Selasa, 22 Februari 2011

TravelBlog 2.0 - Jennifer

Recently, Jennifer traveled to Vancouver to cheer on her Hawks and sent us a hilarious account of her adventures.

We wish that some of this showed up on YouTube.


Hockey good, beer bad--a weekend in Vancouver as a Blackhawks fan

It began as one of those crazy ideas. My girl Corrine was moving with our company to Portland--a land without hockey--and while musing what it would be like to survive in such a hellmouth I mentioned the relative closeness to Vancouver. Checking the Blackhawk schedule I noticed a game in February...just about the time she felt she’d start getting homesick. Randomly checking airfare and expecting it to be somewhere in the Kovalchuk dry cleaning bill range, I was shocked to find it more Eberle Clearasil allowance ballpark. Plane booked, hotel booked, train tickets booked, seats was a go. Amazingly, it was a go.

Following are quick snippets of a weekend that combined laughs, heartbreak and levels of liver damage not seen since Matt Duchene’s ill fated evening at the Chilis in Raleigh.

*The day before leaving, I went with my girls Jessica and Courtney to our new favorite vaguely stalkeresque pastime...Blackhawks Open Practice. None of the All Stars were there so we were left to stand on the glass and marvel at the furiously paced tape to tape passing drills and see a collective focus that made me hopeful for the ensuing road trip. Plus Viktor Stalberg’s eyelashes. They’re so long Jessica is sure she can see them from the back of his head. We now call him Giraffe.

*I left Chicago at 8am on the first of February, six hours before the biggest snowstorm the city has seen in fifteen years. Holler. There were Hawks fans on my flight headed to Vanc via Seattle. Double Holler.

*The giddyness of seeing Corrine (and her lovely boyfriend/hockey freak Dave), vacation, beating the storm and hockey leads me to do things I don’t normally do. Such as drink so much beer that I choose to consume and enjoy a deep fried chili cheese dog named the Turtle. Magnificent. I also tell its namesake, a lovely grizzled old barfly named Turtle that yes, I am in fact a Blackhawks cheerleader. He likes Green Bay, what do I care about being truthful?

*While on the way to meet some other friends at a fantastic bourbon lounge in the Nob Hill district of Portland (heh heh), we are informed via text that we have missed the Goalie Fight of the Year. It becomes a mission the rest of the evening to find a television that will show replays. Success at a bar called Bitter End where the scrummy tender tells me that Marian Hossa used to play for the Portland WinterHawks, the AHL team. It’s obvious he has a Mancrush on Hossa (and who could blame him?) and suggests I get a WinterHawks jersey so if I ever meet him I can impress him. My inquiry as to if that would get Hossa to do me leaves him flummoxed. So, probably yes.

*Train to Vancouver! 8 hours! Watching the Hawks Stanley Cup video! Drinking many beers! Making fun of Bobby Lu’s crossed eyes and the Sedins’ pedophilac team pictures!

*Get to Vancouver in the pouring rain but luckily it’s easy to find our hotel, which is not only cheap and clean but two blocks from Rogers Arena. Since it’s late the chi-chi looking hotel bar is closed, but the pneumatically buxom server directs us to another ive minutes away. We get there--the bar is practically empty...and there’s HOCKEY ON EVERY TV. Daddy, is this Heaven? We strike up a conversation with our bartender Peter who suddenly...miraculously...can TALK HOCKEY. INTELLIGENTLY. Seriously, have I died? O Canada! My (new) home and (not really) native land! We drink local beer and talk hockey. Peter’s very attractive in that nerdy/stud kind of way and as I notice that he’s wearing not one but two thumb rings to go with his soul patch I start to realize that our beloved Furry Burrito may have some competition or a future as a bartender. Peter extends an invite to us to return to the bar after the next night’s game on him and he’d hook us up, as he is the assistant manager. Seeing as Vancouver pricing is a bit more Big City than Portland, we are more than happy to agree.

*The next day--Game Day--we decide to wander through the city. Corrine and I are in our Blackhawks daytime ensembles (team t-shirts) and find it curious that we are either getting scowled at or warned by complete strangers to be careful. Really? This is Canada. People are supposed to be friendly, right? Wandering the lakefront, we pass the Hawks hotel (Westin Bayshore, fyi, if you’re looking for any opposing team) just as a worker wheels out two empty kegs. Oh Kaner....

*I follow the Hawks ESPN guy on Twitter. He tweets they’re about to start practice and I send him a message--hey, able to sneak us in? Two of us are cute girls! No dice..but always worth a try. As Edzo says, if you want to score, go to the net. We instead decide to sample heavily from the finest beers of BC. And eat cupcakes. Better combo than you imagine. Dave and Corrine buzzingly skate around an ice rink by the university. Oh and it’s 50 degrees. In Chicago there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground. Holler.

*Onto the game. A woman selling tube steak from a cart yells she even serves Blackhawk fans but, remarkably, we decline. Entering the arena really does feel weird--I’ve never gone to a game behind enemy lines before and especially not with two other people, all three of us sweater-clad (Dave in a road sweater, Corrine in a practice sweater, myself in the retro third sweater probably asking for trouble the most since the name is Stanley and the number is the house that we torched in the playoffs.) People are actually...quite....nice. The beaking is so minor and in respectful fun that we joke that we may have to apologize on the way out if the Hawks win. We go down to the runway to watch the skatearound and I’m encouraged by the looks of determination on the Hawks faces. They must’ve taken their Taser pills this morning. Healthy amount of Hawks jerseys in the crowd too--we feel like a rebel faction.

*The game is Playoff Calibre Hockey. It’s obvious the Hawks are outplaying the Canucks but my goodness without Buff to screen him Luongo is beyond insane. Even a pretty passing play by the babyfondling Sedins make us shake our heads in awe. My fear that our seats in section 311 would leave us with bloody noses is unfounded as Rogers Arena is 2/3rds the size of the United Center--we’re right on top of the action. A guy a few rows down starts chirping at me as the game goes back and forth and I chirp back as Turco once again gives me IBS. I console myself by thinking that the plus of starting Mediocre Marty is that Q can always pull him for Crawford. Hawks lose in a heartbreaker and with the exception of the tragically overserved teenage girl in front of us who flips us off (after nearly stumbling to her death on the concrete), everyone accepts our handshakes and ‘good game’ acknowledgements--and follows it up with ‘see you in the playoffs’ or ‘I actually love the Hawks when they’re not playing us’...I think to if the situation were reversed. Hawks fans would be merciless. Lesson learned, Canada. Lesson learned.

*Heading down to Granville--a street of bars I would never normally frequent if not on vacation and in a dumbass partying mood--we drink our way through the pubs avoiding the clubs and again engage with a lot of Canucks fans on our journey. One typical exchange:

Canucks fan: “Ahhh, got burned tonight, hahahaha.”

Me: “That may be...but we still have the Cup.”

Canucks fan (sighing): “Touche.”

Me: “But you’ll have more of a chance than us this year.”

I’m struck by the universal love for Toews--he’s truly got a future in politics here. Everytime I see a limo I peer in the back trying to see the radioactive glow of PKane’s bare chest but to no avail. I swear I see Eric Staal at a bar, even though I know it’s impossible. Best moment of the night is stopping in a video arcade to shoot some zombies...we discover some wooden booths in the back offering viewings of 70’s era porn for a quarter each. Of course we watch all of them. Fantastic.

*Our last night in Canada, knowing we have an early train, we go for Indian food (superb) and decide to try the chi-chi hotel bar, just to keep it local. It’s relatively empty and again, every tv is tuned to hockey. The bartender walks up--the posterboy for gorgeous friendly healthy young Canadian. We strike up a conversation. His name is Brian. He’s from Vancouver Island. He also manages bands. Did I mention he plays hockey in a touring league and grew up with Jerome Iniglia?

Sweet tapdancing Christ.

We sit for hours, watching hockey, talking hockey, him severely overserving and criminally undercharging us. He swears we made his night by being knowledgable funny hockey fans--laughing at our Drew Doughty jokes and marvelling at my knowledge of more than just my team. I am envisioning how beautiful our bartending hockey playing spawn will be. Their first words will either be ‘ketel one’ or ‘neutral zone’. Showing an uncharacteristic flash of self-restraint, I take my leave without rocking his world (leave them wanting more?) but not before vowing to myself to send a widdle thank you note for a lovely evening....and my email and facebook.

Now I’m on my flight homewards to the land of ice, snow and windchill. My DVR is bulging with the games I missed and I’m not leaving the house till Sunday. And no more drinking. EVER. And if you believe that, I’ve got a playoff start for Turco to sell ya...


We love hockey-themed trips and this was a story for the ages.

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