Whoever said 'It's not the destination, it's the journey,' could have fooled lifelong Packers fan Tina Uecker.
The Rapid City, S.D., native was one of eight first prize winners of the 'Packers Road Trip Giveaway' contest, providing her with airfare for two and two tickets to the Nov. 21st Packers-Vikings matchup at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis, Minn.
And while the eight lucky winners may not have gotten their hands on the ultimate ticket, a ticket to Super Bowl XLV, their regular season road game tickets were a thrill in their own.
The contest drew 63,000 entries and despite Uecker's error-stricken journey to Minneapolis, she was determined to enjoy every minute of her Packers' road game trip.
When asked to share her experience with Packers.com, Uecker couldn't help but laugh as she detailed her tumultuous adventure.
"Of course it was great to win and see the Packers beat the Vikings," Uecker said. "In fact that was the best part because it was such a big rivalry game and we blew them out. However, we had a lot of problems making it to the game, problems that could have ruined the entire experience."
But a determined Uecker and her father refused to let any of the multiple travel mishaps spoil their trip.
"From the start we encountered every problem you could imagine," she said. "Our plane had mechanical problems and was completely canceled. When the airline told us they wouldn't be able to get us to Minnesota I was heartbroken. There was definitely a lot of yelling at airlines and stress that morning, but thankfully they ended up rerouting us through Chicago."
However, Uecker's frustrations were still not over as the air travel troubles continued.
"Once we arrived in Chicago, we sat on the plane for over an hour waiting for a gate. When we finally got off the plane we just barely made it to our next flight to Minneapolis. And of course, once we got to Minneapolis, my luggage was lost. By the time we got to the game I hadn't showered and was running on one-hour of sleep because I waited all night for the airline to deliver my luggage, but they never did.
"It's funny now, but at the time I was thinking it was the trip from hell. But I really have to commend the Packer Fan Tours group, they really made sure that we had everything we needed and had a great time."
Despite the many unfortunate circumstances leading up to the game, Uecker and her father had forgotten about all their troubles by kickoff, proving just how many obstacles fans will put up with in the name of the Packers.
"Travel problems aside, the trip was amazing," Uecker said. "It was especially awesome because I got to do it with my dad, who has been a Packers fan his whole life. Growing up we were taught that if you rooted for anyone but the Packers we would be sent outside, no matter how cold out it was. All us siblings were Packers fans at birth – we had no choice!"
And while Mall of America Field pales in comparison to Lambeau Field, the fan experience surrounding Uecker and her father was a thrill in itself.
"I was surprised to see so many Packers fans at the game," she said. "You really didn't hear from the Vikings fans. It seemed like everyone was rooting for the Packers. To have such an experience at an away game and to be surrounded by so much Green and Gold was amazing."
Unlike Uecker, Andrea Cyert of Winona, Minn., another first prize contest winner, did not have travel misfortunes. However, Cyert would have enjoyed a road game win instead of the Packers' 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
"Without a doubt it was an amazing experience," Cyert said. "I really wish we could have won, but the trip to Atlanta was great."
Cyert didn't even know she had been entered in the 'Packers Road Trip Giveaway' until receiving the phone call informing her she had won.
"It was my husband who entered both of us into the contest, as he spends quite a bit of time searching the Packers web site," she said. "When I randomly got a phone call from the Packers, I had to call them back because I had bad reception. Before returning their call I called my husband and said, 'What did you sign me up for this time?' And he immediately started shouting because he knew what I had won."
Because of her husband Matthew's influence, she has become just as much of a diehard Packers fan as him.
"My husband has been a lifelong Packers fan and from the first time we met, he taught me how much fun it was to be a Packers fan.
"Despite the Packers losing, we had so much fun. We attended the Packers tailgate party, which was included in the package, and had a great time getting together with other Green Bay fans. As we were walking to the game, there were Packers fans everywhere.
"At one point someone started chanting 'Go Pack Go,' and all of a sudden you could hear tons of people chanting it. That happens in Green Bay all the time, but to have that happen in Atlanta was surprising. I wasn't expecting to see so many of us down there."
Cyert's experience gave her the chance to see that Packers fans are not only found in Green Bay, but all over.
"We didn't feel uncomfortable down there at all," Cyert said. "There were some fans who gave us a few dirty looks, but other than that everyone was really nice.
"It was a crazy and emotional rollercoaster that day. It was tough at times because at Lambeau, you can get over bad plays because you are surrounded by all these diehard Packers fans. You can kind of feed off each other to get going again.
"Even after we lost, both sides congratulated each other and said how good of a game it was. But really, I was thinking, 'We just might see you again.'"
While Uecker and Cyert were surprised to see such a plethora of Packers fans on their trips to Minnesota and Atlanta, another first prize winner, Tracy Dahl, attended her road game trip with a bit more caution.
"We should have done a little homework upfront so that we didn't fear wearing our Packer garb in NYC," Dahl said. "My hubby wanted to downplay it a little since we were from out of town and not too sure how others would react, otherwise I would have been dressed in Green and Gold from head to toe."
As visiting-team fans, the Midwestern courtesy displayed by the Dahls found little resistance from the raucous New York City crowd.
"I guess the fans were non-eventful," Dahl admitted. "Some jeered, but the Jets fans did seem envious as they came by the Packers Tailgating party, as we were having loads of fun.
"There were plenty of Packers fans in the stadium; in fact we sat next to a family that came all the way from Los Angeles."
When comparing the atmosphere of the New Meadowlands Stadium to Lambeau Field, Dahl said there was no comparison.
"Lambeau Field rocks," she said. "The fans are wonderful and every time I've been there, seven times now, it's been an excellent experience. I was actually quite disappointed in the new stadium, very sterile because they have to switch things out so much; it didn't seem like any team's 'home,' just a stadium."
During their visit, the Dahl's made sure to take advantage of their trip and see "Lombardi," the Broadway play, which Dahl described as, 'Amazing.'
"We were in continued disbelief that we had won such an amazing package. The tour did a great job of making sure we had everything we needed and answered all of our questions. They knew we were fanatics for sure. The Packers' 9-0 victory, with an outstanding defense that day, stands out as the best part. But really, sharing the trip with my hubby was the best."
Contest winners agreed that the Packers Fan Tours group had gone above and beyond to make the experience even more special. While the tickets to each away game venture would have been rewarding enough, each winner was given a true Packers gameday experience with hotel lodging, airfare for two, and a giant Packers tailgate party to make fans feel right at home.
Josh Whiting of Green Bay, Wis., was the first prize winner to the Sept. 27, 2010, Packers-Chicago Bears away game. While this Green Bay native has seen his team play at Lambeau, the chance to see them on the road has been his wish for a long time.
"I can't thank the Packers and Packer Fan Tours enough for such an experience," Whiting said. "My fiancé and I would never have been able to take a trip like this on our own. This was truly a lifetime experience for the both of us.
"It has always been one of my dreams to be able to watch a football game outside of Lambeau. The Packer Fan Tours was amazing, the way they had everything planned out for us was great."
As the Official Tour Company of the Green Bay Packers since 1993, Packers Fan Tours are always offering new opportunities for fans. To learn more visit http://www.packerfantours.com/ or http://www.packers.com/.
To view photos from Road Trip winners click here
The following are the 'Packers Road Trip Giveaway' winners – first, second and third place
1st Prize Winners (name, city, trip won)
Kevin Blake Jr. (Mishawaka, Ind.) – Chicago
Andrea Cyert (Winona, Minn.) – Atlanta
Tracy Dahl (Coon Rapids, Minn.) – New York Jets
Ann Freier (Bartlett, Ill.) – Minnesota
Karen McKinney (Mansfield, Texas) – Washington
Dewayne Skalon (Francesville, Ind.) – New England
Tina Uecker (Rapid City, S.D.) – Minnesota
Joshua Whiting (Green Bay, Wis.) – Chicago
2nd Prize Winners - $50 Gift Certificate To Packers Pro Shop
Wesley Behling (Little Chute, Wis.)
Karen Dubberke (Moline, Ill.)
Steven Maltby (Ozawkie, Kan.)
Mary Jo Page (Portage, Wis.)
Kia Schilling (Prairie Du Chien, Wis.)
Charlotte Serazio (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Nancy Stein (Ellsworth, Wis.)
Bill Vaughn (Reelsville, Ind.)
3rd Prize Winners – Authentic Cheesehead From The Packers Pro Shop
Melodye Alston (Rock Island, Ill.)
Duane Curtis (Appleton, Wis.)
Pam Dieck (Lake Villa, Ill.)
Jamie Herda (White Settlement, Texas)
Michelle Lau (Statesboro, Ga.)
Dolly Little (Mount Sterling, Ill.)
Patrick Loderhose (Seattle, Wash.)
Richard Zinn (South Setauket, N.Y.)