Monday 16th September
I’m up around 8 and an important task for me today is to have my first radio live call in interview with journalist Josh Dukelow on his “Fresh Take” show on WHBY at 8:45. Josh reached out to me on Twitter and is going to take me to the Packers-Eagles game next Thursday night at Lambeau. We talk for around several minutes or so and it’s my first live experience after my recorded interview when I was in Will’s Northwoods Inn in Chicago on the day of the Packers-Bears game and that appeared on WTMJ Milwaukee. So I’m slightly nervous with Josh commentating afterwards on text that I sounded good but maybe talked a bit too fast, which is definitely accurate feedback. It’s another good media experience and exposure with Josh mentioning that he’s taking me to the game next week and how he’s gonna try and get me into the studio, which would be an amazing expedience. I’m crowned “world’s biggest Packers fan” but I like to point out that I’m probably the “world’s craziest Packers fan” considering the journey I am currently undertaking. After the interview it’s a pretty relaxing day. I continue to work on my website and catch up on news and sport from the weekend, especially as Sunday was such a busy day. England won the last Ashes test match to level the five game series at 2-2, thus Australia (deservedly) retaining the Ashes as they were currently holders of the urn (trophy). It was a really good series with four results out of a total possible of five matches, reaffirming the importance of test cricket-it’s still most certainly my number one favourite sport. I also catch up on some weekly podcast radio shows and listen to myself on the radio earlier today, sharing the links on social media for my followers/friends. I have an early morning yoga class the next morning so I’m not up that late before heading to bed.
Tuesday 17th September
I’m back into my daily routine of starting the morning with a 8:15 yoga class. Today I get to meet the owner of Jenstar, Jen herself. I’m invited to yet another tailgate for future home games and similarly to Brad and Sandy they have a Packers ambulance too. I will definitely pop by to catch up this coming Sunday morning. After practice I head back to the house for breakfast and then to the laundromat for washing. Then it’s time to get ready and meet Eric from Bears game for tacos at Vintage Cantina in town. It’s good to hear that he’s moving back to Green Bay and I get to meet a couple of his mates too. The tacos are really good although the service is a bit slow. We spend around an hour or so catching up over lunch before I head back for a nap. Afterwards I start my planning for my visit to Bay Port (Pirates) High School on Thursday. I’m looking forward to dropping in on James Radish’s sociology classes and teaching the students about Australian culture and stereotypes. I find a decent online presentation on Australian culture and history to discuss and for the class to make notes then devise a student centred activity based on common stereotypes they Americans (and the rest of the world) have on Australia. I end up watching a Simpsons episode called Bart vs Australia which contains so many inaccurate stereotypes but is nevertheless really funny. I continue to work on my website leading into dinner time. It’s taking time as I need to work on both the desktop and mobile site separately. I like doing shopping when it’s not that busy so I visit one of the local supermarket’s just before they are closing for my weekly grocery visit. One of the highlights of my purchases is a bottle of Australian extra virgin olive oil which is on special offer at half price - I do love my bargains. I finish the evening by cancelling and rebooking some Southwest flights - I really like this airline because even with their discounted fares you can still change your flights with no additional fees - all you have to pay is the fare difference. So after the 49ers game in San Francisco at the end of November I’m heading back to the mid-west for Thanksgiving rather than going to Colorado and after the Cowboys game next month I’m heading to Alabama (Birmingham and Montgomery) and Atlanta to learn more about American Civil Rights. The Australian Civil Rights took place around the same time period and for both countries the struggle (both complicated and controversially) continues for racial equality. The only flight left for me to book for next month is to Dallas after the Badgers-Kent State game. Hopefully it’s a 11am start like the next two games in Madison so afterwards I can drive to Milwaukee and fly onto Dallas, arriving late Saturday night. The worst case scenario is that I fly the Sunday morning of the Packers-Cowboys game-there is an early morning flight from Milwaukee that is scheduled to arrive into Dallas six hours before the start - it worked for the Badgers-Bulls game in Tampa at the end of last month so fingers crossed if I’m on another game day journey again.
Wednesday 18th September
I’m really getting into my routine now of waking up and heading to Jenstar yoga. This time after class, instead of heading back to the house, I am going to be volunteering at Paul’s Pantry for a couple of hours. For the past few years I have taught Sustainability as part of the updated Western Australian Year (Grade) 9 Geography Social Studies curriculum. One of the topics I had to study and teach was regarding food banks. For lots of different reasons more and more people in developed countries such as Australia, America and Britain are having to rely on food donations to meet their nutritional requirements. As Leslie the head of volunteering explains, some of the locals in Green Bay cannot work due to a disability, whether it be of a physical or mental nature. Furthermore a few are unemployed between jobs and also retirees require assistance. There are a small number of people that choose to be in this position, but others may argue that this proportion is higher. However there now exists a group of requiring food aid called the “working poor”, who after paying all their above inflationary escalating expenses are not left much for grocery shopping due to below inflationary minimum wage increases. Again the reasons for a worker being in low income employment are complicated. But for me it’s important to contribute for people in need, and considering all the donations I have been receiving it’s only fair I donate some of my time and energy back to the local Green Bay community. Back in Perth I have given financial donations as I was unable to volunteer at the local food bank due to work commitments. So living in Green Bay with lots of spare time in between watching football games and traveling offers a great opportunity to help out. I’m put on scale duty so having to record the weight of each trolley as recipients of food aid exit Paul’s Pantry. I enjoy the role, getting to know the other volunteers too and meeting some of the residents of the city. I will definitely be back early next week. After my volunteering I’m back at the house for a much anticipated and required brunch and shower. I spend the afternoon napping and working on my website, which is nearly done. I cook up a large curry for dinner and I’m still getting complaints from Yvonne. I don’t think I’m ever getting her to understand or accept my sabbatical from my teaching job back in Perth! As I’m teaching at Bay Port tomorrow I use the evening to go over my lesson and resources. I’m excited but also nervous. I retire early but find it a bit hard to switch off, thinking about delivering my material to James Radish’s students. I’m hoping it goes well.
Thursday 19th September
My alarm goes off at 6 and I excitedly get out of bed to make breakfast and get ready for my big day. James told me I have to be at school at ten minutes past seven for a half seven start. I can’t believe how early school starts over here. At this time of the school day back in Perth I’m finishing a workout at my old CrossFit box, Crossfit Chasing Better. I regularly get messages from some of my old CrossFitters, who say they miss me at my regular 6:30am class but are glad I’m living my dreams and enjoying following me on social media on my crazy adventure. The first task for me upon arrival at the school is to register at the front office. James then takes me to his classroom and I quickly set up the lesson for the day using his desktop computer, which is connected to a projector screen. I’m going to be delivering the same lesson five times during the day. As classes are shorter the students have more lessons to attend. My nerves quickly disappear as the students start drifting in both before and after the siren (bell). Basically the lesson goes as follows. Brief introduction of myself followed by starter questions on definitions of culture and stereotypes with examples of both in America. Then present a Slide Share (PowerPoint) on Australian history and culture that I found on the internet. I finish with a student activity whereby they have to complete a table on common Australian stereotypes with the first column what Americans think is the truth and the second column being the actual facts. With each lesson being 47 minutes in length I found that I had planned more than enough and I was asked lots of interesting questions, the best being “how much do you earn”. James has two lessons off for planning and preparation but the first was used to give me a tour of the school, meeting lots of different staff members, including the Principal Mike Freider who jokingly commented I can take James’s role, who was quick to reply that he would like to swap lives with me and take my job back in Perth, leaving me with his wife and kids too! The second free class is spent having lunch at Gallagher’s restaurant, who have a daily lunch buffet for $10 including taxes. James and I both have a couple of plates each and over lunch we talk about our family and teaching backgrounds. He’s a funny, easy going guy plus kind too as he shouts me lunch. At the end of the day I thank him for the experience, as I really enjoyed teaching his classes. We take a photo in front of the American flag in his classroom with James playing a shot with my cricket bat. Each lesson I got a student, sometimes a couple, to come up to the front and get them to hold a bat for the first time ever, showing the difference between a left and right handed batsman, whilst also trying to explain the rules. Once I’m back at the house I quickly change for my Yin yoga class with Megan. It’s just myself and another yogi for some much needed stretching and pressure release. After a shower I go and visit the Heezen family to drop off some curry for Nick. Heather cannot eat this type of food due to her cancer treatment and Jack is too young. I thank her once again for last Sunday’s ticket to the Packers-Vikings game. Heather’s good mate Francie for the past week has been visiting from Arizona, helping out and providing good company for Heather. Whilst Nick is bathing Jack, Francie and Heather tell me about how back in the day they lived with Shannon in a one bedroom apartment in Minneapolis. It was pretty funny hearing how the logistics of such an operation worked, particularly when Shannon at the time had only recently started dating her future husband too. After saying goodbye I head to Chilli John’s for dinner. As it’s nearly closing time there aren’t many other patrons and so Karen and I get to chat whilst she is clearing up. I can’t believe how genuinely supportive she is of my journey. Whereas last time I was donated a delicious chocolate brownie, this time I’m handed a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Rather than take it home I decide to eat it there and then. A great decision as it’s so heavenly. I hug Karen as I’m leaving thanking her the hearty chili bowl and unreal desert. It’s been a long day so I find myself falling asleep whilst trying to read. I have had a really good day.
Friday 20th September 320 KM 200 M
As I went to bed early last night I’m up early too. Today is going to be a busy day. As per routine my first task is to start the day with a yoga class at Jenstar. Today’s class is hot vinyasa flow with teacher Megan again. By the end of the class I’m pretty sweaty and it’s an enjoyable class. I head back to the house for breakfast and then get ready and pack for my trip to Madison for tomorrow’s Badgers-Wolverines game. My first stop is Cedarburg, just north of Milwaukee. Rich Ryman of the Green Bay Press Gazette emailed me a week or so ago about a guy called Jim Reese, who is writing a book about 100 years of Packers history. I rang him a few days ago to arrange an interview at his home. It takes just over an hour and half to travel to Cedarburg on interstate 43. Armin Van Buuren’s A State Of Trance weekly podcast keeps me company for the journey. Upon arrival at Jim’s house I learn that both him and his wife are retired high school teachers. Jim taught middle/senior History teacher and as they didn’t have children and thus grandchildren he is using his newfound ample spare time to write books about the Packers. I’m donated with a few to take home with me. For his latest project Jim interviews me in his lounge. He also has a bedroom that has impressively been converted into a sports memorabilia room, with most of it being Packers based. After our interview Jim takes me to lunch and a tour of the town. He is originally from New York City and a strong Democrat pointing out that Cedarburg and Wisconsin in general is Republican. I’m not doing much talking as Jim tells me he isn’t keen on Trump and the way America is heading. Like I have written before I try and not get involved in political debates as there is so much I (and people in general) don’t know and plus it’s a really divisive topic. We end up in a nice sandwich cafe. I drop Jim off after lunch and then head onto Madison. The next couple I’m meeting are also retired teachers, from Milwaukee itself. They are attending a teaching union conference at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club and I’m driving there to pick up my ticket for Sunday’s Packers-Broncos game at Lambeau. They have kindly donated me a ticket, also refusing to accept any money towards the cost. We have a short chat about teaching unions in Wisconsin. They have had their power and influence reduced due to the previous state governor, Scott Walker, consequently losing lots of members. After our chat I head off to the suburb of Monona, which is not far from downtown Madison. I’m going to be staying with Craig Millar and his family. Craig reached out to me on the Australian/NZ Packers Fans Facebook Group, offering me a place to stay for the Badgers games at Camp Randall stadium. I have an hour or so spare before he gets back home from work so I head to a local cafe near his place for a cup of tea and to relax whilst listening to music. I first meet Craig, wife Carla and three children consisting of eldest Moses, middle daughter Violet and youngest Ramen around half 6. The Millar family are from South Island New Zealand with Craig from Christchurch and Carla from Otago, just outside Queenstown. Moses was born in NZ but the youngest two were born in Melbourne, Australia, as the family moved there after the serious earthquake in Christchurch back in 2011. They were able to move to America due to the Green Card Lottery Scheme and chose Madison as Craig is a huge Packers and Badgers fan too. For dinner we have delicious take out pizza. I ask Craig and Carla if they will stay here in America. They miss their life back in Melbourne and it’s hard being so far away from their families. It’s only a 3 hour flight from Melbourne to NZ, a lot shorter and cheaper for a family of 5, as compared with Wisconsin. Once we have eaten, Craig and I go to a local bar called The Silver Eagle for drinks. It’s a short walk from the house and later we are joined by two of Craig’s mate’s - initially Steven and then Spencer. Steven is going to the game tomorrow but as a Michigan fan. I warn him that it’s going to be a Badgers victory as they have started the season so well and have some really good players like running back Jonathan Taylor. Steven doesn’t stay for too long as he’s just recently got back from a family wedding in California. It turns out that he’s married to a second generation American-Punjabi woman although is yet to visit India. I thoroughly recommend that he does so at some stage in the future. As us remaining boys keep on staying for “one more drink” it’s pretty late when Craig and I get back to the house. Both of us are not gonna have a long sleep as we are up in a few hours time to watch the rugby World Cup pool game between All Blacks (New Zealand) and Springboks (South Africa) early in the morning.
Saturday 21st September 200 KM 130 M
So I’m up just after a few hours sleep to watch the opening pool game between New Zealand and South Africa in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. New Zealand are one of the top teams in the world and despite a spirited performance from the South Africans the All Blacks are far too strong for them. After the game I head back to sleep and after I’m up, showered and ready to leave for Camp Randall, Craig is still sleeping. I say goodbye to Carla and the kids, thanking them for their hospitality. It doesn’t take long to drive towards Camp Randall but as expected finding a car parking space proves difficult. Eventually I find a space on Vilas Park Drive, near the zoo and it’s only around a twenty minute walk to the stadium. As I’m heading to walk a car pulls up behind mine and I check with them to see if it’s okay to park here. Cindy and Peter have been parking for a really long time and they have never had a problem. I introduce myself and my story and Cindy offers me some money. I’m not for one to take money but she insists that I take it and then Peter buys me a bottle of water from a tailgate zone once we get close to Regent Street. Cindy even tries and helps me to get a ticket. I walk around and there are several touts offering me a ticket but I’m still hoping for a donation. As I’m walking past one tailgate a guy calls out my name and we start chatting and I end up donating the money from Cindy to a charity that they are raising funds towards. I’m not one for keeping money and I always give back what I receive - both in gratitude and money. In return I’m handed a free t-shirt which I proudly wear over my usual Badgers jersey. And luck finally strikes. A kind lady called Lisa is handing out tickets and I’m in. It’s in section S, which happens to be the red section for today - phew - each section is either red or white. Badgers start really well and race to a 28-0 lead. I make a few new mates from the people sitting around me. Wolverines are really slow to start the game but last quarter start playing better but by then it’s too little too late and Badgers secure a comfortable 35-14 win. I really thought that Michigan would cause us problems. After the game I walk back to the car and drive back to Green Bay whilst listening to BBC Radio 1’s Dance Anthems. By the time I arrive it’s dinner time and I head to Nukeo Thai for some much needed food. I order the awesome curry sampler of yellow, green and massaman curry. I eat at the bar and guys working there are fascinated by my story. I’m definitely going to be coming back here for both the good vibes and food. A guy from Twitter invited me to some Oktoberfest celebrations at his bar not far from the Thai restaurant called Lorelei but it’s so busy and the casual staff don’t know where Dave is plus I don’t recognise him as I have never previously met him. So I head back to the house and after updating my website I’m heading to bed at only around half past eight. It’s been a busy couple of days and I need some much needed rest as tomorrow is yet again another really busy and big day.
Sunday 22nd September
I wake up around 3 but immediately fall asleep after checking the time on my phone and don’t wake up again until 7, snoozing for the last hour or so. I have a pretty hearty breakfast as I want to have some food in my system before I start drinking. It’s an Uber to Badger State Brewing car park to catch up with The Fromigos, who as per usual started tailgating just after 5am. Brad and Matt are great guys and after I ask them if I can bring some mates they say “any friend of Jaz’s is a friend of ours”. Eric messaged me whilst I was in the shower asking if I had been approached for a spare ticket and it turns out that on Instagram there is a follower of mine called Pedar Culver II who has a spare but he won’t be able to meet me until closer to 11. So Eric comes and joins me and The Fromigos for drinks and to watch the film Step Brothers - a great cult comedy classic movie. It’s a particularly special film for The Fromigos as their t-shirt has a photograph of Brad and Matt with posing and clothing based on the two main characters (Will Ferrell and John C.Reilly) on the movie’s DVD cover. During our tailgate we meet some nice Broncos fans and Pedar arrives just ten minutes before 11. His grandfather was Danish so Pedar is Peter in English. Pedar’s wife isn’t coming to the game and so he has a spare ticket which has a face value if $120 but I’m sold it for $50 and donate to Eric as a thank you for taking me to Soldier Field earlier this month. Once Pedar arrives we head to tailgate lot 1 from lot 2 to catch up with Scott Schwartz and his mates. As Eric is a veteran he catches up with some of his friends in the Veterans Foreign Wars tent so I say goodbye to him and Pedar who both will be going to the game together. I catch up with Scott and also a couple of the other regulars that I met last week such as Matt and Colleen. I have a Shotski then head into Lambeau to catch up with retired teachers Bob and Jeannie and their daughter Joy. They came to The Fromigos tailgate earlier to meet up with us all and have a drink but left before Pedar arrived for food. We have good seats and Packers make a good start to go 7-0 courtesy of a Marquez Valdes-Scantling touchdown but the Broncos came back to make it 7-7. Both teams then kick field goals to make it 10-10 and then the Packers defense comes into play forcing turnovers and capitalising on the Broncos mistakes, as well as producing some impressive sacks to hold out for a 27-16 win. Our offense still needs time to come together. Some of Rodgers throws seemed slightly wayward but having a good defense really does help and with time the offense will improve. In front of us, there was a Broncos fan who lives in Chicago and was nice to chat to as were a couple behind us who had travelled to the game from Manchester, New Hampshire. After the game I say goodbye to Bob, Jeannie and Joy, thanking them for donating me a ticket for today’s game, and then walk over to Brad and Sandy’s Lambulance. I wasn’t able to go to their tailgate as I was arranging a ticket for Eric from Pedar plus they have my Packers jacket as I left it in the Lambulance last Sunday. Upon arrival it’s not there, probably somewhere in their garage. But it’s good to see Brad, Sandy, Wendy and Roxanne again and we all have a post game celebration drink in the parking lot. Pedar is in Keggers so I catch a Lyft to meet up with him. Will is not working today due to family commitments so I get to meet bartender Jim for the first time. Will’s mum Riesa is also there and it’s good to see her again. She’s been really supportive of my journey and treats me like one of her own children. Pedar buys me a drink and so does Riesa which I’m really grateful to receive. I’m also kindly dropped off at Stadium View by Pedar as my new mate Colleen wants me to meet her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend. It turns out being a big night and I get back late. Two different on and off field performances from watching and attending the games in Madison and Green Bay this weekend. Both Packers and Badgers remain undefeated and thus 3-0.