Day 2: Toronto & Opening Draw

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I fell asleep sometime before midnight on Monday, anxiously awaiting the next day. I woke up around 5:30 and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I decided to get up and get moving. After packing and breakfast we were on the road a little after 9:00. The drive to Toronto was uneventful, other than the increased traffic once we hit Toronto proper. Around 11:30 we parked and hit up the St. Lawrence Market for lunch. It’s a really cool place and definitely worth checking out if you’re in town.

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After lunch we walked over to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. There is a lot to see there, and some really cool interactive exhibits. Of course, no visit would be complete without seeing the Stanley Cup itself.

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I did go up there and check it out. It was cool to see the Blackhawks teams from 09-10 and 12-13 on there, and there even is a blank space for the infamous 04-05 lockout season.

I think my favorite exhibit though was about the St. Louis Blues. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a blank touchscreen monitor that said “PLAY.” When touched, it played the following video:

After that, we went back to the market so Neil could buy some mustard. Seriously, that’s all he’s been talking about since we started planning this trip. I am not joking.

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Anyway, he got his mustard and then we fought through nightmare traffic to get to our hotel. After relaxing at our hotel for a bit, we headed out for dinner at King Noodle, a great little Chinese place near our hotel. The food came fast and we ate quickly, then walked to the venue…well, I practically jogged, because I’m ridiculous and excited beyond reason. We got to the venue a little over an hour before draw time, picked up our tickets from will call, and headed right in. Um…we were a bit early, as this picture from our seats shows.

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Anyway, after awhile players started entering, warming up, and practicing. I got a “what’s up?” nod from Ben Hebert when he was walking in, which was pretty cool.

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There was a small opening ceremony, with all the teams for the draw marching in and being introduced.

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After the national anthem and a short video re-capping the season so far, play was underway. We really wanted to see Team Homan take on Team Sigfridsson, so we moved across the ice to the other side.

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We moved again just to see things from a different angle.

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As you can see, there were five games going on simultaneously. Honestly, it was hard to watch more than one match at a time, but as the draw wore on and things spread out time-wise it got easier. Homan won, by the way.

The curling was awesome, and we were close to the action. Really though, probably the coolest thing was seeing other players and rinks throughout the arena taking in the action. We saw Team Sidorova (Russia), members of Team Paetz (Switzerland), Members of Team Edin (Sweden), and Team Feltscher (Switzerland). Glenn Howard and Jennifer Jones were also hanging around for a bit.

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Players were hanging around in the lounge after their games as well, which was cool to see. We were a little bit starstruck today and didn’t want to be “those guys,” but after seeing how nice and approachable everyone is there’s no doubt we’re going to be getting some pictures and autographs.

I’ve been back in the room for over an hour and I’m still buzzing. First draw is in about 9 hours, and I’m going to get to see my favorite rink (Team Muirhead) play…I’ve been wanting to see them in person for years, so hopefully this beer I’m drinking will help me sleep.

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Day 1: Driving & London

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As I write this I’m drinking Labatt Crystal, which (as far as I know) is only available in Canada. Neil and I are staying in downtown London, Ontario for the night. London is about an hour past the border, and roughly 90 minutes from Toronto.

We hit the road about 9:00 AM (Central) this morning, traffic wasn’t bad at all. We stopped for lunch in Lansing, Michigan at Big John Steak & Onion…with a name and a sign like this, how could you not stop?

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We ate quickly and jumped back on the highway. One more stop for gas, and before we knew it we were through Port Huron, over the bridge, and at the border.

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When it was our turn, we got through in about 90 seconds and immediately hit up the currency exchange.

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A few minutes later and all our American money had been converted into shiny Canadian Money. The exchange rate is about $1.20 Canadian for every $1.00 American, so needless to say I felt a little bit richer heading back to the car…of course, I’m sure I’ll be quite disappointed when I change it back and lose out.

If you’re not familiar, Canadian money looks very different from American money. It’s more colorful, and different denominations have different colors. The coins are similar, but since there are no $1 bills $1 and $2 coins are used instead (known colloquially as loonies and toonies respectively).

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Once we left the currency exchange we had about an hour drive to London. Things looked pretty much the same as the United States…the roads are in better shape, and all road signs/speed limits are in kilometers obviously. Tim Horton’s is everywhere. Honestly it was a boring drive, think I-80 West of I-55 or I-57 South of I-80 for comparison. Eventually we hit civilization…I mean London, and of course immediately hit the beer store at the Labatt Brewery.

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It was too late to take a tour, but we picked up some beer and swag and headed for our hotel. We checked in, and discovered that there was a horse track nearby. Being the degenerate gamblers that we are, we made plans to hit it up after dinner. Speaking of dinner, we had an excellent meal at The Church Key Bistro on Richmond. Excellent food, friendly staff, and great atmosphere. I can’t recommend it enough.

Western Fair racetrack and casino is about a ten minute drive from our hotel. We headed there after dinner to check it out and hopefully get into trouble.

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The casino is just slot machines, so we didn’t really bother (we do like slots, but just weren’t feeling it tonight). As for the races, it’s smaller purse harness racing, so we figured what the hell and watched and bet on a few races.

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We weren’t really winning though, so after about an hour or so we split and hit up a grocery store. After discovering that Pinty’s foods aren’t microwavable, I consoled myself by buying a bunch of candy. My spirits were lifted when I found out that there are Crunchie Biscuits as well as candy bars. I also picked up a chocolate Stanley Cup, which I plan to mail to the Minnesota Wild as it is the only way they will ever get one.

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So, there’s our first day in a nutshell. Tomorrow it’s off to Toronto. During the day we plan to hit up the St. Lawrence Market and the Hockey Hall Of Fame, and then tomorrow night it’s opening ceremonies and the first draw!

 

philCPhil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

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Canada Bound!

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First thing Monday morning, my brother Neil and I are headed to Canada for the Grand Slam of Curling Players’ Championship. The event is in Toronto, and it runs from Tuesday the 7th through Sunday the 12th. This is going to be our first time at a major event like this, and needless to say we’re excited. I’ll be posting updates on the Windy City Blog daily (I hope…fingers crossed for good wifi), so stay tuned for updates.

Here is a link to the event website, for schedules and more information: http://www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/playerschampionship/

 

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Phil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

WINDY CITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Plog #3: “Weight, Weight… Don’t Tell Me!”

It’s been a couple weeks – but to make it worth the weight wait, this plog is twice as long! (Hopefully not twice as boring…)  In this week’s drive home, I’m talking about weight control. A few weeks back, I had what I thought at the time was a breakthrough in finding better control over my weight.  However, when this idea struck me one night while practicing on the ice, I wasn’t quite sure if what I thought I was seeing actually what I was seeing.  So I decided to sit on this thought for a few more weeks/games just to test it out… and I think I’m on to something. 🙂

Also, I apologize profusely in advance for the background noise of this plog. My car’s ashtray decided to come loose, and the vibration of driving at highway speeds makes it rattle quite a bit. I thought at the time of recording this that it would be mere humble background noise… but as it turns out, my cell phone does quite a nice job of picking up all noise within range as if it were right next to the thing. I’l work on that for next time.

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger and budding plogger for Windy City Curling Club. He also works part-time at an NPR-affiliated public radio station as a weekend news anchor. If you get how the title of this plog is a pun, you’re the kind of person he wants to talk to, so hit him up via his Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

Plog #2: “When It’s Good, It’s Good.”

This week’s driving home plog is rooted in joy. Last week was a tumultuous time of getting lost “In the Tank.” This week, not so much. And in an effort to start honing in on answers to the very questions I ask about mysteries of curling life that can lead to a beginner’s improvement, I offer this plog. Why? Because something I tried working on this week seemed to go well, and – even if it doesn’t work for everyone – I’m making an effort to share. Who knows? It may lead to someone out there chasing this idea with their own thoughts into finding something that works for them.

So what was this whimsical idea of mine? Simple: I became my own cheerleader.

That sounds really corny (amongst other descriptors one could use), but for those of you who know me, it’s completely my style. And it kind of worked in a weird way! I think we all find methods to cheer ourselves on, or to raise our own confidence, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So this week’s plog details my efforts of surfacing out of the tank, and finding my own inner-cheerleader in the process.

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger, continuing plogger, and now-former self-flogger for Windy City Curling. His musings are his own and do not reflect the views of anyone with a remotely normal sense of humor or thought process. Watch him cheer on life via his Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)