Note: Kyle Ratke of Lynxbasketball.com will be making the trip to Georgia for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. Throughout his trip, he'll be blogging about his adventure here. Make sure you check out the blog to find out where his crew is and keep track of how much caffeine is consumed. We also have heard they bought two pounds of chocolate. This could be dangerous.
Tuesday, 10:46 a.m.
Well, folks. The end is here. The Minnesota Lynx have won the championship and our road blog must come to an end.
Like the players who are going overseas, we too have other responsibilities that don’t include eating a bunch of junk food and cramming into a smelly van with four dudes.
There will be an Uncontested Shot later this week and I’ll spill my guts there.
What I will say is that I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel to Georgia to watch the Lynx capture the title. Throughout the season, it’s truly been a blessing to be able to cover this squad.
As for the three guys I traveled with: Great time, guys. We made memories that will last for the rest of our lives and for better or worse, we have this blog if we ever need reminding.
To the readers who followed our trip and checked in with us a few times per day on Twitter, we appreciate it. Without your readership, we’ve got nothing.
Enough out of me. I’ll let these other guys write their final paragraphs of the trip.
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy your week.
Pat’s Turn Up
“Well, I don't even know where to start! So blessed and thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip. After being on the practice team this year and watching how hard the players worked each and every day, it was so rewarding seeing them reach their final goal. We didn't have one major issue on the trip, including the van which ended up with over 241,000 miles on it! Glad we had a great group of guys because we had A LOT of time together! (roughly 40 hours in the van). Want to thank the Lynx players and coaches for not only being awesome people but winning Game 3, we had to come home either way and it would have been a LONG drive back after a loss. The ride home wasn't as bad as you would have thought. We spent the whole drive going through stories and how much fun we had on the trip. All in all this was probably the best week of my life. I never would of have imagined experiencing what we did on the trip! These memories will last forever! So I am off to the parade now, rough life. Thanks again to everyone who made this trip possible. Shout out to J-Mac for that between the leg pass! #SCTop10 I will leave with one final message... TURN UP JIM PETE!”
Dan Says Thank You
“On the road with Ratke and the guys was a trip I’ll remember forever. First and foremost, I want to thank Kyle, Zach and Pat. Without these guys, none of this was possible. I’m very thankful for them. We shared many laughs and memories along the road I’ll never forget. Reminiscing with Pat about stories from practice, joking with the guys and drinking coffee by the gallon made the drive seem much easier than it was. My favorite part was the random tweeting or when Pat and Kyle picked me up with the Brunson bobblehead taped to the roof. I saw that and knew “The Machine” would get us to Georgia and back safely. Thank you fans, staff and everyone that shared this experience with us.”
Zach Went Over The Word Count Limit… But We’ll Let It Slide…
WOW…what a whirlwind these past five days have been, but boy am I glad I went on this journey. When the conversations that started following last Tuesday’s Game 2 win at Target Center, became a reality the following day, I’m not sure any of us knew what we’d be getting ourselves into when we departed for Georgia later that evening. With the late, but clutch addition of Dan just before we were set to leave, we had a foursome that would be embarking on an adventure that we will not soon forget. If you’re reading this, then you likely followed along with us on our trip so I’ll spare you most of the details of what transpired (for those that missed anything, most can be recapped via Twitter, or you can track us down at Target Center and be regaled with the many stories).
We spent a little over 60 hours on this trip, with about 40 of it being spent inside the confines of our luxurious chariot (aka minivan), that affectionately became known as “The Prowler.” This would be enough to make most people go insane, but in our case, it just added to the legend of this experience that will live on. Through the course of this journey I was able to strengthen two existing friendships, and also make a great new friend in Dan. That would have been enough for me to declare this trip successful (the trophy, parade, and celebrations have just been icing on the cake). In the midst of all the caffeine fueled, sleep deprived madness that has taken place, we’ve bonded over the genuine fun we’ve had. It’s been a special trip for us to take, and one that I’m still struggling to find the right words to convey just how crazy, yet enjoyable it was.
I do have to send some special love out to our 2013 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx! We are incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing collection of players and coaches, they are truly are the best in the world. Without them this trip obviously wouldn’t have been possible, and we thank them for making our jobs a lot of fun to do on a daily basis, and also for allowing us to share in the celebration of this remarkable accomplishment. Thank you to everyone who read the blog, interacted with us on Twitter, and shared in our adventure. We appreciate you all, and really enjoyed having you along for the ride. This has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, and I’m thankful for all the memories from this trip, as well as this entire 2013 season, that will last a lifetime. I’m already looking forward to the 2014 Lynx season, and I know the four of us would be game for a sequel to this trip...that is of course after a lot of sleep, and a body cleanse!
Monday, 11:03 a.m.
We are just moments away from the parade, but I've put together the top tweets from Pat, Zach and Dan throughout the roadtrip. Nothing that's going to win a Pulitzer, but it is pretty entertaining stuff. Enjoy.
Dan's Top Tweets
"An hour and 11 minutes til the mini van crew wins the mega million lottery! @Pwfree23 @ZachMcGowan @Kyle_Ratke" - @DAhoopsfan23
We didn't win. It was a nice thought, though. I think we had two of the five numbers right. If we would have won, we decided we were going to go to the casino. Maybe it's a good thing we lost...
"Officially doubled my followers from the start of the trip, 38 total...doing big things :) #Road2TheParade" - @DAhoopsfan23
Dan had just 19 followers when he started on this trip. In fact, he tweeted just eight times before he became a Twitter star. He now has 42 followers. Nice work, Danno.
"Sooo it's game time and clearly @JanelMcCarville came to play!!! #LosLynx" - @DAhoopsfan23
McCarville was the MVP of the first quarter. Not known for her scoring, she put up six of the team's first eight points. Not too shabby. She also had a sick pass later in the game. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to look at the highlights.
Pat's Top Tweets
"T minus 2 hours. As the great Thomas the Tank engine would say... I think I can. I think I can." #road2thering - pwfree23
Anytime you can get Thomas the Tank Engine in a tweet, you're doing things right. This was around 6 a.m. on Saturday. I am pretty sure I was supposed to be driving, but Freeman was just in the zone. Who am I to interrupt Freeman when he's tweeting about Thomas the Tank at a gas station in Wisconsin? Not me. Rule No. 3,383 of driving: Don't interrupt a man tweeting about Thomas the Tank Engine. You just don't do it.
"@Kyle_Ratke driving this mini van like a sports car right now and I love it! #zoomzoom #Road2TheRing" - @pwfree23
I deny these reports. Then again, this was probably around 3 a.m. I'm not sure if I knew how I was driving. That doesn't sound very safe. Umm, I mean, I was going the speed limit the whole time... I stayed in-between the lines at all times and I did NOT almost get into an accident in Kentucky. Nope, an accident in Kentucky was not close to happening. At all. Not close to any accidents. An SUV did not honk at me. Nope. No honking...
"4am. So far so good! 239,355 miles on the van and counting! Getting close to the half way point. No sign of the sun. #Road2TheRing" - @pwfree23
You read that right. We drove a van with 240,000 miles on it all the way to Georgia. Some people call us stupid, some call us courageous... Some don't call us at all. The van made it, though, with no troubles. An oil change might be needed sooner rather than later.
Zach's Top Tweets
"@Pwfree23 claims he's only had 2 energy drinks so far...@Kyle_Ratke and I are very skeptical, our guess would be 10+ #Road2TheRing" - @ZachMcGowan
Yep. This was on Wednesday night. Pat and I bought two energy drinks before picking up Dan and Zach. Three hours later, though, it appeared as if Pat had 14 energy drinks. He claimed to have only two, but ... you've read the blog. Pat had a lot of energy. By the way, Pat was the MVP of the trip. Also, I'm convinced this man can eat whatever he wants and not gain any weight. I still haven't stepped on a scale. The results will not be in my favor.
"Thanks for the shoutout @pakfanvikes, much appreciated! CC: @Kyle_Ratke @pwfree23 @DAhoopsfan23 #Road2TheRing" @ZachMcGowan
On Thursday morning around 9:15 a.m. CST, Zach tweeted Paul Allen of KFAN Sports Radio, describing our trip. A few minutes later, PA gave us a shoutout on air, which was awesome. When you're in Tennessee and have been driving for 15 hours, hearing your name on the radio make everything better. Nice job, Zach.
"@pwfree23 just got really excited that one direction came on the radio. It's 5 AM, is he a big fan or is it a sign that we've lost our minds" @ZachMcGowan
We've lost our minds.
That's all for now. We will be posting the top moments from the trip later on today for the final post of the blog. Thanks to everyone for reading. It truly does mean a lot.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
We are back.
Sorry on the lack of posts throughout the last 20 hours or so. It was a bit easier to post on the way down than on the way back. I want to thank all of you for reading throughout this trip. We hope you've enjoyed all of the content we've had up throughout the last week and that is a testament to how hard our Digital Media crew has worked.
Well done on all fronts.
It wasn't until 9:30 a.m. until we arrived back, which is an odd time. That's what time people in this world attempt to be productive. I just wanted to find the nearest bed and sleep. I ended up going to my parents' place in Cold Spring. I went downstairs, discussed the trip and crashed until now. I still don't really know what is going on. My stomach feels like I just drank 12 coffees along with a large Butterfinger shake. Oh, wait...
You didn't miss a whole lot from our experience on the way back. You can find most of the play-by-play if you simply follow me on Twitter @Kyle_Ratke, but if you're too lazy to do so or live in 1938 in a world in which Twitter doesn't exist, I'll throw you a few bullet points here:
We had the opportunity to stop at Steak 'n Shake in Nashville, TN. Oh. My. Shakes... We each had a meal and shake. I don't regret this decision. It was delicious, but also made me realize why this country has a weight problem. If you gave me a shake right now with fries, I'm not sure if I could say no.
I'm not sure how, but I didn't drive once on the way back... I wasn't even trying to cheat the system either. Dan drove twice. What a guy! I'm pretty sure 15 hours into the trip back, though, we all lost sense of time and just wanted to get back to a bed that wasn't in constant motion.
We tried to get some traction going on a "Welcome Home" party for us at the Super American on University in St. Paul.No traction was made. Thanks a lot, fans...
Our final photo gallery and blog post will be on Monday. Dan, Pat, Zach and I will each write about our experience including the highs and lows. You won't want to miss that.
That's all for now. I'm going to attempt to get to the gym. We'll see how that works. If you see a 23-year-old male asleep on a treadmill at your local gym, do not call authorities. Just let him sleep. He needs it.
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend.
Friday, 5 p.m., CST
We have crossed into Kentucky, the place of a near accident less than 30 hours ago. These guys won't let me drive in this state anymore. In my defense, I'm a horrible driver in general, not just in Kentucky.
We just tuned into Maya Moore's interview on KFAN. Such a class-act character she is.
To add to our "Get Fat" campaign, our road crew has decided to stop at Steak 'n Shake when we go through Nashville. I've never been there before. Any suggestions?
Not a lot to report here. Dan is still driving. Zach is sitting shotgun, while Pat and I are holding down the back.
I had a few quotes left over from last night while talking to Seimone Augustus that I thought I would share with you.
When Augustus had the option to go to free agency, it was her grandmother that kept her from maybe jumping to another team.
"She said the grass isn't always greener on the other side," Augustus said. "So I stayed with the Lynx and look what we built."
She also noted that she thinks the team can do this again, and I think she's right. Joined with Whalen and Brunson who are in their primes, Maya Moore, who might be the best women's basketball player in the world and Janel McCarville, who just fits with the team, this team probably has at least two more years of very competitive ball with this group.
Just remember to think of Seimone's grandmother when thinking about the last two championships. Without her, those championships might not have been won.
The Lynx will be landing at Humphrey terminal two shortly. Mark Remme will be there will the lowdown. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MarkRemme.
Our ETA right now is 6 a.m. I am not going to move tomorrow.
That's all for now.
Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Well, folks. It’s been a while.
By this time, you already know: The Lynx have won the 2013 WNBA Championship. The game story and a special edition Uncontested Shot has already made its way to Lynxbasketball.com, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t already.
It was so special to be involved in that last night. Congrats to everyone in the organization: Players, coaches, people in the front office, the business staff, each individual department, the practice players. This list could go on and on, but pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
Speaking of Pat, he's taking a snooze as we speak.
The goal of our crew was to take off around 9 a.m. EST this morning. Well, that didn't work out. It's currently 1:30 p.m. and we are just leaving Atlanta. There are moments when people ask: "Now do you wish you would have flown?"
The answer is still no. First off, I wouldn't be able to write this blog and pretend I'm actually working on this trip. I'm not even sure if anyone is reading this. Anyone, seriously? Bueller?
Later on, I'm going to have Dan, Pat and Zach each write a paragraph about their experience on this trip. Hopefully the next time the Lynx play on the road, fans will make the same trip we did. We know we would do it again.
We stopped at Subway for lunch and I had a foot-long sub. Still convinced I've gained 10 pounds in three days. I need to go through a body cleanse or something.
Here are a few random thoughts I had from the game yesterday that I wasn't able to put into the game recap:
1.) The Gwinnett Center is a pretty cool venue, but the fans in Atlanta just didn't show up the way the Dream had hoped. I wouldn't used the word embarrassing, but it was a bit disappointing. The Lynx fans were there and I ran into a couple that made the same trip we did. God bless their marriage. 18 hours in a car will test that. I'm already sick of this Dan guy...
2.) The WiFi in the arena was a bit sketchy, so I apologize for the lack of tweets. It was't my fault.
3.) I hit a wall in the third quarter. Seriously. I thought I was going to fall asleep on the media table. Not because the game was boring, I mean, it's the WNBA Finals. But I hadn't slept in 44 hours at the time. I am not as young as I used to be. Young, wild and free? Nope. Old, boring and locked up.
Well, that's all for now. We are currently exiting Georgia. The Lynx will be at terminal two at Humphrey at 5:37 p.m. if you'd like to welcome them back.
Our estimated time of arrival is 5:40 a.m. You can welcome us back at Super America on Grand in St. Paul.
I will check back in a little while.
Thursday, 11:06 a.m.
My apologies for the delay. I had the responsibility of driving through a little bit of Illinois, Kentucky and we are now in Tennessee stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts, because, you know... we haven't had enough junk food already.
Our last blog was right around 4 a.m.
Here's what you've missed:
Illinois is a horrible state to drive through. It never ends. The only good part of driving through the state was that it was dark the entire time. We couldn't see just how long we were going to be there for, so there was always a sense of hope. That hope took a very long time to come to fruition. I felt bad for Dan, who drove from about 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. He's trying to snooze now. He deserves it.
Thanks to Zach, we have received a shoutout on KFAN Sports Talk Radio (100.3 FM) and Dawn Mitchell from Fox 9 retweeted us. For most people, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but for four dudes in a car full of sugar, coffee and sweaty socks, we are thrilled. We are also having sugar withdrawals. Pat is banging his head on the window as we speak.
We received a shout out from a fan in Japan. We are getting international, my friends.
The van we are driving now has a name: The Prowler. I almost drove The Prowler into a SUV from Kentucky. I was honked at. Despite their nice accents, not all people from here are friendly. The driver looked at me with a very stern look on her face. I understand and all, but you don't just stare like that at a van with a Rebekkah Brunson bobblehead on top of it. Rule No. 1,938 of traffic.
So far, we have consumed: 12 energy drinks, four coffees, a box of Cheez-Its, a box of Gushers, three packs of gum, whatever we just got a Dunkin' Donuts, a bag of Starbursts, one Big Bopper, Milk Duds, sunflower seeds and not nearly enough water.
Pat, who had more sugar last night than an 8-year-old on Halloween, finally crashed around 6 a.m. this morning. He fought it for a while, but the big guy finally went down.
We are currently 238 miles away from our destination. So far, Zach or I haven't slept yet. We feel fine now, but this could be an obstacle at some point in the future.
The Lynx are having shootaround right now it sounds like. We will have Lea B's blog up shortly as well.
That's all for now. I'll check back in around 1 p.m. I'm also fairly positive I've gain at least seven pounds so far. Thank the food gods for stretchy shorts...
Thursday, 4:46 a.m.
Good morning, folks.
Yes, it is 4:46 a.m. I tried to sleep for a bit. No go. Trying to sleep on a half-reclined chair isn't as comfy as one would think. Also, I need to get my toothbrush out at some point. Pat bought way too much sugar. Must. Brush. Teeth.
Dan is driving now and I believe we are in Illinois. At least that's what the gas station lady told us. It's dark out. We aren't going to get much rest on this trip, but hey, that's fine. As they say, "there ain't no rest for the wicked."
I'm not sure what that's from and I'm too lazy to Google. A few questions we have, though.
1.) Why don't the wicked people rest?
2.) Who is wicked? What does that mean?
3.) Is there a reference to Halloween in that?
Our tweets have been getting a little bit weird as of late mostly because we are the only people on Twitter besides Deion Sanders. I'm not real sure what he's doing up, but do what you have to do, Primetime.
Our ETA is currently 2:47 p.m. I would tell you about some interesting things we've seen, but we can't see anything besides semi trucks.
Pat is eating a "Big Bopper" ice cream sandy right now. I'm getting a bit concerned over his sugar intake. Will be updating.
For all of you reading this expecting to see the "normal" Lynx content, don't you worry. We'll have a Scouting Report up in the next four hours along with Lea B's blog and John Focke's Lynx Unleashed Podcast.
As Miley Cyrus would say, "And we can't stop..."
This blog is starting to get weird. I'm going back to bed.
Thursday, 12:01 a.m.
This will probably be the final blog of the night... or morning I guess. We've had some fun so far, but I'm starting to crash. We have set up a nice little bed in back of the van. I'm going to be taking advantage of that real soon.
We are currently in Wisconsin still. This state I tell you...
Highlights of the trip so far:
Pat has a lot of energy. Look at our tweets. You'll see.
We took a picture next to an orange moose.
I found a copy of USA Today's College Basketball Special in which I freelanced for. Buy it while it's hot... Just a little self promotion.
We're trying to pick a foursome to golf with. So far, we've got JFK and Charles Barkley. We need two more. Any suggestions?
Our ETA to Duluth, GA is 2:54 p.m. We've got some time.
I'm going to go sleep for two hours before I have to drive this bad boy. I'll post again in a few hours.
Wednesday, 10:12 p.m.
Collectively, we’ve had 5.5 energy drinks, which is a little embarrassing. We need to step our game up.
We’ve learned that the game tomorrow will be a “White Out” for Atlanta, for whatever that’s worth for fans. If you’re going to the game and you’re a Lynx fan, wearing white might not be a great idea.
We’ve also learned that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been eliminated from the MLB playoffs and we are all a little disappointed for them.
So far our talks have involved: Size of championship rings, the ESPN documentary “Broke” and Starter jackets.
Pretty interesting stuff. Pat is telling us he’s only had two energy drinks. We don’t believe him. If I had to guess, I’d say 13.
Our van location is currently in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Apparently there is a gas station that is known for an orange moose or something. Zach might be lying. We’ll make a pitstop and fill you guys in.
Is it really only 10:12 p.m.?
That’s all for now. Any music advice? We are struggling here. Pat is listening to some sort of talk radio. We don’t know what to do… We might leave him by the orange moose.
Wednesday, 8:06 p.m.
We are only two hours into this drive and we have already picked up a hitchhiker.
Well, not really. Dan, a member of the team’s practice squad, has decided to jump in with us. I’m down. One more driver. Let’s go!!!!
“That’s going to make the trip so much better!” - Pat.
I’m not sure if he was talking about Dan or the blog.
“Kyle, why are you single?”
Because I blog on road trips, that’s why. Currently we are about 20 miles away from Wisconsin. I’m afraid once we enter Wisconsin, we’ll all gain 20 pounds and become lazy cheeseheads.
(Kidding, guys… Wisconsinites aren’t that bad.)
Pat just crushed a 16 ounce energy drink. Holy moly. He’s going to start shaking soon. I just typed “Duluth, GA” in my GPS. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have to do that again. We also have Rebekkah Brunson on our bobblehead. Okay, not the eral Brunson. That wouldn’t be good. Cheryl would not be happy with us. Pat put a bobblehead of the All-Star on the top of his car with Scotch tape or something. I hope we don’t lose her. Stay strong, Rebekkah. Ill get a picture when it gets light out. We’ve got some time, folks.
Sidenote: This van we are driving has 238,848 miles on it. May the mini-van odds forever be in our favor.
I’ll check back in when I can.
Wednesday, 5:58 p.m.
“Ratke On The Road.”
“Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, right? He can’t be on the road. He’s going to Georgia Who drives to Georgia? Shouldn’t it be 'Ratke in the clouds?' Or 'Ratke Hanging From A Propeller'?”
Well, imaginary reader. You are incorrect. We are indeed making our way to Georgia... in a van.
We left roughly 34 minutes ago and we are going nonstop. We have a case of Mountain Dew, plenty of snacks and I'm wearing my stretchy pants, so we are good to go. Seriously, I'm going to gain 20 pounds on this trip. Could I use 20 pounds? Sure, of muscle maybe. Not of pure sugar and sunflower seed salt.
I might need to pick up a new belt on the way.
Throughout this 16-hour trip, I'll be posting on this blog updating you on our whereabouts. I'll also be sending photos back to our Digital Media crew in Minneapolis. They'll edit the photos, making us look as handsome as possible, and put them in a photo gallery. That should be up sometime tomorrow morning I would imagine.
Don't fret, Lynx fans. The daily content that you've grown to love will be posted on the site as well.
I will be making this trip with Pat Freeman and Zach McGowan.
Freeman is a Basketball Academy Coordinator with the organization and was in charge of getting the food. Seriously, when the photo comes up in the gallery, you'll see... We are all going to be having sugar withdrawals after this trip. You can follow Pat on Twitter @pwfree23.
McGowan is a Membership Service Account Representative for the organization. I don't know Zach real well, but I feel like he's going to be the responsible one. What does that mean? Maybe he'll make us get fruit at the gas station instead of gummy bears. I'm not sure yet. We'll keep an eye on this. You can follow him on Twitter @ZachMcGowan (real original, I know...)
If you don't know why we are making this trip, I'm not sure if you should be reading this, but at Lynxbasketball.com, we accept everyone, so I'll clue you in.
The Lynx are one win away from winning their second WNBA title in three seasons. Minnesota is up 2-0 over Atlanta right now and will play the Dream at 7:30 p.m. CST tomorrow on ESPN 2. Our goal is to catch some history and make some memories along the way.
That's all for now. I'm on radio duty. Spice Girls? Yep... This is going to be a long ride, boys.
Follow me on Twitter along with way @Kyle_Ratke. Use the hashtag #Road2TheRing to join our banter!
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.