Brent’s United States Tour

Several months ago on Facebook you could play along with an interactive map and count all the states you had visited. For some of the garbage that goes through the newsfeed, I actually thought this offering was pretty cool. I completed it myself but then forgot about it.

Today someone randomly mentioned the state of Maine. Since I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the state, it got me thinking once again about that map I completed on Facebook. Wanting a quick topic to write about tonight, I thought I would recognize the three states I would like to visit that I haven’t yet. Then, for good measure, I thought it might be good to write a quick sentence detailing my fondest memory from each state that I have visited throughout my time living in this nation.

This is my personal map of states I have and have not visited.

This is my personal map of states I have and have not visited.

Out of the 21 states I have not visited, I would most like to visit these three:

Hawaii – Absolute no-brainer. I would love to go to this tropical island and do all the tourist offerings. I would be so excited to interact with the local people and check out the blue water.

Texas – Out of all the states I have not been to, this one surprises me the most. I would have thought that by now work or leisure would had pulled me in that direction. Texas is a hotbed for both professional, college, and high school sports. I also know the state has some great food and I am intrigued by the “Everything is bigger in Texas” mantra. I just really have a desire to get inside state borders and feel that proud attitude.

Louisiana – My main desire for visiting Louisiana is to visit New Orleans. I want to visit that city so bad. It is just so colorful and historic that I don’t think I can resist for much longer. Of course I would love to get a taste of the Mardi Gras celebration.

Memories from States Visited

Arizona – Family vacation to visit my uncle and watch Washington State football in Sun Devil Stadium.
California – Going to Disneyland or watching three baseball games in Dodger Stadium with my brother.
Colorado – Spending time in Greeley with co-workers and friends while working for Grizzly Athletics.
Florida – Twice traveling with Monte to Orlando to compete in the Mascot National Championships.
Georgia – Visiting the Coca-Cola Museum or celebrating one-year anniversary with Sidney in Savannah.
Idaho – Going on a Christmas Eve cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene with my family
Illinois – Stretching my legs at a random rest stop.
Iowa – Gambling at a casino in Council Bluffs (my least favorite state).
Kentucky – Eating a big steak dinner in the very Southern and small town of Paducah.
Maryland – Visiting Camden Yards for a couple baseball games with Sidney.
Massachusetts – Exploring Boston and witnessing the pride of the city just a week after the Marathon bombings.
Minnesota – Sipping on drinks at random airport bars over the course of probably 67 different layovers in Minneapolis.
Missouri – Eating at Lee’s Famous Chicken in Columbia (Yes, Missouri has a Columbia just like South Carolina does).
Montana – Going to college at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Nebraska – Attending the 2015 NCAA Tournament with the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team in Omaha.
Nevada – Vegas Baby!! (about 10 different times).
New Mexico – Attending the 2012 NCAA Tournament with the Montana men’s basketball team in Albuquerque.
New York – Dream sports vacation with my dad and brother in NYC.
North Carolina – Going on a “Bar Rescue” tour with Sidney or touring the college town of Boone.
North Dakota – Paying over $1,000 in cash with Jimmy Gibson for Powerade while at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
Oregon – Vacations to the Oregon Coast with my family.
Pennsylvania – Visiting my high school friend Erik in Pittsburgh and exploring the city.
South Carolina – Working at Coastal Carolina University and meeting Sidney.
South Dakota – Spending the night in Spearfish with my dad.
Tennessee – Eating at an incredible BBQ place in Johnson City.
Utah – Road tripping it to Ogden and spending the weekend in warm temperatures in November.
Virginia – Visiting Arlington National Cemetery.
Washington – Being born and growing up.
Washington D.C. – Visiting all the historic sites and monuments.
Wyoming – Driving across the state’s hilly terrain.

Sorry if my memories bored you just a little bit. I literally jotted down what I remember most fondly about my time in each state, not the craziest story. Of course a goal of mine is to visit all the states but I got some work to do. For a little bonus information, I think my top three states that I have visited/lived in would be (in no particular order) Nevada, North Carolina, and Washington. Where will I visit next? You are probably wishing it is nowhere close to where you live. Don’t Blink.

Goodbye Jimmy Gibson

This evening I said goodbye to a co-worker and friend who is moving back to his home state on Thursday. In tribute to him because it was always the way he did things, I performed a “Montana Exit*” at the popular Missoula restaurant where his going away celebration was taking place without really even saying goodbye. I figured I would save that for this blog post.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

When I got hired at Grizzly Athletics a little over four years ago, Jimmy Gibson was coming up on his one year anniversary with the athletic department in his position as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance. He had arrived in Missoula from Texas where he grew up. After some years working in the Texas A&M system he eyed the Montana position, went through the application process, and landed the “money job” as I called it. As I am sure most people would admit, Jimmy wasted no time earning a reputation as someone who liked to have fun and joke around. When you are overseeing million dollar budgets some people might automatically perceive you as someone who is always serious; someone who has no time for small talk and someone who might be a little socially aloof. If you thought Jimmy might be a little like that before meeting him you were in for a surprise.

I got to know Jimmy pretty well over time. Although I don’t really hang out with people from work that much, I would hang with Jimmy from time to time in those first couple years. In 2012 I got to be his assistant on the travel advance team for football and we got to know each other pretty well. Spending long hours on planes, rental cars, and in hotels will do that to two people. We worked well together and a strong bond of trust and friendship developed.

It was during these football trips where he would tell me about the exciting developments of his new business, Dickey’s Barbecue. Jimmy had decided to follow his dream of opening up his own restaurant franchise. I got to stand back and watch the whole process happen from when the restaurant was just a wild idea in Jimmy’s head to the opening of its doors in March of 2013. During the football season of 2012 things really started to move fast for Dickey’s and I got to see firsthand the focus and stress it takes on a person to work two full-time jobs. I gained a lot of respect for Jimmy during those autumn months of last year.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph, in March Jimmy realized his dream and opened a restaurant in Missoula that this town had never seen before. He poured his heart and soul into that business. In life when you put every ounce of your energy into something, you usually have to cut back on something else. This summer, Jimmy left Grizzly Athletics on a full-time basis to focus completely on Dickey’s. Luckily he was still nice enough to coordinate football travel and help Brynn and I tremendously as our on- field point person for football games.

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey's on March 20, 2013

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey’s on March 20, 2013

In the end, Jimmy knew that in order to maximize his personal profitability, a move back to Texas was necessary. In an example of his talents and employability, Jimmy quickly landed a job back in the athletic department at Texas A&M overseeing a hospitality facility. Mr. Gibson will once again be making crucial athletic business decisions, this time in a department much bigger than the one he was previously at. The Aggies are in good hands.

I want to wish Jimmy the best of luck in his move back to College Station. It was great getting to know him, getting to work with him, and getting to go on a few adventures with him. We send Jimmy back to his home state with his accent fully intact and his Texas pride attitude still as strong as ever. Goodbye, friend. Don’t Blink.

* A “Montana Exit” is when you secretly leave a place without telling anyone who you are with that you are leaving.