Monday, March 15, 2010

Big 12 Tournament - Day 4

Day 3 of games. The first time there were less than 4 games. In Pun City's experience, this is an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, it's kind of nice to get a little break. Only having 2 games to watch is much less exhausting. You might not think that watching basketball games would really be exhausting, but it kind of gets that way, as one supposes doing anything for a 12-hour period can be. Another side is that you start to notice the games are coming to an end. If there are only four teams left, there isn't much culling left for the herd. To a certain extent, you feel like another game should be starting once the second one ends.


Overall, Pun City thinks it's a good thing though, for if it weren't for the last 2 days of conference tournaments, you wouldn't be able to enjoy the surrounding area as much. That's something Pun City was able to accomplish early on Day 4 of this year's trip.

For the first time in Kansas City, this blog did not start the day off with Waffle House. The main reason was that Pun City had a little road trip planned. Pun City was heading to Lawrence, Kansas, home of the Kansas Jayhawks (and Phog Allen Fieldhouse). If there was still time left, Pun City was going to go to Manhattan, Kansas and check out Kansas State's homecourt (Bramlage Coliseum).

Getting to Lawrence, Pun City found an information booth, and the friendly attendant directed me to a parking lot adjacent to the fieldhouse. Pun City parked ($1.00 per hour) and walked toward the facility. The attendant had mentioned that the lot would have a walkway directly to the arena, and this was accurate. Unfortunately, at least on the level this blog parked on, the doors to Allen Fieldhouse were locked. They also included signs stating something to the effect of "Allen Fieldhouse is a controlled facility and not open to the public on non-gamedays. Those entering Allen Fieldhouse without permission can be charged with trespassing."

That's pretty extreme. Having been to many arenas, Pun City feels qualified to say this is the most strongly-worded warning on any arena in the country. Most likely, they get a lot of hoops yahoos like this blog, so they probably choose to put the huge disclaimer on their doors to keep out at least some of the crowds. Realistically though, Pun City was doubtful that they'd really charge anyone with trespassing (unless the violator was really camping out or causing other problems).

Anyway, not really deterred by the huge signs, Pun City was able to find some open doors. Conveniently enough, the open doors were right next to an open gate to the court. The gate had another sign saying the court was closed, and Pun City heard workers in the court area. Pun City decided that inspite of the warning, and the workers, it should at least take a shot at grabbing the rim inside. Allen Fieldhouse is definitely one of the most historic (if not the most historic) arenas in the country, and coming this far to let a sign stop this blog would be a little weak. (Plus, Pun City had a pretty direct escape route and wasn't likely to get caught on foot unless the workers were former track stars).

Pun City entered the gate, walked on to the Allen floor, and looked up and around at the banners hanging from the rafters. It was pretty cool. For about 5 seconds. As Pun City was strolling inconspicuously toward the rim, one of the workers yelled down to this blog "The court is closed." Pun City responded, "Okay, thanks." Interrupting this blog, the same worker immediately said "The court is closed" again. It's possible he thought Pun City said "What?" but it's more likely he was trying to get me out of there as soon as possible. This blog obliged and walked out. Then Pun City stopped at the Kansas Hall of Champions (probably what it was called, anyway). That place was cool. A lot of history for all sports at Kansas, especially basketball, and the museum showed a lot of high-quality artifacts. Good stuff, Pun City recommends stopping in to that free museum if you get the chance.

On a recommendation, this blog checked out Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence for lunch. Sort of a weird sequence happened there. Pun City parked the car in a metered spot, but only had about 30 cents in change, so the meter only allowed about 24 minutes. Not enough for a sit-down spot. Pun City's first intent was going to be asking the hostess for change before getting a table. Unfortunately, Free State was pretty packed, plus the hostess and host seemed fairly impatient (though professional) and seated this blog as soon as it stated "one but..."

No worries, this blog will just ask the waiter for change. The waiter brought Pun City a water, and this blog ordered a soda and asked for the change to plug the meter. The waiter was cool with it, gave Pun City the soda and walked back with the change. This blog had a couple sips of soda, then walked out to go plug the meter. A quarter bought Pun City enough time to stick around for a normal (unrushed) lunch, and this blog walked back up to its seat in the restaurant. The table was empty. No water, no soda. Pun City looked around, thinking there was a small chance it didn't remember the route back to the seat correctly and was in the wrong place. As this blog was looking confused, a patron at the next table said to Pun City: "They tried to seat someone else at your table, so they cleared it. Your waiter stopped them though." Pun City then located its waiter and headed toward him, as he was near the water pitcher. As this blog approached him from behind, he turned around. Just as Pun City was about to ask what the deal was, he gave a knowing look that totally conveyed "Aren't my co-workers awesome?" Then he said, "I'll get you another soda, here's some more water."

The French Dip at Free State was good. Nothing amazing, but that may have been due to the fact that there was swiss cheese on the sandwich, and Pun City isn't a fan of that cheese. Their ice cream flavor of the day was something weird, so this blog decided to get a Reese's Sonic Blast at a Sonic.

Pun City then had about 4 hours to kill before this blog had to be back in Kansas City. The Lawrence to Kansas City drive is only about 30 minutes, so that wasn't going to do it. One idea Pun City had thought of was heading out to Manhattan, Kansas, home of the Kansas State Wildcats. This blog had heard that Manhattan was in the middle of nowhere, but Pun City was a little dubious of this. When looking at a map, the drive appears to be mostly interstate, with a very short jog on a state highway. Pun City found out that you should believe the hype with that one. The drive on the interstate is long (expectedly), but the jog on the state highway is also extremely long. It felt like you drove to the middle of nowhere on the interstate, then they decided that you were a little too close to civilization, so you should drive for quite a bit more.

Pun City was pleasantly surprised to find that Manhattan has a huge mall though. This blog would have probably went in if it wasn't on a time crunch. As it was, this blog headed to Bramlage Coliseum, "The Octagon of Doom." As this blog parked its car, it noticed a few other cars in the lot. Plus, people walking toward the stadium. This blog soon came to realize that a high school girls' tournament was in progress at the arena. Shucks. The entry fee was $7.00. That was a little steep, since Pun City wasn't going to be watching any games, and pretty much just wanted to check out the building. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, Pun City figured.

This blog was walking to a sidewalk between Bramlage and KSU's football stadium, with the sole intent of taking a picture of the football stadium at this point. But then, this blog noticed a set of double doors on a lower level of the basketball stadium. Might as well check them. Sure enough, they were open. Entering the facility, Pun City saw the basketball offices to its left, and an elevator to its right. This blog hit the up button on the elevator, and walked in, as no attendant was in it. (Not that there would normally be one, there almost certainly wouldn't, but Pun City didn't know what to expect, never having been there before).

Floors 1 and 2 were the only options. As this blog was on 1, Pun City hit "2" to go up. The elevator went up and deposited this blog in a VIP room next to the concourse. No one was really in the VIP room yet, so Pun City just walked out into the concourse, and was able to walk around and get to the seating bowl to take a couple pictures. That worked out awesomely, free entry and no hassles. (Obviously grabbing rim was out of the question, but at this point Pun City was ecstatic with just being able to see the interior of the building without having to pay).

The drive back to Kansas City was next, to see the Big 12 Semifinals. This blog will pick it up with its next installment.

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