Tusk to Tail: Fans learning to adapt and overcome; wish the Hogs could do the same

by Dale Cullins ([email protected]) 806 views 

What an eventful weekend Tusk to Tail just put in the books. We covered more ground to get to and from a tailgate, overcame some mechanical and weather related hurdles, and hosted our largest crowd at an away game to date. All of this was accomplished a butt numbing 905 miles from home.

To briefly recap, we had planned to depart Little Rock at 5 a.m. on Friday in hopes of making Columbia in time for dinner. I had my brakes serviced in Fayetteville Thursday morning. As Chadd Claybrook and I pulled into Little Rock expecting a nice dinner with Mark Wagner, my right rear brake experienced a mechanical failure. Lucky for us the gentlemen at Cross Tire and Auto came in early on Friday, replaced the bolt that was missing from my brake assembly, and got us on the road by 8:30.

It was a little later than planned, but we were off. We made good time until Atlanta, but our timing could not have been worse traffic-wise there. We arrived in downtown Columbia by 9 p.m., met up with the rest of our travel party who had flown in, and enjoyed ourselves.

We had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to tailgate on Saturday, but wanted to make sure we got out early to assure ourselves a good spot. The morning rain helped keep some of our competitors away, and our plan worked. We had a great spot from which to launch the day’s festivities. We set up three tents and our traveling bar. Jeff Laman catered in some delicious BBQ from Hudson’s and Sam Atkinson grilled off some brats on site. At one point, we had about 50 people around the tents enjoying themselves, despite the oppressive humidity and high temps for what we thought would be a nice fall afternoon in Columbia.

Lastly, on our return trip to Little Rock, we had to drive directly through tropical storm Nate. He packed a decent punch from Atlanta to Memphis. For three hours we were hit with heavy random wind gusts, sustained wind of around 30 mph, and driving rain and debris in the roadways. There were downed trees blocking lanes on I-20 east of Birmingham.

This week we return to one of our favorite stomping grounds in Tuscaloosa. I just hope the Hogs don’t receive too much of the stomping. Coach Saban was not happy after the sloppy play in College Station so I’m sure the Bama players will be focused on taking those mistakes and correcting them at the Hogs expense.

A bit smaller crowd is expected this week and no, folks did not bail on the team, it was always going to be around 20 guests. We have ordered some catered Que from Archibald’s locally as well as picking up some Tamales in Greenville at the original Doe’s Steak House. We stopped there last year on the way to Starkville and really enjoyed it.

The Greenville route is not the quickest route, and you miss out on the Memphis Que but Doe’s does break up the season some and we plan to hit Memphis for the Ole Miss game later in October. Interstate 22 and then south into T-Town is the quickest route traveling from Little Rock.

So far this season has not gone as expected for the football team and to be honest, we’ve had a few hiccups of our own in our travels and tailgating. However, despite the disappointment in the team’s play and overall lack of improvement, the Tusk to Tail crew remain steadfast supporters of the Hogs. The only difference being we have found ways to adapt and overcome. The Hogs, not so much just yet.

This forces us to look for the small things and find pleasure in spending time with our families and friends on game days and on weekends while traveling across the south or up on The Hill in Fayetteville.

Go Hogs, Beat Bama!
Editor’s note: Welcome to the sixth season of Tusk to Tail – the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics against the advice of attorneys and family. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail