|Tentacles Of Awesomeness!|
The whole thing was an absolute blast from start to finish. That's actually the first time I've been on a trip without Jer and Connor except to visit family since the little guy was born! That's kind of crazy if you think about it.
My friend Judy and I hit the road early in the afternoon on Friday, and we drove the five hours to Spokane, enjoying the beautiful mountain views along the way. Then we spent another hour driving around in Spokane completely lost, as they evidently don't believe in street signs or roadway lighting over there. They also have an excessive number of one-way streets that all seemed to be going in the exact opposite direction of wherever we wanted to go to. Spokane is a very contrary town-- you can tell by the way its name is pronounced. Even though it very obviously should be pronounced "spo-cane," the residents insist on pronouncing it as "spo-can." This makes no sense. Of course I live in a town called Puyallup (that's pew-wall-up) so I probably shouldn't be one to talk.
Anyway, this sort of set the trend for the weekend because for the next two days Judy and I spent an average of forty minutes tooling around in the car being completely lost every time we tried to go somewhere in Spokane. We decided there was a conspiracy and someone was moving buildings on us every time we drove past them or something.
The town might be crazy, but the people were awesome. One of the Lilac City derby girls and her husband were gracious enough to put us up in their gorgeous house, where Judy and I-- who had somehow managed to be the first to make it there even with our hour scenic tour of all the one-way streets in Spokane-- immediately claimed the cushy room with the double bed. We made everyone else sleep on the floor, because we are mean like that. It was a very comfy bed, too.
We spent the first half of Saturday walking around downtown Spokane and sightseeing. A giant Radio Flyer wagon playground, some very cool sculptures, and a number of really neat little stores (like this amazing paper flower store!) went a long way towards redeeming the town in our eyes. Then we dropped by the house, grabbed our gear and were off to a team luncheon. From there it was time to go to the convention center and then it was bout time!
The bout took place in one of the giant exhibit halls of the convention center, and the place was packed. I'm not sure what the final count for the bout was, but I heard afterwards that over 1,000 enthusiastic derby fans came to watch! I thought that I was going to be really nervous, but honestly once I strapped on my skates the adrenaline took over and I just felt eager to get out on the floor. Plus I was wearing some amazing tentacles on my helmet for our introduction that one of my teammates bought me in celebration of my first bout. You can't be nervous when you have six-inch long tentacles sticking out of your helmet-- it's a rule. I felt a big thrill when I heard the announcer call out: "Number 20K-- Gita Kraken!" for the very first time and I skated out for my inaugural lap around the track.
The game started off fast-paced and full of action, and it didn't slow down until the last whistle blast! The crowd kept us pumped and I got to see some amazing skating from both my team (the Trampires) and the Lilac City Roller Girls All Star team. Girls flew off the track all over the place, the penalty box stayed busy and it seemed like the refs could hardly keep up with the hard-hitting action! It ended up being a real nail-biter, but in the end we lost by two points-- 131 to 133. In the world of derby, where games are often won by 100 points or more, this is an extremely close game. The entire crowd ended up on its feet screaming for the entire last jam-- it was intense.
I feel so privileged to be part of such an incredible team; I'm lucky to have the chance to skate with so many amazingly talented ladies. I still have a lot to learn, and it makes me want to practice twice as hard so next time I can do a better job of helping out my teammates. But all in all it was an amazing first bout, I had an absolute blast and I'm so glad that I got the chance to skate!
After that we were off to the afterparty! Derby is unusual among sports in that normally after a bout both teams visit a local bar where they hang out and celebrate with the fans and each other. This is yet another new life experience that derby is introducing me to-- I haven't spent a whole lot of time in bars because I don't really drink so I wasn't sure what to expect-- but once Judy and I managed to find the place I grabbed my Shirley Temple and got down to the business of having a ridiculous good time! And man, do derby girls know how to party. The evening included, among other things, an attempted human pyramid, a hula hoop, crazy dancing, a mobile pasties vendor (yes, those kind of pasties), a gifted tomato, a flogger, Sharpie pen butt autographs, and an Ultimate Headstand Challenge.
It was awesome to get the chance to talk with so many cool fans and with the Lilac City women (and of course to hang out with my fantastic team, who may not have won the bout but who definitely won the afterparty), and I stayed out way past my normal bed time. I ended the evening back at our gracious hosts' house in what was perhaps the Most Crowded Hot Tub Known To Mankind. I'm pretty sure the thing was only half full of water by the time we got out in the wee hours of the morning and dragged ourselves into bed. All in all it was an amazing night!
Finally this morning Judy and I woke up and spent a leisurely thirty minutes driving around Spokane (lost, of course) before we managed to park and find a place to eat. Then we took the rest of the day to drive back to the Tacoma area, stopping for a lovely picnic lunch in Moses Lake and spending a couple of hours stretching our legs in this really neat antique mall just before the pass. I dropped her off and then made it back to the house at about 8:30 in the evening. Whew!
So that was my incredible weekend!