Tusk to Tail: Auburn lessons learned; prepping for the Cats

Timing is everything, especially when things are not going your way.

That is not only true of the Razorbacks, but for our road trips too.  It seems like the Razorbacks could not catch a break this season, from the Petrino saga to the news this week of a car accident involving quarterback Tyler Wilson. The news makes you wonder how much one team could endure.

Thank goodness Tyler is fine. He did not miss practice and will start on Saturday.

Last Friday seemed like one of those days for Tusk to Tail’s caravan traveling to Auburn, teaching a lesson that I will work into our future long distance road trips. As it was our first time to stay all the way in Auburn, timing from departure to lunch and even gas stops would be important. It is a hard 10 hours of driving from Fayetteville, and timing would be crucial to miss Birmingham rush hour traffic.

What you can’t accurately gauge is the time added by the growing parties of people who join us. Just growing from eight to twelve travelers means four more people buying snacks and using the one restroom at the gas station. Factor in the extra time it takes a waitress to ring up everyone’s tab, and it all starts to pile on in the wrong direction.

I was already starting to worry when we departed the Rendezvous at 1:15 p.m. Knowing the drive time to Birmingham as we do, any further delays would be costly. They were.

Traffic was at a crawl on Highway 78 out of Memphis, followed by a long gas stop in New Albany, Miss. Despite a healthy average speed of 80, we hit Birmingham right at 5 p.m.

Our caravan did not hit clear running south of Birmingham until 5:45, with nearly two hours to go till Auburn. In the future, we will have to be walking in the door at the Rendezvous at 11 a.m., or else just know we will not hit Auburn until later in the evening.

Now this, of course, was not the end of the world. All we really planned to do that night was get checked in, grab some dinner, check out the night life, and get to bed at a decent hour. All of us veterans knew Saturday was coming early, and it would be a marathon of a day with the early kick-off and hot weather.

That being said, staying in Auburn is worth it, if you can afford it. It’s a nice town with a nice restaurant scene, and the dining locations are easy to find. The fans were very cordial, and with both teams underperforming, there was no trash talk to be had other than from a few Bama fans.

With the victory behind us, Tusk To Tail made great time getting home on Sunday, despite the friendly State Trooper near Carlisle. It was 12 hours from the hotel to my home in Fayetteville after a 1,400 mile roundtrip.

With Kentucky coming in this week, we had hoped to have a Wild Cat-Fish Fry, but the 30%-40% chance of rain has forced us to rethink that. We don’t want hot, oily fire and smoke under the tent and in such close proximity to everyone, but can’t have the fryers out in the rain, either.

So, it looks like we will set up a Taco Bar. Not really themed, but it is easy to feed a bunch of folks for a reasonable price. Beef and chicken tacos, cheese dip, salsa, 7-layer dip, and guacamole should satisfy everyone.

I can’t believe we are already half-way through our home schedule “On the Hill,” but we are, and the Hogs have a great chance to get another win this week.