Ahh, Qualcomm, we hardly knew thee. Ok, maybe Qualcomm was well known- the stadium was certainly old and dilapidated, so I imagine at some point the Chargers had fans there. I had been to plenty of sporting events without Joel, but this was my first ever NFL game, and to be honest, it was a didn't exactly live up to the bill. But a day watching a game live is never a day wasted, especially when you're in sunny San Diego while your family freezes in the tundra of Montana, so I shouldn't complain too much!
This was it, the game that started the planning of the whole trip! I had gotten Joel the BEST GIFT EVER- first row tickets right behind his favorite team in a city known for its beauty. What could go wrong?
Well, being the NFL noob that I was and doing little to no research ahead of time, I did not realize that in the front row, you can see basically nothing besides the backs of the guys hanging out on the sidelines. Which was cool, but not exactly what I'd imagined for the day. Another thing I didn't imagine was that Qualcomm didn't really have a great scoreboard with a screen to show play by plays either, so we were completely out of luck on seeing anything except the red zone on either side of the field. And even that would have been enough if it had actually been a good game. Unfortunately for us, the Raiders were horrible and the Chargers were only slightly better. In hindsight, it was probably good we couldn't see Matt McGloin struggle to quarterback Joel's favorite NFL team.
Thankfully, Joel was a great sport and at least pretended like he had fun, and I loved just being there with him. He took tons of pictures on the sidelines of his favorite players. My favorites at the time were Marquette King (still one of my faves) and Sebastion Janikowski, so we got to see them up close and personal practicing for their time to shine on the field. I think I spotted Janikowski smoking a cig too (just kidding).
While the stadium was old, the weather was great, and there were probably more Raiders fans than Chargers fans there. Our whole section was filled with fellow Oakland fans, most of whom were from Los Angeles and had been a fan of the team since they were located there. Like seriously, there were people selling Raiders gear on the road leading up the stadium. An "away" game. Craziness.
We were leaving after the game and had to drive from Orange County, so we were a bit late getting on the road. As a result, we did another round of stadium food, and there was nothing remarkable or memorable about Qualcomm. I saw some dudes get in a fight while I was getting Joel a beer. So you could say I got a real Raiders experience.
This is one of the few times we've parked in the stadium parking lot. Joel wanted to get there early to see everyone warm up from our seats, and it was fairly affordable. As we walked in, we wandered past some tailgating type areas- hard for stuff like that to be super fun when you don't have a very committed fan base, but they at least tried. It's easy to see why this team moved to Los Angeles. If you're ever going to a game in San Diego, regardless of the time of year, make sure you bring sunglasses and sunscreen- both were lifesavers for us.
Alright, now this is where our trip gets crazy. We just watched a Sunday afternoon NFL game, and the Monday Night game is in San Francisco. So what should we do? Drive up to San Francisco of course! I know there is the Pacific Coast Highway that you can take and see all the beautiful parts of Cali along the way, but ain't nobody got time for that! (I hope someday I have time for that). We hopped on the ugly I-5 and began the 9 hour drive (woof) to the Bay Area.
This is one of the dumbest things I think we've ever done (although ultimately definitely worth it) and it is a miracle we made it safe and sound. I think the only thing that kept me going after Joel fell asleep on me was that the song "Timber" by Ke$ha was super popular at that time and played every 45 minutes on the radio, so I'd just crank it up and dance all the tiredness out of me. I still think of that drive every time I hear that song. Who else can say Ke$ha maybe possibly saved their life?
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.