Thursday, June 28, 2007

On the Road - Columbus and The NHL Draft

Ok... Where were we?

Last time we visited I was in San Antonio and Cleveland supporting the NBA Finals.
After we (Blee & Yours Truly) finished with that, we needed to do a little NHL work in Columbus OH, so we (FNG Ryan and Yours Truly) loaded up an Avis rental car with equipment and drove to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

From The Instigator...

Ryan from the Help Desk with the designated victim for this trip... It was his turn in the barrel since Sean and Hector had done their time, they figured it was someone else's turn to get abused, berated and beaten down for the better part of a week.

Ryan would be considered a "hottie", based on several indicators during the trip... Afterwards I showed a pic of Ryan to the Perfect Child, my barometer of pop culture and trendiness, who confirmed his Hottie status.

Hottie after 8 hours in the car.

Hottie Technician

"Ooooo." she said. "He IS a hottie!"

Yo, FNG... Stay away from my daughter. She's only 13; I have a shotgun and a shovel, and no one will miss you.

More on Ryan's prowess later.

I'm not sure who schedules events in big cities, but the folks in Columbus must have gotten a big laugh as they were putting together the schedule for Mid June. Wait... Let's hold that thought a second. We actually had to get to Columbus first. No mean feat in itself.

In order to facilitate the trip, I picked up the option on Avis' in-car navagation GPS, the "Where2" Garmin Streetpilot c550. Ours was named Jill and she had a nice Australian accent.

When you program the GPS for your selected destination, Jill will give you good turn-by-turn directions to your destination. And as long as your follow her directions, everything is Ola Kala.
"In 2 miles, turn right on highway 200"
"Bear left on Highway 77. In 1 mile your exit is on the right."

However... If you were to do anything as foolish as take a wrong turn, or miss your exit...or stop for gas... That's when she turns from a sweet, helpful Aussie girl into a Cast-iron Bitch.
And I don't mean that in a good way.

"Please make a U-turn. You have missed your last turn."
"Please return to the highway and follow the original driving directions."
"What is wrong with you, can't your follow simple instructions?"
"Please pull your car over and shut off the engine. You are too stupid to drive a car."

Oh, Jill...She can be a nasty one...


I have to say, one benefit of the GPS unit was it's ability to receive traffic bulletins and navigate a detour around delays.

Miles and miles of backed up cars...

Up in the hills of Virginia and West (By God) Virginia, the traffic was at a stand still.
I punched up Jill's "Detour" button and she led us on a merry and scenic chase through the backwoods of Virginia...

Warning signs don't lie...

Back and forth...

Forth and Back...

Pay attention...

The back edge of that truck is a widowmaker...
But if you can't stop make sure you smile as you are decapitated.

Oops. Someone wasn't paying attention.

I kept a sharp ear out for banjo music while Ryan herded us through several miles of twisting and turning roads, eventually returning us to the interstate beyond the a town called, get this... "Bland".

Just up the road, no doubt, from "Spicy".

Good times... good times.

If you take more than 2 or 3 roadtrips a year, pick up a GPS - especially for the Integrated Traffic Broadcast receiver. Definitely worth the $$$.


We finally made it into Columbus and went directly to the Arena, just to meet up with Oh-Danny-Boy, JR, Luc from Montreal (One of the "Dirty Dozen" Constant Readers), and Patrick and have a nosh.

Getting back to the point I was making earlier about making schedules for city events...
I'm sure the folks in Event Planning in Columbus got a real giggle as they were planning Mid-June...

Events & Attractions Staffer 1:"Hey, looky here...We have the NHL Draft in town. Why don't we schedule 'Gay Pride Week' at the same time."
Events & Attractions Staffer 2:"We'll have a parade... Maybe a nice concert or two."
E&AS1: "Yeah... And just imagine having the NHL staff, all the media covering the Draft, the new players and their families all sharing the same hotels with the folks in town for Gay Pride Week."
E&AS2: "I'll bet there will be some fireworks! That will get us some exposure in the national media."

"What street did you say the hotel was on?"

Nice move, Columbus. What's next? Kicking it up a notch and scheduling a Klan Rally on Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday?
Here's a dollar- go buy a clue.


One evening we were having dinner at Ted's Montana Grill...
(If you go, try the bison. I had a rib eye, medium rare. Awesome.)
There about 11 of us...sitting outside since the restaurant didn't have a table inside big enough for our group. It was Dan, JR, Luc, Patrick, Yours Truly, Ryan the Hottie, Ned, DL, and a host of hangers-on looking for a free feed on the NHL's dime.

Midway through dinner, our waitress came out to do drink refills and had another waitress helping out. Since she really didn't need help carrying out another pitcher of Sam Adams, the reason for the second waitress became apparent.
She introduced herself (Lindsey) to Ryan, asked if he was married or had a girlfriend, wanted to know if he was looking for a girlfriend (it IS Gay Pride Week and all...) then went back inside.
Ryan pretty much took it was a certain air of non-chalance bordering on boredom. Like it happens to him all the time.

A short while later we had another visit from Lindsey... This time she gave Ryan a folded sheet of paper- "Here's my phone number. Call me."
He took it without even a "Thank you"...slipped it into his pocket and promptly went back to his burger without a second thought.

We were astounded.

I believe it was Mark Twain who said "Youth is wasted on the young."

Truer words were never spoken.

Post Script- He "forgot" the slip of paper with the phone number at the hotel the next morning.

We need to work on his social skills...

The women are just falling off the trees around this guy. A sad commentary on the state of the young women today... I'm going to have to have a chat with the PC and the concept of "Hard to Get"...


The NHL hardware installation went well...
Issues arose, ensued, were overcome.

RtH and Patrick working on the system.

Hey... Nice rack!

There was much rejoicing.

The Nationwide Arena in Columbus is a pretty cool facility. Lots of good restaurants in the area, a good selection of bars, and the staff at the arena was very helpful and technically capable.
They have an odd take on how to secure an IDF closet...

No knob, deadbolt or hasp. Just a sign.
Yeah, that will keep the riff-raff out.

Perhaps it is a tradeoff of security vs. cost. A "Keep Out" sign is much cheaper than a locking doorknob.

Ned and DL were on hand in Columbus to meet with the NHL Broadcasters. All went well, or so we assume since we didn't get a call to throw bail or or otherwise rescue them from either crazed broadcasters or frenzied "Pride Week" celebrants.
We picked up the equimpment they had on-hand for their presentation about midnight to transport it back to Jacksonville with us the next day. Somehow it grew from one large case to one large case, one medium case, two boxes and a bag. Let me add that to my resume... Delivery Boy.


Ryan the Hottie and I lit out Thursday AM- around 7 or so.

The trip home was mostly uneventful... I drove the entire 800+ miles that day. We stopped twice for gas enroute - (Toyota Highlander- big "Thumbs up" for gas milage.) and once for lunch, where, once again, Ryan had a girl throw herself at him...

This is not her...

We stopped at Hooters (suprise, no?) in Statesville NC.
The waitress practically threw herself at Ryan...Making inane conversation, making lewd and suggestive remarks, drooling on the table as she gazed longingly at him, not unlike a starving dog begging at the table during a steak dinner.
Did he capitalize on the situation? No. Who, praytell, carried the burden of the conversation upon his broad shoulders?
Yours truly, of course. Heh.

Sad, really.


We made it home... 13.5 hours, including the 30 minutes we spend trying to remove Sarah the Hooters waitress from the back bumper of the car... She clung to the back fender, promising all manner of indentured servitude to Ryan "Just so I can be close to you!" she pleaded.


I did get a kick out out of the Runaway Truck Ramps on I77...

The concept is that if you are going downhill on these highways and you have a brake failure, you hit one of these to stop your truck.

I'm not sure I'd want to hit one of these things in a truck while doing 70 or 80 miles per hour... It looks more like a Launch Ramp than an Escape Ramp. I'm envisioning an Evel Knievel-style-over-Snake-River thing.
We don't have these in Florida- I can just see Bubba and Skeeter on a boring Wednesday night...
"Hey Skeeter... Here's one o' them escape ramps... Watch this. I saw this in a cartoon once. You best hang on...."

Fun fun fun.

4 days to Loggerhead. I can barely stand it.

TBG out-


Anonymous said...

Hey TBG, I've been on that exact road in WV with my then-2-year-old in my lap. I thought it would never end. We both trashed the car and I NEVER get sea or car sick. I don't recommend the "detour." I have more comments re: hotness and who I'd rather talk to (sorry it's not Ryan, I'm just too old to appreciate him ...) but I'd better not since I'm married and I just came back from a two rum-and-coke lunch and I'll regret whatever I write. KW and LH awaits! We'll see you soon!

Blee said...

I've never seen those truck occurs to me that if a truck actually had a brake failure and had to use one of these, I certainly wouldn't want to be driving somewhere behind him as he rolls backward back onto the road...