Doesn't look like it will be a white Christmas here in Beantown, but it sure will be a Polish one! Kel and I ordered up 12 dozen perogies from the Little Servant Sisters near our house and brought 4 doz of them with us for Christmas Eve dinner. These little Polish ladies work all year round to crank out this amazing food and we're certainly happy to enjoy it! I can't wait for Saturday night!
So I've spent some time the past 3 nights after work sifting through the 1500 or so photos that I snapped over the weekend at Army/Navy on Saturday and then at Patriots/Redskins on Sunday. Buckle up for a photo-heavy post this time around...as usual, click on the photos to enlarge.
So once again I was offered a media pass to the annual Army/Navy game, the 112th edition, but this time the game was in DC instead of Philly. My second visit to the 82,000 or so FedEx Field [the last time I was there it was still called Jack Kent Cook Stadium!] "Perfect timing", I thought to myself as my good buddy Thomas had just taken a new position in DC and would actually be working the game as well, and more importantly, we'd be able to bunk with them for a few nights! Kelly was then able to tag along and see the game too...her first Army/Navy match-up. I was excited as always and then we found out that both the president and vice-president planned on attending as well. Very cool...
[you all probably know the convoluted story about how I get this access every year, so I won't rehash the details. Still feels odd to be out walking around on the field though. Maybe I'll get used to it at some point! ]
Onto the photos...
With the two big-dogs in attendance it meant getting into the stadium was a royal pain. Each and every person had to go through a metal detector and those of us with bag-fulls of camera gear took even longer. I had two Secret Service agents go through everything I had, even took lenses off of the camera and looked through it to make sure it was infact a working piece of equipment. I guess you can't be too careful these days. Once inside I got to see the tail end of the Army march-on and then the entirety of the Navy's. Kelly was also able to snap a couple of great shots from Box 107 where she'd be watching the game, all warm and toasty!
I have no idea who this clown was...but he actually got a little bit of the Navy coaches ear before the game, so maybe he was someone important?
After the march-ons I hung around on the field for a bit before heading up to the press box for some lunch. I did get back down quickly though to catch some more of the pre-game action and await the Presidents arrival.
Thomas and his boss posing for a quick photo before the boss does a TV interview.
and look at these two enjoying themselves upstairs!
Back to the warm-ups...
Here comes the president...it's almost kick-off time!
Can you see me down on the field for the customary Army/Navy handshake?
How about now?
With some very high wind speeds there was an announcement made to the stadium saying that the Army and Navy jumpers would have to be cancelled. Very disappointing as this is something I've really enjoyed the past 2 years. So cool to see these tiny blips up in the sky race towards the field and then land perfectly at the 50! Oh well...
We were told that we'd be able to stand on the field, at the 35 yard-line for the coin-toss, but that wasn't the case. A number of agents came out and moved us back to the sidelines...only official White House photographers would be able to cover the toss.
I noticed that a number of guys started to show up on the rooftops with some pretty serious fire-power...must be getting close to show-time.
The National Anthem was sung and then President Obama emerged along with Vice-President Biden and a number of high ranking military brass. The number of security people around the 50-yard line from Secret Service to NCIS agents to State Department guys must have been about 100. Made it very hard to get a good shot.
That was about the best I could do from my vantage point! Got some great shots of both the Navy and Army flyovers though...
Once the game was underway I made my way back to the photographers work-room to grab a bite and use the little boys room. Passed by a certain limo on the way. At first I didn't think it would be a good idea to take a photo, but I saw a few other guys do it so I figured why not!
I even got Bill the Navy goat to get in on the action...
Both Obamas and Bidens motorcades were lined up here in the bowels of the stadium...all cars running and ready to roll at a moments notice.
Time for me to get back onto the field...
The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, taking in the game. [you can't miss that schnoz on him!]
After the coin-toss the President had gone upstairs to do a TV interview but now, about 10 minutes into the first quarter you could tell by the flurry of agents coming out onto the field that he was finally going to come sit on the Navy side [he'd go visit the Army side in the 2nd half]. I staked out a good spot behind the Navy bench so I could get a shot, even asked one of the agents if it was okay to stand there, to which he said sure. Well about 2 minutes later, and about 30 seconds before the President walked out, another agent came over and told myself and another guy to, and I quote, "Back the fuck up!'. He even yelled at the other agent for letting us be there. So this is the photo I ended up with! Thanks buddy.
The second one was shot by holding my camera up over his head. I did get some good shots of him sitting with the Navy boys in the stands. Seemed to be really enjoying himself and the game. Probably wishes he'd come to the first two games of his presidency!
During the 2nd half the President walked across the field to sit with the Army cadets. He stopped to pose for a photo with a group of cheerleaders too...they were so excited!
As I was standing in the endzone I noticed a face that looked pretty familiar. "Is that Bill Belichick?" I said to myself. Made sense...the Patriots were obviously in town for the game tomorrow and Bill's dad had coached at Navy, so he probably wanted to take in some of the action if he had the chance. Well sure enough, it was him.
At one point I actually walked over and said "Excuse me Coach, just wanted to say good luck tomorrow against the Skins". He shook my hand and said "Thanks, I really appreciate it" and went back to watching the game. By far the highlight of my day! A true New England legend, a true football legend!
Check this out...this is how Army calls out the plays on offense. Do other teams do stuff like this? I've never seen it before!
We can't forget the Vice-President...he was here too. He sat with Army while Obama was with Navy and then they switched. The security around him was a bit more relaxed, so I was able to get much closer.
The game came to a close with Navy edging out Army 27-21. The closest game in a while, but still a Navy victory. The 10th straight over Army. You've gotta start to feel bad for those guys! Though I'm sure the tides will turn at some point...
Once the final whistle sounds both teams head over to the corners of the stadium to sing eachothers fight-song. A very nice tradition and everyone remains quiet while they do it.
Here's the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Greenert, helping the Army Chief of Staff, Ray Odierno, put on his new Navy jersey because he lost the friendly wager.
Once Thomas and I were both done working we retreated up to the box to warm up and get some grub. We were beat tired and starving! Thomas' parents were also in town for the game so I was able to snap a great family shot of them...notice how the Navy end-zone is in each of these photos, not Army. I guess I'm a little biased...
I noticed the grounds crew quickly getting to work on the field graphics. They need to have everything switched over before 1pm the next day, though we'd find out later that the Army and Navy endzone markings would stay as a "tribute to the troops". At least that's what FedEx field said. They'd have had to work through the night to remove all that grass, put down new sod, and then re-paint the endzones. So this route saved some time and serious money!
Fast forward to Sunday morning when Thomas and I were getting ready for the Patriots vs Redskins, again back at FedEx, when he gets a call that he needs to get over to the Pentagon to grab some important papers for his boss and then drop them at his residence in the Navy Yard. Well...time for a tour of the fabled E-Ring of the Pentagon then! Pretty cool to see the offices and hallways of the Secretary of Defence and leaders of all of our military branches. Thomas showed me around a bit and then we made our way over to the Navy Yard to drop the goods before heading to the stadium.
We were having a few beers and tossing the pigskin in the lot when two of the famous Hogettes walked by. I had to get a photo with them!
Thomas' dad had snagged us some choice seats in a box right on the 40 yard line so we relaxed, took in the game, drank some beers and had some tasty food. Nice relaxing day after running around the stadium the day before. The game was a little closer than we'd have liked, but the good guys prevailed and we left happy!
The Redskins were even nice enough to send up a few cheerleaders in the 2nd quarter to pose for photos.
So there you have it...Army/Navy and Pats/Skins. A whirlwind weekend for sure. I was hoping to meet up with some DC people for a coffee, but we didn't even have time for that. Next trip!
Enjoy the photos and please let me know what you think in the comments section.
We've finally finished our front living room, which I like to call "the parlor"...
Our head seamstress, Deb, made some amazing Roman shades as well as pillows that really bring the room together. The shades turned out to be a ton of work, but they do look great! And she definitely saved us $1000's of dollars! A few photos on the wall and some great lamps and we're complete.
With the unseasonably warm weather of the Thanksgiving weekend we decided to put up our Christmas lights on the house. Felt a little odd doing it in a t-shirt, but it sure beat untangling those damn lights when you can't even feel your fingers!
We did the same deal as last year but we did at some garland and lights to the railings...
Over the holiday weekend our town hosted a little 5k Turkey Trot. Since the bike is pretty much winterized at this point I signed up for this about 4 weeks ago figuring it would give me a little motivation to get out and run a few times each week. I said to myself that if I could finish in under 30 minutes I'd be a happy camper, so that's what I set my focus on.
Fast forward to "race day" and I made my way over to the start line not expecting to see so many people. There were about 650-675 who registered! The temps were already into the 50's when the gun went off so you couldn't have asked for better conditions. I started out at a steady pace, trying not to get sucked into the mad rush that happens at the start. I missed the sign for the 1 mile mark so I really wasn't sure how I was doing until I spotted the 2 mile sign and looked down to see I was at 19 mins. I had 11 minutes left to run the final 1.2 miles. Doable. I kicked it up a notch and crossed the line at 28:40! Certianly not a record setting pace, [the winners time was 16:10] but I was happy with the effort and I did what I had set out to do. Ended up finishing in 295th place...so middle of the pack.
[Later found out that my official chip time was 28:38]
I patted myself on the back and made my way home for some breakfast. Not a bad way to start my Saturday morning!