Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Pun City Trip Ends With A Bang And A Whimper!

All right, 5 months in the making, it's.... the final day of Pun City's trip around mid-America for conference trips!

This blog was looking to add a 4th conference tourney to it's trip with the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis, IN. When last we left Pun City, this blog was in Columbus, Ohio talking trip with Dank.

Had to get up early based on the remaining 2-hour drive to Indy from Columbus. Headed to Tim Horton's first to grab a soda and some cookies, Dank got a donut. Pretty much hurting already based on the limited sleep and the road weariness. Wasn't getting any more alert, but the soda helped some.

Indianapolis is a really cool town, so this blog wanted to get there early to head to the Circle Centre, a pretty awesome mall mainly for its location (right next to the RCA Dome, Conseco Fieldhouse, and a short walk from Victory Field).

The mall was alright, this blog was able to pick up one of the last gifts it needed to grab for another one of its friends. It was pretty cool to see the huge masses of Iowa Hawkeye and Ohio State Buckeye fans converging at the mall.

After the mall, this blog walked over to Conseco. This blog ran into one of the same Army National Guardsmen that had been at the Missouri Valley Conference championship in St. Louis. Strange to see a "familiar" face this late in the trip. There was a nice spread outside of the Fieldhouse, however. The Army National Guard was handing out towels, t-shirts, and rubber wristbands just for the asking. This was much easier than the 50-situp requirement in St. Louis, but the shirts weren't quite as cool.

AT&T was handing out racquetball-sized basketballs with their logo on it. Cooper Tires was giving away beads with the Big Ten logo on the end. They had run out of most colors, however, and there were no longer any red beads left. The worker said he'd been telling Buckeye fans that the black beads were "dark grey," so they could grab one in support of their team. Iowa, in the meantime, had both gold and black varieties available for their squad.

This blog had an Ohio State shirt for the day, so it caught a little grief from Hawkeye fans. Nothing too bad though, since TOSU was a heavy favorite and both teams were NCAA tournament-bound. One radio station was set up outside the Fieldhouse giving away can coolers and magnets. Normally these wouldn't interest this blog too much, since this blog doesn't often listen to Indianapolis radio. In this case, this blog made an exception. There was an absolutely stunning girl working their booth and generally being ignored with the bevy of better loot options available to fans.

This blog was able to strike up a conversation with her, and found out that she, like many people in town, was an Indiana fan, and was disappointed they had been eliminated in the semifinals the day before. The giant market of ticket scalpers (and very small market of ticket buyers) was symptomatic of this phenomenon. This was also probably the longest conversation this blog had with any female on the trip, so this site supposes that's worth mentioning.

This blog decided it didn't want to be lugging around all of this free stuff during the game, so it headed back to its car to put the loot away. This proved to be a very lucky decision, since AT&T's ball would have been confiscated upon entry.

Having heard the Conseco Fieldhouse was the best arena in the NBA, this blog had high hopes as it entered the home of the Pacers. Most likely because this blog was dead tired, it did not seem to meet the billing. It was a very good stadium, but did not seem to be dramatically better than other arenas this blog has been to. That said, it was still the best NBA arena this blog has been to, a list that includes The Palace at Auburn Hills, FedEx Forum, The Bradley Center, and The Staples Center.

The game ended up being a blur. This blog seriously considered leaving early to get home and sleep, but held on to see Iowa claim the championship. During the first half, this blog was in x-treme nosebleed seats on the 4th level. Worse still, this blog was sitting next to Iowa fans, so there was some slight tension and no one with which to commisserate. Luckily, due to the huge number of unoccupied seats, this blog was able to pick out an open seat on the second deck, and sat there for the second half.

This blog vaguely remembers concessions being very reasonably-priced and tasty. This site headed out immediately following the conclusion of the game and headed back for Wisconsin. Adding to the adventure, this blog encountered and drove through what it later found out was a tornado outside of Chicago.

It was good to get back to this blog's bed, but Pun City knew it had decks to swab on Monday morning. A crazy trip concluded with Pun City exhausted yet refreshed, knowing that it had gotten a gigantic dose of college basketball in a small period of time, just in time to prepare for NCAA tournament pools. (This blog finished 2nd in a field of 18, winning no prize, but as they say, life is not in the destination, but the journey).


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