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Archive for March, 2010

For a variety of convoluted reasons, we were exploring the native wildlife situation in New Jersey last night during the Devils/Bruins game. And on the website for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish & Wildlife, we discovered this amazing fact:

A national survey asked, “Where would you go to view wildlife if you could travel anywhere in North America?” Fifty-five percent of the respondents chose Alaska. When asked why they would choose to go there, Alaska’s variety of animals was the most frequent reply.

If variety of animals is what wildlife watchers are looking for, New Jersey provides some serious competition for Alaska. Alaska hosts 425 bird species, 102 mammal species, 10 reptile and amphibian species and 150 species of fish. New Jersey hosts 325 bird species, 90 mammal species, 79 reptile and amphibian species and over 400 species of fish. When you consider Alaska is 75 times larger than New Jersey, we are the hands down winner over Alaska in wildlife diversity. In fact, on a square mile basis, no other state in the nation has greater wildlife diversity than New Jersey.

Admit it — you had no idea! We sure didn’t, and it seems like at least half those animals live in our backyard. But here’s something that even the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish & Wildlife won’t tell you. You know all those amazing, varied, more-than-any-other-state-can-claim-to-have animals? You know how rad and awesome they are? Yeah, well, none of them can score on the power play either.

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Here’s what we all need to do after that suckfest in Philly — we need to just get back up on the horse and watch the Devils try to beat another lower-echelon Eastern Conference playoff-ish team. We can use tonight’s game to gauge how well we think they’ll fare against the actual lower-echelon Eastern Conference playoff team they’re going to face in the actual playoffs. It’ll be fun!

AFTER THE GAME, THE WOOL WE GATHERED:

We are fairly confident the playoffs, from a Devils perspective, are going to be nasty, brutish and short.

(Oh, and even though the game-losing goal was all Kovalchuk’s fault, in most egregious fashion, we still love him and hope he re-signs with the Devils and never changes his ways.)

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So the Devils have clinched their 13th-straight playoff berth. All that remains between now and the first round loss start of the playoffs is convincing Kovalchuk he should sign a Hossa-esque 1-year deal with the Devs, convincing Paulie his arm really is bionic and his shot is now unstoppable, and convincing Zharkov the Candygram is not an urban myth. Join us as we watch all these things happen and more in tonight’s match-up with the Flyers!

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Hey! We made it home before the Devils game started! WOO HOOO! It’s great to be safely ensconced back in the friendly confines of stately IPB Manor, with a growler of beer from Barley’s in Columbus, and some New Jersey pizza on its way to our house. Join us for an open thread while we soak in some hockey!

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Gentle Reader, we have had an exhausting day. We were such go-getters! We started at the crack of 10 a.m. and headed out to the Franklin Park Conservatory for a photo excursion. It’s a beautiful place, all gorgeously sunlit and plant-filled, and the grounds beyond the conservatory are lovely (although they were covered with snow this morning! [!!]), but our advice to anyone over the age of 8 is to skip it on a school day. Yeesh. There were raucous school groups everywhere.

But we still managed to take a few pictures:

Ship Of Chihuly

Pink Cyclemen

Palm Frond

Woven

After two hours of hothouse humidity and screaming kids, we were well past ready to leave. We staggered onward in our busy plans to have a scrumptious lunch at the North Market in the Arena District (the districts in Columbus remind us of the Hank Scorpio episode of the Simpsons. We keep expecting to stumble across the Hammock District).

North Market Sign

North Market is way, way, way cool, and we managed to find among all the different booths some scrumptious Mexican food for lunch, and chased it with some famous Jeni’s ice cream. We’d walked past Jeni’s downtown yesterday after our lunch at Betty’s, and passed it up, so we were super-psyched to be able to try some at a booth at North Market. The flavors (salted caramel and queen city cayenne) were outrageously good, but you know what? The ice cream from our neck of the woods is better overall. It’s good to know we can still stand by our statement that we have the best ice cream in the world.

After lunch, we headed out on foot to the Central Ohio Fire Museum, because we are seriously, seriously cool.

Fire Museum Facade

Okay, the real reason we were there was to get a picture of a fire engine, one of the items on the flickr scavenger hunt we’re doing. They wouldn’t let us just go in, get a picture, and leave, though, so we got stuck taking a tour. With just us and the tour guide. It ended up being shockingly informative and interesting (although we could have lived without the fire safety demos at the end), and we even gained a tour member midway through, when a Blackhawks fan/history buff/Chicago fireman who was in town for last night’s game dropped in. If you’re ever looking to kill half an hour in Columbus, we highly recommend the Central Ohio Fire Museum (assuming you’ve already had ice cream).

Brylin the Fire Man

After the fire museum, we were pooped. We staggered back around the block to our hotel (did we mention the fire museum was, like, next door to our hotel? Because if it wasn’t, we totally wouldn’t have gone there. We’re not that lame), then sat around feeling sorry for ourselves for being so tired. And for having spent all morning amongst hellions at the conservatory.

What could make us feel better? Why, the best beer in Columbus, that’s what! The promise of beer was the only thing that could get us back on our feet, and it ended up being so worth the short walk. Of all the places we’ve recommended from our trip this week, Barley’s is at the absolute top of the list.

So now the sun has set over beautiful Columbus (no, really, we watched it set over Nationwide Arena from our hotel room), and we’re planning to hit the road early tomorrow morning. We might have laughed that this vacation was a goofy sort of mistake of poor planning, but the fact is, Columbus is a wonderful place to visit. We’ve had a great time, and look forward to coming back soon.

Oh, and we had a very successful time photography-wise, too. If you want to see zillions more exciting, behind-the-scenes pictures from our time here, check out the set on Flickr.

It's Where We're At

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Today was the centerpiece day of our trip to Columbus — game day! We greeted the day at the crack of mid- to late-morning, and were thrilled to find it cold and gloomy outside.

Miserable Day Outside

Perfect weather for traipsing around town and then walking to the arena!

The first stop on our busy itinerary was the utterly charming Pistacia Vera in the German Village. There we were able to start our day off right, with pain au chocolat and cafe au lait. When this is your breakfast, you can be pretty sure that the day is going to be a good one.

Pistacia Vera

After our leisurely repast we took a quick driving tour of the German Village (if anyone reading this wants to give us a cute brick house in the German Village, we won’t say no), then headed out to the real reason we drove to Columbus. No, not the hockey game — the quilt stores!

Loot From Sew To Speak

We got gobs of adorable fabrics and great patterns and notions — you know, the kind of stuff most hockey blogs talk about — and we even drove past the single coolest store on the face of the earth:

Fountain Pen Store

If you are looking for a one-stop source for turntables, typewriters and fountain pens, we know just the place.

Speaking of just the place, if you’re in Columbus and looking for a pin-up themed bar/diner with a delicious menu, and a creative array of cocktail options stop in at Betty’s. They did very well by us.

Country Thyme Lemonade

So, shopping and lunch done, we returned to the hotel to rest up while the temperature dropped outside, so it would be especially miserable walking the two blocks to the arena at 6:00. One of the things we really wanted to be able to photograph when we got here was the lights outside Nationwide Arena, using our star filters, the way FSN Ohio does on the Blue Jackets broadcasts. It was pouring rain when we arrived for the game, though, so we were stymied. Stupid rain.

It should surprise no one that Victory Euro Mats made the trip here with us, and he enjoyed his time at this game immensely.

Mats at Nationwide Arena

The Blue Jackets have marked various parts of the concourse with their distance from center ice. It would take a gajillion Matses, lined end to end, to reach from here to there.

Mats At Stinger's Place

Mats accepted an invitation to drop by Stinger’s house, but Stinger wasn’t there when he arrived. That jerk.

Grandma Stinger

Stinger might not have been anywhere to be seen, but there was a fabulous snapshot of his grandmother.

Boom Warning

There isn’t warning in the world enough to prepare you for the goal cannon. It’s fabulously loud and totally awesome. The Devils really need to adopt this tradition. (Also, the Devils could adopt a tradition of scoring eight goals whenever we’re in the building, as the Blue Jackets do.)

BOOM!!!!

Seriously, Devils, get a goal cannon. You won’t be sorry.

Mats Is Nuts For The Blue Jackets!

Mats is nuts for the Blue Jackets!

Stinger Carries The Flag

There are not words to describe how much Schnookie loves this mascot.

Mats The Boozehound

Mats is an incorrigible drunk…

Sobriety Is No Accident, Mats

…But sobriety is no accident. We cut him off after he drank his height’s worth, and took his car keys away from him.

Mats Watching The Action

There wasn’t anyone in front of him, so Mats had a great view of what ended up being a wild game. We appreciated that the Blue Jackets scored one goal for every hour we spent in the car on the way here, but we also felt deeply sympathetic toward the BJs fans. The people behind us remarked, when the game was 5-1, that they didn’t feel the lead was safe with Mason in goal. An 8-3 win is nice, but it doesn’t make up for an entire shitty season.

Asparagus Green

The color we need to get a picture of this week for our sixty-four colors flickr challenge is asparagus green. It had been quite elusive, right up until we glanced across the arena and spotted that guy in the green jacket. Thanks, dude! Heh.

The game was, as the 8-3 score would suggest, a marvelous affair. The real capper, though, was when they had a “lucky section” giveaway… and our section won! We’ve been to literally hundreds of NHL games in our lives, and we have never once been in a lucky section before. Our loot? Free, empty Rrroll Up The Rim Tim Hortons cups! WOOOOOOOOOO!!!! We won a free coffee and a free donut! And we think we may also have won free chili and another free donut thanks to the Blue Jackets scoring three goals and winning, respectively. We’ll be dining out on this game for days! Literally!

Stinger, Mats And Our Prizes

Here Mats poses with Stinger and our lucky winner cups.

When we got back to our hotel room, after what seemed like a miles-long trudge through freezing rain (that’s supposed to turn to snow tonight!), we decided to try the star filter on the Nationwide Arena lights from afar.

Star Filter Nationwide

It’s not quite perfect, but it’ll do.

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Okay, so at some point early this season, when the Blue Jackets were acting as our secondary, back-up reserve tranny brides, we decided to plan a road trip to Columbus. We checked our schedules, checked their schedule, tried to estimate when, during the season, we’d be looking for a vacation, and picked a random, far-off date in March. The Devils weren’t going to be in Columbus then, but who cared? We were going to see the cute, fun Blue Jackets in person!

Five months later, on the eve of our scheduled trip, we were like, “Wait, we’re going where? To see what??”

But hey! Road trip!

Schugel Truck

Ah, interstate driving. It’s the life.

We hit the road late this morning, after a bit of a false start in which we left the house, drove as far as the bagel place in town, and realized we had neglected to pack our tickets for tomorrow’s game. Yeah, we’re very married to those long-ago secondary, back-up reserve tranny brides. What is interesting to know about driving from New Jersey to Columbus is that it’s completely gorgeous almost the entire way.

Red Barn

We just can’t stop ourselves from taking pictures, even when we know they’re going to suck!

It’s all bucolic farms and rolling hillsides and beautiful, ornate barn architecture…

Wooden Barn

…And the occasional barn billboard.

Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco

You would be surprised how many Mail Pouch Tobacco barn billboards we passed. It seems to be a very popular product with cows around here.

Because we are very cool people who lead very exciting lives, the highlight of our eight-hour drive was the tunnels.

Tunnel Entrance

The entrance to the Allegheny Mountain tunnel is quite pretty. You’d never know it from this picture.

Now, we didn’t realize there were mountains between New Jersey and Columbus, so when we came upon the first under-a-mountain tunnel on I-70, we were stunned. How totally cool! You know how many times before today that we’ve driven underneath mountains in our lives? Zero (that we know of)! And you know how different an under-a-mountain tunnel looks on the inside from a mundane, dime-a-dozen under-a-river tunnel? Not at all!

Inside The Tunnel

Under the Hudson River, or under the Allegheny Mountain? You be the judge!

Nevertheless, we were enchanted. It was a perfect day for driving, and a perfectly lovely drive. It was also maybe 45 minutes longer than we really wanted to be in the car. Good thing there was an easy-to-get-to restaurant waiting on the other end, just a stone’s throw from our hotel, serving pulled pork sandwiches, sweet-and-spicy french fries, and cold beer.

Dinner At Flatiron

Rick Nash’s pre-game meal.

So, we’re hockeyless for the next couple of days but for the Blue Jackets/Blackhawks game tomorrow, but we’ve got all of exotic Columbus to explore. Thanks, early-season impulse, for booking this trip we would never have thought to go on if you’d asked us yesterday to make plans! This is going to be awesome!

With A Cherry On Top

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