Archive for the ‘IPB Eyewitnesses’ Category

Well, we made it one piece across the Atlantic, and have remained in one piece since disembarking in Amsterdam. And look who also got a stamp in his passport:

Mats and Beesie

Mats loves it here, cheering for the Netherlands with his new best friend Beesie. But don’t worry — if the Devils were playing in the World Cup, he’d be cheering for them. He’s a one-team man, Mats.

Our impressions of this country so far are that it’s charming, the cheese market in Alkmaar is the most ridiculous thing ever, and this place has a totally baseless reputation for having mild summer weather. Also, Pookie’s eyes are horribly allergic to the air here. But it’s awesome!


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By this time tomorrow, we will be on our way to the Netherlands for a week-long bacchanal of cheese, beer, wooden clogs, and hanging out with our non-Ookie sister. We don’t normally go places we have to fly to; in fact, the last airplane trip we took had Dallas as our destination. We had a fantastic time on that vacation, and brought back many marvelous memories of the sites we saw, like the Texas Star:

The Texas Star

An unexpected benefit of our Dallas trip is that we now get to be inordinately excited every time we recognize a location in our neverending summer marathon of “Walker, Texas Ranger”:

We've Been There!!!

So what we’re hoping for our vacation this week is that two years from now we’ll be able to scream “we’ve been there!” while snapping freeze-frame pictures of our television during a summerlong marathon of “Walker, Netherlands Ranger”.

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Now that we have successfully converted this space from a hockey blog to a “Walker, Texas Ranger” blog, we’d like to share with you a true story of what it’s like watching that fine, fine show on DVD with us. The way it works is that “Walker” does its hilariously awful thing, and we spend the entire time shouting at every shot of every scene set outdoors, “We’ve been there!” That’s right — you spend one week in Texas being shown around by the inestimable Patty (In Dallas) and Myra and Caitlin, and you become a total smart-ass about Dallas.

Anyway, needless to say, we have not been to just about every place they shot the episodes we’ve seen so far of “Walker” (but no worries — we’ve still got about five more seasons to go). Just about every place, that is, except this one:

Walker at the State Fair Grounds

We love taking pictures of our television.

WOO HOOOO!!!! We have totally been there! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Deco Archer

And we also love taking pictures at the Texas state fairgrounds!

If this is something we can get genuinely excited about, it must be the off-season.

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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


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.)


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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So we mentioned in our last post that Chuck the Duck got some body art to commemorate his first trip to The Rawk on Saturday. Chuck is wildly proud of his tattoos, and we’re sure you’re dying to see them in more detail.

His first tattoo is this one:

Chuck's Gel-O Tat

Yeah, you read that right — it’s Gel-O’s autograph! He sauntered up to us while we were milling about the Fire Lounge after the game (okay, maybe he sauntered across the Fire Lounge, and we intercepted him), and was unflappably game about being asked to autograph a small, homemade stuffed duck in a Devils sweater. His first comment was, “Is that a ping pong ball?”, and then even won us over a bit by remarking on the amount of work that had gone into making Chuck. While struggling with the none-too-easy task of signing a name as long as his on a small surface of wool felt, Gel-O regaled us with tales of the old Lucky Duck (he was auctioned off for charity, and raised a princely sum in the doing) and the real-life Chuck (apparently the Chuck the Duck film segments are done with local crews when the MSG team is on the road. It seems the local production guys are often a bit baffled by Chuck. Philistines). We were very impressed with the final result, though — Gel-O has great penmanship.

Chuck was so thrilled with the look of his tattoo that he quickly decided he needed an offsetting one on his other flank/tail region. So we waited for the crowds to clear, and handed him and the sharpie over to Chico.

Chuck's Chico Tat

Chico’s immediate, cheerful response was, “I’ve never signed a duck before!” (He had just posed with the Flat Stanley the woman behind us had introduced to Chuck during the second intermission, and we’re happy to report that when confronted with the little paper kid, Chico’s immediate, cheerful response was, “Oh! It’s one of those!” We wonder how many Flat Stanleys Chico has posed with over the years.) He then wondered whose autograph was already on Chuck, and honestly, Chico, Gel-O wrote it out in block letters. Just read it! Pookie was standing closest to Chico, and ended up basically being the one he was talking to, and she froze up completely; she had no idea what Gel-O’s real name was. The question was met with panicky silence. He asked again. Pookie’s mind was visibly racing. The moment grew long and awkward, while Boomer and Schnookie hung back, thinking, “Just don’t say ‘Gel-O’…” Finally Pookie managed to blurt out, “Uh, Steve?” That satisfied Chico. He tattooed Chuck, handed him back, tried to keep our pen, then gave that back. And just like that, Chuck’s time of hobnobbing with the rich and famous came to an end. The memories — and ink — will last a lifetime.

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