, Ore., home to Oregon State University.
We arrived well in advance of her friend Sandy, so we took a tour of campus. Before heading to the bookstore, we happened upon Reser Stadium, where the Beavers play football. Figuring that I may never be back to Corvallis, my wife stopped the car and I got out to snap a few photos.
As I walked towards one side gate, a burly guy walked just ahead of me.
"You taking some pictures?" he asked. I told him I was.
"Follow me," he said.
So I did, and we walked to a nearby building. It immediately dawned on me that the guy had connections when we walked through a set of double doors that had a sign overhead that read, "TEAM ENTRANCE".
I followed him up three flights of stairs and through a door. Suddenly, I was in Oregon State's locker room.
As one can imagine, the place was immense. I guesstimated to him it was about four times bigger than our weight room back at my little Division III school - a weight room that served the entire college. The amount of machines they had was incredible; squat racks had their own little wooden floorboard, emblazoned with the Oregon State logo.
At the front of the weight room was a series of windows that looked out onto the field. I snapped several photos from there - only because I had trouble finding the right angle so the flash wouldn't bounce off the window and become part of the image.
Various other burly dudes wandered around and, thankfully, didn't seem to mind that I snapped a few shots of their work area too.
I thanked my burly friend from the street. What a cool place to visit.
"I got one more place for you," he said.
We walked down a different set of stairs, through another door and popped out into the Beavers' locker room. Most of the stalls were empty, but a few had black-and-orange shoulder pads with various other locker room paraphernalia - tape, cleats and the like. Every 25 feet or so above the lockers was a flat-screen TV. (Our D-III locker room seemed to be of comparable size, but we only had an FM radio.)
My tour guide, who happened to be an academic advisor, showed me the way out of the building. Outside was one of the players, wide receiver Marcel Love, chatting on his cell phone with his dad. My tour guide asked if I'd want a pic with Love, and I said sure - though I felt bad about interrupting his conversation with his dad.
The photos were snapped, though apparently he didn't hold down the button long enough. So the photo op became a memory only.
But what a cool memory - all of them.