Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big XII Tournament Trip, Day 6

Kansas won the final, knocking out Kansas State. A drive home would dominate most of Pun City's Sunday. To start off the day, this blog headed to the local Waffle House again. That place is awesome. The particular one Pun City visited (near Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, MO) had extremely good service. All of the employees that this blog encountered were very friendly.

As a final Waffle House meal, this blog got the $5.00 meal of 3 eggs (scrambled), and hashbrowns with two toppings (chili and cheese for this blog). Phenomenal stuff. The staff was nice enough to accomodate this blog's request of having a milk for one glass, but then refilling it with with soda thereafter. The Denny's Pun City visited earlier in the trip was not at all accomodating with the same request. It's possible a language barrier played a part in Denny's' unfortunate decision, but this blog will simply give credit where it's due, which is to Waffle House.

This was a great start to the day. This blog was heading toward Iowa City, to visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the University of Iowa's campus. It's a fairly long drive from Kansas City to Iowa City, that probably took around 5 hours. This blog had a Garmin GPS in the car for the ride. This was the first trip this blog had taken with a GPS and no co-pilot. As this blog approached Carver-Hawkeye, it couldn't see the arena anywhere. As it was a Sunday, the parking lots surrounding the arena were free. This blog still couldn't see the arena, but the GPS said it was there, so Pun City parked. What looked like a large indoor swimming pool was next to the lot this blog parked in. This blog somewhat guessed that the large indoor pool building might actually be the arena, so it tried to get in. (This blog needed to use the facilities anyway, so pool or no, Pun City was walking in).

After a number of locked doors, this blog got to a pair that was easy to open. Sure enough, it was Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Everyone enters at the top of the stadium. That's why it looks like a swimming pool, there's nothing on the roof, so one can see all the way through to the other side. The arena was undergoing renovations, and it wasn't easy to walk around the place. The upper concourse (and as far as this blog can tell, the only concourse) was blocked off on both sides of the entrance Pun City came in from. A single deck allowed this blog to walk down near floor level. Unfortunately, the few closest rows of the seating bowl are bleachers, and on this day, they were pushed up.

Realistically, this blog could have probably gotten down to the floor level and grabbed the rim on one of the hoops. Pragmatically, it really wasn't in the cards. Pun City would have had to climb down about 10 feet of bleachers, then head about 100 feet to the rim. If an employee noticed Pun City, this blog would have been close to "stuck in a well." The only way back to the seating bowl would have been to climb back up the 10 feet of bleachers. Definitely a slow getaway if that even were possible. The decision this blog made was that a) Pun City would most likely be back here at some point, it not being all that far away from this blog's home base, and b) Carver-Hawkeye is not historic enough to get busted over.

No big deal. It was cool to see that arena, and as it turned out, this blog was there during Todd Lickliter's last full day on the job. Should be interesting to see who Iowa hires as their next head coach.

During the drive in, Pun City had been trying to find a cool fast food restaurant to have lunch at. Ideally, since this blog had only had dessert at a Sonic Drive-In once this trip, Pun City would be able to find one around there. Alas, the Garmin wasn't coming up with anything anywhere near Iowa City or the route to Iowa City. Fortunately, this blog spotted one as Pun City was driving toward the stadium. After checking out the arena, Pun City headed to the Iowa City Sonic. At this point, it was almost 2:00 CST. Pun City hadn't needed to eat lunch yet, because of the Waffle House breakfast it had eaten (Pun City doesn't usually eat breakfast, this topic could probably merit its own post).

This Sonic stop marked the first time that this blog had ever been to a Sonic during happy hour. As a result, this blog got a half-price drink. The cranberry Coke was a bargain at twice the price. Also, this blog got some sweet fries and a cheeseburger. Very energizing stuff. The final stop of the tour would be Northern Illinois University, where this blog was hoping to see their Convocation Center.

The drive on I-80 across northern Illinois is pretty boring. Not bad, but a little boring. No real cities along the route, but it isn't all farmer's fields either. Definitely some varied terrain. This blog got to NIU in the late afternoon. As is always a risk, and primarily on Sundays, their basketball arena (The Convocation Center) was completely locked up. This blog tried absolutely every door on the building, though. The loading dock, exit only doors, service entrances, everything. They do a good job of locking up at NIU. At least they did this particular Sunday.

The place looks really nice, very new. It was a bummer that Pun City wasn't able to get in there.

The rest of the way home, Pun City heard the Selection Sunday announcements (as well as the end of the SEC title game and the Big Ten title game).

It was a pretty cool trip. This blog was happy to be home, but certainly happy that it had taken the trip.

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