Monday 9th December
My first task today is to call in to WHBY radio station in Appleton to catch up with Josh Dukelow on his Fresh Take Show. I’m a bit tired so I’m not my energetic self but as always enjoy talking about my latest travel and sporting experiences. Josh asks me about the controversy with the Washington Redskins name and I reply that it will probably have to change in the future due to the (dark) history of colonial interaction with Native American culture, similar to that took place in Australia with the Aboriginal people. The rest of the morning after breakfast and a shower is spent relaxing and working on my website. For lunch there are leftovers from last night’s dinner and during the afternoon I catch up on some Netflix, finish working on my website and updating social media. Justin from tailgate lot 1 posted a nice photo of me pouring shotski and commented how great it was that I was in Indianapolis the night before and at the tailgate the next morning. Heather isn’t feeling well from her latest round of chemotherapy so for dinner I decide to get takeout Vietnamese for Nick and myself. As it’s Monday night I watch the prime time game between the Giants and Eagles. The Giants take a 17-3 lead at half time but the Eagles score two touchdowns in each of the last two quarters to send the game into overtime. Some of the Philadelphia fans look rough on TV and thankfully no riots will have taken place as the Eagles score another touchdown in overtime to steal the game and keep their slim wildcard playoff hopes alive. As soon as the game is over I’m off to bed as it’s pretty late.
Tuesday 10th December
I have a nice lie in this morning. I’m finding that the second day after getting back from some busy travels tends to be when I’m sleeping both the best and most. After breakfast I start marking travel plans for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day. The last Packers regular game of the season is on Sunday December 29th against the Lions in Detroit so the day after the game I’m catching a Delta flight to Los Angeles. I’m going to spend three nights in California and on January 2nd take a flight to Miami to attend a wedding of a mate of mine. Now I’m 95% confident of attending this wedding as I’m expecting the Packers to have a first round bye as the number two seed in the NFC. However if they are in the wild card first round of playoffs then they might be playing on Saturday January 4th, the day after the wedding and therefore a slight logistical (transport) issue from Florida. I’m going to wait until the playoffs are confirmed, but it’s looking good for the Green and Gold as long as we win our last three remaining games. Lunch is leftovers from last night and after eating I drive to Festival Foods in De Pere to do some food shopping. Heather isn’t still feeling well today so I’m on cooking duties tonight. I spend my time gathering groceries as an American supermarket is so different from what I’m used to back in Australian plus living with my host family has meant that I haven’t had to do much shopping. In fact I don’t like shopping of anything apart from when I have to look for accommodation, transport and of course tickets for football games! Once back home I spend my time preparing the pasta dinner and cleaning up - Heather’s loves having a meticulously tidy kitchen. Nick comes home with Jack and it’s nice having a home cooked meal after such a long time - and it was produced by yours truly and it’s actually not that bad! This evening I’m meeting up with my good mate Will at his home in Sobieski. Upon arrival I bump into mum Riesa who is just about to leave and I’m reminded of a Christmas party at Will’s bar on Friday night. I get to catch up with Alyssa, Noora and twin babies Gracie and Grant, the latter two whom are sleeping. The temperature tonight is 0 Fahrenheit so around -18 Celsius and Will still wants us to go in his hot tub in the back yard. It’s only a short walk to the tub and it’s so cold but once inside it’s awesome. We chat about as per usual about a range of topics before I head back home for bed.
Wednesday 11th December
I’m back at Bay Port today to teach cricket during Pirate Time. James and I have two classes but similar to back home I notice the students being distracted due to the upcoming holiday season. As numbers are a bit lower both James and I have a go playing in opposing sides with each session. I personally achieve a not too bad all round performance taking a wicket bowling, getting a direct hit on a run out fielding and making some runs batting. For lunch James kindly treats me to lunch at Gallagher’s. It’s a good chance to catch up since we last saw each other the night before Thanksgiving. Back at school I’m assisting James taking a substitute (relief) lesson in Spanish. During my six months in South America for the first part of the year I picked up quite a bit of the language but since leaving the continent a lot of it unsurprisingly has been lost. The last lesson of the day is a social studies class in which James is teaching the student’s about racism. I particularly enjoy him explaining the difference between southern USA and northern USA racism. Southern USA racism is “I’m racist but I might like you as a non-white person if you’re cool” whereas northern USA racism is “I’m not racist but if you’re a non-white person I don’t want you to live in my neighbourhood, marry my child etc”. During my civil rights tour I learnt more about how Dr King found southern USA people who were openly racist easier to talk to about how they felt as they were being openly honest. In contrast northern USA people that identified themselves as liberal and tolerant were equal if not more racist as they were part of the indirect segregation in areas such as education, employment, housing and healthcare. Once I’m back at the house I have an interview with the UK and Irish Packers for their latest podcast as fan of the week. My interview is conducted via Skype with an Irishman called Stephen who co-founded the group back in 2013 and whom I met briefly at tailgate lot 1 before the Packers-Raiders game a couple of months ago. The UK and Irish Packers were on their annual pilgrimage to attend a game at Lambeau field and I messaged him on Instagram for the group to attend for a shotski and they did! I enjoy talking to Stephen for a while about my personal background, initial connection to the Packers, first trip to Green Bay and then Lambeau for a game, planning my itinerary for the Packers and Badgers as well as my experiences so far. I’m asked if Green Bay is seen as a permanent move but I reply that it’s difficult to move as a high school teacher plus it would involve a cut in pay and conditions as compared with my teaching lifestyle bask in Western Australia. After my interview I work on my website and once I’m done I head downstairs to catch up with the family. It’s good to see that Heather is feeling better and she makes us all a nice dinner based on last night’s leftovers. I don’t have any plans tonight so end up joining my host family to visiting Nick‘s parents house, still occupied by Jimbo and Barb in the west side of Green Bay. During the journey Heather and Nick explain who the town has changed over the years with the suburb of Ashwaubenon being relatively new. Once at the house I get to see Nick’s room where he lived in for around 18 years or so before heading to the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire after graduating from Green Bay West High School. Jimbo explains how when they first moved to the house just before Nick was born that all the neighbours were really friendly but sadly this is no longer the case as the area has become a low socio-economic suburb. We get back to the house in time for Jack to be put to sleep and I spend the rest of the evening reading before heading to bed.
Thursday 12th December
I was supposed to be at Bay Port at half 7 this morning but I sleep through my alarm and wake up at 7:50. I quickly get ready and drive up to Howard. I’m going to Lisa’s Geography class in which students are presenting on a state or territory based in Australia. I arrive in enough time to see three groups with the last one based on Western Australia. Lisa and I agree that the students could have gone in a bit more detail - usually an issue that I have too back home. Afterwards I’m back with James and he’s continuing with his focus on racism. I enjoy it when he explains that even if all racist people were taken off this world then racism would still exist because it’s institutional. He shows a YouTube clip of a teacher who back in 1985 split the class into two groups based on the colour of their eyes and told them that the blue eyed students were superior than the black eyed students thereby initiating conflict. James and I both joke that you couldn’t have such an experiment today for lots of different reasons and even back then it must have raised lots of ethical research questions. After lunch I drop in on a civil rights class, talking about my civil rights tour of Alabama and Atlanta plus the civil rights movement in Australia. The next class I’m back with James who is taking a study hall freshman class and then the last lesson of the day is another sociology class. As it’s the same class as earlier I don’t stay right until the end plus I have an appointment with Amanda Schmidt of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. She contacted me to see if I wanted to do a blog and Instagram takeover for this weekend. As my good mate Brad is the president I get to catch up with him for a short while before he goes to a board meeting. Amanda hands me some notes with questions that she would like me to type then I’m off to Jenstar yoga for a Yin class with teacher Megan. The studio just recently moved across the road so it’s my first class here. Megan and a couple of the yogis ask me questions about my adventure so far before class starts. It’s a good session and thankfully the snow has stopped. But when I get back to the house the driveway is covered and my car gets bogged down trying to get into the garage. Nick and I have to get some shovels for my first ever experience of clearing snow. Heather has made us all another nice meal and after helping clean up I relax and chat with my host family. Nick is putting Jack to bed as Heather has work to complete so I continue to work on my website. My mate Justin rings me to confirm that he has a ticket for Sunday’s game against the Bears plus two on field passes for Justin and I donated by Mike Murphy. The photos section of my website for each month is the hardest to complete and once the month of November is finally complete I do some reading before heading to sleep.
Friday 13th December
Once I’m up, ready and had some breakfast I drive to Lambeau field to volunteer to help clear up the snow. There’s quite a few on shovelling duties and whereas most will be paid $12 an hour cash, I’m taking part for the experience as I’m on a tourist visa. I do around an hour of shovelling before heading off to Paul’s Pantry. They don’t need any more volunteers for shovelling and only a small number for throwing salt so the rest of the morning is spent at the food bank. Initially I’m on recording the weight of the shopping carts (trolleys) before going onto outdoor trolley duties. Today Paul’s Pantry is understaffed so it’s just me helping people put their food into vehicles and then returning trolleys back inside. Despite the cold weather I’m feeling pretty warm due to all the layers of clothing that I’m wearing, and I end up breaking into bit of a sweat as a result of all the physical activity occurring. For lunch I meet a woman called Barbara at the Taste Of India for their buffet detail. Barbara reached out to me on social media and over lots of different types of Indian cuisine we chat about her experiences back in the early 80’s of being stationed in Western Australia whilst serving in the military. Once back at the house I spend the afternoon completing a blog for the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. Dinner is at Keggers with Will’s mum Reisa putting on a Christmas party with plenty of food and entertainment. Whilst eating I meet a woman called Mary-Kay, who really enjoy listening to my story and asks if I have tickets for Sunday’s Packers-Bears game. I reply that I’m still looking and it turns out that she has two spares. Mary-Kay is a season ticket holder but doesn’t usually attend games. Therefore for the next game at Lambeau Will and I are both the lucky and grateful receivers of her donation. We have been going to a home game together for the past 4 seasons and I was slightly worried this year would be the end of our single game run so I’m really grateful for Mary-Kay’s generosity. I drive back to the house and it’s just Nick at home with Jack sleeping as Heather has gone out with her two best friends Shannon and Francis, whom are visiting from out of town. Nick and I watch the classic stupid guys movie Beerfest and afterwards I pop into the Lorelei Inn. Owner Dave has been following my journey on Twitter, providing lots of support and encouragement so it’s finally great to meet him. We chat both about my personal background and experiences so far before heading to a nearby Mexican restaurant for tacos. I’m not feeling too hungry so I only have a couple but they are pretty good. I drop Dave back at his bar then head back home to bed.
Saturday 14th December
I have a nice lie in until mid morning and after having breakfast and getting ready I’m hitting the road for my first Instagram post of the day. Amanda has asked me to get some photos of places to visit in town and the local area. So based on research and personal preferences I choose Bay Park Square shopping mall, National Railroad Museum and Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay. There is also plenty to see and do in the surrounding areas so I decide upon New Zoo and Adventure Park in Brown County and Kroll’s bar in Sobieski. As I’m close to Will’s place I drop off a ticket for tomorrow’s game. I picked up the two spare donated tickets from Mary-Kay’s house earlier. She kindly left them in an envelope on the porch of her home for me to collect. Only in Wisconsin! On the way home I stop for gas (petrol) and money and once back in my bedroom I take a nap for around an hour. After I’m up I get ready for some socialising. First though is my second Instagram takeover post of the day, which is with my host family. It’s a good opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank Heather, Nick and Jack for letting me stay in their lovely home. Plus it’s telling both local and non-local people the generous and hospitable nature of the local people of Green Bay. I have a couple of social engagements organised with the first one involving a drive to Appleton to attend a Christmas party with Dan and Jenni. I met them both, along with Jenni’s parents after the Packers win in Dallas a couple of months ago. A month later I caught up with Dan and his son Anthony at the Bucky’s Rescue Unit tailgate before the Badgers-Hawkeyes game in Madison. Today I get to have a Texas Live! reunion plus meet more of Jenni’s extended family. I love Dan as he has been so supportive of my journey, so much that every time I have chatted with him he’s wanted to join me on my football adventures around the country. This time is no different as Dan would like to attend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena with me along with his bachelor party in Las Vegas in January. Oh and if the Packers get to Super Bowl, which is the weekend before his and Jenni’s wedding in the Dominican Republic, we will have another bachelor party in Miami! I can’t stop laughing with this really cool guy and in true Jaz style we randomly bumped into each other and become good mates. Jenni’s auntie and uncle whom are hosting the party order Olive Garden catering and the food turns out to be pretty good. I’m in Appleton for a couple of hours before driving back to Green Bay. I’m catching up with Eric’s mum Pamela and her boyfriend Roy at their home not far from Lambeau. Roy has kindly got me a Packers beanie and Pamela cooks up some pizza although I don’t eat much as I already ate earlier. Eric arrives shortly after me with his girlfriend Emily and her two kids. Emily is a Packers fan but the kids are sadly Bears fans. The final Instagram post of the day is based on Green Bay at night in winter so I take a couple pictures of Titletown district as they have an ice-skating rink plus snow tubing. I then drive to the Botanical Gardens to take some photos of their special evening light display. But I arrive too late and therefore I only get a couple of shots from the outside. They will have to do and the pictures turn out not too bad. Once I have sent Amanda the post I drive back home to rest up for tomorrow’s 6am tailgate. It’s going to be a long day.
Sunday 15th December
I don’t sleep well and once I’m up I feel pretty nauseas. I have to make it to The Fromigos tailgate at 6am as a special presentation is taking place. Upon arrival the guys are setting up and I park next to a Fox 11 news vehicle. A cameraman sets us up for a live feed where Matt and Brad make me an honorary member of The Fromigos with a fro and a painting of the three of us from a tailgate back in September. From the studio I’m speaking to Justin, who interviewed me at the Fox 11 Field House a couple of months ago. It’s nice to catch up with him and personally thank not only The Fromigos but also the great people of Wisconsin in general for their generosity and hospitality. After the live TV news feed I head to my car to lie down as I start to feel more unwell. I decide to pop into the warm Marriott hotel across the road but things only get worse so I say goodbye to the guys and drive back to the house. As soon as I’m back I’m straight to the bathroom to be sick and then I’m in bed to rest. I fall asleep for an hour or so and right after waking up I get a knock on the door from Heather. She asks if I’m ok and after telling her my symptoms I’m handed a pill for my stomach and Nick graciously nips to a local service station to pick up some Gatorade for my dehydration. I’m back to sleep and around 10 the nausea is starting to fade. Heather recommends a hot shower, changes my bedding and washes my clothes in an attempt to get rid of any germs. It’s getting close to 11 and I can’t believe out of all the games this season that this will be the toughest to get to, despite the fact that I’m currently in Green Bay! Heather takes a final temperature reading and thankfully my fever is going down. I get ready and drive back to Badger State Brewing parking lot. The attendant has gratefully reserved my spot from earlier and after parking my car I walk over to lot 1 to say hi to everyone. I pour shotski for around half an hour during which I get to catch up with Jon and Scott. It’s nice when Scott says that everyone at the tailgate missed me earlier. I’m in Lambeau just before national anthem and today’s seats are in section 130. Will joins me a few minutes into the first quarter with the Packers making a good start through a Davante Adams touchdown in the 200th meeting of the NFL’s oldest rivalry. Both teams defense holds up well in the second quarter with the only points being a Bears field goal to keep the Packers 7-3 up at half time. However the Packers have an explosive start to the second half through two Aaron Jones touchdowns. But as per previous home games the Packers give the fans a nervy final quarter with the Bears staging a fight back through a touchdown and field goal. In fact the Bears could have scored in the final moments of the game but the Packers manage to hold on for the win and eliminate the Bears slim playoff hopes. Awesome! Post game I catch up with my mate Coleen from lot 1 before driving back to the house in heavy traffic. Upon arrival Nick tells me that Heather has gone to the hospital due to an infection. I hope she is ok. She is such a tough woman and it’s hard for all of us to see her sick. Dinner is a combination of leftovers and I spend the evening working on my website, updating social media and completing my blog for the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. I manage to do some laundry and after seeing all the day’s NFL scores, the Packers are guaranteed January football as the Rams lost to the Cowboys. After some reading I’m off to bed.