Monday, March 2, 2009

Chuck the Writer and another PBL road trip

Well, what was supposed to be a quick trip to Montreal this weekend ended up becoming a more fulfilling trip to Quebec - and then to Burlington, Vermont - for two games of PBL action.

First things first. My original plan was to go to Montreal and take pictures of the new team that replaced the Sasquat'ch franchise. But on Friday night, I got the news that the game in Montreal had been moved from one venue to another - and eventually was canceled outright.

So after a little juggling and some last-minute phone calls, I decided to drive up to Quebec City and photograph the Halifax-Quebec game on Saturday night.

What a good decision that was. This was my third trip to Pavillion de la Jeunesse (the Quebec Kebs' home court), and that place had 2,000 fans and was as noisy as a rock concert. Every time one of the Kebs touched the ball, or even got near the hoop, the fans went nuts. Of course, there were some vans of Halifax Rainmen fans in the building, so there were plenty of alternating chants of "Go Kebs Go!" and "Let's Go Rain-Men!" back and forth.

Also, I finally resolved that this time in Canada I would find some decent poutine to eat. No, get your mind out of the gutter, poutine is actually French fries with cheese curds and a gravy-like sauce. I had an order of poutine at the Pavillion de la Jeunesse, it was quite good - and had another order of poutine at a restaurant on the way home, a truck stop called Restaurant Madrid, just off the Jean Lesage Highway.

To top things off, I decided to pick up a can of poutine sauce for the trip home. Of course, once I passed over the border into Vermont, and was asked if I was bringing any food over the border, I showed them the poutine sauce can and figured that hey, if I've got to declare ALL foods, I guess this counts too.

Burlington, Vermont has one of those old-school basketball arenas, the kind with a balcony that rings the court and a stage at the far end of the building. But that place was bouncing like crazy, as the Frost Heaves fans cheered their hometown heroes for a 126-72 win over the Kebs (yes, that was a 54-point margin of victory). The Frost Heaves play in two buildings in the Green Mountain State; I've been to their Barre home court twice, and this was my first time at the Heaves' Burlington location.

This building also has some great locations to shoot action shots, as you can see from this picture.

This shot was taken from the balcony of the Burlington Memorial Auditorium, with my Nikon D70 and my manual-focus 1970's-era F/1.8 Nikkor E-series lens. It was also published in the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, and was my second photo published in that publication. Whee!!

Then came the trip home. Because I'm not 100% familiar with the fastest way to get from one PBL city to another PBL city, I often rely on my TomTom One GPS navigation system. Normally it gets me from point A to point B without any trouble. This time, however...

I'm tooling down US 7, and all of a sudden it tells me to take a right. I then drive through three miles of windy road, and all of a sudden it says to me, "Take the ferry."

There is a ferry that runs from Charlotte, Vermont to Port Ferry, New York.

Only problem is - it doesn't run at night. And I wasn't going to sit by the dock of the bay and wait for the ferry to pull away in the morning.

So I doubled back. And normally, when I change directions and deviate from the GPS-programmed path, the GPS will plot a different course for me.

Unfortunately, this GPS was INSISTENT on me getting on the ferry. "Turn around when possible," it chirped at me. "Take the next legal U-turn." I put up with about 20 miles of this, when the GPS finally figured out I wasn't going to take the frickin' ferry.

It then decided to get even with me.

I ended up on about 40 miles of backroad, then crossed over a bridge from Vermont to New York, and ended up about 12 miles from Ticonderoga. Then the GPS took me on about 25 miles of windy Adirondack back roads, where the double-yellow no-passing lines were probably down to half a stripe, and the roads twisted and turned and raised and lowered as if I was riding at 25-mile long roller coaster. Eventually, however, the directionals finally got me back on the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87), and I was able to safely find my way home from there.

Just for that, I'm going to leave the GPS in the car all night. I hope it freezes up in the snowstorm we're about to have.

Actually, I shouldn't complain about the TomTom GPS. If you really want to hear me complain, let me tell you about Verizon's VZ Navigator software and what a rip off that is.

But I'll save that for another post.


Phil said...

Hi Chuck, it was nice to meet you in Quebec for the Rainmen game. You took the photo of my friend Dave Dawood and I with Eric Crookshank. I was the fan wearing the jersey.

I am going to subscribe to your blog, I read a few entries and your commitment to travelling to see PBL games is impressive. I like your writing, too!

Anonymous said...

It must be a TomTom thing - I drove from Montreal, QC to Lake George, NY and then to Burlington, VT this summer, and the darn GPS insisted on taking me to the ferry as well. Luckily I'd checked the route before leaving home, and had printed up alternate ferry-free maps from GoogleMaps to get me by until the GPS gave up on the ferry and rerouted itself.