Monday, February 9, 2015

Texas Two-Step

Having recently moved to Texas, my ability to go to blazer games has been greatly diminished. However, this weekend the Blazers came to play in Dallas and Houston.  Emboldened by the fact that they were .. closeish, I wrangled up tickets and went on an adventure!

Blazers vs Mavs, 2/7/2015

The first game was in Dallas at 7:30.  So I left Austin with my companions, Thomas and Nick, around 3.  Thomas was a fellow Blazer fan, while Nick was rooting for the Mavs.  We begrudgingly allowed him to come.

 We made it to Dallas around 6 and had dinner at a pub/bar called the Angry Dog.  Here is a picture of an interesting beer I ordered.  I had never seen it before.... I actually really liked it.

We were staying with Nick's friend, and he was kind enough to arrange an Uber ride for us.  It was the first time I had ever done Uber.  It went pretty smoothly for the most part, it was a little pricey, but we made it to the game almost on time, despite leaving for it at 7:25.

Our seats were in the very last row of the stadium, but at least we had a mostly full court full instead of from behind the baskets.  Here is a shot of the court from my seat.

 The game for the most part was very good... up until the 4th quarter when the Blazers managed to only score 14 points and allowed the Mavs to storm back from a 16 point lead and take the game into overtime.  The Blazers then got shellacked in overtime and we left depressed from a missed opportunity.  Walking out I commiserated with a few other blazer fans, mostly through head shakes and wry smiles.

It was a little crazy how many people left the game early in the fourth.  They probably felt a little silly once they saw the Mavs came back.  I usually try to stay til the end regardless of the result, though I suppose that I can understand trying to beat traffic.

For the halftime entertainment we got to watch George Clinton "perform", and by that I mean he mostly stood around while everyone danced around him.  He occasionally sang, but for the most part didn't do much, as is obvious from the picture below.

I didn't take many more pictures of the experience, and I was too depressed at the end to really take many more.  In general I really liked the in-arena experience.  Since it is Black History month they showed a lot of NBA facts about the early black players and that was really interesting.

One of the cooler aspects in the arena was the addition of a drumline, which I thought was pretty great.  It was also fun seeing Mark Cuban on the big screen.  I thought for the most part the fans were pretty good.  In the fourth quarter they got very loud and were cheering for the Mavs and may have disrupted the Blazers.

The coolest aspect for me was how much the city changed when the Mavs won.  Many of the buildings had animations or lights on them about the win.  The picture below shows Reunion Tower lighting up with the message Mavs Win.... which I took as we waited for our train.
All in all... it was a disappointing start, but we got to explore Dallas a bit after the game, which made it slightly better.

Blazers vs Rockets, 2/8/2015 

The change for redemption came the very next day and luckily for Thomas and I, the Blazers won! If I could have only picked one win on the trip I definitely would have picked the Rockets game, so while the Mavs game was sad, at least the trip wasn't super duper depressing.

We did a lot of driving Sunday, and we got to the game around 5:50, which was about 10 minutes before the game.  Someone in the bathroom told Thomas to enjoy LaMarcus Aldridge while we could and that he was coming to Houston next year.  I doubt that... but the dude seemed pretty sure about it.

Here is the view walking to the stadium:

We had much closer seats this time, which was quite nice.  We could even see facial expressions!

Robin Lopez has a grudge against all NBA mascots and his battle continued against the Rockets' mascot, Clutch.  Clutch confronted Rolo before tipoff and Rolo pushed him to the ground.  This is a picture of Clutch staggering away while Robin glares at him.

The first half was great for the Blazers, though it was very long as the Rockets got a gazillion free throws.  For our halftime entertainment we got... a bunch of teenage cheerleaders doing stuff.... it was... interesting.

At the end of halftime, Clutch came out in Camo with a Nerf gun, clearly ready to confront Rolo again.  The confrontation did not go well for clutch.

The video of most of this is here:

After this he gave Rolo a sideshow bob doll from the simpsons then tried to make nice by playing with a clutch doll.  Rolo kicked the clutch doll into the stands.

The third quarter was awful, and the Blazers, after leading by 13 at half, were only up 1 entering the fourth quarter.  Thomas and I were both pretty anxious, especially after what happened the night before.  Luckily, the Blazers gutted it out and emerged victorious, which was a very very happy result for us, but not for the fans of the home team.

There was one other Blazer fan that I saw, in our section anyway, and I high fived him with about 20 seconds left after the win was secure.  That was a fun experience.  I had never witnessed a road win by the Blazers, but I tried to have a mostly muted victory celebration.

The fans in Houston seemed rowdier and louder than the Dallas fans, though that may have been based on where we were sitting. When Damian Lillard was introduced he was booed pretty lustily due to the playoff shot from last year.  The stadium announcer was very drab about anything the blazers did and would announce things like... Damian Lillard to the line for two shots, very slow and monotone.  Unless he wanted the fans to get riled up. Then he would say. Damian Lillard to the line for two NOISYYYY FREE THROWS!

The Rockets had a lot of video montages to get their fans loud and excited.  Mostly it was Dwight Howard flexing and yelling at them. The videos were incredibly effective and the fans got very loud and raucous.  I always felt like the videos were poorly timed since for the most part they were shown during a timeout right before the Rockets had the ball.

During the comeback though, the place was loud and rocking, and I was pretty worried that the Blazers were done for, so to persevere and win was pretty great.

The view of downtown Houston from the entrance of the arena was pretty stunning.

All in all, it was a really fun trip.  It was definitely a long weekend, but it was great to see the Blazers play and sort of explore the other places in Texas.  It was even better that the Blazers managed to beat the Rockets.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cleveland Reunion: Day 4 and Departure

Saturday was the last day of the reunion and after the super action packed fourth of July, it was a little calmer.  The first activity of the day was to watch the world cup game.  Riley's favorite player is Messi, so he was vaguely excited that Argentina won.

After that a few of us headed out to go biking on the beach.  Another group went to the tide pools and a third went golfing.

The bikes were rather limited, they only had 2 cruisers and a bunch of fun cycles, which were basically tricycles.  My mom and Aunt Margo got the cruisers, while Kyle, Riley, and I got the fun cycles.

Here is Margo and my mom looking at the bikes.

We had to walk the bikes  down to the beach, but once we got there we took off.  The fun cycles were fun to swerve around on the sand and they turned really easily.  They were also much slower than the cruisers.  Unfortunately, Kyle's was too small so he had to head back to get a replacement.  Riley, my mom and I headed down the beach while we waited.

Here is Riley posing on his bike.
And here is my mom on hers.

And here is Riley and I together.  Through much practice we managed to figure out how to high five each other while biking towards each other and we did a lot of circles in the sand.
 Eventually, Margo and Kyle caught up with us.  After biking around for a bunch and making a lot more circles in the sand, we took a selfie. Though... Riley was so bored waiting that he ended up yawning.

We had to return the bikes, so we headed back.  Outside the shop they had marsh mellow guns which looked pretty cool.  Margo got it for Riley, which brought our total bill to just over $50, and garnered Kyle a free shirt!

We headed back to the house and met up with everyone and ate lunch.  After relaxing a bit and watching most of the second world cup game, we headed to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Here is Riley and Kyle as a farmer and cow.

Here are the girls checking out the factory.  Since it was a Saturday, there wasn't a lot of work happening.

The biggest draw was the ice cream (it was a big draw for everyone, so it resulted in a lot of lines)

Here is Riley eating some ice cream while my mom is surprised at something.

Next we went and stood in line for the cheese samples. Lots of lines, but people seemed to enjoy the cheese.

There was another photo opportunity in the form of a VW bug.

We went outside while we waited for everyone to finish their ice cream.  Here is another selfie with Riley. 

We headed back, where the girls played water balloon volleyball and my uncle Harvey played harmonica in the swing.  After dinner we all sat around the bonfire and talked about how great the reunion was.  Kyle also told us some stories and we cooked more smores and some apples in the coals.
 Since Sunday was departure day, I will just add it here.

We had to be out by noon.  We all gathered for breakfast.  Here is Riley with a milk mustache looking kind of sad.

Margo, Scott, Kyle, and Claire were the first to leave, so we all bundled out to wave good bye and give them hugs.

We headed back to my parents place and stopped for lunch at this little cafe that had fresh fish from Alaska.  They also had lots of fake tattoos.  Marissa, Aynika, and Haylee used them to create additional  eyebrows for themselves.  It was pretty adorable.

Once we got to my parents place, we set up the tents on the deck for the kids and I showed Riley a bunch of my toys.  Here is is checking out my ninja turtles.  He was a lot more excited about the Star Wars toys though.

All in all it was a terrific reunion.  It was a bit tiring, but that was because there were so many activities. It was great seeing all my family again as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cleveland Reunion: Day 3

The third day of the family reunion was also July 4th, which meant that there were a lot of festivities in the town of Manzanita to attend.  After watching the first half of the Germany-France game we (those of us who were awake) headed to the Fireman's pancake breakfast.  It was a pretty hopping place, lots of people there and the business was brisk.  Eat your food and move out so more people can take your seat.

Here is my uncle Harvey as we are standing in line.  It isn't a very flattering picture... but it does show off the fire truck.

Every person got two pancakes and a decent slice of grilled ham, so it was pretty filling, I definitely could have eaten more, but I managed to survive.  We sat next to a family that had been in Manzanita for the fourth for many years so we asked him for advice about what to do for fireworks.  He strongly recommended going to the beach.  We weren't sure exactly what we wanted to do, we thought we might be able to view them from the house, which would mean much less walking.

After breakfast we headed down to the beach and walked around for a bit.  On the way to the beach, it was pretty evident that the entire town was super prepared for the parade.  Every available spot on the sidewalk was taken with a chair, and in some cases people were sitting there 2 hours before the parade was even supposed to start!

We walked home and had lunch and made it to the parade 7 minutes before it started.  We got a spot right next to where the parade started, and it seemed like a great spot to me.  The kids sat in the front, which offered a good view, and as we would discover, easy access to candy being thrown by the parade participants.

There were a lot of "floats", and the parade probably lasted an hour.  Here are a few of them

This was a beaver bus, it also shows all the kids running around for candy.  Riley is in the white shirt in the middle.

There were also some Chinese dragons.

 And some inventive jellyfish.
 There was a guy dressed up as a fox who handed out candy individually instead of throwing it.
 He then proceeded to dance to "What does the Fox Say?"

 There was also, very randomly, someone dressed up as a scout trooper from Star Wars.

Here is the haul of candy that was collected at the parade.
After the parade, a bunch of us went to Nehalem Bay Winery for a wine tasting and Live music and BBQ event.  It was a really chill place, the band was pretty good and the BBQ was excellent.  I thought the wine was decent, though I've never had a great ability to distinguish wine tastes.

After getting back and relaxing and eating dinner, most of the family played volleyball which was really fun, below are a few pictures, before everyone, including myself had joined.

Finally we headed down to the beach for fireworks, the entire atmosphere was really awesome.  The beach was packed with people and there were several who were launching their own mortar fireworks, which was almost like an additional show.  The main show lasted a really long time, but was really good.  There were several times I thought for sure it was over, but it just kept going and going.

The picture below doesn't do an adequate job capturing the beach and the atmosphere, but I suppose it will have to do.

All in all it was a terrific day, it was also very exhausting, but it was really fun.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cleveland Reunion: Day 2

 After a rousing day 1, day 2 started out super exciting with a do or die game of Connect Four.  Riley was so excited that his hair stop on end.

 After Riley got tired, Claire and Kyle faced off.  Kyle dominated.

Then we headed out for a walk in Oswald West State Park.  This was to get down to Smugglers Cove and the tide pools.  Here we are heading out.  The path was nice since it went under the road and we didn't have to worry about getting hit by traffic.

The walk was really cool.  It was basically an Old Growth forest, with some nice trees and a little creek.  This tree had a sign on it from many years ago, but it had grown so much that the sign  was way above our heads.  This sign was informing us that the tree was a Hemlock.
 We made it to the beach and after some frolicking in the turf, we headed to the tide pools.  Here are Kyle and Riley checking them out.  We saw a lot of sea anemones and Kyle had fun sticking his fingers in them and having them get a little numb.

Here is the view of the beach from the tide pools.

Here is a picture of Riley and his dad Harvey looking at the pools, hunting a hermit crab, while Kyle is looking at... something else.

This is Riley after he caught the crab, he doesn't look very excited, but I can assure you he was.  He decided he was going to carry it around with him for a while, but then he slipped on the rocks and it escaped into another pool.  He shrugged and moved on.

Then we went and tried to catch this little fish that were coming in with the waves.  We were very unsuccessful, though Kyle caught a few.  He and Harvey both ate them.  I am sure that those little fish are now swimming around in his stomach.

We heard that there were some starfish at the other end of the beach.  Riley and I found a cave!

Though it ended very quickly.  I am pretty sure that you could sleep there if you really wanted too.  I don't think that the cave would be very warm, but I do think it would be dry.

Next to the cave was a nice little waterfall and a bunch more rocks with anemones on them.  There were some rocks were the entire side of the rock was full of sea anemones.

 Here is the first starfish that we found.  It was kind of hiding, and we couldn't see all of the legs.  Riley asked where the head was (as in Patrick Starfish).

On the way back to the car we played Pooh Sticks, which is a game where everyone drops a stick off one side of the bridge and runs to the other side to see whose comes out first.  This is one of my favorite games.  The best part was when Riley's stick got stick so we all watched it.  This caused everyone walking by on the bridge to stop and stare at the water trying to see what we were seeing.

After getting back from the tide pools we had lunch and then got ready to go Kayaking.  We got 8 kayaks, 7 doubles and 1 single (Kyle).  I ended up kayaking with Riley, which was fun, though very tiring.

I didn't take my phone on the trip, so no pictures of that, here are people coming in.

This is Kyle, after the trip.

And here is Marissa and Aynika coming in after our journey.

We kayaked for about 3 hours, so afterwards we were all pretty tired, but we came back and had dinner and then another bonfire.  It was another good day.

Here is Riley's summary of Day 2:
Uhm.... it was fun. Uh. I'm not good at dialog.  It was tiring, we kept going kayaking all day. I nearly died. I'm still recovering.