Phillip Marshall: An eventful trip to the West Coast

Dec. 31, 2013

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – My cross-country adventure has begun, and it has not exactly gotten off to a rip roaring start.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly when my wife dropped me off at the Atlanta airport early Monday afternoon. My flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 7:30 p.m., but she had her own work duties so I was checking my bag four hours or so early.

I didn’t matter, I thought. I would go in, get some lunch, watch Ole Miss play Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl, transcribe a couple of interviews from my recorder, get on the plane and head west for BCS Championship Game week. Auburn and Florida State will arrive today.

It worked out just like that until the flight attendant was going over the safety speech given on every flight. Suddenly, the speech stopped. And so did the plane.

It turned out a little boy wasn’t feeling well and had some fever. For an hour, Delta folks debated whether he should fly or not. They even called a doctor and got his opinion. We went back to the gate, where they promptly turned off the air conditioning. We sat for another 15 minutes. Finally, the little boy and his mother got off the plane and we left an hour late.

At least I had an aisle seat. I will go to almost any lengths to avoid sitting in the middle seat, unless maybe there are family members on each side of me. But it still was anything but comfortable. Five hours later, I finally made to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

That’s when I couldn’t even get into my “full-sized” rental car without bumping my head. I was in no mood for being cramped in the car after being cramped in the airplane for almost six hours. Finally, after insisting that the little Mazda they had me in really was a full-sized car, they gave me an SUV. I don’t like SUVs either, but it was better than the alternative.



Finally, here I am at Marriott in Newport Beach, where most of the media types are staying.

Back in Auburn, the 2013 Tigers practiced at home for the last time this season. They heard from Gov. Robert Bentley. They’ll have a reverse Tiger Walk today at the Montgomery airport, and I’ll be their trip is a lot smoother than mine was.

Auburn’s team and official party are due to arrive in town late this afternoon. Charles Goldberg and I will be there. From that point on, we’ll be offering stories, columns, updates and blogs throughout every day until game day next Monday.

It’s going to be fun, even if getting here wasn’t. We hope you’ll join us every day.


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter: