Thursday, 5 April 2007

This is the end...

Well, I made it back to The County after 92 days on the road. Art was happy to get the Rav back, Mum was happy to finally see me and I was happy to eat some Sam's pizza!! I thought I should wrap up this blog with a final post and provide you with some additional stats from the trip:

Final kms: 27,478

Average km/day: ~300 (equates to wearing the ass out of 2 pairs of jeans!)

# of games watched alone: 6 (out of 31)

# of days/nights alone: only 15 (out of 92)

# of home team wins: 16 (out of 31)

Gas station stops: ~70 (not including pee breaks!)

# of "Roll up the Rim" wins: Zero..Damn!

States visited: 35

Provinces visited: 6

Some might consider this a bit cheesy but I want to thank everyone for sharing this trip with me along the way. Here is a list of everyone that I stayed with or met me along the way:

Pyke, Sinead - Calgary
Donald, Jamie - Edmonton
Gary, Rhonda - Vancouver
Mark, Rachel - Portland
Trevor, Bronwyn - San Jose
Derek, Marie - Dallas
Jack, Isabel - Ruskin
Kendall, Arlene - Sarasota
Jon, Marla - Atlanta
Doug - Atlanta to Nashville
James - Atlanta to Carolina
Jason, Missy - Greensboro
Mark, Ed - Pittsburgh to Washington
Vicki - New Paltz, New Jersey, Buffalo
Laura, Heather - New York to New Jersy
Colin - New Jersey
The Cook's - Buffalo
The Weise's - Buffalo
Darryl, Allyson - Sarina
Donna, Pat - London
Steve, Kim - London
Joe, Joy - London
Dale, Chuck - Chicago
Dave, Holly - London
Archie, Hillary - Toronto
Johnny Mac - Toronto
Heather - Toronto
Emily, Sean - Ottawa
Uey, Annette - Napanee, Kingston
Spence - Kingston
Cad - Ottawa, Napanee, Kingston, Montreal, Halifax
Cad, Tash - Halifax

Thanks to everyone (family included) who found the blog entertaining enough to keep following and for your comments contributed along the trip.
Also, I need to thank all my friends in Australia for their support and assistance in getting me on my way - in particular - Brad, Jeff, Pat, Bari (thanks for the calls), Andrew (hope my stuff hasn't been put to the curb), Bennett, Rachel, Fairlie, The McLarens, Sonja, Nathan, Clara, The Innes family, and Therese for the phone calls which seemed to come when I needed them most.

Now, what crazy idea can I come up with next...stay tuned...

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Go Habs Go...

How could I possibly ask for a better finish to this fantastic road trip? The Habs win their last regular season home game 2 - 0 against the Bruins in front of their 100th consecutive sell out crowd. Montreal’s playoff hopes are still alive and with only 2 games remaining it should be a pretty exciting finish.

Captain Koivu, who received a lot of local media for being benched in the final minutes of their last game, scored both goals and they were beauties! Big time.

The crowd didn't generate the atmosphere that I experienced in Ottawa but it was incredible all the same. I have followed The Canadiens since I can remember and have never seen a game in Montreal so to say that I felt a bit of emotion would be an understatement.

The crowd after the game cheering:

There will be another post once I get home to put this blog to rest where I will give you a run down of some highlights and stats. But before I do, I have to update you on my last couple of days...

Cad (Aaron) and I went to the Napanee to spend some time with Uey (and his family). Spence also joined us from Carlton Place for a night out in Kingston.

Uey, Me, Cad and Spence:

Annette, Aaron (Uey), Hannah and Cal (forgot to take a photo of them when they were all at home so Cad took this photo of a photo!):

We were also able to catch up with another Mount Allisonian, David Pryde, who is now a stand-up comedian (and damn funny) - check out his site:

It was a great time…I hadn’t seen those guys for over a decade and it would seem the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We (Cad and I) arrived in Montreal on Monday and spent most of the day on Tuesday doing interviews for the CBC. Two radio interviews and a TV interview as well..even Cad got some airtime.

Well, it's back to Nova Scotia, 13hrs, probably the longest drive of the trip outside of the leg to Vancouver and the leg from Dallas to St. Louis. One more post to come - probably in a day or 2 once I get get over the shock of not having to move on.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Go Sens Go...

Remember what I said about how good the crowd at the Leafs game was..well, the crowd at the Sens game was far superior! Six minutes before the game started the noise level was so loud we couldn't hear each other talk. It was awesome...except for the end result...the Senators got up over the Canadiens: 5 - 2.

Sean, Emily, Me, Dave, and Doug (see photo below) all attended the game together...and it was a great time. The seats were excellent and it was Emily's first NHL game - I think she might be hooked. The first game of the trip where the Canadian anthem was the only one sung, the crowd cheered on and on and the guy singing was awesome. I think playoff hockey has finally begun.

My arrival in Ottawa was a great relief for me! I was really looking forward to seeing Emily and Sean (and getting out of the Rav) to spend some time relaxing/watching their new tv/getting over my cold. I had a really great time with them - we spent an afternoon wandering around the city and had great Thai meal. Sean treated me to some of his lasagna and I have to say it rivals Moms!

Some photos around Ottawa:

The night of the game we all enjoyed a great bbq with Doug and Karla. You might remember Doug from such great blogs as "Welcome to Blue Land" and "Fang Fingers". He's a big Sens fan and had the jersey waiting for me to try on...not a chance! The weather has been fantastic since I got back into Canada so it was an afternoon in the backyard chasing (and being chased by) the kids.

Doug, Karla, Taylor, Liam, Holly, Me, Seth, Dave, Emly and Sean at the pre-game bbq:

Seth and I - check out that awesome jersey:

Cad arrived in Ottawa bright and early on Saturday to finish off the trip with me. We're planning to head to see Uey ("The Heart and Soul of the Napanee Raiders"), Annette, Hannah and Cal in Napanee for a couple of nights. Last game coming up and soon I'll have to rejoin reality!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Go Leafs Go...

Leading up to this game, a lot of people had been telling me that the atmosphere and crowd at the ACC (Air Canada Centre) sucked: "No cheering, sushi eating suits!" They couldn't have been more wrong. The Leafs scored 47sec into the game and poured it on for all 3 periods.

They made the Hurricanes look terrible, or maybe it was that the Hurricanes terrible play made the Leafs look fantastic?? My tickets were in the standing room which gave me a great view of the ice (and I got to sit (I mean stand) with the die hard fans as well. It was 6 - 1 in the end and the roar from the Leafs fans for every goal, every hit and every save was by far the most impressive I have seen and heard.

CN Tower:

As the Leafs are battling hard for a playoff spot, you could really say it was a playoff game so that might attribute to the atmosphere?? You can't get all positive comments from a Habs fan.

I drove up from London on the day of the game after spending 2 nights with Holly, Dave and Seth.

Dave, Seth and Holly:

Me and the little man:

Passed by Brantford (birthplace of the Great One):

I caught up with Ross (Archie) and Johnny Mac for "a couple of beers" before the game - just what I needed, more beer!

Ross, Me, John:

I stayed the night with Archie and his family in Toronto.

The Marshalls:

Before leaving town I was able to catch up with another good friend, Heather, for breakfast and then it was on the road to Ottawa. A lot of socialising but when I think of how long the gaps have been since catching up with friends, it's always worth every minute.

The game on Friday is a big one - Canadiens play the Senators. Go Habs Go!!!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Chicago Blackhawks - All For One...

It would seem the crowd that turns out for Blackhawk's games are "all for one" but they definitely need something more. Even the Kings managed to beat them at home (2 - 1) in front of a half decent sized, vocal crowd. No one really stood out but one of the highlights had to have been 3 fights and the crowd during their national anthem - where they cheered and clapped all the way was hard not to get into it then.

I collected Dale and Chuck from O'Hare airport on my way down from Milwaukee on game day. The boys were in good cheer and we decided to continue that mood by heading straight to the pub for a couple of pregame beverages. United Center is huge and the beer was pretty cheap (compared other rinks I have attended).

Probably the most violent comment from a fan yet:
1. Take off your skate and stab him!! (You kind of had to be there to hear the fans in our section start laughing when that was shouted).

An executive decision was made that the guys would attempt to change their flights and we would stay on Sunday to watch a second game - Calgary was coming to town and Dale wasn't missing it for the world. I think we were all glad we stayed as Calgary won a great game, it was 16 degrees outside and for $10 tickets, we even received a free Blackhawks blanket. I guess the only downside would have to have been the 6hr drive to London (not getting in until 1am). Dale and Chuck had to purchase flights out of Hamilton on Monday - I think they were happy to getting back to their couches.

I'm staying with Holly, Dave and Seth for a couple of nights and then heading to Toronto for the game Tuesday. Only 3 games left and with the playoff race in the East very tight for the last couple of places, I look forward to what should be the best games yet.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Me and Perdy...

I'm not sure if this is being shown outside of the US, but here is an AVIS commercial that contains a conversation that, if you insert "parking near the rink" instead of "golf course near the conference", may or may not have occurred in the Rav:

Friday, 16 March 2007

The State of Hockey...

Finally, a home team gets a win. The Wild managed to hold off the Coyotes to give them a franchise record 43 games wins for a season. It was a pretty good game of hockey but not enough aggression for my liking! I thought I jinxed them as the Coyotes scored 2 goals after I had just finished telling the lady I was sitting beside how I hadn't seen a home team win in 5 games.

It was by far the best rink I have been in - I can't really explain what set it apart. Maybe because is was so easy to get in and out of? Maybe it was all the standing room on both levels that gave it a nice open feel? Maybe it was because this was the first team that had an anthem of it's own? Maybe it was free puck everyone got after the game? The only way this rink will be topped is if I get free beer at one of the remaining games!

Here was an interesting sign I passed in St. Paul (sorry about the reflections):

Well, I suppose you are sitting there, anxious to know what I had been doing up to the game tonight. Did a lot of driving, that's what, so get the maps out! The first day was pretty uneventful, I left London and drove all the way across Michigan to Muskegon...did nothing but drive...that's it!

The most patriotic moose I have come across so far:

From there I drove all the way up the coast of Lake Michigan through Northport, back down to Traverse City and then back up to Petoskey...I passed the through the 45th Parallel (halfway between the Equator and the North Pole) 3 times in one day.

I spent a couple of nights in Petoskey and went skiing for a day at Nub's Nob - where I enjoyed 2 minute lifts to the top and 15sec trips to the bottom...I reckon I got 40-50 runs in.

Nub's Nob:

The Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Bridge (5 mile suspension bridge) linking Michigan's two peninsulas:

I then drove up through the Upper Peninsula (the U.P.) along Lake Michigan and then up to follow the Lake Superior (listened to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald a few times) coastline to Duluth and then down to St Paul. Told you I did a lot of driving. I did manage to indulge on some $.25 beer one night along the way so I can honestly tell you one leg of the drive hurt more than any others!

Final deer count after 3 days - 17! I was pretty happy that I didn't have to do any night driving. Next game is Chicago where some company is flying in for a couple of days...oh boy!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

This is Hockeytown...

Oh why can't a home team win when I attend? Dang, that was the fifth loss in a row for the home teams. I was attributing to ladies being bad luck but I've got no excuse now. The Red Wings lost to the Bruins, 6 - 3. It was bad, real bad! I think everyone there was expecting the result to be completely opposite.

Joe Louis Arena = awesome. The history and love of hockey in Detroit was evident everywhere - from the info plaques in the concourse, to the retired numbers of some of the best hockey players ever, to the old lady sitting beside me that knew more about hockey than I did, to the 9 Stanley Cup banners that hung from the rafters.

From Buffalo, I re-entered Canada and headed to Sarnia to stay with Darryl, Allyson, Matthew and Maeve - Darryl was the only one who wasn't sick! Darryl and some friends had some had tickets to the game but unfortunately, Darryl caught the bug and was out of commission to attend the game on Sunday.

Darryl and Matthew:

Not to worry, Allyson was kind enough to lend us her car, so Anthony, Gary, Mike and I headed to Detroit to catch the game. We left in plenty of time but the damn border crossing took over an hour and we missed the opening faceoff, as well as 3 goals and a fight! Dang!

From Sarina I headed back to London to spend a few days with Donna and Pat and to see Steve, Kim, Luke and Jack. It was great to spend some time with relatives that I haven't seen in awhile.

Steve, Kim, Luke and Jack:

Pat, Donna, Luke:

I was also lucky enough to spend some time with Joe and Joy (and be treated to a damn good rack of lamb followed by a birthday cake!!).

Joy and Joe:

Well, hopefully the Moore's are healthly again and I can consider myself lucky I didn't catch it as well. I'm off to my next game in St. Paul and will be taking the long way, through Northern Michigan and Wisconsin - Art was really impressed when I told him I was going to add some additional kilometres onto the Rav!

Do You Believe...

I did, until Buffalo got thumped! In what I was hoping (and so was the sellout crowd) would be my first home team win in 5 games turned out to be an absolute nightmare for the Sabres. The nightmare began when the the first time the whistle was blown was a goal for the Wild - 5 minutes of play from the start without a whistle! In the end it was a 5 - 1 loss for the Sabres.

Both teams are fast...especially Gaborik, who is very (insert expletive) fast. For those geographically challenged, Buffalo is very close to the Canadian border so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised to see Labbatt for sale in the pub before the game but I was surprised that they sang both the Canadian and American national anthems before the game even though there was no Canadian team playing. I am told that since the Maple Leafs games are corporate events, a lot of Canadians purchase season tickets to the Sabres or come over for the games. You could tell, it was hockey, hockey, hockey...and a lot of booing and frustration when the Sabres were getting over run.

Vicki travelled to Buffalo (her home town) with me so I was put up by her family friends just outside the city. Getting to meet some local Buffaloians (not sure if that is right or not??) was great. Quote of the day would have to have been when I asked her Dad what the main industry is in Buffalo and he responded,"Nothing." A comment that seemed to be true as we entered the city on the subway and I noticed how many shops were closed down in downtown of the city. Seems like Buffalo is or has been going through a rough time.

View of mountains and tower in New Paltz:

Enough of the depressing's something more positive - Buffalo Wings but not in Buffalo as they are only referred to as Wings and I managed to squeeze 2 lbs into my belly before the game!! I was also, forced, to eat a Ted's World Famous Charcoaled Broiled Hot Dog before I left town - I submitted more easily than you would think! I also HAD to take a Roast Beef sandwich on Kimmelweck with me - it was fantastic and would warrant another stop in Buffalo just to get another one!

For all you bird lovers, here's a Cardinal that I saw in New Paltz:

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The Hub of Hockey...

So it wasn't the most exciting game of hockey I've seen to date - Boston didn't deserve to win and they didn't, losing 2 - 0 to Colorado (they didn't play much better). Tim Thomas (Boston goalie) played awesome though and I got to see another Nova Scotia native play - Glen Murray (and Joey MacDonald got traded to the Bruins but didn't get the start).

TD Northbank Garden is pretty easy to get to as it sits on top of the train lines (the new Garden is right beside the old Garden). I would have taken more photos but it was the colder than cold last night and I think the camera battery froze quicker than my bare hands. It wasn't so awesome waiting on the open air train platforms!

Boston clam chowder (didn't have any!). I travelled to Boston on game day and since I have decided not to pay any more tolls, the trip took 5.5 hours instead of 3.5 hours. It was a better drive as I travelled through the hills of Vermont and some tidy towns along the way. Plus, what would I have done if I arrived early. I've been to Boston before so I didn't need to play tourist. I would take more pictures but find it a bit dangerous when I'm driving to get the camera out and start snapping away...I'll give it try but you you might not get anymore posts!

I left Boston today and the completed a round trip back into NY - through Connecticut and no tolls...took a scenic route through Amherst, MA. I was talking to Dale and he convinced me it was nice and it was but never again!! Oh, there was a slight emergency on the return trip as I endured a very long stretch of highway with no services and a lot of traffic so it almost came down to a certain type of jug (Note: for the exact name of the jug, refer to what Ray (Ricky's dad from Trailer Park Boys) would have used when he was driving the big rigs.)