Travel log: getting settled in Indy & the JW bracket

JW Marriott Final Four Bracket subscriber Diego Lopez is journaling his trip to the Final Four. You can read each of his posts on his Travel Log.

We flew into Chicago Midway with no problem and after getting our bags and rental car, we headed to Indianapolis. Chicago to Indianapolis is NOT a great drive. It reminded me a little of driving to Lubbock but thankfully I was just a passenger.

Indiana looks like a nicer Lubbock

We made good time and even got to stop at a Midwest staple, Culvers. They had a fish sandwich for Good Friday and I even got to try the cheese curds (which came with a little marinara sauce). Side note: according to the Wisconsinite in my group, that’s how you know you’re in Indiana. Because no one from Wisconsin would be caught dead dipping their cheese curds in marinara. But it was a solid meal and I got to try something new.

first trip to Culvers

It was nightfall by the time we arrived at our Air BnB, only a mile and a half from Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s a little old house but it’s also kinda cute! And much more affordable than hotel rooms — remember, I’m trying to do this on a teacher’s salary!

My friend that graduated from UH in 2013 was already inside and it was so great to see him. He lives in DC and we hadn’t seen each other since March 2020. We were all pretty hungry for some reason and decided to get a pizza to bring back to the house and eat. We placed an order at Giordano’s for a Chicago-style deep dish.

Giordano’s Pizza. And the Indy’s social distancing signs for the Final Four

But it was almost an hour’s wait for the pie! I didn’t know this was a pretty standard wait so we went to grab some snacks for the house.

And that’s when I finally saw it! The bracket on the JW Marriot! It looks SO cool in person.

JW Marriott Final Four Bracket

What a great idea. Hope to get a nice picture in front of it tomorrow.

And it’s in these little moments that are really special to me. Thousands of folks walk by every day and look up at that bracket and see HOUSTON. That’s so awesome to me. We’re not just the talk of the town back home but all across the country and I can’t get over how cool that is.

Everyone we encounter has been super friendly when they see our Cougar gear and the guy at the pizza place even wished us good luck for tomorrow. Again, respect for our school.

The pizza was something else! I’ve had Star Pizza’s deep dish in Houston but that does NOT compare. This thing is HEAVY! No exaggeration, the thing weighs like eight pounds!

Giordano Pizza in Indy

It’s super tasty and we spent the night eating and catching up around the dinner table. Lots of talk of how special it is to be here. The last time UH was in the Final Four was five years before I was born.

We remember how great it felt when we beat Texas in the CBI. We thought that was a big deal. As undergrads, we could never imagine that the University of Houston would be on this stage. There are some photos that GoCoogs Twitter shared earlier in the week about the attendance at the Alcorn State game in 2013.

My two friends that are here with me in Indy (and myself) are in those pictures. We’ve come so far as a program in such a short amount of time. It means a lot to get to share this weekend with these friends.

It’s still unbelievable to me that in a few short hours, The University of Houston will tip off in the FINAL FOUR! I can’t fall asleep and I’m starting to get on my wife’s nerves because I won’t get off the phone.

But I can’t help it. I’m just way too excited. Beat Baylor!

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